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Neverwinter Vault Hall of Fame Interview on Avlis - Orleron

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IGN Neverwinter Vault Staff
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community_news
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338

We have an interview with Orleron, administrator of the long standing Hall of Fame NWN Persistent World Avlis.. - December 31, 2008

Avlis is one of the most established names in the Neverwinter Nights Persistent Worlds realm. Tell us a little about the history of Avlis.

The online iteration of Avlis started soon after Neverwinter Nights release in 2002, though the setting began more than thirty years ago as an intermittent pen and paper campaign. This original setting was fleshed out over time by two close friends, Orleron and Ceardran, and played heavily by their DnD group from 1991 - 2002. With the release of NWN, Orleron and another close friend, Silk, moved the setting online.

Orleron and Silk worked hard to make early NWN Avlis a fun and immersive world. Their focus on active development, DM interaction, and in-character-role-play requirement quickly drew a lot of people to the world. The player base swelled, and talented coders and DM's were added to the team. NWN Avlis recently celebrated it's sixth birthday, and the fun and development is still going strong.

What are your day to day tasks now compared to when you first started out?

Avlis was complete land-mass wise a while ago, and our area development development efforts shifted to adding as much depth as possible to the world. For example our area builders work to reflect player actions and NPC migrations, and adding or changing small bits of the servers to flesh out specific sections of the world.

DM-wise plots happen all the time, be they scheduled or random. The DM guidelines allow for a lot of freedom while maintaining continuity for the world - there's a lot of ingame history to consider and we value continuity very highly. We're currently running a couple of large plots encompassing much of the ingame word, and smaller ones for guilds or groups, as well as regular one-off events in all the major timezones.

The dev staff is always fixing bugs, as well as adding new systems. Now that the core systems the spellhooking are complete, we've been focusing on adding new things like the custom barbarian rage, the Advanced Magic Specializations, "militant" bonuses for fighter-types, and the Companion Training System for druids and rangers. These systems bring a lot more flavor and variety to the standard classes. Our players do a great job of RPing unique and interesting characters, and we on the staff have made it a goal to provide them customizable systems to reflect this on their character sheet as well.

Tell us a little about these systems. Are the new classes or races available to players?

In addition to the standard base races, this is what we have available:

Custom Races:

  • Centaur
  • Changeling
  • Gnoll
  • Goblin
  • Half-Ogre
  • Kobold
  • Lizard Men
  • Orc (Avlissian Orcs are highly intelligent and favor psionics over magic.)
  • Wemic (lion-man! ROWR)

     

    Custom Sub-Races:

  • Adomkuro (an underdark human with a few drops of demon blood.)
  • Avariel (A winged race, nearly went extinct due to genocide, but brought back from the brink through player actions in 2006)
  • Drangonari (A scaled elf-type, responsible for the Avariel genocide)
  • Ghost Elf
  • Half-Dryad
  • Half-Nymph
  • Sereg'wethrin (twisted manufactured race of human-hating amoral killers gone awry, lives in the Underdark, male only)
  • Stone Dwarf (A half dwarf/half gnome)

    Racial Add-ons:

  • Lycanthropy - A full moon forces a change, characters can learn to control it and eventually access both animal and hybrid form - 15 different animals with 30 different forms, including: wolf, rat, cat, bat, jaguar, raccoon, fox, goat, boar, hawk, bear, lizard, spider, tiger, and leopard.

     

    Character Classes:

  • Psion
  • 8 Holy Warrior PrCs in addition to the default Paladin
  • Champion
  • Avenger
  • Justicar
  • Equalizer
  • Confounder
  • Dominator
  • Annihilator
  • Blackguard of Maleki (rebuilt from the default to fit the setting)

    Class Modifications:

  • Arcane Archer
    • Imbue Arrow with AoE spell
  • Assassin
    • Custom Death Attack allowing one to toggle between a paralyzing attack and an insta-death (bleeding) attack.
    • Expanded assassin spell list.
    • Assassins add their PrC level to the effects of various traps.

       

  • Barbarian
    • Custom Rage (We've changed rage to get around the +12 cap on ability bonuses)
    • Specialized Rage (an opt-in system that replaces normal rage with one of four different styles, each with custom stats and effects)

     

  • Cleric
    • Holy Symbols. The Gods of Avlis may bestow their clergy with wieldable holy symbols allowing the cleric to call upon the power of his God. Effects vary depending on the God and the level of the cleric.

     

  • Druid and Ranger
    • Companion Training. Level up one of 50+ animals in place of your default Animal Companion, training them in more than 30 commands, including Fetch, Defend Other PC, Sneak, KD, and Disarm.

     

  • Fighter
    • Fighter specific damage bonuses to critical hits based on fighter levels

     

  • Fighter, Barbarian, Ranger, Monk, Paladin
    • Militant Bonuses (bonus to arcane or divine buff spells received from another character)

     

  • Paladin
    • Militant Styles. This is still in development, but the end product will allow Paladins to specialize into a few styles, including Healer, Combat Leader, and Undead Hunter. Turns and spells will have different effects based on the type of Paladin they become.
  • Shadow Dancer
    • Shadow Jump, Hide in plain sight cooldown
  • Sorceror and Wizard
    • Advanced Magic System. Convert some (or all) of your spells to a specific style, including Elementalist (Fire, Ice, Electricity), Transmuter, White Necromancer, Fatespinner, Shadow Matter Illusionist, and Wild Mage.
    • New spell effects and abilities take the place of the defaults.

     

  • Sorceror, Wizard, Cleric, Druid, Ranger, Paladin, Assassin, Holy Warriors
    • Expanded spell list. 77 new spells, and all 297 spells hooked (standard and new).
  • Restricted Classes:
    • We have disallowed all the Forgotten Realms-specific PrCs (Harper scout, etc) as well as RDD and Purple Dragon Knight, since draconic history on Avlis doesn't allow for them. Divine Champion has been disabled since the 9 custom holy warriors fit the setting better.

     

    What category of world would you classify Avlis as?

    It's a roleplay server. We expect people to stay in character at all times. There's really something for practically everyone here: Tons of places to explore, political and social conflict, dungeon crawls (I think our Nightfang Mountain is possibly the best dungeon in a NWN PW to date), casual RP, in-depth crafting, player-owned merchants, DM plots. You don't have to grind out 40 levels to make an impact here.

    Can you give an example of this? What type of impact do players have on the world?

    There are too many to list, but I'll throw out a few. Players have started wars and negotiated peace treaties. Players have built orphanages and destroyed hospitals. Player have lead to areas destroyed and turned deserts green. Player actions have lead to a new god birthed, new spells invented, caves collapsed, dracoliches turned loose, restrictions on casting ability for all mages applied and then removed, the cause and cure of a plague, caravan routes established, shops proliferated, taverns constructed, government officials elected, underground hideouts built, golems constructed, marriage to nobility, banishment of various guilds and orders from various nations, crafting recipes created, and a race brought back from the brink of extinction, just to name a few. Our world is very dynamic. With over 6 years of server uptime since 2002 Avlis's players have expanded it's lore perhaps tenfold.

    What type of player would enjoy Avlis?

    We work hard to provide content and dm events for every player archetype:

  • Socializers will find a rich roleplaying community in game, fostered by a great RL community, and rich world history. A Roleplayer of the Month award is given monthly to a player chosen by the votes of their peers, and includes recognition on the forums and an XP in game award.
  • Explorers can wander across seven nations, each with its own history, political system, society, laws, and environment. There are cities, forests, plains, mountains, villages, cave systems, and an Underdark, all waiting to be explored. 3000 areas is a lot of ground to cover!
  • Achievers will find a world where character advancement is uncapped until level forty, though it will take you well over a year to get there. The servers contain six years worth of system and quest development to work your way through and enjoy. If crafting is more your style, we have complex crafting and artificing systems with hundreds of recipes to discover and master.
  • For our players with a bit of the killer inside them we offer war. With the myriad of nations and political entities on Avlis, there is always a war or border dispute somewhere. In these areas players can enlist for a side and enjoy character vs. character combat.

     

    Out of game and out of character the Avlis community is active and friendly, and has spawned barbecues and meet-and-greats in Europe, America, and Japan. We have even had two marriages between couples who initially met as players on Avlis.

    What different experiences have you and the Avlis team put together to offer players?

    We have a huge amount of custom content, enough to go on for pages even, but I think one of the best things about Avlis is the history. Avlis has one of the most extensive, developed histories of any Neverwinter Nights Persistent Worlds. As was said, Avlis prides itself on continuity and immersion. In Avlis, you get to experience something unlike anything before, playing in a world with thousands of years of history and writing history yourself! As a player you can take part of many Avlis unique things. Our Holy Orders (player character only guilds) have drastically affected the entire world. For example, the Order of Gorethar is noted in history for its participation in the defeat of many foes of law and the greater good, including The Legion of Darkness, Nastassiou, The Mistress, The Coven of Seven, the Vortex of Chaos, the vampyre Lanessa, the Lich Sorvanok, and the evil being known only as the Gentleman. The Blackhawks (an elite militant group of M'Chek) is currently defending themselves against the Shaaheskian onslaught. The Trust of Andrinor has 9 Mage Orders, each guild having played an important role in the development of Avlis, even had an entire City built (which now acts as one of the servers on Avlis, Visimontium.) The list goes on and on.

    There is nothing like getting to play in world filled to the brim with as much history and lore as Avlis can offer. Getting to take part in something as massive and vast as it is, yet not so huge that your character cannot make a name for themselves, is a great experience.

    How big is the staff, and what size player base do they work with?

    We currently have between 15-20 active DMs, over 20 Quality testers, as well as a collection of dedicated coders and builders. Our DM's are spread across the Euro and US timezones, with a smattering of coverage in Aussie/Asian timeslots as well. Right now we have an active daily playerbase of 200 or more players, with spikes of up to 500 or so when things are really jumping. Of course we're always looking for more!

    Do your DMs play frequently? If so, do the play exclusively on Avlis, or elsewhere?

    The vast majority of the staff's in-game time is spent DMing, but most of the staff members make an effort to log in as a player and RP with people a couple times a week. It keeps us grounded and connected to the player experience. We don't allow DM staff to take major roles in plots, so it's mostly just hanging out or doing a dungeon session with the their former guilds. Not every DM interaction is a huge epic thing, though. We try to take time and just talk with the characters pretty regularly and add some flavor or talk about world history or religion with the newer players. We put a lot of effort as a staff into making the world seem alive.

    Is there anything the community should know about Avlis that maybe they don't?

    The culmination of Avlis' contribution to the NWN community was the creation of Neverwinter Nights Extender (NWNx) by Papillon, which for the first time allowed true persistence in the game. Virtually every NWN PW and NWN2 PW uses this same system today, albeit greatly expanded as a method for doing many other things besides persistence.

    Avlis is part of what is known as the Confederation of Planes and Planets (CoPaP). The servers hosting the CoPaP persistent worlds are linked together using the NWNx application. Copap's goal is to create a virtual universe through servers joined together through the use of the NWNx Vaultster system. This system allows players to travel from different worlds (or servers) to other linked worlds with the same player-character.

We'd like to thank Darkfire and Orleron for taking the time to answer our questions, and for all of the great contributions to the community. 

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