Grisly Eye Games

Black Griffin Campaign Diary (Session 33)

This is the fourth campaign diary for my 5th Edition D&D playtest campaign, Black Griffin. Black Griffin is a play-by-chat game that runs every week on Roll20. The party are mercenaries in the employ of the infamous Company of the Black Griffin. Lowly even for sellswords, they have been placed on punishment duty as company fetches: bounty hunters charged with capture of deserters for trial.

The below is an edited log from of our in-character chat channel. We've added annotations so you can follow what's going on. Please enjoy!

Black Griffin Encampment Map Preview
Scene IV: Night 1 (Continued)

When we last left our misaligned bounty hunters they had just challenged a group of Royalist bailiffs interrogating junior members of their mercenary company.

Biron

stands up straight and stares and the Sergeant, head half turned.

Helia

notices Biron for the first time and squares up to him, while giving Ba the side eye.

We are in the King's lands and the King's Law stands here! I have a warrant to question anyone I please. Speaking of which... Do you have a dog?

Biron

growling Does it look like it?

Ba'Raknul

smiles.

calmly I do not own a dog.

Helia

raises an eyebrow.

Yes, it does look like it.

She looks Biron up and down.

Biron

keeps eye contact and stands squarely in front of the sergeant.

You lookin’ for somin’?

The situation gets more tense; the bailiffs about Helia reach for the pommels of their swords.

Biron

snorts, but doesn’t break eye contact.

Helia

Traitors, spies that escaped capture.

Have you been in Dismas recently?

Ba'Raknul

We go wherever the king needs us.

Biron

barks So you come to our camp, on a witch hunt?

Helia

eyes narrow.

There are witches here too?

Biron

strafes a step around the sergeant, still looking at her, to see how she moves.

He rolls his eyes.

Ba'Raknul

tries to catch the twins attention.

Go get Agata.

Helia

Stay where you are!

The twins look wide eyed between Ba and Helia, but do not move.

Biron

Where are you from?

Helia

sniffs.

Norton.

more cautiously And you?

Biron

The Forests.

Helia

You think that buys you some favor? Do you think me so soft?

Biron

scoffs Soft?

Helia

I'll ask you again... Were you in Dismas within the last week?

Biron

growls again.

motions to Ba What he said. Now get outta here.

You done pestering? Or would you like every one in the camp…

The bailiffs behind her draw their swords! One particularly large fellow with black skin growls.

Bailiff

Show some respect.

Ba'Raknul

steps forward a little.

You need to put your sword away. NOW!

Orin

sees the threat from where they hide in the shadows. They turn away from the scene, weaving in between tents in the direction of Agata's.

Helia

raises her hand to stay her bailiffs.

Ba'Raknul

seeing the Sergeant-Bailiff, nods to her.

He steps back again, leaving the floor to her.

Biron

doesn’t take his eyes off Helia.

Helia

cracks a smile broken by the scar running across her face. The smile does not reach her eyes.

Let me be clear. I have a warrant to interrogate who I please in this camp. Over the next few days I'll be looking around and let me tell you this:

I will find the traitors who bore your arms and escaped the King's Army.

Do you understand?

Biron

stares silently at her for a moment.

Ba'Raknul

smiles and nods.

As you wish… But I'll be around to make sure you’re not just bullying confessions out of innocent, hard working men.

Biron

cracks a small smile himself and looks away.

Helia

Is there such a thing as an innocent mercenary?

Biron

The south seems to have affected you.

Her soldiers laugh behind her at the jest.

Helia

And who exactly are you two?

Ba'Raknul

bows again low.

in his native tongue Ba’ Raknul at your service.

Biron

We're the guys doing our job at the front line of a battle. And you come to cause trouble with them?

The ones who serve your king?

Where's the pride in that?

Where is the honour? Or did you leave that at home too?

He gives Helia a death look.

Then a smile.

Helia

I'll not take lessons in honour from a sellsword! And watch your tongue or I'll have you in chains!

At that moment, Sergeant Agata appears with Orin in tow. She's dressed in a white nightgown and is accompanied by Loth in full uniform.

Agata

What is going on here?

Biron

steps backs once Agata arrives.

Ba'Raknul

Our king’s finest were interrogating the men.

It looked more like bullying confessions from scared kids to me.

Biron

Seemed a little suspicious, bearing in mind our other... issues today.

Agata

sighs.

Agata

Corporals Biron, Ba'Raknul. Stand down.

Biron

nods and backs away.

Agata

turns to Helia.

Agata

Apologies, Sergeant Helia. Your prompt arrival didn't give me time to make everyone...

She looks sharply at Biron and Ba.

...aware of your presence. Perhaps Corporal Loth could show you to your quarters and we could discuss this in the morning?

Helia

nods curtly.

Very well.

Biron

still stares at Helia while giving Agata a slow sideways nod. He’s straight faced, but keeps eye contact.

Ba'Raknul

nods to Agata.

We will get back on our watch.

He starts back to the north gate.

Agata

One moment, corporals. A word in your ear.

Ba'Raknul

steps in closer.

Loth

leads the bailiffs off deeper into the camp.

The twins, always sensitive to moments when they aren't being watched, run off too.

Agata

slaps her head.

You do not like giving me an easy life do you?

Orin

stands toward the back of the fracas, looking at their boots.

Biron

stands at full attention and stays quiet.

Agata

I have ten other fetches, yet spend most of my time running after you.

Should it not be t'other way around?

Orin

steps forward.

You knew she was here questioning people?

Biron

We saw two members of our team shouting and scared. We came to investigate.

Ba'Raknul

We came upon strangers bullying two of the men.

Biron

I am sorry for the misunderstanding, ma’am.

After dealing with the Sparrow and knowing there’s spies in our camp, it seemed good to be sure.

Agata

I appreciate your concern for your fellow mercenary, but did you not see the warrant?

We need to keep those bailiffs sweet, we're already on a rocky footing with our... clients.

Biron

gives a nod and a grunt.

We shall stay out of their way for rest of their time here

Orin

I don't understand. Would it not have been sensible to tell us there were people looking for us in the camp right here that didn't need your permission to cart us off at their own leisure?

Agata

raises an eyebrow at Orin.

Not that you're first in my thoughts, Private Orin, but they just arrived an hour ago.

I didn't think they'd get started before dawn.

Ba'Raknul

She is zealous.

Biron

grunts at Ba.

Orin

grunts and folds their arms.

Agata

turns to Biron.

Treason is a bit of a serious crime, Corporal.

Biron

nods.

Orin

And yet you know none was committed.

Biron

We will stay away from them while they are here.

Orin

nods.

Agata

Good idea. An even better idea is me returning to bed!

Good night!

Biron

gives a single nod to Agata and waits for her to leave.

Agata storms off into the camp, looking quite the sight in her nightgown and boots.

Ba'Raknul

turns to the others.

Well, shall we get back to it?

Biron

gives a grunt and single nod.

Ba'Raknul

starts heading toward the north gate.

Orin

follows after Ba.

Biron

One thing, if that sergeant has any north pride in her, she will be hard to fight off. We should avoid her.

Ba'Raknul

nods.

Biron

goes back to his position on the outside of the wall.

Ba'Raknul

gives the nod, once everyone’s in position, and they set off again.

The party move along the perimeter of the North Camp, where the more veteran mercenaries stow.

It is a more staid affair than the East Camp; only a few, more grizzled folk smoke pipes, drink camp wine, and swap war stories around fires.

As they pass the northwest wall they approach the borders of Friar Wood.

Biron

starts to feel uncomfortably alone on the wrong side of the barricades, with the dark trees so close hiding who knows what?

He glares out to the woods

He sniffs the air and listens closely.

All seems very still on this side of the wall.

Biron stares deep into the woods, the strange feeling that something is looking back at him. Something, a shadow in a tree, watching... eyes glinting...

It hoots!

And Biron is startled as an owl flies off into the night sky.

Biron

snarls.

Biron’s heart pounds in his chest. Otherwise, nothing seems untoward.

Biron

narrows his eyes, but returns to marching.

Orin

follows Ba by about 2 meters, trying to keep watch, but mostly kicking rocks and brooding.

Ba'Raknul

scans inside, occasionally looking to the others in the group.

The party continues past the North Camp, passing the Infirmary and arriving at the West Gate without event.

Only one of the towers seems manned here by a unit of archers.

They feel a shudder of the limepit somewhere out there, in the darkness beyond the lights of the camp.

Biron

grunts.

Anythin’?

Ba'Raknul

shakes his head.

No all seems quiet.

Orin

It's odd that one of the towers is empty, isn't it?

Ba'Raknul

looks up to the manned tower and back to the others.

One moment, I'll go ask.

Orin

waits.

Ba'Raknul

looks for a way to climb up.

Biron

stands looking out to the limepit.

Ba sees a simple wooden ladder leading up to the tower nets.

Biron cannot see the limepit, but he can smell the rot of the dead bodies drifting across the night air.

Ba'Raknul

climbs up.

Ba is hailed by the archers in the tower.

Ba'Raknul

climbs up into the tower and takes a good look around.

Hey, how goes it?

A chorus of voices greet Ba back.

Archer

Good, good. How goes night patrol?

Ba'Raknul

So far nothing but some Royalist bailiffs... Nothing going on over here?

Archer

shrugs.

When me mam told me about a soldier's life she left out the parts where you sit on your arse all night doing nowt.

He laughs.

Ba'Raknul

Hahaha isn't it just. Say, we've noticed a few of the towers missing archers… Is that common?

Archer

Aye, we're fighting a war if you've heard. We're on half patrols while the Big Push is going on.

Ba'Raknul

thinks deeply.

And what’s the warning signal?

Archer

laughs.

When some arsehole shouts danger

Ba'Raknul

thinks again a bit more.

He roots in his bag.

Okay listen here…

He leans in and shows them the arrow prepped for flame.

Each of you make one of these… Any issues, let it off straight up. I'll let the others know.

Archer

nods.

Aye, sir. But you'd best tell the other towers, otherwise it won't do much good.

Ba'Raknul

Yeah I will do and I'll talk to the higher-ups about inputting something a little safer than an arsehole shouting danger.

Archer

salutes.

Ba'Raknul

salutes back and drops down the ladder, feet barely touching, sliding all the way.

He lands without much noise and sighs at the others.

Our defences are shit. If you see a flaming arrow going straight up start shouting about danger on that side of camp.

Biron

grunts and nods.

Ba'Raknul

looks to Orin You ready?

Orin

nods.

Ba'Raknul

sets off forward again, more worried about the defenses than he was before.

The party passes the perimeter of the West Camp, largely empty as most of the forces involved in the push would've been camped here. That is, the soldiers not so green as to be a danger to themselves, or such veterans as to be wasted on such an enterprise. Used to the bustle of the camp, the quiet is unnerving for Orin and Ba.

They pass the commissary, but by now it's so late even Sly Ben isn't holding court anymore and has retired to wherever Ben goes when he sleeps.

Perhaps a ditch somewhere?

Finally you arrive back at the South Gate.

Ba'Raknul

sighs as they all come in again.

Seems quiet.

Biron

grunts.

Well this is fun.

We need to hunt for the spy.

Ba'Raknul

I need to tell the other towers about the signal... Shall we do another pass?

I'm not sure the spy is still here.

Biron

grunts.

He looks angry at this idea.

Orin

shrugs.

The party does another pass, alerting the towers of the new signal. It passes without event.

They do a third pass and dawn starts to break. When they arrive back at the South Gate the day patrol, grumpy as ever, are awaiting you.

Biron

growls.

It’s about time.

Patrolman

You better hurry or you'll miss breakfast.

Biron

walks past the day patrol without looking at them.

Ba'Raknul

nods to them.

Fairly quiet night. Have fun.

Patrolman

calls after them And don't be late tonight!

Ba'Raknul

Yeah, yeah, we won’t.

Orin

walks off to grab a plate from mess and brings it to the fetch's campfire where they sit, listening for suspicious chatter, and drink until everyone else leaves to get on with their day.

Ba'Raknul

heads straight for Agata's tent on the way home.

Biron

goes to the mess hall, to grab food, but sits alone as normal to eat in silence.

As Biron eats he hears a couple of privates whispering to themselves about news. Apparently a coven of witches was put to the flame by inquisitors.

Private

whispers Inquisitors! This far from the Capital?

Biron

rolls eyes.

Meanwhile Ba arrives at Agata's tent to find Loth standing guard outside. He shakes his head sternly and mimics a sleeping hand gesture to Ba.

Ba'Raknul

nods.

softly I have told the archers on night watch to loose a single flaming arrow in case of emergency… I have spread the word, but we need some form of better system, a bell or something.

Loth

nods.

Ba gets nothing more from the man.

Ba'Raknul

salutes and heads to his tent to eat rations and sleep.

Biron

eats his meal quietly then goes to his tent to rest.

Scene V: Night 2

The party are woken by the evening call for dinner, just a half-an-hour from dusk. Their stomachs growl, as they smell the evening meal waft from the mess. Smells like potatoes!

Ba'Raknul

rises and stretches, then heads out to seek food.

Biron

rolls out of bed and groans. He gets his stuff quietly and goes off for the evening meal alone.

They both meet in the mess. The usual crowds of mercenaries sit together: the fetches, infantrymen, musketeers.

Biron

grabs a plate of food, goes to the emptiest table, and sits quietly, ripping into the potatoes.

Ba'Raknul

scans the musketeers’ table looking for Lt Freya or Der Vynge.

Freya is away, but Der Vynge sits with the other musketeers murmuring amongst themselves. You notice the fetches seem especially agitated this evening. They speak in raised whispers amongst themselves.

Ba'Raknul

approaches the table where Der Vynge is sat and pauses a moment until the man notices him.

Ba gets a slight side-eye from Der Vynge before he turns to his partner and, in his strange language, says something that makes his companion smirk.

Biron

glowers at the other fetches and tries to listen what they are saying.

Biron overhears the fetches; apparently the bailiffs have been going tent-to-tent, turning them over in the fetches’ camp!

Biron

growls.

He stands with his plate and goes to Ba.

Eat at tent and grab Orin.

Ba'Raknul

Master Der Vynge, if I may have a moment of your time?

He nods to Biron.

I will see you at the tent, Biron.

Biron

He rolls eyes at Ba talking to the musketeers, then diverts quickly to Orin’s tent.

Der Vynge

sniffs.

Zat is Sergeant to you. Ivall!

I eat! Go away!

He says something else in his language, clearly some kind of swear.

Ba'Raknul

My apologies, Sergeant Der Vynge. I wish to learn how to shoot. I have heard you are the best.

He kneels low and bows to the floor. Will you teach me?

Der Vynge

tuts.

See me tomorrow, after breakfast.

He waves you away.

Ba'Raknul

stands and bows again.

Thank you.

Then he leaves to catch up to Biron.

Biron

gets to Orin’s tent, stepping in unannounced.

Oi, get your weasel ass up.

Orin

shouts Go burn.

Biron

grabs Orin by the scruff of the neck and pulls them off their bed.

Orin

What's your problem!

They grab their head and moan.

Biron

in a low voice The bailiffs are coming and turning over fetches’ tents and you need to get food. Work starts in half an hour.

He turns and leaves the tent as quickly as he arrived, leaving Orin on the floor.

Orin

Their eyes open wide.

Burning royalists!

They quickly get dressed and find The Sparrow's letter in their pack, tucking it into a secret pocket in their shirt.

They get dinner from mess and eat it on the way to meet the other two.

Biron

eats his food at the entrance to his tent, staring out at everyone who moves.

Ba'Raknul

gets back to his tent to prepare for their shift and wait for the others to get ready.

Having eaten their hasty repast, the party feels ready to face a long night patrolling the camp.

Biron

stands and walks to the South Gate as before. not waiting for the others.

Ba'Raknul

heads to the south gate as the time comes close.

The last of the sun’s light vanishes into dusk and the party assembles at the South Gate. Running a little late, the day patrol arrives for you to relieve them.

Patrolman

On time tonight!

Biron

grunts and ignores the soldier.

Orin

shrugs, grins, and offers the soldier a swig from their moonshine.

Patrolman

Now, that's what I call relief!

Ba'Raknul

nods.

You see anything?

Patrolman

gulps down a swig.

Just the usual, bored mercenaries causing trouble.

Right, we're off! Good luck!

Biron

Same again?

Ba'Raknul

turns to the group.

Okay, I say we do the opposite direction.

So if someone watched us last night…

Biron

grunts and start walking toward the West Gate.

Orin

Fine, as long as we leave that Sergeant Helia alone.

Biron

gives another grunt while walking away.

They party’s first patrol goes without mishap. They pass through the quiet West Camp, the calm of the North Camp, and the rowdiness of the East Camp.

Besides drunk mercenaries, nothing untoward happens.

Ba'Raknul

reaffirms the flame arrow signal with each tower.

However, on your second rotation, as you pass a tower on the North West wall, you hear an ominous creak. It appears to be coming from the nearby tower.

The light in this part of the camp is dim, and you can't see the cause of the creak without getting closer.

Ba'Raknul

pauses and holds a hand up.

Stay on alert, I'll get closer.

Biron

stares up to the tower.

Ba'Raknul

moves quietly toward it.

Biron

readies his axe and looks at the outside part of the tower to see if there are any marks.

Biron sees the flicker of light and perhaps the distant murmur of soldiers talking in the tower. He cannot see anything untoward from outside the wall.

Biron

To Attention!

Orin

knocks an arrow and directs it generally at the top of the tower, then moves into the nearest shadow.

Archer

Who goes there?

Ba'Raknul

moves up the ladder quickly and quietly.

Archer

calls another archer.

Biron

It’s Corporal Biron.

What's your status?

Ba never makes it up the ladder. As he emerges from the shadows and nears the tower an arrow flies at him from the shadows.

A number of arrows shoot out of the shadows of the nearby tents, all aimed at Ba. Two arrows fly for Ba, one to his shoulder blade and another at his calf.

Ba'Raknul catches one of the arrows and spins, throwing it back to where it came from.

Ba catches the blow that would've hit his calf and sends it back into the shadows. It hits something in the shadows with a hard thud.

The party hears a chilling but familiar squeal from the shadows!

Orin

peers closely in the direction the arrows came from, but without leaving their hiding place.

Orin can see something pale and small squirming in the dim shadows. Enough to train an attack on.

Orin takes a moment to watch the figure's moves before firing. They hold back, unable to see clearly and not wanting to give up their position.

On the other side of the barricade, Biron hears the sound of arrows flying and Ba grunting in pain.

Biron

hears the fighting starting and stares up at the tower. He makes a mighty shout of anger before running to jump to over the fence.

Biron’s hand slips on the treacherous surface of the barricade, designed to keep intruders out and he falls into the ditch below.

Biron

roars out loudly.

Fortunately, he’s used to fighting in thick mud and the mire at the bottom of the ditch doesn't waylay him.

Biron

recovers from the fall and tries the jump again.

Biron makes it to the top of the wall, just.

To be continued...