Yeah, I know the title of this post is confusing, but it’s true.

In Neverwinter Nights, we are introduced to the self titled city of Neverwinter, Jewel of the North.  Aptly named as it is in the north of Faerûn.

Now in Shadows of Undrentide, we are sent east to the Silver Marches and the Anauroch desert where eventually you get to play in the ruins of magical cities that fell from the sky when magic itself failed for the briefest moment in time.

Shadows of Undrentide kinda takes place at the same time as Neverwinter Nights, but really you never know for sure.  Your character is apprenticed to an old dwarf named Drogan who gets poisoned five minutes into the prologue during an epic home invasion.  Of course it’s the kind of poison that is highly incurable but never fear!  An elf appears!  She’s an old friend of Drogan’s and manages to keep him alive through her magic.  Alive mind, not healed.  He’ll still die if she leaves him be.

And of course what kind of mentor would he be if he didn’t saddle his favorite pupil with a dying wish quest!  See crafty old Drogan is a member of a secret organization called the Harpers, who’s sole purpose in life is to protect and aid all goodly races and creatures against the forces of darkness.  Little did you know young Padawan, your master was in charge of protecting and warding four evil artifacts: the hand of a lich, tooth of a dragon, the mask of a high priest of a shadow god, and a strange statue found in a desert.  Go forth young Padawan, and recover these relics of great power and great responsibility, which of course were stolen during the battle that felled your mastah.

Scene set!  The rest of Chapter One is you off and running to find these relics for your dear master, and discovering along the way the usual band of secret cults, hooded figures, and mages gone mad.

After Chapter One you have the Interlude.  And lo and behold!  Drogan is once again hale and hearty and asking you to take one of the relics to an archeologist in the desert who is looking for a Netherese site.  Turns out the statue is high powerful magic, and dates back to the Netherese Empire to boot.

For those not familiar with Realms history, the Netherese empire existed a long, long time ago.  They were a race and society of incredibly powerful wizards, and lived in castles that floated through the sky.  Then one day one wizard in particular got particularly large delusions of grandeur in his head and took on the goddess of magic herself, effectively killing her for a few brief moments before her soul (or whatever you want to call it) was able to find a new host to reincarnate.  However, during those brief moments, all magic all across Faerun failed.  And what was holding up those magical flying cities?  Well not a whole helluva lot once she was down for the count, and as a result pretty much every single city fell out of the sky and was reduced to rubble.  Way to go dude.  You just killed off your entire empire.  *slow sarcastic applause*

So that’s the Interlude.  You find the archeologist, fight off some new creatures called Stingers (centaur like creatures, half human half scorpion), and at the end of the Interlude meet the hooded figure behind everything and congratulations!  You’ve been turned to stone.  Cue Chapter Two.

Now in Chapter Two you’re woken from your stone sleep by a reptilian merchant who promptly enslaves you and tells you the good news.  Turns out that statue you were carrying around was actually the key to make one of those fallen cities fly again, and that’s just what the woman is trying to do…with you on it.

You are now located on the shuddering ruin of the once-fallen Netherese city of Undrentide, and you’re goal is clear.  Kill the pesky reptile that dares enslave you, find your way off the semi-floating hunk of rock, and kill the hooded witch.  Not necessarily in that order either.

Of course, our hero prevails and the city falls to the sand once more, hopefully never to rise again.  So far it hasn’t, but you never know…

Ok so that’s the plot of Shadows of Undrentide.  Not bad for an expansion eh?  Lets go onto what’s different compared to the OC.

1. You’re introduced to a few new beasties in SoU.  You’re given some new familiars such as the faerie dragon and the pseudodragon, as well as new baddie creatures such as a basilisk and stiners.  But non of the creepy crawlies are too hard to manage, especially if you import your character.  Just be careful because some of the super strong ones are also immune to magic attacks which sucks the big one.

2.  You’re not centered out of one city anymore!  Woot!  The progression of the game is fairly linear, different environments for each section, and no backtracking! Hallelujah!

3. New prestige classes!  5 of them to be exact.  Arcane Archer: You can cast spells with arrows.  Assassin: Pretty self explanatory.  Blackguard:  Basically you’re a champion of evil and damn proud of it!   Shadowdancers: Quick like ninja! You can use the shadows to teleport short distances or hide in plain sight.  Harper Scout: Again, self explanatory.  You’re a Harper, and a scout.  Done.

4. You get a couple of new feats and spells, nothing overly noteworthy.

5. You can manage your henchman’s inventory as well as your own which is a plus.  Now you can really up their armor and weapons so they don’t die when a butterfly sneezes on them…

And that’s all folks!  The mechanics are the same, the graphics are the same, etc etc.  The story was involved, it was interesting, and it didn’t feel so grinding at times with the quests that NWN.  So all in all, not bad.

Next on the gaming docket: Neverwinter Nights Hordes of the Underdark.  Unless I get distracted by some other shiny things….

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