Character creation is the process by which a player creates a player character (PC) to be used when playing a module or on a persistent world. A simplified process is used for character level-up, when a player takes advantage of earning a level through experience points.
Before playing Neverwinter Nights, a player first has to decide what type of character to play. There is a great deal of room for customization, so this may seem a little intimidating at first. It is best to remember that there are no good or bad characters, and different people appreciate different aspects of the game. A player can create any number of characters, so experimentation is a useful approach for some. In addition, Neverwinter Nights has a flexible system for character modification, so early decisions will likely not "break" a character.
One way to navigate the character creation process is to start with a character concept. Many roleplayers enjoy mimicking figures from history, myth, or popular culture. Those who enjoy a challenge sometimes construct a flawed character, perhaps one who is sickly or a bit of a buffoon. Perhaps they might take a classical stereotype and play it in a new and refreshing manner, like a dwarven barbarian who is scholarly or prefers a sling to an axe. Regardless of where the inspiration comes from, having a concept makes the process of character creation easier.
Character creation begins at a menu listing the steps in the process. Each step is disabled until all preceding steps are completed, but it is possible to return to an earlier step. While some of these steps are independent, others are not; the options presented in some steps are dependent upon what was chosen in earlier steps. (For example, some alignments are not available to certain classes.) The steps are as follows.
- Race (and subrace)
- Ability scores
- Character appearance (head, tattoo, body, clothing, colors)
- Character information (name, age, description, voice, deity)
The substeps for packages are only shown if the player chooses to "Customize Packages", instead of selecting a package and clicking "OK". If a package is chosen, the game will fill in the initial skills, feats, etc. as determined by that package.
The level-up process is similar, but there is no menu; steps must be completed in order with no backtracking. (There is a "Cancel" button though, allowing the process to be restarted.) Furthermore, the "packages" screen is skipped; the process proceeds directly to the substeps, as if the "Customize Packages" button had been pressed. In addition, only the relevant steps are presented. The steps relevant to level-up are as follows.
- Ability score increase (every fourth level)
- Feats (only if a choice is available; every third level at least)
- Domains (cleric level 1 only)
- Spell school (wizard level 1 only)
- Known spells (bard, sorcerer, and wizard only)
- Animal companion (druid and ranger only; rangers must be at least level 6)
- Familiar (sorcerer and wizard only)
The order of the steps of the character creation/level-up process is important for prerequisites. Prerequisites may be satisfied by earlier steps in the process, but not by later. So the prerequisites for a prestige class must be met before leveling begins (as class selection is the first step), but the prerequisites for feats can often be met during the leveling process. When multiple feats are to be chosen on a single level (including character creation), the feat(s) chosen first may be used to satisfy the prerequisites of those chosen later, with one caveat: feats that increase ability scores (e.g. dragon abilities) do not affect abilities until after the level-up process is complete. That is, if a feat has an ability requirement, that requirement must be met before feat selection.
During the level-up process (and character creation vacuously), no items or effects come into play, with two exceptions. This means that a player cannot satisfy prerequisites by equipping an item or casting a spell that provides a bonus. In particular, any red or green numbers on the character sheet do not matter during level-up. One exception is that the racial change (only) from a polymorph does apply, along with its associated racial modifiers. This can be problematic (especially with regards to enforce legal characters), so it is usually a good idea to avoid taking a level while under the influence of a polymorph. The other exception is that feats granted by items can be used to qualify for prestige classes. Again, this can easily run afoul of enforce legal characters.
At most steps in the character creation and leveling processes, there is a button labeled "Recommended" available. (The exceptions are the selection of familiar/animal companion and the steps that are cosmetic and do not affect gameplay – gender, portrait, and customize.) This button can be used to speed up the process for those who do not care about the details of character development. Characters created with this button are usually playable and capable of completing the official campaigns, but they are not optimized and may include feats and skills that will not be usable in the module being played (such as brew potion in a module created before the Hordes of the Underdark expansion). This button can be convenient for some, while others consider "recommended" to be a misnomer.
The race selected by the "recommended" button is human, while the class selected is fighter.
This button selects alignment based upon class, with the possibilities being chaotic neutral, chaotic good, lawful neutral, true neutral, or lawful good.
Initial abilities during character creation are set by this button based on class according to information in
classes.2da. This usually produces a somewhat balanced set of attributes with emphasis on the abilities traditionally associated with that class. Ability increases during level-up are based on a package — the one selected at character creation if leveling in one's first class, and the default for the class otherwise. It is possible for a package to emphasize a different ability than those emphasized at character creation.
When dealing with packages, the "recommended" button favors the first one in the list, which is usually the most generic of the packages. If a player chooses to configure packages, the "recommended" button for the substeps makes selections based on the default package for the class. During level-up, if leveling in the character's initial class, and if packages were not configured during character creation, then the "recommended" button attempts to continue with the selected package. Otherwise, the "recommended" button uses the default package for the class being advanced. The recommendations are based upon what the character qualifies for and are influenced by previous choices only as far as they affect qualifying. In particular, the "recommended" button makes no attempt to build upon choices made outside the package, whether made by the player or by a package for another class. This may result in oddities if the "recommended" button is used inconsistently or if the character has multiple classes. (For example, weapon focus in the mace does not preclude weapon focus in the longsword, so a character with the former might still be given the latter by a package that is designed for wielders of longswords.)
After the steps for character creation are completed, the game automatically generates starting gear. The gear is based on the class, with some variations for those who did not configure packages. The standard gear includes a torch and three potions of cure light wounds. Arcane classes (bard, sorcerer, and wizard) are given scrolls of magic missile, protection from alignment, sleep, and summon creature I. Rogues are given thieves' tools +1 and a minor spike trap kit. Also included are gold, armor, and weapons as shown below. (Any ranged weapon is augmented by one full stack of ammunition.)
|Class||Gold||Armor and helmet||Weapon and shield|
|Bard||100||leather armor||dagger, light crossbow|
|Cleric||75||studded leather armor||small shield, mace|
|Fighter||50||studded leather armor||shortsword|
|Paladin||50||studded leather armor, pot helmet||shortsword|
|Ranger||50||leather armor||longsword, dagger, shortbow|
|Rogue||100||leather armor||shortsword, dagger|
|Sorcerer||75||sorcerer's robe||dagger, light crossbow|
|Wizard||75||wizard's robe||dagger, light crossbow|
A player may also obtain different weapons and shield if they select a package when creating their character. This comes with the drawback that the game will select skills, feats, etc. for the character. Below are given the possible alterations for weapons and shields.
- Barbarian Orcblood: double axe
- Barbarian Savage: nothing
- Barbarian Slayer: sling, greatsword
- Fighter Finesse: rapier, light crossbow
- Fighter Pirate: rapier, light crossbow
- Monk Devout: quarterstaff
- Monk Peasant: kama, shuriken
- Monk Spirit Warrior: light crossbow
- Paladin Errant: large shield, longsword
- Paladin Inquisitor: large shield, longsword
- Paladin Undead Hunter: mace, light crossbow
- Ranger Giant-Killer: greataxe, dagger, shortbow
- Ranger Marksman: light flail, dagger, shortbow
- Ranger Stalker: 2 shortswords, shortbow
- Ranger Warden: greatsword, dagger, shortbow
- Rogue Swashbuckler: rapier, dagger