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Video Game / Neverwinter Nights

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Neverwinter Nights was 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. One of them 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.

Unlike Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale, Neverwinter Nights is a more multiplayer-oriented RPG with more emphasis on online co-op (due to a lack of a traditional party system) and a persistent setting as when players die, the game continues with the player(s) being sent to a temple in the hub town/area with an EXP and monetary loss as punishment unlike story-driven RPGs where the player is simply forced to reload a save.

While the game received mostly positive reviews, the campaign was occasionally criticized as being repetitive and lacking in memorable characters, 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. This gave rise to a vast modding community with ambitious projects.

Two expansion packs Shadows of Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdark stepped away from the original campaign and focused on character development, roleplaying, and the intricate storylines for which BioWare is renowned. These proved to be more popular with fans.

BioWare additionally 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. BioWare stopped selling the premium modules in 2009.

The Aurora graphics engine, which debuted with NWN, proved to be successful and enduring, and various heavily modified descendants 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 Dot Com. For the original AOL MMORPG from 1991 that shared the same name, it now has its own page.

In 2017, developer Beamdog announced Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition and was released on March 27, 2018.

This game provides examples of:

  • After-Combat Recovery: If you so choose. You can rest anytime as long as you are far away enough from enemies, so it's possible to fight some monsters, then run to a safe distance, rest, and continue onwards.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The game was notorious for the Henchmen's bad AI. Tanks not attacking, spellcasters using the wrong spells, rogues not flanking and the list goes on.
  • 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.
  • 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: There are a lot of evil creatures bearing bat wings (and occasionally some regular bats appearing as low level hostile animals), though 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.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Even more so than Baldur's Gate. Every buildings you enter has larger interiors than outside.
  • 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.
  • Color-Coded Elements: Fire, electricity, cold, acid, sonic, magic, divine, negative energy, positive energy (white colored).
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Character’s health status goes like this: Green = uninjured, Yellow = barely injured, Orange = injured, Red = near dead.
    • Challenge Rating is also color coded: White = effortless, Green = easy, Blue = moderate, Yellow = challenging, Orange = very difficult, Red = overpowering, Purple = impossible.
    • Characters are color coded when you hover over them with the mouse pointer: White = PC, Green = friendly, Blue = neutral, Red = hostile.
  • 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.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Whenever a Giant throws a boulder at you, it will always land on you. Even if you try to dodge it, the boulder will change trajectory in mid-flight, home on to you and crush you.
  • Concealed Customization: While there's still plenty of helmet designs to pick and choose from, it still covers your even-more-customized head completely.
  • 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.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Many dungeon bosses have extreme resistance to magic, just to keep from being an Anti-Climax Boss whenever a sorcerer casts Charm Person on them. However, the waves of reptilian Abusive Precursors in the final dungeon of the original campaign seem to be resistant to every freaking spell except some spells that were added in later expansion packs.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Linu from the original campaign, if her dialogue is to be believed.
  • Day Old Legend: Averted here, where a weapon or piece of armor made by in-game will have the flavor text describe it being made by the specific blacksmith, in the current year and for the current campaign but in the same style as the "ancient" equipment so it feels like the player is crafting their legend for future adventurers as they play the game.
    • Played straight in the Expansion Pack Hordes of The Underdark. The game take place only a few months later and you find the über version of those same items, only they have new backstories.
  • Deceptive Disciple: Desther gives off the appearance of helping to combat the plague, but is secretly the one who's spreading it around.
  • 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...
  • Evil Laugh: A lot of villains have a lot of very cruel, lengthy laughs. Including one a player voice-set does upon death.
  • Experience Penalty:
    • A Multiclassed character receives a 20% exp penalty if the levels of their individual classes are apart by more than one (for instance, a 3rd-level Wizard/5th-level Rogue).
    • When travelling with companions, experience gains percentages are reduced depending on how many characters are in the party. (This is balanced out by the fact that the game will spawn more enemies, and therefore a higher base exp, for larger parties.
  • Expy: Aribeth share a lot of traits with the previous year's Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance's Eldrith. Both are female captain of the guard of their respective cities. Both were Paladins. Both felt betrayed by the city the protected and turned evil, and became blackguards, leading an assault against their respective city, dying in the process.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Aribeth joins Maugrim's cult after the rage she had for Neverwinter for the unjust execution of Fenthick finally takes over her.
  • Fake Faith Healer: When the city of Neverwinter is hit by the Wailing Death plague, several cultists working for the Big Bad infiltrate the city disguised as priests. They hide amongst the priests and healers that are trying to provide legitimate help, and offer "blessings" which they claim will protect people from the plague, but are actually helping to spread it.
  • Fairy Sexy: In-Universe, Dryads, nymphs, sprites, and general fey beings you encounter are always described as hypnotiziling beautifull.
  • 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.
  • Fractional Winning Condition: Chapter 2 of Hordes of the Underdark 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 him before you have beaten everything. Which quests you completed affects what characters appear during the ending battle.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Optional.
  • Game Mod: Pretty much the whole point- the game was marketed as a tool for creating and running your own adventures, with the toolset and DM mode major selling points.
    • After a while of doing your own mod creation, playing through the original (lackluster) campaign reveals that it's essentially a 40 hour promotional tool for the toolset itself. Weird gimmicks like the trial where NP Cs raise torches to show their vote are essentially just "See what kinds of marvelous things you can do with this toolset?"
  • Gargle Blaster: Scurrd. Not to mention the Dark Elven Tek'eela. Yes, it's a lame pun.
  • 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 Devil heritage.
  • 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.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards:
    • At lower-to-mid levels this is mostly played straight. 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.
      • This is especially averted in many persistent world games (resting tends to be heavily restricted, to be more like pen and paper D&D) and Epic level adventuring, and of course ridiculous in playing Epic Level characters in persistent world games. Spellcasters get very few new options past level 20, and enemy saves will scale up dramatically. Meanwhile, non-magic classes like Fighters will start to dish out hundreds of points of damage every round as they get fancy new gear up to +12 in quality in addition to Feats like Devastating Critical that will start instant-killing enemies left and right unless they're immune to Critical Hits.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Morag, although her lair IS a pocket dimension held up by her vast magic, being used as a glorified bomb shelter.
  • Load-Bearing Hero: The various modules based on this system love this trope.
  • Loading Screen: With gameplay tips to look at, even!
  • Locked Door: The lock on this door is too complex to pick, and is warded against simple spells. You will have to find the proper key.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: A rather obvious one, which soon leads to a Battle in the Center of the Mind.
  • Love Makes You Evil Aribeth pulls a Face–Heel Turn because her lover Fenthick is accused of helping to spread the plague and gets hung for it.
  • Ludicrous Gibs:
    • 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. For a not-quite-magic-missile effect, there's also Flame Arrow.
  • 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.
  • Mood Whiplash: At the beginning of the vanilla campaign, when meeting Aribeth for the first time, the music sounds like an angelic choir. Then immediately the assassins arrive and the battle music starts. Only for the former music to start again once the enemies are dead.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Haedraline. And Daelan. And Deekin, and arguably Xanos and Dorna, from the first expansion. Bioware likes these. Grimgnaw doesn't have any angst, but is about as far from the stock representation of fantasy dwarves as you can get.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The very first version of the game had several portraits of prominent NPCs based on real-life celebrities and models. Due to likeness rights they had to change them and a patch quietly swapped the portraits out for new ones. Here's a showing of the originals and their replacements.
  • No-Harm Requirement: There's a quest where the quest giver asks you to steal several pieces of art from various nobles in the city. She wants the current owners left scared but alive, so she'll dock your pay if you opt to kill any of them.
  • 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.
  • Obviously Evil: Desther's status as The Mole was kinda obvious from the start. Amusingly, though, said character doesn't count as evil for the purposes of things such as Smite Evil.
  • Pardon My Klingon: "Tekasi! Oh, excuse my Elven!"
  • 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 beginnings of 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.
  • Precursors: The Yuan-ti Ancients in the original game.
  • Protagonist Without a Past: The player character is given no backstory prior to coming to Neverwinter except a generic racial motivation of why you are there. 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 minor effects on gameplay. One is a minor sidequest concerning a female courtesan which can only be acquired if you're a male. Female characters with him Charisma are catcalled or flirted at by some NPCs. One 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 "Home Town" multiplayer module (running on the Viking Northeast AU server) to imitate the way the Diablo game generates its loot.
  • Real Time with Pause: Can be turned off during multiplayer by the DM.
  • "Save the World" Climax:
    • 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.
  • Shout-Out: A gnome quest-giver in the original campaign is a member of the turnip-loving Jansen clan.
  • 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.
  • That Poor Cat: When passing near a building in Port Llast, you'll hear a unseen cat screeching. Repeatedly.
  • Title Drop
  • 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.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Poor Fenthick...
  • 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.
  • Warp Whistle: The Stone of Recall in the original campaign, which made hit-and-run tactics possible for any character. Later campaigns gave you limited uses of their respective whistles.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: The monsters continue to fight your henchmen, though.
  • What the Hell, Player?: Try taking off all your armor and talking to the NPCs in public areas.
    • 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.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once the Wailing Death has run its course, Desther is promptly abandoned by Maugrim.

In addition, the first expansion, Shadows of Undrentide, provides examples of:

  • Cutscene Incompetence: You and your henchman inevitably get petrified between chapters. Normally you could attempt a Fortitude save to resist, but you aren't even given a chance.
  • The Dragon: J'Nah to Heurodis. Somewhat notable for being killed off almost as soon as she's introduced.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Bedine are essentially fantasy Bedouins.
  • 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.
  • Lost Technology: The Netherese technology.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Double Subverted. He dies, but not by the poison.
  • Precursors: The Netheril.
  • Shifting Sand Land: The Anauroch desert.
  • 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 section of the kobold caves includes a treasure room with prominent red arrows pointing to it and four lowered gates around it, which might as well have a sign reading “OBVIOUS TRAP” above it. When you open the chest and just find a note from the kobolds laughing at your foolishness, you're probably sighing and nodding in agreement as the gates spring up around you.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: Desert's Fury in Shadows of the Undrentide is a rare optional example; while it is not completely necessary for the following dungeon, it certainly helps.
  • Taken for Granite: The Big Bad is a Medusa after all.

In addition, the second expansion, Hordes of the Underdark, provides examples of:

  • Absurdly High Level Cap: Installing this expansion makes it possible to reach level 40, but most players finish the game around levels 25-30.
  • 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 
      • 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.
  • 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.
  • Brick Joke: The "Pearl of Bashing".
  • 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.
    Player Character: Sorry, Hell froze over.
    Mephistopheles: How very witty.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The final boss of Hordes of the Underdark, 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.
  • 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 are they killed off in the upper levels of the Undermountain, but none of them can accompany you past the first chapter.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Inverted when you get to epic levels. Wizards' Epic Spells aren't very powerful, 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. And 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.
  • 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: In Hordes of the Underdark you can use your love for Nathyrra and Aribeth 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.
    • 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.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Valen Shadowbreath, the Tiefling warrior in Hordes of the Underdark. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 her to his side by reminding her 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 his True Name, you can order the final boss of Hordes of the Underdark to die on the spot.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: After raising your foolhardy 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 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.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Of the six henchmen from the original campaign, Boddyknock Glinckle is never seen, mentioned or heard from. Then again...
  • 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, 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.