Icewind Dale - Character Creation Guide version 1.0.1 Sites currently permitted to use this guide: www.gamefaqs.com www.neoseeker.com dlh.net Other sites can e-mail me to request permission. Contents 0.0 Introduction 0.1 Abbreviations 0.2 Basics 1.0 Main Game (no expansion pack) 1.1 Race 1.2 Class 1.2.1 Arcane castors 1.3 Ability Scores 1.4 Alignment 1.5 Class combinations 1.5.1 Dual-classing 1.5.2 Multi-classing 1.6 Weapon proficiencies and armour 1.6.1 Armour 1.6.2 Weapons 1.7 Sample Parties 1.7.1 Main Party 1.7.2 Melee Party 1.7.3 Arcane Party 2.0 After installing Heart of Winter 2.1 Race 2.2 Class 2.2.1 Arcane castors 2.3 Ability Scores 2.4 Alignment 2.5 Class combinations 2.5.1 Dual-classing 2.5.2 Multi-classing 2.6 Weapon proficiencies and Items 2.7 Sample Parties 2.7.1 Main Party 2.7.2 Melee Party 2.7.3 Arcane Party 2.8 Other Points 2.8.1 Version History Introduction (0.0) Having failed to find any detailed character creation guide for Icewind Dale and its expansion pack, I decided to write one myself, having completed the main game thrice (once without the expansion packinstalled and twice with) and currently playing through HOW in HOF mode, and finding some characters useless and that Iím missing other vital characters. This is designed to explain the main pros and cons from first hand experience and I intend not to quote the manual except where necessary. I found that the differences to several classes deemed it worth writing separate guides for both with and without the expansion pack installed. I hope that when writing this I have not ruined parts of the storyline and would appreciate if anyone told me if I have. I have tried to refer to any part beyond the prologue as either by when you pick up a particular item or how far through, and which, chapter it is. I realise that there are many different types of styles all focusing on different aspects of the gameplay. I hope that this guide will help anyone, whatever style they prefer. My main style of gameplay has an emphasis on melee fighting and attack and summoning spells, giving all characters high AC, S.T., resistances and HP, as I am not keen on using many buffers in combat and prefer to boost my characters with long-term spells before a fight. I have tried to allow for other styles and would welcome suggestions from those that use various other ways of playing this game. During this guide I have only mentioned character features that affect gameplay so have not mentioned characteristics such as gender, portrait, appearance, biography and name. If anyone finds any error in this guide or has helpful suggestions please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put IWD then whatever the issue is, e.g. question, error, suggestion, etc. as the subject and I should reply in 2 or 3 days. Mention of errors will be appreciated and will be updated in the next version. If you leave the subject blank I will probably ignore you. If anyone sends details of a party similar description of depth as I have for my parties I will include it in the next version. Please read through my whole walkthrough and the manual before sending anything. I will not answer questions where the answer is in this guide, the manual, or in regard to questions about subjects other than character creation or character development, unless I have written a guide about that as well. I have included both objective and subjective details in this guide. I think I have marked all my opinions as clearly subjective. I write in a way that assumes that the reader has read all previous parts of this guide before, partly to avoid repetition, and partly as it is easier for me, and I have only included changes from the main game in the IWD(H) section. This guide also assumes that players will play in the order IWD, IWD(H), HOW, IWD(H)(HOF), HOW(HOF). I am aware though that some players may play just IWD, and others install the expansion pack immediately. I would advise against people installing the expansion pack before completing the main game however, as there are some good items that they will be unable to obtain, and the gaming experience is different. Anyone sending in suggestions, notifications of errors, parties or anything else included used will be credited. E-mail addresses will not be mentioned unless requested. I will release an updated version once I have enough changes for it to be worthwhile. Abbreviations (0.1) I am sure that most people will understand most of these anyway but hereís the abbreviations used during this guide, most are common but a few are created by ours truly, as there are some important aspects of the game without common ones. When I use plurals I may not add a "s" on the end, but if so then assume from context whether I refer to a plural or not. Anyway: RPG Role-playing game D&D Dungeons&Dragons 2ndER 2nd edition rules IWD Icewind Dale (main game pre HOW) IWD(H) The main game after Heart of Winter has been installed HOW Heart of Winter HOF Heart of Fury mode - a game mode option for IWD(H) and HOW which increases the ability and experience of hostile creatures massively. Also enables you to double quest experience. Can be turned on/off in configuration screen. XP Experience Points, require so many to level up your characters. HP Hit Points S.T. Saving throws AC Armour Class arcane refers to mage spells and class types Lore How well a character can identify an item W.P. Weapon proficiency and specialization 1-H 1-handed 2-H 2-handed Str Strength Dex Dexterity Con Constitution Int Intelligence Wis Wisdom Cha Charisma A.S. Ability Scores - refers to Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha. When I refer to these as low I mean 2-5; below average 6-8; average 9-11; above average 12-14; high 15-18. x-> Dual over at level x --- Multi class combination TCl Total character level, the level of all multi-class classes combined. With dual-class this only refers to active classes. GCl Group character level, the TCLs of the 3 most powerful characters combined. x+ Refers to value x and all values better than it. x- Refers to value x and all values worse than it. Transmutation and alteration are identical for the purposes of this game. Invocation and evocation are also equivalent to each other. Summary (0.2) For D&D based RPGs players are always advised to have a party consisting of: Fighter Thief Mage Cleric I feel that is the very basic summary of necessary classes in this game but only that. It does not elaborate in any detail and in this game other classes are highly useful and the focus is more on role than on class. I feel that possible roles are: Tanker Archer Healer Bombardier Diplomat Thief Distracter These can all be used by different classes and several can mix together well. A tanker is a character who relies almost completely on mÍlťe attacks and normally has high HP, AC, Con and S.T. to absorb most of the enemies damage. Generally high Str to deal plenty of damage to them as well. Take no more than 2Ĺ, Ĺ a tanker is a support tanker that also fulfils another role in combat. An archer is a character with high AC quite high Str and massive Dex, and will be dealing out ranged damage to enemies. Though not vital, I feel that they come very close to being so. Take only 1. Cannot perform other roles except diplomat. Healers are vital. They cure damage done to themselves and other characters before, during and after battles. They also cast defence spells to reduce damage obtained. Take 1 or 2. A bombardier is a character who will be casting attack spells, and/or summon and/or buffers. At higher levels this character can cast a few spells and completely wipe out a group of enemies, summon other monsters to take and deal damage, and cast spells to improve your party members so they can tear through groups of enemies. Easily the most fun and variable character. Any number between 1-3Ĺ. A diplomat is not essential but is very useful and provides alternative opportunities to complete quests and reduces store prices considerably. Should also perform another role. Could take two, one with high Int and another with high Wis. Anymore is pointless. A thief is basically a character who is at least part thief class, can detrap, and sometimes pick pocket and hide, depending on invested skills. A distracter is a very optional character. But can only be used if you take less than 6 characters. A distracter is a character of around level 4 with high Dex, Con and Wis who you send 1st into battle to absorb damage while you blast the enemies with spells and ranged weapons. When creating a character you should always plan how you are going to develop a character, if intending to dual-class then you need to play human race, adjust your A.S. and alignment so theyíre what the secondary class requires and choose W.P. sensibly as some classes have restrictions. Multi-class characters are useless in IWD, but in IWD(H) you can train up in HOF mode in Easthaven once the TCL 6 or so. If you use this technique beware as the monsters are much more powerful and even entering the orc-cave is dangerous until the GCL is at least 25. The number of characters you play with is your choice but any number between 4 and 6 is best. If you want more characters to ensure that each role is filled twice then take 6, if you want less so that all your characters gain more XP and get better equipment then take 4, if you are unsure then take 5 or 6. You do notice later in the game the higher levels of characters if you take 4 or 5 instead of 6. Fewer characters means that a dead character is a much greater blow than with more though. Also you can carry less equipment to sell with 4 characters than with 5 or 6. At no point in the game did I feel that I was turning back too much to sell equipment when with 5 characters but with 4 characters I struggled to carry everything worth selling as well as the necessary spare arrows, magical arrows, potions and scrolls. It should be possible to play with three but then you canít have an archer or diplomat class, and must have all classes with at least 6+ in an active tanker class. Main Game (1.0) Race (1.1) Which race you choose for a role determines how you can develop a character, affecting benefits to W.P., thieving abilities and magic resistance; A.S. penalties, requirements and bonuses; and what class you can take. Humans: Dual-class. Humans are the only race that can dual-class. Receives no racial bonuses but no penalties either. Only race not to get infravision so have at least one other race in party. Very useful. Elves: The best archers. +1 bonus to Dex, -1 penalty to Con, highly resistant to charm and sleep magic. Gains +5 pick pockets, -5 open locks and +10 stealth; Brilliant with bows and long swords. Use for archer. Require 8 Int and 8 Cha. Half-elves: No penalties. Small resistance to charm and sleep magic. Can have any multi-class combination except involving specialist mages. Gains +10 pick pockets and +5 stealth. Better than humans if no intention of dual-classing. Gnomes: Magic Resistance. +1 bonus to Int, -1 penalty to Wis. Gains +5 open locks, +10 detect traps and +5 stealth. Make good mages or fighter --- illusionist. Limited use. Halflings: Highly resistant to poisons and magic. +1 bonus to Dex, -1 penalty to Str. Good with Slings. Some use as fighter --- thief. +5 on all thieving skills, except stealth +15. Elves are better. Dwarves: Resistant to poisons and magic. +1 bonus to Con, -1 penalty to Dex, -1 penalty to Cha. +10 open locks, +15 detect traps. Decent pure fighters but humans or half-elves are better. Their high Con makes them excellent distracters however. Class (1.2) Choice of class is an important feature and affects which weapons you can take and how much you can specialise in them; available spells; special abilities; S.T., A.S. penalties requirements and bonuses; and what role you can take. When I mention ability scores here, they are the class requirement, not the gameplay requirement. Fighter: The main tanker class. Levels up fastest of the tanker classes. Can take up to 5 points in W.P. which is extremely useful. Lack any special abilities though. A great starter class with intention to dual-class and can have a multi-class combination with any class except the other two tankers and bards. Brilliant combined with other classes, no problems playing pure. Require average Str. Ranger: A tanker with some extra features. Level up slower than fighters. Can take up to 2 points in W.P. Get druid spells at high levels. Get a 2nd base attack each round when not using shield. Can choose one racial enemy. I would choose trolls or salamanders. Salamanders are powerful and their auras can really hurt you, but trolls appear all the time from chapter 2 of the game and keep getting up unless using fire or acid. A ranger that hates them can walk through them if equipping a fire-based weapon. Giants would also be an okay choice, but they arenít that common or that difficult. Lizard men and Yuan-ti are quite rare. Goblins and skeletal undead are easy anyway. Orcs, ogres, cadaverous undead and spectral undead appear infrequently and arenít too difficult anyway. Spiders are rare and weak. Umber Hulks are dangerous but extremely rare. If a ranger loses too much reputation then (s)he becomes a fallen ranger and doesn't have any of the special abilities any more. Rangers require above average Str, Dex, Con and Wis. Charm animal is useless. They sound really good, but beyond level 3 are vastly inferior to the other 2 tanker classes. Paladin: My favourite tanker. Levels up same speed as rangers. Can take two points in W.P.. Gets "Lay on Hands" and "Cure Disease" both are very useful. "Protection from Evil" is okay as is "Smite Evil", depending on your other characters alignment, "Detect evil" is useless though. The only class that can use "Pale Justice", easily the best weapon in the game. Like rangers, can lose ablities by having a bad reputation. Requires average Con, above average Str and Wis, high Cha. Makes a brilliant front-line tanker/diplomat. Cleric: The healer class. Powerful healing and defensive spells. Weapons limited to slings, clubs, flails, hammers, maces, quarter staves. Requires average Wis. Vital throughout. Should not be multi-class as otherwise they donít get heal for too long. Best when dual-classed from fighter or ranger. Druid: Can heal, adds quest options, gets many good attack and summoning spells at mid and high levels. Only a few defensive spells but those ones are amazing. Weapons restricted to missile weapons, clubs, daggers, spears, quarter staves and scimitars. Require above average Wis and high Cha. One druid from 3+ levels of fighter class can be at the same time a support tanker, support healer, support bombardier and diplomat. Very useful, variable and great fun. Easily my favourite class. Thief: Decent archer, and thief skills are extremely important, but is best in multi-class, otherwise canít do anything good in combat. Multi-class with fighter for Str and HP. Weapons restricted to bows, missile weapons, clubs, daggers, quarter staves, large swords and small swords. Requires average Dex. Do not take pure. They gain levels extremely fast so can be multi-classed with little problem. Arcane castors (1.2.1) Mage: Great bombardier, extremely low HP. Canít wear armour. Weapons restricted to Missile weapons, daggers and quarter staves. Requires average Int. Are great when dualled from fighter. Also no weapon restrictions when part fighter. Bard: Useless. Gets pick-pockets and a few mage spells. Can put 1 W.P. in all weapons. Bards are useless in IWD from the moment you leave Easthaven. If you want the features take a thief with high intelligence. Invest all skills in pick pockets then dual to mage at around level 5. You get more spells, similar pick-pockets skill and slightly more HP. Requires above average Dex and Int, and high Cha. The bonus to Lore is cancelled out if you have Wis below 10 anyway. Specialists: All specialists are the same as normal mages except they get one extra spell and canít cast spells from the opposition school. Well worth it for some mage types. Require different A.S. as well as mages average Int. Makes a brilliant second bombardier. Mage Type Opposition Schools A.S. needs Comments Abjurer Transmutation High Wis Miss out on a few buffer spells. Not bad though. Conjurer Divination High Con Only one good spell is in divination: "Identify", best choice by far. Diviner Conjuration High Wis Canít summon. Rubbish. Enchanter Invocation High Cha Canít cast any of the powerful single target or area-effect spells. Defeats the point. Illusionist Necromancy High Dex Lose a few powerful summon spells and attack spells. As those spells are all level 5+ can still be worth it. Invoker Enchantment, ConjurationHigh Con I donít like many enchantment spells but the good ones are amazing. Canít summon anyway. Not worth it. Necromancer Illusion High Wis Miss a few defensive spells and some summoning, nothing else though. Not bad, but invisibility spells are vital if dualled from a thief. The shadow summons are quite good at high levels. Transmuter Abjuration, Necromancy High Dex Miss most defensive spells and the better higher level spells. Illusionist misses out on less and has same A.S. requirements. Donít bother. Best arcane castors to worst: Mage (moves to just below necromancer and above bard if you have any other) Conjurer Abjurer Illusionist Necromancer Bard Transmuter Diviner Invoker Enchanter Bards get very few spells each level, and all the ones below miss out on too many good spells to be worthwhile. Comments regarding A.S. needs: Dex affects S.T. and AC so is vital anyway. Con needs to be high with mage hit points. Also affects saves. Wis affects S.T. so is worth taking some anyway. Cha has no use if you have a natural diplomat, e.g. paladin. Ability Scores (1.3) Ability scores affect a characters abilities in each area. If you get a good roll but want to see if you can get better then you can store the roll and reroll as much as you like. The chance of getting a perfect character is almost impossible, but depending on patience you can roll up to around 20 times and probably end up with a character thatís better than most as long as you increase and decrease the allocation well. Strength: High strength is vital for any melee based character, any character that wears any armour heavier than studded leather. An archer should also have a strength of at least 15 so (s)he can use most bows. No character should have a strength below 12 or otherwise (s)he might not be able to carry their own equipment. Tanker type classes can take a strength of 18/x. x ranges from 01 to 100 and the higher the better. 100 appears as 18/00 and you will only get it on a very lucky strength roll. 18/76+ is impressive for any character except the main tanker(s). 18/91+ is what you want your main tanker(s) to have. Dexterity: Dexterity affects your S.T., AC, thieving skills, ability with ranged weapons and how likely your character is to be surprised. This is vital for an archer, thief, mages and the main tanker so (s)he can save against your own area-effect spells. If your druid is operating as a second tanker then you can sacrifice dexterity on that character to ensure high Str, if and only if you give him/her amazing armour. The difference between 7 and 14 is so negligible that youíd do better using those 7 valuable A.S. points somewhere else. Below 7 is horribly bad though, and 15+ is what you want ideally. Constitution: Constitution affects HP and S.T. so is vital for everyone. Anyone with a constitution of 14- is playing a risky game unless the character is a full time tanker class, and then they will probably get hit so much that you find you want a high constitution anyway. Only tankers benefit from having a Con score of above 16, so don't increase above that for other characters. The increase in HP is per level, so constitution is slightly better than Dex overall. Also, if you concentrate on not getting hit then do get hit and you have little HP, then youíre much worse off than if you get hit more, but they matter less, because you can heal. Intelligence: Intelligence affects arcane spellcasting ability, the chance of learning a spell from a scroll and the Lore of the character. Also provides extra speaking options for characters with high charisma in conversation. Any arcane spellcaster needs 18, have one diplomat with 15+, everyone else doesnít need any. Wisdom: Wisdom affects the DC of divine spells, S.T. and Lore skill. Vital for clerics and druids, also useful for characters that use the Lore skill. S.T. are important for any characters and as these are against enchantment spells such as "Charm" and "Hold Person", so low wisdom is extremely dangerous for tankers. Charisma: Charisma is important for your diplomats and to satisfy a class skill. You need one diplomat with 18 charisma, anything else is just a bonus. Otherwise useless. Alignment (1.4) Alignment plays little significance in IWD, some classes have alignment restrictions, some weapons only work for some alignments, and thatís it. Generally chaotic neutral covers the most items. Lawful has the most restrictions, then good. Hereís the class alignment rules: Fighter Can be any alignment If have paladin/ranger in your party be chaotic neutral, otherwise be chaotic good. Ranger Must be good Preferably chaotic. Paladin Must be lawful good Cleric Can be any alignment Good clerics get best items. Neutral also fine. Donít be evil. Druid Must be true neutral Thief Cannot be lawful good Donít be good or lawful, after all youíre a thief. Mage Can be any alignment Evil fighter-mages, dual or multi, get 2 amazing items. Good or lawful mages suffer even more than other classes for their decency. Bard Must be part neutral Chaotic neutral is best, then neutral evil. Multi-class and dual-class combinations (1.5) Some classes work together, others donít. Bear in mind with multi-class characters, it takes twice the experience to get the class up a level. And with dual-class characters, that when you dual-class your character effectively goes back to level 1 with higher HP, so is weak for the area until you hit around the same level as your original class. The later you dual-class your characters, the more powerful they will eventually be, but will be missing out on abilities for a longer period, the high hit dice and HP will ensure that the character does not get killed and the XP in the area should pull the level of the new class up reasonably quickly, but if you need both activated always then you will need to train the character a lot. Dual-classing (1.5.1) This is a brilliant reason to use the human race. In most of my parties of six, 4 or 5 are dual-classed. However when dual-classing you must have an alignment that is supported by your new class, youíre A.S. must be 15 in 1st classí main A.S., e.g. Str for fighter, and 17 in your new classes prime A.S.. Specialist mages require both high Int and other class A.S. to dual to that type. Suggested dual-times for classes(from): Fighter: Can duel to cleric, druid, thief, mage or specialist mage. Creates a version of the 2nd class with more HP and melee ability. Level 2: Unless you intend to be a support tanker or are desperate for HP, dual-classing early is advisable. Once you hit level 3 in you new class you gain all the item and W.P. bonuses that the multi-class gets, and the fighter bonuses, at much lower XP cost. Brilliant for arcane castors. Level 3: At level 3 you can place a third point in a W.P. slot for a weapon. Get a lot more HP than a pure class and all the same benefits as level 2 dual. All for 4000XP. Great for arcane castors and clerics. Level 6: A 4th level in a W.P., 60 class HP. Costs 32000XP. Should hit this during the later parts of Chapter 2. The best option for divine castors that are also playing support tanker roles. Best balance for any character that uses melee combat. Level 9: Fifth point of W.P. in your chosen weapon, and all the class HP you can get. Takes 250000Xp. Early Chapter 4 if with 3 or 4 characters; late Chapter 4 with 5 characters; early Chapter 5 with 6 characters. This creates an extremely powerful character, but will require training up heavily the moment you dual-class. Probably playing through with those one or two characters till you get Conlanís Hammer (assuming you donít pick the lock) would get you to a high enough level to continue with your main game. Rarely worth it. Ranger: Can only duel to cleric. Better option than fighter if dualling at level 2 or 3. Waiting for the druid spells isnít worth the bother, W.P. are much better. Level 2: Get a few better weapons, two slots in 2 W.P., racial enemy, and Str in format 18/x. Some more HP. Can use shields and helmets denied to pure clerics. Level 3: Level 2 bonuses and you get one more W.P.. and more HP. Paladin: Canít dual-class. Cleric: Can only duel to fighter class, cleric -> fighter is much weaker at fighter qualities than fighter -> cleric. Donít bother. Druid: Same as cleric. Thief: Thieves can dual-class to a fighter or mage, (inc. Specialist). Thief -> fighter is much worse than fighter -> thief or fighter --- thief. Thief -> Mage is a very useful alternative to the bard, gets more spells, selects thieving abilities, has more HP, can get level 7+ spells. As there are several good mage daggers throughout the game you can use backstabbing ability to good effect, (cast improved invisibility, then can cast spells and backstab brilliantly). Thieves can also find and disable traps under normal invisibility without revealing themselves. Brilliant at high levels but lacking in melee combat. Good at ranged combat. Level 5: Can have one thief skill at extremely good effectiveness. Level 10: Gets a good range of thief skills. Mage: Iíve never tried to dual-class from a mage or specialist mage. As my mages are all dualled from fighters or thieves they canít anyway, and it defeats the point: mages need a high level to use all the spells so youíd never get the abilities back or have a weak and pointless mage. Donít bother. Bard: Canít dual-class Multi-Classing (1.5.2) Multi-class characters are better in the prologue and chapter 1, but vastly inferior in most cases to dual beyond there. In my first game, most of my starting characters were multi-class. After finding that the single or dual-class characters were getting up levels over twice as fast I got rid of all of them. I then found that in some cases a multi-class is better or as good, basically any character thatís part thief. Fighter --- clerics or fighter --- druids are much weaker than a fighter 3-> priest or fighter 6-> priest. Fighter --- mages couldnít specialise and took ages to get high level spells. The triple classes, fighter --- thief --- mage, or fighter --- mage --- cleric take far too long to get HP and spells and can only equip 1 weapon, they are only worth taking if you donít mind repeating the first chapter several times to get this character some XP. My cleric --- ranger was okay but a ranger 3-> cleric is much stronger, as you still get the 18/x Str, racial enemy and equipment. A thief --- mage is okay but again the dual-class is superior. However a fighter --- thief is extremely good, and if elven with the appropriate A.S. then this character can be an amazing archer, can de-trap effectively, and is reasonable in melee. This is the only case where the multi is better than dual though. Weapon Proficiencies and Items (1.6) One important issue is what items you intend to use. A character cannot cast arcane spells when wearing any armour except elven armour. Thieves cannot use their special abilities when wearing any armour heavier than studded leather. If your character is going to wear heavy armour then (s)he needs at least 18 Str. Most armour, helmets, shields, weapons and items also have class restrictions. These can be overcome by the ever useful dual-classing, and most by multi-classing. The multi-class combinations mentioned here also refer to the dual-class, when both are active. For classes with alignment restrictions I have not mentioned how that affects armour availability, though have taken it into consideration for weapon choice. I have placed the weapon choice in order, going from best weapon to above average, any weapon which the class is not suited to is unmentioned. Armour (1.6.1) Fighter All Ranger All Paladin All Cleric Many helmets, shields and heavy armour. Druid Limited helmets, shields and heavy armour. Thief Light armour and some heavier. Most shields. Some helmets and medium armour. Mage Heavily limited on everything. Use cloaks and robes. Bard Heavy and medium armour and helmets are greatly limited. Fighter --- Thief Almost everything. Fighter --- Mage Can use almost everything, make sure you can still cast spells wearing your equipment. Weapons and shield (1.6.2) Shield? Fighter Great sword, axe, halberd, hammer, spear. No Ranger Great sword, axe, flail, halberd, hammer, spear. No Paladin Large sword, great sword, axe, crossbow. Yes Cleric Mace, hammer, club, sling, flail, quarter staff. Yes Druid Spear, scimitar, quarter staff, club. Maybe Thief Small sword, dagger, sling, long sword. Yes Mage Dagger, sling, long sword. Yes Bard Use any 1-H weapons that your others arenít. Yes Fighter --- Thief Bow, small sword, dagger, crossbow, sling. No Fighter --- Mage Dagger, bow, long sword, sling. Yes Weapons I have not included, such as darts, are not there because they are rubbish. Generally use the first 2 in the list and the others only if you find an amazing one in that type. Explaining my suggestions: pure fighters should use 2-H weapons, they are easily the most powerful; rangers the same, but flails are also useful; paladins are the only class that can use "Pale justice", a long sword and the best weapon in the game, and should certainly take advantage, bastard swords and 1-H axes are also good; clerics should use a bludgeoning 1-H weapon, there is a mace late in the game that gives extra cleric spells; druids should use 2-H weapons if no other character is doing so, if another is then use scimitar and shield, quarter staves and clubs as a back-up; thieves need to be able to backstab so use a small blade with a shield; for mages there are daggers from as early as mid-Chapter 1 that give bonus mage spells and they should use other weapons only if they havenít got one yet, same for fighter --- mages; bards are the utility class in every respect, there is no particularly good weapon, there is an item that fits into the shield place and gives extra spells, so use a 1-H weapon; fighter --- thieves are perfect archers and should be used as such, but you should make sure you can backstab if the possibility arises. Sample Parties (1.7) Here are some sample parties that should be well balanced and allow any type of player to use effectively. I have mentioned the 3 best outlines of parties, and have described workable variations. I have obviously not tested every possible variation all through the game, but have tried to ensure that all suggestions donít disrupt the balance, and have mentioned if they do. I am aware that people have different playing styles and have tried to allow for each of them. But the 3 parties I have suggested all follow the styles I play, I hope others will adapt these parties to suit their style or create their own. Main Party (1.7.1): This was my party second time through the game and I feel it is probably the most balanced overall. As all but the main tanker fulfil two roles, there is plenty of provision for variation, and no great need for a 6th character, could be used with just 4 but you would need to be confident. The balance this party gives is 1Ĺ tankers, an archer, 1Ĺ healers, 2Ĺ bombardiers and a thief. 1 Human Paladin Lawful good 2(optional) Human Fighter 6-> Druid True neutral 3 Elf Fighter --- Thief Chaotic neutral 4 Human Ranger 3-> Cleric Chaotic good 5 Human Fighter 2-> Mage Neutral evil 6(optional) Human Fighter 2-> Conjurer Chaotic neutral Character 1: This character is the main tanker and the diplomat of the party. You need 18/91+ Str, 7+ Dex, 18 Con, min Int, class Wis, 18 Cha. Take initial W.P. in long swords and great swords, then axes and crossbows. Equip this character with your best armour and best shield. Alternate choices: You could take a pure fighter instead, but as youíd need high Wis for S.T. and high Cha so can be a diplomat, the A.S. wouldnít change much. You might be able to move some from Wis to Dex, but youíre unlikely to get such an amazing roll that it would be worth it. You would get up to 5 W.P., but you wouldnít be able to use "Pale justice". The only way to make up for that would be to use 2-H weapons, which would lose the shield and thus A.C. Also your character would lose some conversation topics that are exclusive to the paladin class. You could replace the A.C. by putting more in Dex, but you would lose a lot on S.T. against enchantment magic. Using a half-elf would balance that out without losing any significant benefits. You could avoid using this character as a diplomat if you take character 2, and use the points gained from Cha to put in Dex and Wis, and then itís a much more difficult choice. If you only intend to go through once, or not import this character for later times round then that might just be a better choice because of how late you get "Pale justice", but having the best weapon for the final battles, 2nd time through the game, and in the HOW areas, gives the place to the paladin for me. A ranger is another option for a main tanker, except their abilities arenít anywhere near as good as the paladins beyond level 3, and the racial enemy, the only impressive ability of the ranger, certainly isnít worth the loss of "Pale justice" and the class speaking options. Character 2: This character is the support tanker, 2nd healer, and support bombardier. (S)He requires 18/91+ Str, 16+ Con, min Int, 18 Wis, 17 Cha, any leftover points go to Dex. If you increase Con above 16, your character will be stronger when a pure fighter, but the advantage will disappear once you dual-class. If you intend to have this character using 2-H weapons, then take the initial points in spears and quarter staves, if you want a shield, then take scimitars (long swords) and clubs initially. When increasing W.P. as a fighter add to either spears or scimitars, whichever youíre using. Once you dual over to druid then place the first points in your main weapons. The next points before you regain fighter skills should be in the 2 mentioned weapons which you havenít got, as they will stay once your fighter class kicks in again. Equip with your 2nd best armour and shield, or clones of your best. Alternate choices: You could dual over at level 3 and sacrifice HP and the 4th W.P. point in your main weapon to get druid abilities earlier, or dual later at level 9 to get full HP and full W.P. in your chosen weapon, and have a more tanker oriented druid, but 218000 XP is a lot to spend for those advantages, and you would be without the fighter abilities through almost all of the game, and wouldnít get a full level druid, until you install the expansion pack. You could take a fighter -> cleric instead and have a more specialist healer and avoid the Cha requirement, but would lose out on the attack spells, 2-H weapons, scimitars and class quests. You would then have difficulty over which item to give which cleric as any cleric needs the best mace you have. A pure fighter could be taken to give a 2nd full time tanker class, but that is actually weaker than a fighter 6-> druid, as a fighter 6-> druid hits druid level 7 only 3000 XP later than a pure fighter hits level 7, and the pure fighter loses the class quests and the spells. Character 3: Here is your archer and thief. This character is naturally brilliant with bows, gets a good stealth benefit so can backstab well, and isnít that weak at melee when ranged attacks have limited effect. Has ability score requirements of 17+ Str, 19 Dex, 17 Con, race Int, race Cha and any remaining points in Wis. As this is your archer, the main W.P. is bows, then short swords or daggers, I prefer short swords as there is a wonderful one which increases stealth ability, and they do more damage. Any ring, potion, armour, helmet or gloves that increase Dex should be given to this character, as you canít use a shield and as Dex is high anyway this character will benefit most. Thief skills are for your preference, find traps and open locks are probably the best, but spells can be used instead later on; there are some great items to pick pocket so I would take at least some points in that; some people use stealth and backstab all the time, others rarely, so is completely personal preference. If you take a 2nd thief however, leave the backstabbing and pickpocketting to him/her. Alternate choices: None really, any archer should be an elven fighter --- thief, all alternatives are much weaker. You could make this character a triple class with part mage, but you would need to train for ages to get the character anywhere near the level of the other mages, though that would enable you to make the others both specialists, but you would probably need to make one of them dualled from a thief to ensure good enough thief skills, thus weakening 2 members of your party. A thief --- mage wouldnít be able to get 2 levels of W.P. in bows and would have lower Str and HP. Character 4: The healer, also casts some nice buffer spells and has some melee capabilities. I would give this character 18/76+ Str, 18 Dex, 16+ Con, 18 Wis, everything else in Int to give a nice Lore skill. This character can be played in a variety of ways as healing, although vital, doesnít take up large amounts of game time, in or out of battles: the focus can be on making your other characters more powerful; the enemies weaker; a support tanker; or a mix of all the others. This character should be wearing heavy armour and using a mace. If you want this character to be able to dish out damage then donít use a shield so you can get the extra attack, otherwise use one to increase AC and resistances. Racial enemy should be trolls. Alternate choices: If you want a slightly more melee based character you could take a fighter 6-> cleric instead, or even fighter 9-> cleric, but the XP cost is high so you would be a long time without a healer, which is dangerous. If you have a fighter 3-> cleric, then you gain W.P. in your main weapon, but lose the favoured enemy and extra attack each round, weakening the melee capabilities of this character. That option would make the character slightly more consistent, but would remove the advantage against whichever enemy you find hardest. You could dual immediately, but the character would lose 12HP, and the XP is virtually nothing anyway. Character 5: This character is your main bombardier and gets first priority for all arcane items. You need 15+ Str, 18 Dex, 16+ Con, 18 Int, anything else in Wis. This character will be using mage daggers and a shield. Other W.P. are unimportant. Alternate choices: If you use character 6 then make this an abjurer to gain an extra spell for each level, if not then the mage type canít be specialist as you donít want to miss out on any class of spells. If you do take an abjurer then get the Wis from Dex. You could make this a thief -> mage instead, to have extra thief abilities instead of HP, but I personally value HP extremely highly. Character 6: To give some extra arcane power to this group take this character. It multiplies your bombardier capabilities by about 3, as your main mage can then be a specialist, and you can also have each learn more of the best spells, and some okay spells are memorised by only one of the mages, and the others by the other; this gives greater scope for variation and an opportunity to try new spells. I would advise cloning scrolls to ensure that both mage types learn the best spells. A.S. requirements same as character 5. Alternate choices: This character can be whatever you wish, I placed this in mainly because my gaming style requires 2 mage types, a thief 5-> conjurer would be my 2nd choice, but as the party is well balanced without this character, you can take whatever suits you. The aforementioned thief 5-> conjurer is good if you feel your archer doesnít have enough thieving capabilities for your group. The loss of HP will be noticed but if that is less important for 6th character, as 5 characters can easily win a battle and then you can import this character in after the battle from just before the battle, the XP (s)he would have got will go to the 5 main characters and this is definitely a support character so if (s)he is 1 level lower than all the others at the end of the game it has little significance. You could take an extra cleric if you like healers and buffers, dualling over at level 2. Another druid would balance the party perfectly, giving 1 and 2*Ĺ for each role, but though druids are great, I feel that 2 is overkill. A pure fighter could be taken if you would prefer more melee power. If you donít take this character then you could have a dwarven fighter to use as a distracter, or not bother. Melee party (1.7.2): This is a party with an emphasis on direct fighting, and thus has much less casting ability. This is basically the main party with every character dualling at the next fighter stage, with a fighter instead of a conjurer; much more XP goes to the fighter class however, and much less to casting classes, shifting the balance considerably. As you canít summon as much you need at least two main tankers, I have stated the 2nd tanker optional instead of the 3rd because of how great druids are in this game and the fact that there is only one other character that gets more than 1 summoning spell. I wouldnít advise taking only 5 characters however, 3 strong tankers, 1 part druid, is fine but less and you are likely to suffer. The imbalance of this party causes a greater need to ensure that you are virtually perfect in the main ability of the party, so with 6 characters the deficiencies are balanced. Requires little micromanagement however. 1 Human Paladin Lawful good 2(optional) Half-elf Fighter Chaotic evil 3 Human Fighter 9-> Druid True neutral 4 Elf Fighter --- Thief Chaotic neutral 5 Human Fighter 6-> Cleric Chaotic good 6 Human Fighter 3-> Mage Neutral Evil Character 1: Same as in main party. No decent alternative. Give the best shield to character 3 though. Character 2: Strongest tanker in terms of damage dealt. A.S. should have Str 18/91+, Dex 18, Con 18, Wis 15+, remaining goes first in Wis, then Int to give a chance of having a good Lore skill. Take the best armour character 1 isnít using, and 5 W.P. in either 2-H swords or axes, after that just ensure that (s)he wonít suffer any penalties with other 2-H weapons. Alternate Choices: None really, taking anything else just gives you melee oriented variation of the main party. Character 3: This character is the 3rd tanker, 2nd healer, and support bombardier. (S)He requires 18/91+ Str, 18 Con, min Int, 18 Wis, 17 Cha, any leftover points go to Dex. Take everything in scimitars so you can use a shield to make up for the low Dex. Give the best helmet here as well. Alternate Choices: A fighter removes Ĺ of the few casting abilities your party does have, and character 2 will take all the best 2-H weapons anyway so thereís little point. Dualling earlier weakens melee capabilities too much to be able to use as a full-time tanker. Dualling later gives negligible HP and you already have full W.P. in scimitars so that has no use. Mages are incredibly weak and take too long to gain levels to be even an effective support tanker. A second cleric causes a fight for the best mace and canít attack as efficiently as a druid. Character 4: Same as character 3 in main party. Character 5: The healer and a support tanker, also casts some nice buffer spells. I would give this character 18/91+ Str, 18 Dex, 18 Con, 18 Wis, anything else in Int to give a nice Lore skill. Though having Con above 16 is only useful until you dual it is still helpful and you can put nothing in Int and Cha if you need, thus providing plenty of A.S. to use freely. This character should be wearing heavy armour and using a mace. Alternate choices: If youíre patient then dualling later will enable you to use this as a strong tanker, though you would only be able to reach level 14 until you install HOW, you would also have to wait far too long to get a healer. The 218000 XP would get your cleric to just below level 9, though, and the 1 W.P. and HP just arenít worth the bother. Character 6: This character is your bombardier and gets all your arcane items. You need 18/76+ Str, 18 Dex, 16+ Con, 18 Int, anything else in Wis. This character will be using mage daggers and a shield. Other W.P. are unimportant. Can attack well enough but that is not main purpose. Alternate choices: Taking a conjurer would be okay as long as you donít mind paying to get items identified, and canít use them immediately. You are probably more patient and less stingy than me. Arcane Party (1.7.3): This is a party which will be doing virtually all its damage with spells. Only 1 character who could be an effective full time tanker reduces allowance for less characters to nothing. You could decide not to take character 5, but then you have a long period on the game without a thief. Swapping the mage types from thief round is a possibility, but this way the higher level mage can cast the necromancy spells. Until your druid hits level 4, and your 1st thief duals to mage, you are likely to find the game difficult, but at higher levels this party will show just how brilliant large amounts of spells can be with careful management. Unfortunately I found that placing in a character with infravision weakened the character in other ways too much, can cast it with 1 of the many mages though. 1 Human Paladin Lawful good 2 Human Fighter 3-> Druid True neutral 3 Human Ranger 2-> Cleric Chaotic good 4 Human Fighter 2-> Conjurer Chaotic evil 5 Human Thief 5-> Abjurer Neutral evil 6 Human Thief 10-> Illusionist Chaotic neutral Character 1: Same as in other parties. Should get all the best weapons and armour. Alternate choices: Same as in main party. Half-elven fighter improves as an alternative because of lack of infravision. Character 2: This character is your support tanker and support healer. Has some use as a 4th bombardier. A.S. requirements are 18/91+ Str, 16+ Con, min Int, 18 Wis, min Cha, everything else in Dex. All W.P. in spears, then quarter staves, then scimitars. With such low overall melee capability, you need at least one character to have 2-H weapons and the paladin should use a shield. Alternate choices: Dualling over at level 9 is completely pointless in an arcane party, but fighter 6-> druid is certainly a good option, though with level 3 you get to druid level 6 when you would get to fighter level 6, though if unlike me you donít find druid spells and quest options brilliant, dualling at level 6 is probably the best option. You could take a full-time archer instead, if you want more ranged power. Character 3: Amazing healing, good buffer spells, okay melee. Give him/her 18/76+ Str, 18 Dex, 16+ Con, 18 Wis, min Cha, rest in Int to boost Lore skill. As this character is all that stands between your mages and enemies the buffer and de-buffer spells become much more useful. Carry a shield, how much you use it is optional. Using reduces damage given to you, not increases damage done to your enemy because of the rangerís 2nd attack per round. Make sure (s)he hates trolls. Heavy armour and W.P. in mace are vital. Alternate choices: Dual at level 3 instead. I chose this to ensure that I had healing before I dualled my 1st mage, but the weakness isnít that significant and nor is the XP requirement. You would still get the cleric abilities early in Chapter 1. Character 4: Your main bombardier, this character will have no problem with equipment as there are tons of arcane boosters that can only be used by mages that are part fighter. Your high mage level will give you tons of spells as youíre a specialist. A.S. are predictable, 15+ Str, 18 Dex, 16+ Con, 18 Int, min Cha, everything else in Wis. This character will probably do more than most of the others put together near the end of the game. Take W.P. in daggers and slings, so you can use mage daggers and have good ranged ability to make up for the loss of an archer. Alternate choices: None, conjurer is the best mage, this is the arcane party, and you need your fighter -> mage to have both class abilities before you reach Chapter 2. The character that defines this party. Character 5: Your 2nd mage and 2nd thief. Needs 14+ Str, 18 Dex, 16+ Con, 18 Int, rest in Wis. You need some Str to carry equipment. Take all your thieving points in pick-pocketing. Alternate choices: Dualling later is a bad idea as then you have far too long without any thief skills as both would then switch at the same time, also you would have an arcane party with only one mage type for Ĺ the game, ruining the point. The archer from the other parties would be okay, if you donít mind the loss of your 3rd mage. If you donít mind training a character up about 10000 XP, you could even take an elven fighter --- thief --- mage, and get similar thief abilities, be a good archer, and have this character learn all the buffer spells and non-combat spells such as "identify". You could take an ordinary mage, instead of a specialist, if you would prefer all your mages to get the buffer spells, to having extra spells. I feel that having at least two arcane castors for each spell type is good enough though. Character 6: Your 3rd mage and 1st thief. Has A.S. requirements of 14+ Str, 18 Dex, 16+ Con, 18 Int, 17 Wis. This character will have an amazing Lore skill and should take all thief skills in "open lock" and "find traps". Stealth is irrelevant for thief -> mages as once you get "invisibility", it loses most of its use and "improved invisibility" renders it completely useless. Alternate choices: None, you canít dual later if you want any mage ability, and dualling earlier weakens your thieving abilities too much. You could take a conjurer instead as long as character 5 knows, and often uses, "identify". That would also give you the necromancy spells. After installing Heart of Winter (2.0) The main differences are the new XP cap of 8000000 XP, allowing characters to reach level 30, and the wonderful HOF mode. The higher XP cap increases the value of dual-classing vastly, and enables the triple-class to be useful. HOF mode makes training much easier and less tedious, and HOF also vastly improves the replay value of this game. Also some spells are now only available to particular alignments, especially cleric spells. There are also new spells for each class, aligned and not. The new areas are also great fun, though less useful in terms of character development than the other main changes. Race (2.1) The only difference is that humans, elves and half-elves improve to become even better than the other races, because of the higher level cap making dual-classing even better, and the triple class becoming a more attractive prospect. Class (2.2) Fighter: Similar quality. Improve slightly because of main differences. Ranger: Become even worse pure, the advantages at level 6-12 were virtually non-existent, and they have none at the newly available high-levels. Their new ability "tracking" is virtually useless. The game designers have tried to make a tanker with spells, a sure failure. The druid spells they get are very nice, but you get them too late and donít get enough anyway to be effective. The updated spell system vastly improves their use when combined with clerics however, giving clerics access to the druid spells when they would get them, this dual-class combination is superb. Paladin: Become much better, as now the "Pale Justice" sword is found about 1/8 of the way through the overall game, including replays, and the Lay on Hands ability continues to improve at the newly available levels. They are also immune to disease and fear by level 3. Cleric: Can now cast more spells. The healing spells, new attack spells, and best new buffers are all now aligned. Though they can still be effective support tankers, they are now much better used as a buffer when not healing, because of some nice new spells. Druid: Druids get even better. They can now shape-shift once they reach level 5, and gain new shapes every 2 levels. At level 11 they can transform into a fire elemental, earth at 13, and water at 15. They also become immune to poison at level 9, normal or magical, and immune to any from of fatigue at level 15. And there are great new spells from as early as level 1. Thief: Thieves improve again, and become better again as a multi-class. At level 7 thieves gain the wonderful "evasion", which enables them to dodge most spells except those cast by themselves. This improves as the thief level increases, so enabling you to cast a "fireball" right on your high level fighter --- thief and only damage the surrounding enemies, because of "evasion". In the configuration screen you can now switch a thiefís backstabbing ability and replace it with a new skill called sneak attack. This means that if a thief is attacking an opponent from beside or behind, hidden or not, they do additional damage, starting at 1d6 then increasing to 2d6 at level 4, 3d6 at level 8, 4d6 at level 12 and so on. If your thief has improved invisibility cast on him/her most of the time anyway, backstabbing is still better, but otherwise sneak attack is brilliant, especially for a fighter --- thief support tanker. This is not all though, once they reach level 5, if they successfully sneak attack, then they reduce their targets to hit and damage rolls, and this continues improving every 4 levels. Arcane castors (2.2.1) Mage: Apart from new spells, no changes. Bard: Suddenly the worst class has become one of the best. They now get 6 extremely useful songs, a new one every 2 levels. The songs have an effect radius of 30ft. They still canít get level 9 spells however, and the slightly slower gain of spells means that they should not be used as a main bombardier, great in support though. Songs: Level 1: +1 to hit, damage and S.T. to allies. Level 3: Immunity to fear and cures fear of all allies. Level 5: + 1 luck, +3 Lore and +10% to Lore and thieving skills for allies. Level 7: Allies get a 50% chance to dispel effects of any sound-based attack. Level 9: Enemies must save or be enthralled for 1 turn or till they take damage. Level 11: Allies get -2 bonus to AC, +10% resistance to weapon attacks and regenerate 2 HP every round. Specialists: A.S. requirements are the same. New opposition schools. If you import a character from the IWD then (s)he will keep all his/her previously learnt spells. Mage Type Opposition Schools Comments Abjurer Transmutation, Illusion Donít get many buffer or any invisibility spells. Not bad though. Conjurer Invocation Canít cast many good attack spells, abominable. 2nd worst. Diviner Conjuration Canít summon and lose several good attack spells, rubbish. Enchanter Invocation Canít cast many good attack spells, appalling. Worst. Illusionist Necromancy, Abjuration Canít cast the best new spells or many defence spells. Could be useful. Invoker Divination, Conjuration Canít summon, and donít get identify and several good attack spells, dreadful. Necromancer Illusion, Enchantment Donít get invisibility spells or enchantment spells, but I rarely use enchantments anyway, the best specialist. Transmutation Necromancy, Abjuration Canít cast the best new spells or many defence spells. Could be useful. Best arcane castors to worst: Mage Bard Necromancer Abjurer Illusionist, Transmuter Diviner Invoker Conjurer Enchanter 4 of the best new spells are necromantic. There are 3 new invocation spells and 3 new transmutation spells worth getting. The 2 new conjuration spells are also good. There is one brilliant abjuration spell. Imported conjurers are fine, as long as theyíve already learnt all the invocation spells, they are certainly useful. If you have an abjurer with the invisibility and shadow summoning spells to import that is the best option though. If you start new the only specialists worth using are necromancers and abjurers. As the A.S. requirements both need Wis, Necromancer is better as invisibility spells, as well as blur and mirror image are worth having, shadow summons are reasonable as well. The newly available high levels make the reduced number of spells for mages and even more bards much less important. As bards gain levels extremely fast anyway, they can end up with more spell slots at several times in the game than a specialist. There are only 2 level 9 spells anyway, though they are amazing. Ability Scores (2.3) Only one change, dexterity is now even more vital for thieves because new evasion skill is affected by dexterity. Alignment (2.4) Only one change, some priest spells are now aligned, changing the importance of your clericís alignment significantly. Evil clerics can now not cast healing spells, thus becoming almost useless, good clerics can cast very few of the new attack spells, but the brilliant "heal" and "resurrection" spells, can now only be cast by good clerics, two of the next best, "cure critical wounds" and "raise dead" cannot be cast by evil clerics. The cause wound spells which can only be cast by evil clerics are quite good, though a druidís attack spells are much better, and you would need another cleric to heal anyway. Also a brilliant new defence spell, "greater shield of Lathander" and the best new attack spell, "holy word", can only be cast by good clerics. There are some spells which cannot be cast by lawful characters, or on them. Now any cleric must be chaotic good or neutral good, if you wish to get all the most effective spells. Some spells only work on characters of similar alignment, and there are other spells that have an area-effect damage against evil characters, so though you want your main arcane castor to be evil, that should probably be the only one. True or chaotic neutral is best, with the exception of clerics. Class combinations (2.5) The choice is now much more important as all the castor classes get a much greater number of spells at higher levels, increasing at rapid rates, so you want to ensure that your combination enables your character to get the maximum number of available spells. Dual-classing (2.5.1) Because of the new availability of much higher levels I have done this by what the dual combination instead of original class. When I say mage in this section I am including specialists in that. I have only included useful combinations. Fighter -> Cleric: In theory you could dual at as high a fighter level as 20 and still get maximum cleric level though that is pointless. I would advise dualling at level 3 or level 6. For a tanker like cleric level 9 could be used, but that would take a lot of training to be effective, and you would be without healing for a great length of time. Level 3 is best for most as then you get the cleric class about when you first really actually need regular healing., but level 6 is fine for a cleric that is acting like a support tanker. Now always inferior to the ranger -> cleric choice though. Fighter -> Druid: The theory says level 19 can be used, but donít bother, anything above level 9 is a waste of time and XP. This has only changed slightly from IWD, because of the powerful shape-shift forms, the immunity to poison at druid level 9, and the immunity to fatigue at level 15, druids are naturally stronger anyway, to should be dualled over by level 6, level 9 is no longer worth it. Fighter -> Thief: Improve slightly but the multi-class improves even more, dual at level 3 if you really want one though. Fighter -> Mage: If you dual over at later than level 10 you cannot get a level 30 mage. 12 extra HP for 2000 XP is probably worth the difference between level 2 and 3. Having 7 spells for most spell level, 6 for levels 7 and 8, and 4 to spread between the 2 level 9 spells is too good to miss out on. Ranger -> Cleric: You can get a ranger 18-> cleric now, and it is useful as rangers will give your cleric access to the druid spells even when the ranger class is inactive. You donít get the extra spell slots from the ranger till the class becomes active, and clerics get maximum by level 30 anyway, but the druid spells are powerful, and are extremely useful for those levels without many good cleric spells. A level 6 ranger gets you 1st level spells It is certainly worth it. Level 10 will get you 2nd level spells. Ranger level 12 gives your character 3rd level spells. The level 4 spells you get if your ranger class is level 15 are better still.The high hit dice of high level rangers is another advantage, and though the druid spells arenít worth taking a pure ranger, they make a cleric vastly better, as then the good cleric can cast better attack spells than an evil cleric, and still gets all the healing spells and resurrection. The high level rangers do require a lot of training, though they are certainly worth it from the moment you dual to cleric. Thief -> Fighter: These are now an excellent combination, if you dual at level 9, then you have the brilliant evasion, if you sneak attack successfully then you do 3d6 extra damage and reduce their damage an to hit rolls by 2 each, this is on top of having one brilliant thief skill. The W.P., although you cannot specialise until you dual, by the time you dual you will be proficient in all the weapons you might use, so there is no loss there. Even better as the fighter class is the main class you can get up to +4 HP per level if your Con is 18. Dualling before level 9 is inadvisable as evasion will be nothing or negligible, as will sneak attack and crippling strike. Dualling at level 13 is probably a slightly better compromise than 9 as then your character has high ability in 2 thief skills, an effective evasion, and a powerful sneak attack and crippling strike all for 660000 XP. A level 21 thief is the highest you can reach if you want the fighter class to reach level 30. This class combination is effective as a tanker, and you get the fighter class, a thief, and an archer. Thief -> Mage: These are a slightly better option than the fighter -> mage, if you donít mind training. You can reach level 12 and still get your mage to level 30, this option gives similar HP to a fighter does, similar overall melee ability as sneak attack is a nice ability. The thieving skills are very useful in the game, and the final advantage is that another mage can cast a fireball on you to get you out of trouble, as your evasion will be reasonable. Multi-classing (2.5.2) With the new much higher XP cap and the wonderful HOF mode multi-classing becomes a much more attractive option. The most attractive multi-class options are all still part thief, but because of their improved abilities, the new XP cap and better training facilities, these become vastly improved on the poor ones in IWD. The triple-class now also becomes a more viable option. A fighter --- mage --- cleric requires too many high A.S. and has completely the wrong balance to be effective, but a fighter --- thief --- mage is now much better. An elven version can be an effective archer who can be a reasonably effective 3rd bombardier and reaches 18/22/17, giving a character with similar spell ability as a bard and better melee, range and thieving abilities, you will gain new spells much slower than a bard but the other abilities ensure that this choice can certainly be worth it. The new thief abilities mean that fighter --- thieves can perform more functions, but you must decide which when creating the character, as race affects this greatly. If you want one that operates as part tanker, then take a half-elf, an archer must obviously be elven. The other races all adjust thief skills but the long term benefits are with half-elven or elven characters, though halflings can be okay if you want your fighter --- thief to have a strong resistance. Though still inferior to the dual-class, ranger --- clerics are now much more effective and can be considered. Weapon proficiencies and armour (2.6) Armour has no change. The only change to W.P. is that fighter --- thieves are now much better with melee weapons, and can use the same weapons as fighter, though they are still easily the best archers. Sample parties (2.7) I am now only mentioning characters that are considerably different from previously mentioned ones. Main party (2.7.1) Th 1 Human Paladin Lawful good 2 Human Fighter 6-> Druid True neutral 3 Elf Fighter --- Thief Chaotic neutral 4 Human Ranger 3-> Cleric Chaotic good 5 Human Thief 12-> Mage Neutral evil 6(optional) Half-elf Bard Chaotic neutral Character 2: Druids are now even better. Alternate choices: The other choices are much weaker, as the new spells and immunities gained cause druids to be vital, especially as druids can fulfil all roles as a full-timer now, with the exception of archer which belongs to an elf. Character 3: This character has the same requirements as the equivalent from the IWD party, but is much better because of the new thief skills, and can be played as a tanker. Alternate choices: This character now has much more choice, a thief 13-> fighter can fulfil this role well, though elven archery is the best. You could add to the arcane ability of this party and have this character as a fighter --- mage --- thief. This option would allow you to cast spells with some efficiency, though the melee abilities would lose out. This remains the conclusive best. Character 4: Alternate choices: Fighter -> clerics are inferior to ranger -> clerics now. Dualling earlier is for the impatient. Dualling later is for the perfectionists. Level 6 gives some nice spells. Then levels 10, 12, 15. If you go up to 18 your cleric gets slightly more HP, as your cleric will get maximum spell slots anyway by the time the ranger class is activated again, and 900000 XP is a lot for 36 HP. The longer you are prepared to train as a ranger, the better your cleric will be. Once you do dual as well you will level up fast as the XP given in the area you are in will be more than enough to get the level up to a more appropriate one. Character 6: Bards have now become almost as vital a class as druid, and they balance the party even better. The A.S. must be 14 Str, 18 Dex, 8+ Con, 18 Int, 10+ Wis 15 Cha, you need a high Lore skill and to ensure that your S.T. are quite good, also require AC. This bard is a support bombardier, my intelligent diplomat (and possibly wise), and can be proficient in almost all weapons although not specialise. The new factor that improves them though, their brilliant songs. Once your bard hits level 11, as they heal 2 HP per round to all allies, just walk around and you heal, reducing the need for a cleric to just using the spell "heal" during battle to stop them dying, and "resurrection" to save them if they have died. Alternate choices: I love bards in IWD(H), in IWD they were dreadful but now I feel they are vital, they save you from resting too much, because of healing song and high Lore reduces need for "identify" to virtually nothing. You could take a thief -> mage if you really want. But the low XP requirements for bards to gain levels balances out the reduced spell slots over a mage as long as you have another arcane castor. Melee Party (2.7.2) I have included a melee party, but now it is just my main party with a fighter instead of a bard. Also some characters are dualled later. This party is much weaker in HOF mode than my other 2 parties as you need a large amount of spells to play HOF mode effectively. 1 Human Paladin Lawful good 2(optional) Half-elf Fighter Chaotic neutral 3 Human Fighter 9-> Druid True neutral 4 Human Ranger 10-> Cleric Chaotic good 5 Elf Fighter --- Thief Chaotic neutral 6 Human Fighter 6-> Mage Neutral Evil Character 4: A powerful tanker class, especially against whatever you choose as your favoured enemy. Can dual-wield, and has an amazing range of healing, defensive and attacking spells. Should be trained up to ensure that you get a cleric before chapter 3. Alternate choices: You could dual at level 6 if you donít like training, but you would lose out on spells and 48 HP. I personally would train to level 12 or 15 then dual-class, to gain the 3rd or 4th level spells respectively, but that takes time. Clerics are nowhere near as vital now though. Arcane party (2.7.3) This party will be weak first time through the game, but will play brilliantly once you reach the HOW areas, and play through on HOF mode. 1 Human Paladin Lawful good 2 Human Fighter 3-> Druid True neutral 3 Human Ranger 15-> Cleric Chaotic good 4 Elf Fighter --- Mage --- Thief Chaotic neutral 5 Human Fighter 3-> Mage Neutral evil 6 Half-elf Bard Chaotic neutral Character 3: Gets all priest spells, you may be without a cleric for a while but healing potions and your paladin should provide enough. Dualling earlier is a choice between early and late for when your quality is. The arcane party is designed to peak later so this one will follow the trend. Character 4: Shouldnít be using spells in combat, is an archer there but will provide plenty of good buffer spells beforehand. Other points (2.8) In the IWD(H) parties I encourage training greatly, this is not always what I mean, as most of my parties overlap considerably, you should be able to import many characters from other parties, and if you play through with 2 parties at similar places through the game, you can use the same character, importing from the other, to double the XP gained. This guide is copyright 2004 onwards by Mike Marshall. I am not associated in any way with Black Isle, Interplay or anyone involved in the creation or development of this game. Anyone will be welcome to post this guide as long as the content remains the same and you e-mail me to request permission. No-one is allowed to charge for or profit in any way through the use of this guide. Version History (2.8.1) Please note that the most updated version will be at www.gamefaqs.com the others might have it, but I'll update at gamefaqs more often. 1.0 Wrote it 1.0.1 Minor spelling and grammar adjustments, more permitted sites listed.