||This Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game-related article describes a fictional location in a primarily in-universe style. (October 2009)|
The City Core, as seen in Neverwinter Nights
|Forgotten Realms location|
|Ruler||Lord Nasher Alagondar|
Neverwinter is a fictional city-state in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. Neverwinter was founded by Lord Halueth Never. It sits on the northwestern coast of the subcontinent of Faerûn.
The city has been the home locale for the first graphical MMORPG ever created, the original Neverwinter Nights on AOL (1991–1997), which was developed by Stormfront Studios. BioWare later acquired the rights to the title and developed a series of best-selling role-playing video games under the name Neverwinter Nights.
In the Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition version of the Forgotten Realms lore, Neverwinter was destroyed in the Spellplague and much of its population scattered. Neverwinter will become the focus of the future Forgotten Realms setting, accompanied by a new trilogy of Drizzt novels taking place in the city as it is being rebuilt, written by R. A. Salvatore. Other products will include a new MMORPG PC game taking place 100 years after the events of Neverwinter Nights 2, a roleplay adventure game and a board game.
Neverwinter has a population of about 23,200 at last count and is also known as the City of Skilled Hands and Jewel of the North. It also serves as the origin of the phrase "by the clocks of Neverwinter", used when one is solemnly swearing,:130 a reference to the precision of its timepieces. The erudite travel writer Volo (among others) credits Neverwinter as the most cosmopolitan and the most civilized city in all of Faerûn. He regards this as quite a reputation,:131 considering the breadth and variety of the continent.
The name of the city has its origin in that even though the town is situated in the cold north of Faerûn, the Neverwinter river that flows through it is heated by fire elementals living under the nearby Mount Hotenow in the Neverwinter Wood. The heat given off from the river creates a permanent warm climate in the immediate area; without the elementals, the river, and subsequently the city's water supply, would freeze over. An alternate loric explanation for the name is given in Neverwinter Nights 2: When the city's founder (Halueth Never) was hunted to the coast by orcs, he chose the city's site to make his last stand. Expecting to die in the imminent battle, he named the site "Never's Winter". When the orcs were defeated with help from some human allies, Never founded the city, keeping the name. Over the years the name was shortened to "Neverwinter".
The city is ruled by Lord Nasher Alagondar, an aging, veteran adventurer and devout worshipper of Tyr. Neverwinter is prosperous, its master-craftsmen making lamps of multi-coloured glass, precision water clocks and exquisite jewelry. Its Tyrran faith promotes justice and fairness, and greed is frowned upon.
In addition to its unnaturally warm climate, Neverwinter is a rather picturesque city. It founds such sights as its three spectacular, intricately carved bridges: the Dolphin, the Winged Wyvern and the Sleeping Dragon. Under these, the waters of the Neverwinter River cascade over small, gentle waterfalls as they course into the city's bustling harbour. Neverwinter's magnificent gardens (the phrase "the City of Skilled Hands" refers to Neverwinter's accomplished gardeners) ensure the warm winters are colourful and the summers are rich with fresh fruit. The city is replete with beautiful and ingeniously designed buildings, many of which are famous in their own right, such as The House of Knowledge, and Neverwinter's tall and many-windowed temple of Oghma.:133–134 In addition, the reputations of such unique taverns as The Moonstone Mask and The Fallen Tower reach far beyond the Neverwinter's walls. These elements generally make Neverwinter a distinctive city.:130–144
The city is a member in good standing of the Lord's Alliance and Lord Nasher has ensured that the city is well defended, both physically and magically, against attacks or infiltration from Luskan, Neverwinter's warlike rival. Maps of the city, which has a maze of meandering streets, are not distributed, as part of an effort to thwart Luskan spies. Some merchants in the city do however sell such maps, often over a black market.
The city of Neverwinter can be roughly divided into five different districts. The inhabitants of these districts clearly differ in social class and status, wealth, prosperity, population and criminality.
In Neverwinter Nights 2, the continuity regarding the different districts was changed as much of the city was destroyed by plague and the eruption of Mount Houtenow and has been rebuilt. In the sequel, only three districts are available to the player: Blacklake, which has been rebuilt in the area near Castle Never, the Docks, which remain largely unchanged, and the Merchant Quarter, which may be the remnant of the City Core. If this is not the case, the player simply does not have access to the missing districts.
The City Core is the district where most of Neverwinter is governed and controlled. In the City Core is the Castle of Neverwinter where Lord Nasher Alagondar lives and governs the different districts of the city. The Halls of Justice, a temple to Tyr, is also located in this district. In addition is The Moonstone Mask directed by Ophala Cheldarstone, also said to have a brothel in its back rooms which can be accessed for a price.:138–139 In the middle of the district stands the Cloaktower, a meeting place for mages and sorcerers. Summarized, the City Core is a busy district, populated mostly by middle-class inhabitants and also a few merchants. The City Core is prosperous, wealthy and well defended from external attackers.
The Beggar's Nest is a district of destitution where most of the poor inhabitants live and work. To the north is a great graveyard, and there has been several records of undead attacks in this district. Under this graveyard there are unexplored tombs and crypts from deceased men. Packed with narrow streets and slum houses, this district is the most exploited of the five.
The Blacklake District is the district of the nobles and upper-class inhabitants. Some of the nobles are obliviously paranoid or snobbish, and there are several records of the Blacklakes cutting themselves off from conflicts in the core or other places (by creating a buffer of a gated, small district, sometimes called "No-mans land"). Almost all homes here are prosperous and wealthy, and the entire district is overall quite rich. Streams and small rivers of decorative water flows through the district. The Neverwinter Zoo is placed in Blacklake, being quite inequitable against the animals inside, raising levels of conflict. Meldanen, an Elf Sorcerer, was rumoured to live in a big fortress-mansion in Blacklake, defended by several guards.
The Docks is the district most prone to criminality. It is ruled mostly by organized criminal leaders and thugs, often leading to black auctions and markets. With the main harbour to the west, many illegal wares are easily smuggled into the district, much because authorities do not have a very strong grip on the contemporal events. The district founds The Golden Apple, an inn, and Twenty in a Quiver, a local warbrand shop.
The Peninsula is a low-populated area almost completely surrounded by water. This strategic position resulted in the building of a prison, which is relatively safe but has had history of some outbreaks and prisoner revolutions. The prison is divided into three levels; the "normal" prison at upper level, a buffer between the worst prisoners location and the normal level, and 'the Pit', a secure dungeon housing the worst prisoners.
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