The adventure pack is designed for a character starting at level 8. If you enter MoW with a low-level character, you'll be raised up to level 8 automatically.
If you start MoW with a fresh character, you'll be given equipment appropriate to your class and level (nothing too fancy), and a small amount of gold. On the other hand, if you start MoW with a fully-equipped character, you won't be given much. I suggest starting with a fresh character and allowing the game to do the rest. The scripts also peek at your feats to customize the equipment - i.e. if you have a greatsword weapon proficiency you likely won't get a mace as a starting weapon. There was "an attempt to cover MotB classes and feats, but that was very tricky since MotB was released after MoW was finished.
According to the folks from Ossian, ending character level will be somewhere between level 12 (if you skip all of the sidequests) and level 15 if you complete everything.
The story revolves around a cursed mask that you have come across in your travels, which now afflicts you with terrible nightmares that started from the moment you first tried it on. Getting rid of the mask is futile, however, as it always magically returns. The nightmares are increasing and threaten to drive you insane, so discovering the secret to this mysterious mask is the only solution. A wise sage informs you that it is the emblem of the Night Masks, the thieves’ guild from the vile city of Westgate, so you immediately set out for the port city by ship.
Purely in gameplay terms, the curse isn't such a bad thing - in fact, you actually gain new abilities from it (at a certain cost). It's really up to each player to decide how much he or she wants to use these abilities.
Westgate is the oldest, richest and most corrupt port in the Sea of Fallen Stars. It is the largest of the Dragon Coast cities and a rival of both Cormyr and Sembia all by itself. It gets the nickname, Gateway to the West, from its role as the Inner Sea's most prolific port city. The city is known for its rich merchant families, a powerful thieves guild (The Night Masks), and a eclectic mix of inhabitants. Westgate's reputation can be summed up by the phrase 'everything and everyone has a price'.
Westgate has been ruled by a strange assortment of creatures including a lich, a vampire, a lamia, an androsphinx, a doppleganger, a tiefling lord known as the Fiend King and a Topaz Dragon named Kisonraathiisar, not to mention the more mundane humans and councils which included paladins, templar priests, merchants and pirates. From DR 257 to DR 383, 77 different pirates have lain claim to the Westgate throne, although some of their reigns lasted mere hours and none lasted longer than five years. Westgate is currently ruled by a council of its rich, noble families that took command soon after the death of its last king, Verovan, in 1248 DR. They in turn chose a croamarkh to serve a four-year term.
Much of the trade in Watergate takes place in the Market Triangle, which is host to all manner of people and beasts looking to buy and sell goods. All are welcome to take part in the city’s enriching exchange of wares, regardless of race or religious affiliation. In Westgate, neither the shape of your ears nor the size of your tusks matter - it’s the size and shape of your coin purse that the locals care locals care about!
There are legitimate merchants even in the Harbor Loop such as Okuzo’s Imports which specializes in items from Kara-Tur. But if you’re looking for strictly legal purchases, stick to the Market Triangle. Just walk toward the Tower at the center of the district and you’ll find plenty of merchants hawking their wares. If you’re interested in something out of the ordinary, try Mintassan’s Mysteries. The wizard who runs the place is one of Westgate’s most famous citizens.
Undergate is Westgate’s worst-kept secret, an underground hangout for the city’s most colorful inhabitants. In this dark, semi-private haven, those who frequent Undergate - its denizens, one could call them - conduct their shadowy business away from the prying eyes of the surface.
The Night Masks are a powerful thieves guild that operates out of the city of Westgate, although in actuality, thievery is amongst the least of the group's activities. Most commoners believe they are a nuisance the ruling council of the city manages to keep under control, but the truth is far more disturbing than that. The Night Masks have their fingers everywhere in Westgate, and no less than three of its 10 ruling noble houses are directly controlled by the evil organization.
The rulers of the Night Masks are an enigma, and all that is known by those not part of its upper hierarchy is that the undisputed leader of the organization is simply known as the Faceless. Who or what the Faceless may be is unknown, but rumor has it that several different beings have held the position over the years.
Recently, a rival guild calling itself the Ebon Claws has arisen to challenge the Night Masks' dominance of Westgate's illegal activities. The origins and hierarchy of the Ebon Claws are obscure; they are still too new for much solid information to yet be widely known, but it is obvious that even the Night Masks are unsure. Their agents, normally discreet in their pursuit of information, have become ever more insistent in their interrogations, and large amounts of reward money are offered to any with solid information. Springing up remarkably quickly, this new faction has so far managed to get the better of its rivals, including the Night Masks. So confident are they now in their position that they have begun to openly war with the Night Masks, many times as the aggressors. Shockingly enough, it is often the bodies of known Night Mask operatives found in the morning streets, their domino masks mockingly stuffed in their own mouths and four dark, gangrenous, filthy lines – the eponymous "ebon claw" of the new guild – dug like trenches into their pale cheeks.
There is, however, one persistent rumor circulating regarding the Ebon Claws. There have been enough sightings of their deformed agents to suggest that it is a guild heavily – if not completely – plagued by the disease of lycanthropy, though the specific variety of the infection is not that of the more legendary werewolf, but is instead that of the more common – in cities, at least – wererat.
However, such stories, as yet, are still just rumors, though one concrete fact lends credence to them. Recently, the Night Masks have begun spending an enormous amount of coin with the local merchants on the acquisition of silvered swords, daggers, and rapiers, weapons known to have an uncanny ability to harm lycanthropes of all kinds. It is therefore obvious that the Night Masks, at least, believe the stories to be true.
On several occasions, gang warfare has broken out in the streets, particularly in the Harbor Loop. This has not gone unnoticed by Obid Teltas. The acting high priest at Morningstar Haven, he is a blustering man who, despite his position, has the general manner of a used ox-cart seller. He has made a public vow to rid the streets of the evil "festering in its bowels", but as yet, his actions seem to have amounted to little more than attempting to convince a few hired mercenaries and adventurers to probe around.
The story begins on the 30th day of Marpenoth (October in our calendar), 1372 DR - sometime after the most recent documented events within the region. A condensed history of Westgate can be found here. History of Westgate
There will be four new creatures in the game, one of which is a giant sea snake called a quelzarn that is native to Westgate itself. Think of them as the city’s equivalent of the Loch Ness monster, except that there are many of them swimming about in the harbour and in the ancient sewers below the streets. It is said by some in the docks that these huge, slithering creatures can pluck sailors off of ship decks and swallow them in one gulp. The harbour waters are filled with these beasts. They also inhabit the sludgy sewer waters beneath the city, a place the player will become intimately familiar with.
There is also a new wererat creature, and when the player arrives, they will find that the city has been overrun by these whiskered vermin. Rats notoriously infest large metropolises with their filth, and some might say that wererats are no different. In their bipedal hybrid form, their head, torso and tail are identical to those of a rat, but the limbs remain human. In the city of Westgate, wererats have begun a rise in dominance, although no one is quite sure why that is. Obviously, the Night Masks aren't too happy at this intrusion on their turf.
Tilesets, Audio and Toolset additions
In order to do a city-based adventure, a system of sewers would be absolutely necessary to fill out the areas below ground. Unfortunately, unlike NWN1, there wasn't a sewer tileset in NWN2, so Ossian had to create one themselves. The sewer tileset has round tunnels, large open areas, small-sized rooms, and pits with bridges, as well as hallways with and without floors (so the pits and chasms can be flooded with water). Topping this off is a set of placeable pipes that will give areas that traditional sewer-like quality. (click on the thumbnails below to open a full size image)
On the audio front, Mysteries of Westgate has its own soundtrack with over 25 minutes of new music. That's more than BioWare had on the Baldur's Gate 2: Throne of Bhaal expansion pack. David John is the composer (he also wrote the music for the BioWare premium modules and Darkness over Daggerford), and he did a fantastic job in creating a slightly exotic flavour for the music for a city that is essentially the trading gateway between east and west. The game has also been partially voice-overed (not fully like NWN2 or Mask of the Betrayer), with most of the voice being put towards companions and major NPCs, and was recorded at the same studio with the same actors typically used by BioWare for its games.
According to Kevin Smith, Lead Technical Designer, Ossian has made extensive use of the plugin technology in the NWN2 toolset to develop Mysteries of Westgate. Long before development began, we integrated our source code control system, Subversion, into the toolset. This level of integration allowed multiple designers to work in the same game resources without conflict (which was always problematic in NWN1). We also added a spellchecker to help with the lengthy process of editing conversations, journals and blueprints, as well as a collection of small tools affectionately called PowerBar, which did everything from interior area rotation, to searching for just about any type of resource file. We also snuck a few much needed toolset UI changes into the mix.
As our development proceeded, the toolset plugin interface became more than just our own little toolset construction kit. We also used it to perform various batch operations, such as automatically tweaking the properties of every conversation in the game, or generating a list of plot items for our QA team. It even became a kind of scripting language for automating repetitive tasks, such as the generation of lip-synch data directly from game conversation files. With the power afforded by NWN2's toolset plugin system, development of NWN2 products at Ossian has definitely been made easier and more efficient, and we continue to add to our plugin library for the future.
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