Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Best Neverwinter Nights Character Builds Classes Prestige Classes

Best Neverwinter Nights Character Builds Classes Prestige Classes

To complement the current poll embedded in the left side-bar (867 votes and counting), here are some random remarks on what I consider to be the best classes and prestige classes for BioWare's Neverwinter Nights, my prime write-up for which is here.

Check out how balanced this poll is. If this were Baldur's Gate 2 or Icewind Dale 2 the Sorcerer would blow everything away. It wouldn't even be a contest.

Base Classes

Base classes are the classes you can choose during the initial chargen process. They were available in the original release of Neverwinter Nights. I've always found that the base array supplied me with enough options for role-playing and experimentation purposes, but the Prestige Classes added by the two expansions are difficult to ignore for serious builders due to their powerful and interesting abilities, resistances and stat bonuses. There are eleven base classes in total, but I've listed only my faves in the order of my personal preference.

Rogue: This is easily my number one class. I've played Rogues more than any other class due to their flavorsome feats and the unequaled versatility of their skillset. They are just so much more interesting to play than Infinity Engine Thieves.

UMD is great fun to experiment with, allowing you to use an array of specialty items such as Robes of the Darkmoon (perma-Haste) and Boots of the Sun Soul (+AC nat). You can even cast spells from scrolls and wands.

My fave Rogue is a thug; that is, a STR-based Rogue with one or more levels in Fighter in order to wield big weapons and wear heavy armor. Pulling off Knockdown Sneak Attacks is so satisfying. You can't stealth in heavy armor but you can still pick locks and disarm traps. I dump neither Dex nor Int with such a build because I want to stay skillful (both Int and Dex modify your skills).

Note that the equipping of a shield will cause you to incur some skillpoint penalties but you can easily unequip through the quickbar when thieving. It's a small price to pay for playing an entertaining hybrid build.

I found the rogue archer that I took through Snow Hunt to be quite efficient at landing ranged sneak attacks, too. Of course, you will need a tank or some kind of meatshield to hold back the aggro and keep it distracted while you line them up to be shot right between the eyes.

• Wizard: I like to take one level of Rogue for the first level skillpoint bonus and then go "all out" on Wizard; the Int pumps enhancing a lot of the skills. With that level of Rogue you could take open locks and find traps, boosting your skills with Thieves' Tools which are commonly itemized. A bit of UMD gives access to Monk boots, too.

I much prefer Wizards to Sorcerers due to their spellcasting repertoire that is limited only by the scrolls they can find and their school specialization, if any. Not to mention the extra Feats and not being gimped on skillpoints. I mean, it's nice to be able to take more than Concentration, Spellcraft and Lore, isn't it?

In contrast, Sorcerers just seem limiting and one-dimensional, though I don't doubt their ability to cast choice spells over and over again, and it's well known that one level of Paladin for Divine Grace bestows an absurd bonus to saving throws; they're just not flexible enough for me and I've never enjoyed playing them outside of solo BG2 and IWD2.

The ability to summon and possess a familiar that levels up with you is just so cool. For example, the Pixie is great for thieving utility purposes: she can scout, open locks, disarm traps and enter areas that would otherwise be inaccessible.

I played a low level Wizard in Alazander's Siege of Shadowdale. It was quite difficult at times and I had to rely on summons and buffing them with Flame Weapon for most of it, along with the odd Fireball, but Wizards eventually come into their own at the mid-levels, as I found out while playing Darkness Over Daggerford (pic below).

Most people tend to go with spell focus in Evocation and get the meta magic feats like Extend, Empower and Maximize spell. The Bigby's line is great and IGMS is an OP evocation that is often abused, especially if you take Silent and Still meta magic to gain more castings of it per day.

It isn't just about damage; Wizards are invaluable for buffing party members and minions. Such bread and butter spells as Improved Invisibility for concealment and Stoneskin for DR are going to keep them on their feet and fighting for a lot longer, which keeps the aggro away so that they're free to unleash at-will, but the more powerful Greater Stoneskin and Premonition are caster-only.

NWN is unique in that lots of staves and wands are available at vendors and as loot, which increases your value in a party and decreases the need to rest to replenish spell slots under the Vancian magic system.

Below: Buffed with Stoneskin for DR, I was able to sustain blows as the combo of Mestil's Acid Sheath and Elemental Shield passively slew the two grizzly bears. I have taken down Adamantium and Mithral golems like this, too. Such a tactic we learned in Baldur's Gate II and Diablo II; it's nothing new but I still get a giggle out of it, after yelling HIT ME! HIT ME AGAIN! lulz, you died.

As you can see, I have no animal empathy

Cleric: Widely regarded as the most powerful class in NWN thanks to their ability to rub shoulders with both expert melee builds and spellcasters alike, but clerics are less powerful in campaigns that enforce strict rest restrictions, such as Swordflight.

I found Nellise in the Aielund Saga to be the most effective companion, able to insta-kill or immobilize entire mobs at the drop of a hat (implode, daze etc). See implosion at work in this pic.

If you want to play on EZ mode and don't mind rest-spamming, this is the class for you. Stay pure or add in some Fighter, it doesn't really matter for most campaigns because Clerics pretty much cakewalk them all.

Below: Nellise inflicts massive positive energy damage on an epic horde of undead legionnaires, as she heals the party.

• Monk: This is my go-to class for the Original Campaign primarily due to its innate movement speed increase that makes exploration of over-sized area design a lot less tedious. I also like to pick up the monk companion, Grimgnaw, to have two Monks on meth: Grimgnaw gets the Robes of the Darkmoon that bestows perma-Haste even before the PC can get the Boots of Speed at Beorunna's Well (Haste stacks with monkspeed). Monk is also one of the most popular mix-in classes, due to Flurry of Blows working with Kamas and the notable Wisdom bonus to AC. One level of Monk gives you a lot.

Bard: Again, NWN Bards are so much more interesting than Infinity Engine ones; they are not fifth wheels (or inanely OP like in HoW). The stock Bardsong is great for its AoE buff and Curse Song is equally great for its AoE debuff, though Deekin probably won't select the latter much less use it in HotU unless you have Tony K's Henchman & Companion AI or the Community Patch Project installed.

You don't have to concentrate on spellcasting: providing you have sufficient levels in the Perform skill you can just buff yourself a bit, sing and fire from range or even wade into the fray in melee and not be laughed at. A great and fun class to play, and let's not forget about the convenience provided by their unparalleled loremastery. "Deekin?" "ID my stuff!" "Ok!"

Bard will also help you meet Arcane Archer and Red Dragon Disciple prereqs.

I recommend playing a Bard in Cormyrean Nights. It's a nice, casual adventure module with lots of Persuade checks that Bards have no trouble with.

Below middle and right: Deekin and Sharwyn, the two famous bard companions in the NWN series.

Druid: The Druid offers a versatile spellcasting repertoire and an animal companion that levels up with you, just like the Wizard's familiar.

Animal Empathy is underrated, perhaps because it's rarely an option, but you can charm a brown bear at the beginning of the OC and it will follow you from area to area and remain with you even when you rest. Assuming it doesn't die in your service, it's only in Act transition that you will have to find another candidate, which in Act II would be a grizzly. Yep, that's definitely an upgrade.

In fact, you can get your own "animal army" going if you use empathy in conjunction with wildshape, summons and animal companion, though you will be hit with a severe experience point penalty (which doesn't really matter in the official campaigns).

Can you have an animal companion and a familiar? Yes! But the familiar will only be as strong as the levels you have taken in Wizard. While not recommended, I think it would be possible to beat the OC with a 50/50 split of Druid/Wizard, mainly relying on buffed summons. I haven't tried it, though.

One level of Monk is a well-known way to enhance the AC of your wildshapes (which don't wear armor) and Zen Archery can be cool, too (Wis modifies to-hit rather than Dex). This is a very flexible base class and is completely unlike its counterparts in Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale, which pretty much suck.

Below: The Great Druid of the Aielund Saga, Hasrinaxx.

Prestige Classes

PRCs are specialty classes that require you to meet certain prerequisites before you can select them during the level-up process. Some of them are fun, some are obscenely OP, and some are underwhelming (see poll). There are twelve Prestige classes in total, and here are my faves, listed in the order of my preference.

Weapon Master: Well, it's no surprise that this one is doing well in the poll; the ability to get a steady stream of crits going (scimitar) or big bursty numbers (scythe) is pretty difficult to ignore. Of course, it's useless against crit-immunes but that doesn't dissuade powergamers, who like to Great Cleave epic mobs as if they were diseased gibberlings (350 dmg crits, ftw).

Don't be afraid to mix-in Monk and dual-wield keen kamas; it kicks ass. I prefer the scythe due to big bursty numbers and getting around looking like the grim reaper; it's also the most damaging wield according to those who have done the math. Yes, it's obvious that being able to hold up a shield in your off-hand is a great perk - which makes scims the go-to weapon - but you don't need to be an AC lord in most campaigns, and sword n board just isn't as badass as wielding a great weapon or dual-wielding twin-blades.

Below: THE wield for a HotU Weapon Master (without Black Pearl enchantment).

Arcane Archer: I'd like to think I helped repopularize this PRC in my popular HotU run. While Dragon Age: Origins specialty archers are more flexible and thoughtfully designed, this PRC mows down mobs in short order, too. Or blows them up with a feat that works like detonation arrows from BG (pic). Incidentally, MotB has a limited supply of detonation arrows itemized and it's a pity they didn't think of it for NWN. Refer to the HotU run itself for in-depth, practical advice on Arcane Archers that you won't find elsewhere. 

Below: One of the few foes that'll give you trouble as an Arcane Archer. I shot about 50 arrows and the fight lasted about 4 minutes. Why? Custom demi-lich Alsigard sports epic 30/+20 soak. Plus, I soloed it. No Valen.

But how about the epic Grimgnaw fight so many people have trouble with? My archer didn't move from the spot and mowed them all down like they were nothing. See here for full commentary on the encounter.

So yeah, don't listen to people who say archers are no good at high levels; they do their bit and don't need to heal much like meleers. They can kite and ignore many terrain obstacles, firing over rivers of lava and other obstructions. A great PRC.

Note: There is an AA companion in Swordflight Chapter Three.

Assassin: Ever been on the receiving end of death attack paralysis? I feel your pain. Standing there helpless while your foe sinks their blade into your rigid, immobile body over and over again. Maybe you will be surprised to learn that Crimson Tides of Tethyr hosts an example of this (below right pic). 

Assassins are capable of ending many combat scenarios before they even begin, even without Darkness in conjunction with ultra-vision (which is effective on entire mobs). Just stealth in, go for the biggest troublemaker, and flurry. Dead. Incorporating Shadowdancer HiPS is even better, but it's incredibly cheesy.

Undermountain I and II are a paradise for the skulking, calculating assassin.

Below right: (CToT) Be wary of Darklun's Death Attack: if he paralyzes you he will slice your rigid body to shreds and you won't even be able to scream.

Champion of Torm: I have nothing really to say about this PRC that isn't already covered in my Aielund Saga walkthrough. A few people have played this holy warrior in the Aielund Saga since then, which is no surprise.

Below: Champion of Torm buffs against undead wielding fists of fire. An amazing PRC that Savant was unable to balance for, since it would make combat for other classes too difficult.

Shifter: This one is for people who like to experiment with all kinds of tricks; it's not really for newbies. Shifter is one of the most interesting PRCs in NWN, though it's a PITA to play in HotU due to the need to shift back into your base form in order to use the demonic grappling hand and other gimmicks. Please refer to the Epic Risen Lord section of my combat encounter scenarios to get just one example of what this PRC is capable of (incredible dmg reduction).

Notable omissions:

Red Dragon Disciple: This is one of the most popular PrCs due to its huge stat bonuses (AC, Str, Con, Int, Cha), fire resistance and immunity to paralysis/sleep. Your character will even sprout wings. Deekin is able to level as RDD during the HotU campaign.

Shadowdancer: Mostly notable for Hide In Plain Sight abuse.

Pale Master: You trade in spellcasting progression for better D. Still, I think the undead graft that inflicts paralysis is pretty cool (it's visible, too!) Immunity to hold, stun and paralysis isn't anything to scoff at either. I believe there are mods to address this PrC's perceived shortcomings.

So, what are your fave Classes and Prestige Classes, and why are they your faves? Which did you vote for in the poll? Your reasons don't have to be power-gaming ones; aesthetics and role-playing flavor are just as important, or moreso, to some people.


Ok, let's take a look at some general rules of thumb when building a low level character for something like the OC, where you start off at first level and can expect to reach around 18th. This is just to spring-board newbies and give them some ideas; experts won't learn anything here. Please note this is a WiP; I'm just rambling from here on out.

• If you're going to take a level of Rogue then you should do so at first character level; that is, chargen. Why? To take advantage of the x4 skillpoint bonus! You will not receive this bonus if you take Rogue at any other level.

• In respect to Fighters it's best to take only four levels of the class; you probably won't need the feats beyond that. I recommend going Human with the following stat-line: 16, 13 (for Dodge), 16, dump, 13 (for Expertise), dump. Start off with Weapon Focus: Scimitar (nice crit range and shield off-hand), Power Attack and Cleave. 2nd level take Dodge (harder to hit), third take Toughness (can take more hits), 4th take Weapon Specialization (+dmg). This will give newbies an early boost to killin' power/survivability. Great Cleave can be helpful in the OC. Knockdown, Disarm, Expertise and their Improved versions can be great. Always pump Strength and Discipline. Branch into something like Barb for Rage, damage reduction and +movement speed because taking more in Fighter is a waste (you don't need all the Feats on offer).

Paladins offer great passive feats/abilities. Most notably, just two levels of Paladin nets you Divine Grace (Charisma bonus to saving throws), Divine Health (immunity to disease) and Aura of Courage (immunity to Fear). What's the catch? You need to be Human and Lawful Good and stay that way. Now, the Charisma bonus can be notable if you roll for that but the immunities are huge. Disease is quite annoying and Fear is crippling deadly and commonly inflicted in NWN. Of course, itemization may cover you but only if you find the items that bestow blanket immunity. And innate is better than relying on items, anyway, since it opens your slots up for other items. If you go pure pally (very powerful and easy to build), I recommend a balanced stat-line like: 14-12-14-10-14 (cast 4th circle divine spells)-14. Get weapon focus in a common one-handed weapon (longsword, scim, blunts), and Power Attack and Cleave. Pump Charisma and buff strength with potions/items. In the OC, Sharwyn belt and Boddyknock ammy will stack with Nymph Cloak for up to +12 on base stat score. Also important, get the feats that give you Cha-based bonuses: Divine Might (dmg increase "divine", cuts through everything) and Divine Shield (+AC). Skills? Discipline and Persuade (OC). Don't forget to employ Smite Evil against evil-aligned foes, of which there are many (adds Cha mod to attack and char level to dmg). Boom! Something evil just died. We like that. You can save skillpoints up over levels and then take a level of Monk whenever you like. This cheesy but totally viable choice will give you +AC if you dump the skillpoints into Tumble. Monk level also opens up Darkmoon Robes (+Monk Wis bonus to AC and perma-Haste) and Sun Soul boots (+dodge AC). You will get Evasion and Cleave for free, too. Anyway, it's up to you.

◦ Note that, in addition to Fear, paralysis and petrification are deadly negative status effects, too. And NWN doesn't offer many ways to get resistance/immunity to paralysis/petrification. I mean, you could rely on solid saving throws but you will only get immunity to the former through RDD or PM (as mentioned above). And I don't know of anything that gives immunity to basilisk/gorgon gaze (maybe there is a Shifter form but that would be very specific if true, anyway). Basically, look to itemization for temp/perma immunity (potions, equippables).

More to come..!


  1. Rogues are my favorite as well. So much so, that I have a hard time playing a character without Rogue levels. Their skills are just so versatile, it is hard to live without them once you get used to them. To me Rogue is synonymous with Adventurer, with Indiana Jones...

    Rangers: One you didn't mention at all. I love Rangers. While not a powerhouse, they are also the most versatile of the Fighter classes. A fighter who can stealth, search, cast spells (though weak, they can be helpful) communicate with and get aid from animals, gets extra, skill points. and they still get full BAB. While Favored Enemies is not that great early on, carried to epic levels, you have enough selections to cover a lot of the most dangerous foes and with Bane of Enemies, a serious boost to damage. Some modules giv Rangers a big boost to tracking. Who is the coolest character in LOTR: Aragorn the Ranger...

    1. Ok, I'll try out the Ranger in the next module I play. What is a good build for mid-level; say, 1-15 or so? And what modules do you recommend for Ranger, other than Snow Hunt and Cave of Songs?

    2. I suppose you could try "Kales Rangers" 1 & 2, and incomplete Ranger trilogy that was starting OK... To get a feel for the class if you never played one before.

      I played Aielund Saga just once, But I did it as a Ranger and found it quite good, with some Ranger specifics used, plus it ends with Epic so I got Bane of Enemies (The Best Ranger feat).

      I played OC/SoU/HotU multiple times, but at least one pass as a Ranger and found ranger specifics in the lower level modules IIRC. HotU again allowed epic and BoE...

      As far as builds go. I usually end up:
      Ranger: 21+ (BoE is the Ranger feat)
      Rogue: 3+ (because they are awesome)
      Fighter: 4+ (EWS)

      Often sticking to one or two levels of Rogue and the rest Ranger till I get BoE...

      I always go Strength based, using Two Handed or Sword and Shield.

      Though you can have fun with Bow as a secondary weapon if you can spare the feats for EWS after you get BoE. You get D8+ Mighty + EWS + FE + BOE. FE + BoE = (5 + 2D6) damage, which is as good as 23 Arcane Archer levels on the damage side against your favored enemies.

      Then there is Ranger-Monk Dual wield cheese. I never dual wield unless it is a prebuilt char, but I did try

      Ranger/Monk/Fighter. Strength based. Ranger adds free dual wield and other Ranger goodies, Monk's crazy attack schedule, fighter WS, equals Insane damage. But weak defense... Aiming for the same level breakout as Ra/Ro/F, just sub in Monk for Ro.

      Oh and I always take a pet wolf because he looks like a dog. So even when I don't have companions, I am not alone.

      Ranger is ultimately a bit more of Roll Play choice, but with BoE they really rock some damage as well.

    3. Thanks a heap for that breakdown, Peter. I really appreciate it, and will look into which module to play for my next write-up, as Ranger. I'll try to give it some role-playing flavor, too. Cheers!

    4. Cool. Hope you find something good and applicable to play.

    5. Kale's was looking to be an interesting mod. Unfortunately, it stops on a total cliffhanger just when your character is starting to get interesting.

      Ranger is a great way to play Aielund, I agree. Bane makes life soooo much easier against the crit-immunes and outsiders. The only trick is, if you want to be an archery-based, you better dip in the arcane for AA, otherwise you're going to hit a stretch in the Saga where you can't hurt anything...and I mean *anything.* If you're melee, this might not be as big a problem. Though survivability as the tank in light armor might be. :P

    6. Needing AA to be effective at Archery in NWN1 is pretty much universal, since Archery is so weak in NWN1.

      But a Ranger with Bane, good strength and good Mighty bow, can certainly make the bow a nice secondary weapon. But if the bow is your primary, AA is the way to go.

      In NWN1 AA works better with Fighter than Ranger. For Ranger to really make an impact on Damage you need Bane so 21 levels of Ranger, and all those levels conflict with AA levels and the damage they bring. Where you only need 4 or 5 levels of Fighter to get EWS Bow to add +6 to damage.

      I have built many Fighter/AAs but no Ranger/AAs.

    7. Main problem with archery is a that it's not a lot of ways to boost damage output(while melee guys have for example power attack). Additionally even with mighty bow you still need dex to hit, while melee character either pump str for both damage and hit, or get additional attacks from dual-wield(possibly coupled with flurry) if they are dex one. But even str based melee characters have a cleave feat for occasional bonus attack so poor archers stuck with less attack and less damage per attack

    8. Rapid shot can boost your number of attacks. So it's not as bad as you suggest on the number of attacks. The issue is primarily trying to pierce damage resistance against higher level foes. AA helps with this.

    9. Don't forget about stat split. It's still less then str base character deliver per strike and it still less then any dex two weapon fighting build

    10. What stat split? Yes, the damage is an issue, as I mentioned. Which is why AA is usually the compensation for that. Though it also is for a dual-wielder, even moreso in their case, because they've bet the farm on multiple DEX-based feats. At least in NWN2, they can use feint and other feats to get around crit immunes.

    11. I doubt it's better much. Let's assume something like 16 str and 16 dex on elf character. With +6 belt available(so 26 str or +6). As far as I remember in nwn1 best mighty bow is mighty 6. While melee weapons are unlimited mighty. So in this case twf character would have more attack and more damage since he would be able to drink bull str potion

    12. Except if you go +12 STR gear on a Dex duel-wield you'll never hit anything, and that STR bonus is points lost on all your rogue skills, unless you're flipping gear all over the place. If you're going to commit to a finesse character, you have to pump that DEX high enough to beat epic armor classes. Which means finding gear that can bypass DR, rather than trying to overpower it.

      Finesse has the same problem whether you go archery or duel-wield. And it's a pain in the butt in high level mods. Including Aielund, where piercing resistance tends to run in the double digits as well.

    13. +12 items - yes, you are correct, especially since +12 str belt actually has -6 dex on it. But getting +10 str belt in nwn2 is more then possible if you are willing to re-enchant monk boots with +8 dex. Which is as good as best dex belt in nwn2. And in case of nwn1 as I said - it's not impossible to get +6/+7 str bonus since bull str spell stacks with items. So decent str on start, +3 str gauntlet, bull str potion and you already get more str then highest mighty bow allow

  2. As one might guess from the name I use, I tend to most enjoy characters built primarily around Rogue, as well as variations on the "holy warrior" concept (Paladins, Cleric/Warrior multis, etc.), and even implausible combinations of the two, but I play everything.

    Asking about one's best or favorite class in NWN might be considered a difficult question, due to the wide-ranging multi-classing possibilities of 3E. At least from a power-building viewpoint, there is almost never a good reason to play a character with less than 3 classes. There will almost always be some significant benefit to be gained somewhere even if one can fit in only a level or two of a certain class.

    For example, if one were to ask "Is Fighter a good class?," the answer would depend on precisely what one means by a Fighter. A pure fighter is a terrible class, that can basically do nothing whatever that some other class does not do better. On the other hand, if you are talking about, e.g., a Rogue/Fighter/Weapon Master, or Bard/Fighter/Red Dragon Disciple, it might be a different story. Fighter also makes a great mix-in class, as just a handful of levels in it can provide free proficiencies, bonus feats, and perhaps a BAB boost.

    Interesting comparisons to the IE versions of some of these classes. I liked Thieves in the IE games too, even if 3E ultimately offers them a bit more love. Though again, there was little reason to play a pure thief: Fighter/Thief, Mage/Thief and Cleric/Thief all had their special advantages. Also funny how, as a result of what might look like rather minor changes, Bards and Druids went from being so underwhelming in Baldur's Gate to being OP in Icewind Dale (overcompensation by the devs, one assumes), but were problematic classes in both.

    1. A part of me still prefers 2nd Edition backstab, due to the one-hit-kill nature of it, but Sneak Attack is just as fun and I like the ability to execute them from range, which not even IWD2 allowed you to do.

      I think Bardsong only buffed your THAC0 by 1 in the original BG, which is pretty underwhelming, but their loremastery was always handy even back then.

      And yeah, I was a lil' harsh on Druids. In HoW and IWD2 their spellcasting repertoire and wildshapes were certainly improved, although the pathing routine for the latter was quite glitchy. Black Isle also tried their hand at a tracking mechanic in IWD2, IIRC, and Wilderness Lore was especially helpful in the notorious Fell Wood Maze.

    2. My go to recommendation for the original campaigns is Fighter/Rogue/Paladin(not charisma based). It's not as flashy as power builds, but very versatile.

      A splash of Paladin is a big help against undead, and is especially nice if you pick up a Holy Avenger.

      I find a lot of the commonly recommended Power builds (RDD/WM) actually suck in low levels, and mainly come into their own, in Epic levels, so they aren't great OC builds, but fine in HotU, but what isn't when you have +10 weapons. ;)

    3. Yep, "Sucks 'Til Epic" builds are pretty common online. What's optimal in HotU and MotB is different from what's optimal in the previous SoU and NWN2 OC. It's more of a challenge to build for both but people rarely bother, myself included. It's heaps of fun taking a single build through Swordflight I-III and Aielund I-IV, though. Storm of Zehir, too.

    4. Call me a Pally purist. But I can't stand sneak-attacking Paladins. That is not honorable fighting. :P If sneak attack was an option to be avoided, like in PnP, I could accept a Pally/Rogue. As is, unless the character is on path to Blackguard, I can't build that kind of character.

      And I agree that a lot of the Guild builds are made for power-PvP on level 40 and nothing else. I remember the problems I'd have in the old days with a build that wasn't 'optimized' because the concept or the mods it was designed for required stats/class choices the guild didn't accept as "correct." To me, it's a lot harder to play through Act 2 of Aielund, when you start getting dragons and immune golems while you are still on +2 or occasional +3 gear, than it is the final act, when you can one-shot anything you crit anyway.

    5. The Guild board hosts a 1-20 build guide section now, I believe, but I think the wiki is still all about epics.


      GameFAQs hosts some guides with builds based on OC, SoU and HotU releases but many of them are out-of-date (pre-1.69). Still, people can get some ideas from those guides (and on the boards).

    6. The ECB Guild does indeed cover level 20 builds, as well as level 30 ones and full level 40. There's also an ongoing discussion about favourite low level builds (level 10 and below). And within the "build requests" section pretty much anything can be catered for. I mention this purely for information, not as a plug, promise!

      For myself, as a modules player rather than a persistent worlds one (probably something to do with control issues), I prefer builds that can stay alive to reach level 40 rather than those that only come into their own at those rarified levels. I enjoy the journey, and enjoyment's what it's all about, ain't it?

    7. Single-player RPGs is where it's at for me, too. Never really got into multi-player, except for Battle.net/Sin War and Dark Souls.

      I don't mind plugs/links to the ECB Guild on this blog, Stagmeister: it's a great community and I always enjoyed reading ECB members' posts on BioWare Social.

      I think it's good for the community to have access to several different venues to post on/draw info from. Want to talk about NWN builds? Well, the ECB Guild is the place to be! On the other hand, this blog will always be primarily commentary-based (reviews, retrospectives, walkthroughs and pro-tips write-ups for various games/modules).

      It's also important to me that Beamdog — a company with a less-than-stellar public relations track record — doesn't fully control the Infinity or Aurora narratives through their "enhanced" editions. Time-permitting, I would like my commentary to continue to stand as an alternative to such a narrative through my coverage of the original incarnations of the campaigns built on those engines, both of which have been good enough for what is approaching two decades now; nothing has changed.

    8. @Pally Purist
      Rogue is a wide skill set, most of my combat characters only take 4 or less levels of Rogues and it isn't for sneak attacks.

      For Me. Indiana Jones is a Rogue. Reading ancient writings (Lore), disarming traps, tumbling out of the way.

      Rogue Skills are just important dungeon survival skills, and early Paladin abilities are important Undead survival skills. A typical Pre-Epic Build for me would likely be Fighter 13/Rogue 4/Paladin 3. It's a combat build that has Dungeon and Undead survival skills.

      In NWN D&D should be renamed D&UD, Dungeons and UnDead ;). Undead are one the most commonly annoying enemies in the game.

      So I am not a Sneak attacking Paladin. I am a savvy warrior that has learned the skills of dungeon survival, along with enough divine study to better survive the undead onslaught. 3 levels of Paladin gives Fear immunity (I hate getting fear locked), disease immunity, and an innate "Remove Disease" ability, that fixes more than just disease.

      It's a great skilled warrior setup for NWN.

    9. I understand the reason for the choice. And if in PnP, where I could simply refuse the sneak attack, I'd be in complete agreement. But NWN hardcodes the sneak on any knockdown or attack on an unaware foe. I can't let my pally play that way.

      I also hate that every paladin on a PW was a might-makes-right smite first questions later character with no concept of GOOD in the Lawful Good. I purposely rolled up a paladin of Ilumitar and played a merciful, draw sword as last resort character to Tut-tut them. :P

    10. Why not fighter 12 paladin 4? You'll be able to qualify for either divine shield or divine might, while fighter 13 is a waste level(although I think I'd went Pal6/rogue4/dd10 or Pal6/r4/cot10 with pal 6 in both cases taken on level 20)

    11. Divine feats are a waste without a lot of charisma to back it up, which takes away from points better spent on strength IMO. I have tried Paladins with Charisma and divine feats, and find them dissatisfying, YMMV.

      Fighter 13 pre-epic is not a waste, its prep for an instant extra Epic feat, giving you EWF/EWS when you turn Epic at level 21.

      When I build, my aim is important feats Early. Power Attack and Cleave at 1st level if possible. EWF/EWS at 21st if possible. The sooner you get combat feats, the bigger their impact.

    12. I like my CHA super-smiters. Yes, ostensibly that's only 3 times a day (with the applicable feat). However, the likelihood of needing all 3 smites in a day has typically been vanishing low. 1 is usually sufficient to turn the tide of any battle. Unless you have my luck rolling 1s. Then STR vs CHA is irrelevant. :P

    13. To each his own.

      As I mentioned, I tend to emphasis early abilities. A strength build is effective from level 1. Charisma builds have weak attack bonus, especially at low-mid levels. At low levels they have weak attack and damage, they take a long time to be effective, and then people complain about rest restrictions when they run out of special attacks, that they are dependent on.

      I wouldn't' try to dissuade experienced players from any flavor they like. I assume anyone asking for recommendations isn't an experienced players, which is why I said this kind of Strength Fighter/Paladin/Rogue is my goto recommendation for the the OCs. It gives new players a solid all round build that can handle anything the OCs with low frustration.

    14. I sort of regretted rolling Cha-based instead of Str-based Pally in Swordflight, mainly because I needed to buff my AB with Divine spells, and that was made more difficult due to the rest restrictions. Also, some undead were LN (by design), so Smite didn't work on them. Still, she made it through the campaign ok.

    15. Paladin saves are also a waste without decent charisma. By going pal you already force yourself to get at least +5/+6 cha(with items) for save bonus to become useful. So DS is +5/+6 AC for 5/6 rounds and divine might is +5/6 damage PER ATTACK for 5/6 round. Which is far from useless

      That entirely depends on max level of build you can achieve. For 20 lvl environment 13 fighter is absolutely useless. Even for epic levels if you end up with last level being even, finishing on odd fighter is a waste.

  3. Pale Master seems interesting though I haven't tried it yet. Currently playing as fighter/blackguard.

  4. I have played all classes, but only monks extensively. I just find the innate boost to speed to good to pass up, in and out of combat. And the idea of starting out as really weak and growing into a strong character always drew me to the class as well.

    I usually play them pure and find that pure dex monks can be nigh unkillable as long as you do things right, with maybe a few levels in Shadow Dancer for HiPS if we are talking multiplayer content, or a few levels in fighter or paladin for the extra attack and feats/charisma to saves.

    1. It was good to finally play a decent monk char after the disappointments of BG2 and IWD2 monks, which while powerful couldn't hold a candle to well-equipped conventional warriors.

    2. A build the Wheel of Time server turned me onto that I've loved since, in both NWN 1 & 2, is the Blademaster: Fighter/Monk/WM. A bit more strength based, but survivable all the way up, as long as you can decide what your threshold is for balancing saves vs monk feats vs raw AC and damage output. If you don't mind carrying multiple kits, you can mix and match for the occasion. Ultimately, you have a robe-wearing katana death-dealer with absurd saves and immunities.

    3. To be sure, Robe + Blade scores coolpoints. As you no doubt know, the BioWare campaigns itemize some cool robes with sweet bonuses (e.g, Darkmoon: Haste, Leathers: Greater Cat's Grace/on-hit Infestation of Maggots). MotB itemizes cool robes, too: my twin-scim Fighter/Bard/RDD/WM wore the Dread Wraps for +10 AC and immunity: paralysis/sneak attack.

  5. Monk(1 lvl)/Druid/Shifter and Cleric/Rogue are my favourite combinations. The combo that i always wanted to try is Sorcerer/Pale Master/Red Dragon Disciple but evil alignment requirement always screws me over.

  6. I haven't played NWN1 in a long time, but I tried it extensively in both original campaigns and modules. One of my favorite builds was a Bard/Red Dragon Disciple/Arcane Archer. Best ranged character I ever used. Capable of felling dragons with 2 shots at high level.
    The other was Ranger/Blackguard/Weapon Master (used in Blackguard module). A bit slow at start but great at mid and higher levels.

  7. I tend towards melee-centric strength builds, holding to a Minsc-ism "Magic is impressive, but now Minsc leads - swords for everyone!" Thus sophistications such as metamagic simply get a "meh" and a shrug. My two go-to builds when embarking on any lengthy campaign (such as Aielund) or mixture of campaigns (for example the OC followed by Mines of Twin Summit or SoU/HotU and Sands of Fate) are Monk 25/Sorcerer 1/RDD 14 (unarmed) and Fighter 8/CoT 10/Dwarven Defender 22, depending on my frame of mind at the time. Neither has ever let me down.

    1. Yep, mundane builds wreck house providing "arms & armor" itemization/crafting caters to them. That's certainly the case in the Aielund Saga and Hordes of the Underdark.

    2. I'd say cleric builds wreck house as their buffs can be applied on top of arms and armor xD Especially in nwn2 where you can run with persist bless, persist divine favor, persist aid and persist prayer which stacks with every other bonus ingame xD

    3. Yes, but cleric builds are not mundane builds: they have access to divine spellcasting. Also, it takes forever to buff them unless you have the Metaprepa. Also, my cleric wrecked house in Shrouded Sun/Shadowdancer's Vault because of the lack of rest restrictions.

  8. Added a few notable omissions plus an end-note on paralysis/petrification negative status effects.

    1. And Dwarven Defender isn't notable? Tut! Accusations of beardism rumble in the local taverns...

    2. I love DD. Even more in NWN2, where you can choose Gold Dwarf, not have a charisma penalty, and start as a paladin. So mammoth HP, monstrous AC, and godlike saves. Indestructible.

    3. As it turns out, DD dmg reduction stacks nicely with Risen Lord dmg resistance; to the point of "you hit me for 50 dmg, I take 1 dmg". This is linked to in the write-up. But yes, I have found base DD to be a great conventional tank in both Aurora and Electron campaigns. I found DD especially useful in Storm of Zehir (in which front-line defense is more important than I am otherwise used to).

    4. Dwarven defender and CoT for my opinion is a best examples why allowing all prc to have epic levels was a bad idea. Figher10/DD30 with 3 EDR reach insane 30/- DR even without Risen Lord form

    5. I'll take your word for it. Never played 40th level character in NWN. HotU got me to ~27th and Aielund got me to ~37th; and I've only played the latter once.

    6. Interestingly enough (or not, you be the judge), I'm currently running a Fighter 10/CoT 2/DD 30 through the OC and then (at c level 17) into the Mines of Twin Summit trilogy, where I should reach level 40 about halfway through the 3rd part. MoTS is Dev Crit enabled, so not only will I have the 3 EDR 30/- DR, but I'll also be dev critting with my warhammer.

      Mines of Twin Summit (by Q) is a mostly hack'n slash affair, supposedly built for a LAN party starting at c level 15, but is perfectly playable solo after completing the OC and importing the character from there (including your gear). Because of its intended nature, no companions are recruitable - thus no crappy hench AI to fret about. While not as richly structured and delivered as Aielund (or Swordflight), it's worth a run through at least once. You don't often get the chance to interract directly with the gods, after all.

      Other than MoTS, the only module I can think of that goes to level 40 is Sands of Fate, which you can drop into after completing HotU. I'm afraid I'm yet to complete this one, so can't really pass any judgement.

    7. Sands of Fate is interesting. I've finished it once. But I ran into a brick wall playing it with an evil character in part 2. So keep that in mind.

      And MiTS sounds interesting. May have a go with that.

    8. One other mod that went up to lvl 38/39 was Citadel. It's kinda buggy and strange in places. And I'm not sure its good/evil matches anything in the actual alignment structure. But it is a fascinating mod once you get past a rather grindy beginning. Great for playing spell-slingers, and particularly bards and bard/AAs. Harder to be a straight-up tank in that mod.

  9. I've removed the two Beamdog polls and added a "Wizard, Warrior or Rogue" poll plus a NWN2 class poll. Cast your votes!

    So, NWN offers 11 base classes and 12 PrCs whereas NWN2 offers 15 base classes and a whopping 24 PrCs.

    Basically, Obsidian added Favored Soul, Spirit Shaman, Swashbuckler and Warlock to the base array, removed Harper Scout, Champion of Torm, Purple Dragon Knight and Shifter PrCs, and instead included Arcane Scholar of Candlekeep, Arcane Trickster, Divine Champion, Doomguide, Duelist, Eldritch Knight, Frenzied Berserker, Harper Agent, Hellfire Warlock, Invisible Blade, Neverwinter Nine, Red Wizard, Sacred Fist, Shadow Thief of Amn, Stormlord and Warpriest.

    God DAMN. But I submit that some NWN players miss the Shifter. :P

    Obsidian also added subraces (for traditional [which include Underdark choices like IWD2] + 6x Planetouched [IWD2 already offered Aas/Tief]) along with Yuan-ti Pureblood and Gray Orc base races.

    I admit to barely having dipped into half of the above, let alone their build potential. :P

    1. Harper scout and Champion of Torm are on its place. Harper scout was harper agent with removed spellcasting and tweaked feats and Champion of Torm was just a specific god version of Divine champion

    2. One thing I loved about NWN2 was the build options. My last OC/MoTB playthrough was a Paladin/Sorcerer/EK/ASoC. Ungodly firepower backed up by a full fighter attack schedule. I also loved me a Swashbuckler/Duelist/Weaponmaster/NW9. Yes, I rocked the musketeer hat. :P

      I played an evil character through on the Shadow Thieves' side. But lost interest in her because joining the King of Shadows was stupid-evil, not sneaky-evil. :P


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