Mask of the Betrayer begins almost immediately after the ending of NWN2. The expansion assumes the ending where the player defeats the KoS (and does not join him). We do not assume that the PC is good, of course - just that s/he chose to kill the KoS, instead of joining with him.
The story in Mask of the Betrayer isn't about saving the world. It's an epic story, but it's a very personal one. You awaken in a pool of your own blood, alone with none of your previous companions by your side. Your immediate goal is survival. The shard of the Sword of Gith has been ripped from your chest and in its place is a dark hunger, a craving that threatens to consume you. The early part of the game involves determining the source and implications of this craving.
The story primarily takes place in distant Rashemen, near the infamous kingdom of Thay. You'll spend much of your time near the edges of Lake Mulsantir. The game's primary hub is the city of Mulsantir. Locations such as Immil Vale, a sunken Imaskari City ruled by an Oracle of Delphi-like coven of paragon hags. (Designed by Tony Evans) and snow-covered Ashenwood are all locations that can be visited in the game. For people not familiar with the Rashemen setting, we suggest that you read MotB: A Brief History. For a general overview of the area, you might read this:
You can play the same character (if you wish) that you played in the Original NWN2 campaign, continuing his or her story. Players who have gone through the NWN2 campaign will recognize some references that occur in NX1.
Imported PCs will lose most of their gold, all unequipped items (in inventory) and any weapons (equipped or otherwise). You will not lose any levels or XP and will retain most of your equipped items.
If your imported character is level 18 or over, the adventure will start right away. If your imported character isn't at least level 18, then you'll be given the option to level him or her up to level 18 the way you want them to be leveled, including selecting new prestige classes (up to the four class limit).
Note: Imported characters come in "as is". You will not be able to alter an imported character's initial stats, skills and/or feats which have been gained from levels earned before import. If you want to alter them, reload the character in NWN2 OC, and alter the appropriate stats, skill or feats using the console. Then export and import that modified character. (It is not known at this time if you will be able to alter your character's appearance, voice set, or portrait on import.)
You can also create an entirely new character. New characters will start from level 1 and will be able to pre-level to level 18 before starting the game, with access to the full range of races, classes, prestige classes, and feats. Pre-made characters may also be available. All characters whether they are imported, scratch built at start or an existing pre-made character, are subject to a four class limit.
Tip: Safiya has all of the appropriate crafting skills you'll need so plan your character accordingly.
Mask of the Betrayer takes you into the D&D epic levels, up to level 30. All of the base classes are being expanded up to level 30, hoever the prestige classes will remain capped. You can multiclass and take prestige classes to reach the higher levels if you wish. There are over 60 epic feats to choose from, some of which provide new abilities that have been designed with guidance from Wizards of the Coast. For example, monks might acquire the blazing aura feat, which engulfs their body in flames, injuring enemies who attack them, and adding to their unarmed strike damage. Rogues have the Epic Precision feat, which allows them to do half sneak damage to creatures previously immune to sneak attacks. For more details read the What's New Section.
The Game Unfolds
At the very start of the game you'll meet Safiya, a Red Wizard of Thay, who has decided to help you, though her reasons may be dubious. Safiya is the first of an entirely new cast of Companions that you will encounter. Your escape from the barrow inflames the ancient spirits that guard it, including the local bear god. That incident will play an important role later on. Answers begin to be revealed when you reach Mulsantir, the main town in the expansion and what appears to be a hub for your many adventures. In Mulsantir you'll find yourself drawn into a web of intrigue that involves the Red Wizards of Thay, as well as a legend that involves a betrayer who tried to usurp the god of death.
One of the intriguing things you find in Mulsantir are a series of shadow portals, which offer access to the shadow plane, a dreamlike version of the real world. There's hardly any color in the shadow plane, so it's almost like you're exploring an oppressively gray world. Once in the shadow plane you will be to continue quests and find new ones, while discovering more information on your curse and how to control it. These portals are only open during the evenings at specific locations, but they may also be the only way to overcome certain obstacles. In one case, you will need to cross a lake to get to a given town, but the bridge is out and the surrounding waters are riddled with all sorts of aquatic beasts, so you face certain death if you try to swim it. If you come back during the night, there is a shadow portal waiting for you. Hop through it, and you will find that the bridge is intact and you will be able to go about your quests.
Resting and Death
While the death system is the same from the original game, there is one twist that should have some really interesting gameplay results and is directly tied to the story. Your character has a hunger to devour spirits that is insatiable and must be satisfied to restore your "Spirit Energy". If you go too long you become weak and die. However if you eat too many souls, you'll become very strong but as it wears off, you'll now need to eat even more to get back to that level. There will be a meter that shows the player their spirit energy level, which slowly drains as time passes.
Make no mistake about it, this simple mechanic is going to raise the bar on your role-playing skills for some characters. Rob McGinnis had these comments: "The interesting part about playing a Paladin is not in choosing your circumstances, but in how you deal with the difficulties you face. Being a Paladin is always about having to make morality choices and the "human" condition." "If you RP your way through the game, you will rightly run into some moral dilemmas along the way. The Spirit Eater side of things made the game more interesting and challenging for me. You actually have to think about how you approach different situations now." Jeff Husges, developer, chimed in with this: "No one is forced to be evil. However, the path of good and righteousness just got a bit rockier..."
Spoiler Warning: Details about significant plot developments are contained in the Spirit Hunger section. It is recommended that you not read the Spirit Hunger section until completing the quest “Wrath of the Bear God” at the end of the game’s first chapter.
The new Spirit Hunger system ratchets up the challenge; resting after each battle is no longer possible. The side effect is that healing potions and healing kits are actually valuable, given that you can use them to restore hit points and avoid resting. Another potential problem in NWN2 was that your computer-controlled companions would unleash every spell in their arsenal during a battle, no matter how much overkill it would bring to a situation, which forced you to rest to recharge your companions' abilities. The designers at Obsidian say that they've worked on the artificial intelligence so it will be smarter about such things in the expansion. We'll have to see how that pans out as we play further through the game.
In addition to the new companions, Obsidian has added a ton of content to the game. New monsters, new feats, epic levels, new races, new classes, new prestige classes, improved party AI, a more comprehensive influence system, and an expanded crafting system are just a few of the changes. Check out the What's New section for more details.