Netheril (The Age of Discovery) review
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Winterhawk99
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Netheril (The Age of Discovery) review

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Netheril (The age of discovery) Review:

This review took me a long while. That is because when I first encountered the server, they were about to completely redo it. That took almost a year. It was well worth the wait. So last year I come on the server to check it out. The server was referred to me by my old lead scripter, Mermut. I figured if she is involved in redoing it the scripting will come out great. So now I already have a bit of bias because I know her work.
I also signed up for the forums and found the server on discord. So, I’m checking out the discussions on discord and Rainman who is one of six owner/founders of the server contacted me within I would say a ½ hour. He said something like. Oh Winterhawk 99. I just put you on the DEV team. I was like, “Wha… I really don’t think I could do that.” And of course, that’s because I work away from home in a secure area for 5 to 10 sometimes 15 days at a time with no access to the game or toolset. So, I ended up making a few weapons with neat stories. Did a storyline for a set of quests. The first is put into the game. The others are not but one of the quest builders of the world is working with me on getting the rest into it. And they want me to write some IG history books and such to add color to the server. So, because I’m sort of an outside member of the DEV team I am even more bias but will endeavor to give everyone a clear view of it.

So, lets first look at the general feel for the world. This is not classic Toril with loads and loads of Cannon stuff to rely on. There is some cannon on Netheril but far less than the time from The Time of Troubles to the Second Sundering. This gives the administrators, dms and players great leeway to their playing. The admins are not caught up in cannon which I really like. They do have their own cannon and history as an offshoot of past adventures. In the coming year I hope to write some IG Books about the other empires of that timeline while at work. So, your not going to get the nagging here that you will from other servers: which lends the player great creativity for his PC’s goals and background.
There is a good population of players. Especially on weekends. Many on the server are from Australia. In fact, Rainman and Elven Two of the six founder/owners are a married couple from Australia so normal playing hours for us folk from the U.S. can be a bit dead. The 4 other founders in the group are Tinker, GMok, Thurgood, and Deltatime. There are some U.S. players and European players too so you can usually find at least a few people on the server and interact with their characters if you do some quests for an hour or two. Still weekdays are a bit of a drag sometimes. I’m usually playing thur-sun off and on or sat-sun off and on depending on how many days I work and get off.
Overall, the feel of the server is very nice. You get to be creative with your builds. There are other players at peak times to play and rp with. The Dms are very helping for the players and there are tools in game to report bugs. I am having a blast playing.

Terrain:

When I first went into the server, I was a bit unimpressed by the general outdoor terrain but extremely impressed with the indoor terrain. There is in fact an art gallery in one of the towns (Southbank) where you can see paintings of screenshots from the previous incarnations of the server and its various members in character. What a stunning way to make an art gallery. The temples, brothels, Inns government buildings are all unique each to the society that they reside in. An opium den in the slums of Conch looks exactly like you would expect it just as a high temple or magic university in the various towns looks just like you would expect it. The inside building goes way past anything I have ever seen or built myself.
The outside areas and tilesets for the most part are a completely different story. Most are plain forest tilesets that give the world a bit of a drab look. In the last month or so Lauriella my review character attained a level where she could really go exploring into the outer limits of the server. This is where tilesets start to change into a much more exciting venue. Some of the tilesets and tiles I’ve never seen. From treehouses, camps of barbarians in Teepees, to eldritch forests and a portal to fey I started to see some very interesting things in the outdoor tilesets. There is even a whole village that you can only go to at night. As soon as dawn breaks the whole of the village with a small fishing sloop disappears until nightfall comes once again. I hope to encounter more of this in the outer edges. This does actually make some sense because geographically the empire of Netheril is in a small area of toril hemmed into the south by Cormanthor and the glaciers to the north so during the age of discovery the general forest would be much the same.
One problem I do have is many of the areas are too large. I do have to say that Netheril seems to have found a way to treat the abundance of large areas. There is very little lag and load times are for the most part fairly quick. As most know when I have made servers or done areas for servers in the past, I stick to a hard rule of no more than 144 tiles per area. Now it may be with modern computers and processing capacity and/or speed of packet exchanges that the 144 rule can be stretched or that Beamdog modernized the rendering of areas to make the rule obsolete. I honestly don’t know as of yet, but the large areas are handled fairly well here. I did notice that if you in a large area that has not been uncovered there is a slight lag or pause as you uncover the mini-maps of that area.
Overall, I am impressed by the area builds of the server.

Overall Magic:

Unlike magic in the world (The City of Arabel) which was much less than what I am use to: Netheril’s magic is more than I am use to. They have many, many custom spells I have never seen as far as arcane magic. I don’t know the clerical or druidic but assume there are many custom spells there to use too. They have their own enchanting system so people can enchant items. They also use a socket system for items so if you can find the stones you want and enough sockets you can make some pretty damn good armor. The neat trick is if you have a high ability to enchant you can make an enchanted socket item then add sockets to it.
Netheril has a novel way to offset the high magic. First perma immunities are almost unheard of. So far, I have played Lauriella to 18th level and she has found only one item with a permanent immunity which was freedom. Another pc said they had found one item with immunity to poison and/or disease. I cant remember if it was one or both and which. So, I’ve only heard of or seen those two items.
The other thing that you will not find very likely is any weapon above +1 or +2 with a straight enchantment meaning +to hit and + to damage. It will usually be one or the other or a +1 longsword with a +2-bludgeoning damage or something like that.
I feel that balance in magic tends to favor the player a little bit. There were certain levels I had a really tough time and other times when I thought it to easy. So in regards to overall magic the server is high but not extreme and you can find many interesting items in the game to help you as you level.

Quests:

Netheril has a lot of quests, and more to come. They do not use an outside database or integers to track what your pc did, so you can redo quests when the world starts up. Curiously on the higher-level quests it often requires more than one player. I never ran out of quests at low levels. I have a few times at mid and high levels when there was no one on the server but myself or other people’s characters my pc would never willingly group with because of conflict or alignment problems. The main city Conch is quest heavy. There are several cities that are quest poor. I do however believe the team is working to correct that. When I have time, I plan to help them.
Another good point about Netheril quests is the quality of them. They are not always grab and fetch or assassinate quests. Some are especially at low levels but there are plenty that are rather complex for a persistent world. From a house modeled after the farmhouse of the night of the living dead to stolen port shipments taken by kau-to: You can have some real fun on quests.

On a side note, there are also plenty of areas for some plain old hack and slash without quests. There are a few notable undead crypts in at least two towns. And an area where there are what seem hundreds of tough Orcs. There are demons and other unusual things in a dungeon just off an area they call the necropolis and a downed enclave with enormously tough foes above ground and duergar inhabiting the ruins.

Housing:

The housing on Netheril is the best I have ever seen and very unique. You can rent a ship in fact when the Staff found out my pc was a Merchant Marine Captain, they asked me if I wanted the ship in the world for her to inhabit. Hell, yes! Though I thought perhaps she should work for it, and she did in Alpha testing. You can also rent caves, houses, and in other communities. Also, they have stores where you can buy furniture and other things for your house, and you can place them anywhere you want in your home.
Now only your main character can have a home so you may really want to think about what your main character will be before you decide to buy a home.

Scripting:

Scripting in general is very good. I’ve tested this server a very long time and found no broken loops or TMI errors. I did see two sent to the Dev team on discord and if I remember right, they were related to the crafting system not the Ai. They have a language system with plenty of languages. You can change your size upon entry into the world, but they do not have scale in feet and inches.(Yes, I am an American you Metric bastards 😊) They have a crafting system. I don’t know much about it but if that’s your thing I see people having fun with crafting. And as I said before the housing system is top notch. I do believe they also have a banking system but have not found the bank as of yet to test it.
You can travel by caravan or ship which includes a chance for random encounters. There is also a teleport system, but I have figured that out as of yet.
So, with all the customization it really feels like a livable world with a richness of great scripting ideas. The Dev Team is active and does fixes as problems come up. That’s another great thing so if you have a scripting problem come up and report it; the problem should be fixed in a short time.

Modeling:

Netheril has a resident Modeler. He is currently working on some unique weapons for the world like Mauls. Something to consider because good modelers make the world so much better.

Loot:

There are plenty of Loot drops and plenty to chests to find on the server. The loot is highly scaled for both level and area. So, if you are a high-level player in a low level area don’t expect much. There may be a good socket item drop or some specialty item that you need to find. Some dungeons have their own individual loots like the crypts near the city of Conch have plenty of summoning books and mythal shard drops in chests. The orcs have a few specific armors that reoccur with regularity. Usually though you can find a few excellent pieces in a dungeon area for your level if the dungeon level is slightly above or close to yours. Then there are the rare socket item drops. You do not find these very often and they too are scaled.

Stores:

Just as you can buy a home you may also be able to buy your own shop. Normal server stores have a buy limit on your things of 200 gold. However, if you make your own store, you can charge standard NWN prices. You can also turn off or on other pcs being able to use their appraisal skills on your product set the % markups of your store items and mark-down % at what you will buy. Its very nice. Because my in-game character is in fact a merchant I have tried this perk out and am working through a full understanding of the store interface with the pc owner. It’s a very nice feature to make coin for the greater goals of your PC. There are several available stores in each city market area. So you will be competing with other players for selling merchandise. I think that’s another important and interesting feature that Netheril has created.

Races:

Races are another interesting feature on the server. You may play almost all of the standard races at this time. You can also play interesting enough monster races. I have seen players create Ogre, Gnoll, Kenku and other monster races to play. At this time as far as I know one of the races you cannot play yet is a drow. I believe the DEV team is working on it but whatever the core team is doing I do not know. There is a caveat to playing a monster races. This is many of the cities and towns to not accept or let monster PCs in their areas. So, if you are playing a goblin and go to say….Hadrian if a Dm sees you doing it all the guard will come after you immediately. So, you need to get a feel if you desire to play an Ogre or Orc.

Classes and PRCs:

You can make just about any base class or combination of base classes that fit. Now you try to make a monk/barbarian or something like that you will probably be nixed quickly. One class they do not have is Paladin. Which is interesting. I do wonder if perhaps they will have a custom from of purple dragon knight for their various religious orders. At this time, you cannot take a prestige class.
I do know something of this. The server is still officially in beta testing even though they are almost there for both balance reasons and introducing prestige classes. The server is in the process of coming up with quests so a pc may take a prestige class. An Arcane archer may have to go on a quest to make a custom bow or a pale master might have to find an undead hand to graft to his arm. I’ve been monitoring the Dev boards on discord about PRC’s. Some of the ideas they are pursuing are very interesting.

Admins and Dms:

I found Admins and Dms both amazing. Admins are for the most part very relaxed. They have alerted me to a couple of things and asked some questions from me about a few things. What I did find amazing is when I first came in, I wrote an introduction story for my character, Lauriella. Those of you that know her know she’s a merchant marine captain that runs a cargo ship. I gave a scaled drawing of her ship along with a scaled drawing of her midships. After a day or two an admin came to me and said would you like to put your ship on the server. Now that I have never heard from an admin of a world before asking to put a personal rp device into a server. I was flabbergasted. I was thinking to myself ‘HELL YEA.’ But I also knew that for the server to do something like that for me I had to be responsible about my rp.
This is something I have seen the admins do for other players too. I met an Ogre that bought a ship and made a pirate fleet. In fact, my character had to talk to him and work out a deal (ransom to keep her ship safe from his pirates.) I love this kind of thing and makes the story so much richer.
I’m still waiting for him to come online and so we can seal the deal. She has 5 tons of black powder on her ship he wants to sell to kobalds. That may lead to another campaign where the kobalds do something with the black power. I don’t know yet but can anticipate the fun for the players on the server if that happens.
As far as the Dm’s are concerned. I’ve been on one major campaign with an excellent dm. During the campaign all of our characters had side effects to their actions some which remain after the campaign that players and their characters have to figure out and do something in the case of negative side effects of the campaign. That campaign was rp-wise done on the highest level and when my great granddaughter is old enough, I’ll write a story about the campaign and read it to her.
If your character has certain goals or achievements, they would like to accomplish in the world; You can set up personal campaigns for getting it done. You can be a little pro-active here. You do not need to hound the dms. They look and enjoy that type of thing as much as you do. And don’t expect that you will be successful every time. You may not be or may have to work through some failed experiments before you get there.
The Dm’s as far as I know will help any pc with this kind of thing so the server isn’t as clickish as many other older servers in the beamdog era. I have never had a problem with an Admin or Dm on this server and I have tested them over the last 8 months or so. They are polite and mature. These are the kinds of people you want running a server.

Players:

Players are great on the server. I’ve had some great rp with them both as allies and as antagonistic due to situations. Everyone plays their character and thus far I have seen few problems between players. I’ve built some pretty good relationships with players and made quite a few new friends. This is a heavy rp sever so you need to stay in character and for the most part players do.
In all my time there I’ve only seen one instance of bad play. An administrator came to me and told me someone had meta gamed me on forum. I had seen the post previously but thought maybe the player had trailed my character and found out something or something else. Eventually I started talking to both player and admin to figure things out. I sort of stuck up for the player because She like I play a dominant woman pc of near opposite alignments. So, I thought the play between characters would be interesting.
During the back and forth the player accused me of using npcs in my journal entries (meaning Lauriella’s lieutenant Cyr.) I thought that was a fair observation, so I went out of my way to give a full description class/race yada, yada. Along with the same for a slave girl she bought, freed, and hired to be her cabin girl to the Dms . I did the player a real solid for her pc so she could arrange a dm event to corrupt Lauriella’s crew. Which is what she wanted to do.
I thought that would be the end of it. And the other player could work with their machinations against mine.
Well, a little later this player took her pc to where Lauri’s ship is docked. In forum they commented on how unimpressive it was. I got on the discord with her thinking because I did her a real solid that she would give me a real solid back.
I explained to her the measurements of the moonflower from the scaled drawing would be 47 meters by 10.9 meters that would be almost 5 tiles long but 2 tiles wide. So, the moonflower would be a very impressive ship in the narrow sea and probably one of the biggest.
The player went off on me. I watched my keyboard and went, “Wow”
Since then, I’ve decided to stay as far as possible from this player and avoid any contact with any of their PC’s. They are not interested in the over all community and the overall illusion of the server. And, look; No matter what server you are on you will always eventually find players like this. This is how I handle the situation to make things as smooth as possible for other players.
Other than this one incident I am fully enjoying playing and rping with the other players on the server. It has been wonderful and exciting to see how both the server and other players have challenged me to become a better player.

In Conclusion I feel this sever is an excellent world to play on. I plan to make this server sort of a home for me. I’ll still review other servers when I get the opportunity but I feel this server is something special so I will be sticking around and start to play many other characters after Lauriella retires or dies.

On that Note: This is the last server that I will player Lauriella on. She’s had a long run with each server she has been to, changing her. Sometimes drastically sometimes supplely. I already have a copywritten book placing her in a general fiction world waiting for the right time for me to release it. When she retires or dies, I will collect all my journal entries and write a fan fiction novel based on her life on Toril. Perhaps it will give new dms some ideas for their campaigns or stories you can read to your children and grandchildren as bedtime stories. That is after all one of the ultimate goals of every Dm.
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http://www.harvestmoonconsortium.com
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