IntroductionLet's Play Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark
What's this game all about?
Hordes of the Underdark was the final expansion created by Bioware for their CRPG Neverwinter Nights, which was released first for Windows in 2002, and OSX and Linux in 2003. Hordes was itself released in 2003 for Windows and Linux, and in 2004 for OSX. Hordes was the the sequel to the first NWN expansion: Shadows of Undrentide, and is generally considered to be the best of the two NWN expansions. For context, 2003 was at the height of the dominance of the PS2, and PC RPG gaming was in a crisis. Compared to console RPGs like 2001's Final Fantasy X, NWN was graphically unimpressive, but unlike console RPGs NWN featured ground-breaking content creation tools and multiplayer functionality, seeking to emulate the tabletop D&D experience in a way that had never been done before. Players could create their own adventures and host them on their own servers, or download other people's creations from sites like the Neverwinter Vault (Still operational!). Furthermore the game offered some Dungeon Master functionality that allowed a host to dynamically create content in a running game, again trying to emulate the dynamic flow and creativity of tabletop role playing. In the end, the NWN Aurora Engine tools seemed to mostly be used to create one-off downloadable adventures, and MMO-like persistent multiplayer servers that continued to exist for a while even after the overwhelming success of World of Warcraft.
Beside the world of fan creation, the Bioware created content for the game seemed somewhat out of place, with the work that went into creating the Aurora toolset derailing the quality of the original NWN campaign (Much as it would with Obsidian's NWN2) and the expansions to some extent serving as a vehicle for delvering new assets and engine features to the fan content creation community. Bioware bridged this gap by releasing some "Premium Modules" that were remasters or new content by top community creators, but these came after Hordes was released (With the last module released in 2006). Nevertheless Hordes was well received by both the press and by fans, and could be said to represent the last "old-school" Bioware game before the release of Dragon Age and Mass Effect.
Like all official NWN content, Hordes is based on D&D 3rd Edition rules and the Forgotten Realms setting. Unlike the earlier Infinity Engine games, NWN only allowed the player to control one PC and a "henchman" assistant. Because of the multiplayer features of the Aurora Engine, the party-type gameplay found in the Infinity Engine games could be replicated in multiplayer games, but many fans of Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale felt that the single player content like Hordes suffered because of its single character focus. Nevertheless, with its pausable real-time combat and quality content, Hordes did offer something to fans of CRPGs at a time well before the indie-game resurgence that came later. It offers "epic" level content and a story that spans two of the most famous locations in the Forgotten Realms setting: Waterdeep and the Underdark, and should have plenty of fun monsters to fight.
I have never played Hordes of the Underdark so this will be a blind playthrough!
I played through the original NWN campaign and Shadows years ago, but this is my first time playing this expansion. With a game length of around 20 hours, I figured it would be a good game to tackle while I wait for the Pillars of Eternity 3.0 patch to be released so I can start a LP of that game. With that in mind advice is welcome, but please be polite. I have played my fair share of D&D games but I am not an absolute master of min-maxing the system and I will make mistakes. I will accept character suggestions but please try to make them viable so I don't get stuck and can't progress in the game!
Why aren't you playing the vanilla campaign or Shadows first?
The vanilla campaign is bad and Shadows isn't really interesting enough for me to want to do a second playthrough.
Episode 49 - FINAL
Bonus Conclusion Episode