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Character Creation/Development Guide by mikesmgame

Version: 1.0.1 | Updated: 09/04/05

Icewind Dale - Character Creation Guide version 1.0.1

Sites currently permitted to use this guide:




Other sites can e-mail me to request permission.


0.0     Introduction
        0.1     Abbreviations
        0.2     Basics
1.0 Main Game (no expansion pack)
        1.1     Race
        1.2     Class
           1.2.1 Arcane castors
        1.3     Ability Scores
        1.4     Alignment
        1.5     Class combinations
           1.5.1 Dual-classing
           1.5.2 Multi-classing
        1.6     Weapon proficiencies and armour
           1.6.1 Armour
           1.6.2 Weapons
        1.7     Sample Parties
           1.7.1 Main Party
           1.7.2 Melee Party
           1.7.3 Arcane Party
2.0 After installing Heart of Winter
        2.1     Race
        2.2     Class
           2.2.1 Arcane castors
        2.3 Ability Scores
        2.4 Alignment
        2.5 Class combinations
           2.5.1 Dual-classing
           2.5.2 Multi-classing
    2.6     Weapon proficiencies and Items
        2.7 Sample Parties
           2.7.1 Main Party
           2.7.2 Melee Party
           2.7.3 Arcane Party
        2.8 Other Points
           2.8.1 Version History

Introduction (0.0)

Having failed to find any detailed character creation guide for Icewind Dale
and its expansion pack, I decided to write one myself, having completed the
main game thrice (once without the expansion packinstalled and twice with)
and currently playing through HOW in HOF mode, and finding some characters
useless and that I’m missing other vital characters. This is designed to
explain the main pros and cons from first hand experience and I intend not
to quote the manual except where necessary. I found that the differences to
several classes deemed it worth writing separate guides for both with and
without the expansion pack installed. I hope that when writing this I have
not ruined parts of the storyline and would appreciate if anyone told me
if I have. I have tried to refer to any part beyond the prologue as either
by when you pick up a particular item or how far through, and which, chapter
it is.

I realise that there are many different types of styles all focusing on
different aspects of the gameplay. I hope that this guide will help anyone,
whatever style they prefer. My main style of gameplay has an emphasis on melee
fighting and attack and summoning spells, giving all characters high AC, S.T.,
resistances and HP, as I am not keen on using many buffers in combat and prefer
to boost my characters with long-term spells before a fight. I have tried to
allow for other styles and would welcome suggestions from those that use
various other ways of playing this game.

During this guide I have only mentioned character features that affect gameplay
so have not mentioned characteristics such as gender, portrait, appearance,
biography and name.

If anyone finds any error in this guide or has helpful suggestions please feel
free to e-mail me at ihave2manynicknames@hotmail.com. Please put IWD then
whatever the issue is, e.g. question, error, suggestion, etc. as the subject and
I should reply in 2 or 3 days. Mention of errors will be appreciated and will be
updated in the next version. If you leave the subject blank I will probably
ignore you. If anyone sends details of a party similar description of depth as I
have for my parties I will include it in the next version. Please read through
my whole walkthrough and the manual before sending anything. I will not answer
questions where the answer is in this guide, the manual, or in regard to
questions about subjects other than character creation or character development,
unless I have written a guide about that as well.

I have included both objective and subjective details in this guide. I think I
have marked all my opinions as clearly subjective.

I write in a way that assumes that the reader has read all previous parts of
this guide before, partly to avoid repetition, and partly as it is easier for
me, and I have only included changes from the main game in the IWD(H) section.
This guide also assumes that players will play in the order IWD, IWD(H), HOW,
IWD(H)(HOF), HOW(HOF). I am aware though that some players may play just IWD,
and others install the expansion pack immediately. I would advise against people
installing the expansion pack before completing the main game however, as
there are some good items that they will be unable to obtain, and the gaming
experience is different.

Anyone sending in suggestions, notifications of errors, parties or anything else
included used will be credited. E-mail addresses will not be mentioned unless

I will release an updated version once I have enough changes for it to be

Abbreviations (0.1)

I am sure that most people will understand most of these anyway but here’s the
abbreviations used during this guide, most are common but a few are created by
ours truly, as there are some important aspects of the game without common ones.

When I use plurals I may not add a "s" on the end, but if so then assume from
context whether I refer to a plural or not. Anyway:

RPG             Role-playing game
D&D             Dungeons&Dragons
2ndER           2nd edition rules
IWD             Icewind Dale (main game pre HOW)
IWD(H)          The main game after Heart of Winter has been installed
HOW             Heart of Winter
HOF             Heart of Fury mode - a game mode option for IWD(H) and HOW which
                increases the ability and experience of hostile creatures
                massively. Also enables you to double quest experience. Can be
                turned on/off in configuration screen.
XP              Experience Points, require so many to level up your characters.
HP              Hit Points
S.T.            Saving throws
AC              Armour Class
arcane          refers to mage spells and class types
Lore            How well a character can identify an item
W.P.            Weapon proficiency and specialization
1-H             1-handed
2-H             2-handed
Str             Strength
Dex             Dexterity
Con             Constitution
Int             Intelligence
Wis             Wisdom
Cha             Charisma
A.S.            Ability Scores - refers to Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha. When I
                refer to these as low I mean 2-5; below average 6-8; average 
                9-11; above average 12-14; high 15-18.
x->             Dual over at level x
---             Multi class combination
TCl             Total character level, the level of all multi-class classes
                combined. With dual-class this only refers to active classes.
GCl             Group character level, the TCLs of the 3 most powerful 
                characters combined.
x+              Refers to value x and all values better than it.
x-              Refers to value x and all values worse than it.

Transmutation and alteration are identical for the purposes of this game.
Invocation and evocation are also equivalent to each other.

Summary (0.2)

For D&D based RPGs players are always advised to have a party consisting of:

I feel that is the very basic summary of necessary classes in this game but only
that. It does not elaborate in any detail and in this game other classes are
highly useful and the focus is more on role than on class. I feel that possible
roles are:              Tanker

These can all be used by different classes and several can mix together well.

A tanker is a character who relies almost completely on mêlée attacks and
normally has high HP, AC, Con and S.T. to absorb most of the enemies damage.
Generally high Str to deal plenty of damage to them as well. Take no more than
2½, ½ a tanker is a support tanker that also fulfils another role in combat.

An archer is a character with high AC quite high Str and massive Dex, and will
be dealing out ranged damage to enemies. Though not vital, I feel that they come
very close to being so. Take only 1. Cannot perform other roles except diplomat.

Healers are vital. They cure damage done to themselves and other characters
before, during and after battles. They also cast defence spells to reduce damage
obtained. Take 1 or 2.

A bombardier is a character who will be casting attack spells, and/or summon
and/or buffers. At higher levels this character can cast a few spells and
completely wipe out a group of enemies, summon other monsters to take and deal
damage, and cast spells to improve your party members so they can tear through
groups of enemies. Easily the most fun and variable character. Any number
between 1-3½.

A diplomat is not essential but is very useful and provides alternative
opportunities to complete quests and reduces store prices considerably. Should
also perform another role. Could take two, one with high Int and another with
high Wis. Anymore is pointless.

A thief is basically a character who is at least part thief class, can detrap,
and sometimes pick pocket and hide, depending on invested skills.

A distracter is a very optional character. But can only be used if you take less
than 6 characters. A distracter is a character of around level 4 with high Dex,
Con and Wis who you send 1st into battle to absorb damage while you blast the
enemies with spells and ranged weapons.

When creating a character you should always plan how you are going to develop a
character, if intending to dual-class then you need to play human race, adjust
your A.S. and alignment so they’re what the secondary class requires and choose
W.P. sensibly as some classes have restrictions. Multi-class characters are
useless in IWD, but in IWD(H) you can train up in HOF mode in Easthaven once the
TCL 6 or so. If you use this technique beware as the monsters are much more
powerful and even entering the orc-cave is dangerous until the GCL is at least

The number of characters you play with is your choice but any number between 4
and 6 is best. If you want more characters to ensure that each role is filled
twice then take 6, if you want less so that all your characters gain more XP and
get better equipment then take 4, if you are unsure then take 5 or 6. You do
notice later in the game the higher levels of characters if you take 4 or 5
instead of 6. Fewer characters means that a dead character is a much greater
blow than with more though. Also you can carry less equipment to sell with 4
characters than with 5 or 6. At no point in the game did I feel that I was
turning back too much to sell equipment when with 5 characters but with 4
characters I struggled to carry everything worth selling as well as the
necessary spare arrows, magical arrows, potions and scrolls. It should be
possible to play with three but then you can’t have an archer or diplomat class,
and must have all classes with at least 6+ in an active tanker class.

Main Game (1.0)

Race (1.1)

Which race you choose for a role determines how you can develop a character,
affecting benefits to W.P., thieving abilities and magic resistance; A.S.
penalties, requirements and bonuses; and what class you can take.

Dual-class. Humans are the only race that can dual-class. Receives no racial
bonuses but no penalties either. Only race not to get infravision so have at
least one other race in party. Very useful.

The best archers. +1 bonus to Dex, -1 penalty to Con, highly resistant to charm
and sleep magic. Gains +5 pick pockets, -5 open locks and +10 stealth; Brilliant
with bows and long swords. Use for archer. Require 8 Int and 8 Cha.

No penalties. Small resistance to charm and sleep magic. Can have any
multi-class combination except involving specialist mages. Gains +10 pick
pockets and +5 stealth. Better than humans if no intention of dual-classing.

Magic Resistance. +1 bonus to Int, -1 penalty to Wis. Gains +5 open locks,
+10 detect traps and +5 stealth. Make good mages or fighter --- illusionist.
Limited use.

Highly resistant to poisons and magic. +1 bonus to Dex, -1 penalty to Str. Good
with Slings. Some use as fighter --- thief. +5 on all thieving skills, except
stealth +15. Elves are better.

Resistant to poisons and magic. +1 bonus to Con, -1 penalty to Dex, -1 penalty
to Cha. +10 open locks, +15 detect traps. Decent pure fighters but humans or
half-elves are better. Their high Con makes them excellent distracters however.

Class (1.2)

Choice of class is an important feature and affects which weapons you can take
and how much you can specialise in them; available spells; special abilities;
S.T., A.S. penalties requirements and bonuses; and what role you can take. When
I mention ability scores here, they are the class requirement, not the gameplay

The main tanker class. Levels up fastest of the tanker classes. Can take up to 5
points in W.P. which is extremely useful. Lack any special abilities though. A
great starter class with intention to dual-class and can have a multi-class
combination with any class except the other two tankers and bards. Brilliant
combined with other classes, no problems playing pure. Require average Str.

A tanker with some extra features. Level up slower than fighters. Can take up to
2 points in W.P. Get druid spells at high levels. Get a 2nd base attack each
round when not using shield. Can choose one racial enemy. I would choose trolls
or salamanders. Salamanders are powerful and their auras can really hurt you,
but trolls appear all the time from chapter 2 of the game and keep getting up
unless using fire or acid. A ranger that hates them can walk through them if
equipping a fire-based weapon. Giants would also be an okay choice, but they
aren’t that common or that difficult. Lizard men and Yuan-ti are quite rare.
Goblins and skeletal undead are easy anyway. Orcs, ogres, cadaverous undead and
spectral undead appear infrequently and aren’t too difficult anyway. Spiders are
rare and weak. Umber Hulks are dangerous but extremely rare. If a ranger loses
too much reputation then (s)he becomes a fallen ranger and doesn't have any of
the special abilities any more. Rangers require above average Str, Dex, Con and
Wis. Charm animal is useless. They sound really good, but beyond level 3 are
vastly inferior to the other 2 tanker classes.

My favourite tanker. Levels up same speed as rangers. Can take two points in
W.P.. Gets "Lay on Hands" and "Cure Disease" both are very useful. "Protection
from Evil" is okay as is "Smite Evil", depending on your other characters
alignment, "Detect evil" is useless though. The only class that can use "Pale
Justice", easily the best weapon in the game. Like rangers, can lose ablities 
by having a bad reputation. Requires average Con, above average Str and Wis, 
high Cha. Makes a brilliant front-line tanker/diplomat.

The healer class. Powerful healing and defensive spells. Weapons limited to 
slings, clubs, flails, hammers, maces, quarter staves. Requires average Wis.
Vital throughout. Should not be multi-class as otherwise they don’t get heal for
too long. Best when dual-classed from fighter or ranger.

Can heal, adds quest options, gets many good attack and summoning spells at mid
and high levels. Only a few defensive spells but those ones are amazing. Weapons
restricted to missile weapons, clubs, daggers, spears, quarter staves and
scimitars. Require above average Wis and high Cha. One druid from 3+ levels of
fighter class can be at the same time a support tanker, support healer, support
bombardier and diplomat. Very useful, variable and great fun. Easily my
favourite class.

Decent archer, and thief skills are extremely important, but is best in
multi-class, otherwise can’t do anything good in combat. Multi-class with
fighter for Str and HP. Weapons restricted to bows, missile weapons, clubs,
daggers, quarter staves, large swords and small swords. Requires average Dex. Do
not take pure. They gain levels extremely fast so can be multi-classed with
little problem.

Arcane castors (1.2.1)

Great bombardier, extremely low HP. Can’t wear armour. Weapons restricted to
Missile weapons, daggers and quarter staves. Requires average Int. Are great
when dualled from fighter. Also no weapon restrictions when part fighter.

Useless. Gets pick-pockets and a few mage spells. Can put 1 W.P. in all
weapons.  Bards are useless in IWD from the moment you leave Easthaven. If you
want the features take a thief with high intelligence. Invest all skills in pick
pockets then dual to mage at around level 5. You get more spells, similar
pick-pockets skill and slightly more HP. Requires above average Dex and Int, and
high Cha. The bonus to Lore is cancelled out if you have Wis below 10 anyway.

All specialists are the same as normal mages except they get one extra spell and
can’t cast spells from the opposition school. Well worth it for some mage types.
Require different A.S. as well as mages average Int. Makes a brilliant second

Mage Type       Opposition Schools      A.S. needs      Comments

Abjurer         Transmutation           High Wis        Miss out on a few buffer
spells. Not bad though.

Conjurer        Divination              High Con        Only one good spell is
in divination: "Identify", best choice by far.

Diviner         Conjuration             High Wis        Can’t summon. Rubbish.

Enchanter       Invocation              High Cha        Can’t cast any of the
powerful single target or area-effect spells. Defeats the point.

Illusionist     Necromancy              High Dex        Lose a few powerful
summon spells and attack spells. As those spells are all level 5+ can still be
worth it.

Invoker         Enchantment, ConjurationHigh Con        I don’t like many
enchantment spells but the good ones are amazing. Can’t summon anyway. Not worth

Necromancer     Illusion                High Wis        Miss a few defensive
spells and some summoning, nothing else though. Not bad, but invisibility spells
are vital if dualled from a thief. The shadow summons are quite good at high

Transmuter      Abjuration, Necromancy  High Dex        Miss most defensive
spells and the better higher level spells. Illusionist misses out on less and
has same A.S. requirements. Don’t bother.

Best arcane castors to worst:

Mage (moves to just below necromancer and above bard if you have any other)

Bards get very few spells each level, and all the ones below miss out on too
many good spells to be worthwhile.

Comments regarding A.S. needs:

Dex affects S.T. and AC so is vital anyway.
Con needs to be high with mage hit points. Also affects saves.
Wis affects S.T. so is worth taking some anyway.
Cha has no use if you have a natural diplomat, e.g. paladin.

Ability Scores (1.3)

Ability scores affect a characters abilities in each area. If you get a good
roll but want to see if you can get better then you can store the roll and
reroll as much as you like. The chance of getting a perfect character is almost
impossible, but depending on patience you can roll up to around 20 times and
probably end up with a character that’s better than most as long as you increase
and decrease the allocation well.

High strength is vital for any melee based character, any character that wears
any armour heavier than studded leather. An archer should also have a strength
of at least 15 so (s)he can use most bows. No character should have a strength
below 12 or otherwise (s)he might not be able to carry their own equipment.
Tanker type classes can take a strength of 18/x. x ranges from 01 to 100 and the
higher the better. 100 appears as 18/00 and you will only get it on a very lucky
strength roll. 18/76+ is impressive for any character except the main tanker(s).
18/91+ is what you want your main tanker(s) to have.

Dexterity affects your S.T., AC, thieving skills, ability with ranged weapons
and how likely your character is to be surprised. This is vital for an archer,
thief, mages and the main tanker so (s)he can save against your own area-effect
spells. If your druid is operating as a second tanker then you can sacrifice
dexterity on that character to ensure high Str, if and only if you give him/her
amazing armour. The difference between 7 and 14 is so negligible that you’d do
better using those 7 valuable A.S. points somewhere else. Below 7 is horribly
bad though, and 15+ is what you want ideally.

Constitution affects HP and S.T. so is vital for everyone. Anyone with a
constitution of 14- is playing a risky game unless the character is a full time
tanker class, and then they will probably get hit so much that you find you want
a high constitution anyway. Only tankers benefit from having a Con score of
above 16, so don't increase above that for other characters. The increase in HP
is per level, so constitution is slightly better than Dex overall. Also, if you
concentrate on not getting hit then do get hit and you have little HP, then
you’re much worse off than if you get hit more, but they matter less, because
you can heal.

Intelligence affects arcane spellcasting ability, the chance of learning a spell
from a scroll and the Lore of the character. Also provides extra speaking
options for characters with high charisma in conversation. Any arcane
spellcaster needs 18, have one diplomat with 15+, everyone else doesn’t need

Wisdom affects the DC of divine spells, S.T. and Lore skill. Vital for clerics
and druids, also useful for characters that use the Lore skill. S.T. are
important for any characters and as these are against enchantment spells such as
"Charm" and "Hold Person", so low wisdom is extremely dangerous for tankers.

Charisma is important for your diplomats and to satisfy a class skill. You need
one diplomat with 18 charisma, anything else is just a bonus. Otherwise useless.

Alignment (1.4)

Alignment plays little significance in IWD, some classes have alignment
restrictions, some weapons only work for some alignments, and that’s it.
Generally chaotic neutral covers the most items. Lawful has the most
restrictions, then good. Here’s the class alignment rules:

Fighter         Can be any alignment            If have paladin/ranger in your
party be chaotic neutral, otherwise be chaotic good.

Ranger          Must be good                    Preferably chaotic.

Paladin         Must be lawful good

Cleric          Can be any alignment            Good clerics get best items.
Neutral also fine. Don’t be evil.

Druid           Must be true neutral

Thief           Cannot be lawful good           Don’t be good or lawful, after
all you’re a thief.

Mage            Can be any alignment            Evil fighter-mages, dual or
multi, get 2 amazing items. Good or lawful mages suffer even more than other
classes for their decency.

Bard            Must be part neutral            Chaotic neutral is best, then
neutral evil.

Multi-class and dual-class combinations (1.5)

Some classes work together, others don’t. Bear in mind with multi-class
characters, it takes twice the experience to get the class up a level. And with
dual-class characters, that when you dual-class your character effectively goes
back to level 1 with higher HP, so is weak for the area until you hit around the
same level as your original class. The later you dual-class your characters, the
more powerful they will eventually be, but will be missing out on abilities for
a longer period, the high hit dice and HP will ensure that the character does
not get killed and the XP in the area should pull the level of the new class up
reasonably quickly, but if you need both activated always then you will need to
train the character a lot.

Dual-classing (1.5.1)

This is a brilliant reason to use the human race. In most of my parties of six,
4 or 5 are dual-classed. However when dual-classing you must have an alignment
that is supported by your new class, you’re A.S. must be 15 in 1st class’ main
A.S., e.g. Str for fighter, and 17 in your new classes prime A.S.. Specialist
mages require both high Int and other class A.S. to dual to that type. Suggested
dual-times for classes(from):

Can duel to cleric, druid, thief, mage or specialist mage. Creates a version of
the 2nd class with more HP and melee ability.

Level 2:        Unless you intend to be a support tanker or are desperate for
HP, dual-classing early is advisable. Once you hit level 3 in you new class you
gain all the item and W.P. bonuses that the multi-class gets, and the fighter
bonuses, at much lower XP cost. Brilliant for arcane castors.

Level 3:        At level 3 you can place a third point in a W.P. slot for a
weapon. Get a lot more HP than a pure class and all the same benefits as level 2
dual. All for 4000XP. Great for arcane castors and clerics.

Level 6:        A 4th level in a W.P., 60 class HP. Costs 32000XP. Should hit
this during the later parts of Chapter 2. The best option for divine castors
that are also playing support tanker roles. Best balance for any character that
uses melee combat.

Level 9:        Fifth point of W.P. in your chosen weapon, and all the class HP
you can get. Takes 250000Xp. Early Chapter 4 if with 3 or 4 characters; late
Chapter 4 with 5 characters; early Chapter 5 with 6 characters. This creates an
extremely powerful character, but will require training up heavily the moment
you dual-class. Probably playing through with those one or two characters till
you get Conlan’s Hammer (assuming you don’t pick the lock) would get you to a
high enough level to continue with your main game. Rarely worth it.

Can only duel to cleric. Better option than fighter if dualling at level 2 or 3.
Waiting for the druid spells isn’t worth the bother, W.P. are much better.

Level 2:        Get a few better weapons, two slots in 2 W.P., racial enemy, and
Str in format 18/x. Some more HP. Can use shields and helmets denied to pure 

Level 3:        Level 2 bonuses and you get one more W.P.. and more HP.

Can’t dual-class.

Can only duel to fighter class, cleric -> fighter is much weaker at fighter
qualities than fighter -> cleric. Don’t bother.

Same as cleric.

Thieves can dual-class to a fighter or mage, (inc. Specialist). Thief -> fighter
is much worse than fighter -> thief or fighter --- thief. Thief -> Mage is a
very useful alternative to the bard, gets more spells, selects thieving
abilities, has more HP, can get level 7+ spells. As there are several good mage
daggers throughout the game you can use backstabbing ability to good effect,
(cast improved invisibility, then can cast spells and backstab brilliantly).
Thieves can also find and disable traps under normal invisibility without
revealing themselves. Brilliant at high levels but lacking in melee combat. Good
at ranged combat.

Level 5:        Can have one thief skill at extremely good effectiveness.

Level 10:       Gets a good range of thief skills.

I’ve never tried to dual-class from a mage or specialist mage. As my mages are
all dualled from fighters or thieves they can’t anyway, and it defeats the
point: mages need a high level to use all the spells so you’d never get the
abilities back or have a weak and pointless mage. Don’t bother.

Can’t dual-class

Multi-Classing (1.5.2)

Multi-class characters are better in the prologue and chapter 1, but vastly
inferior in most cases to dual beyond there. In my first game, most of my
starting characters were multi-class. After finding that the single or
dual-class characters were getting up levels over twice as fast I got rid of all
of them. I then found that in some cases a multi-class is better or as good, 
basically any character that’s part thief. Fighter --- clerics or fighter ---
druids are much weaker than a fighter 3-> priest or fighter 6-> priest. Fighter
--- mages couldn’t specialise and took ages to get high level spells. The triple
classes, fighter --- thief --- mage, or fighter --- mage --- cleric take far too
long to get HP and spells and can only equip 1 weapon, they are only worth
taking if you don’t mind repeating the first chapter several times to get this
character some XP. My cleric --- ranger was okay but a ranger 3-> cleric is much
stronger, as you still get the 18/x Str, racial enemy and equipment. A thief ---
mage is okay but again the dual-class is superior. However a fighter --- thief
is extremely good, and if elven with the appropriate A.S. then this character
can be an amazing archer, can de-trap effectively, and is reasonable in melee.
This is the only case where the multi is better than dual though.

Weapon Proficiencies and Items (1.6)

One important issue is what items you intend to use. A character cannot cast
arcane spells when wearing any armour except elven armour. Thieves cannot use
their special abilities when wearing any armour heavier than studded leather.
If your character is going to wear heavy armour then (s)he needs at least 18
Str. Most armour, helmets, shields, weapons and items also have class
restrictions. These can be overcome by the ever useful dual-classing, and most
by multi-classing. The multi-class combinations mentioned here also refer to the
dual-class, when both are active. For classes with alignment restrictions I have
not mentioned how that affects armour availability, though have taken it into
consideration for weapon choice. I have placed the weapon choice in order, going
from best weapon to above average, any weapon which the class is not suited to
is unmentioned.

Armour (1.6.1)
Fighter        All

Ranger         All

Paladin        All

Cleric         Many helmets, shields and heavy armour.

Druid          Limited helmets, shields and heavy armour.

Thief          Light armour and some heavier. Most shields. Some helmets and
medium armour.

Mage           Heavily limited on everything. Use cloaks and robes.

Bard           Heavy and medium armour and helmets are greatly limited.

Fighter --- Thief   Almost everything.

Fighter --- Mage    Can use almost everything, make sure you can still cast
spells wearing your equipment.

Weapons and shield (1.6.2)
Fighter       Great sword, axe, halberd, hammer, spear.           No

Ranger        Great sword, axe, flail, halberd, hammer, spear.    No

Paladin       Large sword, great sword, axe, crossbow.            Yes

Cleric        Mace, hammer, club, sling, flail, quarter staff.    Yes

Druid         Spear, scimitar, quarter staff, club.               Maybe

Thief         Small sword, dagger, sling, long sword.             Yes

Mage          Dagger, sling, long sword.                          Yes

Bard          Use any 1-H weapons that your others aren’t.        Yes

Fighter --- Thief   Bow, small sword, dagger, crossbow, sling.    No

Fighter --- Mage    Dagger, bow, long sword, sling.               Yes

Weapons I have not included, such as darts, are not there because they are
rubbish. Generally use the first 2 in the list and the others only if you find
an amazing one in that type. Explaining my suggestions: pure fighters should use
2-H weapons, they are easily the most powerful; rangers the same, but flails
are also useful; paladins are the only class that can use "Pale justice", a long
sword and the best weapon in the game, and should certainly take advantage,
bastard swords and 1-H axes are also good; clerics should use a bludgeoning
1-H weapon, there is a mace late in the game that gives extra cleric spells;
druids should use 2-H weapons if no other character is doing so, if another is
then use scimitar and shield, quarter staves and clubs as a back-up; thieves
need to be able to backstab so use a small blade with a shield; for mages there
are daggers from as early as mid-Chapter 1 that give bonus mage spells and they
should use other weapons only if they haven’t got one yet, same for fighter ---
mages; bards are the utility class in every respect, there is no particularly
good weapon, there is an item that fits into the shield place and gives extra
spells, so use a 1-H weapon; fighter --- thieves are perfect archers and should
be used as such, but you should make sure you can backstab if the possibility

Sample Parties (1.7)

Here are some sample parties that should be well balanced and allow any type of
player to use effectively. I have mentioned the 3 best outlines of parties, and
have described workable variations. I have obviously not tested every possible
variation all through the game, but have tried to ensure that all suggestions
don’t disrupt the balance, and have mentioned if they do. I am aware that people
have different playing styles and have tried to allow for each of them. But the
3 parties I have suggested all follow the styles I play, I hope others will
adapt these parties to suit their style or create their own. 

Main Party (1.7.1):

This was my party second time through the game and I feel it is probably the
most balanced overall. As all but the main tanker fulfil two roles, there is
plenty of provision for variation, and no great need for a 6th character, could
be used with just 4 but you would need to be confident. The balance this party
gives is 1½ tankers, an archer, 1½ healers, 2½ bombardiers and a thief.

1            Human    Paladin                 Lawful good
2(optional)  Human    Fighter 6-> Druid       True neutral
3            Elf      Fighter --- Thief       Chaotic neutral
4            Human    Ranger 3-> Cleric       Chaotic good
5            Human    Fighter 2-> Mage        Neutral evil
6(optional)  Human    Fighter 2-> Conjurer    Chaotic neutral

Character 1:
This character is the main tanker and the diplomat of the party. You need 18/91+
Str, 7+ Dex, 18 Con, min Int, class Wis, 18 Cha. Take initial W.P. in long
swords and great swords, then axes and crossbows. Equip this character with your
best armour and best shield.

Alternate choices:    
You could take a pure fighter instead, but as you’d need high Wis for S.T. and
high Cha so can be a diplomat, the A.S. wouldn’t change much. You might be able
to move some from Wis to Dex, but you’re unlikely to get such an amazing roll
that it would be worth it. You would get up to 5 W.P., but you wouldn’t be able
to use "Pale justice". The only way to make up for that would be to use 2-H
weapons, which would lose the shield and thus A.C. Also your character would
lose some conversation topics that are exclusive to the paladin class. You could
replace the A.C. by putting more in Dex, but you would lose a lot on S.T.
against enchantment magic. Using a half-elf would balance that out without
losing any significant benefits. You could avoid using this character as a
diplomat if you take character 2, and use the points gained from Cha to put in
Dex and Wis, and then it’s a much more difficult choice. If you only intend to
go through once, or not import this character for later times round then that
might just be a better choice because of how late you get "Pale justice", but
having the best weapon for the final battles, 2nd time through the game, and in
the HOW areas, gives the place to the paladin for me. A ranger is another option
for a main tanker, except their abilities aren’t anywhere near as good as the
paladins beyond level 3, and the racial enemy, the only impressive ability of
the ranger, certainly isn’t worth the loss of "Pale justice" and the class
speaking options.

Character 2:    
This character is the support tanker, 2nd healer, and support bombardier. (S)He
requires 18/91+ Str, 16+ Con, min Int, 18 Wis, 17 Cha, any leftover points go to
Dex. If you increase Con above 16, your character will be stronger when a pure
fighter, but the advantage will disappear once you dual-class. If you intend to
have this character using 2-H weapons, then take the initial points in spears
and quarter staves, if you want a shield, then take scimitars (long swords) and
clubs initially. When increasing W.P. as a fighter add to either spears or
scimitars, whichever you’re using. Once you dual over to druid then place the
first points in your main weapons. The next points before you regain fighter
skills should be in the 2 mentioned weapons which you haven’t got, as they will
stay once your fighter class kicks in again. Equip with your 2nd best armour and
shield, or clones of your best.

Alternate choices:    
You could dual over at level 3 and sacrifice HP and the 4th W.P. point in your
main weapon to get druid abilities earlier, or dual later at level 9 to get full
HP and full W.P. in your chosen weapon, and have a more tanker oriented druid,
but 218000 XP is a lot to spend for those advantages, and you would be without
the fighter abilities through almost all of the game, and wouldn’t get a full
level druid, until you install the expansion pack. You could take a fighter ->
cleric instead and have a more specialist healer and avoid the Cha requirement,
but would lose out on the attack spells, 2-H weapons, scimitars and class
quests. You would then have difficulty over which item to give which cleric as
any cleric needs the best mace you have. A pure fighter could be taken to give a
2nd full time tanker class, but that is actually weaker than a fighter 6->
druid, as a fighter 6-> druid hits druid level 7 only 3000 XP later than a pure
fighter hits level 7, and the pure fighter loses the class quests and the

Character 3:    
Here is your archer and thief. This character is naturally brilliant with bows,
gets a good stealth benefit so can backstab well, and isn’t that weak at melee
when ranged attacks have limited effect. Has ability score requirements of 17+
Str, 19 Dex, 17 Con, race Int, race Cha and any remaining points in Wis. As this
is your archer, the main W.P. is bows, then short swords or daggers, I prefer
short swords as there is a wonderful one which increases stealth ability, and
they do more damage. Any ring, potion, armour, helmet or gloves that increase
Dex should be given to this character, as you can’t use a shield and as Dex is 
high anyway this character will benefit most. Thief skills are for your 
preference, find traps and open locks are probably the best, but spells can be 
used instead later on; there are some great items to pick pocket so I would 
take at least some points in that; some people use stealth and backstab all 
the time, others rarely, so is completely personal preference. If you take a 
2nd thief however, leave the backstabbing and pickpocketting to him/her.

Alternate choices:    
None really, any archer should be an elven fighter --- thief, all alternatives
are much weaker. You could make this character a triple class with part mage,
but you would need to train for ages to get the character anywhere near the
level of the other mages, though that would enable you to make the others both
specialists, but you would probably need to make one of them dualled from a
thief to ensure good enough thief skills, thus weakening 2 members of your
party. A thief --- mage wouldn’t be able to get 2 levels of W.P. in bows
and would have lower Str and HP.

Character 4:    
The healer, also casts some nice buffer spells and has some melee capabilities.
I would give this character 18/76+ Str, 18 Dex, 16+ Con, 18 Wis, everything else
in Int to give a nice Lore skill. This character can be played in a variety of
ways as healing, although vital, doesn’t take up large amounts of game time, in
or out of battles: the focus can be on making your other characters more
powerful; the enemies weaker; a support tanker; or a mix of all the others.
This character should be wearing heavy armour and using a mace. If you want this
character to be able to dish out damage then don’t use a shield so you can get
the extra attack, otherwise use one to increase AC and resistances. Racial enemy
should be trolls.

Alternate choices:    
If you want a slightly more melee based character you could take a fighter 6->
cleric instead, or even fighter 9-> cleric, but the XP cost is high so you would
be a long time without a healer, which is dangerous. If you have a fighter 3->
cleric, then you gain W.P. in your main weapon, but lose the favoured enemy and
extra attack each round, weakening the melee capabilities of this character.
That option would make the character slightly more consistent, but would remove
the advantage against whichever enemy you find hardest. You could dual
immediately, but the character would lose 12HP, and the XP is virtually nothing

Character 5:    
This character is your main bombardier and gets first priority for all arcane
items. You need 15+ Str, 18 Dex, 16+ Con, 18 Int, anything else in Wis. This
character will be using mage daggers and a shield. Other W.P. are unimportant.

Alternate choices:    
If you use character 6 then make this an abjurer to gain an extra spell for each
level, if not then the mage type can’t be specialist as you don’t want to miss
out on any class of spells. If you do take an abjurer then get the Wis from Dex.
You could make this a thief -> mage instead, to have extra thief abilities
instead of HP, but I personally value HP extremely highly.

Character 6:    
To give some extra arcane power to this group take this character.  It
multiplies your bombardier capabilities by about 3, as your main mage can then
be a specialist, and you can also have each learn more of the best spells, and
some okay spells are memorised by only one of the mages, and the others by the
other; this gives greater scope for variation and an opportunity to try new
spells. I would advise cloning scrolls to ensure that both mage types learn the
best spells. A.S. requirements same as character 5.

Alternate choices:    
This character can be whatever you wish, I placed this in mainly because my
gaming style requires 2 mage types, a thief 5-> conjurer would be my 2nd choice,
but as the party is well balanced without this character, you can take whatever
suits you. The aforementioned thief 5-> conjurer is good if you feel your archer
doesn’t have enough thieving capabilities for your group. The loss of HP will be
noticed but if that is less important for 6th character, as 5 characters can
easily win a battle and then you can import this character in after the battle
from just before the battle, the XP (s)he would have got will go to the 5 main
characters and this is definitely a support character so if (s)he is 1 level
lower than all the others at the end of the game it has little significance. You
could take an extra cleric if you like healers and buffers, dualling over at
level 2. Another druid would balance the party perfectly, giving 1 and 2*½ for
each role, but though druids are great, I feel that 2 is overkill. A pure
fighter could be taken if you would prefer more melee power. If you don’t take
this character then you could have a dwarven fighter to use as a distracter, or
not bother.

Melee party (1.7.2):

This is a party with an emphasis on direct fighting, and thus has much less
casting ability. This is basically the main party with every character dualling
at the next fighter stage, with a fighter instead of a conjurer; much more XP
goes to the fighter class however, and much less to casting classes, shifting
the balance considerably. As you can’t summon as much you need at least two main
tankers, I have stated the 2nd tanker optional instead of the 3rd because of how
great druids are in this game and the fact that there is only one other
character that gets more than 1 summoning spell. I wouldn’t advise taking only 5
characters however, 3 strong tankers, 1 part druid, is fine but less and you are
likely to suffer. The imbalance of this party causes a greater need to ensure
that you are virtually perfect in the main ability of the party, so with 6
characters the deficiencies are balanced. Requires little micromanagement

1            Human    Paladin              Lawful good
2(optional)  Half-elf Fighter              Chaotic evil
3            Human    Fighter 9-> Druid    True neutral
4            Elf      Fighter --- Thief    Chaotic neutral
5            Human    Fighter 6-> Cleric   Chaotic good
6            Human    Fighter 3-> Mage     Neutral Evil

Character 1:    
Same as in main party. No decent alternative. Give the best shield to character
3 though.

Character 2:    
Strongest tanker in terms of damage dealt. A.S. should have Str 18/91+, Dex 18,
Con 18, Wis 15+, remaining goes first in Wis, then Int to give a chance of
having a good Lore skill. Take the best armour character 1 isn’t using, and 5
W.P. in either 2-H swords or axes, after that just ensure that (s)he won’t
suffer any penalties with other 2-H weapons.

Alternate Choices:    
None really, taking anything else just gives you melee oriented variation of the
main party.

Character 3:    
This character is the 3rd tanker, 2nd healer, and support bombardier. (S)He
requires 18/91+ Str, 18 Con, min Int, 18 Wis, 17 Cha, any leftover points go to
Dex. Take everything in scimitars so you can use a shield to make up for the
low Dex. Give the best helmet here as well.

Alternate Choices:    
A fighter removes ½ of the few casting abilities your party does have, and
character 2 will take all the best 2-H weapons anyway so there’s little point.
Dualling earlier weakens melee capabilities too much to be able to use as a
full-time tanker. Dualling later gives negligible HP and you already have full
W.P. in scimitars so that has no use. Mages are incredibly weak and take too
long to gain levels to be even an effective support tanker. A second cleric
causes a fight for the best mace and can’t attack as efficiently as a druid.

Character 4:    
Same as character 3 in main party.

Character 5:    
The healer and a support tanker, also casts some nice buffer spells. I would
give this character 18/91+ Str, 18 Dex, 18 Con, 18 Wis, anything else in Int to
give a nice Lore skill. Though having Con above 16 is only useful until you dual
it is still helpful and you can put nothing in Int and Cha if you need, thus 
providing plenty of A.S. to use freely. This character should be wearing heavy 
armour and using a mace.

Alternate choices:    
If you’re patient then dualling later will enable you to use this as a strong
tanker, though you would only be able to reach level 14 until you install HOW,
you would also have to wait far too long to get a healer. The 218000 XP would
get your cleric to just below level 9, though, and the 1 W.P. and HP just aren’t
worth the bother.

Character 6:    
This character is your bombardier and gets all your arcane items. You need
18/76+ Str, 18 Dex, 16+ Con, 18 Int, anything else in Wis. This character will
be using mage daggers and a shield. Other W.P. are unimportant. Can attack well
enough but that is not main purpose.

Alternate choices:    
Taking a conjurer would be okay as long as you don’t mind paying to get items
identified, and can’t use them immediately. You are probably more patient and
less stingy than me.

Arcane Party (1.7.3):

This is a party which will be doing virtually all its damage with spells. Only 1
character who could be an effective full time tanker reduces allowance for less
characters to nothing. You could decide not to take character 5, but then you
have a long period on the game without a thief. Swapping the mage types from
thief round is a possibility, but this way the higher level mage can cast the
necromancy spells. Until your druid hits level 4, and your 1st thief duals to
mage, you are likely to find the game difficult, but at higher levels this party
will show just how brilliant large amounts of spells can be with careful
management. Unfortunately I found that placing in a character with infravision
weakened the character in other ways too much, can cast it with 1 of the many
mages though.
1        Human    Paladin                  Lawful good
2        Human    Fighter 3-> Druid        True neutral
3        Human    Ranger 2-> Cleric        Chaotic good
4        Human    Fighter 2-> Conjurer     Chaotic evil
5        Human    Thief 5-> Abjurer        Neutral evil
6        Human    Thief 10-> Illusionist   Chaotic neutral

Character 1:        
Same as in other parties. Should get all the best weapons and armour.

Alternate choices:    
Same as in main party. Half-elven fighter improves as an alternative 
because of lack of infravision.

Character 2:        
This character is your support tanker and support healer. Has some use as a 4th
bombardier. A.S. requirements are 18/91+ Str, 16+ Con, min Int, 18 Wis, min
Cha, everything else in Dex. All W.P. in spears, then quarter staves, then
scimitars. With such low overall melee capability, you need at least one
character to have 2-H weapons and the paladin should use a shield.

Alternate choices:    
Dualling over at level 9 is completely pointless in an arcane party, but fighter
6-> druid is certainly a good option, though with level 3 you get to druid level
6 when you would get to fighter level 6, though if unlike me you don’t find
druid spells and quest options brilliant, dualling at level 6 is probably the
best option. You could take a full-time archer instead, if you want more ranged

Character 3:    
Amazing healing, good buffer spells, okay melee. Give him/her 18/76+ Str, 18
Dex, 16+ Con, 18 Wis, min Cha, rest in Int to boost Lore skill. As this
character is all that stands between your mages and enemies the buffer and
de-buffer spells become much more useful. Carry a shield, how much you use it is
optional. Using reduces damage given to you, not increases damage done to your
enemy because of the ranger’s 2nd attack per round. Make sure (s)he hates
trolls. Heavy armour and W.P. in mace are vital.

Alternate choices:    
Dual at level 3 instead. I chose this to ensure that I had healing before I
dualled my 1st mage, but the weakness isn’t that significant and nor is the XP
requirement. You would still get the cleric abilities early in Chapter 1.

Character 4:    
Your main bombardier, this character will have no problem with equipment as
there are tons of arcane boosters that can only be used by mages that are part
fighter. Your high mage level will give you tons of spells as you’re a
specialist. A.S. are predictable, 15+ Str, 18 Dex, 16+ Con, 18 Int, min Cha,
everything else in Wis. This character will probably do more than most of the
others put together near the end of the game. Take W.P. in daggers and slings,
so you can use mage daggers and have good ranged ability to make up for the loss
of an archer.

Alternate choices:    
None, conjurer is the best mage, this is the arcane party, and you need your
fighter -> mage to have both class abilities before you reach Chapter 2. The
character that defines this party.

Character 5:    
Your 2nd mage and 2nd thief. Needs 14+ Str, 18 Dex, 16+ Con, 18 Int, rest in
Wis. You need some Str to carry equipment. Take all your thieving points in

Alternate choices:    
Dualling later is a bad idea as then you have far too long without any thief
skills as both would then switch at the same time, also you would have an arcane
party with only one mage type for ½ the game, ruining the point. The archer
from the other parties would be okay, if you don’t mind the loss of your 3rd
mage. If you don’t mind training a character up about 10000 XP, you could even
take an elven fighter --- thief --- mage, and get similar thief abilities, be a
good archer, and have this character learn all the buffer spells and non-combat
spells such as "identify". You could take an ordinary mage, instead of a
specialist, if you would prefer all your mages to get the buffer spells, to
having extra spells. I feel that having at least two arcane castors for each 
spell type is good enough though.

Character 6:    
Your 3rd mage and 1st thief. Has A.S. requirements of 14+ Str, 18 Dex, 16+ Con,
18 Int, 17 Wis. This character will have an amazing Lore skill and should take
all thief skills in "open lock" and "find traps". Stealth is irrelevant for
thief -> mages as once you get "invisibility", it loses most of its use and
"improved invisibility" renders it completely useless.

Alternate choices:    
None, you can’t dual later if you want any mage ability, and dualling earlier
weakens your thieving abilities too much. You could take a conjurer instead as
long as character 5 knows, and often uses, "identify". That would also give you
the necromancy spells.

After installing Heart of Winter (2.0)

The main differences are the new XP cap of 8000000 XP, allowing characters to
reach level 30, and the wonderful HOF mode. The higher XP cap increases the
value of dual-classing vastly, and enables the triple-class to be useful. HOF
mode makes training much easier and less tedious, and HOF also vastly improves
the replay value of this game. Also some spells are now only available to
particular alignments, especially cleric spells. There are also new spells
for each class, aligned and not. The new areas are also great fun, though less
useful in terms of character development than the other main changes.

Race (2.1)

The only difference is that humans, elves and half-elves improve to become even
better than the other races, because of the higher level cap making
dual-classing even better, and the triple class becoming a more attractive

Class (2.2)

Fighter:   Similar quality. Improve slightly because of main differences.

Ranger:    Become even worse pure, the advantages at level 6-12 were virtually
non-existent, and they have none at the newly available high-levels. Their
new ability "tracking" is virtually useless. The game designers have tried to
make a tanker with spells, a sure failure. The druid spells they get are very
nice, but you get them too late and don’t get enough anyway to be effective. The
updated spell system vastly improves their use when combined with clerics
however, giving clerics access to the druid spells when they would get them,
this dual-class combination is superb.

Paladin:    Become much better, as now the "Pale Justice" sword is found about
1/8 of the way through the overall game, including replays, and the Lay on Hands
ability continues to improve at the newly available levels. They are also immune
to disease and fear by level 3.

Cleric:    Can now cast more spells. The healing spells, new attack spells, and
best new buffers are all now aligned. Though they can still be effective support
tankers, they are now much better used as a buffer when not healing, because of
some nice new spells.

Druid:    Druids get even better. They can now shape-shift once they reach level
5, and gain new shapes every 2 levels. At level 11 they can transform into a
fire elemental, earth at 13, and water at 15. They also become immune to poison
at level 9, normal or magical, and immune to any from of fatigue at level 15.
And there are great new spells from as early as level 1.

Thief:    Thieves improve again, and become better again as a multi-class. At
level 7 thieves gain the wonderful "evasion", which enables them to dodge most
spells except those cast by themselves. This improves as the thief level
increases, so enabling you to cast a "fireball" right on your high level fighter
--- thief and only damage the surrounding enemies, because of "evasion". In the
configuration screen you can now switch a thief’s backstabbing ability and
replace it with a new skill called sneak attack. This means that if a thief is
attacking an opponent from beside or behind, hidden or not, they do additional
damage, starting at 1d6 then increasing to 2d6 at level 4, 3d6 at level 8, 4d6
at level 12 and so on. If your thief has improved invisibility cast on him/her
most of the time anyway, backstabbing is still better, but otherwise sneak
attack is brilliant, especially for a fighter --- thief support tanker. This is
not all though, once they reach level 5, if they successfully sneak attack, then
they reduce their targets to hit and damage rolls, and this continues improving
every 4 levels.

Arcane castors (2.2.1)

Mage:    Apart from new spells, no changes.

Bard:    Suddenly the worst class has become one of the best. They now get 6
extremely useful songs, a new one every 2 levels. The songs have an effect
radius of 30ft. They still can’t get level 9 spells however, and the slightly
slower gain of spells means that they should not be used as a main bombardier,
great in support though.

Songs:  Level 1:    +1 to hit, damage and S.T. to allies.
        Level 3:    Immunity to fear and cures fear of all allies.
        Level 5:    + 1 luck, +3 Lore and +10% to Lore and thieving skills for
        Level 7:    Allies get a 50% chance to dispel effects of any sound-based
        Level 9:    Enemies must save or be enthralled for 1 turn or till they
                    take damage.
        Level 11:   Allies get -2 bonus to AC, +10% resistance to weapon attacks
                    and regenerate 2 HP every round.

Specialists:    A.S. requirements are the same. New opposition schools. If you
import a character from the IWD then (s)he will keep all his/her previously
learnt spells.

Mage Type      Opposition Schools         Comments

Abjurer        Transmutation, Illusion    Don’t get many buffer or any
invisibility spells. Not bad though.

Conjurer       Invocation                 Can’t cast many good attack spells,
abominable. 2nd worst.

Diviner        Conjuration                Can’t summon and lose several good
attack spells, rubbish.

Enchanter      Invocation                 Can’t cast many good attack spells,
appalling. Worst.

Illusionist    Necromancy, Abjuration     Can’t cast the best new spells or
many defence spells. Could be useful.

Invoker        Divination, Conjuration    Can’t summon, and don’t get identify
and several good attack spells, dreadful.

Necromancer    Illusion, Enchantment      Don’t get invisibility spells or
enchantment spells, but I rarely use enchantments anyway, the best specialist.

Transmutation  Necromancy, Abjuration     Can’t cast the best new spells or many
defence spells. Could be useful.

Best arcane castors to worst:

Illusionist, Transmuter

4 of the best new spells are necromantic. There are 3 new invocation spells and
3 new transmutation spells worth getting. The 2 new conjuration spells are also
good. There is one brilliant abjuration spell.

Imported conjurers are fine, as long as they’ve already learnt all the
invocation spells, they are certainly useful. If you have an abjurer with the
invisibility and shadow summoning spells to import that is the best option

If you start new the only specialists worth using are necromancers and abjurers.
As the A.S. requirements both need Wis, Necromancer is better as invisibility
spells, as well as blur and mirror image are worth having, shadow summons are
reasonable as well. The newly available high levels make the reduced number of
spells for mages and even more bards much less important. As bards gain levels
extremely fast anyway, they can end up with more spell slots at several times in
the game than a specialist. There are only 2 level 9 spells anyway, though they
are amazing.

Ability Scores (2.3)

Only one change, dexterity is now even more vital for thieves because new
evasion skill is affected by dexterity.

Alignment (2.4)

Only one change, some priest spells are now aligned, changing the importance of
your cleric’s alignment significantly. Evil clerics can now not cast healing
spells, thus becoming almost useless, good clerics can cast very few of the new
attack spells, but  the brilliant "heal" and "resurrection" spells, can now only
be cast by good clerics, two of the next best, "cure critical wounds" and "raise
dead" cannot be cast by evil clerics. The cause wound spells which can only be
cast by evil clerics are quite good, though a druid’s attack spells are much
better, and you would need another cleric to heal anyway. Also a brilliant new
defence spell, "greater shield of Lathander" and the best new attack spell,
"holy word", can only be cast by good clerics. There are some spells which
cannot be cast by lawful characters, or on them. Now any cleric must be chaotic
good or neutral good, if you wish to get all the most effective spells. Some
spells only work on characters of similar alignment, and there are other spells
that have an area-effect damage against evil characters, so though you want your
main arcane castor to be evil, that should probably be the only one. True or
chaotic neutral is best, with the exception of clerics.

Class combinations (2.5)

The choice is now much more important as all the castor classes get a much
greater number of spells at higher levels, increasing at rapid rates, so you
want to ensure that your combination enables your character to get the maximum
number of available spells.

Dual-classing (2.5.1)

Because of the new availability of much higher levels I have done this by what
the dual combination instead of original class. When I say mage in this section
I am including specialists in that. I have only included useful combinations.

Fighter -> Cleric:    In theory you could dual at as high a fighter level as 20
and still get maximum cleric level though that is pointless. I would advise
dualling at level 3 or level 6. For a tanker like cleric level 9 could be used,
but that would take a lot of training to be effective, and you would be
without healing for a great length of time. Level 3 is best for most as then
you get the cleric class about when you first really actually need regular
healing., but level 6 is fine for a cleric that is acting like a support 
tanker. Now always inferior to the ranger -> cleric choice though.

Fighter -> Druid:    The theory says level 19 can be used, but don’t bother,
anything above level 9 is a waste of time and XP. This has only changed slightly
from IWD, because of the powerful shape-shift forms, the immunity to poison at
druid level 9, and the immunity to fatigue at level 15, druids are naturally
stronger anyway, to should be dualled over by level 6, level 9 is no longer
worth it.

Fighter -> Thief:    Improve slightly but the multi-class improves even more,
dual at level 3 if you really want one though.

Fighter -> Mage:    If you dual over at later than level 10 you cannot get a
level 30 mage. 12 extra HP for 2000 XP is probably worth the difference between
level 2 and 3. Having 7 spells for most spell level, 6 for levels 7 and 8, and 4
to spread between the 2 level 9 spells is too good to miss out on.

Ranger -> Cleric:    You can get a ranger 18-> cleric now, and it is useful as
rangers will give your cleric access to the druid spells even when the ranger
class is inactive. You don’t get the extra spell slots from the ranger till the
class becomes active, and clerics get maximum by level 30 anyway, but the druid
spells are powerful, and are extremely useful for those levels without many good
cleric spells. A level 6 ranger gets you 1st level spells It is certainly worth
it. Level 10 will get you 2nd level spells. Ranger level 12 gives your character
3rd level spells. The level 4 spells you get if your ranger class is level 15
are better still.The high hit dice of high level rangers is another advantage,
and though the druid spells aren’t worth taking a pure ranger, they make a
cleric vastly better, as then the good cleric can cast better attack spells than
an evil cleric, and still gets all the healing spells and resurrection. The high
level rangers do require a lot of training, though they are certainly worth it
from the moment you dual to cleric.

Thief -> Fighter:    These are now an excellent combination, if you dual at
level 9, then you have the brilliant evasion, if you sneak attack successfully
then you do 3d6 extra damage and reduce their damage an to hit rolls by 2 each,
this is on top of having one brilliant thief skill. The W.P., although you
cannot specialise until you dual, by the time you dual you will be proficient in
all the weapons you might use, so there is no loss there. Even better as the
fighter class is the main class you can get up to +4 HP per level if your Con is
18. Dualling before level 9 is inadvisable as evasion will be nothing or 
negligible, as will sneak attack and crippling strike. Dualling at level 13
is probably a slightly better compromise than 9 as then your character has high
ability in 2 thief skills, an effective evasion, and a powerful sneak attack and
crippling strike all for 660000 XP. A level 21 thief is the highest you can
reach if you want the fighter class to reach level 30. This class combination is
effective as a tanker, and you get the fighter class, a thief, and an archer.

Thief -> Mage:    These are a slightly better option than the fighter -> mage,
if you don’t mind training. You can reach level 12 and still get your mage to
level 30, this option gives similar HP to a fighter does, similar overall melee
ability as sneak attack is a nice ability. The thieving skills are very useful
in the game, and the final advantage is that another mage can cast a fireball 
on you to get you out of trouble, as your evasion will be reasonable.

Multi-classing (2.5.2)

With the new much higher XP cap and the wonderful HOF mode multi-classing
becomes a much more attractive option. The most attractive multi-class
options are all still part thief, but because of their improved abilities, the
new XP cap and better training facilities, these become vastly improved on the
poor ones in IWD. The triple-class now also becomes a more viable option. A
fighter --- mage --- cleric requires too many high A.S. and has completely the
wrong balance to be effective, but a fighter --- thief --- mage is now much
better. An elven version can be an effective archer who can be a reasonably
effective 3rd bombardier and reaches 18/22/17, giving a character with similar
spell ability as a bard and better melee, range and thieving abilities, you
will gain new spells much slower than a bard but the other abilities ensure
that this choice can certainly be worth it. The new thief abilities mean that
fighter --- thieves can perform more functions, but you must decide which 
when creating the character, as race affects this greatly. If you want one that
operates as part tanker, then take a half-elf, an archer must obviously be 
elven. The other races all adjust thief skills but the long term benefits are
with half-elven or elven characters, though halflings can be okay if you want
your fighter --- thief to have a strong resistance. Though still inferior to 
the dual-class, ranger --- clerics are now much more effective and can be 

Weapon proficiencies and armour (2.6)

Armour has no change. The only change to W.P. is that fighter --- thieves are
now much better with melee weapons, and can use the same weapons as fighter,
though they are still easily the best archers.

Sample parties (2.7)

I am now only mentioning characters that are considerably different from
previously mentioned ones.

Main party (2.7.1)


1            Human    Paladin             Lawful good
2            Human    Fighter 6-> Druid   True neutral
3            Elf      Fighter --- Thief   Chaotic neutral
4            Human    Ranger 3-> Cleric   Chaotic good
5            Human    Thief 12-> Mage     Neutral evil
6(optional)  Half-elf Bard                Chaotic neutral

Character 2:    
Druids are now even better.

Alternate choices:    
The other choices are much weaker, as the new spells and immunities gained 
cause druids to be vital, especially as druids can fulfil all roles as a 
full-timer now, with the exception of archer which belongs to an elf.

Character 3:    
This character has the same requirements as the equivalent from the IWD party,
but is much better because of the new thief skills, and can be played as a

Alternate choices:
This character now has much more choice, a thief 13-> fighter can fulfil this
role well, though elven archery is the best. You could add to the arcane ability
of this party and have this character as a fighter --- mage --- thief. This
option would allow you to cast spells with some efficiency, though the melee
abilities would lose out. This remains the conclusive best.

Character 4:    
Alternate choices:    Fighter -> clerics are inferior to ranger -> clerics now.
Dualling earlier is for the impatient. Dualling later is for the perfectionists.
Level 6 gives some nice spells. Then levels 10, 12, 15. If you go up to 18 your
cleric gets slightly more HP, as your cleric will get maximum spell slots anyway
by the time the ranger class is activated again, and 900000 XP is a lot for 36
HP. The longer you are prepared to train as a ranger, the better your cleric
will be. Once you do dual as well you will level up fast as the XP given in the
area you are in will be more than enough to get the level up to a more
appropriate one.

Character 6:    
Bards have now become almost as vital a class as druid, and they balance the
party even better. The A.S. must be 14 Str, 18 Dex, 8+ Con, 18 Int, 10+ Wis 15
Cha, you need a high Lore skill and to ensure that your S.T. are quite good,
also require AC. This bard is a support bombardier, my intelligent diplomat (and
possibly wise), and can be proficient in almost all weapons although not
specialise. The new factor that improves them though, their brilliant songs.
Once your bard hits level 11, as they heal 2 HP per round to all allies, just
walk around and you heal, reducing the need for a cleric to just using the spell
"heal" during battle to stop them dying, and "resurrection" to save them if they
have died.

Alternate choices:    
I love bards in IWD(H), in IWD they were dreadful but now I feel they are 
vital, they save you from resting too much, because of healing song and 
high Lore reduces need for "identify" to virtually nothing. You could take a 
thief -> mage if you really want. But the low XP requirements for bards to 
gain levels balances out the reduced spell slots over a mage as long as you 
have another arcane castor.

Melee Party (2.7.2)

I have included a melee party, but now it is just my main party with a fighter
instead of a bard. Also some characters are dualled later. This party is much
weaker in HOF mode than my other 2 parties as you need a large amount of spells
to play HOF mode effectively.

1            Human    Paladin              Lawful good
2(optional)  Half-elf Fighter              Chaotic neutral
3            Human    Fighter 9-> Druid    True neutral
4            Human    Ranger 10-> Cleric   Chaotic good
5            Elf      Fighter --- Thief    Chaotic neutral
6            Human    Fighter 6-> Mage     Neutral Evil

Character 4:    
A powerful tanker class, especially against whatever you choose as your
favoured enemy. Can dual-wield, and has an amazing range of healing, defensive
and attacking spells. Should be trained up to ensure that you get a cleric
before chapter 3.

Alternate choices:    
You could dual at level 6 if you don’t like training, but you would lose out on
spells and 48 HP. I personally would train to level 12 or 15 then dual-class,
to gain the 3rd or 4th level spells respectively, but that takes time. Clerics
are nowhere near as vital now though.

Arcane party (2.7.3)

This party will be weak first time through the game, but will play brilliantly
once you reach the HOW areas, and play through on HOF mode.

1        Human    Paladin                     Lawful good
2        Human    Fighter 3-> Druid           True neutral
3        Human    Ranger 15-> Cleric          Chaotic good
4        Elf      Fighter --- Mage --- Thief  Chaotic neutral
5        Human    Fighter 3-> Mage            Neutral evil
6        Half-elf Bard                        Chaotic neutral

Character 3:    Gets all priest spells, you may be without a cleric for a while
but healing potions and your paladin should provide enough. Dualling earlier is
a choice between early and late for when your quality is. The arcane party is
designed to peak later so this one will follow the trend.

Character 4:    Shouldn’t be using spells in combat, is an archer there but will
provide plenty of good buffer spells beforehand.

Other points (2.8)

In the IWD(H) parties I encourage training greatly, this is not always what I
mean, as most of my parties overlap considerably, you should be able to import
many characters from other parties, and if you play through with 2 parties at
similar places through the game, you can use the same character, importing from
the other, to double the XP gained.

This guide is copyright 2004 onwards by Mike Marshall. I am not associated in
any way with Black Isle, Interplay or anyone involved in the creation or
development of this game. Anyone will be welcome to post this guide as long as
the content remains the same and you e-mail me to request permission. No-one
is allowed to charge for or profit in any way through the use of this guide.

Version History (2.8.1)

Please note that the most updated version will be at www.gamefaqs.com the
others might have it, but I'll update at gamefaqs more often.

1.0 Wrote it

1.0.1 Minor spelling and grammar adjustments, more permitted sites listed.

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