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Character Creation Guide

Quick Jump: Introduction | Abilities | Hit Points | Saving Throws | Races | Skills | Feats | Classes

Introduction - The 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons rules allow for an unprecedented flexibility in creating a truly unique character. Two players choosing to play a Fighter can be as different as night and day depending on what feats, skills and what characteristics they choose to develop. This all can be very daunting to the new comer- especially if NWN is your first exposure to the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition rules. There is always some confusion when you first create a character for a complex role-playing system, as there seems to be too many rules to keep track of and options to keep in mind.

Now let's start with a bit of history; Dungeons and Dragons has been around for many years in various incarnations. The title '3rd Edition' comes from the fact that several versions of the rules system for this famous game have existed before the current version. Each edition was quite different from the one before it. That difference is most apparent in the latest version- it is a large departure from the previous versions. As a new player you do not need any experience with the previous versions of the Dungeon and Dragons rules systems; in fact, it may be helpful to understanding the new rules if you do have preconceived notions.

All the rules needed to play Dungeon and Dragons are contained within a group of books (the 'core' rule books) called the Players Handbook, the Dungeon Master's Guide and the Monster Manual. The computer game Neverwinter Nights uses these rules.

I have taken the basic information from the NWN manual and added some additional thoughts on things to look out for each character class and things to keep in mind for a new player.

Thinking of a character can be an easy or difficult process- to start with I always think of a character I would enjoy reading about in a fantasy book, seeing in a fantasy movie, or is featured in something I have written or role-played in a live setting. While creating a stereotyped fearless knight or a sly rogue and so on always has appeal, I encourage NWN players and Dungeon Masters (DMs) to create totally original characters that shatter the typical way each character class is presented. This is the mark of originality if you can create a completely new character using the standard rules. Those are the characters that stick out and become legends.

Abilities - We need to cover one thing before you begin exploring the races to choose from: basic Abilities. These are the basic components of your characters that alter how you interact with the NWN world:

Strength (Str): Indicates how developed your muscles are for physical tasks such as lifting or pushing. The stronger you the better you are at melee.

Dexterity (Dex): How nimble, quick and graceful you are. The more Dex you have the better you can avoid damage from enemies or traps.

Constitution (Con): How hardy you are. Different from Str in that Con refers more to endurance, stamina and general health. The more Con you have the more damage you can weather and less likely you will be to contract disease or succumb to poison.

Intelligence (Int): Your ability to reason, to learn and comprehend your surroundings. The more Int you have the better skills you will possess.

Wisdom (Wis): Your perception, strength of will, and intuition. The higher your Wis the more in tune with your surroundings you will be.

Charisma (Cha): This is a mix of leadership, personal magnetism, physical appearance, verbal ability and social skills. The higher your Cha the more likely you will be able to sway, intimidate, seduce or bluff and so on those around you.

To the left, we see the ability scores of an example character. In first column of numbers are the actual ability scores, in the second column are the modifiers gained for that ability score. For example, a Dexterity of 16 yields a modifier of 3.

Further information at NWNWiki: Abilities

Hit Points - Hit Points (hp) are a measure of how much damage which can be inflicted upon your character before they are unconscious or dead. For example Jinn, a 4rd Level Rogue has 15 Hit Points is hit with an arrow from a bandit hiding in the trees. The arrow does 5 damage to Jinn. Jinn now has 10 Hit Points left and has a wound. If Jinn is hit with more arrows later in the combat and receives more than 10 more Hit Points of damage he dies. In other words if your character is damaged and has 0 (or less) hit points your character dies in the Neverwinter Nights Official Campaign. In Neverwinter Nights a module designer has the ability to change what the death settings are to 3rd Editions standard rules which are a character is unconscious at 0 Hit Points and loses an additional hit point a round until 10 rounds have passed (the character is now at 10 Hit Points) at which point the character dies.

Hit Points are not just an indicator of how much physical damage you can take. Extra hit points as you gain levels are also an indication of you advancing skill at avoiding critical damage. Your 13th Level Fighter (with 100 Hit Points) may take 40 damage from a volley of 15 arrows but this does not mean you have 15 arrows sticking out of your heart and are just being manly. It probably means you took many small wounds but managed to avoid being hit in a critical area. You have not taken 40 damage in physical terms but the 40 damage represents the fact you were able to survive being struck with 15 arrows- you are injured but not dead as you would be at 1st level. You have enough experience in combat to be able to survive such a deadly situation.

Further information at NWNWiki: Hit Points

Saving Throws - The term 'Saving Throw' harkens back to the earliest D&D rules where a character is required to 'throw' the dice down (roll) in order to 'save' them from a bad situation. There are three types of saving throws in 3rd Edition D&D: Reflex: When you need to react to something very quickly to avoid damage or perform some desperate action such as dodging a fireball, avoiding a spike trap, catching a party member that has slipped off the ledge and so on. Will: Resisting mental attacks, magical effects or anything requires willpower such as Charm, illusions, domination spells and so on. Fortitude: Standing up to attacks to your vitality, health, or anything that attacks your constitution such poison, disease, energy drain or paralysis for example. For example Jinn, the 4th Level Rogue, notices- at the last second- an assassin has pushed a large stone statue off a building in hopes of crushing our hero. He needs to make a saving throw- or specifically a Reflex saving throw- in order to avoid being struck by the statue. Jinn rolls his dice and success in making his Reflex saving throw and jumps clear of the statue as it crashes to the ground.

Further information at NWNWiki: Saving Throws

Races - One the biggest decisions you will have in creating a character is choosing what race you want to play. Each race brings with it a distinct cultural attributes, abilities, advantages and disadvantages.

As a player, you can shape whatever history or education you want into your character but choosing a race tends to bring certain permanent attributes to your character. If you play a Halfling for example you will be of shorter stature to most of the races in NWN. You can be an unusually large Halfling but you still will be seen as a Halfling by the rest of the world. Also consider some races have an irrational dislike of other races. Dwarves are known for there mistrust of elves for example. You could be the most true-hearted Paladin in the known world but the Dwarven bartender won't let you stay because you're an elf. These are things to consider when picking a race.

The particulars of the culture of each race will not be dealt with as each can be subject to interpretation by the player when creating a character. The bonuses and penalties are described as they effect your character in the game.

Available Races:

Human: Humans are considered very adaptable to their surroundings and being quick to learn new skills.
Favored Class: Any. When determining whether a multiclass human suffers an XP penalty, his highest-level class does not count.
Quick to Master: 1 extra feat at 1st level
Skilled: 4 extra skill points at 1st level, plus 1 additional skill point at each level up

Dwarf: Extraordinarily resilient to damage and magic- they are feared warriors.
Dwarven Ability Adjustments: +2 Con, -2 Cha
Favored Class: Fighter. A multiclass dwarf's fighter class does not count when determining whether he suffers an XP penalty for multiclassing.
Special Abilities: Stonecunning, Darkvision, Hardiness vs. Poisons, Hardiness vs. Spells, Offensive Training vs. Orcs, Offensive Training vs. Goblinoids, Defensive Training vs. Giants, Skill Affinity (Lore).

Elf: Lithe, graceful and deadly; Elves have magic infused into their very being.
Elven Ability Adjustments: +2 Dex, -2 Con
Favored Class: Wizard. A multiclass elf's wizard class does not count when determining whether he suffers an XP penalty for multiclassing.
Special Abilities: Immunity to Sleep, Hardiness vs. Enchantments, Bonus Proficiencies (Longsword, Rapier, Shortbow, Longbow), Skill Affinity (Listen), Skill Affinity (Search), Skill Affinity (Spot), Keen Senses, Low-light vision.

Gnome: The master tinkerers, inventors and scientists amongst the races.
Gnome Ability Adjustments: +2 Con, -2 Str
Favored Class: Wizard. A multiclass gnome's wizard class does not count when determining whether he suffers an XP penalty for multiclassing.
Special Abilities: Small Stature, Hardiness vs. Illusions, Offensive Training vs. Reptilians, Offensive Training vs. Goblinoids, Defensive Training vs. Giants, Skill Affinity (Listen), Skill Affinity (Concentration), Spell Focus (Illusion), Low-light vision.

Half-Elf: A potent mix of human curiosity and ingenuity with the Elven longer lifespan and magical defensives.
Favored Class: Any. When determining whether a multiclass half-elf suffers an XP penalty, his highest-level class does not count.
Special Abilities: Immunity to Sleep, Hardiness vs. Enchantments, Partial Skill Affinity (Listen), Partial Skill Affinity (Search), Partial Skill Affinity (Spot), Low-light vision.

Half-Orc: The brutal Orc mixed with the natural intelligence of the human has produced a race of enormous strength and endurance possessing a foul temper and dubious intelligence.
Orc Ability Adjustments: +2 Str, -2 Int, -2 Cha
Favored Class: Barbarian. A multiclass half-orc's barbarian class does not count when determining whether he suffers an XP penalty for multiclassing.
Special Abilities: Darkvision.

Halfling: Tiny, resourceful and skillful; Halflings are sometimes dismissed as weak by the foolish.
Halfling Ability Adjustments: +2 Dex, -2 Str
Favored Class: Rogue. A multiclass halfling's rogue class does not count when determining whether he suffers an XP penalty for multiclassing.
Special Abilities: Small Stature, Skill Affinity (Move Silently), Skill Affinity (Listen), Lucky, Fearless, and Good Aim.

Players are encouraged to read more about each race as ideas may be added to an existing character concept or further fleshed out.

Further information at NWNWiki: Races

Skills - Characters may have different types of skills. These are usually mundane abilities that can be gained by almost any character.

Each character class has a list of skills that are the preferred skills of their class. A 'preferred' skill is one where a player must only spend 1 skill point to raise the rank of that skill by 1 point. Most other skills are considered 'cross-class' which means that a player can take that skill but it will cost 2 skill points per rank instead of 1.

There are some skills that are so specialized that only certain classes can take them. This means that no other class in the game can spend points on these skills but the classes listed. The specialized skills are: Animal Empathy (Ranger and Druid), Perform (Bard), Use Magic Device (Bard and Rogue)

Here is a brief explanation of each skill:
Animal Empathy: Gaining the temporary trust of a wild animal.
Appraise: Used for negotiating with some merchants.
Bluff: The character can make the outrageous or the untrue seem plausible.
Concentration: Defense against being distracted while casting a spell or fighting.
Craft Armor: Create and modify armor.
Craft Trap: Create traps.
Craft Weapon: Create and modify weapons.
Disable Trap: Player can perform a variety of actions on a trap.
Discipline: Defense against combat feats like Knockdown and Disarm.
Heal: Can be used with Healing Kit to heal wounds and cure diseases and poisons.
Hide: Hide from enemies.
Intimidate: Use this skill to get a bully to back down or make a prisoner give information.
Listen: Chance to detect hidden creatures.
Lore: Identifying properties of items found.
Move Silently: Move without being detected.
Open Lock: Allows a chance to unlock a door or chest.
Parry: Defensive stance in combat.
Perform: Bard's gain access to Bardsong.
Persuade: Sway another's thinking.
Pick Pocket: Steal items from another character.
Ride: Gain combat benefits when mounted.
Search: Ability to find important or valuable items.
Set Trap: set a trap for others to trigger.
Spellcraft: identify a spell being cast.
Spot: Ability to see hidden or camouflaged things.
Taunt: Distract opponents in combat.
Tumble: Move past opponents in combat.
Use Magic Device: Ability to operate a magical device that has some sort of restrictions on it such as only being useable by a certain class, race or alignment.

Further information at NWNWiki: Skills

Feats - Feats are special abilities, some mundane, some extraordinary, that characters can attain as they gain experience. Every character starts play with at least one feat, and every character picks a new feat at 3rd level and every 3rd level after that (6th, 9th, 12th, and so on). Not all feats are available to all classes or even all characters of the same classes.

Further information at NWNWiki: Feats

Classes - A Class is the profession or vocation of your character. It determines what he or she is able to do: combat training, magical ability, skills, and more. In selecting what class is right for your character, keep in mind what base strengths you want him or her to have. The eleven basic selections can approximate most any character concept.

Further information at NWNWiki: Classes