As I said, I’ll devote this report mostly to describe my party. Their names should already be familiar to any frequent visitor of this blog. Basically, I decided to start playing a roster of characters through all of my RPGs, hoping to improve the experience that way. Before any report, though, I have to finish chapter VI.
The battles are definitely getting tough, but I think the difficulty with fighting Pomad was that I didn’t completely understand the battle. I tried it several times and got killed before I could even scratch anyone properly.
Eventually, I started figuring things and I did manage to win it in the end, but even now, I’m still not completely sure what was going on.
The way I understand it, the four crystal sentries were unkillable. As much as I tried, I was never able to get them past “near death” and into “proper death”. I did, however, notice that they love to focus on Aleen, my wizard.
I also noticed that Pomad’s copies were hard to kill as well, as long as I’m trying to kill the wrong one. My theory is that I need to kill the images first before I can properly hurt the real Pomad.
With these two observations/assumptions, I formed a strategy. Before going to Pomad’s floor, I did the usual casting of Haste, Recitation and Bless. Priscilla had access to level 2 spells, so I also cast Draw Upon Holy Might on her. Finally, Aleen cast Stoneskin on herself and I went up the stairs.
As soon as the talking was over, I attacked one of Pomad’s copies with Priscilla, Lorelei and Robin. Alana was ignored by everyone, so I moved her to the side and threw a helpful spell every now and then. As expected, the sentries tried to attack Aleen, so I used her to lead them in a circle through the room, which immediately caused a flashback to my time spent in World of Warcraft.
The copy of Pomad I was attacking wasn’t going down even after a long time, so I switched to another copy. That one went down much quicker, as did each copy after that. Eventually, the last one fell and the sentries went down alongside it.
Compared to any other fight I went through in Icewind Dale up to this point, this one felt leagues ahead in difficulty.
The thing is, the next one was even harder.
Poquelin, Take Two (AKA, It’s actually Belhifet)
This was the true final battle and it was hard as nails.
It was only against Belhifet and two Iron Golems, but Belhifet himself was extremely difficult, especially considering I didn’t have any scrolls of resist fire on me.
My basic strategy was to buff everyone as much as I could. I even memorized resist fire spells for extra help, since all three enemies resisted most offensive magic.
I used whichever character was targeted as kiting bait, placed Rax in the middle to keep the traps that were in the area detected (she wasn’t able to disarm them) and I used the rest of my guys to first kill the golems and then focus on Belhifet/Poquelin.
He kept telporting around and casting fire spells, but it was good at first, while I still had my resitance up. For the most part, he was focusing on Aleen again, which also made it slightly easier.
Then it got bad. I started getting hurt badly, because he actually started fighting back. I used whatever healing I had to keep my guys alive for as long as possible, but soon, Priscilla was the first to fall, and a few rounds later, Rax followed. Meanwhile, Lorelei managed to get herself knocked out (still alive, just not responding to my commands) and most of my spells ran their course.
In one last desperate attempt, I cast Draw Upon Holy Might with Alana, hoping she’d be able to melee the boss to death (he was at near death by now). Robin also joined in with her sword after running out of arrows.
Within seconds, Alana was down and I thought it was over, but then Lorelei got back up and with her and Robin, I managed to finish of the enemy. This was by far the narrowest victory of my gaming career. I had three characters dead and three other in critical health levels, but somehow, I did it.
Except the game isn’t over yet. There’s still the Heart of Winter expansion to go through. Unlucky for me, I don’t have a save where I’m still in Kuldahar and able to access the expansion content. Lucky for me, I can access it from the main menu and import my current party easily.
More on that in the next report, though.
I promised to describe my party, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
The gang is parked in Lonelywood, which is the starting town of the expansion. We just beat the big baddie of the base game, so all the levels and gear is with us, sans some quest items that got removed from our bags automatically.
Priscilla, the paladin
Priscilla took the role of the leader in Icewind Dale. Why? Because the leader is the one talking to everyone in Infinity engine games, so it needs to be someone with high Charisma. Who better than a paladin?
Priscilla is level 11 after completing the base game. She’s proficient in Flails, Hammers, Maces and Great Swords. The last one was picked mainly due to not being able to invest more in the first three categories. In hindsight, I should have probably gone with another one-handed weapon type, even if it is shared with another character.
Due to her specialization, she’s carrying an arsenal of blunt weapons. She’s wielding the Defender which is a +3 bastard sword with an AC bonus, as well as Conlan’s Hammer, which is great against golems. Her main weapon of choice is the Hammer Flail +2. Sure, it wasn’t very useful against Poquelin, since she needed a +3 weapon for that, but it has a chance to stun the target, so it’s extremely useful against most regular enemies.
In her bags, she’s also holding Misery’s Herald, a flail for fighting elvenkin and Pale Justice. This is an amazing weapon, but she isn’t proficient in large swords yet. Lorelei is, but sadly, only paladins can wield Pale Justice.
In a fight, Priscilla blesses her team if necessary and then proceeds to get up-close and personal with the enemy. She has Lay on Hands in case anyone is in trouble and she can make herself go stronger with Draw Upon Holy Might.
Lorelei, the fighter
Lorelei is your typical close-range fighter. She used to lead the party in Varn and Cron, but her lack of social skills really shows in Faerun, so she decided to step down in favor of Priscilla.
She specializes in large and small swords. She may have a smaller range of weapon’s available to her, but she more than makes up for it in pure skill. Her main weapon right now is the Long Sword of Confusion +2. The name should be descriptive enough here. She also has Alamion and the Restored blade of Aihonen at the ready. The first one is good against salamanders, while the other one is a very powerful weapon as long as we’re within a dragon’s flight distance from Lac Dinneshere. It might sound limiting, but dragons can fly far, so most of the Spine of the World is covered by it.
In a fight, Lorelei tries to keep a simple approach. She relies on her allies for magical support and simply swings whichever weapon is most suitable. It worked quite well up to this point.
Robin, the Ranger
Robin was a skilled archer and caster in Varn and even more so later in Cron. In Faerun, her magical powers were greatly reduced, but this was slightly offset by a new-found ability to wield the forces of nature.
She’s proficient in bows and crossbows, as would be expected from a former archer, but she also has skill in wielding spears and halberds. This is not a skill she uses often, though, even though she carries the legendary spear Slayer. Instead, she prefers to rely on her bow, Messenger of Sseth. She’s extremely fast and accurate with it, but keeping a steady supply of ammo tends to be an issue.
In the field, Robin often scouts ahead, trying to lure enemies into traps set by the rest of her team. She uses her speed and skill with arrows to weaken enemies before they can reach the party. When in trouble, she can cast Barskin to protect herself or even entangle enemies with vines.
Alana, the cleric
Alana continues to wear clerical robes. Though the gods she worships may have changed in name, their ideals remained the same.
Most of her time in while not in a battle is spent memorizing and casting healing spells. In battle, she does the same when the need arises and she is definitely able to bring friends back from the brink of death. However, her first job in every major fight is to inspire and strengthen her allies with a Chant, Prayer or Recitation.
Of course, her repertoire of spells is wide, so she is able to adapt if needed. Being a cleric, she is able to wear heavier armor. Right now, it’s the Black Swan Armor, which provides additional magical protection. This nicely combines with the Argent Shield, which she recently acquired. She wields the Morning Star of the Gods to boost her spiritual power.
Rax, the rogue
Something happened to Rax on the way from Cron. In fact, something happened to everyone. They’ve changed, greatly, but Rax has undergone by far the biggest metamorphosis. What was one an orc half-breed is now a tiny gnome.
She did not forget her skills in stealth and security, though. In fact, it’s quite possible she’s improved in this department. The party can now rely on her to disarm almost any traps and she can even scout ahead in complete concealment, warning the party of any enemy waiting in ambush.
Exposing herself in a fight is usually not a good idea, as enemies tend to focus on her, what with seeming weak in appearance and stature. When she is able to lend a hand, she uses one of her two daggers. The Salamander’s Tongue has a fiery enchantment, so it’s great for finishing off trolls. The other is something she took from a man named Pressio. It’s magically envenomed, but not very powerful. The only reason she’s carrying it is because she has yet to find a suitable replacement.
Aleen, the Wizard
Magic comes from two sources in Faerun. The first is the innate ability of sorcerers, while the second and far more reliable are the long hours of study a wizard has to undertake. Lucky for Aleen, she brought her experience and knowledge from Cron, so she was a few steps ahead of the curve.
In a battle, if the enemy isn’t focusing on Rax, they are usually chasing Aleen and for good reason. Left unattended, she is able to quickly turn the tide of any battle. A well placed Fireball can clear most of the trash around the enemy leaders. If that doesn’t work, she can always invoke Confusion and have them fight each other, or she can summon various forms of aid.
Her spell of choice, however, is Haste. This seemingly uninteresting makes Priscilla, Lorelei and Robin unstoppable killing machines. It greatly drains their stamina, of course, but one the beneficial effects wear off, there’s plenty of time and room for resting.
When fighting spell casters, she also often relies on Melf’s Acid Arrow. The painful effects of this spell often interrupt spell casting. If that doesn’t work, a well placed Chromatic Orb can often freeze an enemy wizard in place, which is even more helpful.
Aleen gained access to a wide variety of magical items, most of which boost her ability to memorize and cast spells. She wields the Mage Dagger +3 and carries Kontik’s Ring of Wizardry, among other things. It is very rare that she runs out of helpful spells to cast. Even when there’s nothing else left to do, she always has Stone Skin to keep her safe and allow her to lead enraged enemies around while the rest of the party picks them off one by one.
More to say
It was a long time since I’ve played a D&D game, so I went with a typical party. I’ve grown to like the idea of using characters with a history, so I continued with my party from Might and Magic. I might mix things up a bit in future games, but for now, this setup works well and is nice to be able to remember my character’s names and roles in the team. It really does change the feel of the game.
Now that I’ve gotten through with the main game, I think I would have done some things differently. For instance, Rax’s only real use is scouting and disarming traps. In a fight, she’s rarely able to provide any help as the enemy’s AI tends to focus on her as soon as she gets in range.
A multi-class thief would have probably been a better choice.
As for Robin, I see now that she would be a far better archer as a regular fighter. I keep forgetting that fighters in D&D are simply weapon specialists, any kind of weapon. Rangers can use bows and it makes sense thematically, but they are more suited for dual wielding, I think.
Overall, the party works, but it could work better if I had more knowledge of the setting.
Next time, I’ll start with Heart of Winter properly.
P.S. I should probably mention that, while writing this party report, I’ve been clearing my inventory and selling and rearranging some stuff. I accidentally sold Slayer before realizing robin is proficient with spears. I got 20.000 gold for it. Once I did realize, I had to buy it back and this cost me 50.000 gold in total. Fun stuff!