Six new classes, a bunch of new spells, and a longer, more interesting campaign story is what we get in the second (and also my favorite) Neverwinter Nights expansion, Hordes of the Underdark (HotU).

So, story.

You can carry your character over from Shadows of Undrentide (SoU), or create someone brand new to play HotU.  Your character wakes up in The Yawning Portal, an inn in Waterdeep, which is currently being besieged by legions from the Underdark and Undermountain.

Little bit of backstory here:  Waterdeep is one of THE big cities in the Forgotten Realms world of Faerun.  And underneath Waterdeep is a big ass magical dungeon made by a mad wizard named Halaster called Undermountain.  Undermountain only extended under and around Waterdeep, and is full of all sorts of magical and mundane puzzles, traps, mazes, and creatures lured/bribed/kidnapped and trapped there by Halaster to try any adventurer who wants to give them a shot.

Needless to say, few survive.

Underdark, however, exists below Undermountain, and is not so much a dungeon as a completely separate subterranean world that expands the length and breadth of Fearun and his home to some of the darkest, most evil races, such as Drow, Ilithids, and Beholders.

Ok, now we’re caught up.

The drow are a very matriarichal society, with each noble drow house being headed by a matron mother.  One such matron has imbibed too much of the wacky juice and has gotten it into her head that she can rule not only all of the Underdark, but the surface world as well.  In order to help aid her goals, she has bound a prince of the Nine Hells, Mephistopholes, to her.

So this is chapter one.  You are heading off to the Underdark where you join with some drow rebels to take down this matron who calls herself the Valsharess.  Once sed Valsharess is defeated, you find yourself trapped in the Eigth Hell of Cambia, home to Mephistopholes himself, while he is let loose to run amok on the Prime Material Plane.  Cue chapter two.  Escape from Cambia, and defeat Mephistopholes.

I admit I liked the story of HotU better than SoU.  There was more going on and you even get your first romance of the series, and for me HotU was the first RPG that I played back in the day that ever introduced this concept of influencing characters and developing these very personal relationships with them.

So whats new, what’s different, and what’s interesting in HotU compared to the OC and SoU?  Lets see…

1.  Six new classes, my favorite being Dragon Disciple.  It was really cute in game when my little kobold companion Deekin (a carry over companion from SoU) decided to become a Dragon Disciple and grew wings!

2.  New story obiously, and along with six new classes, new spells for the old as well.

3.  Level cap is raised from 20 to 40, so if you want to have fun and have the baddies esplode when you look at them, you can cheat and buff up and run through the game like a madwoman with her tail on fire.

4.  Lots of love and romance in this one.  You can form a romantic relationship with Valen Shadowbreath, a male tiefling (half human half devil) the only new companion introduced in the game.  But you also have to deal with several other romances.  There is an angelic creature sleeping the centuries away in Cambia, waiting for his one true love.  The one being you need to find to free yourself from the hell you literally find yourself in was once in love with the devil prince that trapped you there and she refuses to help you because she still loves him, and her sister who helps you is in love with the angelic being sleeping in Cambia.  This ain’t a love triangle folks, it’s a love polygon…

5. Most of your henchmen come back.  All of your buddies from the original campaign are available to be hired, Deekin the kobold bard from SoU comes back and you can travel with him again.  You don’t get any other SoU companions (unless I missed them) and the only downfall is that if you import your character, only Deekin remembers you.  Your henchman from the OC won’t comment on your past adventures, and few others if any will comment on anything else you have done in the OC or SoU.  Little bit of a bummer.

6.  You get a portable store at one point, which makes unloading things easier.  Halfway through act 1, you get the bottle of a djinn merchant and whenever you get too loaded down with loot you can summon him and sell everything off without having to run around looking for a merchant.

That’s really about it for HotU.  The end credits were pretty cool too.  Once you defeat Mephistopholes, there is a semi-cinematic cut scene that gives you the epilogues of all the major character you met along the way.  And I say semi-cinematic because you can’t really skip any of it, but you can fast forward through them if that makes any sense…

It’s been years since I played the original Neverwinter Nights, and I had forgotten how much fun they all were.  Granted I was cheap and cheated like hell through the whole thing, but once you beat something honestly half a dozen times, do you really want to grind through it again when you’re only really playing it for nostalgia purposes?

Next up for me (eventually), giving the mods a shot.  Those should be interesting as I haven’t played any of them before.  New stories, new characters, and new challenges!  Huzzah!