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Neverwinter Nights 2 Rules Interview (06/01/2006)
by Taluntain

Recently we've had the chance to talk about the upcoming Neverwinter Nights 2 with the game's Lead Designer, Ferret Baudoin. Our current interview focuses on the game's conversion to the 3.5e of the Dungeons & Dragons rules.

SP: One of the revealed new base classes is the relatively unknown warlock from the Complete Arcane supplement. Can you tell us what has prompted the inclusion of the warlock, and what the players can expect from this class? How does it differ from the standard wizard and sorcerer classes?

Ferret Baudoin: When Obsidian Entertainment first landed the Neverwinter Nights 2 project there was much rejoicing – queue Sir Robin’s minstrels. After the minstrels fell into their drunken stupor, us designers got to decide what could we do that’s new and hasn’t been seen before in a Dungeons and Dragons computer game. One thing there’s never been in these games is a new base class – and that seemed like something really overdue especially in light of all of Wizard of the Coast’s new Complete series of books.

So why the Warlock, you ask? Because it’s a class that provides a completely new way to play a spellcaster - all in one sleek, malevolent package. Warlocks can cast their invocations at will which means that spell conservation and the whole spell level concept isn’t really relevant to them. Wizards and sorcerers always have a finite resource they’re trying to stretch out for their day. They have to juggle concepts like spells per day, spell levels, and memorization. A warlock is well suited to fighting dozens of battles in one fun-filled computer game session – and they’re easy for new people to “grok”. And they’re just plain fun. :)

SP: What will the XP/level cap be set at and to what extent will the higher/epic character levels be supported?

Ferret Baudoin: There aren’t any epic levels in Neverwinter Nights 2. The game does have 20 levels filled with new feats, spells, abilities, prestige classes, and other things. So if you’re so inclined you can still spend time pondering over the feat and spell lists at level up figuring out the best way to lay waste to all that oppose you.

SP: Are you going to stick with the original Neverwinter Nights' multiclassing limitation, or can we expect some more leeway in the number of allowed classes in Neverwinter Nights 2?

Ferret Baudoin: There’s some balance issues when you extend the multi-class limit – both good and bad. One concern is that new players can accidentally pick up classes that don’t stack well together. But people should rejoice, because we’re supporting four classes now instead of three. One of them is reserved for prestige classes, which will help make sure that people don’t shoot themselves in the foot. But now you can have a lot eclectic characters.

SP: How is the XP distribution in regards to the number of companions, summons, familiars etc. in the party going to be handled?

Ferret Baudoin: Chris Avellone, one of the owners of Obsidian Entertainment and the lead designer of Knights of the Old Republic 2 and Planescape: Torment, is writing all of our companions. After all the love he’s put into them, it would be a shame if taking them along on the journey would cut significantly into your share of the XP. So there are some changes on this front. Hee hee.

SP: To what extent will horses be integrated into the game? Essential part of a class and gameplay ala paladin's warhorse (actually usable in battle), or only there for travelling and carrying all the loot?

Ferret Baudoin: Unfortunately this is something we really can’t comment on at this time.

SP: Are you making any significant changes to any of the monsters encountered in the original Neverwinter Nights and the expansions based on the 3.5e rules upgrade?

Ferret Baudoin: The biggest change for monsters is that in 3.5 edition damage reduction has changed dramatically. In 3rd edition you’d have damage resistances like “5/silver”. That means that you’d need a silver weapon or any other magical weapon to do full damage to that critter. The problem is that magical weapons are pretty common items to adventurers so very shortly all damage resistances that aren’t dependent on how strong the base enchantment on your weapon is become irrelevant. But 3.5 changes that and even a +5 longsword will not fully damage – let’s say – a werewolf. It makes a big difference for certain creatures.

SP: Is the intelligent monster concept going to be driven further in Neverwinter Nights 2? Can we expect to see more monsters acting as possible companions?

Ferret Baudoin: That’s not something we’re exploring. You do have a host of the Forgotten Realms’ sub-races to choose from, though. So yet more cool things to ponder at character generation.

SP: Sub-races (the drow) and prestige classes have already been confirmed for inclusion in Neverwinter Nights 2. Can you reveal which additional sub-races will be included, and which prestige classes are in?

Ferret Baudoin: The new dwarves available in Neverwinter Nights 2 are the Gold Dwarves and the Gray Dwarves (duergar). The Gold Dwarves primarily hail from the Great Rift, far to the south-east of Neverwinter city. And the Gray Dwarves are some seriously bitter people from the Underdark with some nice immunities (“Poison, baa! Those only concern lesser races”) and other fanciness. More of these will be announced later.

SP: Can you tell us a little about the changes the 3.5e rules update brings to some of the base classes, like the ranger? Which of the changes and new features are going to be included, and will the game's campaign contain anything specific to highlight the differences?

Ferret Baudoin: Our goal is to implement all the 3.5 changes we can – not everything works in a computer environment. But most class changes do, so it will be pretty faithful to the rulebooks. You asked about the ranger specifically, so I can tell you about that. The ranger will get to choose their combat style – either archery or two-weapon fighting. Some of their abilities have been changed and many have been moved. It makes it so that there’s a whole lot more incentive to stick with being a ranger.

SP: Which 3e to 3.5e transition changes do you believe make the biggest difference in Neverwinter Nights 2 compared to the original, and why?

Ferret Baudoin: Your last question has hit the big one - the class rebalance is huge. Almost every class has had some changes to make it so that you get goodies at more regular intervals. Fighters get access to some cool new Fighter-only feats, spell changes have affected the spell-casters, and more. Wizards of the Coast did a good job of making it so that there are more levels that have yummy.

We’ll have more news as the months go on, but thanks for the interview. For the readers out there feel free to visit our forums at http://nwn2forums.bioware.com/ to get more information and chat with other folks. :)

SP: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!

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