I want to create a bridge from the CR community to the NWN community

Hello!
A long, long time ago, I used to love the potential of NWN, and I even uploaded a few very small bits of custom content and graphics fixes for NWN 2 when it first came out. [ This was me: Search | The Neverwinter Vault ] But suddenly my more advanced GPU broke down and as a student I couldn’t afford to replace it, and then my internet got extremely unstable for the next decade, so I gave up on the idea of online games. And in any case, back then I hadn’t been confident enough in my English skills to try one of the international Persistent Worlds.

Now I find myself with a lot of time on my hands (Long Covid sucks) and at least NWN:EE seems to run well enough on my non-gamer laptop. And my renewed interest in D&D but lack of the consistent mental energy and reliable sleeping cycle necessary to actually get involved with even just a regular virtual tabletop game, my love for the worldbuilding and community spirit of Critical Role, and a few lengthy podcast analyses of the utterly appalling state of commercial MMORPGs that I’ve listened to recently, together sparked an idea:

I could create a module set in Critical Role’s world setting as a showcase for the NWN toolset’s potential, and so maybe lure over some of the show’s million-strong, often quite creative fanbase, many of whom want to try playing D&D, but have various issues that make in-person play difficult, and virtual tabletop play too technically challenging. (You need a decent camera and microphone.)

Most of these “Critters” were young children when the NWN games were first released, so at the very least they would benefit from being introduced to an older style of multiplayer-enabled CRPGs, before MMORPG companies decided to jetisoned all immersion and actual roleplay for the sake of microtransactions, lootbox gambling, and repetitive, grindy, automatically generated ‘quests’ that just serve to prevent the player from running out of ‘content’ too quickly and leaving the game. Also, I figure that the core of NWN Persistent World players and DMs who are still left after a couple of decades should be mature enough to be a safe and pleasant environment for the sort of people whose expectations of D&D were first shaped by Critical Role, and the community spirit fostered by CR and the NWN custom content community seems highly compatible to me. Besides, I think that an influx of even just a couple hundred players of a new generation could only be good for the NWN community and its longterm survival.

However, I know that a lot of older male tabletop D&D players absolutely hate Critical Role and the way the show has popularized the game with wider audiences over the last few years. Which has led to a large influx of young women and queer people into the hobby, who expect engaging character roleplay and basic empathy / use of psychological safety precautions (e.g. no mentioning of sexual assault or domestic abuse unless everyone has agreed in advance that they want to deal with topics like that), and who generally don’t care about tactical character optimization or memorizing all the details of the gaming system’s rules. (Also, Matt Mercer, Critical Role’s DM, does not have an adversial attitude towards his players and will try to avoid killing their characters if at all possible, while milking the resurrection scenes for all the drama he can get out of them. Many DMs used to older versions of D&D consider this “pulling his punches”, and they generally complain that D&D 5e is terribly “dumbed down” in any case and resent the fact that a lot of the newer player generation doesn’t care to learn other, more complex or “elegant” systems.)

I assume that since the rolls in NWN are largely done automatically by the game’s engine and the effects of spells are hardcoded, so it doesn’t matter if you don’t quite remember all the details, this disdain for players who want to focus on character roleplay instead of combat efficiency would not be so much of an issue with the NWN community, even if there would still be a bit of a re-learning curve for people who are used to how D&D 5e works vs. NWN’s 3e-based engine. And I think the sort of things the older tabletop players criticize about the newbies are exactly the sort of things that would make the newbies predisposed to disliking current raid-based commercial MMORPGs and to enjoying the RP-focused nature of the remaining NWN PWs - perhaps enough to overlook the rather limited class/race options and the antiquated graphics. (After all, the various virtual tabletop platforms that have sprung up during the pandemic are even more rudimentary in their graphic representations of the “map”. And there’s quite a bit of hullaballoo going on right now about fears that Wizards of the Coast might intend to monopolize this form of play and then monetize it like an MMORPG. So even the older tabletop players who have gotten used to the convenience of virtual tabletops during the pandemic would perhaps benefit from being informed that NWN and its toolset are still a thing that exists and is easily available.)

And personally, the idea of logging onto a PW and exploring the world on my own for a while, until I feel ready to strike up a conversation with someone else on the server who seems similarly lonesome - that seems much more natural and less daunting than the virtual tabletop platforms’ “looking for group” application process, which is reminicent of the team selection process for ball games back in highschool P.E. class. And the PW style of play instead of having a fixed gaming group would probably be much more compatible with people who, for whatever reason, cannot commit to a regular gaming schedule or who can only play for an hour or two at a time. After all, the point of online RPGs is that you can interact with real people if you want, but you don’t absolutely need a DM at all times just to roleplay social interactions or grind for crafting supplies or whatever, only for special events.

I also think that, aside from the tantalizing if very time-consuming possibibilties of the toolset, the number of DM-friendly NWN modules already in existence might considerably lower the barrier to entry for people who think they might enjoy DMing. After all, in those modules, the environment doesn’t absolutely need extra verbal description, the NPCs already have barebones dialogue, the module designer has taken care of combat balancing (hopefully), and most importantly, the game engine itself takes care of at least combat dice rolls and remembering what abilities the monsters have, so you don’t have to buy several sourcebooks. I mean, so I assume - I’ve never actually tried DMing a module, I just played solo modules and hosted a very basic sandbox shard back in the early 2000s, where a handful of my online friends could engage in purely social RP, since none of us were particularly interested in dungeon crawling.

But since I’m not an active player on any NWN PW and I haven’t been part of the creator community in almost 2 decades, I thought it would be polite and sensible to ask first, before I put a lot of my very limited energy into this project. I mean, I have no idea if this ‘enticement’ strategy would even work, and it would take me a long time to learn scripting, and in any case, it’s not like you could stop me. But if the consensus about a potential influx of Critters is “Oh, please no!”, then I will respect that and scrap this idea. I do have other things to occupy my bedrest time.

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[Please ignore this entire second part if you already know what Critical Role is and you don’t like it. I just wrote this for people who aren’t familiar and want to know a bit more detail to form an opinion about what sort of people are attracted to this fandom, before they answer my question above.]

Just in case the Critical Role section of the greater D&D community has somehow completely passed you by throughout the last half-dozen years: This is a highly popular actual-play tabletop RPG webshow that’s free-to-watch on Youtube [there’s a podcast version too, on their website: critrole.com ], which is being played by a group of video game voice-actors who are spouses and BFFs in real life and who had already been playing their first campaign as just a private home game between friends for about 2 years before they started to live-stream the game sessions. So this particular actual-play show runs on the special charm of watching a bunch of trained actors, who genuinely love spending time with each other and are deeply invested in their own and each other’s characters, use D&D to deliver a weekly 4-hour improv-theatre performance. (Including bits of Rifftrax-esque running commentary as they go, since they goof off a lot instead of staying in-character the entire time.) And while they’re not actually playing live anymore these days, due to COVID safety precautions and the necessity of a few weeks worth of production buffer in case technical staffmembers have to self-isolate, Critical Role still has very little post-production other than adding proper subtitles, and I haven’t noticed any cuts or edits - unlike with for example Dimension 20, which edits out most of the out-of-character chatter and occasional rules confusion, adds special effects and ‘reenactments’ of the battle scenes on extremely elaborate physical model maps, and switches the camera between different players instead of showing everyone at all times. Which I think kind of detracts from the whole experience because part of the fun is watching the players react to their friends’ brilliant improv-comedy or the DM’s well-practiced flair for the dramatic.

[I’m not saying Dimension 20 is any less great - it’s just a very different, more ‘polished’ and audience-oriented viewing experience compared to Critical Role, and that extra post-production is likely the reason why most of Dimension 20 is not free-to-watch. And aside from that, they also provide very different storytelling styles: Dimension 20 is a series of short mini-campaigns with entirely separate story settings, whereas Critical Role mainly follows the same characters for 100+ episode campaigns which are all set in the same expanding and evolving world. And while Dimension 20’s roster of recurring players clearly have become friends over the years, the DM did originally hire actors and comedians primarily based on their improv skills and the different mini-campaigns feature mostly different players, so you don’t really get to know the players as people. With Critical Role, the genuine “found family” status of the player/creator group and their easy and naturally charming interaction is a big part of the appeal for a lot of the audience. And if you go deeper down the rabbit hole than just the main campaign sessions and in-character storyline, then the ancillary parts of this webshow work like what reality TV could be if mainstream TV producers weren’t constantly pushing for conflict drama and abusive nastiness in this entertainment genre. And at the end of the day, there is no rivalry between these two ttRPG webshows - in fact, they often exchange guest players, and after the animated series was released (see below), Critical Role’s creator group immediately tried to share their influx of new viewers with Dimension 20’s more diverse creator group by inviting Dimension 20’s DM and some of his PoC frequent players into the Critical Role studio to show off their storytelling skills by playing a highly dramatic mini-campaign that works as a pre-historical prequel for Critical Role’s worldbuilding.]

Over the years, the main Critical Role webshow and its ancillary Q&A talkshows and reality-TV-style ‘faffing about’ live-streams have ballooned into a whole independent media company that also publishes sourcebooks for the DM’s homebrew setting, several ongoing series of genuinely high-quality prequel comics, and a couple of prequel novels so far. They also started a small charitable foundation, after running several donation drives for other charitable organizations in the past (e.g. Red Nose Day and a local L.A. charity that provides creative writing classes and such for poor kids). The Critical Role team is also responsible for the new adult animated series “The Legend of Vox Machina” that started last year on Amazon Prime Video, the first season of which was almost completely financed through a ridiculously successful Kickstarter campaign, because originally no-one in the film industry thought a mainstream-ish fantasy series based on somebody’s D&D game would be financially viable. As a result, Amazon does NOT own or produce this series and the Critical Role team still has full creative control, though after seeing the success of the Kickstarter, Amazon did give them the money for a second season right away just to get the exclusive distribution rights for the series. (And the makers of the completely unrelated new D&D movie coming out in March probably also had a reason for scheduling the cinema release right when people will have finished watching the next season, banking on the hype and interest among mainstream audiences created by TLoVM…)


If you want to check out “The Legend of Vox Machina”, please be aware that the trailer that Amazon created for the first season is kinda crap, giving the false impression that this series was primarily written for teenage boys, because that’s the audience Amazon wanted to migrate from “Invincible” to this series. (It also contains a few spoilers for events late in the season.) And the first couple of episodes are admittedly rather cookie-cutter and also a bit misleading about the tone, because they weren’t actually based on the collaborately developed webshow storyline, but instead were made up mostly from scratch by a single male mainstream scriptwriter who was not already a longterm fan of the webshow, unlike a lot of the other artists involved with the animated series. Therefore he was not very familiar with the characterizations or Critical Role’s peculiar mix of dirty-minded but never sexist humor, highly emotional drama, and strong “found family” vibes. The real webshow-based storyline starts with episode 3, so at least give it a chance until the end of that episode.

These two fanvids would make much more appropriate trailers, if they weren’t so spoilery - but if you don’t care about that…
Humor (minor spoilers, no NSFW jokes): Vox Machina Vs. Doors - YouTube
Drama (heavy spoilers!): The Legend of Vox Machina | The call AMV - YouTube

This is what the primary storyline of season 1 is really about (heavy spoilers!):
Bang | Percival De Rolo (TLOVM) - YouTube + It's Alright - Percy de Rolo AMV (Legend of Vox Machina) - YouTube
(So yes, this show was partly written for young men - but in a very different way than the Amazon trailer makes you think. You’ve got to remember that despite their 12-year-old sense of humor, all of the guys in this D&D player group are 40-something, very obviously keen on being good role models for anti-toxic masculinity, several of them are in therapy for a serious mental health issue which they made a point of talking about openly in indepth cast interviews, and half of them have sons.)

If you want to completely avoid spoilers, in my opinion even the series’ title sequence makes a more fitting trailer than what Amazon produced: The Legend of Vox Machina Opening Title | First Look - YouTube

And the following short fan-edits might serve as a quick and spoiler-free introduction to what the Critical Role webshow was like back when the creator team first started out and collaboratively improvised the campaign 1 storyline that this animated series is based on. (They invested in better camera equipment when they started their own production company at the beginning of campaign 2.)

  1. Critical Role Tribute - YouTube
  2. CR Cast - VM is a family because we're a family - YouTube
  3. Critical Role - Waves - YouTube
  4. Something Beautiful - A Legend of Vox Machina Tribute Vid - YouTube
    (Explanation for the last link: The production of the animated series ran smack into the first pandemic lockdown, forcing the team to record most of the dialogue via Zoom conference, each in their bedroom closet. Turns out that actually improves the quality, for technical reasons - or at least it does if you have several years worth of your co-stars roleplaying these characters running through your head and therefore imagining how they would read their lines is no problem at all.)

If you want to know what sort of fans this webshow has attracted, you could also have a look at the large comment section of this little gem: Matt Mercer Dances To Applause || Critical Role Dance Party - YouTube
(This doesn’t really have anything to do with Critical Role’s campaign storylines, so no spoilers - it’s from a very early after-game “party” live-stream intended to increase subscription numbers for the online media company that first invited the Critical Role player group to live-stream their previously private home game on the company’s Twitch channel, which they agreed to mainly just because it would allow them to schedule their gaming sessions weekly instead of whenever-everyone-has-a-free-weekend and to justify this to their families as “work”. My point here is just to show you the utter lack of mockery, cynicism or homophobic nastiness in the comment section.)

Also, the fact this fan project exists and doesn’t get negative comments: Adorable Machina - Critter Valentine's Project - YouTube

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So much there.

First, you talk like COVID is still a big issue. It’s not. Let it go.

Second, I personally do not want “wokeness” to make any inroads into this community…from just the hints you portrayed above this could cause issues on this platform i would hate to see it poison our close community. Keep your wokeness to yourself.

Third, you are most welcome to join us. Just don’t try to divide us on the above political issues.
Welcome to the community otherwise.

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Firstly, COVID is still a big issue. Sure, the mortality rate has decreased, but it is still taking a toll. I personally lost an elderly neighbor to it just two weeks ago.

Secondly. What is this “wokeness” you are worried about? Treating women and LGTBQ persons with respect isn’t wokeness. It’s just common decency. I’m old, grouchy and yes … openly republican, but even I try and reign in my testosterone fueled urges to try and get along with others.

Thirdly. We are an open and generally welcoming community. Others do not need your or even my own permissions to join us.

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kalbaern,

This is exactly what I’m talking about…he does not need to bring those “touchy” stuff on here. “Wokeness” is beyond what you are referring to. I have seen what it has done to other communities to the game now where “race” is no longer used in the new version of D&D. Drow is now racist…just that kind of BS.

As for COVID…sorry for your loss. I know two people who have died from the jab…none who have died from this flu. So yes it is exactly why…the language should be kept out of his words.

His words:

“My point here is just to show you the utter lack of mockery, cynicism or homophobic nastiness in the comment section.)”

I just see trouble when someone comes in here and starts using this lingo…it will only lead to contention

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Long Covid is a debilitating, and so far incurable, auto-immune disorder that hits a certain percentage of people who were infected, usually months after you think you’re fine again. I was infected in May 2020, and I still need a daily dose of prescription meds just to not be in pain and be able to do household chores for a few hours. You either have no clue what you’re talking about, or you’re purposefully being a jerk.

As for the rest, no I am most certainly NOT welcome if you think being decent to women is a personal failing, or that doing something nice for anyone who isn’t exactly like you is “politics”.

But your hostile attitude certainly explains why this community apparently only consists of a few dozen creators and a few hundred users anymore, judging by the participation in the custom content challenges and the download numbers on even the most popular haks and modules.

Thanks for making so very clear why I would be crazy to guide any geeky person under the age of 30 to this creator community and that you all just want it to calcify and die from old age.

I’ll see myself out.

[To the moderator: Please feel free to delete this account; I won’t be using it again and I don’t want to clutter up your forum system.]

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When this sort of BS comes in…we see trouble brewing.

Good bye…

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I can certainly tell your opinions of some of us…and the game and our efforts in this community. Your real face exposed itself.

Don’t let the views of this one jerk chase you away. He does not speak for the community. And should not be using “We” in any of his responses.

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“Don’t let the views of this one jerk chase you away. He does not speak for the community. And should not be using “We” in any of his responses.”

Gee thanks meaglyn for the personal attack. I always appreciated you…this is why I said his stuff would divide us…

I never attacked you…ever.

I made it clear it was my opinion. Not the community opinion. kalbaern made it sound like I do not treat women right and gays. I never attacked that. My best friend is gay. I have a wife and two girls…so I resent that.

But do you want this kind of lingo in our community? his words from above…

Did I not welcome him? Reread my words. I never used “we”…note I did no edit on my first response.

I think any newcommers to this community will be much appreciated by the main player & devs population.

I also think you and others will find a great engine/platform to bring lots of adventures to life.

So welcome back.

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Could I just second the view that any newcomer who is polite and keen to encourage people to use the toolset for whatever purpose is welcome in my book?

I’ve found the community to be nothing but helpful and interested in what posters are keen to achieve.

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You are being a jerk. I’m not attacking you, just your actions, there’s a difference. Your initial response was a pile of right wing republican fox-news talking points. There was no reason for you to bother with the first two parts of your initial response. The welcome was … okay, but after the first parts sort of meaningless.

I don’t see anything to get upset about in that () part you quoted.

Edit: And yes, sorry I could have phrased the first response better to be clear that I don’t think of you as a jerk but that you are acting that way in this instance. Sorry about that.

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So you attack me…you used language that was offensive to me personally.

Then you attack my political view point as though it is garbage. I could care less if you are left leaning and watch CNN for your news. It is your business…nor would I drag that into any conversation.

I had nothing but great respect for you and appreciated your help and views.

I accept your apology…

His comments held controversial lingo in it…in “my” opinion. Political stuff that should be avoided. I did welcome him on the condition that he not bring in those talking points.

I have been around this community from its inception. I was on the CCP (Community Creature Project) and the CEP when Barry was running it. I was a moderator on the CEP…I think I am capable of spotting trouble in all sorts of guises. And sure enough…look.

If you take the time to read his lengthy intro…you will see hot key words…not for just us “right-wing” guys…[eye roll…lol], but the ideas that can lead to more trouble…I am on other boards similar to the vault. With the contention that the new D&D version has brought in the form of ideology…many are divided.

I like you meaglyn…let’s not fight over this stuff.

EDIT: He has said in his own words he is not playing the game. He said basically he has no real time to invest in the game. he is here to advertise his youtube channel. He has no real vested interest in this community.

To all concerned:

Everyone who respects our Code of Conduct is welcome here.

Please stay focussed on NWN. Try not to make assumptions about who we are, and show respect for others.

MODERATOR

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Seriously? Is this how to welcome new community members? Accusing them of trying to split the community?

When this sort of BS comes in…we see trouble brewing.

Imtherealthing is not speaking for the whole community. WE don’t see any trouble apart from the one he is causing - by trying to speak for it.

Everyone is welcome here. You don’t need permission and we’re happy to help you out. I would encourage you to use the nwvault discord channel: Neverwinter Vault

Back to topic:
My experience with 5e is completely different. Most people I was talking too like it better than 3.5e. Personally I’m a big fan of the advantage/ disadvantage system, it’s much more elegant than stacking bonuses.
My only gripe is how WotC is handling their Setting(s) with there not being proper Campaign Settings and instead releasing Adventures.

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Thread Locked by moderator. Got way out of hand.

TR

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