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Economy FAQ

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[edit] Overview

Most information on this page generally applies to all Cryptic Studios games (except in currencies other than Zen Points), which currently include Dungeons & Dragons Neverwinter (NW), Star Trek Online (STO) and Champions Online (CO). All of Cryptic's Massively Multiplayer Online games, like most others, have an in in-game economy. This little F. A. Q. is to help you understand the Cryptic economic paradigm and how it works so that you can spend (or save) your currency wisely. I will focus on Neverwinter in this post.

The three currencies most player will encounter first are:
  1. ZEN POINTS
  2. ASTRAL DIAMONDS
  3. GOLD (and Silver and Copper)
There are many other currencies in Neverwinter, including Tarmalune Bars, Seals, and Insignia, etc, However, those are beyond the scope of this F.A.Q.
Astral Diamonds is the primary currency in use and the type of currency you will want the most of. This currency is generally earned through NPC-assigned quests or missions, invoking to your deity, purchasing with Zen Points through the Zen Exchange or through other methods as you play the game, such as the Leadership profession. This is the most widely used and flexible currency in the game and used to purchase almost anything from consumables to high-end gear, among other things. Astral Diamonds (AD for short) are the most flexible of all the currencies as it can be used to purchase gear from Non-Player Characters (NPC) in-game, can be traded with other players through the Auction House (to purchase many other in-game items, including gear from other players) and even to exchange for ZEN POINTS though the Zen/AD Exchange. Hence, Astral Diamonds are the core currency of Neverwinter as far as playing the game is concerned.
ZEN POINTS is the singular currency of Perfect World Entertainment. It is a real currency purchased with real money (Legal Tender) and is used only through the Neverwinter Zen Store, sometimes called the Zen Market (Z-Store for short). All items sold through the Z-Store are virtual in-game items, usually of a better quality than what is found only in-game (such as stats, cosmetic, or other attributes). The Zen Store is also the only place you can purchase "service items" that enhance your Neverwinter player account, such as the purchase of additional character slots, a character rename token, etc. Zen Point can also be purchased with ASTRAL DIAMONDS from other players through the ZEN/AD Exchange. More information is provided below.
'GOLD (and Silver and Copper) is the in-game currency for consumables, such as healing and other potions, companions, mounts, etc. It is considered by many to be the "role-playing" currency as it is found through the game frequently and often even by accident. Accumulation of Gold is important as the player character works toward the current level cap of 60 as it will be needed to purchase survivability potions most commonly and, for some player, can be more difficult to acquire at higher levels.

[edit] If Zen is used to purchase items not available in-game, how can I buy Z-Store items without spending real money if this is "free-to-play"?

There are two ways to obtain Zen Points: purchase them with real money through Perfect World Web Site and transfer the Zen to your Neverwinter account, or you can trade Astral Diamonds for Zen Points using the in-game currency exchange, which works much like real stock exchanges. You are trading with other players and it is the player-base that will decide the actual conversion rate on a daily basis. Some people are always wanting Astral Diamonds and others are always wanting Zen Points. CAUTION: You may be invited to obtain Zen Point through other means. You are highly cautioned that these other means may or may not be officially supported by Perfect World Entertainment. Do your research to ensure and validate authenticity of any other means beyond the two methods described here.

[edit] Why does everything I do cost Astral Diamonds, such as removing gear enchantments, companion express training, using the auction house or exchange and all those other little annoying things?

These costs are called an "economic sink"; a black hole of sorts whose only purpose is to remove currency from the economy, thereby keeping it balanced through attrition. The reason for removing currency from the economy is a simple supply-and-demand rule: too much supply will lower demand, which will lower the value of the supply. Removing some of the supply (a little at a time) will help maintain the value of the supply. The rarer the supply, the higher the demand, the more valuable the supply becomes. Economic sinks are designed and intended to maintain the value of currencies at a steady and sustainable level.

[edit] What do the inventory item colors mean and why are some more expensive than others?

The primary paradigm regarding Cryptic Studios' gear economics is pretty well established across STO, CO and now Neverwinter. Non-consumable "gear" value is rated based on a four-color tier scheme. The idea is to make it easy to see, at a glance, the general value of an inventory item based on its color. These colors are:
White: Common, baseline value, general stats, baseline price from/to vendors
Green: Uncommon, good value, good stats, most common tier offered by vendors
Blue: Rare, very good value, very good stats, more costly from vendors
Purple: Very Rare, excellent value, excellent stats, most expensive from vendors
Update: Though purple quality items are referred to as "Very Rare" in Star Trek Online and Champions Online, they are now referred to as "EPIC" in Neverwinter
Update: There is a new quality level in Neverwinter called "Perfect" (Enchantments, Artifacts) or "Legendary" (everything else) which refers to some items. Perfect/Legendary is signified by the color Orange.
Now let's explain these descriptions:
Rarity and value (Gold worth when selling): This describes how often you will find these in dropped loot, chests, or other "general means" while questing. The more rare an item is, the higher the value, the more costly from/to vendors. For example: purple quality items are far more easily obtained from vendors than via dropped loot.
Stats: the more rare an item, the more valuable the stats it offers are. However, some people can be confused by this. For example, let's compare a green item to an identical blue item (stats are arbitrarily made-up for clarity) - assume they are the same, but different colors:
Green armor: = Strength 60 and Critical Chance 2
Blue armor: = Strength 45 and Critical Chance 3 and Defense 1 <-Recommended
In the above example the blue version is marked "Recommended" and it really is. Even though the blue version offers less "strength" it adds more critical chance and adds more defense. This means that with these stats, working together in synergy, make this armor more beneficial overall. It's not "recommended" because it's worth more gold, but rather because it will give your character better overall survivability.***
Another example with Companions:
White: skill level up to level 15
Green: skill level to level 20
Blue: skill level up to level 25
Purple: skill level up to 30
Can you see the value difference in colors now?
Note that when item descriptions include the word "Recommended"; the recommendation is simply a guide based on the perceived worth of the item. It's purpose is to guide players who have little understanding of the item's abilities and affect on player experience. Though many will proclaim the "Recommended" label is based solely on the "vendor resale value" (Gold Worth) of the item, this is not always the case. If unsure whether to use an item that is "Recommended" it is (literally) recommended to use it.

[edit] What the heck is the difference between "bound" and "unbound" items?

You will learn very quickly the difference between "bound" and "unbound" and how it applies to practically everything that can be placed into your inventory bag, including currencies.
Bound means the item is "bound" to your character. You are stuck with it until you use it up (consumables), sell it to an NPC vendor, or discard it (throw it away). It is impossible trade or sell it to other game players, including your alternate accounts.
Unbound means this item can be traded or sold to other game players, NPC vendors or discarded. It can be given to other players, including your alternate accounts through in-game email, or placed on the auction exchange where other players can buy it for Astral Diamonds.

Update: Cryptic has introduced a new 'level' of binding called "Account-Bound". Rather than an item being bound to your character, the new level of binding allows you to transfer that item to any other character on your account, but not to other players on other accounts. You can use the in-game mail system to mail account-bound (and unbound) items to yourself to use on an alternate character on your account. Note that you must use a mailbox to interact with it, you cannot use the Mail icon in the user interface for this purpose.

[edit] When does an item become "bound" or "unbound"?

All items you pick up while playing (loot drops, chests, etc.) are generally unbound while in your inventory. However, as soon as you equip or otherwise use the item you will be warned that this action will bind the item to your character. As long as it remains unused and never equipped, most items will remain unbound and can be traded or sold to other players, including your alternate characters. But once you use an item (such as equipping it) it becomes permanently bound to your character. NOTE: Some items are immediately bound to your character "on pick up", meaning: as soon as you receive it, whether you actually use or equip it or not.


Clarification:
Common (white border) gear never binds to your character. It can be used and later be traded.
Green, Blue, and Purple gear, operates with 2 types of binding, usually depending on where you received the item from.
BoP = Bind on Pickup: When the item enters your inventory, it is automatically bound to your character or account (please note the update regard account-bound items above).
BoE = Bind on Equip: As soon as this item is equipped (worn) it is bound to your character. Usually you will receive a warning message.

[edit] Can anything ever be "unbound" from my character?

Yes. Some items, such as Zen-Store Companions and Astral Diamonds, can be "unbound" once bound to your character. It will cost you some Astral Diamonds to unbind such things. But once unbound they can be traded or sold to other players, including your alternate characters. An example would be training and leveling a companion to its maximum stats, then unbinding it and selling it in the auction house for Astral Diamonds.

UPDATE: Zen Store Companions are no longer able to be unbound per Cryptic Studios policy change as of August 15, 2013. Astral Diamonds can still be transferred between players as described.

[edit] Wait - did you say Astral Diamonds are bound?

Yes. Sort of. Using the term "bound" and "unbound" regarding Astral Diamonds is a bit trickier to explain, so these terms are used for clarity purposes. Astral Diamonds cannot be easily given away or transferred to another player, including your alternate characters and can only be spent with NPC vendors, unless you use the public currency exchanges (such as the Zen/Astral Diamond Exchange or Auction House).
To say Astral Diamonds are "bound" is meaning to say that you cannot easily transfer Astral Diamonds to your alternate characters. Obviously you can sell them for Zen Points to other players in the exchange.
To transfer ("unbind") Astral Diamonds to your alternate characters you must list them for sale in the Zen Exchange (follow the steps below). You can obviously sell them for Zen, but if your intent is to transfer them to one of your alternate characters, you will 'deposit' these Astral Diamonds into an account-wide "bank" (meaning your Perfect World account). Any Neverwinter character on your account can withdraw Astral Diamonds from this account-wide balance.
Note that at present there is no surcharge for listing, completing. or canceling transactions on the Neverwinter Zen Exchange. This is however an aspect present in other games so you should stay observant in case it is implemented in the future.
How to transfer Astral Diamonds into your "account-wide Astral Diamond balance"
  • Open the Zen/Astral Diamond Exchange
  • Make an offer to purchase ZEN. In the Astral Diamond exchange rate, enter 50 (50 Astral Diamonds for one Zen Point).
  • Add the amount of Zen you want to buy. Note that the number of Astral Diamonds to sell will update automatically. If this number turns red, you do not have enough Astral Diamonds or exceeded the 5,000 Zen limit - see the special note below.
  • Adjust the amount of Zen to gain the total of Astral Diamonds you want to sell.
  • Post the sell offer.
  • Change to another Character, open the Zen/Astral Diamond Exchange, view your listing page (third tab, at the right)
  • Cancel the sell offer. All Astral Diamonds that were offered will be placed into your account-wide Astral Diamond "bank" and can then be withdrawn from any character on your account (from the "Buy Zen" tab).
Special note: When posting a sell offer in the Zen/Astral Diamond exchange, all Astral Diamonds to be sold will first be withdrawn from your Astral Diamond account-wide balance. If you want to place any inventory Astral Diamonds into your account-wide balance (as described immediately above) - you must first withdraw the entire balance of your account-wide bank so all Astral Diamonds are now in your inventory. Now follow the steps immediately above to place all or some of these inventory Astral Diamonds into your account balance.

[edit] What's the difference between Zen Store "Character" Items and "Account" Items?

The primary difference has to do with what is and is not bound to your character.
Character Items are always delivered to you unbound.
Account items are always permanently bound and can never be unbound.
Z-Store Character Items:
If you purchase a Z-Store "Character Item" the item is unbound until you equip or use it. This means you get one, and only one. If you want another you'll have to buy another one and pay for it again, no matter which character you're playing at the time. These items, once delivered into your inventory, can be traded or sold to other players until you equip or use it, at which time you're stuck with it. Some items, such as Companions, can be unbound for a surcharge and traded or sold, including to your alternate characters.
Z-Store Account Items:
If you purchase a Z-Store "Account" item, that item is permanently bound to your character. However, the benefit of Account items is how that item is "buy once, use forever".
When purchasing an account item, such as a Mount, that item is immediately bound to your character on delivery. You can claim only one copy of it on a character and not claim another as long as that item is in your inventory. However, if you should ever discard it or (providence forbid) a glitch causes it to go missing from your inventory, you can go back to the Z-Store and claim it again for free.
This is what Cryptic means when they describe "one for every character" - meaning only one at a time for each character, but can be freely claimed and reclaimed by every character on your account, including future characters you haven't even created yet. Forever.
Account items are free for all your alternate characters and can be claimed at any time. If you decide to create a new character, even six months after purchase, you can visit the Z-Store and all "account items" you have previously purchased will not show a price. Rather the "price" button will be renamed to "Claim" - where all you need do is click and it will be instantly delivered and ready for use, except it's now free for you.

[edit] What happens to my Z-Store "Account" items when or if they are discontinued?

This answer is based on how Z-Store functions in STO (Star Trek Online) and CO (Champions Online) where "Account Item" purchases have been discontinued in the Z-Store for new purchases and only makes perfect sense the same practice will be extended to Neverwinter.
When/if this should happen, claiming or reclaiming your Z-Store "Account Item" purchases is easy: you will look for a tab called "Legacy Items" or "Legacy Bundles". The items you see in this Z-Store tab are all your previous "Account Item" purchases that are not visible or currently purchasable in the main Z-Store by other players.
In short: you need have no fear of ever losing a Z-Store purchase of an "Account Item". Forever really means forever.

[edit] Summary

  • Currencies are used to add variety to the in-game economy, where easily obtained currency, such as gold, is mostly usable for consumables and lower-tiered gear and equipment. Astral Diamonds is the primary universal currency that is required for high-end, more valuable items and obtainable in a multitude of different ways throughout your game play. Zen Points are used to acquire cosmetic and useful (player-convenience) items not obtainable in-game.
  • Inventory item values are tiered by color designations to help you quickly realize the general value and usefulness of items, based on their color with white being the general item, green being better, blue being the very good and purple being the best you can get.
  • All inventory items (except Z-Store "Account" items) are generally always unbound and can be traded or sold to other players until you use or equip them, though some higher-value items can be unbound from your character for an Astral Diamond surcharge.

With this, hopefully you have a little better understanding between the different currencies, the difference between "bound" and "unbound" inventory items, and the difference between Z-Store "Character" items versus "Account" items and how they tie-into the way you can use them.