Neverwinter Nights 2 Retrospective Diary, Part Two

The second part of John Walker's Neverwinter Nights 2 diary for Rock, Paper, Shotgun focuses less on the game itself, and more on how Walker's recent experiences with tabletop gaming enhanced his understanding of the game's mechanics and influenced his approach to the game. An excerpt:

I've found that on this trip into the digital Forgotten Realms, I'm giving far more personality to my character. I am, as seems apposite, playing a role. That's partly the reason for the whole (bastard) aspect to this. My habit in gaming is to try to be as much of an idealised version of me as possible, and that's both a good and bad thing. I adore that games as superbly crafted as BioWare and Obsidian's afford me the ability to preen my ego in such a way, let me be the John I would love to be in both that fantastical situation, and indeed my own. But I'm also missing out on a huge part of D&D by not letting myself be someone else entirely. I've made a similar mistake in our live game, I should add. It's only latterly that I've realised the advantages of playing my character to be far less like me, and far more like someone in his situation might be.

So I'm trying to give Serpentes far more personality than I usually would, obviously rather severely constricted by the confines of a pre-scripted tale. It's interesting to find how limiting this is, now I'm caring a bit more about it.

The other aspect that's really striking me differently in returning to a D&D game is death. If you've not played with pens and papers, you may be surprised (as I was) to learn that death is just that. Characters that don't make it out of an encounter are gone, forever. I imagine at later levels, with the right character, there may be magic users who can bring people back with a fortuitous dice roll, but in the main, all that investment and character development vanishes. The DM can then of course write in a new character for that player, allow you the person to still be involved in your ongoing story, but gosh, the consequences of an unfortunate moment are pretty dramatic. And of course, not so in CRPGs. Because, more than anything, you can save if all goes badly, or you regret a choice, you can rewind time to the moment you choose. And even without that, the only way to actually die in battle is for your entire party to go down at once. A lot is put in place to ensure you get to keep on winning, because here the purpose is to keep turning the pages of a pre-written book.