Welcome back to another recap of the Bloody Bunch. Exciting one this week as the Bloody Bunch discovered a purple worm nest, fought some mind flayers, and finally came face-to-face with the BBEG, Vahrek.
Also, Clint (Vaston’s player) recorded the entire session. I should have the recording available soon.
Here are the most important PCs and NPCs participating in this episode.
The Bloody Bunch
- Lt. Reverence (CG male tiefling 10th-level paladin, oath of ancients). Reverence is the leader of the party and, along with Amraam, the senior-most member of the Bloody Bunch. He wields a sentient, evil, black longsword named Eloise. While he’s made some questionable decisions in the past, he’s overall a pretty good dude.
- Amraam the Azure (CG male high elf 10th-level wizard, evoker). Amraam started traveling the realms in order to prove himself to his aristocratic elven family. He’s made some close friendships with the other members of the Bloody Bunch, especially Reverence whom he’s been with since the beginning of his adventuring days. Amraam recently came into possession of a shield guardian named Turum.
- Vaston (CG male drow 10th-level rogue, thief). Vaston’s had some interesting developments while traveling with the Bloody Bunch. Originally on the run from a certain dangerous (and somewhat flamboyant) drow swashbuckler from Menzoberranzan, Vaston later made a deal with a powerful fiend to increase his speed; a deal that turned Vaston into a will-o-wisp. However, Vaston is back to his original form now and using his multitude of roguish skills to help the Bunch.
- Phil (NG male tiefling 10th-level cleric, tempest domain). Ah, Phil. What can be said about Phil? Phil’s got a big heart. And a haunted past. He’s brave. Except when he’s not. He’s a powerful fighter–when he’s not negotiating with monsters that is. Oh, Phil. But if Phil dies, we riot.
- Rustle (NG male kenku 10th-level monk, way of the open hand). Perhaps the most mysterious member of the Bloody Bunch, the birdman punching machine Rustle mostly keeps to himself. No matter what his impression of the party is, Rustle’s martial arts powers have come quite in handy a number of occasions, often saving the party from horrible creatures such as dragons and (as you’ll see) beholders.
- Lughwyn (CG male wood elf 9th-level cleric, forge domain). Finally, the newest member of the Bloody Bunch is a wood elf forge cleric named Lughwyn. Originally contracted by a team of adventurer hunters to stop the Bloody Bunch, Lughwyn saw a kinship with the group and joined their ranks.
- Aethal (elf aristocrat and ranger, Amraam’s brother). Like almost all of the children of Amaerez, Aethal was required to learn the rudiments of arcane magic. His true love, though, had more to do with the wilds. As Steward of Silverwine Vale, Aethal handles the mundane administration of a large holding and small commercial enterprise, but his cherished hours are spent with a hand-picked group of hunters who patrol the surrounding Moonwood both harvesting game and repelling invaders. He is serious, for an elf, and has little time for matters that draw him away from his responsibilities. Unlike his father, Aethal loves Silverwine Vale and is dedicated to its people. He will make a steady, if unimaginative, lord.
- Iarno “Glasstaff” Albrek (wizard). Having escaped from the Bloody Bunch months ago after the group’s confrontation at Phandalin’s Redbrand hideout, Glasstaff finally resurfaces.
- Tella (doppelganger). Tella originally appeared as Nezznar’s right-hand lady way back in the Mines of Phandelver. Is she good? Is she bad? It’s hard to say. Some trust her, such as Reverence, while others, like Amraam, think she should be dead.
- Vahrek “The Prime Nezznar” (doppelganger). While many of the doppelgangers that plague the Bloody Bunch take on the appearance of Nezznar, a centuries-dead drow possibly related to Amraam, Vahrek is supposedly the first and most powerful.
What Happened in Episode 38
Date/Time: Eleisas 25 (Highsun), 1492 DR – Two past midday
The Bloody Bunch recovered after a short rest following their battle with a beholder and its minotaur minions in the series of caverns below bullshead peak. They then set out to explore the rest of the cavern to try to find out what the Nezznar doppelgangers were up to.
Purple Worm Incubation Pool
After recovering from their encounter with the beholder, the Bloody Bunch stumbled upon a sack of gems the beholder kept hidden in a tunnel to the west. From there, they headed north.
In a large underground pool, the group found hundreds of beach ball sized purple worm eggs with plenty of young worms swimming among them. Recognizing the danger inherent in that many purple worms, the Bunch debated over what to do. Not wanting to burn resources right away, they decided to continue and eventually return to it.
The Purple Worm Mother
A pair of mindflayers tried to get the drop on the Bunch soon after and were quickly run off (after stunning 4/7’s of the group that is). Just beyond the cavern, they discovered a massive purple worm drugged and chained in a narrow chamber. Another mindflayer was drawing eggs from it using some sort of machine with an attached hose. That mindflayer wasn’t as lucky as the two others that escaped and suffered a crossbow bolt through the eye thanks to Vaston.
A quick investigation offered that the mindflayers were collecting the purple worm eggs. Amraam, knowing a thing or two about purple worm physiology, recognized that there was probably something fertilizing the eggs nearby. But what?
Tunnel Leading Deeper Underground
At the rear of the mother’s chamber, the Bloody Bunch came across a well-worn tunnel leading deeper underground. They decided not to press on, and instead thought it might be better to search the rest of the upper level before heading deeper into the Underdark.
Purple Worm Father
It didn’t take long for the Bloody Bunch to discover the source of fertilization: a smaller, brightly-colored, purple worm “male.” Like the mother, the father was guarded by mind flayers. This time, the group was prepared; Luhgwyn pulled out the central eye of the dead beholder, turning it to the mind flayers in order to nullify their innate psychic abilities. From there, the group killed two of the three squid-headed psions The third they pinned down and questioned (Reverence communicating and intimidating).
The mind flayer revealed what it knew of the operation. It was all under the orders of Vahrek, the so-called “Prime Nezznar” in the town to the south. Furthermore, the mindflayer pointed out that the “mother” oblex, the original, was there as well, warning the Bloody Bunch that facing either meant death. The Bunch then let the mind flayer flee.
Aethal and his Soldiers
Knowing that they had to handle Vahrek and the mother oblex, the Bloody Bunch exited the mine. There, they came face-to-face with a squadron of elven soldiers from Silverymoon. Leading the group was none other than Aethal, Amraam’s oldest brother and heir to the Silverwine family estates.
Aethal explained to Amraam that he and his men had secured the town to the south, capturing a small group of doppelgangers that had been posing as the townsfolk. The Bloody Bunch suspected something was fishy, but Aethal’s knowledge of his brother, Amraam seemed to check out.
The elves lead the Bloody Bunch to the town’s tavern.
The town of Minothros was completely empty. Not a soul in sight. Inside the tavern, Aethal led the Bloody Bunch into the cellar where four doppelgangers were bound along with a dark-haired human the Bloody Bunch hadn’t seen in quite some time, Iarno “Glasstaff” Albrek.
Albrek had escaped the Bloody Bunch’s grasps months prior in the town of Phandilin. Rumors had circulated that he had made his way north. This proved it.
The Bloody Bunch wanted to interrogate Albrek themselves. However, Aethal denied, explaining to the adventurers that Albrek and the doppelgangers would stand trial in Silverymoon.
Eventually, Aethal lead the Bloody Bunch back upstairs to share beers. That’s when Phil noticed something moving across the street in the forest.
Two of Aethal’s guards intercepted a portly, human boy running the trees. A survivor? The elves pinned the boy to the ground in the middle of the street.
Reverence, wanting to speak with the boy, approached.
That’s when the boy’s voice changed to a familiar female voice, that of Tella the doppelganger’s.
“Reverence, you need to run!” Tella said, “Your lives are in danger!”
The boy then polymorphed into Tella’s familiar, female elven form.
Tella continued to tell the Bloody Bunch that Aethal and his men weren’t who they said they were. Amraam, for once trusting Tella, turned to Aethal and commanded him to show his blood to prove that he wasn’t a doppelganger. Pressed, Aethal finally dropped the act and revealed himself to be Vahrek, the Prime Nezznar.
The Battle of Minothros
“I’ll tear your eyes out!” Vahrek threatened Amraam.
Immediately, Vaston got off one hell of a shot on Vahrek, severely wounding the doppelganger. But Vahrek was extremely fast and was able to break away from the group and take cover in the nearby tree line.
Luhgwyn pursued the doppelganger. But Vahrek lept out from the trees, attacking with a poisoned shortsword. Luhgwyn shook off the poison, but Vahrek was able to escape again.
In the tavern, Rustle took on three of the doppelgangers at once, getting off a few good shots before he was eventually overpowered by the preternaturally fast shapechangers. Vaston, playing the role of the sniper at the window to back up the rest of the Bunch outside in the street, turned to help Rustle.
BOOM! Phil dropped a call lightning spell over the area, using his Channel Divinity to amplify its power, but Vahrek was able to nimbly avoid even Phil’s largest bolts. Amraam sicced Bigby’s Hand on Vahrek, holding him briefly, but Vahrek was able to escape that, too. Finally, Reverence, now with Tella riding with him on Arrow, charged Vahrek and smashed him with an explosive smite, nearly knocking Vahrek off his feet.
Bloodied, Vahrek disappeared into the trees again.
Back at the tavern, Rustle was prone and taking beatings. Vaston had helped him with a couple of the doppelgangers, but Rustle was close to perishing while a ferocious doppelganger attacked repeatedly with a sharp glaive. Fortunately, one final kick to the knee, however, knocked the doppelganger over, allowing Rustle to break the creature’s neck on the fall.
After searching for the hidden doppelganger for a few minutes, Reverence used locate object to track Vahrek’s poisoned short sword. The spell revealed that Vahrek had started to stealthily climb the mountain. Thinking fast, Reverence pulled a potion of spider climbing from his pouch and let Arrow, his mount, drink it. This allowed Reverence and Tella to charge vertically up the cliffside. After a quick gallop, Vahrek reappeared, emerging from hidden cover in the cliffside, attacking Reverence 50 feet in the air. The two traded blows, rocks falling to the ground far below.
Finally, Phil, who’d revealed a witch’s broom he’d been carrying in his pack, sped up to the battle and lobbed a shatter spell at Vahrek. Vahrek, already severely wounded from two critical hits, lost his grip on the cliffside and fell to the ground, his neck snapping on impact. Dead, he reverted back to his true, blue doppelganger form.
Shortly after Vahrek’s death, the Bloody Bunch finished off the remainder of the doppelgangers.
Remembering Iarno and the other group of doppelgangers in the basement, Reverence immediately rushed back to the tavern.
Naturally, the villains were gone, leaving behind a mess of broken ropes. However, the Bunch quickly found a secret door in one of the tavern’s large wine casks with a ladder leading below.
Tune In Next Week for Episode 39
Tune in next week when the Bloody Bunch tries to answer the following questions:
- Where did Albrek and the doppelgangers go?
- Was the mother oblex really there?
- And was that actually the Prime Nezznar, or just another duplicate?
- Finally, what was the deal with all the purple worms?
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See you next time!
Art by Wizards of the Coast and cartography by JD Russell.