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There are 5 main difficulty settings (4 available in singleplayer), although modules may add their own twists. See Game Options for how these are configured.

These only affect singleplayer difficulty, or if hosting a game yourself. Servers set the difficulty when you join them. Of course the server needs to set a relevant value in it's settings.tml file.

The default difficulty is Easy. It is recommended for more experienced players to play on D&D Hardcore Rules which allows critical hits and attacks of opportunity.

Just PCs?

What are PCs? In regards to the game engine it is likely any henchmen of the PCs are affected as if they were PCs, while anything else is an NPC. Certainly that is how the scripted changes to effects in nw_i0_spells.nss work.

Very Easy

Note "Very Easy" is listed in the dialog.tlk file but not in game, and is GAME_DIFFICUTLY_VERY_EASY but only available as a server difficulty or changable in DM mode. It likely provides a quick way to have a deathless "story mode" time in the module. Note the spelling mistakes and "not quite right" sentences in the below table are directly from the dialog.tlk file.

Difficulty Settings

Difficulty LevelPvPCritical HitsAttacks of OpportunityPC damageNPC DamageDeathSleepDomination and CharmHold, Paralyze and StunConfusionFear
Very Easy

Single Player: No PvP (Fireballs and other area effect spells will not harm party members)

Multi Player: As per server setting

No critical hits on PCs

No attacks of opportunity on players using ranged weapons

No attacks of opportunity on players using potions

PC does a minimum of 100% of damageNPC does a maximum 25% of damagePlayers cannot dieSleep effectss on players last for a short durationDomination and Charm effects will daze a playerHold, Paralyze and Stun effects will daze a playerConfusion effects will daze a playerFears effects will cause a -2 penalty to hit
Easy

Single Player: No PvP (Fireballs and other area effect spells will not harm party members)

Multi Player: As per server setting

No critical hits on PCs

No attacks of opportunity on players using ranged weapons

No attacks of opportunity on players using potions

PC does a minimum of 50% of damageNPC does a maximum 50% of damagePlayers can dieSleep effects on players last for a short durationDomination and Charm effects on players cause dazeHold, Paralyze and Stun effects will daze a playerConfusion effects on players function normallyFears effects will cause a -4 penalty to hit
Normal

Single Player: No PvP (Fireballs and other area effect spells will not harm party members)

Multi Player: As per server setting

No critical hits on PCs

No attacks of opportunity on players using ranged weapons

No attacks of opportunity on players using potions

PC damages normallyNPC damages normallyPlayers can dieSleep effects on players last for a short durationDomination and Charm effects on players cause dazeHold, Paralyze and Stun effects on players last for a short durationConfusion effects on players function normallyFears effects on players function normally
D&D Hardcore Rules

Single Player: Full PvP (Fireballs and other area effect spells will hurt party members)

Multi Player: As per server setting

Critical hits on PCs

Attacks of opportunity on players using ranged weapons

Attacks of opportunity on players using potions

PC damages normallyNPC damages normallyPlayers can dieSleep effects on players function normallyDomination and Charm effects on players cause dazeHold, Paralyze and Stun effects on players function normallyConfusion effects on players function normallyFears effects on players function normally
Very Difficult

Single Player: Full PvP (Fireballs and other area effect spells will hurt party members)

Multi Player: As per server setting

Critical hits on PCs

Attacks of opportunity on players using ranged weapons

Attacks of opportunity on players using potions

PC damages normallyNPC's do 200% damagePlayers can dieSleep effects on players function normallyDomination and Charm effects on players cause dazeHold, Paralyze and Stun effects on players function normallyConfusion effects on players function normallyFears effects on players function normally

Scripted Versus Engine Changes

Note some of the above effects are not due to engine changes but are from script changes.

Engine Changes

  • PvP - Overrides the PvP settings in the module if on Easy and Normal. Hardcore and Very Difficult respect the modules area PvP settings.
  • Critical Hits - Hardcoded for all engine functions returning a critical (eg; TouchAttackRanged) and the engine combat system
  • Attacks of Opportunity - Alters Attacks of Opportunity firing
  • PC Damage - Changes how the EffectDamage function and basic combat damage applies
  • NPC  Damage - Changes how the EffectDamage function and basic combat damage applies
  • Death - Changes if the player can die, ie go below 1 HP. PCs set to not die are effectively immortal as per the SetImmortal

Scripted Changes

  • Sleep - see nw_i0_spells.nss
  • Domination and Charm - See nw_i0_spells.nss GetScaledEffect
    • Note that Domination and Charm act oddly if applied to a PC or henchmen - usually by not applying at all - which is why they are scripted to be different. Obviously there are no "On Hit: Dominate" effects on weapons so it's only scripts (spells) that apply this.
  • Hold, Paralyze and Stun - See nw_i0_spells.nss GetScaledEffect for the effects being swapped out and GetScaledDuration for the duration changes. Very Easy/Easy is 25% duration, Normal is 50% duration. This is not consistently used however.
  • Confusion - No changes made, but would be a scripted change
  • Fear - See nw_i0_spells.nss GetScaledEffect although it is bugged since EffectAttackDecrease should use a positive number.

Other Scripted Changes Not In Table

These instances in scripts of difficulty settings being checked outside of the above table notes:

  • Default module load - UMD for scrolls - x3_mod_def_load.nss - on Hardcore or Very Difficult and additional UMD check is enforced on scrolls. Game has to be set to these difficulties when the module is first loaded, not after, to be in effect.
  • Petrification - x0_i0_spells.nss - Used for various spells / abilities that do EffectPetrify. Normal and below does 6 seconds per "nPower" integer (usually hit dice or caster level). Hardcore and higher petrifies them permanently and pops up the death panel.
  • Beholder petrify - x2_s1_beholdray.nss - Similar to the normal petrification function. Normal and below 6 seconds duration per hit dice. Hardcore and higher petrifies them permanently and pops up the death panel.
  • Hag Evil Eye - nw_s2_evileye.nss - Does a scaling duration of 25% very easy, 50% easy, 100% normal, 150% hardcore and 200% very difficult. 100% is challenge rating * 3 * 6.0 seconds (Eg CR 5 = 15 rounds duration)
  • Ochre Jelly splits - nw_i0_ochrejelly.nss - Normal and above will spawn the smallest jellies on death of a medium jelly, while Easy and Very Easy will just spawn the medium jellies when the largest is killed, and no further jellies.
  • Curing spells maximised - nw_i0_spells.nss - If on Very Easy, Easy, Normal it will take the maximised roll for curing if the target is a PC. If the spell is already maximised, it adds a bonus amount of healing. See spellsCure function. (Note if the PC is undead, it would increase the damage done to them too - example: being polymorphed)
  • Infestation of Maggots - x2_s0_infestmag.nss - Will apply death (magical damage equal to current hitpoints) if constitution is at 3 when constitution ability damage would be applied, on hardcore or higher.
  • Shadow Hit - x2_s1_shadow.nss - Does strength damage. If the damage that would be inflicted would take them to 0 or lower, it kills them with damage on hardcore or higher.
  • Mindflayer Suck Brain - x2_s1_suckbrain.nss - You get a save against the effect on Normal or lower, but no save on Hardcore or higher.
  • Demilich Paralyzing Touch - x2_s3_demitouch.nss - Duration is 2 rounds by default, 1 round if very easy, 3 rounds if hardcore and 5 rounds if very difficult.
  • Dracolich Paralyzing Touch - x2_s3_dractouch.nss - Duration is 2 rounds by default, 1 round if very easy, 4 rounds if hardcore and 5 rounds if very difficult.
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