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Dice to Clicks: Neverwinter Nights Faithfully Translates Pen-and-Paper D&D

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What a Magical Ride It’s Been: The Near-Death and Rebirth of D&D

Once in a great while, something comes along that’s so unique it actually changes the way people think. In the world of games, Dungeons & Dragons was one of those things when it appeared in 1973. It single-handedly invented the role-playing genre, which became an industry unto itself during the 1980s, and it invited a generation of game players to unleash their imaginations.

The brainchild of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, D&D combined the pair’s love of fantasy literature with the war games of the day. While war games challenged players’ military tactical skills as they commanded large groups of units and rolled the dice to determine the victor, D&D was more of a micro simulation. You created a character and guided that person through adventures that took place in the players’ imaginations (some chose to purchase and paint metal miniatures that would represent the action, but those weren’t required).

In the late 1970s, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons supplanted the original D&D as most players’ game of choice. Gygax’s company, TSR (Tactical Studies Rules) Inc., repositioned the original game as an introduction to role-playing for novices and set about creating a series of books, with such titles as Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide, for experienced players. (Arneson had left in 1975, and Gygax would go his own way in the mid-1980s, pushed out by politics.)

AD&D took off in the 1980s as its influence was felt across popular culture (many experienced players understood that Elliott was issuing an insult when he shouted “Zero charisma!” at someone in the movie E.T.). TSR licensed the name to a Saturday morning children’s cartoon and a host of other spin-offs, including computer games, even as the game began to evoke controversy among parents worried about its influence on their kids. Many people heard the apocryphal stories about kids who committed suicide when their D&D characters died or who joined secret cults after their characters became ultra-powerful, and those rumors only fanned the flames of censorship.

Of course, like every other pop culture controversy, the hand-wringing over D&D faded as players lost interest in the game. Many of them got older and simply had no time to play, and the increased popularity of videogames and cable TV meant that some kids had little use for a game that required sitting around and talking. TSR went bankrupt in the mid-1990s and sold out to Wizards of the Coast (WOTC), which had created the popular Magic: The Gathering trading card game, in 1997 (an ironic move considering that Magic had significantly hurt D&D sales, in part due to its lower time requirements). Hasbro later purchased WOTC.

In late 2000, WOTC published the 3rd edition D&D rules (the word “Advanced” was dropped from the name), a move that re-ignited interest in the game even as the D&D film bombed at the box office that year. D&D’s critics seem to have moved on, so the game doesn’t receive the same attention it did 20 years ago, but it still boasts a healthy base of committed players.

“Right now, D&D is more popular than it has been for ten years,” says Trent Walsh, who has owned a games and comics shop called Bat Comics for the past nine years. He notes that his sales are currently double what they were, and he has heard similar comments from other retailers.

He attributes the increase in sales to the higher production values that the new books sport; the old ones often featured sophomoric art and cheaper printing materials. WOTC also introduced what it calls the “open gaming license” (similar to the open source software movement), which takes the core D&D rules (known as the “D20 system”) and allows anyone to create and publish their own supplementary materials. Walsh says that decision introduced a flood of products, “some of it bad, but some of it very good. Players like the fact that new adventures come out on a regular basis, which helps sales.”
  skirmish That’s Not An Axe. This is An Axe. This guy is tough, but you can beat him.


brawl Take That! And That! Escaped convicts are no match for your might.


profile What Color is Your Shield? Tweak your character’s look to your heart’s content.


outside We Go Way Back. Many NPCs will give you their life history, which can also provide useful clues to the mystery behind the plague.


Tips and Tricks

 Use a two-button mouse (search for mice) when you play and remember to right-click on your character to bring up a radial menu with a variety of commands, such as moods you can emote. (The ability to emote is key to role-playing.)

 Resting is important; don’t forget about it. It restores lost hit points (so you don’t have to drink any potions) and allows you to re-memorize spells that you used. You can be interrupted while resting, though, so choose a quiet spot to do it.

 While in Neverwinter, you can also use the Stone of Recall Aribeth gave you and return to the temple for free healing (but it costs 50 gold pieces to be sent back to where you were when you used the stone).

 Hire a henchman to help you out; you’ll find many of them at the Trade of Blades, in the City Core. Two are better than one when facing enemies, of course, and he’ll also take some of the brunt of the attacks off you. And if you hire a cleric, you can direct her to heal you during battles so that you don’t lose a turn drinking a potion (which gives an enemy a free attack).

wizard  And when you hire a henchman, choose one who sports abilities you don’t have. For example, if your character is a brutish barbarian, look for a wizard or a thief.

 If a battle seems overwhelming, try moving into a doorway, where only two enemies will be able to attack at a time, or into a corner, where you can keep them from surrounding you.

 Save right before you enter an important battle or move on to a new location. If something goes wrong, you can reload and enter the game at that spot. If you die and your last save was too long ago, you may wind up replaying quests you already completed.

 Persuasion is a good skill to have. It will help your character get information out of NPCs and encourage them to send you on lucrative quests.
  monster  Hit your spacebar to pause the game (the Escape key also pauses the action, but it will bring up a dialog box that blocks much of the screen; the spacebar pause won’t do that) when the action gets too intense and plan out your moves. You can load spells and other actions into your activity queue and have your character perform them in order when you resume the game.

 If you play an archer, stock up on arrows at every opportunity. They’re cheap and you can never have enough of them.

 Read the books that you find; they often contain vital clues.

 Your journal is also a good place to write down notes.

 Watch out: in some places you can die but not be able to respawn.

 Visit the merchant next to the militia headquarters in the Peninsula district. You can buy maps from him that will help you navigate several areas in Neverwinter.

 Your character’s alignment may seem like a minor part of his overall make-up, but it’s actually very important, and it can change if you make decisions that go against it (for example, if you choose lawful good and start mugging innocent citizens). NPCs will react to your character depending on his alignment, and some classes, such as the paladin, require you to adhere to a certain alignment or lose access to certain abilities.

 Need more tips and tricks, or perhaps a walk-through for the entire game? Visit GameFAQs, where you’ll find enough information to fill a bag of holding.


Cheat If You Must

Stumped? Then you may need some help, thanks to the cheat codes that are commonly placed in most videogames. They allow you to, well, cheat and change the rules. This sometimes includes activating bonuses, unlocking secrets and new levels of gameplay.

To access cheats in Neverwinter Nights, press the “~” key (no need to hold down Shift) and you’ll see a “›” appear in the top-left corner of the screen, followed by a blinking cursor. Enter “DebugMode 1” (without the quotes) and you’ll see the word “Success.” To enter codes, simply press the “~” key and type a code. When you see “‹number›” after a code, replace it with a numerical value (if you see a space between the code and “‹number›,” make sure you include it).

All the codes, including the command “DebugMode 1,” are case sensitive, so remember that.

The Codes
dm_giveXP: Level up.
dm_givegold: Give yourself 6,837,288 gold pieces.
dm_cowsfromhell: Summon several devil cows to attack everyone around you (warning: the cows will attack your henchman as well as any innocents hanging around, which will nudge your alignment toward evil (if you didn’t select that alignment already)).
dm_allspells: Give yourself all available spells.
dm_god: Enter god mode (nothing can kill you).
dm_heal: Heal yourself.
dm_mylittlepony: Try it; it’s funny.
dm_modifyCHA ‹number›: Add points to your charisma score.
dm_setCHA ‹number›: Set your charisma at a certain score.
dm_modifyCON ‹number›: Add points to your constitution score.
dm_setCON ‹number›: Set your constitution at a certain score.
dm_modifyDEX ‹number›: Add points to your dexterity score.
dm_setDEX ‹number›: Set your dexterity at a certain score.
dm_modifyINT ‹number›: Add points to your intelligence score.
dm_setINT ‹number›: Set your intelligence at a certain score.
dm_modifySTR ‹number›: Add points to your strength score.
dm_setSTR ‹number›: Set your strength at a certain score.
dm_modifyWIS ‹number›: Add points to your wisdom score.
dm_setWIS ‹number›: Set your wisdom at a certain score.
dm_spawncreature: Adds a creature to your party (you can only have one at a time).
GiveLevel ‹number›: Puts your character at the specified level (you will have to go through the level up process until you reach it).
 

monster Be Like Theseus. You don’t want to run into this guy in a dark forest.

spell Pyrotechnics. Spellcasters may not be tough, but they know how to put on a show.

spell It’s Elementary. Summon creatures to assist you in your journey.

spell Protective Layer. The barkskin potion provides you with enhanced armor for a short while.
System Requirements
Mac OS X version 10.2.6 or higher
450MHz PowerPC G3 processor or higher
256MB of RAM
32MB video card
 

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