Neverwinter Nights (NWN), produced by BioWare and published by Infogrames (now Atari), is a third-person perspective computer role-playing game that is based on third edition Dungeons & Dragons rules, set in the Sword Coast, centering around the City of Skilled Hands, Neverwinter.
An expansion pack, Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide, was released in June 2003, and a subsequent expansion pack, Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark was released in December 2003. In October 2005, Neverwinter Nights: Kingmaker, an expansion pack that includes three new modules was released. On October 31st (US) / November 3rd (EU), 2006 a sequel, Neverwinter Nights 2, was released.
Play centers on the development of a character that becomes the ultimate hero of the story. In the original NWN scenario supplied with the game engine, the player is single-handedly responsible for defeating a powerful cult; stopping an insatiable plague; thwarting an attack on the city of Neverwinter, and many other side quests.
The first and final chapters of the story in the official campaign deal with the city of Neverwinter itself, but the lengthy mid-story requires the player to venture into the countryside and then northward to the city of Luskan. Neverwinter is a city on the Sword Coast of Faerûn. It is part of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.
The story begins in 1372 DR with the player character being sent by Lady Aribeth to recover four monsters needed to make a cure for the Wailing Death, a plague that is sweeping the city of Neverwinter. With the help of Fenthick Moss, Aribeth’s love interest, and Desther, Fenthick’s friend, the player character is able to retrieve the monsters. As he is collecting these monsters, he is attacked by mysterious assassins from the cult that is behind the spreading of the plague. As the cure is being made, Castle Neverwinter is attacked by Desther’s minions. He takes the completed cure and escapes the castle, with the player character and Fenthick in pursuit. When they catch up to Desther, he surrenders after a short battle. Desther is sentenced to burn at the stake, and Fenthick, despite being unaware of Desther’s true intentions, is sentenced to hang.
The player character meets up with Aribeth and they begin searching for the cult responsible for the plague and the attack on Neverwinter. With the help of Aarin Gend, Neverwinter's spymaster, the player character retrieves diaries of dead cultists and letters from a person named Maugrim, which convince Aribeth that the cult's headquarters are in Luskan. Aribeth goes ahead to Luskan, and the player character follows after speaking once more to Gend. After arriving in Luskan, the player character hears rumors that Aribeth is joining with the cultists. These fears are confirmed when he finds her meeting with Maugrim and Morag, Queen of the Old Ones. They seek magical relics called Words of Power. The player character retrieves all of the Words of Power except for one, held by the cult. He discovers that the words open a portal to a pocket world inside the Source Stone, where Morag and the other Old Ones are. He confronts Aribeth, and depending on how he handles the meeting, she either surrenders to the player character or he is forced to kill her. He then confronts Maugrim for the final word. He uses the words to enter the Source Stone and battle with Morag. After Morag's death, he escapes the stone as the world inside it implodes.
The actual game is lengthy (original NWN has three CDs, while the expansions each add one CD). Following a small prelude, there are four "chapters" in the original game, with each chapter consisting of a general storyline (the first chapter, for example, deals with a mysterious plague in the city of Neverwinter), and within each chapter, there are many quests, subquests, and mini-storylines. The game's actual mechanics are based on the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition rule set – most important actions (fighting, persuasion, etc.) are based on a die or dice roll.
The robust multiplayer component separates Neverwinter Nights from previous Dungeons & Dragons games, as there are many servers for players to choose from. Each server, depending on hardware and bandwidth, can support up to 72 players or more in the same module. NWN game modules run as a variety of separate genres and themes, including persistent worlds (which are similar to MUDs), combat arenas (player versus player modules), and simple social gatherings similar to a chat room. The campaign included with the game can be played with friends, for example, or a team of builders can build a virtual world similar in scope and size to commercial MMORPGs. The big difference is that BioWare insists these persistent worlds be free of charge.
Many persistent worlds are still actively run with updates and improvements. Servers can be linked together as well, allowing the creation of large multi-server worlds. Two early examples include A Land Far Away and Confederation of Planes and Planets.
Because Neverwinter Nights lacks a global chat function aside from the supported Gamespy, players typically join "pickup" games through the game's multiplayer interface, or schedule games in advance with friends. Matchmaking sites, such as Neverwinter Connections, facilitate scheduling of games, and the experience is much like traditional Pen-and-Paper roleplaying games. Persistent worlds do this work for them by inviting players to visit their website and continue to roleplay there.
Custom content Edit
Neverwinter Nights ships with the Aurora toolset, which allows players to create custom modules for Neverwinter Nights. These modules may take the form of online multiplayer worlds, single player adventures, character trainers or technology demos. Additionally, several third party utilities have further expanded the community's ability to create custom content for the game. Custom content creators are known as builders in the Neverwinter Nights community.
The Aurora toolset allows builders to create map areas using a tile system; the appearance and surface textures of the area are defined by the area's selected tileset. Builders can overlay placeable objects onto areas, and use the built-in scripting language NWScript to run cut scenes, quests, mini-games and conversations. NWScript is based on C++.
Third party utilities allow builders to create custom content for most aspects of the game, ranging from new playable races and character classes to new tilesets, monsters and equipment. Custom content is added to the game in the form of hakpaks. Builders have used the Aurora toolset in combination with hakpaks to create playing experiences beyond the scope of the original campaign. Despite the game's age, the Neverwinter Nights custom content community remains active.
The Aurora toolset is not available for the Linux and Macintosh versions of Neverwinter Nights. The open source project never number of prestige classes the original game had. It also adds dozens of epic spells, and many normal spells that make better use of Bioware's Aurora engine. These include: Teleportation, Transposition, Mazes, Summoning Houses and more. As well, psionic powers have been included, which are essentially spells, but done with "power points", akin to the sorcerer class. This "expansion" can be found at nwn-prc.com, along with documentation. There are many excellent additions to the game, however, portions may have bugs, so beware.
Premium modules Edit
In late 2004, BioWare launched its online store and started selling what it called premium modules as part of its digital distribution program. This initiative was spearheaded by BioWare's Live Team Lead Designer, Rob Bartel. Though technically not expansions, these smaller-scale adventures introduce new storylines and gameplay. They often include new music and art that BioWare claims will be integrated into future patches and updates to the core game. The most recent patch, 1.69, includes a great number of the art and music that you find in the premium modules.
According to BioWare, the revenue generated is used to support their fan community and provide ongoing updates and improvements to the popular game. Unfortunately the modules that are sold for download require internet access to play even though they are single player only. The modules in the Kingmaker expansion were stripped of this requirement but are only for Windows. The modules included with Neverwinter Nights Diamond Edition do not require Internet access to play.
- Neverwinter Nights: Kingmaker — In November, 2004, BioWare announced their flagship premium module, which later received the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences 'PC RPG of the Year' award. The player is called upon to defeat the evil at the Keep of Cyan, and win the throne.
- Neverwinter Nights: ShadowGuard — At the same time as Kingmaker's release, BioWare also offered a bundled pair of shorter premium modules. ShadowGuard, created by community member Ben McJunkin, in which you are drawn to the attention of a group of agents called the ShadowGuard after your sterling work at the Imperial academy of Ghaarak (in the homebrewed setting of the Shakhara empire)
- Neverwinter Nights: Witch's Wake — In the same bundle a remastered version of Rob Bartel's popular story-oriented module by the same name. The remastered version added new subraces, music, and substantial voice-acting throughout. After a battle, you are privy to the last words of a dying prince, yet you cannot remember who you are or where to go to report this.
- Neverwinter Nights: Pirates of the Sword Coast — In June, 2005, BioWare announced the upcoming release of a new premium module. The story begins in the city of Neverwinter, and leads to a lengthy ship-borne, swashbuckling-style adventure. Characters start at 5th level.
- Neverwinter Nights: Infinite Dungeons — In May, 2006, BioWare released this premium module which takes place in Undermountain below Waterdeep. The main feature is randomly generated dungeons, which are suitable for all levels of adventurer. The module is designed for single and multiplayer gaming.
- Neverwinter Nights: Wyvern Crown of Cormyr - Released later in 2006, this module highlights features introduced in the then-recently released V.2 of the Community Expansion Pack (CEP), including fully ride-able horses and horseback combat. Developed by community developer DLA, it is a single-player module, and (as of yet) the last Premium Module to be released by BioWare.
A sequel to Neverwinter Nights, Neverwinter Nights 2, was developed by Obsidian Entertainment, a company which had long been working with BioWare. According to BioWare, the change of developer is due to BioWare's business with other titles, such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age. The game was released in late 2006, and is set around the city of Neverwinter and the Mere of Dead Men.
Regions: Sword Coast North
Settlements: Beorunna's Well • Charwood • Luskan • Neverwinter • Port Llast
Landmarks: Fort Ilkard • Green Griffon Inn • Helm's Hold
Geography: Cold Wood • Moonwood • Spine of the World
Ruins: Charwood • Illusk
- Several of the in-game portraits were modified in patches due to parts of them being copied from copyrighted sources.
- The Red Cross symbol was removed from the Healer's Kit due to copyright complaints from Canadian Red Cross
- The Bioware and Baldur's Gate logos are visible on certain books in some bookshelves.
- On the belts of hill giants the word "Texas" can be read.
- Neverwinter Nights was first to be called by interplay "Neverwinter Nights 2"