Excerpts Archive | 7/11/2011
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Neverwinter Themes
Neverwinter Excerpts

Just as race and class create basic definitions regarding your character’s place in the world, theme adds a third component to help refine your story and identity. The themes presented in the Neverwinter Campaign Setting give you specific information your character knows within the setting, and provide story hooks that you can use to roleplay.

When you create a new character for a Neverwinter campaign, you should select one of the character themes presented in this chapter. Each theme has unique features and powers. More important, however, a theme provides story elements and potential goals for your character. Though some character themes are more narrowly focused than others, they all provide plenty of room to let you create your own background and personality.

From a strict game mechanics standpoint, your character doesn’t need to have a theme, but without one you might miss out on some of the features that make a Neverwinter campaign special.

Choosing a Theme

A character can have only one theme, which you choose when you create your character. The theme you select grants the following benefits.

Starting Feature: Each theme includes one or more features that you gain when you select the theme during character creation.

Additional Features: Most themes offer additional features at levels 5 and 10. You gain an additional feature automatically when you reach the appropriate level—it doesn’t replace any of your class features.

Optional Powers: Most of these themes include a number of utility powers that you add to the ones you can choose from when you reach the appropriate level.

You can use retraining to replace a class power with an optional theme power or vice versa, exchanging one power for another power of the same type (at-will attack, encounter attack, daily attack, or utility). The new power must be of the same level as the old power or lower. You can also replace an optional theme power with a different optional power of the same theme, as long as the new power is the same type and is of the same level or lower.

Background: You can choose to use one of these themes as a background for your character. Each theme’s “Background” sidebar mentions two or more associated skills. If you choose a theme as your background, then you gain a +2 bonus to checks with one of those associated skills, or you add one such skill to your class’s skills list before you choose your trained skills.

Neverwinter Character Themes

Theme Description Class Prerequisite Race Prerequisite
Neverwinter noble A true heir to Neverwinter -- Human
Oghma’s faithful Gifted with divine visions -- --
Harper agent A betrayed Harper trying to win the trust of the organization -- --
Dead Rat deserter A former thieves’ guild member -- Human, half-elf, or halfling
Iliyanbruen guardian An eladrin returned from Faerie -- Eladrin
Uthgardt barbarian A savage warrior seeking revenge -- Human
Pack outcast Cast out of a pack of werewolves -- Human or shifter
Heir of Delzoun Blood relative of ancient dwarf kings -- Dwarf
Renegade Red Wizard A Red Wizard no longer in service to Thay Wizard (mage) --
Scion of shadow A noble of Netheril who has abandoned that land -- Human, shadar-kai, or shade
Devil’s pawn Marked by infernal powers -- --
Spellscarred harbinger Scarred by the Spellplague -- --
Bregan D’aerthe spy A drow mercenary -- Drow

Themes in Character Creation

You can use one of these themes as a character creation tool. You might choose your theme first, then pick a class or a race that reinforces that identity. For example, a character of any class can have the Oghma’s faithful theme, but choosing that theme for a cleric or a paladin shows how deep your connection to your deity runs.

You can also use a theme to take your character in a new direction, adopting a story role your class or race otherwise might not provide. For example, playing an eladrin wizard with the Dead Rat deserter theme creates a connection between your character and that thieves’ guild.

Like your choice of race, a character theme can be a significant part of who your character is. In all cases, a character theme should inform the background of your character and the choices you make when you roleplay.

Making Fun Choices

As you roleplay your character’s theme, avoid making choices that you think might annoy other players or make them uncomfortable.

For example, your character might be an eladrin Iliyanbruen guardian who, due to your sheltered upbringing in the Feywild, believes the drow to be a wholly evil race. However, if you use that as an excuse to immediately attack your friend’s character, a drow member of Bregan D’aerthe, it’s not likely to make for a good play session.

Think about the fact that your eladrin has just come into a wholly new world and therefore might be unsure about the cultural norms. If everyone else seems okay with a drow in their midst, your character is probably confused by what it means. It could be that drow in this world are unlike those in the Feywild, or it could be that the other people in the world are as evil as drow, and thus everyone might be dangerous. Even if your character encountered your friend’s drow character alone in the woods, choosing to watch and follow that drow (who might have allies nearby or be involved in some larger, dark plot) seems a wiser decision than attacking on sight. Then after you and your friend’s character get to know one another, it will make sense that they become allies (if not friends).

Regardless of what makes sense for roleplaying, sometimes it should take a back seat to what would be fun for everyone. When you’re confronted with a situation in which you think your character should do something that you know the other characters will not like, think about how those characters’ players might react. Sometimes the mischievous, improper, or stupid thing you think your character should do adds to the fun of everyone at the table. Sometimes such an action only makes you the center of attention at the expense of making the game less fun for everyone else. Make sure you know the difference.

Bregan D’aerthe Spy

No one owns a secret. Indeed, among my people, we say that secrets own their keepers.

You were on patrol in the Underdark outside your home, beautiful and benighted Menzoberranzan, when betrayal came. As if directed by psychic command, your companions suddenly turned against you as one. Drow are treacherous by nature, but such a blatant and brutal attack could mean only one thing: Your house had fallen. You escaped with your life, but with no allies and no idea of what to do next.

None survive alone in the wilds of the Underdark for long, and so your would-be killers assumed you to be dead—as you would have been if the members of Bregan D’aerthe had not found you. You had heard the tales of these drow mercenaries, of course—the much-derided and dishonorable castaways of other destroyed houses. When your benefactors confirmed that your kin had been annihilated, you expected them to show contempt for the weakness of your house and your own helplessness. Instead, they offered to induct you into their company—giving you a chance to restore the honor, the allies, and the home that had been taken from you.

For decades, you have served as part of Bregan D’aerthe. As a part of the force sent to the surface to manipulate events in Luskan, you have watched that city’s steady decline from den of piracy to cesspool of evil. You felt the tremors in the earth and saw the plume of black smoke to the south that marked Neverwinter’s fall. During this time, Bregan D’aerthe continued to add to its coffers with missions for hire, but the opportunities for wealth grew slimmer as the danger in the North spread.

Now, the mercenary drow have largely left the region, with only a few such as you remaining. You would have preferred to go with your fellows, but an order from Jarlaxle brought you instead to the ruins of Neverwinter. The sometime leader of Bregan D’aerthe gave you the task of investigating the forces at work in the city and the surrounding area—and, as always, to look for ways for Bregan D’aerthe to profit from others’ plots. You have been told that someone—perhaps Jarlaxle himself—will come to you for information. Until then, you are on your own.

You have learned that it doesn’t pay to be without allies—even in the relative safety of the surface world. Few surface-dwellers have any compunctions about the death of a lone drow, particularly in the lawless North. Like Jarlaxle and the legendary Drizzt, you need to travel with others if you are to be successful in your goals.

(177 Kbs PDF)

Fortune Cards: Neverwinter

Looking to add Fortune Cards to your game? In case you need a refresher on the rules, here's how they work:

At the start of each encounter, shuffle your deck and draw a card.

You can play one card per round. It requires no action to play. The rules on each card state when you can play it and what effect it has. A card takes effect just once unless it states otherwise, and you discard the card when its effect ends.

You can have only one D&D Fortune Card in your hand at a time. At the start of each of your turns, you can do one of the following:

  • Discard the card in your hand and draw a new one.
  • Draw a new card if you don't have one in your hand.
  • Keep the card that's in your hand if you haven't played it.

When you have no cards remaining in your deck, reshuffle it.

We've also discussed optional ways to include Fortune Cards in your game (thanks to the blogging community for their advice and suggestions). Plus, look for the Fatedancer character theme introduced later this month in Dragon. Fatedancers embrace the mantra of “whatever will be, will be,” and they use Fortune Cards to make their destinies their own. Until then, here's a look at one more Fortune Card from the forthcoming set (with still to more to be previewed this week in the Community).


The Neverwinter Experience

Once a glittering beacon of civilization, the Jewel of the North now promises death to the timid, glory to the bold, and danger for all. This is Neverwinter: join the adventure, choose your faction, and change the game!

Visit the Explore Neverwinter site!