Chris Avellone is one of my favorite game designers/writers. I have always been partial to his offerings and the characters that he dreams up. RPG’s depend very heavily on the quality of writing and it lies at the core of what makes any character memorable. Personally, I will excuse faulty mechanics if the story and characters are good enough to warrant such leniency. Neverwinter Nights 2 is a good example. True to Obsidian’s unfortunate track record, it was a buggy broken mess upon release. It did have an excellent story though and some of the characters were fantastic. That was enough for me to barrel through the campaign till the inevitable slew of patches fixed all the problems. The most memorable character for me by far was Neeshka.
Neeshka is a “Tiefling”, a human with the blood of a fiend in her veins. An interesting lineage to say the least. It comes with its own set of problems that become apparent the second you meet her in the game. When you first see her, she is being harassed by a group of soldiers due her being a tiefling. Since I was playing as a “good guy” I obviously intervened. Grateful for my assistance, she offers her up her services as a thief. If you have played any game employing Dungeons and Dragons rules, you know that thieves are indispensable. Obviously I agreed. Thereby immediately worrying my existing partner Khelgar, a dwarf warrior who warned me about a tiefling’s backstabbing ways. Hmmm, apparently much of the bad rep they have is well deserved.
I decide to let her stay, but keep a close eye on her just the same. As far as party dynamics go, she was useful as a rouge/thief, handy to get around traps and unlocking chest etc. But what I really loved her for was her interactions with other party members. She was snarky, funny and loveable and had a tendency to her in way over her head. She also had some unique quirks, such as being “allergic” to a paladin’s “holy aura”. And oh, did I mention? She was somewhat of a kleptomaniac.
Surprisingly, every time she got herself and by extension, me and the rest of the group into a sticky situation, my reaction was more on the lines of “Oh Neeshka you silly thing” and not annoyance or anger. I felt more like an elder brother trying to take care of a naughty sibling rather than the party leader who had to clean up after an idiot’s mess. That’s a subtle thing and one that’s hard to pull off. It is also one of those things that stay with you long after the game is done. Her dialogues are wonderful, and even though she is far from a “good” character, it is hard not to like her. Especially when you consider how much she tries to impress you. Life as a tiefling has never been easy, and it would have been worse for someone who is as diminutive and naturally defensive as her.
It helped that she was voiced to perfection. The vocal talents of Robyn Kramer do the little trouble maker justice and it’s easy to see that she thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity. I am surprised that Miss Kramer has not shown up in much since NVN2 because she is amazing. (Here’s a sample of her work if you are interested)
Staying on her good side was not easy if you wanted to play as a law abiding goody two shoes. Bending the law if not outright breaking it was almost always necessary. It was a hard balancing act trying to keep all your companions content and it’s one of the things that I really loved the game for. Keep her happy though and she proves her worth towards the end. Her devotion to you may allow her to break a binding ritual that would otherwise force her against you in the final battle.
So heres to you Neeshka. You snarky, kleptomaniac teifling rouge you.