An NPC Gang for D&D 5th Edition
Intended for a Level 3-4 Adventuring Party
“I heard him out there—sawing away with his tools. The only bit more haunting than those screaming men was the following silence that showed Cookie had finished his cuttin’.” -Alvin Geranto’s Witness Statement
Rumors about Cookie and his marauding group, the Cutters, have reached the ears of every master at arms within a hundred miles. Merchant caravans, scout patrols, and even farming villages have been snatched up in the darkness by the evil zealots. Some say that their leader, Cookie, needs souls to fuel his magic. Others say that Cookie once tasted humanoid flesh and has craved the taste ever since. One matter is certain: this is the nastiest gang of bugbears to plague the countryside in decades.
The leader and namesake of Cookie’s Cutters is an old bugbear with a talent for mysticism. Quick to anger and increasingly senile in his madness, Cookie spends most of his time hunched over his cauldron and scrying for more victims to kidnap. He is surrounded by butcher blocks—most of them still caked with last night’s “work.” Unlike the rumors, Cookie isn’t snatching people up for their souls or succulent flesh. He is a mage, and like most mages, he needs spell components; however, typical ingredients like eyes of newt and phoenix feathers won’t fuel his spells—only blood and bones of humanoids will do. The more intelligent the cadaver, the stronger the magic obtained from it, which is why he sends his gang of bugbears out to kidnap people. His cauldron is stuffed with boiled down arms, legs, organs, and other chunks of meat from his gang’s raids.
Physically, Cookie wears a red robe that smells of matted, dried blood. The robe may have been tan once, but Cookie’s constant hacking and chopping has left his robe dirty and crimson. He’s missing his left eye, which he plucked out himself for a spell component to staunch a mortal wound he once received from a goblin who got overly lucky with an arrow. He speaks in grunts and aggressive shouts, making even the mightiest bugbear cower beneath him. He keeps his feather-topped quarterstaff with him at all times since it doubles as a weapon and a stirring device for his cauldron.
Cookie’s band of bugbears fluctuates between 15 and 20. He’s constantly recruiting more Cutters for raids, and he sometimes loses a bugbear or two during attacks. The Cutters play on their sneakiness, ambushing their victims instead of rushing into an assault. They aren’t above using a previously kidnapped child or young woman to bait a rescue party into a trap. When the Cutters are out on a raid, they prioritize captives that look like mages or nobles over standard brutes. As repayment for serving Cookie, the Cutters are allowed any spoils from their raids—Cookie merely wants the captives. Not all bugbears go out on the same mission since Cookie prefers several small bands embarking on different raids, though he keeps a couple of bugbears near him to help handle his prisoners.
In addition to the bugbears, Cookie has also learned how to animate discarded body parts. When his bugbears are out raiding, they are accompanied by the animated hands and heads of Cookie’s older victims. Cookie severs the hands and heads, scoops out the brains, eyes, and fingernails for his reagents, then curses them with unlife so that they hop around and attack/bite his enemies. A Cutter usually carries one of these animated body parts to lob at enemies. The bouncing heads and hands don’t cause much damage, but they add to the chaos (and they give Cookie something to do with his scraps).
Incorporating Cookie’s Cutters into Your Game
Bringing Cookie’s Cutters into your game should be fairly simple. Cookie keeps his victims in cages for a few days before butchering them, so if the party is attacked and beaten by the Cutters, any kidnapped party members can have a couple of days to negotiate an escape plan. Also, any local NPC’s can offer a reward for family members who are kidnapped by the gang. An interesting hook for your adventurers could involve an NPC who has trapped one of the animated body parts, showing that “evil magic” is afoot and must be stopped. Cookie’s encampment, which is constantly on the move, can also have other loot or quest items since the Cutters use it to store their raided treasures.
The Technical Side
The bugbears in Cookie’s Cutters are standard bugbears, and the animated body parts use the crawling claw stats. Raids typically range from 3-5 Cutters and 2-3 animated body parts. Cookie is a bugbear captain, but his stats vary in the following ways:
- He wields a quarterstaff instead of javelins.
- He doesn’t use a shield.
- He has Innate Spellcasting. Cookie’s innate spellcasting ability is Constitution (Spell save DC 12, +4 to hit with spell attacks). He can innately cast the following spells as long as he is within 100 feet of his cauldron:
- At will: produce flame, resistance, shillelagh
- 3/day: detect magic, fog cloud, witch bolt
- 2/day: gust of wind, shatter
- 1/day: scrying
- His CR is 4 (1,100 XP)
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