It's been years since I've walked the streets of Neverwinter, rapier swinging with every step, ready for whatever dangers lurked in the alleys of one of Dungeons and Dragons' most notable locales. It's also been a while since I filled out a good old paper character sheet. Why not combine the two?
Due out early this year from Perfect World Entertainment's Cryptic Studios, Neverwinter is the latest in a long line of video games utilising the popular D&D setting. Back in the AOL days it served as the setting for the world's first graphical MMO, so this game has quite a pedigree to live up to.
Last week I managed to wrangle my way into the game's press beta event. I was so impressed by what I played that I spent a large portion of the past three days steeped in the first Neverwinter beta weekend.
I could write paragraph after paragraph about my experiences, but I figured I'd contain my enthusiasm in a format that Dungeons & Dragons players can better relate to, so here's my Neverwinter character sheet.
Note: I am used the 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons character sheet as a template, because I am old. You're lucky I didn't pull out Comeliness.
Character Name: Neverwinter
Alignment: Chaotic Good — It is both of these things, and easy to role-play.
Race: Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game
Level: 51 currently, with room to move.
Player Name: Cryptic Studios, whose other characters include Star Trek Online and Champions Online. Nice to see them try something new with the naming.
Family: Perfect World Entertainment, publishers of most of the free-to-play MMO games these days.
Homeland: The Forgotten Realms city-state of Neverwinter, the setting for the original graphical MMORPG, Neverwinter Nights.
Sex, Age, Height, Eyes, Hair: Just let this video portrait do the talking.
Strength: Neverwinter seems like the sort of game capable of supporting a large player base. Built on the stable foundation of one of Dungeons & Dragons' most beloved settings with character classes, races and plotlines derived from the official lore, it's certainly starting in a stronger position than many other free-to-play MMO titles.
Dexterity: Neverwinter's combat is all about movement and positioning. It's not a stand-still and fire sort of game. Positional damage plays a big part — a rogue does more damage from behind, two players standing to either side of an enemy gain a flanking bonus. If you've not got a sword and board, be prepared to dodge. Here's a taste, in my demo run with a group of four rogues and one healer.
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Constitution: With a wealth of content drawn from decades of Forgotten Realms lore and the Foundry, where players create their own content and share it with the community, Neverwinter should have plenty of staying power.
Intelligence: Neverwinter is filled with smartly-designed systems. For example, when a player gains a level of experience they can hit CTRL-P and instantly see what powers and abilities they've gained. You can see the mechanic in action during the game's opening adventure.
Wisdom: Cryptic Studios has been making games like Neverwinter since 2000, starting with City of Heroes, moving to Champions Online after selling the property to NCsoft, and eventually warping its way to Star Trek Online. The developer understands big-name geek properties and has experience translating pen-and-paper role-playing games into interactive electronic form.
Charisma: Neverwinter's environments are its most attractive feature. Wandering through the game's various dungeons, overland and city areas made me achingly nostalgic for my dice-rolling days. They feel as if they were torn from the pages of a D&D module and brought to life. The characters are a bit bland for my tastes — I've never been overly fond of Cyptic's avatars — but in this case the generic-feeling digital representations make it easier to imagine that it's me in the thick of battle instead of a female Halfling rogue.
THAC0 - To Hit armour Class Zero
Even in its current beta state, Neverwinter doesn't have to roll particularly high for a successful hit. The framework is in place for an engaging MMO with plenty of potential for building a strong community — the backbone of the genre. There's still work to be done — problems with ranged combat kept the control mage class from being playable in the beta, leading to a realm filled with rogues, warriors and clerics — but what I've seen so far is promising.
To be a critical hit, however, it still has to roll a 20.
There, you should have enough information to start playing. We'll leave the skills and equipment portion of the character sheet blank, so you can fill it in with whatever's convenient later. The dungeon master will never notice.