Easthaven | Kuldahar Valley
But that is not the End of our Tale. It is but the Beginning.
This video shows the introductory movie, the importation of my characters, and their arrival in Easthaven to start the game.
Winter's Cradle Tavern
First, I briefly speak with a Dwarven woman named Hildreth Highhammer for some information.
Now I do my first little quest. Grisella, the owner of the Winter's Cradle Tavern, wants me to get rid of some bugs that have infested her basement pantry. I go downstairs to oblige. The Beetles are purely for swing practice. When I'm done, Grisella rewards me with a little gold and some xp.
Here's a video of me going to Pomab's Emporium and getting some basic starting equipment.
Now it's time for another little quest. Old Jed wants some Wine so that he can 'fish proper'. I simply buy a bottle from Pomab's, and bring it back to him for an xp reward.
Now I find a fisherman at the north end of the lake named Jhonen. He is being bothered by dreams where a woman from the lake keeps singing to him. I offer to help him.
I travel west, and then south, along the shore of the lake. I then find the woman, Elisia, a Sea Spirit. She wants me to return a broken sword to Jhonen.
I then return the sword to Jhonen and explain things to him. I then bring news of the sword's delivery to Elisia, who rewards me with a pearl.
Besides getting an xp reward for this, doing this is important as it will lead to me obtaining a powerful sword for the Black Thorn (my Elven Fighter/Thief) much later in the game.
Here's another simple quest. Apsel wants me to kill the Wolf that's taken over his shop. My Fighter/Thief unlocks the door. The party then enters and slays the Wolf with physical attacks.
In addition to the xp reward, Apsel also gives me Apsel's Dagger (+1 THAC0). Not a big deal, so I'll just end up selling it.
Now I head to the east edge of the lake, and then south. At the bridge is a little boy named Damien, who had his fish stolen by Goblins.
In some ways, lower-level fights, even against puny Goblins, can be more dangerous because 1st level characters have so few hit points. So even here, care is needed.
I creep slowly forward until the first Goblins come into view. The Goblins do me a favor by splitting up their forces. The foot soldiers are going to take a while to reach me by going east, and then west and upwards. This leaves me free to go to work on the archers. Halagrim, Cassandra, Black Thorn, and Derrick all switch over to their missile weapons and open fire. They take out the Goblin Archers one by one. By the time the foot soldiers have arrived, it is too late. Their archery support has already been taken out. Lanatir the Mage stands ready to cast a Sleep spell in case it's needed.
A simple video of me speaking to Everard in the Temple of Tempus and getting some background information.
Hrothgar wants me to find out what happened to a caravan that has gone missing. Now I leave Easthaven through the southeast corner of the map. As soon as I arrive, I get attacked by 3 Wolves. This fight illustrates why Sleep is a much better spell selection for 1st-level Mages than Magic Missile. Magic Missile will only do pitiful damage to a single monster at 1st level. Sleep will put an entire group of low-level monsters to ground, making them easy pickings for your warriors.
Now the entrance to a cave beckons.
Now, in the off-hand chance that some of you may be unfamiliar with the first Icewind Dale game, there's a certain reality that needs to be discussed. Some chest items or some item drops from monsters are randomly set when you first enter a certain area. For example, assume that you have started exploring an area and have now quick-saved next to a certain chest. Reloading your quick-save until you get the item you want will not work because the chest's contents were set when you first entered the area. If you want to cherry pick a certain chest or a monster drop for a specific item that you want instead of the others, set up a backed up savegame prior to entering the area for the first time.
Note that I set up a separate savegame called 'Orc Cave'. Now I enter the Cave, and kill the first few Orcs that I see. I then quick-save. There is a chest in the north and center of this cave that is of interest to me. A lot of these chests can in fact be checked for their contents without going through all kinds of fights by simply having a hidden or invisible character sneaking up to the chest and seeing what's inside. In this case, I have the Black Thorn sneak up to the chest and check it out. If the Orcs get in the way, I simply have him retreat a little, and then walk around the Orcs to get to the chest itself.
Now, as for the chest itself, the following items are possible when you first enter the Cave:
Deciding which item I want is simply a process of elimination. Everybody will find better weapons than the Fire Dagger. Everybody will find better belts down the road. Most of the characters either won't be able to wear Rings of Protection with magical armor, or will find something better than a Ring of Protection +1. The Black Thorn will find a better pair of boots than the Quiet Boots. On the other hand, the number of rings that can be worn with magical armor is quite limited, so the choice becomes an easy one. In fact, the Ring of Lesser Resistance becomes one of Genevieve's rings for the rest of the game.
Now, the first time the Black Thorn checked out the chest, it had the Girdle of Beatification. I didn't get what I wanted, so I reloaded the 'Orc Cave' savegame, and then tried again. On about the 3rd try (I omitted the 2nd from the video), the Black Thorn found a ring in the chest and put it on. It didn't lower his armor class like the Ring of Protection +1 would, check. I checked his Record screen, and noticed that it reduced his saving throws vs. spells by 2, check. The chest is now set to hold the Ring of Lesser Resistance, so I reload my quick-save.
Now the party begins to explore the Cave, taking down Orcs along the way. Lanatir is ready to cast Sleep when needed, and in fact does so when I run into a large group in the central portion that includes quite a few archers and a shaman. The Black Thorn and Derrick shoot down any archers at a distance, while Genevieve, Halagrim, and Cassandra take down any foot soldiers that come forward.
Notice sometimes that I have the Black Thorn go into hiding prior to combat. This way, he can position himself behind a monster once combat starts and then backstab him.
At some point, I make my way to the north chest. Genevieve now has the Ring of Lesser Resistance as one of her rings for the rest of the game. The chest also includes a scroll of Protection from Petrification, which Lanatir learns.
Once I reach the southwest portion, I creep slowly forward until more Orcs come into view instead of rushing foward. The reason is that there's a large number of Orcs, as well as an Ogre who can be very dangerous for 1st level characters. Cassandra casts Entangle, and this holds up a couple of the Orc foot soldiers, and more importantly, the Ogre. One or two of the Orc soldiers make it through, but Genevieve takes them out with her sword. This group includes a large group of Archers that can still fire even when caught by Entangle, so Lanatir puts some of them to Sleep. Genevieve stands guard at the edge of the Entangle for any foot soldiers that happen to break out. Halagrim, Cassandra, the Black Thorn, and Derrick open fire on the Ogre as the first priority. They then kill off any Archers that had not been put to Sleep by Lanatir, and then finally those Archers that were put to Sleep to finish off the battle. At one point, Derrick did get hurt by an arrow, so Halagrim promptly used a Cure Wounds spell on him.
Now I bring the news of what happened to the Caravan to Hrothgar. He has another task for me, to bring a supply list to Pomab, which I do, and get xp for it.
*Note* One more thing, any time you sell an item to a merchant, you get maximum value for it the first time around. Anytime you sell the same item again to the same merchant, the merchant will only offer reduced value for it. For example, suppose you sell a Winter Wolf Pelt to a merchant for the first time. You'll get greater value for the Pelt the first time around. Any subsequent times you try to sell Winter Wolf Pelts to the same merchant, the merchant will only offer reduced value for them. As it turns out, the party is heading for Kuldahar very soon, and the merchants there are going to be the only ones I can deal with for a very long time. And I can't come back to Easthaven until the game is almost over once Hrothgar starts on is expedition. So ... whatever items you may have gotten up until now, now is the time to sell them to Pomab in order to maximize your sales returns.
Now I speak to Hrothgar again, and the expedition sets off, only to get ambushed by Frost Giants in the mountain pass. The party survives and rushes forward to Kuldahar Valley with no way back to Easthaven.