Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Review: D&D 4E Neverwinter Campaign Setting

Okay, so I stopped by my friendly local game store recently and picked up a couple books, including this one.  As I've mentioned before I love setting books no matter whether it's for a town, city, region, or entire campaign world.

This book covers the town of Neverwinter in the D&D Forgotten Realms world.  Well, actually it covers the town and the immediate region around it as well as a jaunt to the Shadowfell and the borders of faraway Thay.  The locations in town and nearby are given just enough detail to work with but almost not enough in some cases.  Several groups of baddies are included with key personalities and their on-going plans described.  Overall it's a great book for starting a campaign.  It even has a very nice pull-out poster map of Neverwinter, with the material plane version on one side and the shadow plane version on the other.

Even though it was published for D&D 4th Edition there aren't a lot of crunchy edition-specific rules bits inside.  For the majority of the creatures it simply provides references to earlier works.  This is good because it cuts down on space wasted repeating information you might already have in the other books and because it makes it reasonable generic so you can use it with other rules.

There were a couple things I wasn't totally happy with.  The main one is that although it is a setting guide with lots of locations, there are only a couple maps.  The maps they do include are great but more are needed.   Maybe I'm spoiled with what Paizo usually provides in their books and adventure paths but I can see GMs doing a lot of work making up maps. For example, there is a lost dwarven "Moria" type underground city complex which is described as huge but there no map and only a few locations are described.

Another thing was that descriptions of the groups of baddies give the impression that they each have a small army but this book is meant to take characters from level 1 through level 10.  Unless the baddies have a lot of easily killed minion types, which is apparently not the case, I'm not sure how they're supposed to fully defeat them.  Also, the town itself is beset by multiple violent threat groups and sources.  The impression is that there is almost constant violence of one sort or another.  But when you look at the map Neverwinter is obviously not very big--and one quarter of it is uninhabitable and another quarter is partially occupied by a group of orcs.  When you match up the threat group activities with the size of the town as shown it's pretty clear it wouldn't last long.

Now, on to read the huge Southlands campaign seting book...

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