The Land of Argyle: An Essay

To go along with the newsletter, the team over at Argyle Online also sent us an essay that brings us up to speed on the past, present, and future of the Neverwinter Nights persistent world. If you’re new to Argyle, this is a great place to start:

The Land of Argyle Online is a persistent world playable with Bioware’s Neverwinter Nights computer role playing game.

The Land of Argyle Online is a unique world, based wholly on the lore developed by Silver Oak Studios. Argyle Online is unique among the many persistent worlds available, as it conforms as closely as possible to the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 rule set by Wizards of the Coast. This commitment to recreating the pen and paper role-playing experience has resulted in an exceptional world to play in, with a definitive link to the original Dungeons and Dragons game on which it is based.

The adherence to the 3.5 rule set has allowed the volunteer developers of Argyle Online to present a persistent world that includes almost every Skill, every Feat, and every Spell in the 3.5 core rulebooks. This allows the players and volunteer Dungeon Masters to offer an alternative to the standard computer role-playing game experience, and present an environment where players can recreate the entire pen and paper experience within Argyle Online. This extends right to the Dungeon Master led campaigns, where players can choose to adventure in real time, using the advanced CODI A.I. that is used to control the actions of the monsters on the server, or, to adventure in a turn based environment, just like the pen and paper game.

Embracing the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 core rule set is not the only enhancement to Neverwinter Nights that the Argyle Online team offers. The spawn system is completely custom, offering truly random spawns that are not based solely on the levels of the characters. This creates an extremely dangerous environment, where players must take every precaution to ensure their survival. From the inception of Argyle Online, both the developers and players embraced the decision to support a perma-death server. This adds weight to danger the players will encounter, and ensures their characters are not taken for granted. To create as balanced an environment as possible, players can have their favourite characters resurrected, but as with all spells, Resurrection, and it’s counterparts such as Raise Dead and Restoration are 3.5 core rules compliant, and all costs must be met to return a fallen character. Attention to the little details has also been made, such as Encumbrance. Every piece of armour has been corrected to reflect the actual weight and properties as listed in the 3.5 core rule books. A character wearing plate mail versus leather has a much better armour class, but also moves that much slower.

Adherence to 3.5 core rules is only half of what Argyle Online offers. The setting itself is as much a part of the allure that keeps our most loyal players returning. The Land of Argyle is a rewarding setting that challenges the players with some very difficult concepts to role-play. The Land of Argyle is a setting where human Mage-Kings once enslaved the other scionic races, Argyle’s demi humans. A terrible magical event occurred, which devastated all of Northern Argyle, creating an impenetrable fog known as The Shroud. Within its’ depths, only the dead walk, and the living tremble at the thought of entering it.

The creation of The Shroud heralded the end of the Mage-King’s reign. The scionic races, elf, dwarf, gnome, and halfling were freed from their slavery, and retreated to their own kingdoms. In the many years that have followed, borders have been drawn, and they are violently defended. Racism is found in every corner of Argyle, with memories of the past as the basis for relationships of the future. This makes the formation of racially diverse parties difficult, and even more rewarding when the racial divides are overcome during the course of an adventure or campaign. In addition, the rule of the Mage-Kings, their corruption of magic, and the creation of The Shroud form the basis of a complex concept known as loosely as Mage Hate.

Magic in all its’ forms is shunned, and casters of magic are persecuted at best, and hunted to the death at the worst. Even divine casters, who bring healing and prayer to the denizens of The Land of Argyle, are shunned often, and if they are careless with their magic, they can be mistaken for casters, and suffer the same fate.

This attitude towards magic is purposeful in the lore developed by Silver Oak Studios. The intention was to make magic, magical again, and cherished because of it. Magic items, once plentiful, were coveted by the Mage-Kings and hoarded in their immense Spires, which dot the landscape. Magic items were lost, hidden, and worst of all, destroyed. This has caused The Land of Argyle, and Argyle Online, to be a low magic world. Magic is not devoid, but it is rare, and dangerous. It is also very special, as an attempt has been made to make each magical item as unique as each spell. Items are named, imbued with properties that reflect its’ purpose in the world, and the effort is greatly appreciated by the players.

Finally, recognizing that computer role playing games are a visual experience, incredible effort has gone into making every map as beautiful to look at as it is to play on. Player testimonial, whether they played on the server for two days, or two years, has been unanimous. Argyle Online is one of the most stunning servers for Neverwinter Nights yet created. Every map has been built, rebuilt, and rebuilt again as more and more custom content becomes available, including all the immense changes brought on by the community expansion packs. The maps are meant to bring Argyle Online alive, and every volunteer is very proud to be associated with the project.

Argyle Online, the Neverwinter Nights translation of The Land of Argyle as written by Silver Oak Studios is a rich, fun place to play 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons. Both persistent world play, and Dungeon Master led campaigns offer a unique alternative to standard computer role-playing games. The ability to enjoy entire campaigns in a turn based environment, exactly as the pen and paper version of the game offers is a feature praised by the players of this amazing server. Argyle Online is populated by some of the friendliest, most dedicated volunteers and role players to be found. Argyle Online constantly welcomes new players and interested developers and volunteers. Visit the Argyle Online message boards to learn more about this amazing Neverwinter Nights community.

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