D&D Monsters of Neverwinter, Part 1: The Staples
Dungeons & Dragons was drawn from a lot of different sources, from href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/games/neverwinter">Neverwinter
medieval European folklore to sword-and-sorcery fantasy stories by
Howard, Tolkien, Vance, Anderson, Lieber and many others. From its
genesis, it has included a core set of monsters that have appeared in just
about every iteration in one form or another. These are the staples of
D&D, and the chances are excellent that we will see all of them in
Some have already been confirmed by recent press releases, some have been
encountered in-game during the last beta weekend, and some are educated
Note: The images in this article are taken from the 4th Edition Monster
Manuals published by Wizards of the Coast. These are not official
Orcs and Other Goblinkind
Goblinkind are the nemeses of the low-level adventuring group: tribes of
vicious monster-men bent on war, domination, chaos and destruction that
are just tough enough to succeed under the right circumstances, but who
are still fairly easy to kill by nearly anyone with a sword. They are
usually encountered in a progression from the weakest to the toughest: goblins,
then orcs, then bugbears, then hobgoblins.
in particular are convincing enemies for a wide spectrum of
adventuring levels, as they are often the foot soldiers of a powerful
villain and they are just clever enough to take class levels, making them
competitive with the more civilized races.
Goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears and kobolds have been
around for a very long time in European folklore, usually as diminutive
rustic troublemakers who often performed mischievous deeds while nearby
farmers were asleep. Orcs are lifted right out of the works of Tolkien,
who borrowed the word from either a translation of a word meaning "ogre"
or an unrelated mythological evil spirit that may have lived in underwater
Orcs are definitely a part of Neverwinter's bestiary, and have even
starred in their
own game trailer. They are encountered fairly early on in the Tower
District, seeking to control that region.
Zombies, Skeletons and Other Undead
Undead are usually encountered just after the adventuring group has
gotten a little practice against the squishier low-level monsters. They
are a new kind of challenge - they are immune to certain attacks,
especially vulnerable to others, and often spread disease through their
normal attacks, which can make their victims weaker. The presence of the
walking dead is often an indicator of powerful evil magic nearby - a
megalomaniacal Necromancer raising an army, a dark curse or terrible
plague, or the radiations of some foul and ancient relic buried in some
forgotten tomb. The Cleric is particularly suited for fighting undead -
his holy magic causes them injury, and he has the unique ability to "Turn"
undead, causing them to flee in panic or be destroyed.
The idea of vengeful undead has been a part of humanity likely since we
started burying our dead in Paleolithic times. The different kinds of
undead in D&D come from a variety of sources - for example, the wight
seems to draw heavily from the draugr of Norse mythology, and the
mindless, flesh-hungry zombie seems to come more from
George A. Romero movies (though the concept has been around for much, much
longer than that).
Undead are encountered almost immediately in Neverwinter, besieging the
city during the tutorial missions. Cleaving your way through rattling
waves of shambling skeletons is how you learn about
movement, defense and attacks.
Ogres, Trolls and Other Giants
At later levels, seasoned adventuring groups need bigger challenges. Ogres
are essentially upscaled orcs - bigger, yes, but without any particularly
noteworthy special abilities, other than those related to sheer size. Trolls
are rather more challenging, as large as ogres but able to regenerate Hit
Points and uniquely vulnerable to fire and acid. Oni are
a semi-new addition to the lineup, mixing the large size of a giant-kin
with magic powers (and more or less replacing the Ogre Mage of older
editions). Actual giants - Hill Giants, Fire
Giants and Storm Giants - are somewhat less
noble in bearing in 4th Edition rules than they were depicted in previous
editions (for example, Storm Giants are now Evil instead of Chaotic Good).
They now seem to embody elemental fury, and have all become behemoth
Giants are mentioned in Greek and Norse mythology, as well as in the
Bible. Ogres are somewhat newer than that, but are derived from European
folklore where they are often portrayed as large, homely humanoids with a
taste for human flesh. The trolls of D&D are pulled mostly from the
Poul Anderson novel, Three Hearts and Three Lions (which
inspired several aspects of D&D), rather than from the trolls of
northern European folklore which can vary in form and nature - Beowulf's
enemy, Grendel, is one kind of troll, but other stories feature trolls
more thematically related to the faeries of English folklore. Oni come
from Japanese folklore, and have retained their mythological invisibility,
nasty temperaments and taste for human flesh.
Ogres are encountered fairly early on in Neverwinter, often as bosses
among the orcs in the Tower District. They are big and slow and their
attacks can be dodged fairly easily, but when they do land a hit, it
Demons and Devils
High-level encounters require powerful opponents, and there are few
beings more suited to the job than the denizens of the Abyss and the Nine
Hells. Demons and devils cover a broad range of challenges, from the
lowliest (Imps) to the mightiest (Balors). These are the very essence of
malevolence, from the raw, uncheckable fury of raging demons
to the corrupting seduction of scheming devils. These
monsters are not only physically powerful, but most of them are also adept
with magic, and come fully equipped with special attacks and stalwart
defenses, making them tough encounters for well-equipped, high-level
Demons and devils are clearly inspired by entities from religious works -
a concept that earned the righteous wrath of a number of religious groups
in the 1970s and 80s. Much of the early controversy over Dungeons &
Dragons came from the inclusion of demons and devils in the earliest
editions. By the time TSR rolled out the 2nd Edition, they had changed the
names to appease the pressure groups: demons had been renamed Tanar'ri,
and devils became Baatezu, but they had all the same attacks and skills
and stuff. 3rd Edition relaxed a bit, reverting to demons and devils but
keeping the Tanar'ri and Baatezu monikers as "sub-types." 4th Edition
seems to have done away with these extraneous labels altogether, using
only "demon" and "devil."
While I never encountered demons or devils in the main story arc of
Neverwinter, I did encounter many of their illegitimate offspring:
Tieflings, one of the playable races. And I did end up battling a large
number of them in one of the Foundry adventures posted on the bulletin
board, finding myself shuttled off to the Abyss after a wild game of poker
using a Deck of Many Things. They are definitely in the game, but I may
have to hit higher levels to encounter them in the main story.
There's simply no way that a Dungeons & Dragons action-MMO won't
include at least one encounter with a powerful dragon.
Dragons are the ultimate late-game boss monster. They take a whole team to
kill, they hoard gold and awesome loot like they were the stars of an
A&E documentary series, and they are intelligent enough to mastermind
complex schemes and strategems. Depending on the DM, the campaign and the
setting of the game, they can be as Machiavellian as Bond villains,
secretly controlling vast areas with magic and fear, or simple
fire-breathing brutes living in a dank cave with their piles of gold coins
and crowns and chalices.
Dragons take many forms in different mythologies throughout the world.
The European dragon is typically depicted as an evil, fire-breathing beast
that lives in a cave filled with gold and treasure. Asian dragons are
typically more serpentine, and are afforded a much more benevolent
personality - heralds of good fortune, symbols of strength and power. In
D&D, the "chromatic" dragons seem to be based on the western wyrm, and
the "metallic" dragons have a more Oriental aspect.
According to the press copy that accompanied the Mount
Hotenow teaser trailer, the volcanic heat of that region is the
"perfect home for a red dragon..." We can likely expect to encounter one
there, presumably as the boss of a large group fight. But there are many
different colors of dragon, and the lands around Neverwinter can provide
suitable homes for just about any of them.
What other monsters are you looking forward to battling in Neverwinter?
Let us know in our comments!
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Neverwinter Game Page.