What Is All This Nonsense?
This guide assumes some basic knowledge of the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition rules. Some of the terminology used may seem foreign to someone who hasn't spent many late nights rolling 20-sided dice and eating slice after slice of stale pizza. So here's a very, very basic tutorial regarding some of the terms used in this guide.
Dungeons & Dragons uses dice. Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide uses simulated dice. The common notation for dice in D&D is XdY, where X is the number of dice, and Y is the type of die rolled. So, if a dagger does 1d4 cold damage, Shadows of Undrentide simulates rolling one four-sided die.
Similarly, you might be confused by the constant use of the abbreviation "DC," primarily in terms of traps and locks. DC stands for "difficulty class." When you roll the dice and attempt to disarm a trap, for instance, the DC is the number you must roll (in addition to any modifiers) to disable the trap.
You don't actually need to know the rules of D&D to enjoy the game. BioWare have been kind enough to put all that in the background. But it can't hurt to familiarize yourself with them at some basic level, especially when creating a character.
Necessary and Suggested skills
Speaking of creating a character, there are certain skills that you should probably consider more than others. While each class has some good skills to choose, there are a few that are key for everyone.
You'll do a lot of talking in Shadows of Undrentide. Talking will occasionally help you avoid fighting, and it will sometimes be the only way to solve a quest. The persuade skill helps immensely with this. It can be prohibitively expensive if it isn't one of your class skills, though, so as an alternate you can boost your charisma with potions of eagle's splendor for those times when a silver tongue is more important than a bloody blade.
Open Lock/Disable Trap
Traps and locks. They are everywhere, and they need to be dealt with. Rogues get enough skill points that they can become masters of the art of jimmying and disabling fairly quickly. But what about the poor fighter? What about the mage? If you don't want to pour all your points into rogue skills, just take one with you: Dorna Trapspringer will be the henchman you want. Mages can also just cast direct damage spells--a well-placed fireball will demolish a chest or a weak door, lock, trap, and all.
While it is nowhere near as important as the previous two, animal empathy will allow you to engage in some otherwise unavailable tasks in the first chapter of Shadows of Undrentide.
As noted above, selecting a henchman who complements your abilities is very important. In the first chapter, your only choices are Xanos and Dorna. Beginning with the interlude, you'll also be able to select Deekin the kobold bard. Dorna is a good choice for almost anyone--she has healing skills and is a good rogue. But Xanos is a good choice for tanks who want a little magic to back them up.
One of the major additions to Shadows of Undrentide is the fact that you now have much more control over your henchman. Primarily, you can choose what equipment they will use. This is incredibly handy, often allowing you to make your henchman just as powerful as yourself, rather than just a secondary support unit. Make sure you remember to constantly give potions and equipment to your henchman. Unfortunately, the henchmen aren't very smart about managing their enhancement potions, so dole them out carefully. There's no reason for them to waste perfectly good potions to fight a single kobold (and, rest assured, they will).
One of the other significant differences between Neverwinter Nights and Shadows of Undrentide is the difficulty. There are some fights that are just ridiculously hard, and you'll no doubt wonder if you missed some huge section of the game, and as a result a few levels, when you face some of the challenges in store. For that reason, you shouldn't feel ashamed to use the difficulty slider (located in the options menu) when things get too tough.
When you find yourself in over your head, though, there is one fighting technique that always works. When facing multiple strong enemies, try to lure them one by one into a hallway and then shut the door behind them. You can weed them and balance the playing field a little. And you'll feel better for not having to set the game to "easy."
The Tab Key
Tired of running the mouse over every single barrel and crate to see if you can even open it? Don't forget to use the Tab key often. It will highlight everything onscreen you can interact with, allowing you to quickly scan a room and see where the treasures might be hidden.