Neverwinter Nights

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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 Neverwinter Nights 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.

The campaign was occasionally criticized for being 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.

Three expansion packs were released; Shadows of Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdark stepped 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 versions of the engine continue to be used to this day, 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 is also being used in The Witcher, though CD Projekt has revealed 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.

Tropes used in Neverwinter Nights include:

In addition, the first expansion, Shadows of Undrentide, provides examples of:[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Executive Meddling: Originally, the game would have allowed you to sell a kidnapped baby into slavery. You can still kidnap the baby, now you just can't do anything with it.
  • Lost Technology: The Netherese technology.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Double Subverted. He dies, but not by the poison.
  • Morph Weapon: Desert's Fury always appears as a weapon your character class is proficient in. Thoughtful, but odd when your Monk finds a Kama in an Egyptian desert tomb.
  • Precursors: The Netheril.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • The Dragon: J'Nah to Heurodis in Shadows of the Undrentide. Somewhat notable for being killed off almost as soon as she's introduced.

In addition, the second expansion, Hordes of the Underdark, provides examples of:[edit | hide]

  • 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.[1]
  • 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.
  • Brick Joke: The "Pearl of Bashing".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom?: Deekin sings this trope. This song is also a major reason why people love him, or alternatively, hate him.)
  • Estrogen Brigade Bait: 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.
  • Executive Meddling: There is a lot in Hordes of the Underdark. If you poke about in the dialogue trees of your party members in the toolset, you can see several dialogue options Dummied Out "at the request of WoTC." Justified, because some of the options can allow you to use the True Names to force your party members to love you. They also got rid of the best True Name option ever, though - making the Final Boss, Mephistopheles, into a Chambermaid.
    • There was also the ability to use a baby you picked up in Shadows of Undrentide for a Beholder's bridge machine. You'd get a spinning top.
  • 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.
  • Gosh Dang 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.
  • 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.
  • Like a Badass Out of Hell: Later on, you get to trek through the Hells. The player is a badass. Do the math.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. OT3 indeed!
    • 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.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Nathyrra and all the other Eilistraee-worshiping drow.
  • No Hero Discount: Lampshaded. One such merchant says he plans to teleport to safety if the upcoming siege goes poorly, and so if he doesn't charge you and you lose in spite of his generosity he'll be out of a lot of money.
    • 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
  • Precursors: The pre-devil Baatezu.
  • Schrödinger'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.
  • 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.
  • The Dragon: Mephistopheles is set up as this to the Valsharess, but thanks to The Plan he becomes a Dragon Ascendant.
  • The Power of Love: If you take her 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.
  • To Hell and Back: There's even a line for it in the endgame - "I've been to the hells and back, Durnan..."
  • Unwitting Pawn: Both the Valsharess and the player character.
  • 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: Averted. 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 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--not a huge fortune but it's still a considerable amount.
  1. 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.