What would it look like if the Empire's stormtroopers were allowed to be awesome as they're supposed to be?
One Neverwinter Night by Nol Drek is everything I've come to expect from playing an adventure by Nol Drek. It is fast-paced, exciting, incredibly tense, full of good story as well as balanced combat, and very, very fun.
I have a real bias against the way drow are used in the "canon" Gold Box games. They come by the score, and they all seem to be high-level. The 1E and 2E sources make it pretty clear that the first part is accurate, and that the second is, pretty much, not. Drow don't get to be powerful, because of their culture and their deity. But there are a ton of them, and they are innately tough. By jacking up their levels in the Gold Box games, I always felt that the authors detracted from the fun of fighting them. I have never enjoyed casting a fireball and watching one drow save for half damage, while all the rest stand there, unfazed and all of them casting hold person back at me.
At the tabletop, I've always loved drow. Their story, their plotting and machinations, their culture, and even those same abilities that drive me nuts in the Gold Box games. I love their special gear, and their magic resistance, and their innate abilities...they are some of the richest NPCs in the game. But at the tabletop, I've never experienced a room full of supercharged drow lords...
With all that preamble, it was really, really cool to get to play a group of actual drow lo--ladies, and their retinue. I loved the "communication divide" as much as the combats. I realized early on that I would have to take care of my resources, and I started out waaaay too conservatively. I lost a character in the second fight, though to a familiar face (and anyone would consider it an honor to be killed by him), and started to play a little wiser. Being an elf down, of course, made the rest of the game even more challenging...
It takes an expert hand to dole out the encounters in such a way that the player can feel the vise getting tighter and tighter. It was clear that success was not guaranteed, and there was that constant question in the back of my head, "Even if I win...will Nol let me...win?"
The answer to that question can't be answered here, but I can say that this is a tour of Neverwinter from a clear master of drow lore, but written at a level that even someone with my passing understanding from reading lots of old hardback monster manuals and fiend folios--and the back covers of a bunch of Forgotten Realms novels over the years--could follow without difficulty.
I was a little nervous playing the bad guys, but, like at least a couple other folks who have already reviewed One Neverwinter Night, I came away happy. Well done, Nol!