Sunday, April 17, 2011

D&D: Not Just a Table Top Game

Courtesy of Darknight0x0
            Greetings!  Good news! My character no longer has cancer!  Woot! It only took three cards from the Deck of Many Things, which gave me a wish spell that I used to eliminate the magical cancer.  Then on the next card it forced Endos to betray me (a.k.a. almost kill me)… at least the cancer is gone.
            Anyways, this week I thought would be a good one to give a review on the game Neverwinter Nights 2, a PC game that is basically a D&D campaign on a computer screen.  The game begins with you, as a relatively normal person living in a small village, participating in some local competitions and festivals and such when all of a sudden the village is attacked by an army of goblin-like creatures looking for a magical shard that, unknown by the villagers, is in their area. That’s the start of the game, now here’s the review:
In the realm of games that relate to D&D, Neverwinter Nights 2 (NWN2) is definitely one worth playing for any D&D enthusiast.  The key factor that stands out about NWN2 is that the game takes actual material from D&D books and pastes it right into the game text.  Special abilities, weapons, spells, and equipment are almost entirely from one version or another of D&D.  One would think that this would lead to a repetitive gaming experience, but with the minor changes in the rules and the addition of several “new” classes the game remains relatively fresh. 
With this said though, the story of NWN2 is quite basic as far as role playing-fantasy games are concerned and on top of this it is a rather long game (30 to 50 hours depending on if you know what you are doing).  Because it is so long and the story so generic, the game may become dull after awhile unless you are good at finishing long games.  If it is any consolation, later chapters are far more interesting than early ones, which are primarily concerned with your character trying to figure out what the heck is going on. These issues are easy to overlook though due to the general enjoyment you will experience from developing your character into his/her most powerful state.
 However, there are three major issues in NWN2 that hold it back from being a truly great game.  The first of these is that the camera is often frustrating and unable to show corners adequately.  The second issue is that there are a few bugs and glitches in the game that, while not crippling, are a nuisance and can be challenging to work around.  The third, and worst, of these though is a mediocre AI system.  AIs will walk right through traps that are plainly visible, ranged characters will charge right into battle, spell casters won’t cast spells, and everyone will guzzle potions like they were water.  Now you can work around this by micromanaging your party, but this becomes increasingly demanding as your abilities mature.
Overall, despite a few lack lust technical issues, the game is worth playing even if it’s just for the sake of saying you did.   Whether you finish it though is up to you…

Until next time.


Player Tip of the Week

Don’t take what happens in game personally outside of the game.  Sometimes it is easy to get engrossed in your character or party dynamics when playing through a campaign, which can lead to issues outside of the game in real life.  Just because your party’s Chaotic Neutral Sorcerer casted Flare in your character’s face or made fun of your character in game, does not mean that they are insulting you in real life. 
For instance, when Endos in game makes fun of me having a rat tail, or when his Imp Familiar tricked me into making a deal with a demon to remove the rat tail (he gave me cancer instead) my character was certainly angry with them, but once we were back to reality there are no hard feelings.  In some circumstances, the opposite can happen and arguments may ensue.
Point is, don’t take what happens in game personally.  Most of the time it’s just a joke; so be sure to take it like one.

A Ranger Courtesy of Grandanvil

DM Tip of the Week

            Try to balance the number of enemies per encounter with your party’s strength.  Sometimes it can be rather difficult to determine what the optimal number of enemies per encounter is because every party is different.  For some parties a swarm mentality (many weaker enemies) is the best where as for others a boss mentality (one very powerful enemy) is best.  The problem with a swarm is that enemies might be too weak, making the encounter simple and boring, while the problem with a boss is that against a party of at least 3 players, one enemy can be outmatched by simple virtue of having only 1 action each turn, vs the 3 actions the party has.
            For instance, in my last campaign I took liberties from Lovercraft and made Cthulhu the final boss of my campaign.  However, everyone in our party was about level 10 so I had to Nerf Cthulhu’s attacks to make it a more fair fight; giving him a base attack that did 4d6 and a secondary attack that did -2 damage to Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, and Cha.  I figured I’d just give him more health and it should even out.  I was wrong (initially I thought around 200 health would suffice, but it ended up being around 500).  Perhaps it was because the party was a bit overpowered, or maybe just lucky, but they killed Cthulhu in five or six rounds. 
            Long story short, no amount of health can compensate for having an unbalanced fight.

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