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iMod - Neverwinter Nights
June 18, 2006 | Chris Noble

With the news that Atari is to dropping support for the popular Role Playing Game (RPG) Neverwinter Nights and its two expansions (Shadow of Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdark) comes the sad fact that there will be no more Premium modules made.

However, all is not lost. Neverwinter Nights is one of the best games on the Mac for adding user-made content, and nearly all Neverwinter Nights add-ons are Mac compatible. One of the best places to start look for extra content is the Neverwinter Nights Vault. Not only that, but add-ons for Neverwinter Nights are very simple to install. Hak files go in the "hak" folder, mod files go in the "mod" folder, and so on. More complex installations nearly always come with a read me explaining how to install the add-on.

More adventures
Apart from the Premium Modules made by Bioware, there are many additional quests and adventures that have been written by the Neverwinter Nights modding community. Due to the way the Neverwinter Nights engine works all you have to do to play one of these modules is drag it to the folder labeled "mod" in your Neverwinter Nights folder. Now when you start a new game and click on the "Other Modules" option all of your downloaded modules will appear. Some modules require one or both of the expansions, so be sure to check you have what you need to run the module.

Also more complex modules come with modifications to the game that add custom content. Some modules even completely remake an old game using Neverwinter Nights: Diablo, for instance.

New adventures are typically about as long as playing through a chapter of the original Neverwinter campaign. Some come in separate chapters as well, providing adventures that last as long (or even longer) than the original game.

Many adventures try to break from the gameplay style of the Neverwinter campaign (or either of the expansions). Changing the amount of role-playing, hack and slash, or puzzles and traps can radically change the playing experience. An example of an almost pure role-playing module is Tales of Celts II. In this module, and others like it, combat is a secondary consideration, so maximizing your character's effectiveness is relatively unimportant. It is interactions with Non Player Characters (NPCs) that are most important. What is more, money can be earned through means other than going out and raiding the nearest dungeon. Your character can create items and sell them, sing songs or cast spells for cash, or accept odd jobs from NPCs. Some modules take a different approach and create an adventure tailored for a specific class, usually an underused one in the original game, such as rogues.

Playing online
One of the great advantages of these extra modules is the ability to join up with some friends and play through an adventure together online. Some modules are designed specifically for this and are just about the right length to complete in one session. With a party of real people the game experience of Neverwinter can change dramatically. Unlike henchmen, your fellow player character's (PC's) will want their fair share of the loot. Should the player vs. player (PvP) settings allow for combat between players, PC's can fight each other should diplomacy fail. Often modules that are designed to be multiplayer require a Dungeon Master (DM). This is another player who has no character but essentially runs the adventure. DM's have a lot of power to affect the game, so making sure that the DM you are playing with is a good one is important.

More stuff
Many modules use extra items, abilities, characters, monsters, and objects that are not part of the standard Neverwinter Nights game. Commonly known as "hak files," these modifications can add a whole new dimension to your adventures. All modules with custom content will have the hak files included; you just place the hak files in the hak folder of your Neverwinter Nights game folder.

The most comprehensive add-on package is the Community Expansion Pack (CEP) which forms the basis of many extra modules. The CEP contains hundreds of new weapons, shields, item designs, and abilities. It also adds hundreds of extra objects, textures, and effects. The CEP comes with a module called "CEP Open Day" that nicely showcases some of the new things that you can use. There are many other add-ons that you can download and install, though. However, be careful. If you save a character with data that is specific to a particular add-on and try to load them in a module that does not have the add-on supported, your character will not work properly.

Creating your own content
The Mac version of Neverwinter Nights does not come with the module editor that the Windows version does, but do not despair! A group of enterprising fans have started the neveredit project (which can be downloaded from MacGameFiles. Though it isn't yet able to create new modules from scratch, it can edit existing modules, which means that you can modify modules so that you can use any add-ons that you want.

If you have a friend with the Windows version of Neverwinter Nights you can make a module using the PC editor, run it just fine on your Mac, and edit it using neveredit. Most websites that host add-ons for Neverwinter Nights are more than happy to accept new submissions. So if you have created a module you really enjoy you can share it with the rest of the Neverwinter Nights community.

Neverwinter Nights may have lost its official support but you can be confident the modding community will keep new content flowing for quite some time.

Related Links
Neverwinter Nights
Neverwinter Nights Support Pulled by Atari
The Neverwinter Nights Vault
The Community Expansion Pack


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