Icewind Dale - general thread + solo Heart of Fury challenge

OsaX Nymloth

Community Contributor
This is a general thread for the good old Icewind Dale series – remember playing this gem from the days of yore? Remember the amazing soundtrack and breathtaking, hand painted vistas? How much time you’ve spent on creating a perfect party only to end up like me with 6 necromancers and no actual knowledge of how any of the game systems works? Yup, good old times.


Look at this glorious art. Best of all Infinity Engine games I dare to say

I will use this as well as an opportunity to write down (well, actually mostly translate it from my native language) my challenge of completing the Icewind Dale with nothing more than a solo character. In Heart of Fury mode. Starting with level 1 obviously. I already did such challenge in original version of the game and last year decided to try it as well in Enhanced Edition, because hey, I felt like smelling some north breeze and getting my bones frozen in the frosty winds of Spine of the World.

If you know the game, you already know what this means and are probably thinking I am insane. For those of you not aware what Heart of Fury does, let me explain. Imagine a game mode harder than any default setting, that is meant only for the most experienced masochists out there – for people who already beat the game and want to import their party back into action. Basically HoF makes all enemies hit twice as hard, give them triple the amount of HP, -11 AC or better and general stats and dice rolls from hell. Or heaven, depends who you ask. In short: a damn goblin from this mode could probably go on rampage across half the Faerun before any kind of army could assemble to stop it.

View: https://youtu.be/vSKGsmjbq2w

Listen to it while reading. Or just listen, it's glorious


Starting this challenge I wasn’t sure how much the Enhanced Edition changed in comparison to original game ie. if some spells were added from Baldur’s Gate or any other kind of balance changes. So I went for kinda “safe” route, going with Fighter/Mage/Cleric character. Cleric is useful throughout whole game and allows survival in the first areas before fighter and mage start actually doing anything useful. Mage alone will be almost useless for long hours – even arriving at the Great Tree in Kuldahar doesn’t help as the local magician, Orrick, doesn’t really sell much good spells at this point in the story. So the mage is there to wait on sidelines and wait for mid to late game, where his strength will shine like a fury of thousand dying suns. Fighter…. well, we need’em HP and being able to stick something sharp between enemy ribs is always a plus. Minus of this class in this combination is that I am only allowed two “stars” in weapon proficiencies, much less than any pure fighting class. But in this run, magic will rule supreme.


Starting at the bottom...

Easthaven and Kuldahar

The journey starts quite peacefully, with me running few errands between the local fisherman Jhonen and Elisia, some drunktard and his wine and I also clear the basement of the village’s inn from some beetles. Sounds simple, eh? Well don’t stand too close to those beast or you will get oneshotted, I kid you not. Good thing those enemies are meant for tutorial so they don’t move and it’s enough to keep your distance from them – killing one takes a while, so I sip some tea and read some book in the meantime. After about 20 minutes of my hero swinging and mostly missing (because really, only way to actually him anything at this stage is to roll a critical hit) and sometimes hitting anything, I am done. I believe that gives a level or two, because everything gives insane amounts of experience. Next are goblins and here there’s two ways I can approach the problem with the green meanies bullying anyone crossing the bridge south of Easthaven. I can take ranged weapon, aggro one of the goblins and run around using the fact that my hero moves slightly faster. This plus abusing pathfinding allows for rather safe goblin removal technique, but have one downside: it takes forever. Without exaggeration, killing one goblin this way takes 20-30 minutes in real time and also demands constant attention by microing my character and praying for those critical rolls. Also this costs money, because trust me, doing it this way requires A LOT of arrows or other missiles. Second option is remembering as many single target spells as possible, mostly Magic Missile and Chromatic Orb and even something normally as useless as Magic Stone. If I am lucky, I can kill one goblin with full potential of such mighty arsenal and even if not, the victim should be so weak and possibly stunned, that finishing it should not be a problem. So I rest, cast spells on some green stuff, collect the pathetic alms for all my work, rinse and repeat. Bigger issue is with wolf locked in one of the workshops to the west – no way in Nine Hells I can take that beast on my own, but luckily I can make it leave the building and then I can use one of the strategies above to deal with it. Requires bit more praying for lucky dice rolls, but works. Eventually.

With all that done I hit level 5 with cleric and this is where the fun starts. I can summon some skeletons or other undead creatures – I CAN RAISE MY OWN ARMY! And I will start by casting the spell and making use of my minions in the best way known to my twisted mind: as meat shield. They don’t deal much damage, they’re dumb and tend to make a giant mess of everything but they keep attention of nearby orcs quite well. And while orcs are busy figuring out why there’s bunch of undead horrors attacking them and resisting re-dying, I use my warrior proves to dish out real damage. Well, it’s not super high, but still way better than what skeletons or zombies can do. But you know what is the best part of the Animate Dead? The summoned creatures will be better with my cleric levels. Ever dreamed of summoning bunch of Bone Golems to tear your enemies to pieces? It’s possible!

Anyway, my summons are tanky but as soon as their numbers start to deplete I leave the cave and rest only to summon more of them right as I enter the cave once again. Orcs may be already alerted to my presence, but since resting in different location makes them spawn back at their original position I have plenty of time before they reach me. In the end even 4 (yes, four) ogres aren’t enough to stop me. I come back to Easthaven in glory I can only apparently see (and smell) and then we ride at dawn. You know how this goes.

After a while I arrive at Kuldahar, leading small pack of confounded undead. First thing I do is blackmail the innkeeper with some ring I have managed to erm, acquire. Next I visit Orrick and buy few spells (nothing interesting, really. Most of the good stuff I will just find by exploration) and then I cast a gaze upon Arundel, who uses this moment of opportunity to give me a quest. Shadow Valley is my target and whatever evil may be lurking there.


We're going places

Aaaand it’s more of the same. I summon skelies and zombies, they tank while I work on enemies’ backsides – just making sure no one actually notices me and changes target to my unholy person. That would be bad, as my actual fighting abilities are nowhere near being able to beat a furious yeti or wrath. Speaking of the latter and other enemies with abilities such as stuns, spells in the likes of Hold Person etc. - these are prime targets and extremely dangerous. Getting “hit” by anything like that means seeing the loading screen, as the stun times are insane and if any enemy during this time decides to attack my hero, then he is dead in few hits. Anyway, I continue on my journey.

This continues for long hours until I reach the Temple of Forgotten God. Here two thing happens. First: my undead cohorts turns out to be almost worthless against the giant guardians of the temple. Second: I have new favourite spell: Aerial Servant and I will abuse it to the very end. This summons only one monster (unless I have 5 slots memorized, which I may or may not happen to have had), but that creature is a SLAYER. Immunity to non-magical weapons, decent HP and HITS LIKE A TRUCK. Or whatever that is Forgotten Realm’s version of said truck speeding at 200 km/h and full of metal. Let me just say this: a few of these bad invisible boys can put down even Iron Golem. Or any late game monster. See where this is going?


Easy

Dragon’s Eye

Yes, this means I am summoning Aerial Servant left, right and center and I will never say sorry for that. I feel mighty. I feel powerful. I feel like godhood is just around the corner. And then I happen upon the Dragon’s Eye, the very first level. And let me tell you, saying there’s a horde of lizardfolk would be an understatement. There’s whole PLANETS worth of the green and brown lizard-things and not a single spot to safely cast a spell – and Aerial Servant takes quite a lot of time to finish. What to do? Is this the end? I can’t summon anything before getting interrupted, and alone I have no hope of conquering waves of enemies who deal lots of damage.

There’s a solution though! And it’s a simple, low level spell Sanctuary – with it I roam freely the whole level trying to find a single spot where I wouldn’t be seen by anybody. And I found none of such places. Dudgeon, I move to second level and finally find a spot. Summoning commences as well as a massacre that will last very well till I reach the boss. Yxunomei. I have to say, second level is somehow especially hard, since a lot of enemies will instantly go towards me as soon as I am back from resting elsewhere and without Sanctuary I would be dead a couple times.


Yxunomei never expected fighting a Pit Fiend in her own lair

Battle with Yxunomei is hard one and needs quite a lot of preparations. First of all, as soon as I trigger the fight, the doors behind me close shut – no running away from this. Second thing: all enemies are somehow already pissed off and at the doors I just opened. Even their leader, the marilith herself, is angry at me and doesn’t even want to chat. Not sure what I done to make them all hate my guts (ok killing entire dungeon of their comrades and stealing their treasures may have something to do with it), but hey, what can I do. Good thing I have summoned some undead as meatshields to create a un-living wall between me and my enemies, which allows me to hurl bunch of Fireballs and Skull Traps to deal with most of current problems. These skulls, by the way, you ever realized how much they actually do? It’s insane! Anyway, after a while enemy numbers are dwindling and I summon my ace – a Pit Fiend! Previously I cast Protection from Evil or I would suffer a humiliating death from the hands of said devil. Then I watch, with smile on my nasty face, as the Pit Fiend destroys remaining opposition and even Yxunomei herself. I notice his disappointed glance and move on while my protections are still in place, better not linger and wait to see what the devil will do.

Severed Hand and Dorn’s Deep

It saddens me to say this, but Severed Hand is….easy. I used to love the lore and beautiful melancholy that fills the place, but there’s no challenge there. My legions destroy anything that’s left amid the once glorious house of northern elves, and all I do is collect trinkets and wonder the halls whose walls once again are silent spectators to the slaughter. I help Larrel come to his senses and then I turn south – Dorn’s Deep awaits.


EZPZ

At first all seems to go well known path – I lead my legions and we slay anything living (or not) on our way. But when I try to charge into the dwarven city across the bridge, things take a sudden turn. Not only enemies here, the drow mercenaries, are actually damn good and can even kill my Aerial Sevants, but some of them even show different AI – and by this I mean they ignore everything and rush towards my character. Yes, at this point I have lots of defensive spells and blessings on me, but still fighting 1vs1 with enemy is something I would like to avoid. I am forced to use Sanctuary and few times to just stay alive and even summon devils and demons into rooms ahead of me, waiting for them to weaken drow before I start my dance of spell and blade (well, actually it’s a flail or hammer, but that doesn’t sound so poetic).


Ok, not so easy now

With one of the insignia in my hand, I move forth into the Wyrm’s Tooth Glacier and I discover new thing to worry. Salamanders and their auras. They may not be so tough, but when there’s bunch of them and each starts doing elemental damage to everything around it (that isn’t other of it’s kind, obviously), things start to look grimm and pale. This means I have to be more careful with how many enemies I aggravate and how many summoning spells I use per battle, as summons are still the most important thing here. I have to rest more often and in general the speed of the exploration is almost halted, as clearing just one map of enemies takes a lot of time and actual effort. In any case, I got another badge and move to Lower Dorn’s Deep.


Damn it's still beautiful after all those years

And here comes a surprise – a ghost I totally don’t remember, welcomes me. Well, “welcome” is a bit big word for the actions of said ghost, but it’s nice to see some of the cut content making it into Enhanced Edition. My evil character wasn’t fond of the welcoming committee, turning ghost of a paladin into nothingness for a time. I move on, clearing tons of salamanders and undead creatures that are not under my direct control – I stop for a bit wondering why the umber hulks don’t ambush me in one particular place. Confused I leave only to read later that these were changed to make obtaining a quite powerful sword a bit more of a challenge. I kill Nym, because even evil chaotic character like me doesn’t like the guy and kick the door open to Mavalon’s.

And he kicks me back outside. This battle is one of the toughest even in base difficulty, and in Heart of Fury it’s just more “love and fun” inside his mansion. Remember his iron golem being utter annoyance? Now there’s two of them. And bunch of umber hulks. And remember, real Malavon shows up after killing his clone and if you aren’t careful you may not have anything left in your arsenal when that happens. I spent around hour in this battle and in the end I have to cast Sanctuary and lead some enemies into another room, which happens to hold a summoned earlier Pit Fiend killing some poor slaves. Sorry guys, priorities. I leave devil to his work and move to face Malavon face to face, buffed with everything I can still cast. In the end I prevail, shining brighter than sun itself from the magic I have casted. Pit Fiend in the meantime seems to disappear, but not before devouring whatever remained with him in that room when I left.

Of course, just as it happens to me all the time, after defeating Malavon I stumble upon a book. About construction of golems. Can you imagine I could have used it to disable at least one of the golems? Or even turn it against it’s master? That would make the fight much more easier for sure, but no, I had to find it afterwards. I don’t even remember if it was there in original game.


Oh uh

Everything else in the Lower’s Dorn’s Deep is a cake and walk in a park in comparison to Malavon’s battle. Except the army of Lady Ilmadia, which forces me to flee. Good thing I can cast non-offensive spells while hidden from the world by Sanctuary – and apparently summoning army of angry, screaming devils count as non-offensive magic. It takes a while and some microing, because the fire giants and elementals tend to block path and clump around my hero, so one bad step may spell my doom. I also notice, without a single happy thought of course, that enemies tend to notice me more often when I am putting my flail to their backs. This means even more micro-management to make sure I am not targetted – I mean, I have my army for that, I am here to lead, give orders and strike anything that doesn’t care apparently. Till it dies, that’s it.


Aw ****! RUN!

With all the badges and path to Poquelin open I withdraw. Not because I am afraid or I suddenly remembered I left oven open, nothing of the sort. I just noticed I am just three levels from reaching 30 with my mage (cleric and fighter were already maxed) – and since magic is my favourite thing outside of lurking in the shadows and plotting world domination, I decided to visit Lonelywood. The expansion areas and mission give absurdly high amounts of experience even for trivial things. That’s one thing, second is there are some rather easily accessible items worth buying as well and well, I have to use the 300.000 gold coins I have pocketed so far. Funnily enough, the next toughest battle so far after Malavon’s happens at Burial Isle and it’s nothing of the stuff you imagined. See, there’s that one guardian spirit in the form of polar bear with some other bears-ghosts. Nothing big, right? Well wrong! Never ever, not even in the final fight I was forced to actually use 99% of my magic arsenal! Seriously, I watched in horror as everything I summon is mantled to death in matter of seconds! And since the ghosts had high magic resistance, my offensive spells didn’t do much either. Add to that total immunity to stuff like Power Word: Stun and similar magic and you can imagine how terrified I was running away from the monsters. This “run and cast a spell in desperate hope it does something” ritual lasted for quite a long time, before the guardian finally fell. Guess what dealt the ultimate blow? A summoned fire beetle for a whopping 4 points of damage.


Gorion's Ward got nothing on me!

After long trek I face brother Poquelin and beat his ass without breaking a sweat. And thus I am back at Easthaven, history coming full circle etc. I know I am as ready as I can be. I make short work of cyclops around the village, get Everard to show me the way inside entombed temple, kill Pomab and prepare for the big battle ahead.

Final

This is a bit of a nightmare on multiple layers. Belhifet aka Poquelin isn’t alone, oh no. How about two iron golems and two rather high ranked demons? Sounds nice, then how about a whole center area of the room that’s basically one giant trap made of smaller traps? Including Dispel Magic ones that negate most of my protections and buffs if I trigger them? Fun, isn’t? Did I mention the demons have a nasty ability to make my character bleed and basically make it impossible to cast spells? And than Big Bad Boss himself have insane stats and resistances? And that “party” is automatically dispelled at the beginning of the battle? Now, let’s do it.

I gulp some Oil of Speed and move the hell away from enemies and from center of the area – I will move only on the edges. I activate my spell sequencer with some protective spells (Mirror Image, Iron Skin etc.), the move away from demons and golems and cast from safe distance Protection From Magic and Entropy Shield – I really need to make sure I can finish the spell before enemies can hit me, because even risking Curnogon’s bleed ability is game over. Then I can start summoning – first waves are some basic minions, who are meant only to take attention of enemies away from me. While they’re disturbed I bombard the center area with Cloudkills, Cloudburst and Acid Storm – Acid being one of the very few sources of damage I can deal to everything except Belhifet. I keep running in circles around the place, keeping enemies inside my toxic arsenal and when it runs out, I summon some more meat to the battlefield and start preparations to join the battle. Two lesser demons die to my army and while iron golems are still trashing about, they’re weakened. Buffed with bunch of spells, including Righteous Wrath of the Faithful and another sequence of defensive spells if my current protection fails. After a while Belhifet is alone and I summon everything that remains in my spell book and in items. I buff once more and having used much of my arsenal I start making sure Belhifet’s back hurts – I have to pay close attention to what demon is targetting. His hits not only hurt like hell, but also bring decease and other unpleasantries upon victim – even tho I have so many different potions I could probably heal a whole city, I don’t want to risk it.


After a long battle, a demon with 1130 HP, -12 AC, -12 THAC0, with 4 attacks per round and with 25 strength falls and is sent back to Nine Hells.








Challenge finished. Again.
 
Last edited:
Jan 22, 2020
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I really need to play ID, it and the sequel are the only infinity engine games I missed.

Would I have as much fun with a multi Fighter/Mage as I always do in Baldurs Gate or should I diversify and try Fighter/Cleric? I'm not familiar with the spell lists or how they differ from BG.
 

OsaX Nymloth

Community Contributor
@Mazer if you're not planning on doing challenge runs like the one above, anything is viable. Making your own party is part of the fun and you can make some silly or overpowered combinations. Wanna have six evil and constantly shaking with fury halfings-barbarians wielding giant swords? Sure you can! Solo runs are also possible with anything, except the Heart of Fury where you really need to know the game in and out.

Spell list are a bit different in comparison to BG, but there are quite a lot of common ones. All in all, I would say every spell here is good at least for a time, no useless stuff like Good Berry or spells to check somebody's alignment - but it's pure combat focused. Story while quite serviceable, it's only a background to the mayhem you are creating on your way.
 

Sarafan

Community Contributor
Jan 14, 2020
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I will use this as well as an opportunity to write down (well, actually mostly translate it from my native language) my challenge of completing the Icewind Dale with nothing more than a solo character. In Heart of Fury mode.
It's funny, but I had to travel to Icewind Dale to actually see snow this year. :) Great job on your solo playthrough! Heart of Fury is very challenging even for high level parties. I never had the courage to start the game in this mode. I was always afraid that it'll make me rip my hair off.
 

OsaX Nymloth

Community Contributor
It's funny, but I had to travel to Icewind Dale to actually see snow this year. Great job on your solo playthrough! Heart of Fury is very challenging even for high level parties. I never had the courage to start the game in this mode. I was always afraid that it'll make me rip my hair off.
Thanks! And yeah, even here in Poland I have seen snow for FEW HOURS this winter. Back in my days tho...!

HoF is challenging fur sure, but it's really doable - altho I can't imagine going for solo run without some kind of summoning. Tried with rouge as well to sneak past enemies, but that only works till certain part and mage takes a looong time to get up and running. Thus cleric is best option since you can easily hit the level 5 in Easthaven doing basic errands and some goblin action.

In Icewind Dale 2 I also was trying this run and I remember that a peculiar nasty black dragon put an end to it. His auras were too strong I guess. I am thinking about trying it again tho, it's been years since I play ID2 anyway. I will just need to refresh my memory about it a bit, since I vaguely remember that having a hammer of mace was a must to get past the ice palace/temple place in mid game. Not sure about the rest of "special" enemies and their resistances tho.
 
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Sarafan

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Jan 14, 2020
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Thanks! And yeah, even here in Poland I have seen snow for FEW HOURS this winter. Back in my days tho...!
Hey, I'm from Poland as well! :) The climate change is clearly visible. I don't remember such a warm winter.

In Icewind Dale 2 I also was trying this run and I remember that a peculiar nasty black dragon put an end to it. His auras were too strong I guess. I am thinking about trying it again tho, it's been years since I play ID2 anyway. I will just need to refresh my memory about it a bit, since I vaguely remember that having a hammer of mace was a must to get past the ice palace/temple place in mid game. Not sure about the rest of "special" enemies and their resistances tho.
Currently I'm doing a playthrough of Icewind Dale 2. I actually never finished it. I'm playing on hard and as for now had no meaningful difficulties. I'm currently in Chapter 2, so probably the locations you're talking about are still before me. I have to admit that the game still looks good even after 18 years since its release date. That's an advantage of hand painted 2D maps.
 
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OsaX Nymloth

Community Contributor
That's definitely the thing, those hand painted backgrounds look gorgeous - even in resolutions way higher than intended for. Ah this makes me want to play it now. Good thing I made the "rips" of my CD's back in the day - after all this time, I doubt I could install it from those discs.

Chapter 2 was after "obliterating" the fortress of goblins or during it? I haven't played in long time, my memory is vague. And what party are you running?
 
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Sarafan

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Jan 14, 2020
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Good thing I made the "rips" of my CD's back in the day - after all this time, I doubt I could install it from those discs.
I have a boxed copy of the game, but also bought GOG version. Currently playing the second one. It has some tweaks that help you run the game on modern hardware without problems.

Chapter 2 was after "obliterating" the fortress of goblins or during it? I haven't played in long time, my memory is vague. And what party are you running?
Chapter 2 was after obliterating the fortress. My party:

Aasimar - Paladin,
Shield Dwarf - Warrior,
Human - Cleric,
Strongheart Halfling - Thief
Human - Sorcerer
Moon Elf - Wizard

So it's basically a quite standard party. Nothing unusual here. :)
 
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