Episode 50: The Endless Burrows
The Mighty Nein make their way underground to explore the Krynn burrows. They are hoping to catch up to the Krynn and attempt to save Yeza, Nott’s halfling husband. Jester reaches out with a Sending spell to try and reach Yeza. He miraculously responds, though weakly and quietly that he is still alive, though the Krynn are keeping careful watch. He is unsure of where he is. Nott tries to keep her hopes alive and the Nein agree to keep pushing down into the tunnels to see what they can find.
On the first day of travel, Fjord spots two strange stalagmites in the middle of the path. They begin to pass by when suddenly the stalagmites sprout tentacles and dangerously sharp maws. The Nein scatter as Fjord’s Eldritch blasts have no effect. The roper beast tentacles whip around the burrow, ensnaring Nott, Jester, Caleb, Beau, and Yasha. The tentacles begin to reel the ensnared members in and the gnashing teeth sink into both Jester and Caleb. The Nein do their best to break through the roper’s rocky exterior and do some damage. Beau manages to land a few eye punches in, Nott sends a crossbow bolt into the throat of another, and Yasha cuts one to bits.
Jester, in a rage banishes the remaining roper and the Nein make their getaway. They don’t get far though, as the tunnel ahead is caved in. Beau and Yasha begin quickly digging out the rubble as Jester’s banishment spell wears off and the roper returns. As if in slow motion, the Nein painfully, shot by shot, take out the roper just as Yasha makes an opening big enough to escape through. The Nein continue down the burrows and find a place to camp.
The journey continues on for several days without much incidentm until the burrows suddenly intersect with other, smaller tunnels. The Nein quietly try to explore the smaller offshoots, but accidentally disturb a tribe of lizard-like Kobolds. Dozens of tiny, ferocious Kobolds surround the Nein and manage to get Caleb all tied up in a trap. Caleb tries to reason with them and they come to a deal. Food for freedom. Caduceus conjures up more food than the Kobolds can carry and they agree to let the Nein pass by. Caduceus catches the Kobold leader whispering to two of his underlings.
The Nein carefully continue down the tunnels but quickly realize that two Kobolds are following them. They ambush the Kobolds and manage to capture one named Spurt. Spurt seems to have an interest in biological alchemy, as he has collected several interesting creatures as weapons. Nott learns this very quickly as she is stabbed in the eye with Spurt’s scorpion stick and sprayed his pet skunk. Caleb and Caduceus manage to diffuse the tense situation and actually befriend Spurt by asking to see his ‘centipede catapult’ and ‘sack of bees’ in action. Spurt agrees to lead the Nein further into the tunnels, though he actually hasn’t traveled very far down them.
Spurt takes the lead, taking the Nein right to the edge of the burrow and into a large overlook opening. The Nein look on as Spurt turns to the left, throws his bag of bees at a creature and begin screaming ‘You Die! I Win!’. Suddenly, a massive hammer swings down from above and absolutely obliterates Spurt into paste. A horrified Nein scatter into the tunnel, trying to avoid the gigantic eye that leans into view. A booming voice announces “We have a bug problem” as the Nein frantically try to come up with an escape plan. Fjord manages to peek his head out and sees two fire giants guarding the tunnel entrance on both sides of the chasm. There is a stone bridge across a river of magma to reach the tunnel on the other side. A strange, dark citadel looms in the distance.
The Nein manage to throw together a hasty plan to distract the giants, stealthily and quickly magic their way across the chasm and run to safety. Fjord conjures up a phantom manticore rising form the magma, unfortunately the giants see through the disguise and begin preparing for battle. The female giant brandishes her war hammer, while the male dips his enormous shields into the magma, creating a flaming wall between the bridge and the other side of the tunnel. The rest of the Nein still stick to the plan and run, dimension door, or polymorph their way across the cavern. An invisible Nott gets struck by the warhammer while attempting to cross and scrambles underneath the bridge to hide. She is separated from her companions by two fierce giants and a river of magma. The giant with the lava shields bull rushes the bridge and completely destroys it, sending rubble splashing into the magma.
Nott steels herself, thinking of her kidnapped husband waiting for her rescue and daringly leaps across the magma river, using the rubble to avoid being burned. She stumbles on her last step though and slips backwards into the magma, falling unconscious and burning to death. Caduceus manages to catch sight of Nott’s falling body and launches a healing spell to spare her from death. Beau frantically dashes back out towards the magma and pulls Nott’s body to safety. Both on fire, she rushes Nott into the tunnels and begins putting out the flames. Caduceus shapes the stones to seal the tunnel entrance and the Nein begin to make their escape once again.
I wasn’t entirely sure where this episode would go. I was sure that Matt would try and steer them away from a weeks long trip underground, but the Nein are determined. The first half of the episode, while it had it’s amusing moments, was a bit slow for my taste. But I tend to gravitate towards the more intense, action packed episodes.
The last half of the episode was a complete surprise. And had more action than I could have hoped for! Surprise guest star Chris Perkins was, as always, and absolute delight. I haven’t seen the cast laugh that hard together in ages. Spurt, though short lived, was immediately a fan favorite. May he rest in peace.
I don’t know about you, but Nott’s close encounter with death was much too close for comfort! Facing down two fire giants, jumping across magma, doing it for her captured husband… I think Liam spoke for all of us when he yelled “Don’t take my goblin mama!”
It’s been fascinating to watch the characters evolve or cement over time. Fjord, seems to be relishing the role of stepping back, hiding in the shadows, and letting others make ‘heroes decisions.’ Caleb is becoming quite the useful tactician, using his wiles rather than muscle. Beau is still Beau, when punching doesn’t work…punch harder. Though we have seen her softer side as she runs to protect her friends from danger now. Caduceus and Jester add so much delightful flavor to the stories each session. The dynamic at the table would be so different without them. I am anxious to see where Nott’s story leads the Nein and how returning to Xhorhas affects Yasha. (Ashley please come back)
Ashley Johnson’s absence has been far more noticeable in this campaign than last. Yasha is still such an unknown character to us. It’s been particularly disappointing to not have Ashley join over skype as she has in the past. But hey, sometimes real world jobs pull you away from playing D&D as much as you want. Hopefully she can return from New York in a couple months and stick around for a while!
There is no new episode of Critical Role or Talks Machina this week! The show will return to its scheduled time on Thursday February 14th. I am hopeful that we will get to see a VOD of The Search for Grog during Critical Role’s week off, but I won’t get my hopes up too much as there still have not been any announcements regarding that. If you have not seen Quyen Tran’s episode of Between the Sheets, please stop everything and watch it now. I laughed, I cried, I felt inspired by this beautiful badass. Sam Riegel is a lucky man. (Small Warning: The episode does discuss sensitive and emotional topics including 9/11.) You won’t want to miss next week’s episode of Between the Sheets, featuring the hilarious Will Friedle!