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Adventure & RPG
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Neverwinter Nights
July 22, 2003 | Christopher Morin

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There are eleven basic classes in NWN. Monk, Rogue, Sorcerer, Bard, Druid and Ranger (my personal favorite) are some of them. Each class has a list of skills to further specialize their abilities. A fighter may concentrate in skills such as discipline or two-handed fighting. Your thief may further advance in moving quietly or in setting traps. The Paladin may concentrate on persuasion in order to be more effective as a leader and at turning the undead. As the PC advances, the game presents the player with the option to further these skills or add new skills.

Each class also has a specialty class. These specialties are there mainly for the player and do not have much impact beyond helping you channel where to apply your skill points as you level up.

No matter which class of character you choose, NWN’s prelude acts as a sort of primer level to teach you the basics of the interface, learn how to utilize a henchman, and teach you that it is a good idea to save often. Before you can graduate you must also familiarize yourself with combat, spell casting and thieving activities in the various parts of the academy that pertain to those feats. After completing your class’ skill training, you can head to the graduation hall and into the main part of the story.

This story is one of the more developed stories in an RPG. No matter your chosen alignment, the goal of finding the source of mysterious goings-on in the city is a thrilling adventure. After completing the prelude and getting into the story proper, you are faced with many opportunities to hire henchmen. I went through some of the game a few times, but found that the little thief Tomi Undergallows was the most useful henchman as he was very good at detecting and disarming traps, picking locks and executing sneak attacks on the plethora of evil doers within the game’s first chapter.

The story in NWN is linear in fashion, but there are numerous side quests to help your character level up quickly, as well as obtain some powerful, valuable artifacts. These rabbit trails include the typical retrieval of some lost object for a powerful person who could have done it themselves but will show appropriate gratitude when you return with their trinket, finding a lost sibling or child for someone so afraid to leave their position that they will still be there when you return.

In NWN you can only have one henchman at a time. This will be a big switch for those used to the large parties in Baldur’s Gate and Dungeon Siege. It will take some effort to get used to managing only one NPC (non-player character) when you were accustomed to having all disciplines represented in your party – as I was after too many hours with BG2 and Dungeon Siege. I almost always chose a melee fighter as my main character, so choosing a thief meant I did not have a cleric; hence I single-handedly kept the Neverwinter economy humming along with my regular purchase of healing potions.

Weapons and gear in NWN also are much more detailed, and not only in their appearance. There are many, many incredible weapons to find in the various dungeons and keeps. Of course, you are limited on the amount of weight your character can carry, so inventory management is crucial. It is further complicated by the fact that you cannot pass inventory items off to your henchman. This means you will be forced to part with some treasure at various times in the game. How many times have you played an RPG game and realized, too late, that you dropped an important plot item to make room for that +3 broadsword? In NWN, you can get those items back, but it will cost you some of your hard-earned gold to retrieve the item.


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