Neverwinter Nights

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Neverwinter Nights
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Developer(s) Bioware
Publisher(s) Infogrames Entertainment
Release date(s) June 18 2002
Genre Computer role-playing game
Mode(s) Single player, Multiplayer
Rating(s) ESRB, Teen (13+)
Platform(s) PC (Windows / Linux), Macintosh

Neverwinter Nights (NWN), produced by BioWare and published by Infogrames Entertainment (now Atari), is a third-person perspective computer role-playing game that uses the Third Edition of the Dungeons & Dragons rules (with minor changes). It was released on June 18, 2002.



Play centers around the development of a character that becomes the ultimate hero of the story. 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.

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A brief skirmish in Luskan

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 Faerūn. It is part of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.

In Shadows of Undrentide (SoU), the story begins in the Silver Marches, eventually moving toward the desert of Anauroch and the Netherese city of Undrentide. Hordes of the Underdark (HotU) is a continuation of SoU, and as the name implies, most of the story takes place underground in the vast subterranean world known as the Underdark.


True to its Dungeons & Dragons roots, the first thing a player must do is create a character. One can choose the character's gender, race, class, alignment, stats (strength, dexterity, etc.), abilities (skills, spells, feats, etc.), appearance, and name. There is a great deal of customization involved - one can be, for example, an outdoorsman (Ranger class), healer (Cleric class), and choose the skills and feats that would help them the most (a Ranger out might want Animal Empathy, for example, while a Cleric would probably choose Combat Casting).

Showdown with Morag
Showdown with Morag

The actual game is rather 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. For example, when a fighter attacks, he might use a 1d6 short sword (meaning that one roll of a six-sided die determines the damage inflicted).

However, the official campaigns have been criticized for being lacklustre, and its notability was more or less established by its flexible multiplayer aspect as well as its large modding community.


The robust multiplayer component separates Neverwinter Nights from previous Dungeons and Dragons games, as there are many servers for players to choose from. Each server, depending on hardware and bandwidth, can support up to 64 players or more in the same module. NWN game modules run as a variety of separate genres and themes, including Persistent Worlds such as the World of Avlis (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 an intrepid team of builders can build a virtual world similar in scope and size to commercial MMORPGs.

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.


The Aurora toolset is supplied with the game so players can create stories for others to explore. The toolset allows the user to build areas using a tile system--the appearance and surface textures of the area are defined by the tileset. The user can also use the built-in NWscript to run cut scenes, quests, mini-games and so forth.

It can truly be said that it is with the toolset that the true potential of NWN could be realized, not exploited by the original campaigns. The online community put these development tools to good use, creating worlds, stories and playing experiences beyond the original ones. Despite its age, the Internet NWN community remains active.


In June 2003, the Shadows of Undrentide expansion was released. It adds 5 prestige classes, 16 new creatures (two of them available as additional familiars), 3 new tilesets, and over 30 new feats and 50 new spells, as well as additional scripting abilities for those who use the Aurora toolkit. It features a story line based in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, concerning a student sent out to recover some stolen magical objects.

In December 2003, another expansion, Hordes of the Underdark, was released. It expands the maximum amount of levels a character can reach to level 40 (epic levels), and adds a number of spells and items appropriate to such characters, as well as further tilesets, prestige classes, feats, and abilities, as well as adding compatibility with the Intel Pentium 4 Processor, which was unsupported in previous versions. The story continues where Shadows of Undretine ended, with a character of at least 12th level, and leads into the vast Undermountain dungeon beneath the city of Waterdeep.

In late 2004, BioWare launched its online store and started selling what it called premium modules as part of its digital distribution program. They are technically not expansions, but only individual adventures with commercially developed extra content that is not publicly usable. According to BioWare, the revenue is used to fund future patches and improvement on the game.

In March, 2004, an expansion known as the Community Expansion Pack based on community material was released. This expansion was not made by BioWare, and it can be downloaded free of charge. It adds much new content to the game and works with or without the two earlier expansion packs released by BioWare. This expansion is updated regularly.

In June, 2005, Bioware announced the upcoming release of a new expansion pack named "Neverwinter Nights: Pirates of the Sword Coast". The story begins in the city of Neverwinter, and leads to a ship-bourne, swashbuckling-style adventure. Characters start at 5th level.


The game is named after a now-defunct online game that was played on the AOL service, using software and an interface that was based largely on the "Gold Box" engine that premiered in Pool of Radiance in 1988. The original NWN, often referred to as "oNWN", was released in 1991 and was taken offline by AOL on July 18th, 1997 after a switch to a new pricing model for games. The original game followed Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition rules and was capable of being played by as many as 500 players at once. A persistent-world module, Neverwinter: Resurrection, has attempted to recreate many of the locales in the original game and attract the original player base. A stand-alone online recreation of the original NWN has also been created by players called Forgotten World (


A sequel to Neverwinter Nights, Neverwinter Nights 2, is being 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 Jade Empire and Dragon Age. The game is expected in 2006.


DragonLance Adventures

DragonLance Adventures is a team of artists that is semi-professionally making high quality custom content for Neverwinter Nights, to build a Dragonlance world within its engine. It is currently the most notable modding team working on the game, and has been contracted by BioWare to develop content for its digital distribution program. What the team was contracted to do is still yet unknown.

The Witcher

The Witcher, a computer role-playing game currently in development by the Polish company CD Projekt, is based on Neverwinter Night's Aurora game engine. Its development was highly publicized within the Neverwinter Nights community.

External links

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