His Unholy Mistress

No heinous deed goes unpunished.

Especially when that heinous deed threatens the city of Neverwinter, and led to a freshly graduated Halfling Ranger being entrusted with its continued existence and prosperity. One that has never faced anything more challenging than an inanimate training dummy. But ours is not to reason why, ours is simply to endanger ourselves while capable adventurers cower in fear. Neverwinter Nights is a narrative-driven CRPG based on the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition rules, which tasks you with uncovering the truth behind a virulent plague that has consumed the city.

A truth buried in ancient legends.

One that takes our intrepid adventurers on a journey through lush forests, mouldering tombs, thriving farmlands, defiled temples, and many other treacherous regions. And one that involves conquering the seemingly unending swarm of freshly resurrected corpses.

Which does make some semblance of sense, as there is no shortage of fresh corpses due to the plague. They might as well put those corpses to work. Especially if it’s going to impede the adventurers who are looking for a cure to said plague. But that’s why you enlist the services of a Cleric, or a Paladin, and regularly use Turn Undead, because that will obviously solve this problem. Until an absurdly powerful fallen champion rises from their grave. Then you’re going to hammer the Stone of Recall hotkey, and pray that they have disappeared upon your return. Which did happen on more than one occasion. I’m not really sure why it happened, or what caused it, or why they would suddenly be on a different map, but it sure was annoying. And it could’ve easily broken numerous quests had I not hunted them down.

She may be small, but she sure is mighty.

Neverwinter Nights has proven to be an enjoyable experience, but I’ve been continually disappointed by the uneven nature of combat. Succeeding in challenging encounters is a slog. It’s not a fun slog, either. It usually involves being unable to hit (or deal damage to) a particular creature, while taking ludicrous amounts of damage for your flailing. Admittedly, this build wasn’t the most proficient in combat. But I wasn’t usually struggling this badly. It’s kind of understandable, as these encounters are supposed to be challenging, but this didn’t feel challenging.

It felt frustrating and annoying.

Otherwise, it has largely been the experience that I’d hoped it would be. Deeply satisfying quests that encourage exploration, with extensive character development opportunities, and delightfully flexible rules, allowing you to truly immerse yourself in the thrill of adventuring.

Having now completed the main campaign, I’ll be attempting to complete the two expansion packs, Shadows of Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdark, as well. I’ll be journeying through those with a Half-Orc Cleric who favours two-handed axes, which will only persist until an enchanted two-handed sword becomes available to him. But one can hope that a decision made while conceiving a character will actually be adhered to. Even if it would be as much of a surprise to me as it would be to you. Despite the sometimes lacklustre encounters, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how engaging I’ve found this experience to be. Hence why it’s so easy to recommend Neverwinter Nights to those craving a complex CRPG, and to those who value meaningful character development that defines your build and its capabilities.

Have a nice weekend, all!


Raised in Servitude

The shambling rhythm of the undead.

Of the many decisions that I’ve made with this build, having the undead as (one of) her favoured enemies was arguably one of the best. They’re everywhere. I can’t seem to explore a single crumbling ruin, ancient temple, or odorous sewer without encountering a skeleton or twenty. They’re also ridiculously strong for aberrations that no longer possess muscle. I’d like to believe that their unholy strength is wrought from their hatred of the living, as they can still enjoy the wondrous aromas and flavours of delicacies that escape those without a digestive system.

It quite literally escapes.

Right through their ribs, as no organ nor weave of flesh exists to prevent it from doing so. Which means that they’ll never need to worry about weight gain, or doing those simple exercises every day to build muscle. They’ll just need to worry about a murderous dual-wielding Halfling.

Having conceived this build without much experience with the 3rd edition rules, I’m rather pleased by how satisfying- if not inherently flawed- it is. Flawed mostly because I built her as a Halfling. Her equipment restrictions have been frustrating but manageable, but her lowered Strength has consistently reduced her damage per hit. Which was somewhat alleviated by taking a few levels of Rogue, as she’s now able to perform Sneak Attacks, which deal an extra 2d6 damage, should the target be unable to defend itself or engaged with another. And her extra damage will only increase as she further develops as a Rogue. Having also acquired the Fist of the Legion, which affords her a chance to stun with each hit, she has been able to deal that extra damage rather reliably. As can her panther as it is deemed a Rogue, too.

Those who disturb the tranquillity of nature shall be punished.

An approach that is as effective as it was coincidental, and one that benefits from taking additional levels as a Rogue. But doing so would affect her panther, as its level is based on her Ranger level, and so to forsake Ranger for Rogue would weaken (but also strengthen) it. I’ve also been utilising various magical boots, rings, amulets, cloaks, helmets, and even bullets to overcome many of her other shortcomings. Not that these benefits seem to affect her panther, and besides casting spells (such as Magic Fang) I can’t directly influence its combat proficiency.

Not that it needs to be hardy.

With a magical rod and a few spells she’s reasonably comfortable staying in close quarters, evading most damage while also attacking at a staggering pace. Which I can only assume is based on her ridiculously high Dexterity. I don’t know what else could be affecting her attack speed.

Despite its age, evident with its clunkier mechanics, and often finicky inventory management, I’ve greatly enjoyed the time I’ve spent with Neverwinter Nights. I wasn’t aware of the latent potential of this build, but I’ve been continually surprised by it. Just like that random corpse that surprised me with a Bag of Holding. I wasn’t expecting to find that there. Throughout the main campaign I’ve trekked through forests, explored gloomy crypts, and delved into many a cave. I’ve had to use amulets to interact with NPCs, utilise skills to further quest progression, and rely on numerous pieces of information to solve puzzles. And that’s exactly what I’d expect from a CRPG. An experience that is complex and unforgiving, which encourages exploration and creativity, but doesn’t simplify encounters to protect those who stray too far from safety.

Have a nice weekend, all!


Returning to Neverwinter

A bustling city with the slightest hint of plague.

It’s been roughly fifteen years since I first experienced Neverwinter Nights. At the time I had very little knowledge of the different Dungeons & Dragons rules, and so all of the characters that I built were probably malformed clunky failures that were based on my experiences in other RPGs. I remember being fond of Clerics and Paladins. Which is hardly surprising as I usually build self-sustaining characters, as they’re often viable in all kinds of content. But I doubt that they were built correctly or had any combat proficiency. Even my recent attempts at building a Rogue have lacked combat proficiency.

But that’s mostly resolved once they get dual-wielding feats.

Weapon Finesse is arguably the feat that defines this build, though. Given her naturally high Dexterity, her attack rolls have been substantially increased by using its modifier. I’d likely be more successful were I to be a Ranger or Fighter instead, but certain skills that I’d like to invest in would be considered cross-class for those classes.

It’s an unorthodox build for me as I rarely build sneaky characters. However, Dark Souls was the exception to that rule as well. I tended to favour high Dexterity builds focused on rolling and that seemed to work out just fine. I’m also noticing that the 3rd edition rules have an absurd amount of flexibility, in that I could easily take a level or two in another class and immediately gain significant bonuses. At the moment I’m leaning towards Rogue/Cleric. I had considered Wizard or Sorcerer, but wearing armour incurs an Arcane Spell Failure penalty, which doesn’t really make sense when I’d prefer to wear armour, as I’ll primarily be dual-wielding in close quarters combat. Regardless, I am curious as to how Sorcerers actually work.

Not much of a test for someone so skilled in thievery.

I’m undecided as to whether it would be preferable to build as a Cleric and then take a level in Rogue or to do the opposite. I think the decision would affect the number of spells per day available to the character. As I do believe that building as a Rogue and then taking a level in Cleric reduces the number of spells per day by half, but the lack of spells per day could also be due to the average Wisdom that this build has. These are details that, due to my inexperience with the 3rd edition rules, are still somewhat confusing. I believe that I still acquire the same number of class skills were I to build the character either way.

Which is the most important aspect of being a Rogue for me.

That said, this build may not be entirely viable. I don’t see any significant reason why I couldn’t finish the campaign with it, but I’m still quite confused as to the implications (and severity) of the experience penalty incurred when choosing additional classes. However, I’ve taken the safe option of being a Halfling to negate the penalty entirely.

It’s also fun being a tiny, stabbing, thieving machine who dual-wields weapons with great finesse. It’s a strange build but one that I’ve been endeared to as I’ve tinkered with every aspect of it. I’m not sure if this will be the final character that I’ll choose or if I’ll find another idea to build around, but I’ve greatly enjoyed the flexibility and freedom of the 3rd edition rules. I’m also not sure if I’ll be seeing Neverwinter Nights through to the end or not. I’ve mostly been enjoying toying with different builds and trying to do something unusual. The easier default option for me would be to choose a Fighter or Barbarian. But I would prefer to try something new as there are many neat mechanics you can utilise in these rules.

Have a nice weekend, all!