Preview: Neverwinter Nights 2 – The Mysteries of ‘Mysteries of Westgate’

NeverwinterNights2MysteriesOfWestgate.jpg One of the greatest things about the original Neverwinter Nights was the ability to craft your own complete role-playing adventures with relative ease. This has led to a large body of modules that rival commercial games, and was eventually exploited by Atari in the form of several ‘Premium Modules’. Neverwinter Nights 2 also features a large module toolset, though it is more cumbersome to use, was released in a less than optimal state, and has taken longer for developers to craft new modules with. Very soon, though, the first official ‘Adventure Pack’ will be released – Mysteries of Westgate from Ossian Studios. I will be reviewing that module later, but had a few thoughts on it – and also wanted to highlight the impending release.

First and most important – the module has ‘gone gold’. This means that the game is done and ready for release, and will be released in the next week or so.

The plot summary reads: “Set in the infamous Forgotten Realms city of Westgate, players find themselves in possession of a powerful but cursed treasure that threatens to destroy them. Linked to the underworld organization known as the Night Masks, the treasure will draw players into a city-spanning clash between warring factions. Players must choose their allegiance in order to break the curse and ultimately uncover a plot that threatens Westgate itself”.

The ‘powerful but cursed treasure’ is a mask that belongs to the Night Masks. There have been references to this infamous group in previous games, but their real fame comes from their part in R. A. Salvatore’s “Cleric Quintet’ novels released in the early 1990s. This is a feared and dangerous band of assassins who were sent to kill Cadderly in their featured book of that series, and they are painted as a dark and efficient group of killers who never (well, aside from the whole ‘killing Cadderly’ thing) fail to get their mark. So for anyone familiar with the background lore, this sets up a compelling tale that is sure to be dark and deadly and full of twists and moral conflicts. I can’t wait!

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Back in 2005 I wrote an article for GamerDad on the Neverwinter Nights Premium Modules (I updated it in 2006 after the final releases in the series, you can read it here). In the article I highlighted each of the six modules. Six? But there are only five ‘official’ modules! That is true – the sixth was called ‘Darkness Over Daggerford’, which was canceled when Atari pulled the plug on the program … only to reinstate it to release ‘Wyvern Crown of Cormyr’ some months later. There are three ironies around ‘Daggerford’ – first, it was developed by none other than Ossian Studios. Second, as I said in the article “It is perhaps ironic that my favorite of the Premium Modules is the one that was canceled and released for free.”

The third irony is that the module was completed and ready for release in September of 2007, prior to the release of either the ‘Mask of the Betrayer’ or ‘Storms of Zehir’ expansions. So what happened? Apparently Atari needed to have a DRM system in place that would protect ‘non exe’ installations such as these modules. This was a greater challenge than Atari. Obsidian (makers of NWN2) and Ossian estimated, and it kept getting pushed back from patch to patch … and eventually came out as part of the recently released 1.22 patch. For those without a calendar handy, that is nearly an eighteen month delay – across two holiday shopping cycles – in order to develop a system to prevent sales loss to piracy. Perhaps that would count as a fourth irony.

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The good side of this is that the resulting system only requires a single online-connected ‘authentication’ session when you first play, and that is completely transparent. Anyone who played the Premium Modules for the original NWN will recall that you needed to be online at the start of EVERY time you wanted to play a module. For those who – like me – are laptop gamers and not always in touch with a wireless network, this was a real hassle.

So if you are a PC gamer and a fan of role-playing games, rejoice: one of the best small developers we have seen is about to unleash another excellent adventure, and with a budget price and unobtrusive DRM there is no reason to let it pass! As for me, I’m already getting two characters ready for the adventure, since it starts at level 8. I will have a nice Elf Sorcerer named Trislyn Jast (my typical mage), and also a Deheriian Cleric named … you guessed it, Cadderly!

About the Author

I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!