The first write-up of Icewind Dale was a bit detailed. For this one, I’ve played for a lot langer and only wrote down the memorables once I was done with an area. Because of that, this posting will be a sort of recap.
Kuldahar Farmlands is what I call the goblin-infested area right before Kuldahar. Last time, I wrote I got past the prologue here, but I was wrong. This was actually the last area of the prologue.
The entire area was filled with goblins and relatively annoying to get through. I was able to speak to one of the goblins as well as a sick ogre and there seem to be hints that the demi-human attacks are caused by some sinister force influencing them.
A smaller side-area was filled with goblin archers and was the first place where I outright lost the fight, with everyone dying. Luckily, there was an auto-save during area transition, so I didn’t lose any progress. On my second attempt, I rested first, cast Bless as soon as I got in and killed off most of the goblins with Robin from a distance. By the time the big ones spotted me, there were so many deaths already that the survivor’s morale failed and I was able to pick them off while they were running.
One of the stronger goblins dropped a shield I wasn’t able to identify until after Kudlahar, once I finally rested and had an Identify spell memorized.
There was also a child hiding in a mill in the area. Rescuing him was well worth my trouble, giving me a total of 2400 experience. That’s the thing with Dungeons and Dragons games – most of the experience comes from quests.
Kuldahar is the second town in Icewind Dale, built around a giant oak tree with the same name. I explored around a bit and got a bunch of quests, learning what was going on along the way.
One of the quests I got was solved right on the spot – I found a ring at the inn, indicating that the guy claiming to be the owner forged his claim papers after finding the true owner dead. I followed the honest route in this quest and got another 2400 experience. My other choice was to coerce him to give me free lodging, which is OK, but doesn’t really fit my style.
The Arch Druid, Arundel is the obvious leader type NPC. He sent me to the Vale of Shadows, where I’m supposed to find out more about the evil force causing the strange vents. This is I was supposed to go next, though another option was to accompany a barbarian shaman to where his tribe lives, which I’m guessing is the entry point for the Heart of Winter expansion. I’m also guessing I’m nowhere near strong enough for that, so I passed.
At this point, some of my characters already reached level 3, so things were getting more interesting. I got access to second level cleric and wizard spells, which was pretty cool to.
It just so happens that the Vale of Shadows is where I gave up on Icewind Dale in the past on more than one occasion. It’s not like I don’t remember it fondly. For some reason, this was as far as my attention span went.
Vale of Shadows
Yetis and shadows. That’s pretty much it. There wasn’t really anything of note in the Vale of Shadows other than these two groups of monsters and a bunch of caves and crypts I’m supposed to explore.
Lucky for Icewind Dale, I was distracted while exploring this part, watching something on YouTube, so I had Rax die several times, forcing me to reload. The good thing is, both yetis and shadows give lots of experience, so all of my characters got to at least level 3 here, some of them even higher.
One of the yetis also dropped a Long Sword +1, which I promptly gave to Lorelei. I also gave her Stoutward, which was the shield that dropped in the farmlands. It was only now that I managed to identify it and Lorelei didn’t have a shield at all for some reason, so she was the obvious choice.
Once everything was explored, I picked the top left crypt to enter first, saved my game and went in.
I’d love use the crypts actual name, but I’m not sure where to find it. As soon as I entered, I was attacked by a bunch of skeletons and zombies. Luckily, Alana was able to turn them and give the rest of the party some time to breathe. Once the initial assault was cleared, I was able to catch a breather and look around.
It was a small crypt, with mostly just that one room, but the undead weren’t the most dangerous thing in there. There was a carrion crawler. These guys are able to paralyze your party members, which then means that each of their consecutive hits on that character will always connect. Basically, if you aren’t careful, or a lower health guy get’s paralyzed, you might lose a character quickly.
Luckily, I had healing spells ready, so I kept my guys alive long enough to kill the monster.
The undead dropped a lot of High Quality Maces, so I gave one to Priscilla, since it does increase hit chance, at an extremely minor cost in damage on her previous regular morning star.
I rested at this crypt and proceeded to the next one.
This one was just as small, contained two or three ghasts, who inflict disease in addition to paralyzing and had a bunch of traps. I got a Leather Armor +1 for Rax and a Halberd of Sparks, which I’ll sell. I also found a key that doesn’t seem to unlock anything inn this crypt. Maybe in another one.
Crypt #3 was where I needed the key. An armored skeleton named Therik first tried to chase me out, then wanted the key. I had the option to just give it to him, but I guess I asked too many questions, because I ended up fighting him. He hits for a lot, but he didn’t last long. The ordeal netted me a Warrior’s Ring for Lorelei, dropping her THAC0 by another point.
So why is needed in italics? Because I didn’t wind a place to use the key here either. Instead, I found a Dagger +1, a broken armor, some scrolls, and another key.
The fourth crypt I explored was technically the furthest from the entrance, making me circle through the center of the Vale and down a slope. It also wasn’t a crypt at all. It contained a lot of ice, a few yetis and a human made tent with some items underneath, including a Mace +1 for Priscilla.
The game made it a point to tell me the tent was of human origin.
The last of the less remarkable entrances in the Vale of Shadows was another crpyt. This one didn’t have a key or any special characters – just a bunch of skeletons, ghasts, traps, scrolls and a Chain Mail + 1, which I gave to Alana, since Lorelei, Priscilla and Robin all carry Splint Mail armors.
With all of the side caves explored, all that was left was the huge crypt entrance to the east.
The main crypt
This one was bigger, but not much bigger. There was the main room where I had a fight against a large group of undead, including temple guardians, and a couple of side rooms, which needed to be unlocked first, either by a key I already had or one I found in another side room.
At one of these rooms, I found a special item called the Holy Symbol of Myrkul, which I guess was one of the objectives to get here. I’m not completely sure, but I think I needed to open the chamber with the boss – Mytos, a Bone Dancer priest of Myrkul.
I had to give it a few tries, but I did manage to defeat Mytos, although it seems there was an option to leave him alive. I also defeated the named shadow in the room behind him, explored the rest of the area and descended to level 2.
Level 2 seemed like more of the same, except tougher. Now I fought skeletal archers and mages, forcing me to reload more often and aim to lure enemies to my party one at a time.
The realization here is that you actually can lure enemies in one by one. They even stop following you after a while, so you can lose them altogether. When I was younger, this approach never occurred to me for some reason. Instead, I would go all in and either barely win or just die, and then reload.
I explored all that I could of level 2, but I was either missing a key or wasn’t seeing a switch, because three doors were left locked, and I wasn’t able to unlock them with anything I had. Since my bags were full anyway, I decided to take a break here and go back to Kuldahar for the time being.
I had a lot of things to sell.
After the break
The break lasted for a couple of days, because I didn’t have access to the game or the saves. Once I got back, things were a lot clearer. First, I found an extra key in the mummy room on the first floor of the dungeon. This opened up one of the side doors on floor two, where I found some items and a key for the other door.
The other one had some more loot, but nothing to open the main door, where I was sure something important was waiting. It took some looking around, but I finally found a switch on the central platform, behind one of the three pillars, that opened the last door.
This finally led me to a room with the spirit of Kresselack, who this huge tomb belongs to. He was a barbarian warrior who feared death, so he inflicted a curse upon himself to become undead. There was a choice here, I think. If I wanted to, I could have simply attacked. Instead, I spoke to him and found out he wasn’t responsible for what was happening in the vale.
He asked me for a favor – to get rid of a priestess of Auril. In Faerun, Auril is a goddess of cold and darkness, who instructs her followers to extinguish all light or warmth, whenever and wherever they can. Basically, she’s just as bad as the undead, if not worse, for anything living. She had an issue with Kresselack’s tomb and, since I now killed his guardians, he’s worried about her.
I knew exactly where the priestess was – at the frost cave in the Vale of Shadows. I went there and found her, but forgot to cast spells before the fight. Luckily, you can somewhat abuse things here. I ran outside. Sometimes, the enemies follow you, but a lot of the times they don’t. I was able to rest, heal, cast spells and then go back inside. Once I did that, it was easy to kill her and the yetis she summoned.
I went back to Kresselack to get my reward and then reported to Arundel for more rewards. I got a bit confused here. The way the priestess was talking, I thought she was responsible for everything, but Arundel quickly gave me my next part of the quest to find the true source of the evil. I guess I misunderstood.
In any case, I sold all the loot I didn’t want to keep, equipped everyone with brand new stuff and felt really good about myself. Funny thing, the priestess was posing as a barmaid in Kuldahar. I told the innkeeper about her and he said she left some stuff behind, so I got a few extra scrolls and a cloak out of it. I didn’t have to do this, but Icewind Dale rewards exploration that way, which is awesome.
So what did I get out of it?
Everyone is level 4-6. I have a bunch of enchanted weapons, some of it actually magical (as in, not just +1 or +2, but named), some enchanted or just mundane, but high-quality protective gear, a bunch of spells and lots and lots of gold. I’m at about 22.000 and I still have things I could sell if I wanted to. I was thinking about buying something to, but I don’t really feel like it just yet. None of the items the shops are offering really interest me that much.
In my next posting, I’ll try to report on one dungeon/area/chapter to, but this is as far as I ever got with Icewind Dale, so I have no idea how the rest of the game is structured. It might be that areas intersect more, so it wouldn’t make sense to report on one at a time.