Neverwinter: Second Beta Weekend Preview Part 2

And now it’s time for Part 2 of my Neverwinter Second Beta Weekend rambling!

This time I want to ponder the economy. There are several different kinds of currency in Neverwinter, and I am very curious to see how they all will interact and affect the game economy. It is much much too early to comment on an actual economy, as it was just a beta weekend, I mainly interacted with people I already knew or small quick temp groups form the dungeon queue, and the level cap was only 40. Every game economy I’ve ever seen has been balanced around end game player earning, and betas – let alone short ones like these weekends – always have odd economies as everyone knows things aren’t permanent. But I can still speculate. I am particularly interested in the Astral Diamond and zen exchanges and how they’ll play out.

Hit the jump to read more of my economical musings.

I know that people have been using STO as a means by which to speculate and compare, as Astral Diamonds can be compared to Dilithium, however I suspect the economy in Neverwinter will wind up different because unlike STO, the Neverwinter Foundry is not locked behind a dilithium purchase – so anyone can, with very little effort, build adventures and potentially reap AD tips from other players – and the Neverwinter Auction House uses Astral Diamonds as currency rather than gold whereas the STO auction house uses credits instead of dilithium. I suspect this second factor is going to have a huge impact in the game, but I also can’t really go too deeply in that direction because I’ve not played enough STO to get out of newbieland.

There are essentially 4, or 5 if you include zen, different currencies that I encountered in Neverwinter.

  • Gold, silver and copper – the standard coinage found in a fantasy MMO. It is obtained in the standard ways, via mob drops, in chests and as quest rewards. This is used to purchase mounts, companions, consumable items like potions, and some gear.
  • Seals – these are found in dungeons, generally dropped by bosses, and operate pretty much like any dungeon token system in any game I’ve played. I was averaging 3 per dungeon run. They are used primarily to purchase gear. I didn’t think to take down the cost of each item, but I recall it being anywhere from 7 seals for the lower level accessories like belts, up to 20 or 30 for higher end, higher leveled stuff. I remember not wanting anything offered for the seals I was getting, which seems to me to be a problem – but I will admit that I wasn’t looking too deeply so I might have missed a merchant hidden in a corner somewhere offering more valuable things.
  • Celestial and Ardent Coins – these, from what I could tell, are obtained solely via invocation. Once an hour you are able to go to the campfire and invoke the gods, which is simply a button press and gains from a random “loot” table. What I saw during my playtime were varying degrees of buffs, XP, astral diamonds, potions, celestial and ardent coins. You gain one celestial coin a day, the first time you invoke. If you fail to invoke on any given day, you lose your entire collection. I don’t recall the system for ardent coins, whether it was random or not, but I did have more of them than the celestials, so whatever method is used, there’s more of it. They are both used for various items, mostly potions and buffs. Although there are really cool things that can be purchased for celestial coins – like a unicorn mount that costs 50 celestial coins. 50 consecutive days of logging in to invoke, and that unicorn can be yours! :)
  • Astral Diamonds – this is the main currency in Neverwinter. It can be obtained through events, once an hour there’s a chance to get some from invoking the gods, people can leave you astral diamond tips via Foundry adventures you’ve created, vendors sell just about everything for AD, and it is also the currency used in the Auction House. I’ll note that there are two different types of it; most of the diamonds you gain will be rough diamonds, which must be refined. There is only a certain amount of diamonds you can refine daily, so there is a cap in place to limit the amount of AD available in the market.
  • The final currency is zen, which is the cash shop coin. It is bought with real money, and used in the cash shop. Items in there that I saw were mostly fashion, bags, mounts and pets/companions. I know Cryptic has said a million times that they have no plans to gate content such as classes, races, quests or zones in the cash shop, and they won’t be selling power. Check out my interview with Jack Emmert to get it straight from the Dungeon Master’s mouth. You can purchase zen directly from Perfect World Entertainment, or you can purchase it from other players with Astral Diamonds. This sets up a nice exchange between players with more time than money and players with more money than time which just fascinates me to no end.


Gold, silver and copper meant absolutely nothing to me this weekend. There was nothing I cared about that I needed gold to obtain. Sure, getting my first mount at 20 required 2 gold, but I had earned that much without any effort at all on the way up to 20 so I was able to immediately purchase my horse. And then – what else is there to want? Ok, it would have been nice to have a second companion, but I got a few from quests, so I had no real desire to run out and farm for gold to buy any before I’d earned the gold naturally. There was gear for sale, but there were plenty of other ways to obtain gear so nothing jumped out at me as a must have. Which leaves me wondering – what is the point of this currency? Is it there just because we expect to have gold, silver and copper coins in a D&D game? Did I miss a merchant somewhere who had awesome loots I could buy with gold?

I’d pondered the possibility of players hawking their wares for gold on the streets rather than selling them in the Auction House for diamonds, but why would I bother to do so when there’s nothing I want enough to take the time to do that? Perhaps once the game is live and I’m at the higher levels I’ll find something I’ve missed in this short window, but at the moment, I left the weekend having never felt a desire for more gold than I had at any given moment. Everything I found desirable was a one time, up front cost. And I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Hopefully someone will pop up to point out something I’ve missed, or there will be more cash sinks for gold come live.

My general response to Seals is the same as it is to gold. The dungeon drops I got were better than the Seal bought gear. So they just stacked up in my inventory. I’m hoping that I missed something being sold, or more stuff will be offered come live.

But all the rest of the currency … that’s where the real greed sets in. Oh boy do I want that unicorn. And the celestial and ardent buffs were pretty sweet so even after I’ve bought that unicorn there’s still stuff that makes me want more of them. But I have no idea if you could sell the items obtained with celestial and ardent coins because due to a bug that caused my collections of each to reset whenever I zoned, I never obtained enough to use them. This might be a closed system, and that might actually be the best option. If it is a passive just click once and then forget it system, wouldn’t it be a haven for gold sellers? I can see someone setting up an army of alts just to log them all in once a day for the celestial coins if the rewards from them are tradeable.

And finally … Astral Diamonds and Zen. I’m pretty sure this is where the bulk of the economy in Neverwinter will be found. I already know that I will never have enough astral diamonds to fill my wants, no matter how long I end up playing this game. There are so many things to buy, and that’s without factoring in exchanging them for Zen for cash shop purchases! Even if the general playerbase ignores the diamond run auction house and sets up an informal system using gold, I’ll want them to buy mounts, to tip people who’ve created amazing Foundry missions, for gear, consumables (in the current beta build, ID scrolls cost astral diamonds), and to exchange for anything I want beyond my budget that costs Zen. And I’m an alto-oholic so I am going to want a bazillion character slots just to get going.

I commented above that the astral diamonds to zen exchange sets up a trading system between players with more time than money and players with more money than time, which essentially amounts to selling time. I think it’s a very clever system – by turning time into a currency, Cryptic/PWE winds up earning even from players who don’t ever make cash purchases, as those players provide a commodity that the players who have cash to burn want enough to burn said cash. And everyone wins.

This is a rather new topic for me to consider, so I’d love to see differing opinions. Does anyone think crafting and pvp will affect this mix once they go live? Have I missed something valuable being offered for gold or seals? Is there something I’m not taking into account or do you think I have it spot on?

Second Beta Preview Part 1


About Pherephassa 213 Articles
Pherephassa has been creeping around the etherspace long enough to have remorted so often that not even she can recall her original form. She loves sandboxes, challenges, chain mail bikinis and dungeons so large they take weeks, months or even years to fully explore. Currently seeking an MMO home, she can often be found on the side of the road, begging game designers for death penalties and slow leveling curves.


  1. Hi P,

    Sent you an e-mail but not sure you got it. FYI, I gave up on Secret World. I was starting to get frustrated with it. I mean, I finally got around to adding a second weapon, and it seemed like one step forward and two steps back. I dunno, but for all the game’s lofty ambitions, it really is just another grindy WoW clone, and I am so sick and tired of the ‘holy trinity’ in mmo’s. Anyway, I’m about to try Guild Wars 2. From what I’ve been reading it breaks the WoW mold in a number of ways. See you at the final NW beta, unless of course I’m too occupied with GW. ;)

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