Grisly Eye Games

Black Griffin 36 - The Chasm Nearer

In the seventh instalment of Black Griffin the party find themselves attending a war council and a new enemy makes their presence felt...

This campaign diary taken from the in-character chat channel from session 36 of my playtest campaign, lightly polished and annotated.

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.

Black Griffin Encampment Map Preview
Scene VII: Night 2 Continued...

As you may recall, our band of barbaric arms-bearers not only uncovered and killed foul orcish saboteurs, but managed to prove their existence to a disbelieving Agata.

Now, summoned to her tent in the Griffin Encampment, a war council of sorts is being convened...

Agata

Private, corporals. It appears we have a new adversary...

Creatures thought... long dead prevail still. The so-called orcs, or night folk, not only appear to dwell amongst us, but wish us ill.

Biron
stands tall and silent, a dark look upon his face.
Agata

We must protect the camp at all costs! And this includes keeping the existence of these creatures from the rank-and-file. For nothing can kill a company faster than desertion!

And that is the one thing we are mandated to prevent!

With this in mind, I am giving you command of a unit of light infantry.

She nods towards the private standing to attention, who salutes in return.

Orin
looks incredulous.
Agata
You will double patrols with these forces to prevent further sabotage until we can understand the nature of what we're up against.
Biron
looks over to the private and snorts.
Agata
Any questions?
Ba'Raknul

coughs

softly Are we entirely certain that these creatures aren’t working with our enemies?

Biron
gives a sideways glance at Ba and growls.
Agata

Corporal Ba, the very question itself in insensible. Do I think the Commonwealth is working with foul beastmen to undermine the Royalist cause? Anything is possible, which is exactly why I have no idea if that is true or not.

What do you think?

Ba'Raknul
pauses and thinks hard for a moment.
Orin
it's awful convenient if they aren't.
Ba’Raknul

I think the common folk see and hear way more than we do... Everywhere I have gone on missions the commoners, whether enemy or bystander, knew of strange creatures or ‘myths’. I wouldn’t put it past someone like Sparrow to even trick these creatures into working for them.

A well placed lie or false information leaves us a target, which is good for them however you slice it.

Biron

growls.

The beasts die like any man. We kill them and move on.

Orin
rolling their eyes Of course that's your opinion, Biron.
Biron

snarls at Orin.

We have been given a job. Lets move on with it.

He returns to his upright, face forward position.

Orin
Yeah, except the job wasn't 'go kill', it was 'protect'.
Ba'Raknul
I wouldn’t get into the difference there with Biron.
Biron
rolls his eyes at Orin’s naivety.
Orin
I don't suppose he knows it.
Agata

Enough squabbling!

The dying of them is not what concerns me. The ones that remain do. Legends speaks of vast hordes of these creatures. Do such numbers remain? And if so, why have we not seen them before.

And why are we seeing them now?

Ba'Raknul
shudders as his mind flashes back to the warrens.
Orin
fidgets with the cork on their wineskin.
Ba’Raknul
I would speculate we are seeing them now because they’re nearly ready to do something big. Big enough that revealing themselves is no longer an issue.
Biron

looks at the book Agata was reading.

What do we know of them?

Agata

nods.

A concerning proposition, Corporal Ba.

Orin
They? As in those squealing pig-things that couldn't speak a word?
Biron
It’s possible.
Ba'Raknul
They may speak a way we don’t hear. You remember Old Spit?
Biron

thinks for a moment.

It’s possible they might have been forced from hiding. Whether directly or indirectly.

Orin

appraises Biron.

Exactly. They don't strike me as intelligent enough for machinations.

Ba'Raknul
You don’t need to be intelligent to form a plan or be wise enough to lead... Maybe a new leader has risen. Someone that has the ability to gather and organise these things.
Orin

Those...

They swallow hard.

...rats... they were smart, you could see it in the way they fought us.

Biron
Beasts fight to their habitat. These creatures knew to run and hide to try to get by us. They used distraction.
Orin
Or they were just squealing cowards.
Ba'Raknul
That’s not it Orin. It listened to our words. They’re not as dumb as you are thinking.
Biron
steps towards the light infantry private, looking him over, ignoring the child like rambling of Orin.
Orin

Maybe. Maybe they have an intelligent caste... maybe they fart fairy dust. This is all just speculation anyway.

They kick at the dirt floor.

Ba'Raknul

sighs.

He gives the new man a solid looking over.

In any case we should get moving... I would like to talk to these guys before we start... learn their skill and how best to deploy.

Biron

looks back at Agata.

We will get this done.

Ba'Raknul
Agata, if that is all?
Agata
One more thing: we need another of these... things. Alive. So we might... question them. Or at least, examine them.
Orin
glances sideways at Biron.
Ba'Raknul

Do you have some shackles? They’re slippery creatures.

Agata

hastily scrawls a writ on a peace of paper.

Take this to the commissary, they'll give you what shackles you desire.

Ba'Raknul

nods.

Thank you, ser.

Agata
Good luck and... be careful out there. Dismissed!
Orin
nods at Agata and walks out.
Ba'Raknul
salutes and leaves.
Biron
gives single nod and grunt, then follows.

Outside, the private leads the party to the unit they have been given command over. The six light infantry stand to attention and like most mercenaries, they’re a bit shabby round the edges and green in the tooth (one woman cannot be older than 16 summers), but they are armed and trained.

Biron

growls at them.

Let’s see what they can do.

He steps towards the group.

Orin
whispers to Ba This isn't going to go well for us. Someone's going to find out, and Agata will blame us.
Biron
snarls and walks up and down the ragged bunch. Leering at them closely.

One man visibly recoils in fear at the vicious scar on Biron's face.

Ba'Raknul
whispers back Don’t worry, just a quick thing then we’ll go.
Orin
guffaws at the sight of Biron and takes a large swig from their wineskin.
Biron
snarling and shouting Who out of you is the strongest?!

They look amongst themselves and exchange a couple of sharp whispers.

Biron
Call out, now!
Orin
raises an eyebrow at Ba.

One of them is a black-haired lass with a layer of fat covering thick, ropey muscles. She steps forward and raises her hand.

Ba'Raknul

rolls his eyes and heads towards commissary.

calls over his shoulder Wrap it up Biron, or we’ll be late. I need to collect these shackles.

Biron

glares at Ba, then back to the infantry.

pointing at the woman You. Hit me once.

The soldier
looks confused.
Biron

stands legs slightly apart and arms out.

Are you deaf?

The soldier
It's a court martial offence to hit an officer, ser!
Biron

rolls eyes.

This is an order. Try to hit me once. Come on! Full throttle!

Orin

chuckles, moving to stand at a distance.

You better do it or you'll likely wish you'd just been courtmartialed.

They watch, amused.

Biron
stares at the recruit.
The soldier

swings a punch at Biron, quick as a whip, before he can even think, cracking him hard in the cheekbone. She instantly looks mortified!

I'm... sorry ser!

Biron

wipes his face at the side where he was just punched and surprisingly… smiles.

Good. This is what a soldier does. They listen to instruction. If you do as you are told, the result will be what is needed!

Orin

Are you done now?

They wander off after Ba.

Biron
Fight and be strong. Never hesitate.
The soldier
Yes, ser!
Biron

claps his hand on the woman’s shoulder.

Good hit.

The soldier
smiles nervously and salutes.
Biron
Now let me show you a maneuver or two.

Ba and Orin find their way to the commissary. This large tent is the store of food and supplies for the camp. As always, Sly Ben and his drunken cohorts hold court outside, lounging around on barrels and stools.

Sly Ben
Ba! You scabrous scoundrel!
Orin
nods at Sly's mates with familiarity.
Sly Ben
What do you want with Ben?
Ba'Raknul

nods and hands over the paper.

We need some shackles, please Ben.

Sly Ben
takes the writ, eyeing it warily before shrugging and passing it to the youngest drunk.

The boy grumbles and disappears into the large tent, pulling back the entrance to reveal large shelves filled with food, weapons and other equipment.

Sly Ben
While we wait, sit a while! Have a drink!
Orin

smiles cheerfully.

Please!

Ba'Raknul

shakes his head.

No thanks.

Sly Ben
Good old Ba! Never knowingly fun!

The joke is even weaker than the ale passed to Orin, but Ben's court laugh as though it were the funniest thing they've ever heard.

Orin

chuckles.

They lean back and drink their ale with gusto.

Ba'Raknul
waits patiently, watching Orin for any slips, knowing how sly Ben is.

Meanwhile, the boy reappears carrying manacles, which he holds out for Ba to take.

Ba'Raknul

takes the manacles.

Thanks. Let’s go, Orin.

He turns and leaves hurriedly to meet the others and make the patrol.

Orin
shrugs at Sly Ben, then downs their drink before heading off with Ba.

The rowdy sound of Ben's drunken companions disappears into the general noise of the camp as dusk approaches.

Ba'Raknul
heads straight off to find Biron and the infantry so they can go to the South Gate and take over the watch.

The party and their new unit assemble at the South Gate just as dusk falls, exactly on time for once. They’re greeted by the surly day watch.

The soldier

Day watch is over! And we didn't lose a single tower!

He laughs at his own jest, joined by his fellow day watch men and women in a cruel laugh.

Biron

growls If you did, you wouldn’t notice.

Orin
You probably never knew where they were in the first place.

This causes a small giggle to break out from the light infantry unit. The day watch slink off, caught off guard, to lick their wounds. Meanwhile, the unit the party commands stands to attention.

The soldier
What are your commands, sers?
Biron

looks to Ba.

We found the creatures first to the north.

Ba'Raknul
thinks a moment.
Biron
They attacked from the north side as well.
Ba'Raknul
That could be a ruse.
Biron
The farm was north of here, and the creatures’ tracks also came from north. It would seem to be a good place to start.
Ba'Raknul
I think we need a wider area.
Biron

grunts.

in a low voice These guys aren’t great by themselves.

Ba'Raknul
Groups of three with a twenty-foot spread... Never mind. Let’s stick together. But maybe Biron take a twenty-foot lead, and Orin try to stay hidden from apart from the main group. If we are attacked you can locate them.
Biron
growls and nods.
Orin
Sure thing.
Biron
Have Orin in back. Me, you, infantry, Orin.
Ba'Raknul
I’ll take the rear. I am the fastest to catch up if needed.
Biron
Fine, ok. So it’s me, Orin? Infantry, Ba?
Orin
You, infantry, Ba... Orin's elsewhere.
Ba'Raknul
Yes.
Biron

nods.

Let’s go east first this time.

The soldier
Er... sorry to interrupt sers, but Agata specifically commanded that we double the patrols. That is, we should take two separate patrols.
Orin

smiles.

Is that so?

Ba'Raknul
In which case we go left, you go right. We meet at north and south.
The soldier
salutes.
Ba'Raknul

Wait.

He takes out his fire prepped arrow and tells them how to signal danger.

Be safe.

Biron

growls at the men.

Remember what we trained. Stay quiet and kill quick. Signal any of the manned towers.

The soldiers
nod and salute, clearly ready to prove themselves to their northern commander.
Biron

gives a single nod and grunt.

Go.

So the groups’ night patrols begin. Everyone’s nerves are on edge, and the darkness beyond the barricades weighs on their minds. Despite the fact, the first patrol around the camp goes without mishap, putting them even more on edge. Will the creatures come again? What are they waiting for? Yet the party meets the infantry unit with nothing for either group to report.

Biron
growls and slowly listens to the night. He smells the air and holds his battleaxe in one hand.
Ba’Raknul
moves slowly in the dark, bow ready.

However, on the second patrol, as the party passes the fetch camp, they hear a rustling... coming from Ba's tent!

Biron

nods at the group.

Stay quiet and quick

Ba’Raknul
looks to the team.
Ba'Raknul
I’ll enter, you two be ready.
Biron
crouches and puts his shield up, slowly and carefully approaching.
Ba’Raknul
prepares to jump into his tent... mentally mapping out the layout so he can react quickly and grapple the sneak.
Biron
whispers gravelly Me at back of tent or front?
Orin
watches the front of the tent from the darkness, bow ready and waiting.
Ba'Raknul
makes hand gestures to indicate his team’s places. He begins to count down with his fingers... 1... 2....

On three, the party make their way towards Ba's tent, but as they do, Biron trips on a tent rope, landing noisily and taking Orin with him.

Biron

GO!

He stumbles up and across the tent.

Orin
Burn it!
Ba'Raknul
bursts into his tent ready and prepared.
Orin
raises their bow again, desperately.

Inside the tent is... empty! It's been ransacked, Ba’s papers and equipment scattered around.

Ba'Raknul

rushes back out of the tent.

It's em-

Suddenly, the team hears the telltale sound of an arrow being readied. A flurry of arrows fly out of the shadows around you, one goes for Ba’s chest, two strike Biron's arm, and one catches Orin in the flank. The source appears as cloaked figures hiding in the shadows, just out of range of Biron's lamp light.

Biron
ROARS!

Three of the cloaked figures draw their swords and close in, joining each party member in melee combat.

Orin
They're out here, Ba!

Biron deftly catches the arrow and, with one flick of his wrist, sends it flying into the shoulder of one of the approaching figures. They grunt in pain, but join Ba in combat.

Biron
beats his chest.
Ba’Raknul
switches to his spear and unleashes a strike at the creature. Then, focusing his ki, he kicks out twice.

They easily sidestep Ba’s spear thrust, but his kick catches them hard in the shin and they stumble, gnashing their teeth in pain, blood pouring from the arrow wound.

Orin

agilely avoids engaging with the swordsman after them, and runs into the tents.

They turn around and launch an arrow at the one Ba damaged.

Orin narrowly misses a swipe as they easily evade the cloaked figure's opportunistic attack, sending an arrow flying. However Orin’s target is ducking and diving fast to avoid Ba's blows and the arrow goes wide.

Biron

roars with anger and beats his chest hard.

COME AT ME!

He brings up his battle-axe and slams it towards the hooded figure in front of him.

shouting to Orin Warning arrow! Then deal with the archers before...

He shouts at top of his booming voice.

DANGER!

The cloaked figure sidesteps Biron’s clumsy axe swing. A smile flashes under the hood, teeth missing.

Biron
snarls, leering towards the hooded 'face'.

The sword-bearing figures slash at Ba and Biron, and Orin's assailant closes the distance to slash at them. Clearly skilled, the fetches fend off the blows but they all get many cuts and bruises, and even a couple of slashes for their trouble.

The two archers in the back send arrows into the melee, but both miss.

Ba'Raknul
curses and strikes again.

Ba slams his spear into his assailant, piercing his chest and burying it in the ground beneath. The man dies instantly, still standing, supported by the odd angle of the strike.

Ba'Raknul
moves to help Orin, moving to another and trying to kick them.

Ba misses, landing a kick in another tent, disturbing a sleeping fetch who roars in shock.

Orin

shouts in pain as the sword hits them.

They run into the tents again, holding onto their wound tightly, to hide in the darkness.

Biron

snarls back and swings upwards from the ground with his battle-axe towards the masked figure.

He roars at them.

Biron’s slash into the guise of his assailant cuts a deep gash in their abdomen. The hood slips revealing a woman’s face... someone he recognises! A fellow mercenary, a corporal from around camp.

The cloaked figure

For the Folk!

She grunts at you before trying to strike back.

Biron
YOU!! TRAITOR!!!

The two swordsmen strike back at Ba and Biron, but the tide of battle has turned. The glint of doubt enters their eyes and their strikes become flawed and easily dodged.

Meanwhile, an arrow strikes Biron.

Ba'Raknul

swings his spear above his head, bringing the wooden handle down hard onto a pressure point on his assailant’s neck.

He attempts to strike the cloaked figure in the throat.

Ba strikes in a flurry of spear thrusts and blows, but the figure takes a step back and leans away, just missing them.

Orin
moves slowly, making their way around to aim another arrow at Biron's attacker.

In this darkness, amidst the tents, Orin just can't get a straight line on their foes. Another arrow misses, landing in a tent pole.

Orin
swears quietly, then ducks back into the shadows.
Biron
roars and leaps around the shadowy figure, trying to grab them around the neck with his arm.

Biron's corded muscles rippling, he easily overpowers his assailant. He drops to the ground, taking the struggling figure with him.

Biron

Night-night traitor!

DANGER!! TRAITORS ARE HERE!

To be continued...