Fans of the online Dungeons & Dragons MMORPG Neverwinter have been exploring Module 20: Sharandar, a release that brings fans of Neverwinter back to the setting of the very first module of the series "Fury of the Feywild." Now called "New Sharandar," players will have to solve a new set of challenges that have befallen the Iliyanbruen over the course of 3 intense episodes brought to life by the dedicated Neverwinter development team.
Currently, 2 of the 3 episodes for Neverwinter's Module: 20 have released. These include "Episode 1: The Iron Tooth" and "Episode 2: The Soul Keeper." In each of these episodes, players will be tasked with finding and defeating a brutal Hag. The Annis Hag appears in Episode 1, and the Night Hag is the antagonist of Episode 2. Currently, there isn't any information on what to expect in episode 3, but the crescendo to the module will likely bring the most fearsome Hag yet. The Hags present a unique challenge for players thanks to powerful magic spells and the ability to summon minions that act as a distraction from the Hag herself. Seasoned Dungeons & Dragons players will likely find these encounters a good challenge.
Screen Rant was recently given the opportunity to speak with the development team of Neverwinter about the challenges, excitement, and work that has gone into building Module 20: Sharandar. These creators include Neverwinter's Lead Designer Randy Mosiondz, Content Designer Ryan Zash, and Systems Designer Chantelle Tatum. The team discusses the process of building the episodes, what Hags they enjoyed creating the most, and what it means to hit the 20th module milestone for the Neverwinter MMORPG.
We are here today with Randy Mosiondz, Ryan Zash, and Chantelle Tatum to talk about the game Neverwinter’s next update for Module 20: Sharandar, and what players can expect to find in “Episode 2: The Soul Keeper”. What has been your favorite part about revisiting Sharandar for a new Module?
Randy Mosiondz, Lead Designer for Neverwinter: I think it’s really been the opportunity to evolve our game world. Sharandar was first introduced in our first campaign module: Fury of the Feywild. Since then we released about 19 other modules over the years, with the latest one being Sharandar. By advancing the timeline, we can answer questions about what happened after King Malabog’s fall, and who would arise as a new threat.
Reaching 20 Modules, spanning 8 years, is a big achievement. What is one of the biggest changes implemented to the original concepts for Sharandar?
Randy Mosiondz: One of the biggest changes are the visuals. David Lopez, Neverwinter’s Lead Environment Artist, and the rest of the environment team worked hard to update the look of the zone to make it a magical and engaging landscape.
The team also wanted to represent the passage of time in a unique way. With our first module, Fury of the Feywild, adventurers helped the elves defeat Malabog the Fomorian King. Now, years later with our first episode of Sharandar, The Iron Tooth, we had players returning to what are now known as the Ruins of Malabog, which presented the challenge of, “How has this place grown and evolved since the first module?” That’s a concept that we’re also applying to all of our worlds going forward. How does the player’s actions and the module’s story affect these larger worlds? We think that’s a vital piece to a game truly feeling immersive. You saw it with our Redeemed Citadel content last year, where we took a small piece of the world and evolved it over time, but it’s also something you’re going to see on a larger scale as we move forward - like the evolution of Sharandar - which is something we can’t wait for players to experience!
Is there one specific aspect of Neverwinter’s Module 20 that you are particularly excited for players to explore?
Ryan Zash, Content Designer for Neverwinter: I am most excited for watching players explore the Mended Grove and the Hag’s lair. I really liked what our art team was able to do with these spaces and how they fit with the theme of the feywild in general and the module as a whole. Noah did some really cool work with some shared tech in the Hag’s lair, and I am eager to see how players react to it.
The Hag in Episode 2 sounds like a challenge. Is there a certain class you would recommend Neverwinter players have in their party when challenging her?
Ryan Zash: If you are fighting her all by yourself, then any class that is serving in its DPS role should be able to cope with most of what she will throw at you. If you are working as part of a group it would be wise to bring along someone who is good at dealing AoE damage, Mathilda likes to have ‘friends’ help her out.
What is one of your favorite weapons added in Neverwinter’s 20th Module? What inspired its creation?
Chantelle Tatum, System Designers for Neverwinter: We didn't add any weapons, however, we did add plenty of new gear! These sets of gear were important and very exciting for us because with our new combat rating changes, we had new stats to use, as well as old stats that were now relevant that needed representation. We made a bunch of new gear powers to give our players new and engaging ways to get these stats.
However, my favorite are the chase gear that will be available in Episode 3: The Odious Court. While we reused existing costume pieces, these four sets are visually based on the themes of Sharandar: the earth, the water, the darkness, and the life. As for their powers, we focused on each set catering to specific job roles in the game, giving the players the chance to choose pieces that will help them as they play the new content!
What was the most difficult thing about building New Sharandar?
Ryan Zash: Working on New Sharandar has been a bit of a unique challenge. With it being the first episodic release for Neverwinter, it had a few unforeseen issues that came with its development. Not the least of these was the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the additional unforeseen development issues for me has been the transition from finishing one episode and then moving into the next. In some cases this is a significant mental shift from the dumb brutes of Bashin’ Ordur, to corrupt, but more elegant, members of the Tormented Legion.
Which of the Hags was your favorite to create? Which one gave you the most trouble?
Ryan Zash: For me the most fun hag to work on was Granny Necksnapper, the Annis Hag in Episode 1: The Iron Tooth. I’ve always liked the theme and character design of the Annis Hag in 5th Edition DnD, and I’ve never had a good reason to use one in any of the campaigns that I’ve run before. So I got a kick out of seeing the progress on her model and working on her lines and personality.
Do you have any advice or tips to give players as they take on “Episode 2: The Soul Keeper”?
Ryan Zash: Well there is always the standard, try not to stand in red puddles of death, or green puddles of nastiness...
Displacer beasts have a tendency to pounce on people, knocking them down… try not to let that happen. A certain old fey creature has a fondness for undead, and tends to summon an entourage, it could be helpful to be ready to deal with her children. If you enjoy using daily powers and playing with Madcaps, then it wouldn’t hurt to deal with the little fellas who like to drain points from you.
What elements of “Fury of the Feywild” should new players pay attention to that could be helpful when they reach Module 20?
Ryan Zash: Many of the critters in the Feywild still have similar behaviors, so remembering how to cope with trolls, madcaps, and the like will help benefit players who participated in Module 1 as they travel around in the Feywild of Module 20.
Would you consider the return to Sharandar a way to celebrate the 20 Module milestone in Neverwinter?
Randy Mosiondz: Definitely! It’s been great to see Neverwinter evolve and grow over the years, and it’s wonderful to see both dedicated veterans and new players in our game. Having an opportunity to re-envision our classic first module brings the old and new together nicely.
Of all 20 Modules, which was the one that challenged you the most?
Randy Mosiondz: For me it would probably have to be Module 6: Elemental Evil. We were trying to do a level-cap increase, and putting together all the supporting content for it was extremely challenging. There were problems with the initial release, and we had to do a lot of subsequent changes to make the module feel better over time.
Will future Modules revisit other previous locations covered in existing Neverwinter content?
Randy Mosiondz: We typically like to keep things fresh, but we’re not ruling anything out. We don’t have any current plans, but that may change in the future.
What was your favorite part about developing the Hag Mathilda Soulstealer?
Ryan Mosiondz: My favorite part of working on Mathilda was researching the background folklore elements that have contributed to Night Hags in Dungeons & Dragons, especially seeing how those myths and legends inspired stories and paintings such as ‘The Nightmare.'
When will Episode 3 of Module 20: Sharandar potentially become available for Neverwinter players?
Randy Mosiondz: Episode 3 will launch later this year on PC and consoles!
Neverwinter is free-to-play on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.