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Neverwinter Nights / Hordes of the Underdark

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Main game | Shadows of Undrentide | Hordes of the Underdark

Hordes of the Underdark provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Absurdly High Level Cap: Installing this expansion makes it possible to reach level 40, but even if you complete every last sidequest and kill every last enemy, you should expect to finish somewhere between levels 25-30. The rest is left up to community modules to make up the difference.
  • 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 the djinn merchant Volkarion, however. 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  Of course, he's the merchant you can literally summon whenever and wherever you are.
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  • Bag of Spilling: You wake up to find a drow assassin stealing all your stuff. In-game dialogue allows the PC to hang a lampshade on it by repeatedly claiming you "only want [your] stuff back!" Which you eventually can get back, mostly, provided you remember to loot one of the drow encampments. But by then you've probably found better counterparts for many of the items anyway.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: An upstart drow matriarch calling herself the Valsharess ("Empress" in Drow) has made a decent start at Taking Over The World, conquering much of the Underdark and extending her attacks even to the surface — something almost unheard of for the subterranean drow. Naturally, she's presented as the Big Bad, and the game also makes a point to stress how exceptional she is. She probably should have seen her replacement coming, however, considering she was gaining her power from a bound devil, no less than the archdevil Mephistopheles, lord of the eighth layer of Hell, and the second-biggest Chessmaster in a place whose level of scheming makes even the endemic Chronic Backstabbing Disorder of drow society look like a picnic. Inevitably, Mephistopheles manipulates her to bring in the Player Character to kill her and let him free, leaving him to lead a much more credible bid at conquering the world in the final chapters.
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  • Boss Arena Idiocy: A tribe of vampires in the second chapter litter their lair with breakable wooden objects, including wooden treasure chests next to each of their coffins. Naturally, you kill them until they flee to regenerate, then break something wooden nearby so you can finish them off with your makeshift stake.
  • 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. 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 Halaster Blackcloak.
  • Chainmail Bikini: The Valsharess' armor, black and spidery, deliberately made to resemble a dominatrix outfit made of metal — she even uses a whip as her Weapon of Choice. If you pause the game right when she dies, you actually have a small window of opportunity to loot the Valsharess' armor. Interestingly, if equipped by male PC or your companion Valen it STILL looks like a spiky bikini.
  • Chekhov's Gun: 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 cannot be sold or discarded. The item description specifically mentions that when you tried to get rid of it in the past it somehow always turned up among your things again.
  • Cloning Blues: After the player kills the drow keeping Halaster captive, another Halaster teleports in, and informs you that you ruined his brilliant plan to trap the Big Bad using a clone. The two Halasters then begin to bicker about who is the original, and who is the clone — all the while rhyming. The funny part is that normally it's done via simulacrum and that in canon Halaster used to have multiple semi-autonomous body replicas all over the Undermountain and control them more or less at will.
  • 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.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: At one point, you have the option to take out a large number of drow holding a formian hive in slavery, or just sneak by. If you agree to save the formians, you're treated to a cutscene of your character storming through the gates and shouting to call the enemies' attention to themselves. Not very fun if you're playing say a rogue or some other character who was hoping to rely on stealth, tactics, and maybe not taking on every enemy in the area at once.
  • 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.
    Player Character: Sorry, Hell froze over.
    Mephistopheles: How very witty.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The final boss, Mephistopheles, the second most powerful Devil in the multiverse. Compare to Baldur's Gate, where in TOB you get to punch out the multiverse's number one Demon as a Bonus Boss. 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.
  • Disc-One Final Dungeon: When storm the Valsharess's temple. It's not end of the game yet.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: Deekin sings this trope.
  • Dracolich: You'll face Vix'thra, the draonic lich who rules the undead faction in the Underdark. You can destroy his Soul Jar and quickly end the battle, providing you can overcome the many traps protecting it. Or if you're feeling lucky, you can destroy him, wait for him to resurrect and kill again up. You can do this up to four times.
  • The Dragon: Mephistopheles is set up as this to the Valsharess, but thanks to The Plan he becomes a Dragon Ascendant.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: The four Neverwinter companions. Not only can none of them can accompany you past the first chapter, but they're killed off in the upper levels of the Undermountain for good measure.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Your allies consist of a drow assassin out to redeem herself from past crimes and suffering from a severe case of guilt, a tiefling mercenary with rage issues who feels he has to bury his emotions as deep as possible to avoid exploding, an unjustly executed fallen paladin brought Back from the Dead, and a kobold bard who's writing up your adventures who spent most of his life as the Butt-Monkey of a kobold clan ruled by a dragon.
  • Escaped from Hell: The entire third act consists of the player trying to escape from the Eighth Circle of Hell after being killed by Mephistopheles.
  • 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.
  • Fractional Winning Condition: Chapter 2 ends after you complete four out of five main quests presented at the start, though it is possible to complete all of them, since the final stage triggers when you speak to the seer and you don't have to return to her before you have beaten everything. Which quests you completed affects what characters appear during the ending battle.
  • Freudian Trio:
    • Superego: Nathyrra/Valen — Both work to remain calm and detached, and to rise above their base instincts
    • Ego: The Player — Reins in the excesses of his/her teammates (hopefully)
    • Id: Deekin/Aribeth — Both are ruled by instinct and emotion over logic
  • 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, Gru'ul, tells you to "pike off", and comes up with "Coal-black pimple on a glabrezu!".
  • Hailfire Peaks: The deepest areas of Cania include lava rivers flowing down solid glacial ice.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Aside from the addition of romance sidequests, there are numerous succubi and fairy characters with curvaceous character models, the game's initial Big Bad, the Valsharess, attempts to sexually seduce you in a confrontation, and the character descriptions for most any female character are sure to mention how beautiful they are.
  • 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.
  • Joke Item: The Pearl of Bashing's only use is to make a joke only coders will understand: by plugging it into the bridge controls in the beholder cave, it delivers a message in BASH shell format/Scripting Languagenote . PERL is another programming language.
  • Klingon Promotion: Zesyyr of House Maeviir intends to assassinate her mother, Myrune, to take her place as Matron Mother, and will request the PC help. It's really a simple example of a wider web of intrigues, plots and double games that are the norm in the ruthless drow society.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Deekin sure likes to do this. Among other things he wonders why dragons have wings if they can't fly, and comments that Aribeth's armour isn't practical at all.
  • To Hell and Back: There's even a line for it in the endgame - "I've been to the hells and back, Durnan..."
  • Love Redeems: You can use your love for Nathyrra and Aribeth or Valen to convince them to side with you over the final boss.
  • Love Triangle: Hoo boy.
    • 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. And a second one, if you destroy it.
  • Modular Epilogue: Hordes of the Underdark has 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.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Valen Shadowbreath, the Tiefling warrior and weapon master. It's even lampshaded in-game, when he gets catcalled by Drow priestesses asking about his tail.
  • 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.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Nathyrra and all the other Eilistraee-worshiping drow. Also Deekin.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: To deal with the Illithid, the Seer suggests a diplomatic strategy, and tasks the player with finding away to persuade the Elder Brain of Zorvak'mur into leading the whole Illithid to withdraw their support to the Valsharess. The Elder Brain will request the Shattered Mirror in exchange, so that they can use it to protect themselves from the Valsharess. Nothing prevents you from disregard the diplomatic approach altogether and raze to the ground Zorvak'mur, but in doing that the Illithid will be only barely weakened and still participate in the invasion of Lith My'athar. However the Modular Epilogue completely suberts this: if you ignored Zorvak'mur, it will grow powerful enough to infiltrate the surface of Toril; if you handed over the Shattered Mirror, they will use it to dominate their region of the Underdark. If you chose to destroy Zorvak'mur, the Illithid there will be so weakened to succumb to their former Drow allies and become their slaves.
  • No Hero Discount: Lampshaded twice:
    • 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.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: 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.
  • Old Save Bonus: Canonically the protagonist of Hordes is the same of Shadows, so you could use the previous character for the sake of continuity. Of course this is not mandatory: nothing prevents you from using a new one or any other preset character you didn't played with in Shadows.
  • 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, Valen and Aribeth can be convinced to resist the Big Bad's attempts to sway them to his side by reminding them of your love.
  • Precursors: The pre-devil Baatezu.
  • Prefers the Illusion: At one point the illithid Elder Brain may force you into a Lotus-Eater Machine illusion. You can break out, or you can choose to stay for a Non Standard Game Over of your body tolling away as a mindless slave.
  • "Save the World" Climax: Hordes of the Underdark begins with drow raids on Waterdeep, and ends with a goddamn archdevil trying to take over Faerun.
  • 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 Persuade check.
  • Sealed Badass in a Can: You, after Mephistopheles banishes you to Cania.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • Bioware became aware that fans were disappointed with the original campaign and had Deekin and the PC conserved about it:
    Deekin: Deekin finish his great epic story about boss, too, just like Deekin say he would! Did you sees it? Did you likes it?
    Protagonist: It was better than this book I read about the plague in Neverwinter.
    Deekin: Deekin read that! It not gots kobolds, though, so Deekin think it very boring. Dumb elven lady no substitute for good kobold.
    • Later, Sharwyn and Deekin have a similar conversation about the two "books." Sharwyn says she liked the start of Deekin's, but thought the second chapter was a bit rushed. Deekin counters by offering to point out the problems with Sharwyn's book, and she grows indignant, sniffing there are no problems with her book.
  • Slave Market: The illithid (Cthulhumanoid monsters with Psychic Powers which they use to enslave members of other races) run slave auctions at a trade outpost called Zorvak'mur. If you participate in the auction and win, you can choose to give your new slave her freedom, or send her to the gladiator pit to fight other slaves for the illithid's amusement.
  • Shmuck Bait: That golden armor trap in Shadows of Undrentide returns. With even more skeletons surrounding it.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: If you learn the Final Boss' True Name, you can order him to die on the spot.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Between the Eilistraee-worshipping drow led by the Seer and House Maeviir, the original residents of Lith My'athar. Although the latter were forced to flee the Underdark cities because of the Valsharess, they have ideologically nothing in common with the Eilistraee followers and never miss the opportunity to mock them as cowards and weaks. Shouldn't come as a surprise that Matron Mother Myrune of Maeviir intends to pull a Face–Heel Turn against the Seer.
  • 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 find 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.
  • Title Drop:
    • The opening cutscene closes with one:
    Narrator: And in their darkest hour, the Lords of Waterdeep have issued a call for a hero... someone who can defeat the hordes from the Underdark
    • In a dialogue with Deekin, he mentions that he's going to be writing a book about your adventures, and asks you to give it a name. Naturally, one of the options is Hordes of the Underdark. Or "Anything but Hordes of the Underdark", prompting some scribbling on Deekin's part.
  • 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 took place at the same time).
  • Unwitting Pawn: Both the Valsharess and the player character.
  • Vendor Trash: Taken to a new extreme compared to the original game and Shadows. In addition to the random scrolls, potions, gemstones and other valuables you'll expect to find, Hordes throws ridiculously overpowered equipment at you like it's going out of style to the extent they become this trope. You are going to constantly trip over +6 and higher weapons with other bonus effects, equipment with powerful statuses like Haste and Regeneration, magic wands, magic rings, magic armor, equipment that lets you cast magic spells every day for free, etc. Turns out you'll need it though, because there's a Money Sink in the last chapter where you're looking at emptying out around a million gold to get the most vital ones, 2 million if you want them all—the game throws all this high-value stuff at you so you can actually have a chance to get your hands on that kind of money.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: After raising the adventuring companions from the dead, you can decide you're bored with them and kill them again. They will even lampshade the absurdity of it. Then you can raise them again and kill them again. This is a quick easy way to shift to an evil alignment if you wish.
  • We Can Rule Together: Play your cards right, 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.
  • Wham Line:
    Mephistopheles: I shall *not* do as you desire, great Valsharess.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Of the six henchmen from the original campaign, Boddyknock Glinckle is never seen, mentioned or heard from. He may have gone back home to Lantan.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: The Drow are a race of white-haired, dark-skinned Always Chaotic Evil elves. The worshipers of Eilistraee, like The Seer and Nathyrra, are an inversion, as they try to abandon the evil and warmongering customs of most drow.
  • With This Herring: Downplayed, compared to the original game. At the beginning of the game you have your items and equipment stolen by a thief, but since you're there to take up a job the innkeeper posted, he gives you free access to the inn's armory to re-equip yourself before you set out. The stuff in there isn't high-quality but that's to be expected given he's just an innkeeper, and at the least he has a fairly wide variety of gear stored, so almost any class will be able to at least suit up properly. As well, though you sadly don't get to collect on it in-game, the reward he put up for the quest you signed on 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. You can resurrect them though.


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