The first RPG by BioWare to be made completely in 3D, and their first game based on the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons.There are several things that NWN is known for. The first is the official campaign, which takes place in the Forgotten Realms universe, or, more precisely, the Sword Coast, in and around the titular city of Neverwinter.When Neverwinter is struck by an unknown plague called the Wailing Death, four Waterdhavian creatures are brought to the Neverwinter Academy in the hopes of extracting components for a cure. Unfortunately, the Academy is suddenly attacked by unknown forces and the creatures are scattered across the city. Lady Aribeth, a paladin of Tyr who has been placed in charge of investigating the source of the plague, enlists the player character to retrieve the cure components and save a city in chaos.While the game was generally met with positive reviews, the campaign (particularly the plot) was occasionally criticized for being relatively dull and repetitive, as well as being a departure from the rich, detailed worlds of the Baldur's Gate series. The area where NWN really found its niche was third-party content: the Aurora Toolset, an unorthodox example of a development kit included in the basic game installation, allowed users to easily create their own modules and campaigns, eventually giving rise to a vast modding community with very ambitious projects.Two expansion packs were released. Shadows of Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdarkstepped away from the original campaign and focused on character development, roleplaying, and the intricate storylines BioWare is renowned for.In addition, BioWare released a number of "premium modules" as paid DLC. Short self-contained, adventures, many of which were created by community members hired by BioWare, the premium modules became deeper and more complex as designers familiarized themselves with the engine and new tools were developed. The first three, Witch's Wake, Shadowguard and Kingmaker, were compiled into the third expansion, Kingmaker. Three more were made: Pirates of the Sword Coast, Infinite Dungeons and Wyvern Crown of Cormyr. While the modules themselves were well received, they required a constant connection to the internet as DRM; the modules in Kingmaker do not have this feature. When the premium module initiative ended, several projects were left hanging, though Darkness Over Daggerford and "Crimson Tides of Tethyr'' were released for free later. In 2009 BioWare stopped selling the premium modules.The Aurora graphics engine, which debuted with NWN, proved to be successful and enduring, and various heavily modified descendents of the engine were used throughout the 2000s, most notably the Odyssey engine in the Knights of the Old Republic series and the Electron engine in Neverwinter Nights 2. The main engine with modified graphics was also used in The Witcher, though CD Projekt RED has stated they were less than fond of the engine, claiming it responsible for many of the technical flaws present, leading to them developing their own engine from scratch for the sequel.The full game, including the premium modules, is available at GOG.com.
Automaton Horse: Modding options for horses were added in a late patch. None of the campaigns intentionally feature them, but a paladin PC can summon his special mount.
There weren't any horses AT ALL in the game and its expansion packs until they were added many years later. Yet almost every single merchant in each of the campaigns sold horse hair helmets...
Bad-Guy Bar: The Seedy Tavern, located in the thief and pirate-infested Docks District. There are only three ways to get in: wear a Bloodsailor Uniform, present 5 Smuggler's Coins, or steal a key from a locked house and break in through the back. None of these are legally acquired.
Bat out of Hell: Zigzagged. There are a lot of evil creatures bearing bat wings (and occasionally some regular bats appearing as low level hostile animals), but the default bat found in the level editor is just a very weak critter which is totally neutral to the player unless being deliberately attacked.
Boring Yet Practical: Items with Regeneration. Regeneration restores HP every round, equal to the power of the Regeneration enchantment - most items have Regeneration +1 and only restore 1 HP a round. The reason it's so good is that once you clear a room of enemies you're naturally going to loot the room and continue in the dungeon, and over that time you will slowly recover HP. It probably won't heal enough to make the difference in fights, but it'll save you a fortune in healing items by healing you over time between fights.
Chainmail Bikini: If you have opposite-gendered henchmen in the expansions, you can move the same suit of armor between your inventories and watch its icon change to reflect the gender of the person currently holding it—female armor is usually more revealing, and occasionally includes Absolute Cleavage.
Chekhov's Gun: Aribeth's ring, which you need to hold onto for the entire game to turn her back to good in the end of the first game. Unless you have a female PC, in which case you can never get the ring and can therefore turn her through dialogue alone.
Challenge Rating is also color coded: White = effortless, Green = easy, Blue = moderate, Challenging = yellow, Orange = very difficult, Red = overpowering, Purple = impossible.
Color-Coded Stones: The game has gemstones which all follow the stock-standard colors mentioned in the description.
Comic Book Fantasy Casting: Many non-player character images were traced from photos of various real-world celebrities, which got the creators in legal trouble when it turned out that some of the original images hadn't been properly licensed.
Continuity Nod: One weapon refers to the Cult of the Unseeing Eye in Amn and the player character meets a relative of Jan Jansen, both in the Baldur's Gate games.
Designated Villain: A rare in-universe example. Seemingly subverted by Fenthick, as it is clearly established that he was not at fault in his unwitting involvement in Desther's plot, and the government only had him executed because it was the only way to quell the riots after the Plague. Then the sequel comes along, and his spirit makes a cameo in an area specifically stated to be populated by the souls of Faerun's worst traitors...
Fairy Sexy: Dryads, nymphs, sprites, and general fey beings you encounter are all very nice to look at, both their models and their portraits.
Familiar: Wizards and sorcerers can choose a familiar as a permanent summonable companion.
Fishing For Mooks: Works great—Hide or Move Silently works against every enemy separately, and mooks who noticed PC pursue on their own, leaving their pals idle. Thus sneaking closer until detected and then luring the pursuers so far away that others will not hear attack and death sounds makes slaughtering them much easier, up to long No Damage Run.
Girls with Moustaches: In the The unmodded game, one of the player characters's female Dwarf faces has two medium braids of beard descending from her shin. The Community Expansion Pack mod compilation adds several female Dwarve faces sporting facial hair, which are shorter and lighter than their male counterpart.
Grey and Gray Morality: The Charwood subquest, full stop. Do you blame the younger brother for slaughtering children, the older brother who told him to do it to become an immortal so he could protect the village, or the demon who told them they had to do it when they didn't just because he thought it would be funny? After that, do you bind all three of them and the ghosts of the villagers to be trapped in limbo, or do you release them and let them rest peacefully but in doing so let the demon that was also trapped return to Hell?
Half-Human Hybrid: Every Half-Elf and Half-Orc, of course; beyond the obvious though, Shadows of the Undrentide's J'Nah is a Half-Sun Elf, Half-Demon, and Hordes of the Underdark's Valen is a Tiefling, a human with demonic blood.
Hard-Coded Hostility: Can be either played straight or averted, due to the advanced faction building system available to module builders. A faction can be made hostile, indifferent or friendly toward any and all other factions, including the "player" faction, independently as required.
Heroic Albino: Celestial-blooded characters in the disputably-canon Neverwinter Nights games and the definitely non-canon fan modules almost always show up with white or silver hair, very pale skin, and golden eyes.
Kleptomaniac Hero: Leading to some Moral Dissonance considering you can effectively steal from the poor and desperate—in the original game this caused no penalty, in the expansions unlocking the doors and chests of towns shifts your alignment towards Chaotic.
When you rest any spells you've used up are recharged, and you can rest anywhere as long as there are no enemies around, even on the third floor of an ancient ruin. The result is that after a few levels Wizards are far superior to melee classes, with powerful area-of-effect magic to take out enemies and powerful status spells to cripple boss-type foes and protect the Wizard. Additionally there are numerous side quests and extras like crafting magical items that only spellcasting classes can access; by comparison there are no quests exclusive to melee classes.
It starts to even out a bit more at the very high levels. Spell damage does not scale like weapon damage so you'll need to use higher-level spells to dispatch even common enemies, and you can fire every spell you have at a boss and barely get them down to Badly Wounded. Spell resistances also mean that late-game high-level enemies are likely to No Sell anything you throw at them anyway. Melee classes on the other hand don't need to constantly stop and rest to recharge spells, can get feats like Great Cleave to cut enemies down like dominoes, and while some enemies have damage resistance a high-level fighter can outdamage that.
The spell Destruction destroys most targets with a cloud of blood and imploding gibs, even if it's an object, such as a door or crate. This spell can also be applied (up to level 40) to gloves (punch the enemy/object for gibs), weapons (hit the enemy/object for gibs), and armor (get hit to gib the enemy).
The epic-level feat Devastating Critical does the same to anyone hit by said criticals, and keep in mind that NWN rules radically increase the critical hit rate over 3rd Edition rules they're based on (you may get a critical per 1-2 swings). Doing enough damage to destroy an object will smash it into flinders. This gets truly ridiculous when you have say, a halfling barbarian, wielding a dagger, destroying what appears to be an iron-bound chest...
It's even easier to get these if you turn the "gore" setting in the options to maximum. Play a cleric or paladin against undead, use your Turn Undead ability, and Hilarity Ensues.
Magic Missile Storm: Isaac's lesser missile storm and greater missile storm were homebrewed by BioWare for this game and are essentially an upgraded version of magic missile that strikes multiple targets. The series also makes flame arrow into one of these, whereas the pen-and-paper version is actually an enchantment to be applied to projectiles.
Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Fenthick and Aribeth, the "Scales and Sword of Tyr" respectively. Both have cleric levels, but armor-clad Aribeth is the one who engages in melee combat while Fenthick relies on his crossbow.
No Hero Discount: The merchants who you're trying to save will still charge you. Some will charge you a lot.
Non-Combat EXP: In addition to Quest EXP, Neverwinter Nights and its sequels include a few instances of XP beyond combat. Some conversations have bonus XP nestled in them for "roleplaying" options, there are times where avoiding the combat encounter will grant as much or more XP than fighting through it (if you're over-leveled for the fight).
One notable Original Campaign quest involves visiting a brothel. You gain experience points, for, um, sweet-talking a staff representative. If you're a halfling male, you get another opportunity to avenge a staff member's stalker.
Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Tomi's backstory is heavily Arabian, with a grand vizier named Sabbalan Vihayed, but his accent is a sort of mutant form of Cockney. This is never explained in any way.
Platonic Prostitution: It's a T-rated game, so Madam Ophelia's women (and men, and Halfling) get to take a break (if that's what you want, anway - you still get the option to rock the establishment). This is given a Hand Wave in-game that what Ophelia is doing is technically not fully legal, so it's a case of plausible deniability. You pay only for the right to enter a private room with a bed to see one of her workers for a short time. What you do during that time is between the two of you and none of Ophelia's business. No one said anything about brothels or courtesans.
Please Wake Up: One of the repeating sounds in the city, along with screaming and messages of doom.
Plot Coupon: Heaps of them. In the original campaign and the expansions, most of the Chapters boil down to you being set down in a town with the vague direction to pick a compass point, look for a Plot Coupon somewhere in that direction, and bring it back to whoever's in charge.
Protagonist Without A Past: The player character is given no backstory prior to coming to Neverwinter. This is in contrast with the sequel (and almost all other Bioware games), in which the protagonist's past is notably significant to the plot.
Purely Aesthetic Gender: Mostly played straight. Male or female has no effect on character building and only two effects on gameplay. The first is a minor sidequest concerning a female courtesan which can only be acquired if you're a male. The second effect is a bit more important, in that male characters can take Aribeth as a romance option and use The Power of Love to convince her to make a Heel-Face Turn at the end of the game. Female characters can pass a difficult Persuade check to the same end, so being a female does not stop you from doing this, it's just much harder than if you play as a male.
Randomly Generated Loot: The game itself doesn't feature it, but it's possible to add in a scripted module. It is actually done in the "Diablo - The Dark Wanderer" multiplayer module (running on the Viking Northeast server) to imitate the way the Diablo game generates its loot.
The original campaign begins with the effort to find a cure for the plague ravaging Neverwinter. It ends with Neverwinter fighting a full-scale war, and you trying to prevent the entire Sword Coast from falling back under the dominion of a 30,000-year-old sarrukh queen.
Hordes of the Underdark begins with drow raids on Waterdeep, and ends with a goddamn archdevil trying to take over Faerun.
The Dragon: Maugrim to Morag in the original campaign.
The End Is Nigh: This phrase will be permanently engrained in your skull if you run around the Neverwinter City Core with the sound running for too long. On that note, the city seems to have more doomsayers than plague victims.
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Aribeth in the original campaign, who despite being a heroic paladin until halfway through, never actually does anything, well, heroic. While she was promoted from a field-work position to a management position, it's still...well. Jarring.
Top-Heavy Guy: The Half-Orc characters (male and female) are all built with a very large chest on top of legs which proportionally seem to be a lot thinner. The trope is somewhat downplayed because their arms aren't so muscular compared to the chest.
Two-Part Trilogy: The two expansions are written with the assumption that the protagonist is the same character in both, and that they are not the same person who was the hero in the base campaign (since base game and Shadows take place at the same time). You can, however, import your high level character from the OC, making combat in Shadows ridiculously easy.
Unidentified Items: The series has the identify spell. You can also make a Lore check or pay a fee to a shopkeeper to identify magic items acquired as dungeon loot.
Violation of Common Sense: In the first game you're encouraged to stab yourself in the heart in one place. Sure, the game drops some heavy hints that it will take you to the spirit world, but you're still stabbing yourself in the goddamn heart!
This gets particularly bad if you take a close look at the altar. There's a skeleton on it, almost certainly belonging to that crazy dwarf you encounter in there.
NPCs also get annoyed if you walk around with your weapon drawn.
With This Herring: Despite working for the Lord of Neverwinter to save the city from destruction, and risking your life against all sorts of horrible creatures to do it, you're given little to aid you in your quest except for some Vendor Trash equipment at the Academy in the Forced Tutorial.
In addition, the first expansion, Shadows of Undrentide, provides examples of:
The Dragon: J'Nah to Heurodis. Somewhat notable for being killed off almost as soon as she's introduced.
Karma Meter: While the original campaign rarely gave or took aware points for alignment (unless you went out of your way to do evil things), alignment in this and Hordes is treated like this. Subverting the law (usually by going back on your word or by stealing things) shifts your alignment to Chaotic, while upholding it (keep your word) shifts to Lawful. Good and Evil meanwhile shift depending on if you're good and evil, naturally.
Shout-Out: In a somewhat Meta case, Shadows of Undrentide includes an NPC named Torias, after one of the more active moderators on the Bioware forums at the time.
Shmuck Bait: One can find a beautiful set of golden armor on a rack, right in the middle of a suspiciously large, empty room with plenty upon plenty of skeletons surrounding it. Even if you can't equip full plate armor, you will probably steal it anyways just to see what the trap looks like...
One section of the kobold caves includes a treasure room with prominent red arrows pointing to it, which might as well have a sign reading “OBVIOUS TRAP” above it.
What The Hell, Townspeople?: One of the quests in the game leads you to the Bubbling Cauldron Tavern, where you find a mob demanding that a group of kobolds release a barmaid they've taken captive. Some of the members of this mob are injured. Their thanks for healing them is attacking you en masse.
In addition, the second expansion, Hordes of the Underdark, provides examples of:
Absurdly High Level Cap: It's possible to reach level 40, but it's very unlikely you will reach 30th level. You're already very powerful by the time you reach Cania.
Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Somewhat inverted, actually. The best magical items you find will only be worth pennies at first, but what the game doesn't tell you is that there's a cap to how much merchants will pay for any item no matter how valuable. The more you progress in the game the higher the cap raises, and in Chapter 3 you can get tens of thousands of gold for items that merchants in Chapter 1 only offered you a couple thousand for.
Played straight with Volkarion, the djinn merchant. He horribly rips you off on the items you sell to him, and if you comparison shop with other merchants you can usually get one and a half times what he offers for the same item, if not much more.note In Chapter 3, the devil merchant in Cania will pay up to 50,000 gold for an item, assuming it's actually worth up to that much. Volkarion won't go any higher than 15,000. That's hundreds of thousands of gold he's scamming you out of.
Volkarion's horrible prices he gives you is somewhat justified in-game, because you can literally summon him whenever and wherever you are. Inventory full? Summon Volkarion, sell loot, continue looting. In fact, once you leave the City of Lost Souls, Volkarion becomes your only vendor - and you'll need every last gold piece when you meet the Knower of Names.
Bag of Spilling: At the beginning of Hordes, you wake up to find a drow assassin stealing all your stuff. Fortunately, you can get it back later... if you can find the right treasure chest.
Bottomless Bladder: Lampshaded. There are two conversations where Deekin talks about how he needs to go.
But Thou Must: Invoked in the most non-subtle way possible in Hordes of the Underdark. After the first chapter, the mage you freed in the final battle places you under a geas that forces you to track down and kill the Valsharess, or die. Of course, the mage is the notoriously Ax-Crazy Halastor Blackcloak.
Chekhov's Gun: Also The Relic of the Reaper, which is present as being the equivalent of the Stone of Recall for Hordes of the Underdark, and ends up being used to trap you in Cania and release an arch-devil to the mortal planes.
Clingy MacGuffin: The Relic of the Reaper in Hordes of the Underdark cannot be sold or discarded.
Contrived Coincidence: The Sensei's Amulet has a few nonsensical properties that just happen to be the only things that can get you through needlessly complicated areas of Cania. Finding the Severed Deamon Hand counts, too.
Deadpan Snarker: Numerous NPCs and henchmen, especially Enserric. The player has the option to be one too, of course.
Mephistopheles: Last I knew, I thought I had trapped you for all eternity in an icy little place called Cania.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: In the original campaign there were numerous exploits to get lots of money and exp by talking to someone to complete a quest objective, then clicking on them without exiting conversation to start the conversation over and get credit for completing the objective again. This game allows you to do the same, but only the first attempt gets you rewards.
On top of that, Mephistopheles lacks immunity to instant-death magic. This means that even though he has very high saves, you have at least a 5% chance to kill him with a single spell like Finger of Death.
Face-Heel Turn: Mephistopheles attempts to invoke this against your allies, with the results depending on how nice you were to them.
Face Heel Revolving Door: Aribeth again, though the severity depends on what you do. Between the original game and Hordes of the Underdark, Aribeth can be a Paladin who turns evil, turns back to good, seemingly turns evil again in Cania (Hell), turns good again, then sides with Mephistopheles in the final battle until you use her True Name to sway her back to your side.
Geas: As a way of avoiding the But Thou Must faux-choice, the player character gets a geas to kill the evil sorceress Valsharess.
Goshdang It To Heck: The guardian of the quarry in Hordes of the Underdark tells you to "pike off."
"Coal-black pimple on a glabrezu!"
Hailfire Peaks: The deepest areas of Cania include lava rivers flowing down solid glacial ice.
I Know Your True Name: The climax centers on this concept. If you pay enough money, you can skip the final boss by learning his true name, which can be used to command him.
Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Inverted when you get to epic levels. Wizards' Epic Spells are mostly terrible, with only the defensive ones being any good, while all their offensive magic loses with static damage against ever-advancing hitpoints. Meanwhile, Warriors not only get more and more damage and hit points, but also some incredibly powerful abilities, such as making your criticals save-or-die and making some class powers incredibly strong. Popular builds will force a save-or-die every third hit, or can get attacks with a damage of over 2k as a bare minimum, without even resorting to magic items.
Not to mention that you will find tons of ridiculously overpowered gear, most notably all sorts of melee weapons. And then there are all the equally overpowered items that allow even a pure fighter to cast a plethora of high-level mage and cleric spells, including epic spells.
Literary Agent Hypothesis: Invoked in Hordes of the Underdark to explain the first two games. There's even a possible conversation about it if you have Deekin and Sharwyn in your party.
You can make one between yourself, Nathyrra and Aribeth. You can flirt shamelessly with both of them if you take them as your henchmen, and at one point when they stop to talk to each other the conversation briefly switches to their feelings for you. The endings for the two actually don't conflict at all if you try to get both of them to fall in love with you, which would seem to imply you end up with both of them. A particularly racy dialogue option with both of them in the party actually has you trying to convince them to "share" you...and potentially succeeding!
If you have a female character, you can also do the same between you, Valen and the Sleeping Man. If you got your character to be those two men's true love from the Knower of Names, you're pretty much set that all 3 of you will fight Mephistopheles side by side in the final battle.
And then there's the fact that the name of your true love, and the name of the Sleeping Man's true love, are both chosen at random when you ask the Knower of Names who they are. There's the possibility that your henchman (or henchwomen, if you're a male with the two females) is in love with you and you with them, but the Knower of names reveals your true love to be someone else, and this same person is also the true love of the Sleeping Man, who is loved by the Knower of Places. The Knower of Names herself could also be someone's true love and she's in love with Mephistopheles. Ultimately, almost every conceivable permutation of Triang Relations can be achieved by some combination of characters, or even multiple combinations at once, all thanks to the Random Number God.
Mirror Match: Literally. Early on, you find a mirror. It spawns a duplicate of you, sans your weapon.
Two duplicates, if you destroy it.
Modular Epilogue: Hordes of the Underdark had one of these explaining where each of your companions and many people you met ended up. Not really a surprise given the amount of cross-pollination between BioWare and Obsidian.
Mundane Utility: In the final chapter you can learn the True Names of many characters, which allows you to command them to do anything and they must obey. Aside from the Big Bad, who you can command to die on the spot or to swear servitude to you, most of the potential speech options are uninteresting. However, forcing people to do things they may not want to do is obvious Video Game Cruelty Potential, and the options already available are as well, which may be why you're limited to two or three commands.
You can ask a merchant why he doesn't just give you free pick from his inventory since you're fighting to save his life, but he notes if you fail and the siege goes poorly he'll just teleport to safety, so your success or failure is of no consequence to him.
White Thesta she still charges you, but she says she's lowering her prices to only cover the base cost of the items since you are fighting to save the city. They're still pretty pricey though.
Polyamory: A male character can romance both Nathyrra and Aribeth, and if you declare your love for the former and get the latter named as your true love, this can result in a conversation where the two of them decide to share you, Nathyrra directly saying "there's room for both of us in his bed". Normally a glitch prevents Aribeth from being flagged as a candidate for your true love and thus prevents this from happening, but ten seconds poking into the source code for the campaign to change a single digit in the coding makes it accessible again.
The Power of Love: If you take them as a romance option, Nathyrra and Aribeth can be convinced to resist the Big Bad's attempts to sway her to his side by reminding her of your love.
Schrodinger's Gun: When you recruit Aribeth as a henchman, you can either turn her good or evil. If you turn her good she's loyal to you right up to the end and will try to resist the final boss's attempts to convince her to betray you. If you turn her evil, she'll betray you on her own and claim they had planned it this way all along. Rather inconsequential though, since you can still turn her back to your side with a Persaude check.
This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: In Chapter II you explore a dungeon chock-full of various golems and other constructs, that respawn thanks to a patrolling NPC that revives them. As your hench(wo)man takes the time to explain at the entrance, golems are not pleasant enemies to fight. Fortunately in the ground floor rooms you can fight a few weapons that have bonuses to hit and damage against constructs. With them the golems will fall in a few attacks and go from annoyingly strong to annoyingly persistent.
Vendor Trash: Taken to a new extreme compared to the original game and Shadows. In addition to random scrolls, potions, gemstones and other valuables, Hordes throws ridiculously overpowered equipment at you like it's going out of style. You are going to constantly trip over +6 and higher equipment pieces, equipment with innate Haste status, magic wands, unique armor that lets you cast magic spells every day, and more. Turns out you'll need it though, because you need to buy some very important things from a Money Sink in the last chapter, and you're looking at emptying out around a million gold to get the most vital ones, 2 million if you want them all.
We Can Rule Together: Play your cards right in the Hordes of the Underdark expansion, and you can use the True Name of Mephistopheles to bind him to your command, and choose to either rule the Eighth Circle of Hell together, or you rule it yourself with him as your lackey.
With This Herring: Partially averted, partially justified, compared to the original game. At the beginning of the game you have your items and equipment stolen by a thief, and the innkeeper gives you free access to the inn's armory to re-equip yourself before you set out. The stuff in there isn't great, but he's an innkeeper so that's to be expected, and he does have a fairly wide selection of equipment so most any class will be ready to go after a visit. As well, though you sadly don't get to collect on it in-game, the reward he put up for the quest you signed up for is 100,000 gold pieces - a huge fortune for anyone but an epic-level adventurer spending all his cash on high-level magic items.
The Worf Effect: In chapter 1, you bump into four companions from the original campaign: Tomi, Daelan, Linu and Sharwyn. Since this takes place after the Wailing Death, they're all high-level adventurers. Which makes it all the more disturbing when they're picked off one by one after charging into the Undermountain together, and none of them even made it halfway through.