Kat Kruger

Trailers for the Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves movie have featured one location prominently from the start: Neverwinter. Located within the Forgotten Realms, which was originally created by fantasy author Ed Greenwood, it is one of the biggest cities on the Sword Coast and is featured in many books, video games, and campaign settings. From the initial trailer, Castle Never is featured in the establishing shot with an arena next to it. The tall spires of Castle Never are the first things that come into view. Visitors traveling by sea enter via the harbor and take Neverwinter River into port. The city receives its name from the fact that the volcanic Mount Hotenow sits at its heart, and the underground heat source not only prevents the Neverwinter River and harbor from freezing up in winter, but also keeps the gardens green year-round.

In relation to the previews, many scenes have been revealed to take place in this location. Current speculation is that Forge Fitzwilliam, former adventuring party rogue, took off with loot from a heist after the others were captured and used the funds to become the new Lord of Neverwinter. In his (likely ill-gotten) role, it appears as though Forge has painted the elves of Neverwinter Wood as enemies which catches the ire of Doric the Druid (played by Sophia Lillis). That’s when she infamously meets up with the party in an epic owlbear fight and joins their quest to get back what’s owed to them by Lord Neverwinter.

Next to the castle is Neverwinter arena, where the Highsun Games are taking place — likely held in the month of Highsun and referring to the arena battle seen in the trailers where the characters face off against a displacer beast and gelatinous cube. It seems Forge, in his new role has revived the Highsun Games which was outlawed by one of his predecessors. In one of the trailers, close inspection shows a balloon raised over the arena with his face on it. Outside the arena, blue banners hang with Neverwinter's symbol: three snowflakes. There are also two statues from the city’s history, one depicting Lord Nasher Alagondar who was the fearless former adventurer and ruler of Neverwinter. The design of this statue is clearly inspired from the Neverwinter Nights series of games, developed by BioWare and Obsidian Entertainment, right down to the eye of Neverwinter symbol on his belt. Incidentally, Neverwinter's broadsheet was named Neverwinter Night. One interesting bit of speculation is about Xenk the paladin’s forehead tattoo. Does it bear similarities to the one that Dralas has or is it the bottom part of an Eye of Neverwinter tattoo? Either way, there’s clearly more to Xenk than his humorless façade.

From clips shown of the movie, it’s possible that the arena has taken inspiration from Neverneath which is featured in older editions of D&D. Known as the “Endless Maze,” this area exists beneath Castle Never and includes the catacombs as well as the dungeons. After some magical happenings, Neverneath also developed a malevolent sentience along with the ability to alter the passages at will to confuse and trap intruders. There are certainly some similarities in the trailer where pillars crash down to form a maze and characters search around for treasure. Doric finds a sword and, less fortunately, Holga the Barbarian (played by Michelle Rodriguez) is surprised by a mimic!

Another scene that takes place in Neverwinter occurs in the square just outside the arena where the statue of a dragon comes to life. Known as Palarandusk, this gold dragon is taken from a previous edition of D&D and revived not just in the movie but also as a Nerf gun available from Hasbro. The circumstances that surround the statue coming to life, suggests it’s likely under the effects of an animate object spell or something similar — although it could also be a gargoyle. 

Finally, Neverwinter Woods is home to Doric. The tiefling was born to human parents but abandoned at some point. She wandered for years before being taken in by a community of Neverwinter Woods elves. Now she is a member of the Emerald Enclave faction, an order of fighters tasked with preserving the natural world. It is her duty to work to maintain balance between the wilderness and settlements, which likely means the new Lord of Neverwinter is overlogging and Doric just wants to have a little chat about his reforestation plans.

Due to the location, size, and importance of the city, Neverwinter is a hotseat of political intrigue.

It is a part of the league of city-states known as the Lords’ Alliance, a partnership of merchant cities that also includes Waterdeep, Silverymoon, and Baldur's Gate. Many sinister factions have schemed to take control of Neverwinter which may explain Forge Fitzwilliam’s newfound role. Serving his own interests, the new Lord of Neverwinter has cut the city's traditional alliances and works with Red Wizard Sofina (played by Daisy Head) who also betrayed the adventuring party to steal the magic horn seen in the trailers.

Not long ago, Mount Hotenow — the very volcano that heats the river flowing through the city —erupted and destroyed a good deal of Neverwinter. It left a massive chasm that split the city, killing thousands in its wake. As the city lay in ruins many external forces attempted to gain control of Neverwinter. Though peace was eventually restored, and the city rebuilt, many areas still lie in ruin and its place along the High Road is enviable as a trade route.

In terms of set locations, the exterior scenes around Neverwinter were filmed in a back lot in Belfast, Northern Ireland, some of which was from the Game of Thrones King's Landing back lot which had to be rebuilt due to a dragon-related incident in that TV series. Overall, there’s much to take in about Neverwinter as a location in the movie. It’s storied history in D&D lore makes it an exciting centerpiece for everything to unfold, near other points of interest as well.

As a DM who wants to include Neverwinter at your table, there are a few resources available. Storm King's Thunder includes Neverwinter in the adventure and a map of the city is available in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. Also known as the City of Skilled Hands and the Jewel of the North, adventuring parties have many reasons to visit and all sorts of experiences can be had by characters. Whether it is getting mixed up in politics, helping to rebuild parts of the city, or simply taking in what the city has to offer, there’s something for every type of adventurer in Neverwinter.