Neverwinter Nights -- Newbie Guide (per request?!)
Neverwinter Nights is quite a new game, and more different from other
games than it might first glance. I'm a newbie myself to the game (although
not to DnD), so consider this as a work-in-progress and of little value to
an advanced player. But after hearing the pain some of my newbie friends
are going though, I thought I would take this first effort as a helpful guide.
In this version, the organization is weak, but it tries to cover several points
that the new player should know.
This is not Diablo. Or Diablo 2.
Despite some similaries in graphics and in concepts, NWN is a VERY different
game from Diablo or D2. First of all, it's primarily a role playing game (RPG).
Those NPC's that prattle on and on... the quests so numerous you'll need to
actually use the 'Journal' function... your alignment, race, and attitude...
It's not a click-fest. In fact you could enter a battle, and face and kill several
opponents without a single click! And yet, for those interested, tactics can play
a very important role. Yes, the NPC's can talk and talk, but they're not an
unimportant side-element, but a key player in the game. Keep in mind that
eventually, there will be dungeons written by DM's who hate this and like a
good combat game, and there will be more choice for those who can only
take so much. Or play an evil character and yes, you can threaten and
talk trash to many of the NPC's. I've not tried it yet, but I think you can try
to rob them :P (Haven't you wondered what it would be like to take
Cain out to a back alley and knock out some teeth after hearing for the 985th
time to stay a while and listen?!)
It only looks real-time!
It was striking how much dancing around the combatants do, and how much
was going on in battle. And yet, there's a VERY
key thing to understand.
Everything takes place on the basis of a round. A round is six seconds. Look
closely. You will take precisely one swing, fire one arrow, drink one potion,
or pick one lock, every six seconds like clockwork. There is no concept of
weapon speed in the sense of cycle time (how often you swing), only in terms
of initiative (whether you swing first or the other guy). So don't think (like I did)
that a heavy crossbow will fire much less than a shortbow. Both fire at the
(glacial) speed of one shot per six seconds. If you click on a foe, you'll keep
attacking it until it or you are dead. If it dies, and another foe is within in
arc in front of you, you'll make an "attack of opportunity" and engage him.
(Making it even less of a click-fest) Does that mean it's slow and boring
and tactics don't matter. Not necessarily. Your character can move, at least
some distance, within those six seconds, and still get an attack in. A favorite
move of mine is when fighting a tough foe along with my henchman. I circle
around to the foe's back. Either I or my henchman will get a sneak attack chance,
hitting them from where they can't see us. Some classes (i.e. rogue) get this
bonus to hit from behind. Notice the AI isn't dumb. If you flank him like this,
chances are good he'll try to dance around and get both of you in front of
him again. Also, you can open yourself up to being hit while moving if you
time it wrong (during his swing), or you might end up still walking when your
turn to swing comes around and miss a swing that round -- tactical fighting
calls for skill. Other examples of tactics -- you see a mage start a spell.
If you recognize what he's doing, or if you have a skill to realize what he's
doing, you can choose a "counterspell" action and try to mess him up. (I
think, this is one I need to investigate more)
If you read the tips on file save/load, you'll note that the NWN standard
you have a henchman with you, and its difficulty
level was based on this assumption. So by all means, hire a henchman!
They seem to be fairly cheap, about 150 gold (not per day, just one-time).
Choose one that complements your character. A lot
of things are locked,
and if you're not a rogue, strongly consider hiring "Tomi" the halfling rogue.
I've found him to be extremely helpful, and more robust than I would be in
combat -- he's one tough cookie. In the Blade building there are other choices,
including a tough warrior, a sorcerer, a cleric, and a few more. Note you can only
hire ONE henchman at a time. If you hire a second, the first one is no longer with
you. But if you want him back, just ask -- you don't have to repay or anything.
(Perhaps it's more accurate to say you can't bring along more than one of your
henchmen with you.) Other players have suggested having a pet along is very
nice, although I've not tried that yet. The idea is, get the bad guys off you.
Your stat points matter. A lot. Each class has at least one "primary" ability that
plays a big role in his other skills (e.g. "Int" and the Wizard for determining the
number and max level of spells he can cast). But each stat matters for each
person. Str is vital to be able to carry things without being encumbered, dex
and con and wis all can affect saving throws vs different attacks, dex helps
(or hurts) AC, con helps hit points, charisma affects how others respond to you.
points to know about ability points. First is that their bonus is rounded
off and so accrues only for 'even' values. For example, 15 dex is only as good as
14 dex as far as AC or saving throw bonuses, and 17 Con no better than 16.
Try, as far as possible, to make your ability scores even (unless you plan to
raise them soon). Speaking of raising them, every six levels you'll get to add
one ability point. That's different from one "buy-up" point when you make your
character. Back then it cost 3 'pts' to go from 17 to 18, but every six levels
you can make a choice like boost a 17 score to 18. That suggests that unless
you're going to really push one ability to the exclusion of all others, to give up
on an 18 or 17 and get several other stat points in lower abilities.
Take the "point blank" skill when you get a chance. The thugs close on you
rapidly and if you plan to stick with a ranged attack instead of melee, this is
a must have. Rapid shot is another good one for you. For the character who
wants to do both, using the quickbar is a must (see below). Keep in mind that
in the DnD world, unlike Diablo 2, spellcasters and archers who are alone with
no golem to protect them are in trouble of getting eaten alive, even by creatures
not too strong. Spellcasters who don't surround themselves with a party or
strong henchman should pick up some concentration so that their spells don't
get disrupted by being smacked. (Still, the 3E rules beat the 1E where you were
automatically disrupted even with a 1 pt smack)
Quickbar - the key to success
This is a great
game feature, and really beats the Diablo hotkey setup. You get
12 actions you can assign to the Fxn keys, and another 12 for Shift-Fxn and 12 more
for Ctrl-Fxn. The really nice thing is it's not just for spells. Potions can go there,
wpns, alternate wpns, and yes, even your armor! "Special skills" like Smite Evil or
Lay On Hands go there too. For example, my setup has F1 and F2 still assigned
to Move Silent and Detect, Cure Moderate wounds in F3, Cure Serious in F4,
Lay-On-Hands on F5, Longsword and Shield in F6 (drag both
to the quickbar),
F7 for my crossbow, F8 for an alternate two-handed wpn when I want maximum
ooompf and less safety, F9 for Parry and F10 for Smite Evil. I use Shift-F1...F4 for
my spells/scrolls, and figure I'll have more for the Ctrl-set of 12 later. Now that I
picked up a lvl in Sorcerer, I plan to make my armor a hotkey to be able to
take it off immediately to cast a spell (otherwise, high chance of Arcane failure)
Master the quickbar, it will make your life a lot easier!
The camera view and controls take some getting used to, and I'm still
not 100% comfortable with them yet. I (think I) prefer the top down view, since
the follow-me cam twists around too much for my liking. The third view won't
let me zoom out, so that one is "out" as far as I'm concerned. You move by
clicking on the ground, and you pan around to see my moving the mouse left
or right. With a middle button you can spin it around so fast your head will spin,
but that loses my vertical angle and I avoid it. So basically, click on where you
want to go then move the mouse left or right to spin the camera to face where
your character is facing. (Or look behind you if you're paranoid)
The interface is pretty intuitive. If you click on something the default action
makes sense. Foe? Hit it. NPC? Talk to it. Door? Open it. For non-default
actions you right-click once for a 'radial' menu then click on your selection.
Or when you start to remember where
on the wheel your choices are,
you can right-click-and-drag right to your selection, which is faster. Some
games call that a "gesture" click. The positions don't change on you, which
is nice. I do this to control my henchman. I know that "Follow me" is at the
4 o'lock position, and "park your butt here, don't move!" is six o'clock. These
two, issued quickly, have saved him repeatedly. If he were a cleric I would
gesture right-click and flick the mouse up to 12 o'clock for "Heal me!"
The DnD rules have been around for decades. The monsters, combat
system, items, and rules on AC etc have been worked over to death, and
they're balanced to a degree you'll not see in any normal game. It puts
the D2 system to utter shame in that regard. Your armor matters. Monsters
of same level as you have roughly a 50% chance hit someone who wears
light armor with dex, a 10-25% chance ot hit someone with massive armor,
and 75-95% chance of hitting a clumsy old man in his bathrobe. You may
not be thrilled with the "quiet" drops of longsword+1 or tower shield, but
it's quite balanced unless the DM makes a "candy" dungeon.
A peeve / warning for the newbie. Characters have a weight limit which
depends on their strength. Yes, your halfling can't lug around 8 pieces
of full platemail and still run and fight the same as if he were a BNM.
When you exceed your weight limit, you're "encumberd" and you
start moving around in moderate slow motion. Keep piling it on and
you become "heavily" encumbered. We're talking glacial. Molasses
in January. Or Charis the day after playing 2 hours too much tennis.
Slow, slow, slow. What can you do? Don't ignore strength ability
completely when you start out. Don't pick up everything
(what I tend to do). Use your recall stone often to sell/dump things
in town. Find or buy a "bag of holding" which magically reduces the
effective weight of things kept inside it". Finally, although it's great
fun to see all the different looks your character can have, don't carry
around banded mail, splint mail, and a breastplate.
Save often, and use two or more files
I narrowly escaped being burned pretty badly. Twice now I've had
save files that could not load
. There is an autosave, but it's so
infrequent it's dangerous. Fortunately, I use a two save-file system,
alternating which one I save to. Even so, I had to fight one of my
toughest battles all over again when this happened. (Now I use
the three-file system
-- There are likely other topics some of you would like to see
covered, so feedback is welcome. Do keep in mind this is intended
as a newbie guide, and that I'm one myself :P If anyone has
tried multiplayer and can shed some light on the mechanics and
implications for a single-player character, please respond with some
info, and maybe we can travel through the Blackland district together!
PS Gris, if this gets any positive response, I can edit and we can place
on the RBN site if you like.