- On Neverwinter Nights
- Next Generation
Through interactions and experiences in the world, your character will find himself/herself advancing. There are several manners in which your character may advance, and you'll find that the most enjoyment comes from the natural sort of progression that occurs as you take your time in developing the story of your character rather than spending hours killing the same set of monsters over and over again. I mentioned earlier that this is a text-based game, and I have also reiterated that this game is about story creation. As such, it is not a game you can win or lose in the traditional sense. Yes, your character may defeat a monster, survive a grueling adventure, or rescue the damsel in distress, all of which might be labeled as "wins," but the story of Layonara doesn't end there. The world of Layonara is ongoing, and keeps moving and changing regardless of whether or not your character is in it or doing anything. In other words, this is not a game that you can "beat." There is no last level, no final boss that once defeated makes the world perfect. Layonara is a complicated world with thousands of factions and beliefs, not unlike our own. In fact, sometimes "losing" can be as much fun as winning when it comes to making an interesting and meaningful story. That said, let's outline some basic manners of advancement.
Mechanical advancement is likely the manner of advancement with which you are most familiar. It is represented by your character increasing in measured abilities and skills, such as strength or lock-picking. NWN handles this via the 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons (DnD) style of advancement, which includes growing in "levels" based on numerical experience point (XP) ceilings. Each new level your character reaches provides some manner of mechanical benefit, primarily based on the class/type of character he/she is. A fighter will gain more fighting skills, a wizard will gain more magic, and so on. One very important thing to note is that while mechanical advancement often comes as part of advancing your character's personal goals or advancing his/her position in society, gaining mechanical advancement does not also include gaining character or worldly advancement. What this means is that your mechanical level is not necessarily indicative of your character's rank in society or any amount of personal growth. For example, a 10th level character may be the mayor of a city, while a 40th level character might hardly be known in the world. When the Queen shows up in the city, she's going to visit with the 10 level Mayor, even though the 40th level character has mechanical abilities and skills that far outclass the 10th level character. If you want to be the ultimate warrior, you will eventually want to peak out mechanically, but if you want anyone to care that you're the ultimate warrior, you will want to spend more time developing who your character is and interacting with the world.
Also referred to as personal advancement or character development, this is represented by the beliefs, relationships, personality, and decisions of your character throughout his/her story. Choosing to join one kingdom over another, falling in love with the farmer's daughter, or having a mental breakdown after the loss of a dear friend are all examples of character advancement. These are the moments that shape the life of your character. These are the meaningful moments that make role play and this style of game so appealing, the same kind of appeal that draws you to your favorite book or movie.
This kind of advancement has to do with one's position in the world, and often involves one's social status. If character advancement has to do with how your character views himself/herself, then worldly advancement has to do with how the world (and all its various societies) views your character. How much political power your character wields, how well known he/she is, and the kind of respect your character engenders are all aspects of worldly advancement. A few examples of worldly advancement include becoming the captain of a ship, becoming the second-most famous pie-maker in the city, and founding a local merchant guild. You will definitively find some overlap of character and worldly advancement on occasion, as that personal decision to betray the Queen and join the side of the dragon because the Queen did not return your affection (character advancement) may have just landed you on the top of the most wanted criminal's list (worldly advancement).
You may already be able to see this, but the kind of mark your character leaves on the world primarily has to do with the latter two manners of advancement mentioned above, character and worldly advancement. However, sometimes one can't complete his/her personal and political goals without some level of mechanical advancement, whether that be advancing one's swordplay or developing better techniques to search for hidden objects. Quests provide the opportunity to gain advancement on all accounts, and at a balanced speed, so that you don't end up having the 30th level character that only five people in the world, PC or NPC, actually know.