Monday, 2 April 2018

Icewind Dale 2 Walkthrough Guide Best Easy Solo Sorcerer Part I

Icewind Dale 2 Walkthrough Guide Best Easy Solo Sorcerer Part I

This is an amazing game... the most underrated of the Infinity Engine entries...

      I n t r o d u c t i o n  &  O v e r v i e w      
Where can I get this game? GoG!

Hi guys! And welcome to my 13-part Icewind Dale 2 Sorcerer Solo Guide! I have decided to post this guide because I have often seen people request them on public venues.

Released by Black Isle Studios in 2002, Icewind Dale 2 is a sweeping, six-chapter campaign notable — in keeping with its predecessor, Icewind Dale (1999) — for its full party creation, sprawling dungeon design, and emphasis on linear hack n slash as opposed to open exploration and deep role-playing.

In addition, IWD2 is the only Infinity Engine entry to employ the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition ruleset (Icewind Dale, Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment are all AD&D 2nd Edition-based). In this respect, IWD2 was preceded by Stormfront's Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor (the first D&D 3.x game), was contemporary with BioWare's Neverwinter Nights (D&D 3.0) and was followed by Troika's Temple of Elemental Evil (the first D&D 3.5 game). In order to incorporate this more complex ruleset into an antiquated engine (with its origin in Baldur's Gate, four years prior), Black Isle were forced to redesign the user interface — almost from the ground up. You can read about their success in doing that in Part II of my User Interface Evolution series of posts.

Like its predecessor, IWD2 is an aesthetically gorgeous game. Inon Zur's OST, the voicesets, the painted portraits and the pre-rendered backdrops are masterwork. That, of course, is crystal clear to those who have eyes and ears, but many people forget the achievements of IWD2 in regard to reactive questing and exploration, as hinted at in its Targos Prologue and exemplified in the late-game hub, the Severed Hand aka Hand of Seldarine — which I hold as one of the best examples of area design in the genre. Most games lose steam towards the end: IWD2 is strongest at the end.

Overall, I regard IWD2 as not only being the most polished of the Infinity Engine games, but also the one that pushed the then-aging engine to its absolute limits in regards to dungeon design, quest structure, and horde-based combat encounter design. This is where the post-Fallout 2 Black Isle crew (members of which would go on to develop the likes of Mask of the Betrayer) hit its high-point of technical proficiency. And what resulted was an almost perfect — albeit painfully cookie-cutter — D&D campaign.

Is IWD2 as good as Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn? Nope. However, I can tell you that I've played it almost as much by virtue of its ruleset and full party creation/building.

Is it as good as its predecessor, Icewind Dale, then? Overall, I would say "yes" (mainly because of its ruleset, reactivity and ambitiousness), but I think Jeremy Soule's OST is far superior to Inon Zur's, David Ogden Stier's narration is superior to "Aerie's", and the original — at least, before the Heart of Winter expansion; I refer to 1.06 only — is pretty much perfect in its pacing and classic D&D adventuring feel, whereas IWD2 suffers from pacing issues and seems a l'il cheesy at times. Also, the original's Heart of Fury mode is far more difficult than the sequel's. In fact, IWD2's HoF mode is actually much easier than Normal mode (at least in party-based play). That said, this soloing guide will only be covering Normal mode. Speaking of which, the whole point of this post...

      S o l o i n g  I c e w i n d  D a l e  2      

What IS soloing? Soloing or "going solo" is when you take one character, and only one character, through the entire campaign. In other words, despite being able to create up to six characters, and despite being able to bring in other characters at any time (by virtue of the arbitration menu), we ignore those features entirely.

What are the pros and cons of soloing? There are several pros and cons to soloing. They are as follows:

[+] You don't have to micro-manage a party. In other words, there is a lot less clicking, marquee selection and viewpoint scrolling going on.
[+] It is less likely that you will become frustrated by poor pathing routines because there are no other party members to hinder your movement during exploration, or your mobility during combat encounters.
[+] Power progression (spellcasting/BAB progression) is heightened due to all experience points going to just one character rather than being split evenly between multiple characters.
[+] Wealth accumulation is heightened due to many items being sold off rather than equipped. Many items will be useless to you, such as armor and weapons.
[-] Successful soloing requires deep foreknowledge of game mechanics, campaign structure and combat encounter and dungeon design. (That said, newbies will be able to solo if they follow this guide.)
[-] Inventory clutter can become an issue despite there being containers and a Bag of Holding itemized early on. That said, unless you are an incurable hoarder, you will quickly learn that 99% of the crap isn't worth picking up.
[-] Unless you have conducted party-based runs beforehand, you will miss out on the experience of creating, building and operating an array of other characters. For example, while IWD2 combat encounter and dungeon design devalues Rogues, and while Rogues are not particularly powerful, they are eminently flavorsome and fun to play around with.
[-] The tactics you can employ in combat encounters is limited. While you can certainly power through most combat encounters, the tactical satisfaction involved in conducting a full party is completely lost.
[-] You are far more likely to miss out on quests, specific quest resolutions and interesting dialogue options while soloing. Not every quest or quest experience reward can be obtained since some are specific to class, race or skill choices. However, the vast majority of quests can be obtained and completed without issue.
[-] For newbies, soloing can become an exercise in excruciating frustration. For veterans, it can become so easy that it becomes boring and utterly meaningless, just like real-life. I kid!

◦ Do I need to employ exploits such as level-up-delaying, muling and farming in order to succeed in a solo Sorcerer run? While such strategies can certainly optimize your power progression (though not by much), there is no need to exploit the Challenge Rating system or rest-spam to provoke spawns. This walkthrough will not be employing such strategies, but feel free to do so. I actually don't know what those terms mean? Note: YOU DON'T NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE FOLLOWING TECHNICAL EXPLANATIONS IN ORDER TO SUCCEED IN A SOLO SORCERER RUN. FEEL FREE TO SKIP THE REST OF THIS SECTION. First up, the Challenge Rating system. In IWD, you would get flat experience point rewards for killing something, regardless of your level (AD&D 2.0 ruleset). For example, that Cold Wight yields 1,400 XP whether you kill it at first level or twentieth level. But in IWD2 (D&D 3.0), experience points for kills are calculated based on your level in comparison to enemy level. Thus, expect high XP yield if you kill an enemy that is much stronger than you, but expect low or even zero XP yield if you kill one that is much weaker. Now, just because you gain enough experience points to level up, doesn't mean you have to. You can just ignore the level up and keep collecting levels in the background, killing stronger enemies as a weak character, thereby exploiting the Challenge Rating system. Then, boom. You level up 10 levels (for example). This is what level-up-delaying is. Similarly, muling. In this case, you are simply employing the Character Arbitration menu to bring in a first level character (a mule) who will bring the party level down, resulting in more experience points. This obviously goes against the spirit of soloing. Lastly, farming. You probably worked this one out from my comment above. All you are doing here is repeatedly resting in order to provoke on-rest spawns. So, say you only need 3,000 XP to level up and you really want a new spellpick before taking on the boss? Rest-spam and kill the spawns until you can level up. This last one is a minor and very specific exploit in IWD2, but not in IWD where Cold Wights yield a flat 1,400 XP per, and spawn in several-strong mobs. Anyway, I hope those explanations gave you some insight into these exploits. In this walkthrough, I have proven (to myself at least) that none of these exploits are required. Indeed, quest experience will carry you through and you will never feel a need to employ exploits (though you certainly can in order to optimize your power progression; I've done it myself in the past, but I honestly wouldn't bother unless I was running a fancy build). See Q&A section under the build section for more info.

Do you recommend multi-classing? Multi-classing is not advised since it gimps spellcasting progression. Sensible multi-classing will work but you will gimp yourself if you try to turn the character into a Jack-of-all-trades. See build section posted below.

Can I succeed without completing the Battle Square and Eight Chambers? Post-Rank 1/Level 1 Battle Square along with the Eight Chambers are entirely optional. In regard to the latter, you can simply slay the Monks in the monastery in order to proceed. In fact, entire segments of the campaign may be largely skipped without putting a dent in a Sorcerer's power.

Can I solo Heart of Fury mode starting with a first level character? Yes, but it's incredibly cheesy. You will need to get lucky with the first few kills (use summons); after gaining a few levels, it's a joke. At this point, the walkthrough only covers Normal mode.

     T h e  B u i l d  /  P o w e r  P r o g r e s s i o n     
DRELZNA: Lawful Evil Human Sorcerer: 18-14-10-12-4-18

• A build, as it pertains to this guide, is nothing more than a number of levels taken as Sorcerer along with the stats, feats, spells and skills chosen. However, it is vital to choose wisely because you are relying on one character, and one character alone, to see you through the campaign. Gimping your character will result in extreme frustration, if not complete and utter failure. Here is a basic Sorcerer build that will see you through IWD2, without any need of cheats or exploits such as muling, farming or level-up-delaying. It is the build I am using for the purposes of writing this guide.

◦ SORCERER (0 XP): Spell Focus: EvocationGreater Spell Focus: Evocation, First Circle Spells: Burning Hands & Shield. See Part II.
◦ SORCERER (1,000): (no choices to make)
◦ SORCERER (3,000): Subvocal CastingNew SpellChromatic Orb. See Part II.
◦ SORCERER (6,000): Charisma +1, Second Circle Spells: Mirror Image. See Part II.
◦ SORCERER (10,000): New Spells: Magic Missile, Web. See Part II.
◦ SORCERER (15,000): Spell Focus: Necromancy, Third Circle Spells: FireballPlot ProgressionCHAPTER 1. See Part II.
◦ SORCERER (21,000): New SpellsIdentify, Invisibility, Skull Trap. See Part III.
◦ SORCERER (28,000): Charisma +1, Fourth Circle Spells: Stoneskin. See Part III.
◦ SORCERER (36,000): Spirit of Flame, New Spells: Eagle's Splendor, Slow, Emotion: Despair. See Part III.
◦ SORCERER 10 (45,000): Fifth Circle Spells: Animate Dead. See Part III.
◦ SORCERER 11 (55,000): New Spells: Knock, Dispel Magic, Emotion: Hope, Sunfire. See Part IV.
◦ SORCERER 12 (66,000): Charisma +1, Greater Spell Focus: Necromancy, Sixth Circle SpellsMass HastePlot ProgressionCHAPTER 2. See Part IV.
SORCERER 13 (78,000): New Spells: Improved Invisibility, ChaosMalison. See Part V.
◦ SORCERER 14 (91,000): Seventh Circle SpellsMordenkainen's Sword. See Part V.
◦ SORCERER 15 (105,000): Aegis of RimeNew SpellsCone of ColdDisintegrateDelayed Blast Fireball. See Part V.
◦ SORCERER 16 (120,000): Charisma +1, Eighth Circle Spells: Mind Blank. See Part VI.
◦ SORCERER 17 (136,000): New SpellsFinger of DeathHorrid Wilting. See Part VI.
◦ SORCERER 18 (153,000): Spell Focus: TransmutationNinth Circle Spells: Wail of the Banshee, Plot Progression: CHAPTER 3. See Part VI.
◦ SORCERER 19 (171,000): New Spells: Symbol of Hopelessness, Meteor Swarm. See Part VII.
◦ SORCERER 20 (190,000): Charisma +1, New Spell: Mass Dominate, Plot Progression: CHAPTER 4, See Part VIII.
◦ SORCERER 21 (210,000)Greater Spell Focus: TransmutationNew SpellsRay of EnfeeblementFlame ArrowShades. See Part VIII.
◦ SORCERER 22 (231,000): (no choices to make)
◦ SORCERER 23 (253,000): New Spells: Luck, Shadow Conjuration, Suffocate, Plot Progression: CHAPTER 5, See Part X.
◦ SORCERER 24 (276,000): Charisma +1Spell Focus: EnchantmentSee Part XI.
◦ SORCERER 25 (300,000): New Spells: Protection From Evil, Blink, Cloudkill, Summon Fiend. See Part XI.
◦ SORCERER 26 (325,000): (no choices to make)
◦ SORCERER 27 (351,000): Greater Spell Focus: Enchantment, New Spells: Blur, Otiluke's Resilient Sphere, Globe of Invulnerability, Gate (or Summon Monster IX), Plot Progression: CHAPTER 6, See Part XII.
◦ SORCERER 28 (378,000): Charisma +1.
◦ SORCERER 29 (406,000)New Spells: Dire Charm, Lower Resistance, Mass Invisibility.
◦ SORCERER 30 (435,000): Feat.
 G O D H O O D 

Strikethrough = Levels not reached in Normal mode without the employment of CR exploits.

◦ Wait. Why would you solo Sorcerer over Wizard? The latter are clearly superior because they get more spells, feats and skills! In theory, I agree, but the reality is that spell scroll itemization for Wizards is only balanced for six-person parties or four-person ECL parties. For example, a Sorcerer gets to choose Fireball before the Prologue whereas a Wizard won't find a Fireball scroll to scribe until the Horde Fortress! That is huge. Also, there is a crapload of deadweight in the spell circles (useless, underwhelming and bug-inducing spells). Thus, a comparatively limited repertoire is not a penalty. Sorcerers are about casting key buffing, disabling and direct damage spells over and over again. They are about power, not versatility. And overwhelming power is what matters in IWD2.

◦ Why Lawful Evil? While it would have been nice to roll with Lawful Good alignment in order to take one Paladin level for a huge Charisma-based bonus to saving throws, the final battle would be touch and go because only Evil characters are immune to the otherwise crippling and irresistible Blasphemy spell unleashed by Madae in the Finale. Any other pros to being evil? You are also immune to Unholy Blight.

◦ Why Human? +1 skillpoint per level, +1 first level feat, and brisk level progression. Yes, but Drow would give you 11+level spell resistance and +2 to your Dexterity, Intelligence and Charisma scores. Hell, why not go at least for Aasimar for +2 to your Charisma? Well, the ECL penalty is notable in the early stages of solo campaigns. Also, while SR and +Charisma are certainly nice, I have noticed that they are just not needed. How do I know? My first solo of IWD2 was conducted with a Drow Sorceress. Play whichever race you like, though. This is just a guide, afterall.

◦ Please explain that stat-line (18-14-10-12-4-18). Ok, first of all, the maxed Strength score enables you to carry stuff without being encumbered by picking up a feather. Yes, there is a Bag of Holding itemized early (and a Mercenary's Sack later), but I don't like to fiddle around with my inventory every time I loot something heavy. Also, some plot-critical items are heavy (e.g, Hemp Rope x4), and such items cannot be placed into bags. Sorcerers with dumped Strength will therefore not be able to move after looting such items. You really don't want to cast Bull's Strength or Tenser's Transformation just to be able to move; it's highly annoying. In addition, a maxed Strength score also makes it easier to bash open locked doors and containers (though Knock will still be needed on occasion). Finally, you might like to actually whack something with your quarterstaff every now and again; moreover, you will be wielding Mordenkainen's Sword. Ok, Dexterity. The +AC is handy in the early-going but quickly becomes all but useless. Thus, we don't go crazy on it. Constitution is low, but I'm unconcerned: you shouldn't be getting hit. Wisdom is dumped, and I'm also unconcerned: you shouldn't be getting targeted by spells. You could also dump Intelligence but I like to have access to skills other than just Concentration. (Please see the next section on skills.) Charisma is maxed for obvious reasons: it's our primary spellcasting stat and modifies our spell DCs, making it harder for the enemy to resist our spellsYou are forgetting that low Constitution and Wisdom scores means that your Fort and Will saving throws SUCK; how can you play like that? I used to believe that, too, but I have come to realize that you shouldn't rely on saving throws, SR and HPs. Mind-affecting, for example, which attacks Will, can be completely warded with Mind Blank by the halfway point of Chapter Two.

◦ Skill-wise, it's Concentration and Spellcraft, right? Indeed. You will get three skillpoints per level to spend. Spellcraft is useful because it allows you to ID enemy spells as they are being cast. This means you can actually become adept at dodging a spell. Remember, unlike in BG2, which relegates the reporting of spells-being-cast to the feedback window, in IWD2 such feedback is also displayed over the head of the caster who is actually casting the spell. That is very convenient! In addition, Spellcraft 10 is a prerequisite for elemental feats that increase elemental damage by 20%. Thus, Spirit of Flame increases the fire damage of key spells such as Fireball, Sunfire and DBFB. Over the course of the campaign, that adds up! Ok, but where does your third skillpoint go? The third point is a complete luxury that I like to have. To be clear, the misc. skills are by no means important, they just makes things a l'il more interesting and a l'il easier at certain points. Note that just one point in Bluff, Diplomacy and Intimidate will open up doors for you because they are modified by your godly Charisma score. Occasionally, employing social skills rather than fighting will also reward you with quest experience points; XP you would not otherwise have gotten through fighting due to being over-leveled in comparison to the enemy under the Challenge Rating system. You should definitely pump Bluff and Diplomacy to about seven ranks by the time you reach Chapter 5 (or you will miss out on considerable dialogue-based XP rewards!) One point in Pick Pockets will net you the Lucky Knucky (+1 Luck). I would not bother pumping Alchemy unless you have points to spare. While it allows for flavorsome interactions here and there, it does not result in +XP.

What are the spell circle ranges? Assuming you reach Godhood, by thirtieth, you will gain access to seven first circle spells, seven second circle spells, seven third circle spells, sixth fourth circle spells, six fifth circle spells, five sixth circle spells, five seventh circle spells, four eighth circle spells and four ninth circle spells. Which spells you choose, and in what order you choose them, is of paramount importance.

◦ Of what should early-going buffing consist? ShieldBlurMirror ImageStoneskinEagle's Splendor. Mid-build? It's the same, though we also have Mass Haste as well. Late-build? Stack on Mind Blank as needed.

◦ What is a good early-going tactic against mobs? Inflict immobilization status (e.g, Web) followed up by direct damage (e.g, Fireball). Mid-build? Upgrade to Sunfire and DBFB. Late-build? Mass DominateWail of the BansheeHorrid Wilting and Meteor Swarm.

◦ What is a good early-going tactic against powerful, singular enemies? Inflict immobilization status (Chromatic Orb: Stun) followed up by direct damage (Skull Trap). Mid-build? Skull Trap. Late-build? Symbol of Hopelessness, Finger of Death.

What is a good general tactic against arcane/divine spellcasters who attempt to inflict immobilization? Summon minions (Animate Dead) and then immobilize, bombard or insta-kill from a position of safety. Later, buff the summons with Stoneskin and Mass Haste.

Skull Trap: range demo.
Hands down, what are the best buffing, disabling and direct damage spells? First, up, Animate Dead is the best spell for solo Sorcerers (and Dreadmasters of Bane). Without it, soloing would be tedious, annoying and much more difficult. Buffing-wise, it's got to be Mirror Image. No other buffing spell is as useful to your survival, though the Invisibility line will save your ass in many situations where MI/Stoneskin would not have a hope in hell. Of course, Eagle's Splendor is invaluable in that it increases your spell DCs. Disabling-wise, amazingly, Web is not nearly as useful as it is in Baldur's Gate, BG2 and IWD, wherein permanent free action is easily acquired in the early going (see Best spells). Also, IWD2 Animate Dead renders it almost entirely redundant and you don't want summoned undead mobility hindered. It is, in fact, Chromatic Orb: Stun that I find most useful over the course of the campaign (at least, until I get Symbol of Hopelessness, which is essentially an AoE version). Direct damage-wise, uncapped Skull Trap is where it's at. However, no direct damage spell can boast of being the final word. Skull Trap, for example, has a limited range. Sunfire and — better still — DBFB are unleashed reflexively, Horrid Wilting is my special gift to Monks and Assassins sporting Evasion, and Mages don't like Finger of Death pointed at them. Lastly, Wail of the Banshee is an AoE insta-killer. Cast it and most things will just die. We like that. And we actually have WotB at the start of Chapter Three.

Delayed Blast Fireball (DBFB): compare Skull Trap range.

◦ What are the important direct damage caps to bear in mind? Fireball (fire, 10d6 cap), Skull Trap (slashing, uncapped), Sunfire (15d6), Delayed Blast Fireball (DBFB, fire, uncapped), Horrid Wilting (25d6 cap), Meteor Swarm (24d6 cap, fire).

What are the preeminent disablers? Chromatic Orb: Stun (single target) and Symbol of Hopelessness (AoE, save at -7 penalty). Also, Chaos (divide & conquer mobs).

What are the eminently useful buffs? Mirror Image (self), Mass Haste (undead summons), Improved Invisibility (self and summons) and Eagle's Splendor (self). Debuffs? Slow (halves the movement speed and attack rate  of mobs) and Emotion: Despair (-2 on mob saves, to-hit and dmg rolls). Note that GreaseSlow and Acid Fog — which stack — will adversely affect the mobility of mobs almost to the point of immobilization, but it is rarely necessary and you are better of just killing them outright.

What are the eminently useful wards? As mentioned earlier, Mind Blank relegates Will saves to meaninglessness by the halfway point of Chapter Two. Moreover, its duration is an entire day.

Are there any handy utility spells? Basically, Invisibility for scouting/withdrawing and Knock for opening locks that can't be bashed even with 18 Strength. I guess Skull Trap and DBFB is sort of like laying down traps to lure the enemy into, but I never really bothered.

How about if I want to just physically hit things every now and again? Early-on, you will get some use out of that trusty quarterstaff (Staff of Corrosion), but Mordenkainen's Sword is factored into the build for mid-late game hack n slash. IWD2 MKS works differently to BG2 MKS. In IWD2, the sword is wielded in melee but from range whereas in BG2 the swords were summoned units, could only be slain by magic damage or the Death Spell, and flaunted Titan Strength. Anyway, the IWD2 sword version hits as +3 and inflicts 4d6 magical damage per hit, which is not something to scoff at when you buff with Mass Haste. How does BAB 44-39-34-33 sound with 7-27 dmg? Gives you something to do during spellcasting cooldown intervals! Vicious spell, and absolutely necessary to every Sorcerer's repertoire.

◦ Speaking of summons, is there a summon cap? Yes. The summon cap in IWD2 is five units, max. Pre-patch, Animate Dead scaled its units to insanely, INSANELY powerful Apocalyptic Boneguards and Festering Drowned Dead, but v.2.01 sensibly nerfed them to Greater Boneguards and Zombie Lords; which, however, are still very powerful. The object of the undead summons is to hold your frontline against the aggro, leaving you free to unleash spells from behind the bone-wall. If enemies break the line and aggro you, don't just stand there as they knock down your Mirror Image — cast Invisibility! This will cause the enemies to redirect their aggro back onto the summons. Just how how powerful are the undead? Even in their nerfed form they are capable of soloing entire segments of the game. Even more than the Skeleton Warriors from BG2, the IWD2 undead have staying power and hit like trucks. It is quite delightful to watch things getting "chunked" all over the place. Greater Boneguards inflict slashing damage and sport slashing resistance but are vulnerable to bludgeoning, whereas Zombie Lords inflict bludgeoning damage and sport full immunity to bludgeoning/magic fire but vulnerability to slashing. In most cases you will be hoping to summon the former because the latter move too slowly. Being undead, both sport immunity to mind-affecting, immunity to death magic such as Horrid Wilting, and immunity to the effects of Cone of ColdCloudkill and Suffocate AoEs. So yeah, keep that in mind. Buffed with Mass Haste and Stoneskin, these things become tireless machines that will rip almost everything a new asshole (or at least give you, the caster, the breathing space to do so yourself).

Gelugon: you can summon five.
Since Animate Dead no longer scales to Apocalyptic Boneguards and Festering Drowned Dead, are the nerfed summons end-game-capable? They are still very useful, yes. But you will want to employ the scaling units from Shades and Shadow Conjuration, too. The Frost Giant and Remorhaz units are the best, but further scale to Glabrezu (unfortunately). This is why I take both Summon Fiend and Gate (for non-ethereal Glabrezu and full-blown Gelugons, respectively).

◦ Are Mirror Image and Stoneskin REALLY the only protection I have? Pretty much. Well, there is also Blink (50% chance of dodging attacks, 20% chance of spell-failure). I took it at 25th level but barely employed it because spell-failure sucks ass and swallows. I mean, do you really want 20% spell-casting failure when a failed casting frequently means DEATH? That said, Blink is good if you know you're just going to hacking n slashing with Mordenkainen's Sword. In IWD2, there is no Protection From Magical Weapons (PfMW). And that is a huge disadvantage because strong physical-based damage dealers are going to rip through MI and SK like they are nothing, forcing you to recast it often when facing off against them. Fortunately, there are not many instances where you will be mobbed by such with no room to manoeuver. If the physical-based damage dealer cannot be immobilized/killed off with a direct damage spell (and there are a few), stay mobile and employ undead and remorhazes as meatshields (and hack n slash with Mordenkainen's Sword from safe distance).

I want to limit rest-spamming as much as possible. What can I do? Rely on summons. :p Ok, you will need to replenish your spells on a semi-regular basis. If you want to limit rest-spam (and really, you should want to because it's a pain in the ass rebuffing/resummoning), scout an area out under the effect of Invisibility first. Learn the lay of the land (terrain), find out where the enemies are, and devise a plan on how to deal with them most efficiently. Think about which position is best to mount an attack from, and which spells are going to inflict the most damage and disablement against the aggro while they are oblivious to your presence. Think about what you're going to do if things go bad and are likely to get worse. Basically an escape plan. Once the aggro is onto you, try to lure the mobs together if you can. Sometimes, this is easier said than done: thus, since archers and spellcasters rarely follow closely, bring the melee enemies to them, and then drop your AoEs. In that way, you will maximize the efficiency of your precious AoE castings. Remember, this is not a BG2 Sorcerer solo: you are up against HORDES of hard-hitters with no PfMW, and you don't have unlimited firepower to unleash upon them.

How is the itemization for solo Sorcerer? IWD2 itemization is underwhelming in comparison to BG2 itemization. BG2 itemizes artifacts such as the Robe of Vecna and Amulet of Power for a total casting-time reduction of five points, meaning that spells with a casting time of greater than or equal to 5 are cast instantly. There are no such game-breaking items to be found in IWD2 (at least, in regard to spellcasting). Also, there is no arcane weapon in IWD2 that can match the cheesy Staff of the Magi (on-hit level 30 Dispel, 8 hour Spell Trap, immortality through Invisibility etc).

Ok, are there any items I should be on the look-out for, then? The Girdle of Beatification and Houndstooth Collar are available in the Prologue (perma-Bless/Immunity: Fear & Panic), and the Witherbranch Boots are available in Chapter One (Immunity: Entangle). Early on, you might like to snap up the Staff of Corrosion, too (on-hit 1d6 acid). Many items confer Spellward status when equipped but are spell-specific in their warding rather than conferring school-immunity or blanket-immunity to general negative status effects. You should definitely purchase the Ring of Freedom of Movement and Boots of Speed from the genie, Bashshar al Rachid, at the start of Chapter Three. Both are coveted items in BG, BG2 and IWD, and IWD2 is no different. When worn, the latter doubles your movement rate whereas the former wards off a few annoying immobilization negative status effects and does not prevent Haste status. You can also get the Brazen Bands from the genie if you choose to release him (+5 AC which stacks with Mage Armor/Shield because it is a non-magical bonus). Also, the Master's Robe is found in Chapter Six (Charisma +3, Intelligence +2). And no, its Charisma bonus does not stack with Eagle's Splendor (rightly). Lastly, I found a random drop of Tymora's Loop (+3 Luck) in a chest in Tyrannar Brutai Mar's sanctum. I was very happy. I believe it stacks with the Lucky Knucky and the Luck spell. The items highlighted in pink are the ones you probably should try to get; the Ring of Freedom of Movement above all.

Memories of MM spam in BG...
Any surprisingly deadly spells to watch out for? Great Shout by Iyachtu Xvim aside, believe it or not, it's Magic Missile! Whee! And no, I'm not joking. MM will not only disrupt your spells or take down a Mirror Image in the blink of an eye, but it can ruin your day completely. Believe me when I say, if multiple casters target you with MM, and you don't have Shield up, you are f*cked. But yeah, do not underestimate MM! Pro-tip: If you took Mage Armor instead of the MM-negating Shield, you can still get immunity to Magic Missile damage by stacking MDR from the Robe of Enfusing (1/- Magic Damage Resistance) and the Cold Reflection Ring (4/- Magic Damage Resistance). Now the missiles will inflict no damage, but they will still hit you and slow you down. Still, better than being dead. Further stack with Greater Staff of Spell Resistance +5 for an 8-point MDR total. Not bad, but not necessary. Which reminds me, you can get humble perma-SR by stacking Potion of Arcane Absorption (Permanent 2/- Spell Resistance) and Potion of Magical Resistance (Permanent 1/- Spell Resistance).

Any surprisingly deadly enemies to be on the lookout for? Don't underestimate the Ferocious Dire Wolves in Chapter Three; their collective ApR will disperse your Mirror Image and tear you to shreds in short order.

Does IWD2 feature random itemization like IWD? Yes. Items are set upon entry to an area. Thus, it is possible to farm an item by saving before entry to an area and reloading the save if you don't get what you want. However, I did not do this for the purposes of this walkthrough.

Do enemies scale to your level? Number of enemies scale dramatically, but there is no lousy hit-point bloat. Expect some areas to be packed full of enemies; over 100. Enemy types scale, too. For example, in a six-person party you might face off against Greater Boneguards and Zombie Lords, but your solo Sorcerer will be up against Apocalyptic Boneguards and Festering Drowned Dead. The abilities of certain enemies also scale to your level, increasing the difficulty of some encounters. Isair and Madae scale dramatically. Level-up-delaying exploit aside, I actually thought they were impossible ten years ago, but I guess I've improved since then.

What is the most dangerous negative status effect? Quite simply, it is stunFree Action status does not ward off stun and nor will Mind Blank. That's right, according to the Infinity Engine, stun is neither movement hindering nor mind-affecting: it is simply stun. Thus, for example, you will need to employ Animate Dead against driders, myconids and mindflayers/illithid. Against Iyachtu Xvim (Great Shout: stun) and Isair (on-hit stun), just keep your distance.

How do I kill Iron Golems and other spell-resistant enemies, when all I have is... spells? Whale away on golems with Mordenkainen's Sword. For mindflayers, DBFB will bypass their SR. Do NOT waste a spellpick on Lower ResistanceWhat is the best spell to employ against Monks, Assassins and other enemies sporting Evasion? Horrid Wilting.

I got ahead of myself. I have my doubts. How is soloing possible when, thanks to being over-leveled in respect to the Challenge Rating system, you will cease to yield experience points from kills as early as Chapter One? In short, quest experience carries you through and you will still get some kill experience here and there when you take out an epic enemy. You will reach 27th by the Finale. You could crash through the campaign solo in just a few hours. If 27 levels in a few hours isn't enough for you, I don't know what to say. :)

Are there any bugs remaining in v.2.01 to be wary of? IWD2 is pretty polished but you should make named savegames when entering any new area; don't just rely on Quicksave/Autosave. You will regret it. Next, the Improved Initiative feat does nothing so don't take it. In addition, the game may crash outside and/or inside the River Caves with the dragon, and a Monk NPC may block a door in the Black Raven Monastery. Other glitches may occur, too, which is why you always make named savegames.

What do you think is the best Chapter in IWD2? It's got to be the Severed Hand aka Hand of Seldarine. As I said before, most games lose steam towards the end: IWD2 is strongest at the end. Lots of non-linear questing, great atmosphere, epic battles. Awesome. Worst Chapter? Chapter Three without a doubt. Weak questing, weak combat encounters, weak across the board and topped off by the annoying Fell Wood maze. Best dungeon? Lots of people hate the Ice Temple but I really enjoy its innovations and non-linearity. Plus, love the High Priestesses. But I like Dragon's Eye, too. Except for the Magma Chamber (which is cool on a first run but boring and unrewarding after that). Overall, original IWD dungeons are superior but more straightforward. It's really hard to choose between IWD and IWD2: play both!

Is this even fun? I haven't solo'd or even played IWD2 in ten years. So yeah, I got a giggle out this run here and there. YMMV. In my last two solos (10 years ago: Drow Sorcerer/Dreadmaster of Bane), I level-delayed because I was scared that Isair and Madae would scale to the point of impossibility if I leveled too much. But, in this walkthrough, I have proven to myself that a plain-Jane Human Sorcerer can solo the game without employing such exploits. Also, bereft of spell resistance and decent Saving Throws. Thus, I am satisfied that this wasn't a waste of my time.

Oh, yeah. Dreadmaster of Bane is a powerful solo class too, right? Itemization favors Wisdom over Charisma, Clerics in general have the strongest melee prowess, and DoBs receive a Banite Wisdom bonus plus an array of OP crowd-control spells, but they still can't hold a candle to a pure Sorcerer. Moreover, you will have to delay leveling after reaching your ninth circle because otherwise Isair and Madae will scale to a point that will make you facepalm. Here is a sample build I whipped up for those who are interested:

• GETHRUN: Lawful Evil Human Dreadmaster of Bane18-18-16-3-18-3

◦ Monk of the Dark Moon 1DodgePower Attack.
◦ Monk of the Dark Moon 1 / Dreadmaster of Bane 1First Circle SpellsApR 1
◦ Monk of the Dark Moon 1 / Dreadmaster of Bane 2Cleave
◦ Monk of the Dark Moon 1 / Dreadmaster of Bane 3Wisdom +1Second Circle Spells
◦ Monk of the Dark Moon 1 / Dreadmaster of Bane 5Blind-FightThird Circle Spells
◦ Monk of the Dark Moon 1 / Dreadmaster of Bane 7Wisdom +1Fourth Circle Spells
◦ Monk of the Dark Moon 1 / Dreadmaster of Bane 8Great CleaveApR 2
◦ Monk of the Dark Moon 1 / Dreadmaster of Bane 9Fifth Circle Spells
◦ Monk of the Dark Moon 1 / Dreadmaster of Bane 11Wisdom +1, Improved CriticalSixth Circle Spells
◦ Monk of the Dark Moon 1 / Dreadmaster of Bane 13Seventh Circle Spells
◦ Monk of the Dark Moon 1 / Dreadmaster of Bane 14Spell Focus: Enchantment
◦ Monk of the Dark Moon 1 / Dreadmaster of Bane 15Wisdom +1ApR 3Eighth Circle Spells
◦ Monk of the Dark Moon 1 / Dreadmaster of Bane 17Greater Spell Focus: EnchantmentNinth Circle Spells

Skills? Concentration and Spellcraft/Diplomacy.

Expected BAB (17th, Thunderclap, Great Axe of Flame): 21-16-11-9. ◦ Expected damage: 14-51 (Strength +6, 2d12+5 raw, 1d6 fire, 1d10 fire 10%, crit 19-20 x3).
Expected BAB (as above, but buffed with Bless, Prayer, Recitation and Champion's Strength): 30-25-20-18Expected damage: 20-57.

Why the level of Monk? It's not just the Wisdom bonus to AC (which should scale to about +14), but also the ability to wear the Thunderclap Bracers for +1 ApR.

Playstyle? A vicious mix of raw meleer and spellcasting juggernaut. As with the Sorcerer, you will be relying heavily on Animate Dead, Gate (and Summon Monster IX) buffed with Champion's Strength and Recitation. You yourself will have to spend time buffing in order to wade into the fray; namely, Iron Skins (DR) and Champion's Strength (4+1d4). You will get Destruction, Tremor and Fire Storm, but they are underwhelming in comparison to the Sorcerer's Skull TrapDBFB, Horrid Wilting and Meteor Swarm. As with the Sorcerer, your ace card for mass-immobilization is Symbol of Hopelessness. Divide & Conquer with Mass Dominate (domain). Once things are immobilized and addled in the head, wade in with your undead and rip them new assholes with your Halberd of Hate +4 or Massive Greataxe of Flame +5 (guaranteed drop/random drop). Make sure you grab the Every God ring, too.

Wait. Charisma is dumped — no Turn Undead? While it's nice to disrupt/chunk undead, you're diluting your stat-line by doing so, and that's not recommended in IWD2 solos. Besides, you will smash through undead legions with your preferred two-hander.

          I n s t a l l a t i o n  &  C o n f i g u r a t i o n          

Installation. I have installed IWD2 from original optical media purchased in 2002. The game is patched to version 2.01, which is the final official patch released by Black Isle Studios. In addition, I have the bonus content installed (genie merchant Bashshar al Rachid).

General. Difficulty is Normal (Core rules), crank up all system specs
Gameplay. 60 AI updates per second, Display Quest Experience.
Graphics. 32 bit color depth.
In-game keys. Quicksave (Q-key), Quickload (L-key), Highlight objects (Alt-key).

Played on a Sony Trinitron CRT for authenticity.

Ok, the walkthrough begins in Part II!


  1. Not bad. Might have to give IWD a playthrough, it is the only infinity engine RPG I have not beaten.

    I think the light story elements put me off. Can you recruit NPC's with backstory and banter?

    1. There are no companions in IWD and IWD2. Thus, there is no banter. However, you can write a backstory for each character in the Biography panel. There is also no individual protagonist, like the Bhaalspawn in BG or The Nameless One in PS:T: the impersonal party of adventurers are the protagonists. The pros and cons of full party creation are cited in my IWD write-up.

  2. You're not alone in that, Smiter. I've owned IWDII in some capacity or other since around the time it came out. Still haven't beaten it. Either restartitis grabs me, or I end up going back to the BG series. That said, there is a mod that exists which adds NPCs to recruit: As I haven't completed the game, I can't speak to the quality of the mod from a personal view, but the mod has existed for over a decade.


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