Neverwinter’s History of the Dungeon Loot System

Neverwinter’s dungeon loot system in my opinion is one of the more interesting topics to talk about. As the game progressed, dungeon loot has been changed quite frequently, and sometimes drastically. From the type and amount of items to their bind state, every key area has at least been tweaked once. Today loot from dungeons even serves a completely different purpose than a few years ago. Since Swords of Chult’s random queues present the latest big change to Neverwinter’s dungeon loot system, I think it’s time to look back where we came from and how the system evolved.

The 60s Era: Dungeon Delve Event

Neverwinter End ChestIf you join the game right now, you will grow up with a system based around dungeon keys. At the open beta of the game however, there were no chest keys. Instead the chest at the end of dungeons was unlocked during a special “Dungeon Delve (DD)” event. It was probably the most important part of the game’s hourly schedule that rotates various events throughout the day. Completing a dungeon inside the delve hour would unlock the chest.

From BoE to BoP

The delve chest system already received significant changes with the live release. It had several flaws that the devs addressed with Fury of the Feywild. First of all, chest rewards (T1 and T2 sets) were unbound and could be sold on the Auction House, leading to a quick devaluation of the items. Second, players had to rely on RNG to deliver the set they wanted. So the devs let players pick the set item from chests, but made the rewards bind to characters. The change was met with mixed reviews. Many that farmed the DD hour felt it was too much of a nerf to AD income and that the also newly introduced Salvage System wouldn’t be able to come up for it.

Although the devs sold the update as “QoL” change, it was pretty obvious they were trying to make all dungeon income fall under the rough Astral Diamonds daily cap, which by the way was only 24,000 back then.

A Dual System

Two modules later, the devs switched to a dual system. Since players complained that too much of their day was dictated by the delves event, which ran every four hours, Dungeon Delve Keys were introduced with Curse of Icewind Dale. These were able to open a chest outside the event hours. Just like today toons got one for free and had to buy additional ones for ADs. It was generally a welcomed change although many lobbied for more than one free key per day.

The 70s Era: Dungeon Delve Keys

The full change to the key system we have today was made with Elemental Evil and its level cap raise. Campaigns got their key tasks, the ZEN market the Legendary Dragon Key, and one module later more free keys was one of the major selling points of the VIP program as well.

Delve chests started to mainly hand out salvage and seals that you could buy gear and enchantment shards for. Also the contents were made bind to account so you could distribute them between alts. Over the course of the next modules the key system remained stable. New ones were added for the Underdark and Storm Kings Thunder content and everyone started to get used to how things work. Stuff however got pretty annoying with Svardborg and its three different chest keys. Also, in a multi-step process, the devs slowly made dungeons an even larger part of the Astral Diamond economy. This completely made dungeons farm and repetitive content that players had to run a lot to amass ADs and gear.


And then, “Keygate” happened. Sigh. In case you haven’t been around, here’s what happened. For the entire time of the dungeon key era, players were able to peek into chests. Based on the loot you could decide whether to spend your key or not. Since most items in chests were no longer relevant, the system developed into a feature that players used to be able to farm for the limited items that still held value. In October 2016 the devs labeled this a bug and announced a fix. This resulted in such a major backlash and rage that the devs reverted the decision and completely revamped the dungeon loot system with more (varied) rewards instead.

Although the change was still widely disregarded, at least some incentives were added to dungeons now that you had no choice to spend a key and accept whatever loot was in chests. This system is still in place. Unique “chase” items for example were added to group content in the Cloaked Ascendancy and Tomb of Annihilation.

Random Queues

Which finally brings us to random queues, which once again make major changes to how Astral Diamonds in dungeons are earned. It’s probably safe to assume that it won’t be the last tweak, because as the game progresses, so does the dungeon loot system. It has been an interesting road so far, albeit sometimes bumpy and annoying. But one thing never changed: We’re still after those chests at the end of dungeons!

Have you been around so long enough to have witnessed all changes? What was the worst and best one? Share your opinion in the comments below and visit the corresponding thread on our message board!

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j0Shi plays the Neverwinter MMORPG since the open BETA in 2013 and is a regular contributor to the blog and the whole UN:Project. Originally a Guardian Fighter, he has built up ALTs of all classes and plays on BIS/near-BIS level.

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