Tabletop Preview: Dungeons & Dragons: Neverwinter Campaign Setting

It’s funny, but the city of Neverwinter is probably the most famous area in the world of Toril (where the Forgotten Realms setting takes place) due to video games rather than table topping. The first ever MMORPG? 1991’s Neverwinter Nights by SSI and AOL. The games of Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale take part in this region. In 2002 and 2006 Bioware and Obsidian brought us Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2 respectively. Coming shortly are the new Neverwinter video game for the PC and the Heroes of Neverwinter Facebook game. All of these have helped the city of Neverwinter to become not only the most famous place in the Forgotten Realms, but in Dungeons and Dragons in general.

With this in mind it is no surprise that Wizards of the Coast has decided to focus this year’s campaign setting on Neverwinter. Now some of you are saying, “But it was originally supposed to be Ravenloft!” while others might be saying, “But Forgotten Realms got a full campaign setting back in 2008!” Both statements are true. However with the former, Ravenloft‘s specific rules make it a setting that is going to be hard to adapt to both 4th Edition rules and tone while the Forgotten Realms campaign setting received mixed reviews at best from fans. Because of this is makes sense to revisit at least part of the Forgotten Realms and to do it in extreme detail, thus satisfying long time fans of the setting while also hopefully bringing in newcomers that know the name Neverwinter from video games.

So what all does the Neverwinter Campaign Setting give you for its MSRP of $39.95? Well, you’re getting an hardcover book with 223 pages, a full color glossy oversized map and four detail filled chapters that will hopefully pacify those that felt the first Forgotten Realms campaign setting was a little light on content.

Chapter 1, Jewel of the North, is a brief chapter that gives you a bit of the region’s history and famous locations in the area. Chapter 2, Character Options, introduces the concept of “character themes: for the region. There are thirteen different character themes, each of which adds an extra layer to your character along with new backgrounds, powers and features. These themes range from letting you play as a wererat(!) to a Harper. My personal favorite of the character themes is the “Pack Outcast,” although one has to wonder how that particular theme will work in a setting like Ravenloft or god forbid, Spelljammer. The chapter also includes two Dwarf and four Elf variants so for those that wanted the return of Shield Dwarves, Moon Elves and more, you’ve got them. As a long time fan of Sun Elves (thanks to Jander Sunstar), I enjoyed seeing the distinct different between the old school FR races and the generic Elves or Eladrin. The chapter also gives you four new Warpriest Domains and an entirely new character class known as the Bladeslinger. We’ll be taking an in-depth look at all thirteen character themes on Tuesday the 16th and a full feature on the Bladesinger on Wednesday the 17th, so if you want to learn more about both of those, check back then.

Chapter 3, Factions and Foes, gives you information on various groups. The Abolethic Sovereignty has a section here, as do the wizards of Thay. You also get character and monster stats throughout this chapter. Unfortunately none of the classic characters from the region show up, but there are a lot of monsters from first through third edition that are getting stats in this book. If you are curious about groups like the Cult of the Dragon, the ecology of Mind Flayers or what the Netherse are doing in Neverwinter, this is where you’ll go. Finally, Chapter 4, Gazetteer takes up half the book, as well it should, considering how much history there is in just this region of Faerûn. You get a section just on the city of Neverwinter itself, a section on Helm’s Hold, one on the Neverwinter Woods, and another on Gauntlgrym. Each section provides history, story hooks, DM secrets and more. There’s even a section on Evernight, the Shadowfell version of Neverwinter and, oddly enough, a section on Thay. There should be a lot here for any fan of the Forgotten Realms, or Neverwinter in particular.

Dungeons & Dragons: Neverwinter Campaign Setting hits stores August 16th with a MSRP of $39.99. You can get it for only $26.37 from Amazon.com. To learn more, visit the official Neverwinter website or the official page for the campaign setting itself at Wizards.com Remember to come back all next week as we celebrate the launch of Neverwinter with over twenty different articles related to Dungeons & Dragons including a full in-depth review of the . See you then!

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