Neverwinter is a major city in the Forgotten Realms setting of Dungeons & Dragons, and is one of the most famous cities in that world, alongside Baldur's Gate and Waterdeep. It is the most iconic city in the Realms to a certain generation of D&D fans, since Neverwinter was the setting of the first ever Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition videogame; Neverwinter Nights and before that the now obscure 1991 AOL game of the same name it was named after. Such is its popularity that the last official setting-based splatbook of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition was a return to Neverwinter as it stood post-Spellplague.
Place in the World
Neverwinter lies in that cold northern region of the Forgotten Realms, known simply as "The Frozen North". If you want to get technical, it sits on the northwestern coast of the subcontinent of Faerûn, further south than the infamous Ten-Towns region of Icewind Dale and Drizzt fame.
The name of the city has its origin in that even though the town is situated in the cold north of Faerûn, the Neverwinter river that flows through it is heated by fire elementals living under the nearby Mount Hotenow in the Neverwinter Wood. The heat given off from the river creates a permanent warm climate in the immediate area; without the elementals, the river, and subsequently the city's water supply, would freeze over. An alternate loric explanation for the name is given in Neverwinter Nights 2: When the city's founder (Halueth Never) was hunted to the coast by orcs, he chose the city's site to make his last stand. Expecting to die in the imminent battle, he named the site "Never's Winter". When the orcs were defeated with help from some human allies, Never founded the city, keeping the name. Over the years the name was shortened to "Neverwinter".
In 3rd Edition
Neverwinter has a population of about 23,200 at last count and is also known as the City of Skilled Hands and Jewel of the North. It also serves as the origin of the phrase "by the clocks of Neverwinter", used when one is solemnly swearing, a reference to the precision of its timepieces. The erudite travel writer Volo (among others) credits Neverwinter as the most cosmopolitan and the most civilized city in all of Faerûn. He regards this as quite a reputation, considering the breadth and variety of the continent.
The city is ruled by Lord Nasher Alagondar, an aging, veteran adventurer and devout worshipper of Tyr. Neverwinter is prosperous, its master-craftsmen making lamps of multi-coloured glass, precision water clocks and exquisite jewelry. Its Tyrran faith promotes justice and fairness, and greed is frowned upon.
In addition to its unnaturally warm climate, Neverwinter is a rather picturesque city. It founds such sights as its three spectacular, intricately carved bridges: the Dolphin, the Winged Wyvern and the Sleeping Dragon. Under these, the waters of the Neverwinter River cascade over small, gentle waterfalls as they course into the city's bustling harbour. Neverwinter's magnificent gardens (the phrase "the City of Skilled Hands" refers to Neverwinter's accomplished gardeners) ensure the warm winters are colourful and the summers are rich with fresh fruit. The city is replete with beautiful and ingeniously designed buildings, many of which are famous in their own right, such as The House of Knowledge, and Neverwinter's tall and many-windowed temple of Oghma.:133–134 In addition, the reputations of such unique taverns as The Moonstone Mask and The Fallen Tower reach far beyond the Neverwinter's walls. These elements generally make Neverwinter a distinctive city. It is also famous for its important slave market.
The city is a member in good standing of the Lord's Alliance and Lord Nasher has ensured that the city is well defended, both physically and magically, against attacks or infiltration from Luskan, Neverwinter's warlike rival. Maps of the city, which has a maze of meandering streets, are not distributed, as part of an effort to thwart Luskan spies. Some merchants in the city do however sell such maps, often over a black market.
In 4th Edition
The city has become a ruin after the Spellplague caused Mount Hotenow to erupt. But the stubborn survivors have continued to try and rebuild, turning the city into a hotbed of factions and political strife.
In 5th Edition
Neverwinter has been rebuilt and reclaimed, once more regaining its title as Jewel of the North. Those few people who read the 4e Neverwinter Campaign Guide are pissed that they took away everything that was cool and fun about the city in 4e.