The Court of the Undying

We return to the Stupid, Reckless and Overwhelmed campaign, brought to you this week in glorious D&D Next-o-vision. The goal; to see if the old 4E characters are still viable when translated to this new version of the rules.

The party leave Brindol in search of the architect of the hobgoblin invasion, Azarr Kul. After a long day’s march across country towards the Wyrmsmoke Mountains they are in need of rest. Dusk is beginning to draw in when they spy the ruins of a small hill fort atop a lone hill. It is a cloudy night, and the party huddle round their small camp-fire in what was once the courtyard of this ruined place.

They are thinking of settling down for the night when the full moon comes out from behind the clouds. In that instant the courtyard  is transformed; bathed in moonlight they now find themselves in a place at once familiar yet utterly transformed.

The crumbling stone walls have vanished beneath tangled briars & vines. Where moments before they were in a rubble-strewn courtyard they now find themselves sat upon an impeccably tended lawn bordered by gnarled trees. The shadowy grey ruins have become a verdant, overgrown palace.

They hear music and laughter, and all around, moving with elaborate grace, are all manner of fey dancers dressed in the most magnificent courtly garb the party have ever seen.


At the far end of the courtyard, sat at the head of a food-strewn table and flanked by six companions of obvious wealth and prestige, sits an elf even more striking than all the others. Utterly beautiful, dressed in shining armour and cloth of gold, he is clearly the ruler of this fey court.

The elf stands and claps his hands in delight. “Company! After all this time, we have company my brethren! My friends, welcome to the court of the Lord Undying, you are my honoured guests, please, eat, drink, dance!” The music rises once more and the dancing resumes.

Habbakuk is certain this is not his own world: the constellations overhead are unfamiliar and the place feels profoundly different. There is a heavy scent of unfamiliar flowers in the air,  It is warmer, the wind is lighter and has changed direction. And the elves are not the wood elves of his homeworld. They look to be high elves, or eladrin.

Artheon feels this place is inherently magical, and several active spells are in place. He has heard of of weak places in the world which link to the Feywild under the light of a full moon.

It soon turns out that their host has no intention of letting his new diversions ever leave; he intends to keep the party here forever. The party eventually grow hostile and the Lord proposes a series of challenges. Win and the party may leave, fail and they remain here forever, as playthings not guests. Brick ups the ante; if the party win they will take the Lord Undying’s wife, Sersimon.

The first challenge is simple; one hero must recount a traumatic, formative tale from their childhood. Brick recounts standing over his mortally wounded father, aged 10, surrounded by bandits, and being hit by lightning that somehow wiped out the bandit attackers. The scene plays out in the air above the assembled guests.

Next a trial by combat; NikNak the ettin and his two nixie companions are swiftly cut down by Thovar, Habbakuk and Brick once Artheon half paralyses the ettin.

The next childhood tale is Habbakuk’s, an oddly familiar fable of buying two goats, of ne goat running off, of going to seek the goat, being attacked by nomads, the nomads fleeing at the arrival of a friendly stranger, and finally of returning home only to find his parents burned to death.

Then a second trial by combat, this time against a treant and some dryads. Despite the enemy’s best attempts at mental domination the party soon turn their foes into kindling. The raging dwarf in particular puts out eye-watering amounts of damage.

Next the dwarf tells a tale of his childhood nemesis Joh, who stole the first axe he crafted, and how he was consumed with vengeful thoughts. Artheon is also called upon, and he explains that in an earlier life he discovered the existence of an evil deva, Kelsha, and of how he has pursued his foe through lifetimes without success.

Now the Lord Undying, his wife and the lords join battle, and this proves much tougher. Sersimon vanishes using the Blink spell, then casts mirror image, whilst the Lord Undying seems to be invulnerable to damage. Artheon takes out most of the Lords with a nicely positioned fireball, but Sersimon is soon causing chaos as her spells seem to drag the party back into the childhood worlds they described. To make matters worse Habbakuk seems to have lost the ability to roll above a 10.

Despite the illusionist’s formidable power The Lord Undying is eventually killed and Sersimon subdued. The illusions fall away and the Court is revealed as a dark echo of the glamour previously seen. The guests are haggard, exhausted and ugly. The plants are blackened and twisted. And the Lord Undying proves to be no Eladrin, but a simple wood elf.

Upon searching him the party find a fist-sized magical stone in his belt pouch, the secret of his eternal life. Yes, their foe has in fact been the elven ranger Sindarin, bearer of the Forever Stone.  Sersimon begs the party leave; the Lord will come back to life soon enough thanks to the power of that stone. She has been trapped with him for long enough.

A cloud passes over the moon and Brick, Habbauk, Artheon and Thovar, along with a greatly relieved Sersimon find themselves in the crumbling hill fort, free of the Feywild.

All in all it seemed to run pretty smoothly to me. The combats ramped up in difficulty (the last one was pretty tough) and gave everyone a chance to contribute. Thovar seemed a little overpowered. I have a feeling he was doing more damage than he should have been. Most importantly the characters seemed to fairly accurately reflect their old 4E selves.

What did you think? Is Next a winner, and do you want to continue the SRaO campaign using this system? Are there any tweaks required for your characters?

One Response to “The Court of the Undying”

  1. Great game as always Carl. For my part Habbakuk played just like his old 4e self. He can do big damage and he can do twin-strike, sorry; Rapid Shot. We busked it a bit on the skills but we’ll get that right next time. I was surprised the spells “fitted” with the character, I was sceptical but actually I think it worked. This system is much more basic than 4e but actually this is a virtue not a vice. Gone are the interminable minutes spent poring over too many action-options on the character sheet. Fun to have but it used to make for sloooooooooooooooow games. I felt the system last night gave us some space to do a bit more role playing and a little less mechanics. Combat was simple, fast and importantly satisfying. Say what you like about the fluff, the core of an great RPG is the fighting system. I think D&D next has this right.
    It shouldn’t go without saying that the game was well run too. Thanks Carl and I enjoyed the ‘reveal’ at the end. Looking forward to chasing down that Hobgoblin.

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