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Neverwinter Campaign Setting (4e)

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ADVENTURE IN A REALM OF INTRIGUE

Left a desolate ruin after a terrible cataclysm, the city of Neverwinter now rises from the ashes to reclaim its title as the Jewel of the North. Yet even as its citizens return and rebuild, hidden forces pursue their own goals and vendettas - any one of which could tear the city apart. If Neverwinter is to survive, it's up to heroes to face down secret cults, sinister necromancers, would-be kings, and the terrible monsters stirring beneath the city.

This supplement for the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS roleplaying game explores the Neverwinter region, providing details for both players and Dungeon Masters to experience everything the setting has to offer. Players can use this book to enhance their adventurers with exciting options that tie into the setting. They can choose from new character themes, cleric domains and powers, a new type of wizard called the bladesinger, and variants for classic races such as dwarves and elves. For Dungeon Masters, this supplement is a sandbox of adventure and plot options. It gives a Dungeon Master all the tools to build a thrilling campaign that spans the Neverwinter region.

Product History

Neverwinter Campaign Setting (2011), by Matt Sernett with Erik Scott de Bie and Ari Marmell, is the final D&D 4e campaign setting. It was published in August 2011.

Concluding the Campaign Settings. The original plan for D&D 4e's campaign books was to produce a new setting every year as three books: a player's guide, a GM's campaign guide, and an adventure. Afterward, the setting would be abandoned and a totally new world would be the core of the next year's publication. This plan lasted intact for two years, through the Forgotten Realms (2008) and Eberron (2009) settings. However the Dark Sun (2010) only made minor changes to the plans: the GM and player books were combined into a single Campaign Setting, then a monster manual was added to the line.

After 2010's Essentials line (2010), Wizards totally reimagined all of their D&D supplements, and that included their campaign settings. When the Neverwinter Campaign Setting showed up in its regular summer publication slot, it was quite a different beast from its predecessors. To start with, it wasn't a setting but instead a subsetting — the city of Neverwinter in the already detailed Forgotten Realms. It also was intended as a low-level campaign rather than being a setting for all characters. Finally, Neverwinter Campaign Setting appeared as just a single book, with its only gaming support being Encounter Season 6's "Lost Crown of Neverwinter" (2011). However, that doesn't mean it wasn't being supported in other ways.

The Multimedia Launch. Neverwinter Campaign Setting was launched as 4e's first major multimedia release — a marketing approach that Wizards would regularly use in later years. It was closely tied to a series of four novels, a comic book, two different computer games, and even a board game, The Legend of Drizzt (2011). Laura Tommervik of Wizards' marketing explained the approach: "We use Neverwinter as the connective tissue across multiple product categories. The transmedia campaign is an opportunity for fans to experience the brand however they choose to …"

The Computer Connection. Neverwinter actually had a long history in computer games. That started with AOL's Neverwinter Nights (1991-1997), an online gold-box D&D game that was the first major graphical multiplayer computer roleplaying game. By the time the game closed on July 19, 1997, 500 players could simultaneously play in each server's version of Neverwinter.

Nostalgia for the AOL game led to a pair of more traditional computer games mostly set in Neverwinter, both of which supported multiple players and adventure construction: Neverwinter Nights (2002) and Neverwinter Nights 2 (2006). There were also numerous supplements.

Now, two more Neverwinter computer games were appearing thanks to Wizards' "transmedia" campaign. A new MMORPG simply called "Neverwinter" was to be the center of the Neverwinter rollout. Unfortunately it was delayed for two years due to the resolution of a computer gaming lawsuit and the subsequent sale of the developer, Cryptic Studios. Fortunately, players had Heroes of Neverwinter (2011-2012), a Facebook game, to keep them occupied in the meantime. Neverwinter (2013) finally appear only after the rest of the launch. It continues to be supported to this day and has participated in some of D&D 5e's multimedia rollouts with expansions like Tyranny of Dragons (2014), Rise of Tiamat (2015), and Elemental Evil (2015).

The Novel Connection. Thanks to the multimedia launch, Neverwinter also got a lot of fictional attention in the early '10s. The heart of this was a quartet of novels by R.A. Salvatore called the Neverwinter Saga. The first, GauntlGrym (2010) actually predated the launch in October 2010, but its follow-up Neverwinter (2011) was right in line with the rest of the products in October 2011. Two more books followed: Charon's Claw (2012) and The Last Threshold (2013). Meanwhile IDW was publishing an original comic series called The Legend of Drizzt: Neverwinter Tales (2011-2012).

Expanding D&D. Because it's in part a player's book, Neverwinter Campaign Setting includes some new-ish elements for D&D 4e. The most important are the character themes, which were introduced in Dark Sun Campaign Setting (2010) and reused here. There's also a new class, the bladesinger, an idea that dates back to a kit in PHBR8: The Complete Book of Elves (1992) and was brought into the Forgotten Realms with FOR5: Elves of Evermeet (1994).

Exploring the Realms. The Sword Coast has long been one of the most detailed parts of the Forgotten Realms. Neverwinter lies in its north, just past the Mere of Dead Men. From the earliest days of the Realms, it was often mentioned as one of the most civilized cities in Faerûn. Though it made notable appearances in Volo's Guide to the North (1993) and The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier (1996), prior to the publication of the Neverwinter Campaign Setting (2011), the best detail on the city had always been found in computer games.

Much to the surprise of many fans, the city of Neverwinter was largely written off with the publication of the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (2008). That book simply said: "Port cities north of Waterdeep didn’t fare well in the years after the Spellplague; both Neverwinter and Luskan are now in utter ruin." Three years later, Neverwinter Campaign Setting finally explored what that meant.

Besides detailed fallen Neverwinter, the Neverwinter Campaign Setting also details nearby areas such as Evernight, Gauntlgrym, Helm's Hold, and the Neverwinter Wood.

Evernight is the only totally new locale. It's a dark mirror of Neverwinter set in the Shadowfell — showing off the Realms' connection to the World Axis in its 4e days.

Gauntlgrym also deserves some attention, because it had long been a confused part of Realms lore. Ed Greenwood created the upper city of Gauntlgrym as a dwarf-built human city lying near the surface. Greenwood's Knights of Myth Drannor discovered the city in 1982, then the Company of the Gryphon from one of his library groups played in the area some time later. Greenwood's version of Gauntlgrym is mentioned in some early Realms supplements such as The North. There was a deeper, dwarven city, but Greenwood never detailed it.

R.A. Salvatore meanwhile wrote about Gauntlgrym from the late '80s onward as a lost dwarven city that was sought out by his dwarf Bruenor. This Gauntlgrym, infested by mind flayers, has become the face of the lost city in more recent years, such as in the 3e Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (2001).

If you wish to reconcile the two accounts, assume that Salvatore's Gauntlgrym is the dwarf city that lies in the Underdark, deep below the human surface city that Greenwood once wrote about.

About the Creators. Sernett got his start as a Dragon editor in 2000 and had been writing D&D books since the Fiend Folio (2003). He was a member of the SCRAMJET team that updated D&D's cosmology, and now he was getting a chance to update one of its major cities too.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer]
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November 13th, 2015
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2011/08/15/tabletop-review-dungeons-dragons-neverwinter-campaign-setting/ Althou [...]
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on November 03, 2015.