Neverwinter Nights is a series of computer RPGs based on the Forgotten Realms setting of the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing franchise.
The first game titled Neverwinter Nights was one of the first graphical, multiplayer online RPGs. Based on SSI's Gold Box engine, the game ran on AOL from 1991 to 1997 and is considered one of the pioneering games in the genre of MMORPGs.
Bioware and Obsidian games
In 2002, Bioware launched a new series of Neverwinter Nights games, set in the northern part of the Sword Coast, of the Forgotten Realms of D&D. All the games are divided into two parts, the original campaign for each game and expansion and the toolsets for creators which allow for the creation of modules and Dungeon Master Mode allowing players to recreate the pen and paper role-playing experience.
The first game's campaign begins with a new hero who has been called to Neverwinter Academy in order to help with the problems with the plague affecting the city. That is eventually driven off with your help but you soon find that other things are afoot and set off on a quest to set things right around the Northern sword coast. One of the biggest criticisms of the original game was that this campaign was underwhelming, and it was especially knocked for not having a party which you could control limiting your single player experience to just the player character and a AI-controlled henchman.
The first game's expansions, both Shadows of Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdark began with a new character and took place away from the city of Neverwinter. Shadows of Undrentide began with you having to chase raiders who attacked your village where you were learning to be a hero from a great adventurer who had retired there. This led into the second expansion Hordes of the Underdark where the Drow are attacking the city of Waterdeep and you have to go stop them. Predictably there is more going on here than at first meets the eye. In Hordes of the Underdark you're given a party of two henchmen, of four to choose from in your adventures.
After this the series changed developers from Bioware to Obsidian. Neverwinter Nights 2 starts yet another adventure, with a new graphical coat of paint. Here they aimed to fix the biggest complaint about the original games by giving the player a party of four, just large enough for the classic fighter, thief, mage, priest D&D party. However much the campaign was criticized as being incredibly generic and the player interactions were not up to par with other great RPGs. Many of the characters were seen as very generic, grumpy dwarves and aloof elves and the romantic relationships in the game were incredibly forced and unfinished feeling.
Mask of the Betrayer is the final game in the series released so far which picks up where NWN2 left off, with the main character separated from his former companions and waking up far to the East in the lands of Rasheman. This game was widely praised for having the most unique story amongst all the Neverwinter Nights games and had a peculiar supporting cast of characters including a Thayvian Wizard, a Beargod and a Celestial and featured extremely high level powers and a unique spirit mechanic which forced the player to not dawdle.
Cryptic Studios MMO
Cryptic Studios is developing a new MMORPG titled Neverwinter, set in an updated version of the titular city and using the D&D 4th Edition rules. It will be published by Perfect World and is scheduled for release in 2013.