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    Character Development Guide by MMalone

    Version: 1.1 | Updated: 11/08/02 | Printable Version | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    Icewind Dale II
    Version 1.1
    Written by: Mike Malone
    E-mail: christopher.malone2@gte.net
    This document copyright (c) 2002 by Mike Malone.  All rights reserved.  
    I) Introduction
    This guide provides an overview of the Icewind Dale II (IWD2) races and 
    character classes, with extensive tips about how to build interesting and 
    successful heroes.  IWD2 represents an evolution in the Infinity Engine (IE) 
    game series (Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment) in that it uses 
    the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition game rules (D&D), which offer distinctly more 
    options for customizing your characters.  However, this increased flexibility 
    also means that there are more ways to construct a character who will, perhaps, 
    not turn out to be as satisfactory a hero as had been hoped.  Thus, a primary 
    goal of this document is to offer a framework in which you can approach the task 
    of building a set of characters who are both powerful and fun.  
    The target audience of this guide is both new players and those who have already 
    played IWD2 some (perhaps completing it) and who want to play again with a more 
    carefully constructed, diverse, or whimsical set of characters.  In fact, 
    because of the rich possibilities for character design, the author considers 
    IWD2 to be well worth playing through more than once, and in some ways the 
    advice in this guide may be more useful the second time through the game than 
    the first.  However, note that this guide emphasizes normal play, and some of 
    the advice herein may not carry over to Heart of Fury (HoF) mode.  (A future 
    version of the guide may have a special section on character design 
    considerations for playing Heart of Fury.)
    The material in this guide can't replace a careful perusal of the IWD2 
    Instruction Manual and the information that appears in game during the character 
    design process (the latter information does not appear in the printed manual but 
    is crucial to know when planning your characters' careers).  This in-game 
    information on classes and race can also be accessed by pushing the 
    "Information" button that appears near the middle of the character display 
    screens.  If you are new to IWD2, before building a custom party of your own it 
    may be useful to start the game with one of the pre-built parties in order to 
    look at the character displays and review the information screens on races, 
    classes, orders, feats, and skills.
    Although in a guide of this sort some generic D&D party design lore is 
    unavoidable as background, this document tries to focus on issues that are 
    specific to optimizing IWD2 characters.  Moreover, the emphasis of this document 
    is on the practical rather than on the kinds of aesthetic concerns that might be 
    associated with roleplaying in the strictest sense.  Thus, the classes, races, 
    and abilities that seem less useful than others are ruthlessly critiqued.  
    However, this should not deter people from using those classes, races, or 
    abilities if that is what they want to do.  The point of playing IWD2 is to have 
    fun, after all, and the author is a solid proponent of enjoying the roleplaying 
    aspects of the game, which include playing quirky or "theme" characters and 
    parties.  Furthermore, none of the races or classes is so seriously 
    disadvantaged that it would be a horrible mistake to use them.  Still, this 
    guide would not be worth reading if it did not try to make clear what are the 
    best practices for character and party design, and that requires saying which 
    types of hero are strongest and which are not.
    This guide is best viewed using a 12 pt fixed-width font (e.g., Courier).
    Note also that this document contains a few spoilers, which are always marked as 
    This is a sample spoiler.
    II) Revision History
    11/08/02 Added section on sample characters; numerous corrections; expanded and 
    tuned some material
    10/07/02 Minor additions and corrections
    10/02/02 Initial version
    III) Legal Stuff & Contact Information
    This document is copyrighted by Mike Malone.  The guide is made available to 
    selected web sites who are given permission to post it by the author.  Visitors 
    to these sites are welcome to download and print out the document, but are not 
    permitted to reprint, post, or plagiarize its contents for their own documents 
    or web sites.   Please e-mail me if you want permission to use all or some of 
    this guide elsewhere.
    If you have a question, comment or correction, please e-mail me 
    (christopher.malone2@gte.net), and be sure to put something in the subject line 
    that makes it clear that it is IWD2-related.
    IV) Terminology
    This document uses some jargon that the author has adopted as well as 
    terminology from the domain of D&D and roleplaying games, both computer-based 
    ones and traditional pen-and-paper ones.  Although many people will be familiar 
    with most of these terms, they are defined here for clarity and reference.
    Str, Int, Wis, Dex, Con, Cha -- these are the short forms of the six main 
    attributes: Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, and 
    Charisma, respectively.  This document uses the short and long versions 
    Build -- A "build" is a way of referring to a particular selection of race, 
    classes, abilities, feats, etc. that together comprise an IWD2 character.  Two 
    pure fighters might have very different builds (e.g., one might have massive 
    Strength and rely on feats like Power Attack and Cleave in order to excel in 
    hand-to-hand combat, whereas another might have high Dexterity and use Rapid 
    Shot, Precise Shot, and Weapon Specialization in bows in order to serve as a 
    master archer).
    Role -- A job or related set of tasks performed by a party member.  For example, 
    "tank" or "healer."  See "Party Composition and Character Roles."
    Favored class -- Every race has a favored class that affects their ability to 
    multiclass.  This is described in detail under "Multiclassing Basics."
    Order -- This is an IWD2 term that refers to a variant of some class, usually 
    because of a religious or quasi-religious affiliation (for example, Stormlord of 
    Talos).  Clerics, paladins, and monks all have different orders to choose from, 
    and their choice of order provides additional special abilities (for clerics) or 
    affects their ability to multiclass (for monks or paladins).
    Mix In -- This is not a standard RPG term, but one adopted by the author to 
    denote the addition of a few levels of some support class to augment a build's 
    main class.  E.g., an elf rogue/wizard might have only three levels of rogue as 
    a "mix in" and the rest of her levels in wizard.
    Pure -- When used as in the phrase "pure fighter," refers to a single-class 
    character (i.e., a hero who puts all his levels into a single class for his 
    entire IWD2 career).
    Effective Character Level -- Races with more powerful starting attributes and 
    abilities (aasimar, tiefling, drow, gray dwarf, and deep gnome) are penalized by 
    having an "effective character level" (or ECL), the effect of which is to 
    increase the amount of experience they need to go up levels.
    V)  Party Composition and Character Roles
    A great deal has been written about creating well-balanced parties for D&D, and 
    I'm not going to rehash a lot of tired lore in this section.  Instead, I will 
    briefly summarize the various necessary roles for a party so that I can refer to 
    them later on.  By focusing on roles (such as "tank") rather than classes (such 
    as fighter), a player can decide for herself how she wants to fill those roles, 
    and this encourages creativity and diversity.  Although a party need not have 
    characters that fill every role, having at least one hero with good coverage for 
    each of the major roles is a surefire way to ensure that you will have the 
    flexibility to deal with a wide variety of encounters.
    A) Tank
    The job of the tank is to engage monsters in toe-to-toe melee combat in order to 
    dispatch them and also to keep them occupied so that they don't harm the other, 
    more fragile characters.  Fighters, barbarians, and paladins are good tanks.  
    Rangers, druids,  clerics, and high-level monks can be almost as good, given the 
    right equipment and stat selection.  
    Tank is one of the roles that rewards having coverage from multiple characters.  
    A party with only one tank will often find itself flanked, with the result that 
    the frail spellcasters are now engaged in melee (and the IWD2 monster AI can be 
    rather persistent about pursuing your heroes when they try to flee).  A party 
    with no tanks is very challenging to play.
    B) Healer
    With a few rare, plot-driven exceptions, it is easy to heal damage in IWD2 
    between major battles by simply resting, going back to town, or visiting one of 
    the many NPC healers and "rest stops" who appear at various convenient locations 
    throughout the game.  So, the role of a healer in the party is mostly to provide 
    medical services during the heat of battle or between skirmishes in a major 
    ongoing engagement during which resting is not possible or would be 
    inconvenient. In terms of what a healer does, the ability to remove nasty 
    effects like paralysis is at least as important as the ability to simply restore 
    lost hit points.  Moreoever, a top-notch healer build will also incorporate 
    features aimed at keeping the healer herself alive and well, since an 
    incapacitated healer is of little use to other party members.
    In any case, and as is well known, clerics make the best healers, as they have a 
    wide range of curative magic and are themselves quite sturdy.  Druids and 
    (surprisingly) bards can also be successful in this role.  Paladins and rangers 
    can also serve as adjunct healers once they are higher in level.
    C) Scout
    The game is much easier if you have a character whose Hide and Move Silently 
    skill ranks are high enough that they can reliably sneak around the area and 
    check out the lay of the land.  Rogues, rangers, and monks all have excellent 
    potential here.  Note that whereas it is possible to have your scout and your 
    thief (see below) be the same hero, that may not be the best use of your 
    D) Thief
    A thief is a character that specializes in the Open Locks, Disable Device, 
    Search, and (if you so desire) Pick Pocket skills.  If a hero puts lots of 
    levels into the rogue class, it is easy for her to cover all these skills, since 
    rogues receive a hefty allotment of skill points.  However,  sometimes it is 
    desirable to split these skills across multiple characters.  Furthermore, 
    although rogues are the canonical base class for a thief, any character can 
    serve adequately in this role if they have sufficient Dex (for Open Locks and 
    Pick Pocket) or Int (for Search and Disable Device) and will have enough skill 
    points to keep investing in those skills regularly as the game progresses.
    E) Bombardier
    There's nothing quite like a Fireball for starting out a big fight on the right 
    footing.  The job of lobbing Fireballs and other spells of mass destruction 
    belongs to the bombardier.  Sorcerers make the best bombardiers, followed by 
    wizards, druids, and clerics, in roughly that order.  
    F) Sniper
    An optional, but useful, role.  The sniper specializes in ranged combat.  
    Fighters make the best snipers, by virtue of their superior base attack bonuses 
    and the fact that only a fighter of level four or higher can obtain the Weapon 
    Specialization feat (+2 damage) for their missile weapon of choice (usually bows 
    or slings).  However, any character with good Dexterity and the right weapon 
    proficiency can be enlisted for sniper-style tactics.
    G) Mage Killer
    The mage killer is a character designed specifically to go after and 
    incapacitate enemy mages and magic-using bosses.  Usually the mage killer will 
    also serve as a scout, since one of the best ways to terminate opposing spell 
    casters is to sneak up on them and attack them unawares.  Having one or more 
    solid mage killers is not a requirement for success in IWD2, but is useful if 
    you prefer stealth and skirmish-oriented tactics.
    A good choice for a mage killer is a build with innate Spell Resistance, which 
    means either a drow, deep gnome, or high-level monk.  Gray dwarves are also a 
    good choice, with solid saving throw bonuses and immunity to paralysis 
    (specifically, the dreaded Hold Person).  To a lesser extent, aasimar and 
    tiefling characters can also serve in this role because of their built-in 
    resistance to most elements.  Finally, paladins with high Charisma receive 
    enormous bonuses to their saving throws, which also makes them suitable for mage 
    killer applications.
    If you are building a mage killer based on their racial qualities, you will want 
    to choose at least one warrior-style class and build up enough levels to get a 
    high number of attacks per round.  This gives you additional opportunities to 
    disrupt the enemy's spellcasting.  Also, getting the Evasion special ability can 
    be very useful for a mage killer; this can be achieved automatically if you are 
    a monk or by having at least two levels of rogue.
    H) Diplomat
    An optional but useful role.  A diplomat is a character who can do your party's 
    "face" work, including talking to strangers and buying and selling items.  Bards 
    make good diplomats, but other classes that need Charisma (paladins and 
    sorcerers) can also serve well (however, keep in mind that paladins can turn 
    down opportunities to receive gold for quest rewards).  Also, rogues have all 
    three diplomat skills (Diplomacy, Bluff, Intimidation) as class skills, so 
    although rogues usually don't need Charisma you might find an opportunity to use 
    a rogue-based build for the diplomat role.
    I) Loremaster
    The loremaster is a character who has sufficient ranks in Alchemy and Knowledge 
    (Arcane) to be able to identify objects and potions and to handle the various 
    alchemical subquests that appear in IWD2.  Wizards and bards make the best 
    loremasters, and note also that rock gnomes of whatever class gain a bonus to 
    the Alchemy skill, making them well-suited for the loremaster role.
    ********* Spoiler *********
    There are a couple places in the game where having a character with high Alchemy 
    can be helpful, and there is one plot element for which having an Alchemy skill 
    in excess of 15 is one of only few ways to satisfy that quest.
    J) Summoner
    The summoner is a spellcaster who has an ample supply of summoning spells.  At 
    best, summoned creatures are a battle winning strategy (elementals, demons, and 
    high-level undead are quite mighty) and, at worst, they at least provide meat 
    shields for your main characters.  Almost all of the spellcasting classes can 
    serve as summoners, so this role is mostly a matter of spell selection and 
    K) Spell Sword
    "Spell sword" is a catch-all term for a warrior-type character who also uses 
    magic both offensively and defensively.  Clerics generally act as spell swords 
    by default, as do rangers and paladins at higher levels.  (Bards could be also 
    but usually they are playing songs so they are less likely to melee.)  However, 
    the most interesting possibilities for spell swords come from judicious 
    multiclassing, as discussed in later sections.
    VI) Race Basics
    This section describes the various races and provides some advice about what 
    races to use for what builds.  But first, a few general comments.
    A) When Not To Play a Human
    In terms of taking best advantage of the game system, plain, boring humans (not 
    tieflings or aasimar) should be your default race unless you have some good 
    reason to pick another race.  For one thing, a human with only two classes never 
    has to worry about experience penalties for multiclassing, as a human's favored 
    class is always considered to be their highest level class (more on this below).   
    Humans also receive an extra feat and extra skill points, and for many builds 
    these are worth more, over time, than the built-in capabilities of the exotic 
    races.  Moreover, the extra two skill points that a human receives at level one 
    and the additional extra skill point for each subsequent level are not affected 
    by any penalties because of low Intelligence.  Thus, at levels two and above a 
    human with an Int of three will still receive two skill points per level instead 
    of just one.  This can be a very significant optimization for certain builds.
    Pragmatically speaking, there are only a small number of reasons why you should 
    choose to play a race other than human:
    o Ability Bonuses.  Most non-human races have bonuses to one or more abilities 
    (and usually penalties to other abilities).  For example, a moon elf receives +2 
    to Dexterity but -2 to Constitution.  Not only can these bonuses make the race a 
    better choice for certain classes and roles, but a +2 bonus in an ability means 
    that you can raise that stat to 20 when creating the character.  You should 
    strongly consider taking advantage of that fact when building your initial 
    party; specific opportunities to make the most of these bonuses are mentioned 
    below in the discussions of the individual races.
    o Spell Resistance.  Two of the races--drow and deep gnome (Svirfneblin)--have 
    built in Spell Resistance.  This is a very powerful defensive capability (and 
    those races are penalized accordingly in terms of their effective character 
    level for gaining experience).  However, if you want a character to excel in the 
    mage killer role, it might be well worth coping with those penalties and 
    building your mage killer from one of these races.
    o Weapon Proficiencies.  All three types of elves gain automatic proficiency in 
    Martial Weapon, Bow and Martial Weapon, Large Sword.  This is effectively two 
    free feats, and for the right build that--plus the other advantages of elves--
    can make an elf a better choice than a human.  More will be said of this in the 
    sections on elves.
    o Role-Related Bonuses.  Some races receive bonuses to skills that make them 
    better suited for certain roles (e.g., halflings receive a Move Silently bonus 
    and thus make superior scouts).  However, keep in mind that the extra feat and 
    skill points of a human may equal or even exceed these benefits; planning ahead 
    as to how you are going to allocate your skill points and feats can help you 
    decide whether going with a non-human or human character is a better choice.
    B) Discussion of the Non-human Races
    This section provides more detailed information about the races other than plain 
    human and the reasons why you might or might not want to use them for certain 
    1) Aasimar
    Aasimar get +2 to both Wisdom and Charisma, with no offsetting penalties to 
    other abilities.  This provides a large pool of extra ability points that can 
    applied in a variety of ways to make a strong, single-class build.  Paladins, 
    druids, clerics, sorcerers, and bards can all benefit significantly from those 
    bonuses by starting with their primary casting characteristic (Wisdom or 
    Charisma) at 20.
    Unfortunately, because the favored class of aasimars is the paladin, and because 
    paladins are severely limited in their multiclassing potential, those four extra 
    ability points can't be used arbitrarily to create the wide array of multiclass 
    builds that might otherwise be possible.  However, for paladin multiclassing or 
    for builds like cleric/sorcerer where you intend to keep the two classes at 
    about the same level, the aasimar race is well worth considering despite the one 
    level experience acquisition penalty.
    2) Tiefling
    The tiefling subrace receives a +2 bonus to both Int and Dex (and -2 to Cha).  
    In fact, tiefling is one of only two races in IWD2 that gets a bonus to 
    Intelligence (the other is drow), thus making them a clear contender for 
    dedicated wizard builds.  These ability bonuses also make a tiefling a good 
    choice for a multiclass build based on the rogue class (rogue is the favored 
    class for a tiefling).  In fact, it is always worth considering a mix in of at 
    least two levels of rogue for a tiefling, as this gives them the Evasion special 
    ability, which, when combined with their elemental resistances, makes them very 
    sturdy in the face of elemental assaults.
    3) Shield Dwarf
    In general, dwarves are best considered for fighters or multiclass 
    fighter/rogues, fighter/clerics, or even fighter/monks, with an emphasis on the 
    tank role.  Raise Constitution to 20 right away to have a truly formidable tank.  
    However, apart from their excellent tanking potential (and as fond as the author 
    is of dwarves as a staple of swords and sorcery), for non-tank purposes the 
    dwarves' racial bonuses aren't really useful enough to make them worth choosing 
    over humans or certain other races.
    4) Gold Dwarf
    See above.  Shield dwarves and gold dwarves are almost identical except for the 
    stat for which they receive a penalty.
    5) Gray Dwarf
    A solid choice for a tank-oriented fighter/rogue build.  Their built-in special 
    ability to cast Invisibility and their immunity to paralysis are both very 
    useful for situations when you fail your stealth roll or break cover on purpose 
    in order to make a sneak attack.  A gray dwarf also makes a surprisingly good 
    paladin or paladin/fighter (using the Helm order for the latter).  In this 
    build, the racial and class-based saving throw bonuses and immunities combine 
    very nicely and result in a mage killer who is impervious to fear or paralysis 
    (e.g., Hold Person) and highly resistant to everything else.  However, apart 
    from these specialized builds, the steep experience penalty (effective level is 
    two levels higher) means there is not a lot of point in using a gray dwarf. 
    6) Lightfoot Halfing
    A lightfoot halfling is a great choice if you want to have a build with a rogue 
    mix in.  Take advantage of the +2 Dex bonus to bring Dexterity to 20 right away;  
    this is extremely beneficial for a variety of applications and is a clear reason 
    to prefer a halfling over a human.  A lightfoot halfling also gets a +1 to all 
    saving throws (i.e., the equivalent of a built-in Luck of Heroes feat, which is 
    normally available to humans only).  
    7) Stoutheart Halfing
    This sub-race is almost identical to the lightfoot halfling in terms of build 
    strategy, although instead of the saving throw bonus, they receive a free feat 
    of your choice at level one. 
    8) Ghostwise Halfing
    With barbarian as their favored class, ghostwise halflings lend themselves to a 
    variety of unique builds.  Just one level of barbarian will provide the halfling 
    character with a full range of martial weapon proficiencies, medium armor and 
    shield proficiencies, and the Rage special ability.  This can be a valuable mix 
    in.  Ghostwise halflings also have the unique racial ability Set Natural Snares, 
    which allows them to set Entangle-like traps.  These traps aren't all that 
    powerful, having a very small radius and what seems to be a low DC for saving to 
    avoid them, but they can still be of modest usefulness when planning an ambush.
    9) Moon Elf
    There are only two practical reason to choose a moon elf over a human, and those 
    are either that you want to raise Dexterity to 20 right away, or you want the 
    Martial Weapon, Large Sword and Martial Weapon, Bow proficiencies.  Elves have a 
    few racial benefits apart from these, but the author is of the opinion that over 
    time a human's free feat and extra skill points will usually outweigh those 
    benefits.  Still, if you want a wizard-based build and want that character to 
    use a large sword and/or bow, then be a moon elf. Pure wizards as well as 
    wizard/clerics or (to a lesser extent) wizard/druids or wizard/rogues will all 
    benefit from these free proficiencies for the very useful large sword and bow 
    type weapons.  
    On the other hand, if you are building a spell sword, and will be getting either 
    or both of these weapon proficiencies from another class, it's not clear that 
    moon elf is preferable to human (although it is still worth considering if you 
    are going to take advantage of the +2 Dexterity to start the character with 20 
    10) Wild Elf
    Mostly as per moon elf, swapping sorcerer for wizard as the favored class.  
    However, having sorcerer as the favored class also raises the interesting 
    possibility of playing a wild elf monk/sorcerer (if you are willing to concoct a 
    creative background for why your carefree and reclusive wild elf has turned out 
    to be a tautly disciplined, Lawful Evil monk).  This build gives you a monk with 
    even more than the usual resistance to Enchantment magics and the ability to use 
    large swords and bows.
    11) Drow
    Substantial stat bonuses and Spell Resistance make this race an interesting 
    choice for a variety of builds, and the fact that drow have two options for 
    favored class adds additional flexibility (drow males have wizard as their 
    favored class, and drow females have cleric).  However, the drows' penalty in 
    terms of leveling (plus two effective levels) is fairly severe.  This makes 
    heavy multiclassing of a drow an iffy proposition at best, as with the penalty 
    you might not gain enough levels to be effective in multiple classes, 
    particularly if you want to obtain the higher level spells.  This suggests the 
    use of mix in classes only. Interesting drow multiclass options include a female 
    drow cleric/bard (with just a few levels in bard; perhaps even just one), or a 
    male drow paladin of Mystra/wizard (about three or four levels of paladin will 
    give you the benefit of the paladin special abilities and a solid foundation of 
    hit points and attack bonuses, while still allowing you enough levels to cast 
    wizard spells of fifth or even sixth level).
    12) Rock Gnome
    This race makes for a good quasi-tank spell sword (e.g., illusionist/rogue, 
    illusionist/ranger, or illusionist/fighter).  They are also a natural fit for 
    the loremaster role.
    13) Deep Gnome
    With nice ability bonuses, three innate defensive spells (including 
    Invisibility), and Spell Resistance, a deep gnome can be a superb scout, spell 
    sword, and/or mage killer.  They also have excellent built-in bonuses to AC and 
    saving throws.  However, they have the steepest ECL penalty in the game (plus 
    three effective levels), so manage any multiclassed builds with care.  One 
    obvious build is a rogue/illusionist with just two or three levels in rogue; 
    such a character makes a peerless scout and "stealth" bombardier.
    14) Half Elf
    A plain human is almost always preferable to a half elf for almost any build.  
    The sole exception is for scout or scout/mage killer builds where, because of 
    the character's Intelligence, she is getting exactly the number of skill points 
    she needs each level to increase the skills she is pursuing, and so doesn't the 
    need skill point bonus for being a human.  Under those conditions, the anti-
    sleep capability, saving throw bonuses, and +1 Search bonus might make a half-
    elf a good idea, as taken together these bonuses are worth ever so slightly more 
    than a feat. 
    Because the clearly favorable circumstances for using half elves are limited, 
    this guide does mention them very often.  But, keep in mind that half elves do 
    have the same flexible favored class as pure humans, so in cases where favored 
    classes are being discussed and I refer to humans that is understood to include 
    half elves.
    15) Half Orc
    The only reason to select half orc is for the Strength bonus, which lets you 
    start a character with a Strength as high as 20.  For tank-type builds this can 
    be a great boon: the +5 to hit and damage bonus, when combined with the Cleave 
    feat, allows such a character single-handedly to mow through encounters with 
    weaker foes during the early stages of the game.  In addition to warrior-based 
    careers, a half orc can also make a great pure cleric (of Tempus or Helm, say): 
    bring Cha and Int down to one (yes, one), and put everything else in the other 
    abilities.  Such a character makes a stellar tank/spell sword (the 
    "MALE_FIGHTER_3" voice that never speaks but only grunts is ideal for this 
    VII) Class Basics
    This section gives advice on each of the classes in turn, including strategies 
    for building strong representatives of that class and a discussion of the pros 
    and cons of that class as compared to other classes.
    A) Fighter
    With the addition of feats, the fighter class really comes into its own in 3rd 
    Edition D&D, and IWD2 goes a long way to capturing the variety that is now 
    available when building a fighter.  Even with pure fighters there are many 
    choices and trade-offs that are possible.  Three obvious roles for fighters--
    tank, sniper, and mage killer--have already been mentioned above, and if you 
    decide to mix in a few levels of some supporting class you have a wide range of 
    options.  What follows are some hints about building specific variants of 
    1) The Strength-Based Fighter
    The most straightforward way to build a fighter is to maximize their Strength 
    when they are created and continue to add to it as they level.  Strength 
    increases their chances to hit in melee, improves their damage, and allows them 
    to wear heavier armor and wield heavier weapons without being heavily 
    encumbered, so this a pretty obvious character design strategy.
    In general, the Strength-based fighter doesn't need much Dexterity, because the 
    heavier armors tend to reduce the benefits of high Dex.  Constitution, on the 
    other hand, is key, particularly for a tank-style fighter.  Unless you are 
    multiclassing, Intelligence and Charisma can also be reduced to as low as you 
    like without fear of repercussion.  Wisdom, however, is best left at 10 or even 
    increased, because fighters already have trouble with Will saving throws.
    Feats like Power Attack and Cleave are particularly well-suited to the Strength-
    based fighter.
    2) The Dex-Based fighter
    With an appropriate choice of feats, equipment, and mix in classes, it is 
    possible to build perfectly lethal warrior-type characters with relatively low 
    Strength.  This is done by maximizing Dexterity to improve your AC and using 
    feats like Weapon Finesse (so you use your Dex bonus instead of your Str bonus 
    to hit when using a small blade), Expertise (swap to hit bonus for extra AC), 
    and Power Attack (swap to hit bonus for extra damage).  Ambidexterity and Two 
    Weapon Fighting are also good choices, particularly if you use Weapon Finesse, 
    since that feat does not combine well with shields and so you might as well use 
    a small blade in your off hand.
    Most Dex-based fighters will want to multiclass to either a rogue or a 
    spellcaster.  This is partly for flexibility and partly to take advantage of 
    their high Dex and--if they want to use Expertise which has an Int requirement 
    of 13+--high Intelligence.
    As might be expected, a fighter build intended to excel in the role of sniper 
    will also be a Dex-based build, but will use feats like Rapid Shot, Precise 
    Shot, and multiple ranks of Martial Weapon, Bow proficiency.  
    In general, most spell sword builds that use the fighter class will be a Dex-
    based build, because spell swords won't be able to wear much armor (if any).
    B) Paladin
    Most of what has been stated for fighter applies to paladins as well.  However, 
    it must be said that if you are just looking for a tank, for most parties a 
    carefully built fighter is likely to be more useful than a paladin.  Still, that 
    is not to say that paladins don't have their place.  In particular, they make 
    good mage killers or quasi- mage killers because of their generally high saving 
    throws and immunities. 
    ********* Spoiler *********
    About three fourths of the way into the game there is a subquest that gives you 
    a Holy Avenger sword, which can only be used by paladins.
    C) Ranger
    Rangers are solid spell swords and scouts.  However, as an exercise in exploring 
    the trade-offs involved in choosing a single class build as opposed to 
    multiclassing, it is worth comparing a level 10 fighter/level 5 wizard with a 
    level 15 ranger.  At level 15, the pure ranger will have better hit points and 
    base attack bonuses and can use up to level four spells in small numbers.  She 
    will also have three favored enemies (although those tend to be useful only 
    during limited sections of the game).   The fighter/wizard, however, will have 
    five additional feats above and beyond the six feats that the ranger will 
    receive (and this is even assuming the fighter/wizard allocates a feat each to 
    Ambidexterity and Two Weapon Fighting).  Moreover, the fighter/wizard has access 
    to Weapon Specialization (and thus Maximize Attacks).  And, as a wizard, the 
    character will have a far superior set of spells to choose from and can cast 
    them more often (true, only level three spells are available, although a 
    wizard's level three spells are in many cases equal or superior to a ranger's 
    level four spells).  In short, it is easily called into question as to whether 
    the capabilities of the pure ranger surpass those of the fighter/wizard (similar 
    arguments can be made about paladins as compared to multiclass spell sword 
    All that being said, as a mix-in for rogues, wizards, or sorcerers the ranger 
    class has much to recommend it; this is discussed in the section on 
    D) Barbarian
    Because of their extra high hit points, barbarians make good tanks, and, in 
    general, most of what is written above for fighters applies to barbarians.  
    However, it is worth noting that the barbarian's better special abilities 
    (Greater Rage, damage resistance) are not available until the character is 
    fairly high level.  This means that if you are multiclassing a barbarian-based 
    build, it is best to either invest significant numbers of levels in the 
    barbarian class or very few and treat it as a mix in.
    E) Rogue
    Rogues are fun, especially during the early parts of the game when their sneak 
    attacks can be quite effective.  But, if you want to have a character pursue a 
    career that consists mostly or entirely of rogue levels, keep in mind that 
    during the later parts of the game you will need to manage your rogue carefully 
    in combat in order to take best advantage of their abilities.  So, if you don't 
    like to "micromanage" your characters, building high-level rogues may not be a 
    good idea.
    Moreover, it is more than possible to finish IWD2 without a rogue.  Characters 
    of other classes with high Int or Dex can take on the key thief skills well 
    enough to get by, and there are even spells that duplicate or augment the Open 
    Locks and Search skills (the Knock and Find Traps spells, respectively).  Nor do 
    the special benefits of high-level rogues (Improved Evasion, Crippling Strike, 
    Slippery Mind) necessarily seem worth the investment of ten levels when 
    comparable or even superior effects can be achieved through judicious 
    multiclassing and using magical alternatives.
    That being said, even if you don't plan to have dedicated rogues, the rogue 
    class makes an excellent mix in, both to give a character a boost to the thief 
    skills and to garner highly useful abilities like Evasion.  (It really can't be 
    emphasized enough how wonderful Evasion is for a character with high Reflex 
    saving throws.) If you are going to mix rogue in to a build that emphasizes some 
    other class, you may still want to start the character as a level one rogue so 
    that they get the rogue's large number of starting character skill points and 
    can thus get a good head start on all the thief and/or scout skills.
    F) Bard
    Bards provide useful and powerful "play-and-forget" benefits to the party, are 
    competent spellcasters, and can serve quite well as diplomats and loremasters 
    and tolerably well as healers, thieves, or scouts.  This makes them a solid 
    choice for either a dedicated slot in your party or as a mix in class for a 
    multiclass build.  
    G) Monk
    Let's not mince words: low-level monks are weak and need a fair amount of 
    coddling.  However, once they have reached level six or so, they begin to come 
    into their own, and at very high levels they are quite solid and their abilities 
    as scouts, mage killers and general pummeling machines truly begin to shine.  
    This implies that you will get the most out of your monk if you don't multiclass 
    her, so you can devote all the character's levels to the monk class.  On the 
    other hand, there are some interesting possibilities for multiclassing monks, 
    which are discussed below.  In short, the monk class offers lots of trade offs 
    and design decisions to ponder.
    H) Wizard
    Of the two magic-user classes (wizard and sorcerer), wizards are the more 
    flexible of the two and also tend to be a bit more accomplished, both because 
    they tend to have more skill points (from high Int) and because they gain extra 
    feats.  The fact that wizards can learn a wide variety of spells can be key, 
    because for difficult battles you can pick and choose your spell selection to 
    meet specific tactical goals.  Thus, although it is perfectly possible to 
    survive IWD2 without a wizard, having a wizard of at least mid-level (7-9) can 
    be very helpful for the more difficult battles during the final chapters, fights 
    for which a tailored spell selection may prove the key to success.  
    Also, wizards are probably better suited for the summoner role than sorcerers.  
    The reason is that a wizard can use (for example) Summon Monster III quite 
    effectively during Chapter 2, and then discard it for a superior summoning spell 
    later on, whereas a sorcerer is stuck with that spell forever, even when the 
    monsters conjured by that spell have become vastly outclassed and barely serve 
    as a speed bump.
    I) Sorcerer
    It cannot be denied that sorcerers make the best bombardiers and are a blast to 
    play (pun intended).  Even a level six sorcerer with high Charisma can single-
    handedly win many encounters with only a modicum of support from scouts, tanks, 
    healers, and snipers.  Sorcerers also makes a great mix in class for spell 
    swords, giving your character a plentiful supply of useful combat-related spells 
    like Shield, Mirror Image, Haste, or Stoneskin.  However, as a mix in class, 
    sorcerer does suffer from the fact that you get the higher level spells more 
    slowly than does a wizard (e.g., level two spells become available at level four 
    for sorcerers and level three for wizards), so that is a trade-off to keep in 
    mind if you are working with races like drow who are already penalized in terms 
    of their level acquisition.
    J) Cleric
    A staple for any band of adventurers.  Pure clerics become quite powerful at 
    higher levels and in addition to their healer responsibilities can serve as 
    capable tanks, summoners, mage killers, and even bombardiers, depending on their 
    spell selection and other attributes.  The cleric class also provides some 
    interesting multiclassing options.  
    Also, take a good look at the different clerical orders (e.g., Stormlord of 
    Talos) and the special spells and benefits they provide.  Different orders are 
    better at different things, particularly when you are considering multiclassing 
    your cleric.  Lathander and Talos clerics make decent bombardiers, and the 
    followers of Selune are superior summoners at higher levels.  These three orders 
    are well-suited for pure or near-pure cleric builds in order to take advantage 
    of their powerful high-level spells.  Follows of Ilmater are more healer 
    oriented and also have the most flexible multiclassing capabilities, being able 
    to multiclass freely with the appropriate paladin or monk orders.  Oghma clerics 
    are natural loremasters, whereas being a Demarch of Mask can provide useful 
    scout and thief enhancements.  Finally, Tempus and Helm clerics make good 
    tank/spell swords, and Banites can serve as skilled (if grim) diplomats.
    K) Druid
    A solid class, much like the cleric, with more emphasis on offensive capability 
    and less on healing.  A spell sword build using druid as the spellcasting class 
    can be quite strong, as spells like Beast Claw and Star Metal Cudgel can be very 
    effective for certain kinds of combat situations (even the lowly level one spell 
    Shillelagh can be devastating during the game's early encounters when wielded by 
    a tank-oriented druid).
    If you are planning on taking advantage of shapeshifting, you will want to get 
    your druid high enough level to at least get shapes like Polar Bear etc.  For 
    offensive tanking, shapeshifting works best during the middle chapters; at those 
    times the druid can deliver some serious damage in creature form and expect to 
    dish out substantially more than they receive.  However, during the endgame, the 
    creature forms (even the high level ones) tend not to have enough AC and get 
    pummeled, although they are still useful for rapid healing effects, getaways 
    (the wolf and panther are fast), and special tactics.
    VIII)  Multiclassing
    One of the most interesting changes to the D&D rules that came with the 3rd 
    edition was the extensive revamping of the multiclassing system.  IWD2 does an 
    excellent job of capturing a lot of the interesting possibilities that this new 
    system provides.  This guide encourages players to take advantage of 
    multiclassing in order to build characters that are entertaining and unique (as 
    well as deadly).
    A)  Multiclassing Basics
    Depending on how dedicated you are about doing the subquests and completely 
    cleaning out each area, you can expect the characters in a party of six to reach 
    about level 16 before completing IWD2 (see "Developing Your Party" for a few 
    tips on how you might have at least some of your characters reach higher levels 
    during normal play).
    Since 16 levels is just enough to get 8th level spells, you need to think ahead.  
    For one thing, except for the most carefully orchestrated builds, the author 
    recommends that you have at most two classes per character.  Three-class builds 
    tend to be too diluted unless you are using mix in classes with care.  An 
    example of an effective three-class build might be 4th level fighter/3rd level 
    rogue/9 level druid, resulting in a spell sword with elements of tank, scout, 
    and mage killer, with Evasion, Uncanny Dodge, +2d6 Sneak Attack, Weapon 
    Specialization, and a wide array of weaponry and offensive magics.
    In short, the first rule of thumb for multiclassing is to know exactly what you 
    are going to do from the moment you create the character.  This in turn requires 
    some understanding of the D&D rules.  The sections below provide some crucial 
    information, but as mentioned in the introduction it is strongly advised that 
    you read the character-design portions of the manual and review the in-game 
    information on classes, races, orders and feats. 
    B) Favored Class
    The most important requirement for mastering the multiclassing system is 
    understanding what a "favored class" is.  This is described in the manual, but 
    is summarized here.  Basically, in D&D, a multiclassed character will receive a 
    -20% penalty to experience gained for every class that is more than one level 
    away from their highest level class.  For example (ignoring favored classes), a 
    3rd level fighter/1st level wizard will be penalized because the wizard and 
    fighter levels are more than one away from each other, but a 3rd level 
    fighter/2nd level wizard won't be penalized.  In the latter case, the 
    fighter/wizard will want to put their next level into the wizard class in order 
    to continue to avoid receiving an experience penalty.
    The function of a race's favored class is simply that this class is totally 
    ignored when determining if a penalty applies.  That means that if a character 
    has only two classes and one of those is the favored class, then no penalty will 
    ever be levied, regardless of the difference in class levels. 
    The bottom line is this: if you are going to multiclass, be sure one of the 
    classes is the favored class for that character's race.  That way, you never 
    have to worry about being penalized for a two-class build.  This is part of why 
    humans are so flexible, because whereas most races have a specific favored class 
    (e.g., fighter for dwarves), for humans their highest level class is considered 
    to be their favored class.  Therefore, a two-class human character never has to 
    worry about experience penalties regardless of what classes they have chosen.
    If you are going to have heroes with three or more classes, you will need to 
    think carefully about the ramifications of the favored class rules; this is one 
    of the reasons why this guide generally recommends that your characters have at 
    most two classes.  Note also that for certain three-class builds, the flexible 
    favored class of humans may no longer be an advantage.  Consider a level 3 
    rogue/level 5 wizard/level 6 fighter.  A human will receive an experience 
    penalty for this build, because their favored class will be fighter, and the 
    rogue and wizard levels are more than one away from each other.  However, a 
    halfling or tiefling, whose favored class is rogue, can be given this build 
    without penalty, as the rogue class is ignored and the wizard and fighter levels 
    are within one of each other.
    C)  To Multiclass or Not to Multiclass
    The point of multiclassing a character is to make them stronger or more 
    flexible.  This must be determined carefully because excessive multiclassing can 
    result in characters that are too "shallow" to handle the final chapters.  
    Spellcasters, in particular, should be multiclassed with care because 
    multiclassing them can delay or even prevent their ability to get the more 
    powerful, high-level spells.  A party that has no pure or near-pure spellcasters 
    is likely to have a tough time in the final battles of IWD2 for lack of high-
    level magical power.
    That being said, there are some excellent reasons to multiclass.  Most of these 
    have to do with adding in some useful support capabilities to your hero's 
    primary class.  To that end, the next section has a list of valuable "mix in" 
    As for the more "traditional" multiclass combinations that were the norm in 2nd 
    Edition AD&D, in which the two classes are kept at roughly the same level (e.g., 
    8th level cleric/8th level wizard), the author does not in general recommend 
    these types of builds.  The reason is that most classes get their best spells or 
    abilities at higher levels, and the aforementioned cleric/wizard is almost 
    certainly going to be less powerful than a 16th level cleric or a 16th level 
    However, there are a few exceptions.  Builds like fighter/rogue can succeed with 
    roughly equal numbers of levels in both classes, since you don't need to worry 
    about getting high-level spells.  And if you already have one or more pure 
    spellcasters who will be practicing high levels of magic, an auxiliary 
    spellcaster with mid-level coverage in multiple classes (like a cleric/wizard), 
    can provide a solid foundation of supporting magic and thus free up your higher 
    level spellcasters to focus on memorizing and casting their primary offensive or 
    defensive spells.
    D)  Multiclass Mix Ins
    As has been mentioned, a "mix in" is the addition of a few levels of a support 
    class to a build that will be emphasizing some other class.  Common examples of 
    mix ins include adding a few levels of fighter to a spellcaster to gain the 
    extra hit points, weapon proficiencies, and feats, adding a few levels of rogue 
    to a ranger or druid to get better scout and thief skills, etc.
    Characters with mix in builds are fun to play and can prove a welcome change 
    from the traditional single-class heroes.  Moreover, clever use of mix ins will 
    still allow you to build characters that can cast the higher level spells.  A 
    lot of the information in this guide is oriented towards the use of mix ins, 
    both because they are entertaining  and because they make economical use of the 
    limited number of levels you can expect your characters to receive in IWD2.
    E) Detailed Multiclassing Possibilities
    This section contains a discussion of the multiclassing possibilities for all 
    classes, with an emphasis on what classes make good mix ins and what levels to 
    consider achieving in those classes.
    1) Fighter
    The fighter class is an excellent class for multiclassing.  Mixing in some 
    levels of fighter can provide several useful qualities: good hit points; extra 
    feats; automatic proficiency in all martial weapons, shields, and all three 
    levels of armor.  The extra feats are particularly important, because whereas in 
    pen-and-paper D&D you are constrained as to which feats are available when 
    selecting a fighter's bonus feats, in IWD2 you are under no such constraints.  
    This means that you can use your extra feats from the fighter class to boost 
    your spellcasting capabilities, if you so desire.
    Fighters are the only class that can get the Weapon Specialization feat (which 
    is only available to a character with at least four levels in fighter).  This in 
    itself can be a good reason to mix in four levels of fighter.  See the section 
    on feats below for more on Weapon Specialization.
    2) Paladin
    The paladin class has strict limitations on multiclassing, so care is needed 
    when planning a multiclass paladin build.  This is doubly true if you are hoping 
    to take advantage of a paladin's spellcasting, as they can't cast even second 
    level spells until level 10! 
    If you are considering a multiclass build with paladin as one of the classes, 
    pay special attention to the possibilities presented by the three orders of 
    paladin in IWD2 (Mystra, Helm, and Ilmater, which allow for flexible 
    multiclassing with wizard, fighter, and cleric, respectively).  In particular, 
    although a fighter/paladin build might seem redundant, it actually works well: 
    the fighter class offers additional feats and the ability to attain Weapon 
    Specialization (at level four), and the paladin class offers the potential for 
    superior saving throws (due to the Cha bonus) and a modest but useful array of 
    other special abilities.
    Another paladin mix in option is to start with just a small number of paladin 
    levels (perhaps just one, but levels two through four also add additional 
    benefits you may want).  Then switch to some other class.  Although you will no 
    longer be able to level as a paladin, you will retain the paladin's special 
    abilities, the most important probably being the saving throw bonuses.  Because 
    the saving throw bonuses are based on Charisma, this build strategy is 
    particularly well-suited for creating spell sword sorcerers.
    3) Ranger
    For a character who will only ever wear light or no armor, mixing in just one 
    level of ranger is the same as buying the Ambidexterity and Two Weapon Fighting 
    feats.  This is true even if the character doesn't have the usual 15 Dex 
    required to buy Ambidexterity!  You also get most of the benefits of the 
    fighter, including good hit points and the full gamut of martial weapon 
    proficiencies etc.  (You also get a favored enemy, although this is only 
    marginally useful.)  In short, a small number of levels in ranger (maybe just 
    one) can be an excellent mix in for a rogue or for a spellcaster who wants to 
    act as a spell sword.
    4) Rogue
    In order to succeed in IWD2, you don't really need a "full time" rogue.  
    Instead, it can be a wise party design strategy to get coverage for the scout 
    and thief roles by adding a few levels of rogue to one or more other characters.  
    If you are going to do this, it is recommended that you create such characters 
    as rogues, even if rogue won't be their primary class.  This gives you the full 
    benefit of the rogue's massive number of starting skill points.  Also, keep in 
    mind that two levels of rogue gives you the extremely useful Evasion special 
    ability, and three levels gives you the Uncanny Dodge ability and adds an 
    additional +1d6 of Sneak Attack damage.  This makes those good target levels to 
    shoot for when mixing in the rogue class.
    4) Monk
    Monks are very limited in terms of their multiclassing capabilities.  You should 
    read the discussion on monks in the character creation screens in the game, but, 
    to summarize, if you want to multiclass freely between monk and one other class 
    then that other class has to be either rogue, cleric (Lawful Good characters, 
    Painbearer of Ilmater cleric only), or sorcerer (Lawful Evil characters only).  
    Nevertheless, these combinations can be very powerful.  Monks in general have 
    good saving throws for all three categories, so every monk level helps the 
    weaker saving throws for your other class.  The monk/rogue can cover all your 
    scout/thief needs and makes a great mage killer.  A monk/cleric makes a valuable 
    "field medic" because of the monk's accelerated movement speed, and the Wisdom 
    AC bonus for monks meshes nicely with the high Wisdom you will want for a 
    cleric.  And a monk/sorcerer can serve in a variety of hit and run scout and 
    bombardier applications, making them highly suitable for "special ops."
    When multiclassing a monk, if you are only using monk as a mix in, the target 
    levels to keep in mind are level three (which gives you some additional saving 
    throw bonuses and an increase in movement speed), level four (an increase in 
    hand-to-hand damage), and level six (an extra hand-to-hand attack).  Each level 
    of monk also gives you another charge for your Stunning Attack ability.  (Don't 
    forget to use it!  Stunning a key enemy spellcaster can be a battle-winning 
    maneuver.)  Finally, note that the Monk's bonus to AC for high Wisdom carries 
    over to a Druid's alternate forms when shapeshifting.  This makes starting a 
    character with one to three levels of monk and then shifting to druid an 
    interesting and viable build.
    Another option to keep in mind is to start with one to four levels in one of the 
    warrior classes and then switch over to monk exclusively.  This gets around the 
    monk's multiclassing limitations since once you switch you won't be leveling any 
    class except monk.  This build enhances the basic monk with additional 
    capabilities, hit points, and proficiencies in all the martial weapons (so if 
    for whatever reason you aren't using the monk's unarmed attack you can use the 
    best weapon available; this is particularly useful early in the game when the 
    monk's unarmed attack is weak).
    5) Bard
    Even one level in bard can be useful for a spellcaster or support character for 
    two main reasons: you can use the level one bard song (which provides non-
    negligible combat bonuses for when you have nothing better to do) and you can 
    use any of the several bard-only magic items scattered throughout the game (a 
    couple of which are quite powerful).  Additional levels of bard can provide some 
    helpful spellcasting capabilities and more songs. 
    Keep in mind, however, that as a bard's main contribution to the party is 
    potentially their singing, which in turn requires that they do nothing else but 
    move.  Thus, you don't want to build multiclass characters that need to switch 
    too often between singing bard songs and doing something else.  This means that 
    if you are multiclassing a bard-based character, try to add in capabilities such 
    as those of the thief, healer or summoner, which don't require constant activity 
    during a battle.
    6) Sorcerer
    As a mix in class, adding sorcerer levels can make a warrior-based build into a 
    more capable and flexible hero.  This is particularly true for a scout or a 
    sniper-style fighter.  You will want to shoot for at least level four or level 
    six for your sorcerer mix in; this gives you access to level two or level three 
    spells, respectively.  In addition to the obvious direct damage spells, support 
    and defensive spells like Mirror Image, Invisibility, Power Word: Sleep, Death 
    Armor, Ghost Armor, Haste, and Slow can give a warrior mage a substantial edge 
    in melee combat.  Also, spell swords can take better advantage of certain 
    offensive spells that pure spellcasters may be too fragile to use safely (e.g., 
    Fire Shield).  Remember that you will need to wear little or no armor if you 
    want to use your spells freely.
    The reason to mix-in sorcerer over wizard is that you gain spells automatically 
    and can cast them more often.  So, if there is a small selection of spells that 
    you know you want to use, sorcerer is probably a better choice. However, you do 
    have to wait a little longer to get the higher level spells.
    7) Wizard
    Most of what is described above for sorcerer also applies to wizard. The reason 
    to prefer a wizard mix in is if you want to gain the higher level spells earlier 
    or if you want the wider variety of spells that wizards have available (once 
    they find the right scrolls).  Wizards also gain extra feats (one at first 
    level, one at fifth level, and one every five levels thereafter).  Like those of 
    fighters, these bonus feats can be used for any purpose.  The availability of 
    third level spells (which include some time-honored workhorses like Fireball and 
    Haste) and the granting of a bonus feat make level five an excellent target 
    level for mixing the wizard class in to a warrior-oriented spell sword build.
    If you are going to mix in some wizard levels, you might want to consider 
    starting the character as a wizard even if that won't be their primary class.  
    That gives you an extra feat right off and, more importantly, lets you select 
    four level one spells that they will have in their spellbooks.  If you add a 
    wizard level to a character once the game is in progress, they must learn all 
    their spells from scrolls.
    Elves have wizard as their favored class; look for opportunities to take 
    advantage of their racial abilities (particularly the potential for 20 starting 
    Dexterity) for interesting multiclass builds that include wizard.  A couple that 
    come to mind are a ranger/wizard who uses dual-equipped small blades, Weapon 
    Finesse, and close-combat spells, or a fighter/wizard sniper with extra magical 
    8) Cleric
    A cleric mix-in can allow a character to provide low-level healer support.  Even 
    a level three or level five cleric mix in will provide spells that remain useful 
    throughout the game (Command, Doom, Remove Fear, Hold Person, Remove Paralysis, 
    Silence, Dispel Magic, and Prayer, just to name a few).   When mixing in cleric, 
    be sure to choose an order with special abilities that augment those of the 
    character's other class(es) (e.g., Mask for a cleric/thief, or Tempus or Helm 
    for a cleric/fighter).
    9) Druid
    As mentioned under the initial discussion of druids, there are interesting spell 
    sword opportunities afforded by mixing in the druid class.  One interesting 
    thing to note is that although druids can't cast spells while shapeshifted, they 
    can use special abilities.  This means that a barbarian/druid (for example), can 
    use the Rage ability while in creature form.  
    IX) Abilities, Skills, and Feats
    This section provides a bit of advice about allocating points to your abilities 
    (Strength, Dexterity, etc.), skills (Hide, Diplomacy, etc.), and feats (Power 
    Attack, Dodge, etc.).
    A) Abilities
    Unlike earlier games in the Baldur's Gate/Icewind Dale series, IWD2 has a fixed 
    set of points that you can allocate to a starting character's abilities (no more 
    staying up until 3 a.m trying to roll the perfect characters!).  On the other 
    hand, the 3rd Edition D&D rules allow for characters to increase their abilities 
    every four levels (whereas previously they were fixed in stone barring powerful 
    magic).  Taken as a whole, this framework for ability point allocation rewards 
    careful decision-making ("min-maxing" as it is sometimes referred to).
    1) Strength
    For any melee-oriented build, the more Strength the better.  Even Dex-based 
    warrior builds gain extra damage and carrying capacity from Strength.  For non-
    warriors, it is rare that you will want to reduce Strength below eight, and 
    anything below six can be very frustrating, since even basic robes and potions 
    will bog a character down when their carrying capacity is so small.
    2) Dexterity
    Since Dexterity helps both Reflex saving throws and AC, it is useful for almost 
    every possible build, with the possible exception of a heavy armor wearing tank.  
    For that build, a Dex of 12 is optimal (you get a +1 modifier, which is the 
    maximum modifier when wearing Full Plate Armor).
    It is very rare that you will want to reduce Dexterity below 10.  One exception 
    might be a paladin-based tank build where you want to invest lots in Strength, 
    Constitution, Wisdom, and Charisma.  For that kind of build, reducing Dexterity 
    might work, since you can rely on the paladin's other saving throw bonuses to 
    help offset the penalty.
    ********* SPOILER *********
    Assuming you have a few thousand gold, there is an excellent source of 
    lightweight full plate armor that becomes available at the beginning of Chapter 
    2, so you can rely on getting some at that time for all your tanks and tank 
    3) Constitution
    How much points you need in Constitution depends on whether you play with the 
    "Max HP/Level" option turned on or off.  If you play with it on, then you have 
    more leeway and can get by with a lower Constitution, although a Con of at least 
    12 is still recommended for low hit die types (wizard, sorcerer, rogue, bard), 
    and by no means should you reduce Con below 10.  
    If you play with random hit point rolls, then you are well served by making 
    every character's Constitution as high as possible.
    4) Intelligence
    Great min-maxing opportunities here.  Basically, pure tank fighters and clerics 
    don't need any Intelligence to speak of, as the only thing Int provides is skill 
    points, and you can get by with the modest trickle of skill points that having 
    an abysmally low Int will afford you.  Humans are especially well-suited for 
    this optimization because they will still get their extra skill point per level. 
    (But, see "Elemental Feats" in the section on feats.)
    However, classes and builds that rely on their skills (like rogues, thieves, 
    loremasters, and diplomats) may want to bump Int a bit even if they aren't using 
    wizard spells.  Also, note that the extremely useful Expertise feat requires an 
    Intelligence of at least 13.
    5) Wisdom
    Wisdom is the attribute that governs Will saving throws, and a failed Will 
    saving throw can be rather inconvenient if the result is that your best tank 
    becomes confused and starts whaling on your wizard.  For that reason, you should 
    generally avoid the temptation to reduce Wisdom below 10.  In cases where you 
    are getting some saving throw bonuses for spells due to racial benefits (like 
    gray dwarves or deep gnomes), you might skim off two points of Wisdom to 
    allocate elsewhere, but any lower than that is just asking for trouble.
    6) Charisma
    Charisma is the safest ability to pillage in order to garner points to put 
    elsewhere, as the only builds that really need Charisma at all are diplomats, 
    sorcerers, bards, and paladins.  (Clerics also use Charisma for turning undead, 
    and rogues use it for the Use Magic Device skill, but it is perfectly reasonable 
    to decide that you don't care about those applications of Charisma and would 
    rather have a Charisma of three so that you can have higher Strength or 
    whatever.)  If almost all of your characters are ugly and socially inept, you 
    will need to pay more attention to whom talks to NPC's, and may wish to 
    reinitiate certain key conversations to ensure that your diplomat is doing the 
    talking.  However, since IWD2 is relatively low on roleplaying and high on 
    combat, that is a small price to pay for having strong, agile, and healthy 
    B) Skills
    This section provides some brief tips about the various IWD2 skills.
    1) Skills By Role
    Here, without additional discussion, is a list of all the roles and the skills 
    that those roles will rely on to be successful (roles that aren't listed don't 
    have any particular skills associated with them).
    Healer - Concentration
    Scout -- Hide, Move Silently, and possibly Concentration (if they use magic)
    Thief -- Disable Device, Open Lock, Search, and possibly Pick Pocket
    Bombardier -- Concentration, Spellcraft (to get elemental damage-enhancing feats 
    like Aegis of Rime, a Spellcraft of 10 or higher is needed)
    Diplomat -- Diplomacy, Bluff, Intimidation
    Loremaster -- Alchemy, Knowledge (Arcane)
    Summoner -- Concentration
    Spell Sword -- Concentration
    2) Useless Skills
    There are a few skills that don't appear in the list above.  Those skills aren't 
    really needed to succeed in IWD2, and the author recommends that you not worry 
    about putting points into them unless you have ample points to spend.  Here they 
    Animal Empathy -- Why use this skill when you could be using that round of 
    combat to inflict some damage or cast a "real" spell?  You are usually better 
    off putting these points in skills like Concentration, Spellcraft, Hide and Move 
    Silently.  (O.K.: to be perfectly fair, if, for whatever reason, your druid or 
    ranger has high Charisma and a few skill points to spare, then this skill might 
    prove useful and be worth investing in, provided that you actually remember to 
    use it, which isn't always as easy as it sounds.)
    Use Magic Device -- In a well-balanced party there is almost never a need for 
    this skill.  (If you are playing in a very strict manner and become unhappy 
    about having to reload a botched battle, then Use Magic Device may be more 
    useful because it can let your rogues and bards use clerical scrolls to raise 
    the dead and what not should your cleric meet an untimely end.)
    Wilderness Lore -- There is exactly one point in the game where this skill is 
    anything more than useless; the rest of the time it is mostly just for color 
    ("Gee, here are some footprints of large humanoids--I wonder if we'll run into 
    ********* SPOILER *********
    In Chapter Three, Wilderness Lore can make is somewhat easier to navigate your 
    way through the Fell Wood.  However, there are other means, such as a brute 
    force search of the maze using dropped items as markers, or looking up a set of 
    directions on the internet.   The author's opinion is that there is not much 
    point in having Wilderness Lore for one portion of one chapter when those skill 
    points could be used for skills that are valuable for the entire game.
    C) Feats
    This section provides some brief tips about the various IWD2 feats.  An average 
    build will get one feat upon character creation and one additional feat every 
    third level.  So, a typical level 15 character will have only six feats.  This 
    implies that you should pick and choose your feats carefully.  
    Humans (and Strongheart Halflings) get an additional feat at level one, which is 
    a substantial boon.  Fighters get an additional feat at first level and every 
    even-numbered level; wizards at first level and every level divisible by five.  
    These extra feats add substantial value to those classes, particularly when 
    using the fighter and wizard classes as mix ins.
    1) Weapon Proficiency, Focus, and Specialization
    Because they are so fundamental to character design and game play, the feats for 
    weapon proficiency etc. deserve special attention and are treated separately 
    In general your weapon selection is determined by your class (or race, for an 
    elf).  Adding another proficient weapon requires spending a feat on that weapon, 
    and it is rare that you should want to invest in another weapon feat.  There 
    are, of course, exceptions.  For example, a pure Watcher of Helm cleric with an 
    eye towards serving on the front line might want to invest in Exotic Weapon, 
    Bastard Sword, as this gives them access to what is arguably the best one-handed 
    weapon.  Usually, however, you will want to stick to the weapons that you get 
    for your class (or classes), and use your feats for other purposes.
    That being said, it can definitely be a sound character design strategy to mix 
    in one of the warrior classes (fighter, barbarian, paladin, or ranger) in order 
    to give a hero access to a wide range of weaponry.  Dwarves, ghostwise 
    halflings, half orcs, and (of course) humans can take good advantage of this 
    tactic by adding a few levels (even just one) of whatever warrior class.
    Furthermore, if you achieve at least level four in fighter (only) you can buy 
    the third rank of a weapon proficiency feat (a.k.a., Weapon Specialization) 
    which gives you a valuable +2 damage bonus with that weapon.  However, taking 
    best advantage of Weapon Specialization presupposes that you know what weapons 
    that hero is going to use for most of their fighting.  One prime example of that 
    is you want to build a sniper (get specialization in bows or possibly missile 
    weapons, but not crossbows because they aren't helped by Rapid Shot).  
    Similarly, if you want to use small blades and Weapon Finesse (preferably dual-
    wielded using Ambidexterity and Two Weapon Fighting), then having Weapon 
    Specialization in Simple Weapons, Small Blades is a great idea.  
    That covers Weapon Proficiency and Weapon Specialization; what about Weapon 
    Focus (which is two ranks in a weapon feat)?  Well, the author's opinion is that 
    it is usually not worth taking Weapon Focus except en route to Weapon 
    Specialization.  Again, however, there are exceptions.  The main exception is if 
    the character in question is using the feats that swap to hit bonus for AC 
    (Expertise) or damage (Power Attack).  In that case, selecting Weapon Focus 
    might allow you to increase the amount of attack bonus you are using for those 
    feats while still keeping your attack roll bonus high enough to be effective.
    2) Elemental Feats
    There are four feats that increase a spellcaster's damage for a particular 
    element and which also add five resistance to that element.  These are Aegis of 
    Rime (for cold), Aqua Mortis (for acid), Scion of Storms (for lightning), and 
    Spirit of Flame (for fire).  These feats are well worth getting, but in order to 
    be eligible for these feats your character has to be able to cast level four 
    spells and have an adjusted Spellcraft of 10 or higher.
    The fact that it is adjusted Spellcraft means that your Int bonus, and the +2 
    bonus from Courteous Magocracy (if present), are counted for reaching the 
    threshold of 10.  Similarly, if your Int is below 10, and penalty will need to 
    be compensated for by adding additional ranks to Spellcraft so that your 
    adjusted total is 10.  Note that this is different from how rank prerequisites 
    function in pen-and-paper D&D.
    3) Feats By Role
    This section lists some of the feats that are best-suited for certain roles 
    (only roles that rely on particular feats are listed).  Any self-respecting hero 
    that intends to excel in a given role should almost certainly have most or all 
    of these feats by the time they are high level.
    Tank -- Power Attack, Cleave, Weapon Specialization
    Scout -- Dash
    Bombardier -- Spell Focus, Spell Penetration, and one or more of the elemental 
    feats matching the characters' spell selection (Aegis of Rime, Aqua Mortis, 
    Scion of Storms, Spirit of Flame)
    Sniper -- Rapid Shot, Improved Critical, Weapon Specialization (bow or missile 
    Mage Killer -- Dash, Improved Critical
    4) The Best Feats
    In addition to the main feats for a given role, there are variety of feats that 
    are useful for almost any role.  The following list contains what the author 
    believes to be the most useful general-purpose feats in this game.  Some (like 
    Dodge or--for humans--Luck of Heroes) are well worth considering for almost any 
    Dodge -- Almost all the author's many characters have had this feat.  It does 
    require a Dex of 13+ however.
    Expertise -- Any pencil-necked klutz of a wizard can get up to a +5 generic 
    bonus to their AC by using this feat; a great investment for anyone with an Int 
    of 13+.
    Luck of Heroes -- Humans only.
    5) Useful Feats
    Not every build will want or need these feats, but they are highly useful and 
    can add additional flare to a hero's fighting style or help bolster some 
    particular weakness of a character.  (In addition, all the feats under "Feats By 
    Role" are in this category for use in building characters that aren't 
    specializing in a certain role but will still be providing some basic cross-
    coverage for that role.)
    Ambidexterity (and Two Weapon Fighting) -- Except for very high-level warriors, 
    who might use just Two Weapon Fighting and can afford the "to hit" penalties, 
    most builds will want to get either both of these feats or neither of them.  
    Consider a ranger mix-in as an alternative to buying these feats directly.
    Armored Arcana -- Whether or not this is a good investment depends a great deal 
    on other aspects of a character's build and role, such as their Strength and 
    Dex, how often they get on or near the front line of combat, etc.  For some 
    builds, however, it can be a great way to improve the character's defense 
    without jeopardizing arcane spellcasting capabilities.  All three gradations of 
    this feat are potentially useful: one rank lets you use bucklers and small 
    shields; two lets you wear leather armor; and three lets you wear studded 
    leather, regular leather and a small shield, or a large shield.  
    Dirty Fighting -- Doesn't kick in all that often, but in long fights every 
    little bit helps, and works particularly well for characters with multiple 
    attacks (like dual weapon users) or who use weapons with high critical strike 
    ranges (like scimitars).  Combines well with Improved Critical for obvious 
    Great Fortitude -- For spellcasters who are having Fortitude saving throw 
    Improved Evasion -- If you get a rogue to level 10 and they are at all active as 
    a scout or mage killer then be sure to select this feat.
    Iron Will -- For fighters and rogues who are having Will saving throw issues.
    Lightning Reflexes -- For low-Dex tanks or clerics and others having Reflex 
    saving throw issues.
    Lingering Song -- Pretty much obligatory for bards.
    Maximize Attacks -- A great feat for tanks, mage killers, and snipers, but the 
    prerequisites are steep and since you have to have Weapon Specialization in two 
    weapons this feat is only available to builds with at least four levels of 
    fighter.  Be sure to plan ahead well in advance if you are thinking of getting 
    this feat.
    Two Weapon Fighting -- see Ambidexterity.
    Weapon Finesse -- Great for Dex-based spell swords and mage killers wielding two 
    small blades who want to improve their chances of hitting.
    4) Not Quite As Useful Feats
    This feats are more specialized or less helpful, and should probably be chosen 
    only if you have very specific reasons for wanting that feat or you are in the 
    rare position of having to select a feat and don't have anything else you want.  
    (The author freely admits that the classification as to whether a feat is useful 
    or not quite as useful is in some cases rather arbitrary.)
    Bullheaded -- If you have a character that actually uses Intimidate, this can be 
    an o.k. investment if they will also benefit from the +1 bonus to Will saving 
    throws (which they well might, as Intimidate is usually used by fighter types).
    Combat Casting -- Whether this feat is desirable depends on how often a 
    character casts spells in tight spots and how many skill points that character 
    will have to spend on Concentration.  For example: a stupid (in the sense of low 
    Intelligence ability) non-human sorcerer who only gets one skill point per level 
    will want to put most of those points into Spellcraft so he can get the 
    elemental damage enhancing feats, so choosing this feat (or Discipline) can help 
    his Concentration rolls without having to spend skill points on Concentration.
    Courteous Magocracy -- This is a great feat for a sorcerer diplomat, providing 
    +2 to two of their primary skills (and the Spellcraft bonus is applied to the 
    prerequisite of 10 ranks for being eligible for elemental feats.  Similar builds 
    (like a Lathander cleric or even a wizard who is acting as a diplomat) might 
    also benefit.
    Deflect Arrows -- Good for snipers and spell casters who are having trouble 
    surviving enemy fire.  Monks get this for free at 2nd level, so don't choose it 
    for one of their starting feats.
    Discipline -- Great for healers and spell swords who need to cast reliably in 
    dangerous conditions and who don't want to be missing Will saving throws.
    Envenom -- Useful for mage killers and other special tactics; best used when you 
    expect the battle to go on for some time.
    Extra Rage -- Probably only worth choosing for a high-level barbarian, for whom 
    the Rage benefits are substantial enough that reusing the ability becomes more 
    Extra Smiting -- For a high-level paladin, the smite bonuses are considerable, 
    and so this feat might be worth taking as long as you remember to use it.
    Hamstring -- If you like hit-and-run tactics using a rogue, this can be a great 
    feat, and there are some situations where it can be a godsend.  However, like 
    many rogue abilities it rewards micromanagement, so don't take it unless that is 
    your cup of tea.
    Heroic Inspiration -- For a tank character that can expect to be alive for a 
    considerable time even after they've reached less than half their hit points, 
    this can be a great feat.
    Heretic's Bane -- There are enough enemy clerics and druids in IWD2 that this is 
    a reasonable investment for a divine-magic using spell sword or mage killer.
    Mercantile Background - Although money is scarce in the early chapters of IWD2, 
    later on you are unlikely to have a shortage of funds.  That makes this feat 
    less desirable as a long term investment.  Still, if you like to have every 
    economic advantage, select this feat for your diplomat if they have the 
    necessary racial background (which usually means they are human as gray dwarf 
    and deep gnome diplomats are understandably rare given their -4 penalty to 
    Improved Turning -- A high-level cleric with decent Charisma and this feat can 
    slice through undead encounters like a hot knife through butter.  Of course, 
    even without this feat such a cleric is fairly capable against undead, so you 
    will need to decide for yourself whether there are other more useful feats you 
    would rather have.
    Precise Shot -- A useful support feat for a dedicated sniper.
    Slippery Mind -- Another level 10 rogue feat; not as useful as Improved Evasion 
    but worth considering.
    Snake Blood -- Almost but not quite useless, as it is possibly worth considering 
    for tanks, thieves and scouts, if only because it also adds to Reflex saving 
    Strong Back -- Because of the "all or nothing" nature of IWD2 encumbrance, with 
    reasonable equipment choices your stronger characters will rarely if ever be 
    encumbered.   However, characters with low Strength (such as six) can sometimes 
    benefit substantially from this feat, as even bracers, cloaks, and potions can 
    encumber a weak character, and if you throw in a heavy cross then balancing 
    their equipment may be difficult.  Similarly, a cleric with low Strength and 
    Dexterity (perhaps one who is focusing on the healer, diplomat, and/or summoner 
    roles), can use this feat to allow them to wear heavier armor.
    Stunning Attack -- This is the feat that monks get for free; if you don't have a 
    monk, this is possibly worth choosing for a high-level tank or mage killer for 
    use in special offensive or defensive maneuvers.
    Sub-Vocal Casting -- Any of your major spellcasters can benefit from this, and 
    if at least your main healer has this that can prove particularly helpful, as 
    she can then use Dispel Magic on any other silenced characters.
    ******** SPOILER *******
    Once you reach Chapter Three you can buy Vocalize Potions at which point this 
    feat doesn't really help you all that much, although it is still not really 
    useless since there are finite numbers of those potions available and using 
    potions does consume a round of combat that might be used casting an offensive 
    4) Useless Feats
    The author has not found these to be worth using a valuable feat slot on. 
    Arterial Strike -- Against foes who are strong enough that you would want to 
    bother with this skill, the damage usually isn't significant to make it worth 
    it.  (Envenom is a bit better because it directly affects Constitution which can 
    result in a significant reduction in hit points.)
    Blind-Fight -- Fighting invisibile and hidden opponents happens very rarely, and 
    when it does happen there is usually a lot more on your mind than worrying about 
    whether someone is still getting their Dex benefit to AC.
    Crippling Strike -- Level 10+ rogues only.  This feat appears to only reduce 
    Strength by one rather than one per sneak attack damage die, and -1 Strength is 
    not going to make a big impact on an ogre, trolls, or giant.
    Extra Turning -- There really aren't enough undead encounters to make this worth 
    selecting; if your cleric has normal or above average charisma they will 
    probably have enough turning attempts by default (and if they have low charisma 
    their turning capabilities will be weak anyway so there is no point in getting 
    this feat).
    Extra Wild Shape -- Even if your druid shapeshifts fairly frequently you almost 
    never run out of shapeshifting charges, and if you do, that probably means it's 
    time to rest, as your spellcasters are probably depleted as well.
    Fiendslayer - It's not worth spending a whole feat on this just to get +1 damage 
    for these relatively rare creature types.
    Forestry -- The most useless feat in the game, bar none. 
    Improved Initiative--Rumor has it that this feat is "bugged," and the author has 
    done experiments that definitely suggest that it isn't having any positive 
    effect whatsover, which is unfortunate, as on paper it would seem to be very 
    Resist Poison - Gray dwarf and half orc only.  There isn't all that much poison 
    in IWD2 and what poison there is isn't all that perilous; you are better off 
    just taking Great Fortitude.
    Toughness -- O.K., extra hit points are nice, but if you want them that bad, use 
    the "Max HP/Level" option (take a course on guilt management if necessary), and 
    use those valuable feat slots for something else.
    Wild Shape, Boring Beetle, Panther, or Shambling Mound -- When all is said and 
    done, these shapes aren't that much more superior to the regular ones, and are 
    pretty much useless by the endgame, so it's not worth using a feat slot on them.
    X) Sample Characters and Parties
    A) Sample Characters
    This section goes provides detailed designs for a few "optimized" builds.  The 
    ability numbers are for a level one character.  Suggested feats and skills are 
    also listed in approprimate order of their priority; gaining access to all the 
    suggested feats will require a character of higher level.
    1) Tank-o-monk
    Race: Human
    Class: Monk
    Abilities: Str 18 Dex 18 Con 16 Int 3 Wis 18 Cha 3
    Skills: Hide and Move Silently
    Feats: Power Attack, Rapid Shot, Cleave, Dodge, Dirty Fighting
    This build relies on the fact that humans get an extra skill point each level to 
    create a monk that is fully optimized for tanking, sniping, mage killing, and 
    2) Courtly Wizard
    Race: Human
    Class: Wizard
    Abilities: Str 6 Dex 10 Con 14 Int 18 Wis 10 Cha 18
    Skills: Concentration, Spellcraft, Alchemy, Knowledge: Arcane, Diplomacy, Bluff, 
    Feats: Courteous Magocracy, Luck of Heroes, Expertise, various Spell Focus and 
    elemental feats
    This build takes advantage of a Wizard's large number of skill points to create 
    a wizard diplomat/loremaster.  With low-Strength and Dex this character has 
    almost no combat capability, but a decent Con of 14 will help keep them alive 
    (use spells like Mirror Image liberally to protect this build).
    3) Mystic Druid Pariah
    Race: Half Elf
    Class: Monk 3/Druid X
    Abilities: Str 12 Dex 18 Con 12 Int 13 Wis 18 Cha 3
    Skills: Concentration, Spellcraft, Hide, Move Silently
    Feats: Expertise, Rapid Shot, Spell Focus: Transmutation, elemental feats 
    This is a shapeshifting-oriented build that uses a monk mix-in to provide 
    additional AC benefits while shifted (the Wisdom bonus for monks carries over to 
    the alternate forms).  Three levels of monk also provides Evasion, Deflect 
    Arrows, and additional speed and saving throw bonuses, and the latter combined 
    with the half elf bonuses results in a character who is extremely resistant to 
    Enchantment magics.  This very flexible build can be deployed in a variety of 
    roles: tank, sniper, scout, bombardier, mage killer, summoner, spell sword, and 
    4) Lightbringer
    Race: Aasimar
    Class: Paladin 2/Cleric of Lathander X
    Abilities: Str 8  Dex 8  Con 10  Int 14  Wis 20  Cha 20
    Skills: Concentration, Diplomacy, Spellcraft
    Feats: Expertise, Spell Focus: Evocation, Spirit of Flame, Sub-Vocal Casting, 
    Strong Back 
    Another non-combatant build, this character will serve as a healer, diplomat, 
    and, at higher-levels, bombardier (using the clerical fire spells like Flame 
    Strike as well as the Lathander domain spells).  Two levels of Paladin provides 
    the Aura of Courage, insanely high saving throws, and a little bit of Laying on  
    Hands capability for emergency first aid (and with the Lathander's Renewal 
    special ability this character will have two sources for quick healing).  If you 
    don't care about Aura of Courage then just using one level of Paladin is a 
    reaonsable alternative. With the extremely high Charisma and the built-in 
    Improved Turning feat from the Lathander order, against undead encounters this 
    character can wreak havoc.
    5) Trickster Gnome
    Race: Deep Gnome
    Class: Bard X/Illusionist Y
    Abilities: Str 6  Dex 14  Con 12  Int 18  Wis 10  Cha 14
    Skills: Concentration, Diplomacy, Bluff, Spellcraft, Alchemy, Knowledge: Arcana
    Feats: Dodge, Dash, Expertise, Lingering Song, Spell Focus: Enchantment
    Yet another non-combatant build.  For this character, you can adjust the bard 
    and illusionist levels to suit your personal preferences (even one level of bard 
    is useful for the first song and the access to bard-only items).  In addition to 
    covering the diplomat and loremaster roles, this character provides support in 
    combat with bard songs while distracting the enemy.  Since bard songs can be 
    played while fleeing, if this trickster can get a powerful monster to chase them 
    then they can lead it in circles while singing merrily, giving the other chances 
    and opportunity to heal, cast spells, or apply missile fire.
    6) Big Brute
    Race: Half Orc
    Class: Fighter 4/Barbarian X
    Abilities: Str 20  Dex 16  Con 18  Int 1  Wis 18  Cha 1
    Skills: Intimidation
    Feats: Power Attack, Cleave, Weapon Specialization, Improved Critical, Dodge, 
    Iron Will
    As ugly and stupid as it gets, but shockingly effective in hand-to-hand combat.  
    Use a two-handed weapon for maximum damage.  With a Wisdom of 18 this character 
    actually gets decent Will saving throws, but with an ample supply of feats you 
    can add in Iron Will for additional safety.
    7) Archer Mage
    Race: Moon elf
    Class: Fighter 4/Wizard X
    Abilities: Str 8  Dex 20  Con 16  Int 18  Wis 10  Cha 4
    Skills: Concentration, Spellcraft, Alchemy, Knowledge: Arcana, Search
    Feats: Rapid Shot, Weapon Specialization: Bows, Greater Spell Focus: Evocation, 
    elemental feats, Dodge
    Delivering damage from a safe distance is this character's specialty. With bonus 
    feats from both the fighter and wizard classes, such a build has ample feats and 
    can afford to invest heavily in both bow-related feats and direct damage 
    spellcasting feats.  Because the four levels of fighter will prevent this 
    character from achieving the highest level spells, you will usually not want 
    such a build as your primary arcane spellcaster.  However, as a support 
    sniper/bombardier/loremaster, this build is almost peerless.  You can do a 
    variant of this build with a wild elf fighter/sorcerer, but that build will have 
    fewer feats and skill points.
    B) Sample Parties
    This section contains a few examples of parties.  All of these are similar to 
    parties that the author successfully ran himself.  The descriptions show the 
    heroes at or near the end of the game, so you know what to work towards.
    1) Mystic Goons from the Outback
    The key to this party is that, except for the sorcerer, who is the de facto 
    diplomat, everyone is plug ugly.  But, they're scrappy and have a flexible, 
    magic-intensive offensive.  In combat, deploy this party in three ranks, with 
    the monk and fighter/rogue in front, the cleric and druid in the middle, and the 
    sorcerer and wizard in the rear.
    Shield dwarf--level 2 fighter/level 14 monk (tank and mage killer; level up 
    twice in fighter for the proficiencies, hit points and feats and then switch 
    exclusively to monk)
    Wild elf--level 2 rogue/level 14 sorcerer (scout, bombardier, spell sword)
    Ghostwise halfling--level 1 barbarian/level 15 druid (offensive spell sword; the 
    barbarian mix in adds better weaponry and the Rage ability for use in tough one-
    on-one fights or in mop up situations)
    Human--level 16 Transmuter (basic spellcaster; primary loremaster and auxiliary 
    Drow--level 14 Stormlord of Talos (healer and spell sword with some bombardier 
    and mage killer aspects)
    Tiefling--level 10 fighter/level 5 rogue (tank, scout, thief)
    2) Law of the Land
    A mixed bag of mostly lawful characters.  Three of the characters are fairly 
    traditional; the other three builds are a bit more experimental.  The paladin, 
    sorcerer, and bard all have acceptable "presence" and so diplomat functions are 
    flexibly and thoroughly covered.  This party works best in a "pentagon" 
    formation, with the human fighter tank in front, the three multiclass spell 
    swords in the middle supporting with melee, missile, or spellcasting, as needed, 
    and the Morninglord and bard in the rear helping with songs, archery, and 
    support magic.
    Aasimar--level 4 Paladin of Mystra/level 11 wizard (serves as a sniper, spell 
    sword, and healer)
    Human--level 16 fighter (heavy duty tank)
    Human-level 3 Monk of the Dark Moon/level 13 sorcerer (the bombardier, with 
    Evasion, a little extra speed, and other minor niceties from the monk class 
    giving her more flexibility for SWAT operations)
    Human--level 5 Painbearer of Ilmater/level 11 Monk of the Broken Ones (general 
    purpose scout, healer and spell sword)
    Stoutheart Halfling--level 13 bard/level 3 rogue (primary thief, loremaster, and 
    backup spellcaster)
    Moon elf--level 16 Morninglord of Lathander (primary healer and summoner; can 
    use a bow as well as supporting the front lines as a tank if needed)
    3) Gang of Four
    Playing with a smaller party can be a challenge, but during the first few 
    chapters your characters level that much more rapidly.  If you find that in the 
    later chapters you aren't getting any experience because your characters are 
    such high level, you can add a new low-level "squire" character using the Party 
    Formation screen, which will bring your party's average level down.  This party 
    works best if the monk scouts and perhaps stuns a key foe, then retreats while 
    the sorcerer applies heavy-hitting direct damage.  At this point, the foe will 
    be weakened and the party is flexible enough to execute either a direct 
    offensive or to retreat and regroup for more skirmish tactics.
    Human--level 18 monk (scout and mage killer with some tank capability)
    Human--level 18 sorcerer (primary bombardier and summoner)
    Aasimar--level 8 fighter/level 9 Battleguard of Tempus (spell sword with tank, 
    sniper, healer, and summoner capabilities)
    Stoutheart Halfling--level 7 rogue/level 11 fighter (primary tank and thief and 
    can second for scout and mage killer blitzes)