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Guest Feature: Revisiting Neverwinter Nights

Set up your own adventures, look for mods, and become the ultimate DM.
A celebrated classic never truly fades away and Neverwinter Nights Diamond is as deserving of this title as any RPG you will play. Beyond its exciting campaigns and rock-solid rendition of the D&D ruleset, the game's extensive toolset is an open invitation to the community, encouraging them to build and moderate their own adventures.
Bernhard "niv" Stoeckner from the Neverwinter Vault community has prepared a detailed piece where he explains how to go about doing all that.
Furthermore, you can read his in-depth interview with the game's Project Director/Producer Trent Oster, right this way.
Enjoy!
Now, 15 years after Neverwinter Nights (NWN) first appeared, one may find oneself asking – what is it that sets this game apart even after all this time?
As with any well-made RPG, the original campaign and both expansions will give you many enjoyable hours of play, where you level up and gear your character as you progress through the narrative. Along the way, you might rediscover that D&D feel that is so rare in PC games. But if you put it down once you complete the story, you will have only scratched the surface of what NWN actually has to offer.
What really sets NWN apart is how easy it makes it for people to build and play out stories of their own. The incredible power it puts in the hands of every user who wants to create both single-player and multiplayer scenarios, run D&D-like games online with the aid of the DM client, update the game with new graphic and scripting assets and put entire worlds online for other people to play on.

Dungeon Mastering

One of the best things about Neverwinter Nights is the inclusion of a special piece of software, called the DM Client, that allows a player to become the organiser of a Neverwinter Nights module and campaign. This position is called the Dungeon Master (DM) in D&D terms. He or she controls all other aspects of the game except for the other players' characters: the monsters, the encounters, and all the non-player characters in the adventure are under the DM's command, just like in a pen & paper campaign.
The DM client, used in conjunction with the toolset, enables players to experience a dynamic story in a different way than most other single-player or even multiplayer games. It is an entirely different kind of adventure when you find yourself within a story or environment that is being brought to life by another person (not a program) who is moving things behind the scenes in reaction to your character’s actions and choices. And if you are the kind of person who likes to create fun for other people, to co-write a narrative with others ‘on the fly’ within the parameters set by the module and setting of your choice, you will thrive in the DM-side of the game.

Creating an Adventure

Running your own adventure wouldn't mean much if you couldn't create your own adventure in the first place. Neverwinter Nights Diamond comes bundled with a flexible and powerful editor, which allows you to shape your tale with surprising ease.
The toolset itself is fairly intuitive and easy to use even for a beginner, especially with the many tutorials and general support available within the NWN builder and modder community, but it is also highly versatile and modifiable for those with more in-depth technical knowledge. You can put together a module made up of different connected areas, either interior or exterior, with a variety of tilesets or environments that feature pre-designed components and are embellished with more objects, monsters and NPCs, which you can program with quests and scripted conversations. A builder can also create a custom palette of placeable objects, NPCs, loot, and gear with properties modified to fit his or her specific campaign or story. These, in turn, can be made available to the DMs via the DM client to be generated ‘live’ for the players in a module that’s already been put online.
Of course, you don't necessarily have to build it yourself: There is a welcoming modding scene that has created a huge collection of singleplayer and multiplayer modules - you can find some of them in our Hall of Fame. Of course, if you'd just like to start playing right now, you can always run one of the original campaigns shipped with the game.

Mod Spotlights

Neverwinter Nights has a very active, creative and talented community that has done an outstanding job in adding extra value to this game. New tilesets, new creatures, new rules, complex scripting packages - you name it. You can find most of this in the Neverwinter Vault!
One of the most prolific things is the Community Expansion Pack, adding thousands of creatures, custom items, props, new tilesets, and so much more. While you are browsing there, also make sure to check out Project Q, which has even more D&D-heavy content for your players to test their mettle against.

Persistent Worlds

Any article about NWN would not be complete without mentioning the persistent world scene - arguably one of the core features of the game. A persistent world (you may know the idea as freeshard from other games) can be much like a MMO in many ways in that it persists your progress over the weeks, months, years and that you usually journey through it with other players.
That in itself, however, does not do the concept justice. A persistent world can be anything the author imagines - from simple dungeon crawling to incredibly complex, roleplay-heavy world crafting, or anything in between. Persistent worlds may either focus more on action or role-play and either come download-free, retaining the original look of the game or with a need for a preliminary file download, which often means a considerably updated look and a greater variety of visual and other assets. Persistent worlds also come in a great variety of settings and flavors, and often come with their own rules depending on what kind of experience their makers strive to create for their players. Some have been expanding the capabilities of the game with addons that go beyond simple modding, adding new features like SQL database access. Thanks to the self-hosted nature of the game such servers thrive to this day, 15 years later.
There are many game worlds out there, with hundreds of daily players - check out the server listing page and explore a bit (make sure to click on the NWN1 tab!), if you'd like to know more.