The game centers around the player, who through the development of his or her character, becomes the ultimate hero of the story. The player is single-handedly responsible for defeating a powerful cult, stopping an insatiable plague, thwarting an attack on the city of Neverwinter, and many other side quests.
Most of the story in the official campaign deals with the city of Neverwinter itself, but certain story sections require the player to venture into the countryside. Neverwinter is a city on the Sword Coast on Faerūn. It is part of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. In Shadows of Undrentide (SoU), the story begins in the Silver Marches, eventually moving toward Anauroch and the Netherese city of Undrentide. Hordes of the Underdark (HotU) is a continuation of SoU, and as the name implies, most of the story takes place underground in the vast subterranean world known as the Underdark.
In addition to the game, the Aurora toolkit is included, allowing players the opportunity to craft their own adventures and share them with others, allowing the possibility of creating a module (the term used to describe a game made in the toolkit) even more advanced than the campaign included with the game. Many modules are available to download, each of varying quality depending on the skills and creativity of their creator(s).
The meat of the game itself would be its online capabilities, as there are many servers for players to choose from. Some servers run as playerworlds, while others are arenas or even simply social gatherings. The campaign included with the game can be played with friends, for example, or simply people who wander into the server looking for a game. The modules servers run vary as well; they can be a player-created one or an official one, many servers running their own module.
The game is named after a former online game that was played on the AOL service, using software and an interface that was based largely on the "Gold Box" engine that premiered in Pool of Radiance in 1988. The original NWN, often referred to as "oNWN", was released in 1992 and was taken offline by AOL in 1998 after a switch to a new pricing model for games. The original game followed Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition rules and was capable of being played by as many as 500 players at once. A persistent-world module, Neverwinter: Resurrection, has attempted to recreate many of the locales in the original game and attract the original player base.
In June 2003, the Shadows of Undrentide expansion was released. It adds 5 prestige classes, 16 new creatures (two of them available as additional familiars), 3 new tilesets, and over 30 new feats and 50 new spells, as well as additional scripting abilities for those who use the Aurora toolkit.
In December 2003, another expansion, Hordes of the Underdark, was released. It expands the maximum amount of levels a character can reach to level 40 (epic levels), and adds a number of spells and items appropriate to such characters, as well as further tilesets, prestige classes, feats, and abilities.