Below is a basic guide that veteran players have developed. Over the years, particular areas and equipment have been identified to be optimal for leveling. If you have any questions not covered here, feel free to ask any mortal administrator (use the "who MA" command) or simply use the ask/answer channel. If double experience has been activated, read this supplemental guide about it.
Every character starts here after the creation process. The rooms and mobs here are designed to introduce a player to moving, fighting and training/practicing in Waterdeep.
The first NPC you meet upon creation will give you three options depending on your familiarity with the game:
If you are new to Waterdeep or mudding in general, enter 'say I am new to this'.
If you are familiar with ROT style muds you may 'say send me to town' to skip the tutorial and jump right into the newbie town.
If you are a veteran of WD you can simply recall or 'say send me to westbridge' to skip the entire newbie area.
There are two temples in Westbridge that provide free spells to players. These beneficial spells include sanctuary and the damage shields iceshield, fireshield, and shockshield. The temples will only give you spells if you are of the correct alignment, which you can check with the 'score' command.
Directions to the temples from Westbridge recall:
Good/neutral alignment (-399 to 1000): 2s4ese
Evil alignment (-1000 to -400): 20se
Once inside either temple, you can 'examine scroll' to see a list of spells. Note that elemental shields include fire/ice/shockshield all together. All the spells are cast for free to characters of all levels.
This is a good point to talk about the importance of the sanctuary spell in Waterdeep. This spell will effectively halve the damage you take from any source. Many areas and mobs are designed with this spell in mind so it's always a good idea to have this spell when venturing out into the realms.
Everyone has their own pet list of areas they use while leveling. Below is a collected list of areas to get you started. You'll find your own groove as you level. All directions are from Market Square in Westbridge (a.k.a Kefkaburg), located 6s of Westbridge recall.
New Beginnings: You will end up here if you complete the Mud School. All mobs in streets, pack factory, rabbit gulch, forest, and small northwest village. 17s2wd, local recall. (only accessible until level 30)
Dwarven Valley: Dwarven guards, workers and giants. 10e5n2e3n
New Thalos: Gate guards. There are six mobs at each gate. The western gate is 28e.
Drow City: Combat masters, mages, priestesses, and matron mothers. 10e4s2es2edw Must have pass door.
Gnome Village: All gnomes west of the gate. Vulnerable to bash damage. 14e2sed
Gangland: Doable from level 1 when fully spelled up. All mobs. 4e8se
New Thalos: Statues (38enune with another set w2ne from the first), guild guards at the entrances to various class guilds (see 'help newbie' for directions to each guild) and Elite Royal Guards (freely roaming the town).
Hilp Village: smelly guards (in guard rooms in each corner of the village) and village sentinels (roam the village somewhat freely). 11w10n11w
Misty Forrest: This entire area is no recall save for a few rooms, marked [SAFE]. Any mobs in the area are good to kill except for druids, who tend to melt jewelry. 107e5n2wnw
Gnome Village: Gnomes and goblins east of the gate. Vulnerable to bash damage type. 14e2sed
Magitek Factory: Pipsqueeks and soldiers. Once you enter the chute in some of the initial group of rooms, you'll find that you can go deeper into the factory to find tougher and tougher mobs. Pass door is required during night in the game due to a closed, locked gate. 24e11n18w3nw2nw8nw5n3w19n3w4nw
Fanatics' Tower: All mobs. Difficulty increases bottom to top. 7e3nu
Nibelheim: Clones in the town, random encounters in the Shinra Mansion, general mobs on Mt. Nibel (Past the rope bridge the area is no-recall except for specific rooms). 19ws2w2sws3wn3w2neu2e
Zozo Tower: Any mobs on the 7th floor. 45e3nu2eunw2une3d11ndw6u
Cavern of the Tarrasque: Duergar dwarves and angry minotaurs. The minotaurs are aggressive and will attack you on sight but cannot see through invisibility. 18s2ese
Candlekeep Catacombs: Ghouls and ghasts. These mobs hit hard and hit fast and require good deal of timing, attention and proper equipment. Consult some veteran players for assistance with leveling here at first. Located 13nu4n4dnd of the entrance to Candlekeep. Head west and do nottake the first north/south turn you come across as these are traps. These mobs are vulnerable to acidic type attacks.
Museum of Creatures: Ghost, Lich, and Dracolich. These mobs are in the basement of the museum. There are 3 to a room and they WILL assist eachother.
Ruins of Tru: Acolyte of Myrkul in the far northern temple. These mobs are vuln to Pierce, Holy, and Lightning. These mobs spawn similarly to the ghouls in CKC. There will be a random number of mobs per room ranging from 1 to 4.
Additional Leveling Tips
The only thing you retain moving from first to second tier is your name. Your equipment, money, experience, spells, skills, race and class are all lost during the reroll process. Find a trusted source such as a mortal administrator to hold your equipment and money for you while you go through the reroll process.
With regard to the above, Vampire is the most popular first tier class with veteran players making a new character. They don't require a lot of spells/skills to gain at creation and their primary attack (feed) will regenerate HP.
As your race in first tier holds no bearing on your race in second tier, you should pick a race that has a resistance to a fair amount of the mobs you'll face while leveling. Thri'Kreen resists magic and are good for leveling in Zozo for the later stages. Podrikev resists weapon and are good for leveling in CKC. Use the ask/answer channel to get more input on first tier races from veteran players.
Keep in mind your creation points (abbreviated CP) while making your character. Anything over 40 points will increase your experience per level so it's a good idea to keep this number under 40 for first tier. An example build for a Vampire would be the following skills and spell groups: sword, second attack, third attack, dodge, parry, feed, necroticstrike, combat, and enhanced damage.
Congratulations on reaching second tier!
Now you can have your pick of your race and class with no limitation. After you've made hero in first tier, research some of the races and classes. Each race has an individual help file that gives base stats, resistances, vulnerabilities, immunities and permanent affects. You can also use the 'class' command (see the help file for details) to research specific spell groups for each class.
Think about whether you want to be PK or NPK. This can make a world of difference in your race/class combination. Consult veteran players from both "worlds" of PK and NPK for more information.
Remember that you can always gain spells and skills via the 'gain' command after creation. Gaining like this uses up the trains you would otherwise use on HP/mana so keep that in mind. Some players like to level up with low creation points and gain ancillary spells/skills at hero.
You can see a rough draft of what skills and spells each class gets on this Google Docs page (no login required). If you have questions about this table, send a tell or note to Quintus in game.
Classes and Their Primary Leveling Skills
Gladiator: your basic attacks and kick/bash is what will be used all the way to hero.
Strider: This is basically kick all the way to hero. At level 15 you can summon your bear and use bearstomp as well.
Wizard: Magic missile is basically the only spell you will use. In certain areas Acid Blast works well. Chain lightning can also be helpful.
Sage: Magic missile and Acid blast til hero.
Mercenary: Circle and kick
Lich: Feed and kick.
Priest: There are no real good spells to use while leveling. Recommended that you practice the wands skill and use magic missile wands located 2wn of MS.
Monk: Leveling skills include punch, kick, uppercut, and roundhouse. There is no first tier equivalent for this class.