Cloaks or capes are worn across the shoulders and drape down the back. They provide no additional benefits to the wearer unless imbued with powerful magic.
Visible cloaks Edit
When the game was initially released, cloaks were similar to belts in that they were not visually depicted on the characters wearing them. Patch 1.68 changed this, making cloaks visible when worn by a part-based creature (which includes player characters). This was done to support—and made possible by—the cloak models developed by DLA for the premium module Wyvern Crown of Cormyr. (The cloak icons were also changed to better represent how the cloaks appear when worn.) Ironically, the other premium modules were not updated for this change.
This change was not without its glitches though. The most noticeable was that all existing cloaks (on a saved player character, in a saved game, or in a module) lacked color information, giving them a drab light tan appearance (described by one poster in the BioWare legacy forums as a "potato sack"). While cloaks newly-generated from standard blueprints did not have this problem, the tan cloaks were pervasive. Solutions were not hard to come by, though. Most active module authors have updated their modules for the visible cloaks, and the cloaks in the official campaigns were updated for the 1.69 patch. For most of the remaining cases (unmaintained modules, saved games, and player characters who acquired cloaks before 1.68) a third-party utility is available to supply color information.
A related issue is that introducing visible cloaks changed the definition of base item types (
baseitems.2da), making them incompatible with pre-1.68 modules that had customized base items via hak paks. Symptoms of this issue include cloaks not being visible, the colors from the third-party utility not appearing in the game, and the old cloak icons being used. Again, most maintained content has been updated, and there is a third-party utility available to update the remaining hak paks (other than the encrypted ones used by premium modules)..
One widespread exception is version 1 of the Community Expansion Pack (CEP). While CEP updated itself for visible cloaks, it did so by introducing new hak paks (one to show the cloaks and one to hide them), which left older, unmaintained CEP modules using hak paks with this issue (unless the third-party utility for hak paks is used on the CEP 1 hak paks).
More insidious than the above issues is the glitch arising from custom content that had introduced armor pieces that look like cloaks. Prior to 1.68, a number of module builders had used these pieces to give (part-based) non-player characters the appearance of wearing a cloak. When these characters also had a cloak equipped in the cloak slot, the result was the display of two cloaks on the character after the 1.68 update. While amusing to some, this was not the intent of the module authors. For unmaintained modules, the only solution (other than accepting the oddity) is to disable visible cloaks. As of patch 1.69, this can be accomplished by finding the line
nwnplayer.ini and changing the one to a zero:
Appropriately enough, these problems associated with a purely visual change to the game have themselves been purely visual.