All is quiet tonight. The same old trees, same old trail through the Cloakwoods. With nary a sound, save from the shifting duff beneath his steps. All is quiet tonight… There is Selune, shining through the thick canopy. He had come to appreciate Her presence a bit more as of late. Her light provides a glimpse through the darkness that shrouds the woods, and what may lurk in the vicinity. A short silhouette here, a shifting patch of vegetation there. He knew the forest was alive around him. And yet all was quiet tonight…..aside from the whispers.
Those damned whispers! Try as he might, he could not find where it came from. And now a shiver, one that stops him in his tracks. He is not far from the edge of the woods now. But something catches his glimpse in the distance. A glimmer. And with the glimmer, the whispers grew louder. He’d decided on ignoring the voices…and the box. A box? The golden box that lay before him in the rubble, with black trim and several runes. He looked back to the spot in the distance where he’d been standing, wondering when he’d started approaching the source of the glimmer. He must have wanted to see what’s inside…the echoing voices made sure to remind him of that. He can’t seem to decide what to do, even though he found the box overwhelmingly tempting…and so fine to the touch. The touch? He finds his hands holding the thing up, feeling it with his fingers as its lid slowly opened. His thoughts of the when and the how was cut short as something suddenly reaches out of the box to pull him in. And all was completely quiet….
He gasps for breath as he wakes up. Heart stammering and drenched in sweat, he props himself up on one elbow to take stock of his surroundings. Finding himself on a bed in the cabin, he wipes the sweat off his brow as he moves to sit on the edge of the bed. With hands over his head and elbows up on knees, he decides there will be no more sleep tonight.
And so I woke up drenched in sweat in the middle of the night. Or rather, the character I’m playing as dreamed and experienced all that. Welcome to the world of role-playing 🙂
So what is role-playing, you ask? Well role-play (RP for short) is basically acting. Sort of like the role-play done in the bedroom. Cough. But let’s not get into that. I’m talking about the sort of playing that puts you inside the head of your character, where you become them. You see the world (in this case, a game world) he lives and breathes in through his eyes. Basically, you become your character. Role-playing goes way back even before the time of Pen-and-Paper gaming. But it was tabletop gaming that really brought on the idea of rolling up a character and playing him through a campaign with friends and a DM (Dungeon Master).
It’s an escape you can kind of experience, even if it’s just in your head. Think LARPing in the comfort of your seat, where your digital actions have digital consequences. Where every foray into an area will need to be considered carefully beyond stats and abilities, because in that world, everything is real. What you do is real. And that is what makes it all the more interesting, more so than the shiniest loot you can find.
So, what was that piece of prose in fancy italics up there? Well that’s one of the events that happened to my character, a ranger. An event I decided to put into words to share with the rest of the community. It all happened in an almost 12-year old game called Neverwinter Nights 2. It was a good single-player game at the time of release, though not as initially applauded like its predecessor. But like its prequel, it really shone with its online presence. Various community made online modules, called Persistent Worlds, were put out to host online play. I myself have been through some, but the one I’ve been on the longest, and the one I had that experience above is from this server called Baldur’s Gate II The Sword Coast Chronicles (BGTSCC). Awesome server 🙂
So I wanted to talk more about the game, specifically its online component. Anyone who’s played through a single-player campaign will know that it takes much to feel that the experience was well worth the price of admission. A lot of games get by that through expansion packs and DLC’s (downloadable content). And for games like The Elder Scrolls and the more recent Fallout games, mods. These things help extend the game’s shelf-life by adding (re)playability beyond the original campaign. I’m not going to delve much into the industry practice of DLC’s since it’s got such a negative stigma right now (I’m looking at you EA’s Battlefront II).
I found that sort of replayability in this game, thanks in huge part to the server itself. BGTSCC was actually the third server I joined after the game released. The two that I played in before that were good, but didn’t last very long. I joined BGTSCC around late 2009 and although I’ve been on and off the game through the years, it has given me such a lasting impression on RP’ing (role-playing) that I would find myself returning every now and then for extended periods just to scratch that itch. It’s experiences like this which has made the game one of the first pieces of software I would install on any new PC build I make (I still use the original DVD installers!).
Nowadays the game is widely available in digital download through Steam and GOG, which have helped keep interest in the game from waning out, and in effect kept the online community holding firm. The recent release of the prequel’s enhanced edition hopefully helped reignite interest in that game’s online community. I have to say both games’ online communities are indirectly tied to each other by virtue of the player-base’s search for an authentic Dungeons & Dragons experience. Some of the biggest mod repositories list both games in their sites. NWNList Scry, a persistent world live-update site, lists both games as well.
The experience itself is akin to an MMO but a little more refined, depending on the server’s setting and ruleset. Whereas MMO’s have population and bigger scope, NWN/NWN2’s persistent worlds offer a more focused experience whether it be storytelling, role-playing or just good old-fashioned dungeon-crawling. Where the game shines online is in the first two, really. And IMHO, having looked at every MMO I’ve played in the last decade or so, role-playing has always been lacking. Another reason I keep coming back to NWN2.
If you’re a fan of CRPG’s and D&D, or tabletop gaming in general. Try out the game. You may find that it’s easier to jump into than your typical weekly tabletop sessions. As for me, well…my ranger’s story isn’t finished yet. And I really need to get my bard up to speed as well. So maybe I’ll see you there, one day 🙂
Until next time!