My side of the story

So I am playing a 4th ed shade warlock binder, named Blackfen. He’s basically a bad guy.

Our party is meant to be the classic “DnD irregular group of PCs the army”. Blackfen is supposed to be one rank higher than everyone – the “leader” of the group. He got his rank by sly, weasely double-dealing. His main goal is to acquire power of some sort by exploring the underdark. He already jabbed himself with a demon tooth, in hopes it would do something cool. I suspect one day it will, but the DM hasn’t quite decided what yet.

Anyway. We met some drow and Blackfen went to speak with ’em. They offered goodies for him personally in exchange for a sacrifice of one of his men. To de-emphasise what a dick move this would be, it’s meant to be a high-mortality campaign. We each play a different character on alternate weeks, so that we don’t get too attached. I fully expect Blackfen to get fragged at some stage.

Out-of-game at the table, of course, everyone was listening in. As luck would have it, Grobnar poked his head in. Nice of Jeremy to volunteer his character, rather than me having to pick someone. Blackfen waved Grobnar over, and the drow shot him. A crit. DM rolled the ‘body part’ dice. In this game, a crit to the head is an insta-kill.

Deciding that the higher-ups would never believe that Grobnar just happened to get killed by the undead, Blackfen used his racial ability to get out and back to the rest of the squad. It turned into a fight, of course. The BBEG left with Grobnar’s body, and we fought the remaining three drow. Meanwhile, the undead started to rise.

Two of the drow got killed, my guy told the other one to get out – sort of playing both sides at once (saving the last drow, but seeming like he was chasing him off).

There’s going to be an inquiry.

Here’s Blackfen’s version of events. Minor fixes from the version I emailed, including a more complete denunciation of Maddie’s character.

On [insert date here], I was ordered to take my squad to the gate of the maze to investigate the lack of contact from the sentries stationed there. Cpl [Maddie’s new character] was assigned to the squad to bring us back to a full complement, after the loss of Pvt Deekin who died heroically as part of my squad defending the rear gates of the fort on [last game here]. (Deekin was Maddie’s character, of course)

We proceeded to the gate without incident. We found the gate unguarded. There were signs of battle, and indications that the fallen had been dragged into the maze.

The gate being completely unguarded and open, and without specific orders, I determined that my squad should guard the gate until we were relieved. I sent [Alix’s Character] back to the fort to report. (Alix was away last week)

After a period of less than 20 minutes, Cpl Grondar reported that there was a drow just inside the maze, attempting to make contact to parley.

As the highest-ranking soldier present, I entered the gates of the maze. There were a small party (three) of what appeared to be drow armed with crossbows. The substance of our discussion on their part was that they were aware that the underfort was having difficulty with supplies, and suggesting that they might be able to improve matters. However, they insisted on being extremely vague. I gained the impression that they were attempting to imply that they were responsible for cutting some of our supply lines. (note the lack of mention of the BBEG 🙂 )

On my part, I attempted to gain agreement that these persons would parley with a more senior officer – I myself having no authority whatever to negotiate on behalf of the underfort.

After only a minute or two of these discussions (the “drow” being very evasive and indefinite the whole time), Cpl Grobnar reentered the maze and approached. The drow spooked and shot him cleanly in the head, killing him instantly.

I used my arts to go through the wall of the maze and call my squad to action, as Grobnar had been attacked. Members of my squad entered the maze and engaged the drow. Cpl [Maddie’s Character] accused me in front of the squad of betraying the squad to the enemy and being unfit for command.

I entered the maze and cast an enchantment to enable my those of my squad with normal surface vision to see and engage the enemy, however, I could see that a large number of undead were approaching. My squad had already killed two of the drow, but I ordered then to withdraw immediately and hold the gate.

The undead did not pass the gate, and we were duly relived.

It also bears mentioning that we retrieved the body of one of the drow. The dark skin of the “drow” proved to be makeup. These – as far as we can determine – were not drow, but ordinary surface elves.

⁂ ⁂ ⁂

In defence I my own actions, I submit the following:

I believe that my decision to order my squad to man the gate was correct, and that little discussion is needed on that point. I sent back a runner immediately for reinforcement, although after a search we uncovered the communicator.

With respect to my decision to parley with the group within the maze, my alternative was to do nothing. I decided against this for two reasons. First: although I have no authority to negotiate on behalf of underfort, it is clear that we should attempt to not reject out-of-hand the overtures of potential allies and so I attempted to communicate with them while staying within my authority to do so. It is gravely unfortunate that Cpl Grobnar interrupted these negotiations and paid for it with his life.

Second, and more immediately important, I believed that I was best able to determine the nature and size of the unknown force – one quite possibly responsible responsible for the attack on the previous sentries – inside the maze which my squad was guarding. Events proved me right in this, as I was able by my arts to remove myself when negotiations broke down.

With respect to my squad simply charging into the maze, I accept that I ought to have prepared better and left clearer orders. Our squad should have formed up and defended the bottleneck of the gate rather than individual soldiers charging into battle, although it was inevitable that we would have to move forward to engage as the enemy was armed with missile weapons.

I would also, at this point, commend the courage and skill at arms of my squad. They entered the maze and engaged the enemy without hesitation and if not for an army of undead approaching from within the maze would without question have disposed of twice the number of troops that we faced.

The most serious issue is discipline, the lack of discipline resulting not only in the haphazard charge into the maze, but most importantly in the actions of Cpl Grobnar himself. If he had remained outside the maze and not interrupted negotiations, this affair may have turned out considerably better.

As the court is aware, my squad is an irregular group of recruits, volunteers, two or three ex-regulars and at least one from other backgrounds (ie: convicts). Over the past few weeks, I have had particular difficulty with one of my men – a civilian volunteer who occasionally is prone to give his duties less attention than they merit. I intended to deal with this by deferring his promotion to Corporal (a promotion rightly earned for valour on the battlefield) by a matter of a few days. I was refused permission to do this. I do not know why I was refused permission to impose an extremely mild disciplinary measure on my men. It may be that if my squad had been reminded that in the underguard we are required to follow orders, Cpl Grobnar might not have acted as he did and been killed as a result. We will never know.

(Needs a little explaining. Alice’s gnome alchemist is a pretty typical gnome, so Blackfen has decided to blame him for everything that goes wrong. It’s not that he especially dislikes the gnome in particular, it’s just that the gnome is designated patsy after the grass fire in the first mission.)

Finally, I should like to reply to the outrageous, reckless, and completely unsubstantiated accusations of Cpl [Maddie’s new character], that I had betrayed my squad to the drow, and that I am thereby unfit for command.

There is little to say but that these accusations are false. I did not and would not under any circumstances do any such thing. Cpl [Maddie’s new character]’s conduct was disgraceful. He made these accusations because he panicked when battle broke out, as I believe the comms operator at the fortress can attest.

(Maddie’s character was freaking out, yelling into the mike “OMG we are being attacked! Send reinforcements! Aieeee! When those reinforcements coming? OMG!” At least, that’s how I remember it 🙂 .)

Having only served with Cpl [Maddie’s new character] for less than a few hours, I know little about him save that his previous squad was killed to a man, with only him surviving. I find in greatly suspect, in the light of his shameful display of cowardice, that he survived an attack that killed the rest of his unit. I also find it deeply suspect that Cpl [Maddie’s new character] immediately concludes, when events go awry, that a soldier of the underguard has betrayed his comrades. With respect, I suggest that this or some other court might wish to inquire more closely into the circumstances under which all of Cpl [Maddie’s new character]’s comrades died, leaving only himself to survive.

IOW: everything that happened is someone else’s fault, and no-one can prove any different.

Fun times at Good Games!

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