Monday, May 13, 2013

A Beginner's Guide to Neverwinter

I. Introduction
Neverwinter is a free-to-play fantasy MMO based in Faerûn, the main continent of the Forgotten Realms, arguably the most well-known D&D campaign setting. I won't go too much into detail here so I don't get all D&D nerdy and forget the point of the post. Just know it's a fully fleshed out world with decades of lore to back it up.

It's put out by Perfect World, the same publishers of Star Trek Online. Like most free-to-play games it features a cash, or Zen, shop where you can buy things for your character, both useful and cosmetic.

So does free-to-play = pay-to-win?
No. There are items in the Zen shop which greatly impact your character (bigger bags, profession boosters, etc.) but none of them are absolutely necessary, they just help you along.

If you feel these items are necessary you're still not forced to pay. The game features an exchange allowing players to buy Zen for Astral Diamonds, an in-game currency. And so everything in the Zen Shop is available without paying, it just may take longer to get. Because of this I cannot say this game is pay to win.

II. Creating Your Character
Download the game and watch the cut scene. Be sure to watch the cut scene. You'll see a little bit of the playstyle of every class and so it can help you choose what you'd like to be. Here's the class run-down:

Guardian Fighter (Tank)Sword and shield wielding tank.They don't do tons of damage solo, they're made for tanking, and so this is great if you intend to level with friends. You may want to choose a higher damage class if playing solo, but you'll still be able to solo with the Guardian Fighter, you just may not feel as powerful.

Trickster Rogue (Melee DPS) - Standard rogue. All about DPS and being stealthy.

Control Wizard (Ranged DPS/CC) - Decent DPS and a lot of control, as the name suggests. Very squishy but the amount of CC they have should keep them alive.

Devoted Cleric (Healer, Ranged Support DPS) - This is currently the only healing class. They can DPS and solo well (this is what I play) but the important thing to know is they're currently the only real healing class, making them very sought after endgame.

Great Weapon Fighter (Melee DPS) - Less stealth and more big swords than the Trickster rogue.

What race should I pick?
Any race can be any class. Remember you'll be staring at this character all the time so I recommend picking something you like the look of. Races have racial bonuses but none are game-breaking enough to choose one race over the other.

It's asking me to fill in a background and deity?
From a gameplay perspective these don't matter. These are for us RPers who want to think of our character as more than pixels. Read up a bit, find something that sounds good to you. This doesn't effect play at all.

III. Playing the Game
The opening quest lines give a good introduction to the way the game handles and so I won't go too much into every little bit of things, but here are some basics that I wish I'd known:

The UI
There are two modes for the UI. They're called Mouse-Look Mode, which is the mode you'll normally be playign in, and Mouse Cursor Mode, which will allow you to use the cursor and click things. You switch between them with the Alt key.

Click on the image to view full size.

These different abilities will be introduced to you as you gain them through questing, so you'll get a basic rundown of the difference between all the spell types in-game.

IV. The Noob's Guide to Starting Out

I just started, what do I do?
Play through the quests. They'll acquaint you with the basics and eventually lead you to town.

I just reached town for the first time, what do I do?
Continue along your quest lines to find the next areas to level. 
Visit vendors in the Market to sell any junk in your bags. 
Collect your welcome kit from the mailbox. 
Store any items you want to keep but don't need to use (like your welcome kit) in the bank.

Press M to view the map in-game.
You should now also be eligible to play Foundry quests. Foundry quests are player-created content that you can play instead of the default quest lines. Access them by pressing H, searching the Catalog, and accepting a Foundry quest.
I just hit level 10-11, what do I do?
 It's time to start Invocations and Professions. 
  • Professions start at level 10: See section V below. 
  • Invocation starts at level 11: Once an hour you can Invoke at a Campfire. Stand at the Campfire and press Ctrl+I. You will get a temporary buff and possibly currency, items, and experience. Doing this once a day will also grant one each of Ardent and Celstial coins. You want to do this at least once a day to keep collecting these coins, which can later be traded for gear, mounts, and companions.  
I just hit level 16, what do I do?
You will have a quest to gain a Companion. Companions will help you in battle so you want to do this quest as soon as you can.  You can choose Man at Arms, Cleric Disciple, Wayward Wizard, or Dog. 
Non-tank classes will probably want to choose Man at Arms as it functions as a pocket-Tank for you. Warrior classes will like the Cleric Disciple to be their pocket healer. The Wizard deals good AoE damage and the Dog deals good single-target damage.
 I just hit level 20, what do I do?
This is when you unlock your first mount. It may be too expensive now (5g) but you will be granted 3 free tokens to get temporary five hour mounts to help you in farming up the rest of the gold you need. You receive these tokens from the blue Level Up box.  Alternatively you can sell items on the auction house for Astral Diamonds and use those diamonds to buy a mount from another player via the Auction House.

V. Professions
Every character has access to every profession. Unlike WoW you will not choose just a few out of a list. However you do have a choice of what you focus on.

Leadership: Grants experience, money and other currency, and items.
Mailsmithing: Creates armor for Clerics and Great Weapon Fighters.
Platesmithing: Creates armor used for Guardian Fighters.
Leatherworking: Creates armor for Trickster Rogues.
Tailoring: Creates armor for Control Mages.

I chose Leadership because the experience it grants will help when leveling my character. You may wish to choose whatever crafts items for your class. Eventually you can have everything, though, so don't worry about choosing "wrong."

Every class has a gathering "skill" associated. This means they can use the nodes without kits. So as a Cleric I can gather any Religion node without needing any supplies. Anyone can gather any node but for non-class nodes you need the right kit. All of my expenditures so far have been kits to gather nodes, which is why I had a bag full of profession items. I highly recommend having ~5-10 of every type of kit (other than your class kit, which you won't need) when you're out adventuring, so no nodes go to waste.

You open your Professions tab by pressing N. Every player can use/max every profession, it just comes down to how you want to go about doing it. In your profession screen you have available profession slots. You begin with one slot and can unlock more by completing certain tasks.

Your first move when getting started with Professions will be to hire an Asset. Think of these as workers or specialists for that profession. This is a fast task, and will be done soon. Once you have your asset you can send that asset for his first job.

When you click on the profession, in this example Leadership, you will see a list of jobs you can do. Choose one that fits your playtime. Ideally you want to be able to be there when the job is finished, so if you know you're going to be playing for a few hours you may want to do a 2 hour task, but if you're going to sleep maybe choose a 6+ hour task.

Doing a task will reward Profession Experience and possibly other rewards. As you gain more profession experience that profession will level and you'll have access to a wider variety of jobs.

As you unlock more Profession Slots you can have multiple professions working on jobs at once or you can focus all of your slots on one profession, as long as you have the assets. (You hire additional assets after reaching certain levels in the Profession.)

VI. Currencies
The only thing I don't like about Neverwinter is they have way too many different types of currencies. It's not hard to keep track of once you learn them, but it still seems like there are way too many. Let's get acquainted with what they are, how to get them, and how to spend them.
  • Gold (and Copper and Silver)
    Gold is the default in-game currency. You gain it from completing some quests and it drops from mobs. This is the currency you will use to buy your first mount as well as to buy profession kits, healing potions, and other consumables.
  • Astral Diamonds
    This is the currency used in the Auction House. You will earn it from quests (such as Daily Skirmishes) and from Invoking, as well as earning it from sold auctions. Most diamonds are earned in their Rough form and must be refined. (Press I, choose the Riches tab, and hit Refine next to Rough Diamonds.) You can refine 24k Diamonds per day, so do so as much as possible so you don't create a backlog of Rough diamonds.
  • Zen
    This is the cash shop currency that is used in all Perfect World games. For Americans, in USD, it costs 1c per Zen. You can buy this at the game's website but you can also buy this from other players via the Astral Diamond Exchange.

    Buy it from players here.
    Spend it here.
  • Ardent and Celestial Coins
    You earn one of each of these coins per day, the first time you Invoke at a Campfire. Ardent Coins can be held indefnitely and traded for gear, mounts, and companions by hitting Spend in the Riches tab.

    Celestial Coins must be "renewed" each day. If you go more than about a day and a half without Invoking the coins will expire, and so you must Invoke every day to build these up. They can be exchanged for Profession boosters which contain useful items for crafting.
  • Glory
    Glory is the PvP currency, similar to Honor in World of Warcraft. You earn it for participating in PvP battles and it can be spent on PvP items like potions and special mounts.
  • Seal of the Lion
    Seals of the Lions are dropped by bosses in dungeons and can be earned through Bounties (see next item.) Vendors in the market will sell mid-level gear for these Seals.
  • Bounty Items
    Most zones have a Bounty Hunter in them. Killing mobs in this zone will yield bounty items, such as Blackdagger Insignias. You can trade them with the Bounty Hunter to gain Seal of the Lion or random low level gear.
  • Tarmalune Trade Bars
    When you open a Nightmare Lockbox (think Mann Co Supply Crate from TF2) you will get random items and some Trade Bars. These are a sort of consolation prize so that people who open 200 boxes don't feel like they got completely screwed. If you somehow end up with enough bars to buy something there is a vendor on the outside edge of the Market who will sell mounts and other fun items and takes the bars in return.

VII. Social and Chatting
Basic Chatting and Commands
Many players find the chat system clumsy to use while they become accustomed to the keybindings. Remember keybindings can be changed in the options to something that is more natural for you, but here's how to chat and connect with other players via the default keys:

If you wish to start chatting hit Enter. You can then type what chat you would like to chat in. So if I wanted to chat in zone chat I would hit enter and type /Zone and then begin typing my message. This works for chat channels as well, such as RedditNW.

Here are some other chat commands you use by typing /<command name>
  • /say or /s - A message visible to nearby players
  • /yell or /zone - Sends a message to the entire zone
  • /whisper <player> or /w <player> or /t <player> - Sends a message to a player.
  • /reply or /r or Backspace - Responds to the last person who sent you a tell.
  • /party - Sends a message to your party, useful in PvP, Skirmishes, and Dungeons.
  • /emote <emote name> - Performs an emote. Available emotes:
    • Admire
    • AFK
    • AirGuitar
    • Alert
    • Beckon
    • Beg
    • Blowkiss
    • Bow
    • Bow Formal
    • Bye
    • Charge
    • CheckGear
    • Cheer
    • CheerHappy
    • CheerProud
    • Clap
    • Cough
    • Countdown
    • Cry
    • DanceFolk
    • DanceSeductive
    • DanceSnake
    • DanceTwoStep
    • DanceWave
    • DanceZombie
    • EvilLaugh
    • FacePalm
    • FacePalmDouble
    • FistBump
    • FlipCoin
    • Frustrated
    • Headbutt
    • Hello
    • HighFive
    • JumpingJacks
    • Laugh
    • No
    • PickMe
    • Point
    • PushUps
    • Salute
    • Shoo
    • Shrug
    • Sit
    • Sleep
    • Stretch
    • Taunt
    • TauntBrodown
    • Think
    • Tug
    • Wave
    • Yawn
    • Yeah
    • Yell
    • Yes
Friends, Guilds, and More
Pressing O will bring up the Social tab. This is where you can view online friends, your party, and guild.

To add a friend whose handle you already know you can add them at teh bottom of the Friends tab. If you do not know their handle use the Find Person tab and type in as much of their character name or handle as you know. They should appear on the list if they are online. You can right click on their name and add them to your friends list or send them a message.

To find a guild that has already been formed check out the Find Guild tab of the Social Panel. You can browse guilds by time zone, playstyle, and more. If you see a guild you like you can double click the guild. A window with details will pop up, and in it you will see online players who can invite to the guild. Try contacting them for an invite!

I want to make my own guild.
Anyone over level 15 can create a guild in Neverwinter. In order to do so create a party of your prospective guild mates. You must have a full party of five players at or over level 15 and none of those players can already be in a guild. Once you've created your party be sure you are all in Protector's Enclave, the main city.

One player should speak to the Guild Registrar, located here:

Note that the player who does the actual speaking to the Registrar will become the guild master and all players in the party will be automatically added to the guild.

VIII. General Questions and Assorted Tips

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What's the best class?
    Choose what you'd like to play. But Clerics in general seem to be the most in-demand at endgame.
  • What is the best race?
    Halflings. HALFLING POWER. (But actually I don't know. But, I mean, come on, it's Halflings.)
  • Which profession should I level first?
    I like Leadership. If you wait till level 60 to level Leadership the experience gains will be worthless, so I chose to do it first. I'm unsure if one will pull ahead in the long run.
  • When do I get my first mount and how much does it cost?
    Level 20, it costs 5g
  • What should I keep track of?
    Make sure you've Invoked each hour and all your Profession Slots are in use. Make sure you do your daily Skirmish, PvP Domination, Dungeon, etc. as soon as you can.
  • Is there anything I should or shouldn't buy?
    In the market buy several profession kits for anything other than your default profession. Never let a gathering node go to waste. Do not buy the item Bag of Holes, despite its name it is not a functional bag, it is vendor trash players put on the AH to fleece noobs.
  • Where can I buy more bags?
    You will receive at least two bags while questing to max level. If that's not enough or you just can't wait and need space now the main source for bags is the Zen shop. Players will often buy the items from the Zen Shop and sell them on the Auction House, so keep an eye out there as well.
  • I got an enchantment, how do I use it?
    Enchantments are like gems in the Diablo games. You need a socketed piece of gear. When you have one right click on the gear and choose Enchant Item. Be careful, it will cost Astral Diamonds to remove the Enchantment.
  • I've got a lot of shitty enchantments, are they worthless?
    Low level enchantments can be fused into higher level level versions at a 4:1 ratio. The higher the level of enchantment the more likely this fuse will fail. You can purchase Wards from teh Zen Shop which will keep the fuse from failing. TL;DR: Fuse low level enchants to save bag space.
General Tips
  • You can accept and turn in dailies anywhere in the world from the Landing page by pressing L.
  • You can buy Indentify Scrolls anywhere in the world by entering Mouse Cursor Mode (Alt) and looking for the Wondrous Bizarre icon on the top of the screen.
  • If you become stuck somewhere try typing /unstuck.
  • If you're still really stuck try typing /killme. This will start you at the nearest campfire and prompt you to submit a report about where you became stuck.
  • To change the Instance you are in press the blue icon on the top right of your minimap. You can do this once every 2 minutes. You will respawn at a campfire and all chests will be reset.
If you have any more questions or corrections please feel free to leave them in the comments. I will do my best to add in answers to common questions and will correct anything I may be wrong about. Remember I only just started playing a few days ago as well, so I'm far from an expert. If I missed, forgot, or messed up something please say so!

Also, was there something you wish you'd known when you started that I didn't cover here? Let me know, I'll put it in!


  1. I'm up to about level 13 and have found this guide very helpful, so thanks very much for writing it.

    I'm enjoying the game so far, but the Zen shop aspect is putting me off a bit, which is silly in some ways, since I'm perfectly happy to pay a monthly subscription for WoW.

    There are quite a few people suggesting that, while everything can, technically, be obtained without spending real money, the amount of effort involved makes it unrealistic to do so.

    I'm concious, however, that the vast majority of MMO players are pretty terrible at making money within the game and what could seem a ridiculous amount of currency to the average person is far more achievable for an experienced "goblin". It sounds like you've been doing pretty well so far so I'd be interested in your opinion on this.

  2. Hello, and thank you for the wonderful blog.

    I am new to the game and also to the wonderful world of MMO's and I must confess I am pretty lost. Yout Blog already helped me big time.

    But I am still very confused about the Auction House. What is the startig bid, what does the second value (sell value? I play on the german language so I am not entirely sure about the original terms) mean? How do I figure out the best prices? And so on.

    Could you probably even make a tutorial on how to effectively use the auction house? Or is there a way to contact you so you could explain things to me, if you are up to such a thing?

  3. Nice beginner's guide! One thing I'd like explained is the different types of damage. Some is red, some is red with a check marked shaped icon, etc. You would think that would be a part of the game entrance quest information as you level up, but it was overlooked.

    Thanks for the invocation tips. I was not aware that not invoking for a certain amount of time would deplete some of your coins. Since I'm on vacation I don't have access to the game, so mine will be gone when I get home, but at least I'm forewarned and will not be so frustrated when I get home. And my account(s) will all be set to the same timeframe for the 7 celestial or ardent coins, so for my OCD, that is some solice in losing my coins.

    Cheers! And Happy Hunting Madam Halfing!

  4. Great guide! I just started playing Neverwinter last night (my Hunter Ranger is only level 5) and I learned a lot reading over this guide. I hope you'll continue writing more specific ones on various aspects of the game a newbie like me might find confusing. :)

  5. Thank you for all info and hard work