C h r i s L e e ' s
H e a r t o f F u r y a n d B e y o n d v 1.00
The officially latest (as well as latest, official) version of this
FAQ/Guide can be found at www.gamefaqs.com.
Table of Contents
A word on navigation: to jump to a specific section, simply use the
'FIND' command (CTRL-F) and type in the 5 letter key next to the
section (doing only the 3 numbers within the brackets will probably
send you to a random section of the guide).
1. Introduction & Contact Info (aka What the hell is this?) 
2. Basic Heart of Fury Mode Concepts 
a. AC 
b. Your base attack bonus 
c. DR 
d. Saving throws 
e. Luck 
f. Damage vs Crowd Control 
g. Swords vs Magic 
3. Building your Party 
a. Decoy 
b. Buffers 
c. Crowd Control 
d. Other Roles: Damage/Healing 
e. Alignments: Good vs Not Good? 
f. Good and Bad Feats 
g. Good and Bad Skills 
4. Key Racial Breakdown 
a. Human/Aasimar 
b. Drow 
c. Deep Gnome 
5. Class Breakdown 
a. Barbarian 
b. Bard 
c. Cleric 
d. Druid 
e. Fighter 
f. Monk 
g. Paladin 
h. Ranger 
i. Rogue 
j. Sorcerer [5a0]
k. Wizard [5b0]
6. Spells of Note 
a. Buffs/Support 
b. Crowd Control 
c. Damage 
7. Gearing Up 
a. Which weapon proficiency to take? 
b. Weapons of Note 
c. Armor of Note 
d. Accessories of Note 
8. Sample Party 
9. ...and more! 
a. HoF Tactics and Notes 
b. Challenges 
A. Appendix [Z00]
a. History [Z10]
b. Other works [Z20]
1. Introduction & Contact Info (aka What the hell is this?) 
Icewind Dale II, in my opinion, is one of *the* most well-designed
games ever made for the PC. It is also one of the most challenging,
especially when you finish the game and decide to check off the "Heart
of Fury mode" difficulty option to play again with your victorious
party. However, there's a lack of good guides out there for this
super hard difficulty mode, and the few that are out there have
knowledge gaps, errors, and in some cases it almost seems like the
writers themselves have never even played Heart of Fury (otherwise
they would've noticed that some things they suggest don't work at
Enter this guide! Hopefully you'll find this to be a veritable tome
of all sorts of information for playing through Heart of Fury mode.
Plus, I've even got extra stuff in case you want to challenge yourself
even further (think Final Fantasy Tactics-style self-challenges).
If you want to grab a hold of me, pop me an e-mail with the subject
line beginning "IWD22 FAQ: " and send it to:
WITHOUT the underscores. This is just to prevent auto-parsers from
nabbing my e-mail address for SPAM. So, the final e-mail should be
an 8-letter word followed by @uchicago.edu.
2. Basic Heart of Fury Mode Concepts 
So, you might *think* you understand how the game works, but just by
starting HOF mode, you'll notice that alot of ways IWD2 played in
normal mode just don't apply anymore!
2a. AC 
At the end of normal difficulty, you might have some characters
sitting comfortably at 30+ AC. They get hit on occasion, but nothing
they can't handle. Then you start fighting goblins in the Prologue on
HOF mode and notice that all of a sudden, these piddling creatures are
basically hitting you on every single strike and hitting you *hard*.
The monsters' base attack bonuses (BAB) drastically ramp up in HOF
mode. As rechet's Powergaming guide so wonderfully points out,
regular monsters' BAB bonuses (not counting specifically difficult
monsters) easily go up to +52 for the first attack, which means that
even with an astronomically high 50 AC, you'll still be hit 95% of the
time by that first attack. Not to mention that the normal scaling
down of BAB for successive attacks is only by 5, so on a second
attack, that's still a potential maximum of +47, which will still hit
you an oustanding 85% of the time with 50 AC. (Fortunately though,
the number of attacks a monster gets doesn't seem changed from normal
difficulty, so monsters won't have a ridiculous number of
Not to mention that those buggers *hurt* when they hit. Stoneskin
may have pretty much negated all damage on normal, but in HOF, melee
damage skyrockets (ranged damage doesn't really scale up that much on
HOF). Pathetic little critters will easily hit you up to 30 damage
without critting, and the really big guys can easily wallop you for
50-60 damage without needing a critical.
However, you *can* take advantage of one specific mechanic to get
your AC to safe levels. And that's to abuse "generic" AC, which is
the only type of AC bonus that stacks with itself (instead of simply
using the highest value). rechet's guide covers this, but a complete
listing of possible sources of generic AC is as follows:
Deep Gnome (+4)
Monk Wisdom Bonus (based on WIS)
Monk AC Bonus (+1 per 5 monk levels, up to +6)
Bard Song: War Chant of the Sith (+2)
Expertise (up to +5)
Deflect Arrows (+1 vs ranged)
(Mass) Haste (+4)
Tenser's Transformation (+4)
Barkskin (up to +5)
bracers: Brazen Bands (normal+collector's edition only, +3)
bracers: Indomitable Bands (HOF+collector's edition only, +5)
necklace: Flame Dance Talisman (normal only, +1)
necklace: Sunfire Talisman (HOF only, +3)
head: Swing from the Masts (normal only, +1, Rogue only)
head: Crow's Nest (HOF only, +3, Rogue only)
In addition, you can max out other sources, mainly Dexterity, Armor,
and Deflection (there's also Shield bonus, but using a Shield will
cancel out the best source of generic AC - the Monk Wisdom bonus).
For these, these are the good sources.
Race that has up to 20 starting DEX
feet: Chimandrae's Slippers (+5 DEX)
spell: Cat's Grace (+1d4+1)
spell: Tenser's Transformation (+2d4)
Bracers of Armor +4
spell: Mage Armor (+4)
spell: Spirit Armor (+6)
spell: Shield (+7)
Ring of Protection +3
Dagger of Warding (+3)
Baron Sulo's hook (+3, dagger)
Various spells (+4)
spell: Divine Shell (+7)
Note that no specific equippable Armor is mentioned. That's because
if you really want to max out AC, the highest possible Armor-based AC
(+11) is way too little considering it caps out your Dex-based AC too
restrictively, so you're better off with a high Monk wisdom bonus and
a high Dexterity bonus.
There are also a few specific items/events worth mentioning, because
these also help you attain high AC values through Wisdom.
Potion of Holy Transference (+2 WIS, -1 DEX)
Potion of Clear Purpose (+1 WIS, -2 CON)
Banite Quest (+2 WIS)*
Paladin Quest (+1 STR, +1 WIS)**
Every God Ring (+5 WIS, Paladin/Cleric/Druid only)
* You get this bonus if you are a Banite Cleric when you clear the
glen of Undead in Kuldahar.
** You get this bonus if you are a Paladin and obtain the Holy
As you can see, there are some pretty strict class requirements that
you must have to get the top AC. A reasonable selection of sources
for AC might be (and remember, we only really need to shoot for 72, as
since at that point monsters will always hit you on a roll of 20,
there's no difference between 73 and 100000 AC most of the time)...
1 Paladin/15 Monk/1 Rogue/13 Conjurer Drow
... with 19 base DEX => 17 base DEX (2 Holy Transference)
=> 22 final DEX (Chimandrae's Slippers)
... with 20 base WIS => 31 base WIS (extra stat point every 4
levels, 2 Holy Transference, 1 Clear Purpose)
=> 33 base WIS (2 Paladin Quest)
=> 38 final WIS (Every God Ring)
+14 (Monk Wisdom)
+3 (Monk AC)
+5 (Indomitable Bands)
+3 (Sunfire Talisman)
+3 (Crow's Nest)
+4 (Mage Armor, up to +7 with Shield if necessary)
+5 (Barkskin, a party member has to cast this)
+2 (Bard song, a party member has to sing this)
That 65 is a bit shy of the ideal 72, but this character has a few
options. Against high BAB monsters, s/he can cast Tenser's
Transformation or Shield. Shield bestows an additional +7 off the
bat, and a potential extra off the DEX bonus from Tenser's
Transformation could bumps him/her to 72. Moreover, thanks to the
Conjurer levels, s/he can cast Improved Invisibility (essentially
giving a flat out 50% chance for monsters to miss even if they do roll
a critical or something, though Blind-Fight Feat helps against this),
Blink (a flat 50% chance for attacks against the character to fail,
and Blind-Fight doesn't help against Blink), Blur (20% chance for
attacks to miss, though it's unclear whether it stacks with Blink or
Invisibility), and Mirror Image (essentially a buffer of 2d4 free
"hits" the character can take).
Moreover, other party members can cast spells like Symbol: Pain,
Recitation, Prayer, Chant, and Emotion: Despair; these spells all
penalize enemy attack rolls and essentially give your character
As you can see, there is a *bit* of flexibility: you can use Banite
cleric levels instead of Paladin, you can trade off Wizard/Monk levels
in favor of more Banite levels for Divine Shield, you can use a Deep
Gnome, you could even experiment with using a Druid. However, it's
pretty essentialy that your AC character have atleast 1 Monk level
(for the Wisdom bonus), have some divine levels, and at least 1 rogue
level. You can *try* and pass off without Wizard levels and rely on
other party members to cast things like Mage Armor, Haste, and
Improved Invisibility, but Mirror Image, Blink, Tenser's
Transformation, and Shield are all self-cast only, so you should have
a safely high AC (70+ without worrying about helper spells like
Recitation or Emotion: Despair) and some good healing capabilities if
you go that route.
However, this does make clear that for AC to be effective at all in
HOF, you pretty much need to focus all your efforts into a single
character. If you try to have 2 characters with decent AC, you'll
probably end up with 2 characters with AC in the high 40's - they
might as well have 0 AC given how often they'll end up getting hit.
All is not lost, though, for your non-AC characters. There are
other mechanisms to keep them safe, which we'll talk about later,
though Mirror Image (already mentioned here) is a pretty universally
2b. Your base attack bonus 
Fortunately, monster's AC's don't really go up that much on HOF.
Yes, you'll occasionally run into monsters that are annoyingly hard to
hit, but for the most part, even your pathetic Mages will probably be
able to hit atleast twice a round at level 30.
The basic consequence of this is that in many cases, you can start
getting Power Attack for everyone who can use it and maxing out the
value for +5 damage. Of course, you might not want too many people
melee-ing, as it's hard to protect that many characters. This also
means that you should be less worried about keeping Rapid Shot on at
It also means that, for the most part, you should start preferring
items that do more damage over items that can hit better. A good
example of this is Scales of Justice, a special HOF mode Axe that lets
you switch into different "modes" - in one mode you can have +5
accuracy and +5 damage, in another you can have +10 damage. In most
cases, keeping the +10 damage mode active is probably the best idea,
as you're already probably going to be hitting every single one of
2c. DR 
Damage reduction is important. It was almost abusively good in
normal mode (the spells Iron Skins and Stoneskin pretty much granted
you temporary immunity to attacks). In HOF, DR gets way worse, since
monsters are busy hitting for ridiculous sums of damage. But even if
monsters are doing upwards of 60 damage per hit, that 10/+5 DR may not
be as good, but it's still a huge chunk of life you're saving every
time you're hit.
Here's a (probably) complete list of sources for DR. Note that DR
has some funky rules about stacking. DR listed in the form of "5/+1"
doesn't stack with other similar types of DR. DR in the form of
"Slashing resistance" or "Piercing resistence" *does* stack, and also
stacks with "5/+1"-style DR.
Barbarian (1 Slashing/Piercing/Bludgeoning/Missile at 11,
+additional 1 every 3 levels)
Monk (20/+1 at level 20)
Bard Song: War Chant of the Sith (2/-)
bracers: Indomitable Bands (HOF+collector's edition only, 10/+2)
bracers: Bands of Focus (normal only, 5/+1)
bracers: Bands of the Master (HOF only, 15/+3)
cloak: Mystra's Cloak (normal only, 5/+1, Wizard only)
cloak: Mystra's Embrace (HOF only, 10/+2, Wizard only)
armor: Abishai Hide (normal only, 5/+1)
armor: Cornugan Hide (HOF only, 10/+2)
armor: Phaen's Tattered Robes (HOF only, 1 Piercing/Bludgeoning)
armor: (Imbued) Robe of Absorption (1
shield: Mooncalf's Shield (HOF only, permanent Protection from
Arrows, in other words essentially 10/+5 against arrows)
arcane: Stoneskin (10/+5)
arcane: Iron Body (infinity/+3)*
arcane: Protection from Arrows (up to 10/+5, only ranged)**
arcane: Aegis (casts Stoneskin)
cleric: Shield of Lathander (3/-, only 2 turns)
cleric: Greater Shield of Lathander (30/-, only 3 turns)
cleric/ranger: Iron Skins (10 Piercing/Bludgeoning/Slashing,
doesn't stack with Stoneskin)
divine: Armor of Faith (1/-)
* Ostensibly it's suppossed to be 50/+3, but if you look at your
character record after you cast this spell, you have an
arbitrarily large number/+3 listed as your damage resistance.
** Unlike melee, ranged damage in HOF doesn't really scale upwards,
so 10/+5 actually can completely negate ranged damage fairly
It's important to note that while you'll frequently meet monsters
that can beat +1 DR (as that means they only need a magical weapon to
damage you fully), you start getting far less that can beat +2 and +3
DR (and remember that DR of x/- is unbreakable).
Looking at the list, it's pretty much the status quo that the best
you'll be able to do is 15/+3 for one character and 10/+2 for several
others, plus or minus a few extra from a Bard song or from other
miscellaneous resistances. There are theoretically some randomly
generatable potions that can grant permanent
Slashing/Bludgeoning/Piercing resistance, but because these are
randomly generated, you can easily go the entire game several times
over without finding one.
By far, however, the best source of DR is Iron Body. As a spell, it
lasts a super long time, *actually* grants you complete imperviousness
to any attack that doesn't come from a +3 or better source, and
doesn't disappear after a set amount of attacks or damage has been
absorbed (like Iron Skins or Stoneskin).
2d. Saving Throws 
Monsters get really good at saving throws all of a sudden on HOF.
The immediate effect is that your Fireballs and Lightning Bolts start
doing way less damage on a consistent basis - this even means that
they'll be completely useless against Monk/Rogue type characters that
have Evasion/Improved Evasion. The secondary effect is that this
essentially means that most spells that don't have an accompanying
Spell Focus feat associated with them start sucking. Hard. Without a
corresponding Spell Focus, you pretty much need to be casting level 7
and higher spells to have any chance of them sticking, and even then
it's a pretty low success rate.
A good example of this are the low-level Conjuration snares - Web
and Stinking Cloud. On normal, these were a great way to incapacitate
a whole swarm of incoming enemies while you gleefuly fireball them to
oblivion. On HOF, even in really early parts of the game, you'll find
yourself casting 4-6 layers of these spells and still see enemies
waltz through easily without getting snared once. By contrast,
Entangle, the level 1 spell druidic snare, stays relatively effective
the entire game, simply because you can do Greater Spell Focus:
Transmutation and effectively make it a level 5 spell compared to a
level 3 spell like Stinking Cloud. That 2 spell level difference may
not seem like much, but in some cases, it could mean the difference
between an enemy failing *only* on a natural 1 (5% chance) or failing
on rolls of 3 or lower (15% chance, or three times as often). If you
do the math, 2 Entangles in this situation mean that the enemy has a 1
in 4 chance per round of being snared by atleast 1 of the 2 instances
of the spell. To achieve the same effect with Stinking Clouds, you'd
need 6 copies of Stinking Cloud going at once. The difference grows
even starker with Entangle versus Web in a hypothetical situation where
the enemy can roll a 4 or less with Entangle and still fail. With
just *one* Entangle, you have a 20% chance of ensaring the enemy; with
Web, you need 5 copies of the spell going at once just to match those
Even with the help of Spell Focus feats, enemies still have insanely
high saving throws. This is where a suite of helper spells kick in.
Malison gives a flat out -4 penalty to enemy saves and is the
bread-and-butter of any HOF spellcasting strategy (short of
degeneratively casting nothing but summons). The cleric spells
Recitation, Prayer, and Chant give a -2, -1, and -1 (respectively)
penalty to enemy saves. The advantage of Malison, Recitation, Prayer,
and Chant is that these spells don't let the enemy save against their
effects (though you may see them resisted via Spell Resistance on a
rare occasion). There's also Emotion: Despair (-2 to saves), but that
allows a saving throw and also may affect allies, so this is something
to cast *after* the other spells.
On the plus side, enemy spell DC's don't seem that much affected by
the difficulty upgrade, especially compared to how much better your
gear gets, so you'll be able to find yourself shrugging off way more
spells/damage than before.
On a side note, items that have effects that allow saving throws
generally get dramatically worse in HOF. This also includes alot of
spells that create item-like effects (like Lich Touch). That's
because, for the most part, monsters need only a 14 to save against
these effects, which generally means that, except against the most
vulnerable monsters (like trying a Fortitude save against skeletons),
items only have a 5% chance of actually triggering their effects (when
the enemies roll a natural 1). Moreover, Spell Focus feats don't help
(so Lich Touch and Mordenkainen's Magic Missiles remain unaffected by
Greater Spell Focus: Necromancy and Evocation, respectively).
However, there are a few very rare exceptions to this general rule.
Ysha's Sting is the most pronounced - I've seen monsters fail their
Fortitude saving throw against the poison effect even when rolling a
total of 30!
2e. Luck 
Luck is a mysterious thing. Most of the time, you won't know about
it nor even really care about its effects. It's also fairly rare.
There are exactly four sources for luck in IWD2: the Luck spell
(which the Luck potion also uses), the Bard Song Tymora's Melody (+1
to all), Young Ned's Knucky (+2, HOF only), and Tymora's Loop (+3,
What does luck do? It actually alters every die roll a character
makes instead of simply providing a bonus. In other words, for +1
luck, a 7 becomes an 8, a 3 becomes a 4, etc. This might not seem
very spectacular, but with a measly +1 luck, a character is guaranteed
to never ever critically fail an attack, saving throw, or skill,
increases their chance to roll a natural 20 (and thus criticall hit),
*and* also increases randomized spell effects, like random durations
and damage (and luck is the only thing that can affect spells like
Even given this, however, it's rarely ever worth stocking up on luck
potions and Luck spells - the duration on these is a short 10 rounds -
hardly enough to make that much of a difference, and even then only
really on high-die-count damage spells (like a 20d6 chain lightning).
However, once you get access to one of the three other sources of
luck, luck quickly becomes degeneratively good.
One: your melee characters will start having insane damage output.
Imagine this - a guy with a keen axe, with Improved Critical, with
Young Ned's Knucky, Tymora's Melody, and a Luck spell. This means that
this guy effectively critically hits on a "roll" of atleast 15! Factor
in Executioner Eyes, and this guy is pretty much critically hitting on
every other strike. The sheer damage output becomes *insane* at that
Two: your spellcasters can also start having insane damage output.
Imagine the same gear and situation on a characer that just cast
Horrid Wilting. The combination of Young Ned's Knucky, Tymora's
Song, and Luck means that each d8 in that spell actually rolls out of
5, 6, 7, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, or an average of 7.25! That means that out of
25d8, instead of doing an average of 112.5 damage on a failed save,
that character is now dealing a whopping 181.25! The effect is more
pronounced on spells using smaller die. For a level 25 character
(used simply to compare to Horrid Wilting, which caps out at 25 die),
Skull Trap would normally do 25d6 or 87.5 damage on a failed save.
Skull Trap with the net +4 luck will actually do 145.83!
Three: anyone relying on Mirror Image from protection vastly
benefits from luck. With just Tymora's Melody and Ned's Luck Knuckle,
each casting of Mirror Image guarantees you a full complement of 8
protective duplicates. This is a huge improvement over the chance of
getting a measly 2.
Four: everyone with a luck bonus gets the other benefits - namely
better saving throws, better chance at breaking enemy spell
resistance, better chance that special item effects will trigger
(though my understanding is that these items all use d%, so it's not
*that* much of an improvement).
Just be warned: Tymora's Loop, in particular, is a fairly rare
random drop (like most completely random drops). I've played through
IWD2 many times, and the number of times I've found it I can count on
one hand. It is, however, probably the best single item in the game.
If you're lucky enough to get two (one in normal, one in HOF), praise
your lucky stars. Just imagine - two Tymora's Loop, Ned's Lucky
Knuckle, Tymora's Melody, and Luck is a total of +10 luck. How insane
would that be???
2f. Damage vs Crowd Control 
Insane damage possibilities aside, one thing you immediately notice
about HOF is that the monsters have more health. *Alot* more health.
Suddenly, measly orcs are surviving through 3 (!!) castings of Meteor
Swarm, not to mention how something like Otiluke's Freezing Sphere can
barely take a Rhemoraz from Uninjured to Barely Injured, not to
mention how easily it'd be able to save against it.
In short, when it comes to spells, once you hit HOF, pure damage
spells start becoming much, much less effective and crowd control
spells become much, much more effective. While you may need to empty
out several spell levels worth of damage to clear out a modest pack of
monsters, a single good cast of Symbol: Hopelessness, Mass Dominate,
or Wail of the Banshee will more than do the job for you.
Crowd control also means you greatly increase your party's
survivability. Especially given the AC pointers in section 2a, most
of your party is going to be really susceptible to enemies, so even
Mirror Images will disappear quite rapidly under a barrage of
never-miss arrows and swarming melee attackers - this is particularly
devastating if those hits also, say, drain levels. However, if all
the enemies are confused or fleeing in horror, for example, then maybe
only one or two enemies will pose a threat at any given time, so not
only will you be able to better protect your fragile characters,
you'll also be able to better focus monster hate on the one or two
characters designed to take it.
2g. Swords vs Magic 
As a corrollary to the above, as magic-based damage gets worse,
weapon-based damage gets much better. First, your base attack bonus
(see section 2b) becomes well sufficient for hitting monsters.
Second, you start maxing out the number of attacks you can make in a
round. Third, you start getting way better gear, higher stats, and
are better able to push Power Attack to higher levels without
affecting your accuracy. As such, while a spellcaster may be limited
in how much burst damage they can output before they become an
underpowered fighter, a single melee character with, say, dual Holy
Avengers or a Massive Greataxe of Flame +5 can easily output upwards
of 200 damage per round without having to worry about running out of
As a case study - as of this writing, my current HOF party contains
a brute damage melee character currently equipped with Ned's Lucky
Knuckle, normal difficulty Cera Sumat (haven't gotten to the Paladin
quest on HOF yet), Scales of Justice set to Power mode, Power Attack
+5, Weapon Specialization: Long Sword, and 26 Strength (thanks to the
+6 STR belt). By herself, she has contributed roughly 70% of all
kills and all experience earned by the party - this even though I have
other spellcasters who can cast Wail of the Banshee! Basically, once
she starts attacking an enemy, that enemy will be dead in a few
rounds - it's not uncommon for me to see her critical several times in
a row for upwards of 60 total damage per hit. So while I can get
other spellcasters to burst out area of effect spells that hit for
roughly 100 damage per monster, this one melee character provides the
sustained reckless damage that keeps the party moving from one fight
to the next without needing to rest.
3. Building your Party 
Time now to take the basic Heart of Fury mode concepts and put them
3a. Decoy 
One of the most important character concepts that pretty much any
HOF party will need is a Decoy. That is, a character that can take
all sorts of brutish punishment while other characters focus on
slaying the enemy. There are several ways you can set up a Decoy:
AC, Illusion magic, or Otiluke's Resilient Sphere.
AC: Refer back to section 2a. This is probably the stablest way of
setting up a Decoy - by having the character be naturally extremely
hard to hit. With this kind of set up, you won't really even have to
worry about fighting a tough monsters like the Guardian, as a
character with a sufficient AC will be incredibly hard to touch.
Illusion magic: Blink, Blur, and Improved Invisibility all give a
character a flat out chance to avoid being hit, though Blind-Fight
helps against Improved Invisibility. Mirror Image and Minor Mirror
Image give the character a flat out way to avoid getting hit. With
this route, however, you need to heavily prioritize Non-detection,
whether the cloak or some other item/spell, as otherwise a single
dinky Goblin Shaman can ruin your entire suite of protections with a
single See Invibility.
Otiluke's Resilient Sphere: I would consider this a bit
"degenerative", "abusive", and "lame". You can cast ORS on your own
party members (though you probably want to do this on characters with
really low Reflex saves), and monsters attacking an ORS-protected
party member won't notice that none of their attacks are doing
anything, so they'll keep on uselessly attacking.
In all but the ORS case, you also want a really high Spell
Resistance. This is because no matter how good your AC or how
insulated your protections, all you need is for your decoy to get hit
by a single Charm Person or Finger of Death for your entire party to
start falling apart. Sure, you could probably lose an ancilliary
character and resurrect them mid-fight, but once your decoy is gone,
you probably need to hit the quick-load.
Fortunately, there are 4 really good, reliable sources for SR.
First, be a Drow. Second, be a Deep Gnome. Third, be a (level 13)
Monk. Four, dual-wield Holy Avengers. In the first three cases, you
have a naturally growing SR of 10 (or 11, depending on the case) + the
character's level, which is roughly a flat out 50 to 55% chance of
resisting spells cast by monsters your same level. In the fourth
case, the normal Holy Avenger gives you +15 SR, and the HOF Holy
Avenger gives you +25 SR for a total of 40 SR (also a 50% chance of
resisting spells). On top of this, you can cast something like Holy
Aura, which gives you a stackable +25 SR for complete immunity.
3b. Buffers 
Buff and debuff spells become an important staple for a HOF party.
Here's a quick selection of really important party-based buff spells
that you may want in a party...
paladin: Aura of Courage (level 2)
bard: All Bard Songs
Divine (there is some overlap with some Arcane):
Magic Circle Against Evil
Negative Energy Protection
Strength of One
Of these, probably the most important are Barkskin (for the +5
generic AC to put on your Decoy), War Chant of the Sith (for the +2
generic AC and the small boosts for healing), and Recitation/Prayer
(not only for the massive +bonuses to your rolls, but the
unpreventable penalties to any enemies in sight). Haste actually gets
much worse in HOF, as characters that already have 5 attacks (or 4
attacks with 1 off-hand attack) won't get an extra attack from the
3c. Crowd Control 
You almost assuredly want atleast one character devoted to crowd
control, and the more the merrier, as that means more redundancy and
more effects going off at the same time. While a good chunk of
enemies might resist that first Emotion: Fear, very few will probably
resist two simultaneous ones.
We'll cover this in more detail in the class breakdown, but Bards,
Druids, Clerics, and Wizards/Sorcerors are very well put to use trying
to exercise crowd control instead of brute damage.
3d. Other Roles: Damage/Healing 
Surprisingly, these roles are much less important than you may
think, given really good representation in the other roles. With a
good decoy and crowd control, you'll never need more than a couple of
Heal spells, and maybe a Circle of Healing/Mass Heal or two.
Similarly, with really good crowd control, it pretty much doesn't
matter how much damage you can output, you've already won the fight.
If all your enemies are wandering aimlessly confused or they're all
frozen from Symbol: Hopelessness, then it doesn't really matter that
you've got two characters with 8 strength trying to hack them down -
they're going to go down no matter what.
Of course, it's important to strike a balance. If your damage
output is way too low, then you run the risk of running into a
situation where you may be running low on spells and the monsters have
just gotten pretty lucky saving against them, whereas if your damage
output were a bit higher, they would've all been dead by now.
Similarly, if your healing capabilities are too low, then you may be
stuck in an ugly situation where a monster just got a lucky hit on
your decoy while he was trying to cast Mirror Image. Suddenly, your
decoy's spell is disrupted, he just lost 60-70 health, the game has
just auto-paused because the decoy is about to die, and you're out of
3e. Alightnments: Good vs Not Good? 
Alignment is probably one of the most important party-wide choices
you can make. It's generally not a good idea to mix and match, as
otherwise you start picking up more of the costs of being one or the
other with less of the benefits.
Being all good: First, this lets you get access to the Holy Avenger
(as you must be a Lawful Good Paladin to use it). Second, I've got
two words for you - Holy Word. It's a high-level cleric spell (level
7) that has a near-instantaneous casting time and instantly stuns all
non-good characters within range for 1 round, without save or SR
checks. It's very hard to explain to you just how good of an effect
that is unless you see it yourself. You can suddenly and immediately
counter any spells being cast, you can stop the enemy long enough to
cast buffs and crowd control spells without fear, and if there's only
a few enemies around, then suddenly you can focus fire all your
attacks on one enemy at a time (as attacks against a stunned creature
always hit). Holy Word also gets much better the more clerics you
have that can shout it out. With just 2 clerics, you can chain
together a series of Holy Words so that while one casts it, the other
casts a buff spell of some kind. Then the other casts it, while the
first casts a different buff spell, etc. All the while, your other
party members are busy laying waste to the perpetually stunned
enemies. Needless to say, this also makes for effective anti-mage
strategies, as you can stun down an enemy mage before he or she has
the chance to start casting big protection or other such spells, and
quickly run in with a few melee attackers and dispatch the mage before
he or she can recover.
Being all evil: There are alot of good items that can only be used
by non-good characters (such as Bile of the Damned, a necklace that
gives +4 Strength and Wisdom). This also means that you're completely
immune to Blasphemy, the anti-Good version of Holy Word that Madae and
some other big enemies love casting - this is probably the best part
of being evil, as on HOF, a single, well-timed Blasphemy against you
is enough to spell immediate and certain doom. You can also use
Blasphemy yourself - even though you'll hit alot fewer targets with it
than Holy Word, there are still a good number of neutral (and even a
few good) enemies that you'll be able to stun away, though with much
less freqency and consistency than Holy Word.
Note that there are a few enemies that appear to be susceptible to
Holy Word/Blasphemy, but actually aren't. These mainly tend to be
Trolls, as they'll show as being affected by it, but they'll still
move around and attack.
3f. Good and Bad Feats 
I'll only be touching on feats that I think deserve special notice.
Armored Arcana: There are some really good shields and armor in HOF
mode, and you might want to seriously consider picking up some feat
points here so you can use them without spell failure. Mooncalf's
Shield is a good example, as it has 15% spell failure (exactly the
amount that 3 levels of Armored Arcana can cancel out) but has a
permanent Protection from Arrows, which essentially means near
immunity to ranged attacks. Similarly, Milton Sixtoes' Armor of
Absolute Self has a 15% spell failure but bestows permanent Mind
Blank. Or even Cornugan Hide, which has a 20% spell failure rate (so
you'll still have a low 5%, though luck items will help cancel that
out), which bestows regenerative abilities and 10/+2 DR. Just be sure
to pick up the proper armor/shield proficiency if necessary.
Cleave: It's much worse on HOF than on normal. I'm not entirely
sure how this interacts with the flat 5 attack maximum imposed by the
Infinity Engine, but at the very least, this means that if you kill an
enemy with the first attack, that same high attack bonus will get
applied to your next attack against the next enemy. However, it's
never ever worth getting another level of Cleave.
Combat Casting: Monsters start hitting harder and harder and
harder, so this +4 bonus to your concentration checks becomes more and
more useful, because the worst that can happen is getting a crucial
spell like Heal or Mirror Image interrupted.
Dash: I think this feat is underrated. It helps you navigate
faster, but more importantly, it means characters can outrun enemies
or reach other party members (like to cast a touch spell like Heal)
much faster, which is a hard-to-quantify benefit.
Discipline: A bonus to will saves *and* a bonus to concentration?
Extra Smiting: Since monsters have way more health in HOF, the
extra damage you get out of smite evil gets far, far worse.
Extra Turning: Undead start having enormous amounts of hit die in
HOF, so being able to turn undead gets worse and worse and worse.
Improved Critical: Every character should get this when they can,
no questions about it.
Improved Initiative: It's bugged, so it actually doesn't do
anything. Stay away!
Lingering Song: This feat is what makes the bard one of the best
classes in the game. It's also potentially abusive - there's a bug
that can let you arbitrarily stack any number of bard songs using
this. Simply turn on a bard song, then click some other action (like
a spell or a weapon) to disable it. Lingering Song will kick in.
Then, click on the bard song again, and repeat. A second Lingering
Song will kick in. You can do this an arbitrary number of times (it
helps if the game is paused) and, say, stack Tymora's Melody 20 times
or use War Chant of the Sith to give all your characters 100+ AC
(though these effects only last for 2 turns unless you keep on doing
the Lingering Song trick over and over). If you enjoy a challenge, I
would recommend against abusing this.
Mercantile Background: Stay away! While on normal you may have had
trouble keeping enough money to keep your characters fully stocked, in
HOF, you'll be *swimming* in riches. After doing the yuan-ti temple,
for example, you'll be coming back with lots of +5 and +4 weapons that
you'll be able to sell for a total of upwards of 1.7 million gold.
Power Attack: If a character is going to be melee-ing, this is
undoubtedly one of the best feats to pick up, as it's a flat +5 damage
in the end game.
Rapid Shot: See section 2b if you need convincing about this.
Spell Focus: Pretty much every spell caster should be getting the
Spell Focuses best suited for them. Enchantment/Transmutation for
crowd controllers, Necromancy/Evocation for damage dealers.
Spell Penetration: This may actually be pretty bad depending on
your play style. If you enjoy casting area of effect spells at
enemies while your decoy keeps them busy, then you don't want this, as
this just means you increase the chance of accidentally clobbering
your own party member. If, on the other hand, you're more discreet
about spell casting or primarily use spells that don't affect party
members (like Chaos), then Spell Penetration is a must have to help
affect tough, high SR enemies.
Subvocal Casting: Pretty much every caster should use this, though
this feat won't help prevent bard songs from being silenced. Also, if
you plan on having a caster who can use axes, then you won't need this
feat for them, as a very good axe on normal and a super good axe on
HOF bestow permanent immunity to silence.
Weapon Specialization: The only real reason why you want 4 levels
of fighter. +2 damage may not sound like much, but that may mean a
significant % increase in net damage per round, especially for ranged
weapons that don't allow for Strength or Power Attack bonuses to
3g. Good and Bad Skills 
I'll only be touching on skills that I think deserve special notice.
Animal Empathy: I think this is fairly underrated, as its
essentially a re-usable, hard to resist charm animal. Unfortunately,
animals start getting rarer as the game progresses, but you can also
use this to charm enemy-summoned animals.
Alchemy: You really don't need this to be more than 20 or so with a
Knowledge (Arcana): See Alchemy. Also, keeping stock of Identify
spells helps here alot.
Open Locks: Most of the locks in the game can be broken open with a
strength of 18 and a few tries, and you can use a Knock spell for the
others, so this isn't a terribly vital skill.
Pick Pocket: Have one, high DEX character max this out as fast as
possible. Hold on to Potions of Master Thievery. Why? Because Young
Ned's Knucky (see section 2e for a discussion on its virtues) can only
be obtained by pick pocketing the assistant at the south end of
Dierdre's store in Targos. Moreover, you need a *really* high pick
pocket to pull it off, and contrary to what other guides suggest, you
can't do something like cast Gate and let the demon kill him without
the whole town getting pissed at you (and thus ending your adventure).
As an example, I learned on my first run through of HOF that a net
skill of Pick Pocket 30 (22 base, +8 from Potion of Master Thievery)
is still not enough to pick pocket the knucky. Don't worry though,
the item is well worth the investment in skills.
Spellcraft: I think this is underrated, but you shouldn't really
need more than 20 here. I personally think that getting information
on what spells your enemies are casting is really helpful, especially
when you see something like Gate being cast, so you can run in and let
off a Holy Word before they finish.
4. Key Racial Breakdown 
There are a few races that bear special mention for character
4a. Human/Aasimar 
In my opinion, the human and aasimar human subtype are the best
overall races for your characters to use.
Human: extra feat and 2 skill points at 1st level, an extra skill
point per level, and any class is favorable for multi-classing. That
extra feat helps quite a bit with spellcasters who are particularly
feat-hungry (for all the elemental damage feats and spell focus feats,
for example), and those extra skill points essentially means that even
with a 3 intelligence, you have enough skill points to almost max out,
say, both Concentration and Spellcraft.
The biggest pay off, however, is the multi-class bonus.
Multiclassing in IWD2 (and especially HOF) is really powerful, and
letting your favored class be whatever is your highest leveled class
is *extremely* helpful and powerful. For example, if you want a
multiclass Druid/Cleric, you may want to get the Druid levels first so
you can get a maxed out Barkskin as quickly as possible. But no race
offers Druid as a favored class! Enter the human, which means you can
get to level 12 Druid and start working on the Cleric levels without
worrying about an experience penalty.
Aasimar: The Aasimar is the ultimate sorcerer class. Thanks to the
Aasimar, whatever sorcerers you have will have harder to resist spells
(and more of them) as you'll be able to get a nice 20 charisma for an
extra +1 to your spell DC's and an extra spell here and there. Plus,
it's always nice to have a free fire spell on hand for dousing fallen
4b. Drow 
Drow are immensely powerful. Sure, the effective character level
penalty is pretty steep, but with proper level squatting you'll be
maxing out your experience at level 30 pretty early through HOF
anyway. So why are Drow so good?
Bonus to intelligence. The only race that allows for a 20
Intelligence, which not only means lots of skills, but really powerful
Bonus to charisma. Similar to the aasimar.
Bonus to will saves. Makes the Drow really hard to affect with some
of the tougher, more annoying effects (like Hold Person).
Free proficiency with Long Swords. Depending on the character
you're creating, this is almost like getting a free feat.
Innate SR. See section 3a on why this is so great.
The downside of light blindness isn't *that* bad, as a huge chunk of
the game takes place indoors or underground, where light blindness
doesn't affect you. The penalty to constitution may sound steep, but
given the other stat bonuses being Drow gets you, you still have a net
gain of 4 stat points (though you won't be able to create a Drow with
18 Constitution, which is a minor downside).
However, Drow are extremely limited in multiclassing options, so
you'll need careful planning (and good attention to gender!) to avoid
4c. Deep Gnome 
A race tailor-made for being a decoy. They get an amazing +4
generic AC bonus, the ability to cast Mirror Image, Invisibility, and
Blur for free once/day, +2 bonus to all saves, innate non-detection,
and innate spell resistance. Wow!
Of course, the major downside is that they have a net penalty to
stat points (+2 to DEX/WIS, -2 STR, -4 CHA for a net of -2), but
fortunately the bonuses they do get matter the most for a high AC (DEX
and WIS). The second major downside is that they have the steepest
effective character level penalty in the game, so you'll need really
good planning with your level squatting and level ups so that you
don't end up really dying for that last level on HOF mode. Finally,
Deep Gnomes are limited to favoring Illusionists as their favored
class, which fortunately isn't *that* bad as Illusionists make for a
good decoy mage-type, but still requires good planning to avoid steep
5. Class Breakdown 
This is where I take apart each class and discuss their potential
for HOF mode.
5a. Barbarian 
Overall rating: 1/5
Unfortunately, the benefits a barbarian has (a higher hit die,
damage resistanced starting at level 11) get canceled out really
quickly by the enormous increase in damage that monsters do in HOF
mode. Moreover, the short duration of Rage becomes a major pain in
the butt, as you may end up going through an entire day's worth of
Rage for just one fight.
Moreover, a barbarian is really bad for multiclassing, as the real
pay offs of the class (namely damage resistance and fatigue-less
raging) only occur at the really high levels.
5b. Bard 
Overall rating: 5/5
I would have to argue that the bard is probably the best overall
class in the game, and gets even better in multiples.
First, the bard songs are simply amazing. I've already mentioned
the insane benefits of both Tymora's Melody and War Chant of the
Sith. But the bard's other songs are also pretty good, too. Tale of
Curran Strongheart bestows immunity to fear (a problem throughout all
of IWD2) and the Siren's Yearning is a repeatable crowd control
effect. Tack on Lingering Song, and you can mix and match really
effectively. Turn on Siren's Yearning, for example, then immediately
switch over to Tymora's Melody, and now you get 2 free rounds of
potential crowd control while you suddenly engage all your party
members with extra luck and saving throw bonuses.
Second, the bard actually makes for a formidable fighter. While the
BAB progression of a bard is slower than a fighter, in HOF mode, the
difference between a maxed out fighter (+30 BAB) and a maxed out bard
(+22 BAB) is that the fighter will hit all the time and the bard will
hit all the time but maybe every once and a while miss the last attack
(both get 5 attacks). Plus, unlike a pure fighter, a Bard has
immediate access to spells like Mirror Image and Improved
Invisibility, thus vastly increasing his survivability over a normal
Third, the bard has respectible spell casting abilities. In
addition to the aforementioned important illusions, the bard also gets
helpful spells like Dominate Person, Mass Haste, Shades, Great Shout,
and even Mass Dominate, Power Word: Blind, and Wail of the Banshee!
Unfortunately, because many of these spells are actually lower
spell-leveled compared to a Wizard, enemies will have an easier time
resisting some of them, but this is partially offset by the fact that
charisma-boosting is easier than intelligence-boosting (at the very
least you can just cast Eagle's Splendor on yourself).
Fourth, the bard is great in multiples. Bard songs stack, so you
could have one bard singing Tymora's Melody and another one War Chant
of the Sith. Or both singing Tymora's Melody, or both singing Siren's
Yearning. (It almost seems like having 6 of any given song going at
once, while possible, seems abusive.)
Fifth, there are alot of bard-specific items. These mainly come in
the form of instruments which you can use like wands, except that they
never run out (although they are limited to being used once/day). Two
really good instruments, for example, are the Raging Winds horn (which
instantly summons 3-6 powerful barbarian warriors) and Sephica's
Prayer (which can cast Heal or Resurrection once/day, though you need
atleast 13 Wisdom to use it). There's also 2 special instruments that
you equip as a shield, the Lyre of Progression (normal only, +3 STR)
and the Lyre of Inner Focus (HOF only, +3 STR, +2 CON).
Finally, the bard multiclasses *extremely* well. You can just get 5
levels of bard, enough to pick up Tymora's Melody and some castings of
Mirror Image. You can get 11 levels of bard, enough to pick up War
Chant of the Sith and castings of Mirror Image/Improved Invisibility.
Or you can even go all the way and get 30 levels of Bard to pick up
castings of Mass Dominate/Wail of the Banshee/Power Word: Blind. The
only downside is that no class other than humans and half-elves can
treat the bard as a favored class, so you'll need some careful
planning with multiclassing.
5c. Cleric 
Overall rating: x/5, where x is 4 minus the number of clerics you
already have in your party. (So 4/5 for the first cleric, but a 3/5
for the second, etc.)
Increase the rating by 1 if your cleric is a Banite, decrease it by
1 if your cleric follows Tempus.
Clerics are fairly decent workhorses. They make good fighters since
they have a decent BAB and lots of self-buffing combat spells (notable
ones include Draw Upon Holy Might, Holy Power, Champion's Strength,
and Iron Skins). They have decent crowd control capabilities, with
access to Tremor, Symbol: Hopelessness, Greater Command, and Holy
Word. They can buff particularly well (how many times do I have to
mention Recitation/Prayer?). They have good summoning abilities with
Animate Dead and Gate. Plus, they can heal, which is their best
The only problem is that having lots of clerics starts really
hurting your party, as clerics are primarily defensive and reactive in
in nature. While it's good to chain cast Holy Word and Tremors left
and right, the lack of really good, game-changing crowd control spells
makes them worse than Wizard/Sorcerers and even Bards for those
purposes. Moreover, the lack of any real hard-hitting level 9 spells
really hurts their development past level 18 or so, which in turn
hurts other spells as you may not want to spend extra levels trying to
increase the duration of, say, Recitation.
I give the rating adjustment for being a Banite since one of the
Banite abilities (+1 DC on their spells that require a will save) is
ridiculously good, especially considering that divine casters in
general get high DCs thanks to the Every God Ring, plus you are
eligible for an additional permanent +2 WIS with each play through
thanks to the Banite Quest in Kuldahar.
I give the rating penalty to Tempus clerics since their domain
spells aren't particularly great (half of the higher level ones are
useless thanks to the really high health of HOF monsters), the free
Axe proficiency, while decent, can be made up for by multiclassing, so
you're generally better off with some other deity.
5d. Druid 
Overall Rating: 3/5
I think the druid gets an unfairly bad rap. On normal, I'd put the
druid as the best class in the game, but on HOF, alot of the really
awesome druidic abilities starts getting worse and worse. First of
all, the really focused, high damage Call Lightning and Static Charge
spells start getting pretty bad since enemies start saving against
them pretty regularly. Second of all, shape shifting becomes worse
because your natural attacks start getting way, way, better. Third of
all, the fact that Heal and Mass Heal are one spell level higher than
on a cleric simply makes the druid worse at healing.
However, the druid has one remarkable plus: Barkskin! This is a
really helpful decoy spell in getting to those high AC numbers. It
lasts a good amount of time and is relatively easy to recast in battle
in case a Dispel Magic got rid of it.
In addition to that, the druid has a decent array of crowd control
spells. Entangle, Spike Growth, Spike Stones, and Tremor are all very
good at crowd control (Entangle especially since it still slows down
enemies that fail their saves), plus, they're all from Transmutation.
That means with 2 feats into Spell Focus: Transmutation, you've vastly
boosted the druid's disabling powers. Plus, since the druid's Tremor
is a level 9 spell instead of a cleric's level 8, the druid can kick
complete butt at knocking down a huge screen full of enemies.
When all is said though, that may not be enough to make the druid
worth taking all the way. Fortunately, though, the druid is perfect
for multiclassing. Simply switch over after 12 levels (for a maxed
out Barkskin) or even at some point later, and you'll retain most of
the benefits of the druid while complementing it with the strengths of
another class (or two).
5e. Fighter 
Overall Rating: 2/5
The fighter is pretty much good for multiclassing, and that's it.
Its main strength is unlocking Weapon Specialization at level 4. You
also get an insane number of extra bonus feats (one at level 1, one at
level 2, then another at every other level after), but just the extras
you get from getting up to level 4 is way more than you'll probably
5f. Monk 
Overall Rating: 3/5
The monk is tailor made for being a decoy. High AC, potentially
innate SR, and even a potential for DR. Plus, there are several
monk-specific items that are really good, like the Binding Sash of the
Black Raven, which gives +2 to attack rolls and immunity to all sorts
of mind-affecting spells.
Interestingly though, the monk is probably not best played like a
monk. In other words, using just your fists is probably not a good
idea. The reason why your attack bonus starts getting really high in
HOF mode is because you're equipping weapons that gives you up to +5
(and in some cases even more) to your attack rolls. Plus, unlike your
fists, weapons will start doing all sorts of extra things, even if
it's as minor as doing fire damage, or doing something as crazy as
trying to cast Flesh to Stone on the target. Even if your fists can
do 1d20 + 1d6 damage, on average that's only 14 damage, at the cost of
having a much harder time for hitting the enemy. By contrast, a Power
Attack Longsword +5 will have just as hard of a time hitting the
enemy, but do 14.5 damage, but may also have extra effects that your
fists can't do (like a Paladin/Monk will be able to get +40 SR off of
dual-wielded Holy Avengers). Of course, the stunning effect is decent
and potentially really hard to resist (though you need lots of Monk
levels for that to be true) and only affects fists, so with a certain
set up, you may want to be using only your fists.
Monks have a devil of a time multiclassing. You have to choose an
order to even be allowed to gain levels in a monk again after choosing
a different class, but with proper planning you may not need to worry
about it. It's worth just taking 1 level as a monk just for the WIS
bonus, but there are also good breakpoints at levels 5, 10, 15, and 20
(for varying AC bonuses and DR at level 20) or at 13 (for after
5g. Paladin 
Overall Rating: 2/5
The paladin has three exceedingly awesome points about it. One, you
can use the amazing Holy Avenger(s). Two, you can do the Paladin
Quest (which is part of the Holy Avenger thing). Three, at level 2,
you gain a permanent immunity to fear and grant that immunity to other
people within 10 feet.
The problem, then, is that 2 out of 3 of those points can be
accomplished with just 1 level of Paladin, and the remaining point
with just 2 levels. The paladin's spellcasting is mediocre at best,
lacking the stuff that makes the cleric pretty good and versatile, and
turning is fairly useless already, not to mention how bad it gets when
5h. Ranger 
Overall Rating: 1/5
Ah, alas. Unfortunately, the best part of being a ranger (free
Ambidexterity and free Improved Two-Weapon Fighting when fighting
without armor or with light armor) can be had by just having 1 level
of the ranger or by, you know, just getting the feats manually. The
favored enemy, while potentially really decent (who wouldn't like +7
to hit/damage against a hard group of monsters?), requires you to
*heavily* invest in a ranger to be remotely effective. It may be
worth doing a 20 Ranger/10 arcane caster multiclass, as that way you
can get some defensive illusion spells at your disposal.
As for favored enemy, don't do what alot of online forums and guides
tell you to do and pick Goblin as your first favored enemy. You can
buy a Goblin Slayer knife in Targos in HOF which instantly gibs any
and all goblins, thus rendering that favored enemy pick useless.
Favored Enemy Priority:
Undead are fairly prominent throughout all the acts and they have an
annoying tendency to have all sorts of crazy damage resistance.
Moreover, on HOF, they are really hard to instantly slay with the
various disruption weapons, and some of them are really good at saving
against Control Undead, not to mention how bad turning undead becomes.
Therefore, maxing out your favored enemy bonus against them is
probably your best bet.
Yuan-Ti, while pretty absent for most of the early game, dominate
the Kuldahar chapter and are a really annoying bunch of monsters,
filled with annoying spellcasters and SR-backed warriors.
Trolls are consistently found throughout the game (I believe they
may be the only monster type found in all chaptersn?) and they're
annoyingly resistant to crowd control, especially stunning (in that
they are both immune to Holy Word and while stunned they don't fall
over for you to hit them with fire/acid, so they have an arbitrary
amount of health while held).
After that, I just listed enemies in my percieved order of
5i. Rogue 
Overall Rating: 1/5, 2/5 if you're really good at micromanagement
Unfortunately, unlike other Infinity Engine games, you really don't
need a rogue anymore. A smart wizard can pick up the necessary Search
or Disable Device skills. Furthermore, sneak attack is much worse on
HOF. The problem is that there are two main approaches to using sneak
attack. You can use it as the first strike in a 1 on 1, or you can
run around trying to sneak attack as many enemies as possible.
The problem is that you're basically spending up to 30 levels just
to get 15d6 (or an average of 52.5 damage) damage for free the first
time you attack an enemy. That damage might be significant on normal,
but it's basically two or so free attacks with high level gear, and a
much smaller fraction of the enemy's health. Thanks to multiclassing,
you can do way better than that.
5j. Sorceror [5a0]
Overall Rating: 5/5
Ah, outstanding! Arcane spells are ridiculously diverse, powerful,
and frankly you could have a party of nothing but sorcerors and clean
up through HOF. Everything you really need is in arcane magic.
Mirror Image, Improved Invisibility, Chaos, Mass Dominate, Wail of the
Banshee, all sorts of summons, crap loads of damage spells, crap loads
of crowd control. You can even have all sorts of crazy multiclassing
possibilities, you just need to get as many levels as the highest
spell you want to cast, or as many levels as you want to deal damage,
or as many levels as you want your spells to last.
For that matter, I've read some stuff that states that you should
generally never go past level 20 unless you want the extra damage from
Skull Trap, Delayed Blast Fireball, or Horrid Wilting. The reasoning
behind this logic is that the rate at which you gain new spells
dramatically slows down past level 20, so it's only worth if if you're
absolutely trying to squeeze the final amount of damage out of Delayed
However, that's a very short-sighted opinion - it overlooks spells
that have durational components. There are lots of really important
spells that get stronger just from having increased duration. The
best example of this is Mass Dominate. At level 20, you get 20 rounds
of domination, or 2 minutes worth. Going all the way to level 30
increases it to 30 rounds of domination, a full 50% increase in time.
Think this doesn't matter? From personal, anecdotal evidence, the
difference is that with only 20 rounds, you might not be able to have
Mass Dominate last long enough to finish a fight, but 30 rounds is
enough to finish a fight and then start picking off the remaining
dominated monsters one at a time.
5k. Wizard [5b0]
Overall Rating: x/5, where x is 5 minus twice the number of wizards
you already have. (So 5/5 for the first wizard, 3/5 for the second,
Like a sorcerer, except with some really nice plusses, but also a
few big minuses.
Plusses: Extra feats. This can be really helpful since
spellcasters have all sorts of crazy feat needs. A wizard also uses
Intelligence for casting spells, which means that a wizard is
well-suited for getting lots of skill points and spending them on all
sorts of miscellaneous skills, like Search, Diplomacy, or Knowledge
(Arcana). There are also two Wizard-specific items (Mystra's Cloak
and Mystra's Embrace) that are pretty snazzy (see section 2c).
Minuses: Wizards will always be slightly worse than Sorcerors for
casting spells. They have less overall spells per day (although they
have the flexibility to choose which spells they are, so you can pick
up spells without worrying about them being too situational or
becoming obsolete). Moreover, only Drow have +2 bonus to
Intelligence, and bonus to Charisma is easier to find than bonus to
Intelligence. Plus, you're highly dependent on finding scrolls for
your spells. This means that while having 1 wizard is really good,
once you start having more, you start splitting a very finite supply
of scrolls. In fact, there are some level 8 spells that you won't
normally find on scrolls (like Incendiary Cloud and the ubiquitously
mentioned Symbol: Hopelessness). You can try to get them as random
drops through Battle Square in the Ice Temple (the higher Battle
Square levels can drop higher level scrolls as a reward for finishing
a session), but this is a time consuming and inconsistent way to deal
with a class weakness.
As such, as mentioned in my rating, a wizard is just as good, if not
better, than a sorceror at first, but with each extra wizard you add,
you decrease the quality of your wizards. The bonuses for having
extra skills becomes redundant, and you start splitting the scrolls
you find throughout the game.
6. Spells of Note 
6a. Buffs/Support 
Blur (illusion) - A flat 20% chance to avoid attacks. Not
completely spectacular on its own, but combined with, say, Mirror
Image, it can greatly extend a character's life.
Draw Upon Holy Might (evocation) - A great self-buff for a
cleric/paladin to use as it gives you a good boost to health and
damage. While you may not necessary want a level 30 cleric or
paladin, having one would allow this spell to grant an outstanding +10
strength, dexterity, and constitution (which among other things would
translate into 150 extra health). Unfortunately, the duration is
really short, but fortunately there's not much else you may want to
take at this spell level anyway.
Eagle's Splendor (transmutation) - A good early buff spell before
you start getting good charisma-boosting equipment. At the very
worst, it basically gives Bards/Sorcerors +1 to the DC, with a
potential max of +3 to DC, in addition to any extra spell castings.
Emotion: Hope (enchantment) - One of the best buff spells you can
get, the only downside being that it also affects enemies if they're
in the area of effect, so either cast this before combat or with very
Exaltation (abjuration) - One of a cleric's best support spells
because it's one of very few (I think in fact only) ways of getting
rid of the effects of Hopelessness, which enemies start being able to
use against you pretty effectively in the endgame.
Holy Aura (abjuration) - Not as good as it would be in normal as the
bonus to AC is pretty useless, but the SR resist is very good
(especially if you are capable of getting your party's SR high enough
to start casting spells like Horrid Wilting at point-blank range).
Holy Power (evocation) - Grants a set +4 damage bonus to the caster
(both clerics and paladins can cast this). A great way to boost
damage, as with 5 attacks, that's an extra +20 damage per round. This
is even better if the character is using a ranged weapon, as this
effectively grants the bonuses of having Power Attack, which normally
doesn't affect ranged weapon.
Improved Invisibility (illusion) - One of *the* best buffs you
can cast. It lasts a long time, gives you bonus to attack (since the
enemy doesn't get their dex bonus to AC), gives you 50% chance to
evade attacks through concealment, and can get enemies to stop
attacking you if you cast this while visible and targetted. The
downside is that you need a cloak or something that grants
Non-detection as a simple See Invisibility will dispel this. Another
downside is that until the character buffed with this does something
to be "visible", you can't cast anything on him or her. Note that for
this purpose, you pretty much have to be doing something around an
enemy, as just casting, say, Mirror Image while your party is safe
isn't enough to qualify as becoming "visible".
Invisibility (illusion) - Less of a buff like improved invisibility
and more of an escape spell. A lot of enemies pounding down on you
and you're out of Mirror Images? Cast this and they'll find another
Invisibility Sphere (illusion) - Like invisibility, but good if
you're caught off guard and need some regroup time for your entire
party. Just be warned that the area of effected is *small*, so your
party has to be pretty close.
Iron Body (transmutation) - Gives you arbitrary immunity to physical
damage against weapons less than +3 (which is pretty much everything
until the very end), a suite of other protections, a boost to
strength, and so-so physical attacks. Unfortunately, it shuts down
your ability to cast further arcane magic, but you won't need to cast
them, as whoever is using this becomes a veritable tank. Of course,
don't cast this around things like the Slayer Knights of Xvim, or else
you'll just have a gimped mage who walks really slowly and takes lots
of damage from +5 weapons.
Magic Circle Against Evil (abjuration) - Lasts a super duper long
time and, more importantly, lets you use spells like Gate and grants
you protection from enemies using spells like Gate. Just be warned
that you need this defense up *before* the various summon spells are
cast, or else it won't do any good.
Mass Invisibility (illusion) - Like invisibility sphere, but much
more forgiving about the area of effect. Good if you just let of a
Mass Dominate or some summon spells, as your minions will keep on
attacking and immediately go visible (so they'll become targeted)
while the rest of your party remains safely hidden and protected.
Mind Blank (abjuration) - It's so-so protections, but it lasts an
entire day, so if you've got nothing else to memorize at this spell
slot, use it.
Mordenkainen's Sword (evocation) - Turns your spellcasters into
powerhouse attackers. 'Nuff said.
Prayer (conjuration) - I've already mentioned this hundreds of times
before, but I'll say it again: +1 to attack rolls and saving throws
for your party, and an unsavable -1 to enemy attack rolls and saving
throws. Just be warned that unlike in Baldur's Gate, the enemy
actually needs to be in range to be affected by the negative effects
Recitation (conjuration) - Like prayer on crack. +2 for you, -2 for
Resurrection (conjuration) - I suppose you can go through the game
just reloading whenever a party member dies, but that ends up making
the game *much* more tedious, especially in HoF, where all you need is
1 round of bad luck to knock out a character. Plus, unlike in every
other Infinite Engine game, not only does the battle stay paused while
in your inventory screen (unlike Baldur's Gate), but you can also
equip armor, so resurrecting a character mid-fight doesn't mean that
they'll just have to stay naked the entire time without risking
Remove Fear (abjuration) - Fear is probably one of the most common,
persistent, and annoying effects in the game. The last thing your
party needs is for a stray party member to get feared into an
unexplored area where they end up waking up a horde of powerful
monsters. Fortunately, not only does this cast blazingly fast and
immediately remove fear, it also bestows temporary immunity to fear.
Every person capable of casting this should have 1 or 2 copies
memorized, as you want lots of redundancy in being able to cast this.
6b. Crowd Control 
Chaos (enchantment): Wow! The massive -4 saving throw penalty is
part of the spell and makes it essentially equivalent to a level 9
spell. Confusing your enemies is really good, as it makes them just
wander around, attack randomly, or just stand in place. It can make
the most outmatched battle become trivial to deal with.
Confuse (enchantment): Like a low-powered version of Chaos. Not
shabby if you want to use this on side skirmishes and save Chaos for
the big guns.
Control Undead (necromancy): Sort of like a small scale Mass
Dominate geared strictly for undead creatures. In one critical way,
this is actually better than mass dominate, because the control is
triggered *constantly*. So even if you accidentally hit the
controlled undead with a Delayed Blast Fireball, they'll still remain
under your control, whereas creatures hit by mass dominate would go
hostile just from a web spell. In this case, you'll see undead
momentarily flicker red to hostile, but they'll switch back to green
almost immediately. This is true even if you're busy attacking a
Disintegrate (transmutation): An instant death spell that has the
amazing benefit of affecting undead and other creatures who are
normally immune to death effects (like the Guardian). This can be
really, really useful when you start running into things like
Apocalyptic Boneguards (though they still save pretty well). The only
slight problem is that it takes some time for the projectile to hit
the target, and even after the target is hit, it takes a bit of time
to fade to nothingness.
Destruction (necromancy): An instant death spell for clerics.
Unfortunately, its main advantage of doing a lot of damage upon
failure is much less relevant in HOF though, and for clerics, there
may be better uses for that spell slot.
Dominate Person (enchantment): A nice, localized version of Mass
Dominate for when you really want to pick off a really annoying giant
or some such. Fortunately, it also has a penalty to save (-2), so
you'll have reasonable success with it.
Emotion: Despair (enchantment) - A super short duration
counterbalanced by its amazing penalties it bestows on its targets, as
very few spells penalize both saving throws and attacks (usually one
or the other). The range is a bit limited
Emotion: Fear (enchantment): Fear is a pretty good effect to happen
- unlike confusion, monsters still don't have a chance of continuing
to attack you. It's a shame then, that fear is pretty much a clerical
effect or is limited to Horror, which gives enemies an annoying +3
bonus to saves. Enter this spell. Not only is it not lame unlike
Horror, it also can be spell focused for extra effectiveness, though
the area of effect and duration are pretty limited.
Entangle (transmutation): As I've mentioned in section 2d, this is
like a Web or Stinking Cloud which you can make better with spell
focus. Plus, even if enemies make their save, they are still slowed
by the spell. The only downside is that you can't cast this indoors
Greater Command (enchantment): It casts super quickly, has a wide
area, can be spell focused, and instantly incapacitates enemies en
masse. Sure, they'll wake up if you hit them, but this means you can
focus on one enemy at a time.
Finger of Death (necromancy): Instant death spell that has the
benefit, unlike Disintegrate, of having no projectile and acting
instantly, so no slow fade-to-nothing effects (though remember that
unlike Disintegrate, Finger of Death does nothing to undead and other
Hold Monster (enchantment): It's not a spectacular spell, but
against low will save creatures, this stands a good chance of
completely stunning them in their tracks. Because you can spell focus
this, it's effectively a level 9 spell, which puts it as one better
than Symbol of Hopelessness, though it doesn't affect more than one
Holy Word (conjuration): I've already spoken lots about how awesome
this spell is, see section 3e.
Mass Dominate (enchantment): A ridiculously powerful spell to no
end. Unlike what you may think, this works on any kind of creature
(unlike Dominate Person) that has a mind (even the dreaded Slayer
Knights of Xvim, though they save against it pretty well). If you
convert a portion of the total visible monsters, you can use the
controlled monsters as cannon fodder and extra damage. If you manage
to convert all the monsters in sight, then you can just have them
focus fire on each other one at a time. The only problem is that you
have to be careful about casting spells on your new minions. Anything
that remotely negatively affects them will cause them to go hostile
(even something as innocuous as a misplaced web spell). Anything
overly beneficial may come back to haunt you when the spell wears off
(such as hitting all your minions with Improved Haste).
A good tactic is to cast Malison on enemies as they approach you
while at the same time casting Mass Dominate, while every other party
member does nothing. Malison will finish first before Mass Dominate.
This way, since none of your party members are doing anything else,
you'll not only convert a huge swath (if not all) of your enemies,
there's also no chance that you'll accidentally automatically break
domination with a stray arrow or some such.
This is a good spell to complement Wail of the Banshee. Creatures
with really good fortitude saves very rarely have very good will
Power Word: Blind (conjuration): Probably the only Power Word spell
worth using in HOF mode, simply because most of the other ones have no
effect if the enemy's health is too high. This one, however, not only
still has an effect, but a rather useful effect too. Instantly
blinding a swath of creatures means that they miss 50% of the time
(although the Blind-Fight feat will diminish this). This also has the
nice bonus of making spellcasters and ranged attackers stand around
doing nothing, simply because they won't be able to see anything.
Slow (transmutation): Even though it's just a level 3 spell, with
spell focus, you can still get it to hit creatures with some
consistency. The slow walk effect makes it easier for your party
members to run out of harm's way. They also have a -2 to hit, making
them have a harder time hitting your decoy. Best of all, though, is
the fact that monsters lose their last attack while slowed. This can
be as much of a 50% reduction in net damage output (for a monster with
2 attacks) and still a 20% damage reduction in the worst case (for a
monster with 5 attacks).
Symbol of Hopelessness (universal): Outstanding! Hopelessness is
great because it's basically like being held except things like
Freedom of Mpvement or Remove Paralysis can't deal with it. You can
cause an entire screen full of enemies to stand still in their tracks,
giving you lots of time to just relentlessly beat upon them.
Symbol of Pain (universal): A pretty good debuff spell. It lasts a
really long time and gives an outstanding -4 penalty to attack rolls,
among other things, which is very helpful for decoy characters. The
only problem is that being as its universal, you can't take spell
focus feats to help this harder to save.
Tremor (transmutation): Awesome! Not only is it a level 8 (or 9
for druids) spell, but it can also be spell focused. It also only
affects enemies and does a moderate amount of damage in addition to
its awesome stunning/knockdown effect. Plus, it's probably one of
very few crowd control spells that are effective against undead.
Wail of the Banshee (necromancy): A powerhouse of a spell. Any
creature without a big fortitude save will collapse instantaneously,
dead. In many cases, this is all you need to deal with trivial side
skirmishes. It doesn't deal with undead, so you'll need an alternate
solution for them.
6c. Damage 
Since most damage spells are pretty uniform, I'm just going to list
the important damage spells with some notes.
Spells of note:
Delayed Blast Fireball
Cone of Cold
... more inconsequntial spells afterwards
Delayed Blast Fireball has the best damage potential of any spell,
dealing 30d8 damage and having the benefit of being enhanced by the
Spirit of Flame feat for +20% damage.
Chain Lightning gets a high ranking simply because it's one of very,
very few spells safe to use when the enemy has engaged your party in
Horrid Wilting has the extra benefit of using fortitude as the
saving throw instead of reflex, which means you can hit enemies with
(Improved) Evasion. There's an extra benefit/caveat in that it
doesn't do anything at all to undead, so if you have some undead
summoned, you can cast this recklessly without worrying about
Skull Trap has a really low area of effect and has to be triggered
by proximity, so aiming is important, but it deals a nicely
hard-to-resist slashing damage, and as far as I can tell it ignores
7. Gearing Up 
7a. Which weapon proficiency to take? 
Let's face it, you don't necessarily want to waste a lot of feats
picking up extra weapon proficiencies, so what are some good rules of
thumb when it comes to picking up weapon proficiency?
I personally believe that Martial Weapon: Axe is the best overall
one you can pick up (which is extra great if you can get it for free).
There are a lot of nasty melee axes, plus the critical threat range is
20/x3, which couples very well with luck bonuses. In fact, one of the
most insane melee weapons is an axe, the Massive Greataxe of Flame +5.
(Unfortunately, it's a random drop, so good luck getting one.) In
addition to the good melee options, there are a suite of very good
throwing axes for ranged characters and spellcasters alike.
After that, for melee characters, Long Swords are probably next. It
opens the possibility for using the Holy Avengers, and it just so
happens that Long Swords are one of the most common magical weapon
types you'll run across, so you'll hardly be short of options for
Things get iffier next. Maces and Hammers are decent choices after
that, but there's nothing spectacular to write home about. Bastard
Swords have the potential to be ridiculously amazing, but it hinges
heavily on your ability to get a decent random drop instead of being
stuck with one of the many cursed Bastard Swords that causes your
character to go berserk. And most two-handed options (Polearm, Great
Sword, Quarterstaffs, and two-handed Hammers) aren't spectacular
enough over two-handed axes or simply dual-wielding two one-handed
For non-melee characters, Short Swords (which I believe all
characters get anyway) and Bows are the tops, though Axes are still
probably generally better, if only because unlike with bows, you can
equip a shield with (most) throwing axes. Just keep in mind when
creating a character that for throwing weapons, while Strength
provides a damage bonus, Dexterity is still the stat to rely on for an
In terms of short swords, there are lots of defensive and ranged
daggers that you can put to good use (including the best +Intelligence
item in the game, though good-aligned characters can't use it). Bows
are great if only because you won't have to sink a ridiculous amount
of money just to keep your party supplied with ammunition (you'd be
surprised how quickly you can go through a quiver of +5 Arrows when
you fire 5 per round) thanks to a plethora of Everlast Arrows.
However, if you only have one character using a Sling, for example,
that's not so bad. It's only when you have two that you start
realizing that no amount of stocking up in advance will seem to be
able to keep your party members armed with bullets to throw.
2b. Weapons of Note 
Note that weapons I readily discuss elsewhere for specific purposes
(like for a Decoy) won't get a re-mention here.
"Baron" Sulo's Hook (dagger) - Both a good decoy support weapon or
just a nice weapon for your non-ranged weapon wielding casters to use,
since it has a litany of nice defenses (even if non-decoys won't
really enjoy the advantage of +3 deflection AC).
Bastard Sword of Heroism (bastard sword) - If you're realy lucky to
get this random drop, then bastard sword proficiency should become
something you should consider. Keen, sure striking, 1d10+3 damage,
and an insane extra 3d6 slashing damage per hit. It's too bad most
other bastard swords are underwhelming for HOF play.
Big Black Flying-Death (2h throwing axe) - The only two handed
throwing weapon in the game, and in terms of damage really lives up to
its name. If you aren't concerned about wearing a shield, then this
will transform anyone into a significant ranged damage force, dealing
1d10+3 damage, plus an additional 1d10 slashing damage, and the extra
strength bonus associated with two handed weapons.
Goblin Slayer (dagger) - One of many great essential items available
in Targos, instantly killing Goblins will let you breeze through the
first chapter easily. Plus, it will keep on being useful as you run
into various half-goblin warriors at progressively later stages in the
Golden Heart of
swords in the game and it's available the moment you start out in
Targos in HOF mode (though for a hefty fee). It's a solid +5 sword,
but also gives +2 Strength/Dexterity, +25 health, constant Haste, and
constant Freedom of Movement. Constant Haste not only means you move
really fast, but means you get the free +4 generic AC bonus without
having to worry about buffing yourself (unlike the Boots of Speed
which just doubles your movement rate). Freedom of Movement means you
don't have to worry about getting held or stunned. Moreover, both
these effects are good enough that you might have used up other item
slots for them (like a Ring of Freedom of Movement and Boots of
Speed), so using this sword effectively gives some spare item slots
for even better items.
Kegsplitter of Shaengarne Ford (1h axe) - You can nab this in Targos
after killing the goblins, and it's definitely an investment to make.
Alone, it's not too great, but its special feature of "Slays
Constructs" means it's a one-hit wonder against Iron Golems. Keep it
in reserve for just that case.
(Light of) Cera Sumat (long sword) - Both normal and HOF versions
require a battle of epic proportions to obtain and require a Paladin
to equip, but it's well worth it. By far the best one handed weapons
in the game, they not only output an insane amount of damage (Light of
Cera Sumat does a whopping 1d8+10 plus +2d6 against evil creatures, in
addition to a +10 attack bonus), but grant huge spell resistance.
Unfortunately, unlimited Dispel Magic in IWD2 isn't as great as in
Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate, but the other benefits of the two
Holy Avengers are too great to ignore.
(Various) Maces of Disruption (mace) - You'll find this in several
forms, but for most of the game, they provide an excellent answer to
undead. Even in HOF mode, alot of undead have terrible fortitude
saves, relatively, so a Malison plus Recitation can put them back into
range of being instantly slain en masse by the disruption effect.
Even against demons and other outsiders with good fortitude saves,
having an outright 5% chance to slay the enemy is nothing to be sad
about (especially against really tough undead like Apocalpytic
Masher (hammer) - Deals a respectable 1d8+5 damage plus an elemental
burst of your choice (acid is probably the best overall choice) of 1d6
plus 10% chance of 2d10. The best part is that every setting is
effectively a double Keen, in which case the weapon's base critical
threat range to 18-20/x3, which is positively ridiculous. Combine
with luck effects and executioner's eyes, and you can deal
jaw-dropping amounts of damage.
Massive Greataxe of Flame +5 (2h axe) - By far probably the most
damaging weapon in the game, doing a whopping 2d12+5, +1d6 fire, with
a 10% chance for an additional +1d10 fire. Plus, it's a two-handed
weapon so you get the extra strength bonus to damage. Unfortunately,
as frequently noted, this is a purely random drop, so you can easily
go many play throughs without seeing this.
Scales of Balance (1h axe) - A notable axe simply because you can
set it to Power mode to deal 1d8+10 damage in addition to having a
chance (albeit small) to wound the target and deal 2 damage per round
for the next 10 rounds. This is probably one of the most outright
devastating one handed weapons you can easily get.
Scimitar of Souls +3/Scimitar of the Soulless +5 (long sword) - Both
these end-game swords (one for normal, one for HOF) have a special
distinction in that they're two among very few items that don't have a
set saving throw DC of 14 for their effects. Thus, the energy drain
effect (which in and of itself is very good) will trigger fairly
frequently, especially with the -4 penalty to saves on the +5 version.
Unfortunately, triggering a Dispel Magic on the enemy is generally
very bad, as they're probably under alot of your debuffs, so you
should take a good cost/benefit analysis to using these.
Screaming Axe (1h throwing axe) - Remarkably good spellcaster
support weapon. Not only does it deal an insane amount of damage
(1d6+5 and an additional 3d6 slashing), but it grants permanent
immunity to silence spells while equipped, thus freeing up a feat slot
from having to take subvocal casting. Just keep in mind that you
can't get this (or the normal version, which also grants silence
immunity) until Kuldahar, so you'll have to put up with getting
silenced until then. On an amusing note, every time you throw the HOF
version, the axe will actually shout out things like "Incoming!" and
Stormshifter (1h throwing axe) - Much better, in my opinion, than
the normal equivalent (Cloudkiss), but only good if you're good at
micromanaging. Otherwise, you may find that whoever is equipped with
this will be hitting your decoy and eating up his or her mirror
Throwing Hammer of Thunder +2 (throwing hammer) - The special
distinction of being only one of two magical throwing hammers that
return (and non-returning throwing hammers are insanely expensive,
enough so that I think it was a mistake on the part of the
developers). It does respectable damage, 1d4+2 plus 1d6 electric,
amplified by any Strength bonus, but is also one of very few ways to
deal bludgeoning damage from afar. Bludgeoning damage is generally
very good as very few monsters have special resistence against it
(unlike Slashing or Piercing damage, for example) and many monsters
are particularly vulnerable to it (note that Slings don't actually do
what would be classified as Bludgeoning damage).
Xvimian Fang of Despair (dagger) - Good characters can't use it, but
it's the best +Intelligence boosting item in the game (+4). Not only
that, but having a 20% chance to cast Emotion: Despair on a hit and a
5% chance to cast Flesh to Stone on a hit means that your spell caster
can join the fray and pick off disabled enemies. Too bad it's
available so late in the game as a drop off an enemy mage (Saablic
Ysha's Sting (throwing dagger) - A returning throwing dagger that is
already respectable at 1d4+5 damage, but also has the remarkably rare
trait of not having a saving throw DC of 14 for its extra effect. In
fact, it's fairly difficult to resist its venom effect (I've seen
monsters roll as high as 30 and still fail), so you'll be spreading
enormous of poison around with this weapon in tow (you can poison the
same enemy any number of times, which will just escalate its damage
7c. Armor of Note 
This is a much smaller list as in HOF, most armor is pretty useless
for their main purpose (AC), and the character with the highest AC
won't be using armor.
Chain of Drakkas' Fury (none): Despite the fact that there's a
grammatical error in the armor's name, this is a nice armor to use for
any spellcaster or support attack character. It grants a +3 attack
bonus and an extra attack per round (which is useful for the
Wizard/Sorceror who will only end up with 3 base attacks at level 30).
Cornugan Hide Armor (light armor): One of the best DR-granting
items since it also combines with a nice regeneration effect. It has
20% failure, so spellcasters with three ranks in armored arcana will
still have a 5% failure rate.
High Master's Robe (robe): The best intelligence-boosting item for
good characters, giving +3. It also gives +3 Charisma and a (at this
point) useless +6 bonus to Alchemy and Knowledge (Arcana).
Milton Sixtoe's Armor of Absolute Self (light armor): Permanent
mind blank and 15% failure rate. Not shabby.
Mooncalf's Shield (shield): As often mentioned, this shield grants
permanent Protection from Arrows, which effectively means
near-immunity from ranged attacks.
Shield of Duergar Fortitude (shield): The best hit-point boosting
shield in the game, granting +15 hit points.
7d. Accessories of Note 
There are also a lot of accessories mentioned in section 2a (the
section on getting a high AC).
Bile of the Damned (amulet): Only non-good characters can use it,
but it gives an outstanding +4 Strength and Wisdom (though your
characters who use wisdom will probably be using an Every God Ring).
Dwarven Ogre (belt): Only fighters, barbarians, and rangers can use
this, but it grants an amazing +6 strength and permanent blur (which
is an outright 20% chance to evade attacks).
Every God Ring (ring): There are lots of copies of this ring (one
you can buy, one that drops off an enemy, and a final you find in the
end game). Even then, still needs special mention because of its
outstanding +5 Wisdom bonus. Only religious folk can use it, so keep
that in mind if you're using a Monk to power up a decoy.
High Tyrannar's Band (ring): A really good charisma-boosting item
(+4), with a side effect of wisdom (also +4).
Lyre of Progression (instrument/shield): An instrument you equip
like a shield, bestowing an amazing +3 Strength and +2 Constitution.
Young Ned's Knucky (amulet): Super awesome! See section 2e for
more details. Remember, you need an *insanely* high pick pocket skill
to get this.
Raging Winds (instrument): A super fast way to summon a miniature
army. These berserkers are pretty effective on HoF mode and are
undyingly loyal (so don't worry about hitting them with spells by
Sephica's Prayer (instrument): Gives you the ability to cast heal
or resurrection, both once per day. An extra heal and a free
resurrection is really useful. Just be warned that you need a minimum
of 13 wisdom to use this.
Tymora's Loop (ring): MEGA AWESOME! See section 2e for more
details, but unfortunately it's a purely random drop.
8. Sample Party 
Decoy: Male Drow, Monk of the Old Order 17, Paladin of Helm 2,
Rogue 1, Conjurer 10
Drow for the SR, the extra stats, and male for the preferred class
of wizard (for the conjurer levels). Paladin for the immunity to
fear and the ability to use an Every God Ring. Rogue to use
Crow's Nest. Many monk levels for lots of AC, conjurer for more
AC-boosting effects as well as illusion spells like Improved
Invisibility and Mirror Image. You have to be really careful
about leveling this guy, or else you'll frequently run into
multiclassing penalties. (A good tactic would be to level up the
wizard levels first, get 1 level of Monk, get 2 levels of Paladin,
1 level of Rogue, then just level squat and get the remaining 16
levels of Monk in one shot).
Insane damage: Aasimar, Fighter 4, Paladin of Mystra 6, Diviner 20
Aasimar for the preferred class of Paladin and the extra stats.
Fighter for the weapon specialization, extra feats, and Dwarven
Ogre belt. Diviner levels to be able to cast all sorts of utility
spells (Wail of the Banshee, Malison, Executioner's Eyes). Levels
of Paladin of Mystra for dual Holy Avengers and extra base attack
Support/Healing: Human, Bard 11, Morninglord of Lathander 19
Human for the preferred cleric levels and extra skills. Bard
levels for War Chant of Sith and some useful illusion magic.
Cleric levels for healing.
Crowd Control: Human, Enchanter 30
You get massive skill points and feats for all sorts of support
roles. You max out durations for crowd control spells. Also
enables use of the Mystra-line of cloaks that bestow DR.
Support/Healing: Human, Druid 12, Painbearer of Ilmater 18
Druid-style crowd control and Barkskin. And another cleric
character for more buffing and chaining together Holy Words.
Damage: Aasimar, Sorceror 30
Aasimar for a higher Charisma, and maxed out Sorceror to max out
every single damage spell possible.
Properly played, you'll be able to breeze through all sorts of
challenges in HOF mode - this party covers all the neessary bases
while still providing some nice redundancy as well as some backup
strategies (if this is a good-aligned party, you can chain together
Holy Words very well).
9. ...and more! 
9a. HoF Tactics and Notes 
This is just a grouping of various random notes and tricks that
didn't really fit in elsewhere.
Beware of Fireshield: It's not altogether clear to me just how
exactly monster scaling works in HoF, but it is important to note
that, at least for fire shield, enemy levels skyrocket. A good
example is fighting the Efreetis in the third level of Dragon Eye -
hitting one can inflict upwards of 60 damage to the poor melee
attacker. In these instances, it behooves you to keep your distance
or have summons do the dirty work for you.
Level squat: If this isn't a familiar term for you, you should read
carefully the following sentence - it's rarely ever worth it to
immediately level your characters. The reason is that the experience
monsters give you is based on your average party level (rounding
down). Thus, the more readily you level up your characters, the less
experience they'll be getting.
In fact, there are only two cases in which you should ever level
your characters. The first is when the game has reached such an
immense level of difficulty that you need to boost one of your
characters up to a higher level. The second is you have a character
that has some strict multiclassing requirements and you need to level
them to avoid messing that up.
A good example of the first is when level squatting towards the Ice
Temple on normal. Once you reach the ice temple, having someone who
can cast fireball or someone who can hit one of the Ice Golem
Champions with some semblence of consistency becomes really important,
so you might want to level up one of your characters. A good example
of the second is the example decoy character in the sample party. If
you've got 10 levels of Conjurer and 17 levels of Monk, if you level
up 3 times at once (since you can't break up levels you gain in one
shot), you won't be able to split them into 2 Paladin/1 Rogue, so here
you need to level up two separate times, once to pick up the one level
of rogue, and again to pick up 2 levels of paladin. Another example
of the second would be a 11 Bard/19 Cleric split. Let's say you've
got 9 levels of Cleric, but you've waited too long to level up so
you've got 12 levels stored up. Because you can't split up these
levels when you level up, you either have to do 12 levels of Bard or
another 12 levels of Cleric. Either way, you've broken your
A trick about level squatting is that because the game rounds *down*
your party's average level, you can try to find "sweet spots", where
you're high enough level so that the game isn't insanely difficult,
but low enough to be reaping a vast amount of experience. So if your
6-member party's total level is 35, the game treats your party's
average as being 5 (since 35/6 is 5.83 which rounds down to 5). Thus,
you are pretty much the equivalent of a level 6 party (one level will
barely make a difference) but reap the experience benefits of a level
5 party (which sometimes means as much as twice as much experience
from some enemies).
Aggressive level squatting is *essential*. Ideally, you should max
out all your characters' development midway through HoF. Otherwise,
you may find yourself really scrounging for experience for the last
few levels, as high level characters get piddling experience even
against tough HoF monsters, which is doubly painful considering how
much experience you need to level up at those high levels. Plus, in
the case of a character like the decoy, every last level counts. In
fact, resist the urge to level up your characters after the battle
with Isair and Madae at the end of normal. If you were able to finish
them off while level squatting, you'll more than be able to take care
of the Prologue and Act I in HoF without difficulty and reap some good
level-squatting-based experience benefits.
Micromanage: This is a really important skill. You've got a
million things you need to be doing/checking at a given time. Bard
song need a refresh? Is your decoy out of Mirror Images or is
Otiluke's Resilient Sphere going to be expired soon? Is that a cleric
likely to cast something like Blasphemy or a harmless one going to be
casting things like Bless? Do you have any idle characters?
Hopefully you've trained some of these skills through normal
difficulty. If you're struggling to manage 6 characters efficiently,
you might want to consider dropping down to 5 or 4. The game is still
definitely possible with such reduced numbers (all you need is atleast
one decoy and one crowd control/damage character, the extra just helps
make the game easier). And, if you're not managing your characters,
you're probably wasting them anyway. Or, at the very worst, you can
just use characters 5 and 6 as bards whose sole duty is to go
invisible, sit back, and strum some songs, thus letting you make
better use of your 4 other characters.
Outrun your enemies: Your characters that aren't decoys will
probably not be able to last more than a round or two going toe-to-toe
with even just one enemy. Given this, a combination of Boots of
Speed, Dash, and/or Haste is absolutely important, as you should
immediately run the character to safety before casting protective
spells. Your high Concentration skill is only there in the case of
emergencies - don't expect it to save your life when you're trying to
let off a crucial Invisibility or Mirror Image - your AC is so low
that you're going to be probably hit atleast once for loads of damage
before these finish.
9b. Challenges 
Well, you've conquered HoF! What's next? What about some
challenges to make the game even more difficult and interesting?
Plus, these challenges can get some things that you may have glossed
over in earlier playthoughs to become important. Since I enjoy
playing through IWD2, here are some of my thoughts on various
challenges you can try to pick up, as well as some notes I have on
them. Be warned that most of these are not intended for HoF
difficulty, unless you're insane :).
Here are some ideas for basic rules (things you can mix and match
and combine with some of the bigger challenges):
No ranged weapons allowed.
Only two-handed weapons allowed (ranged weapons included).
No melee weapons allowed.
Use less characters (5, 4, 3, or even 2 characters).
No level squatting allowed.
No spells that fully heal (Heal, Mass Heal, Resurrection).
These are some basics that force you to try alternate tactics. You
may have not normally decided to use alot of two-handed weapons (of
which there are many) without self-imposing such a rule on your play,
and you may be surprised by how much damage your party is capable of
outputting as a result.
Here are some more drastic challenges to try out.
No multiclassing: One of the flaws in 3e D&D is that some
characters just plain suck in a system of multiclassing. The
ranger is the best example as in virgin 3e, there was almost no
reason to ever get more than one level in ranger (though this is
improved somewhat in 3.5e). Moreover, some classes, like the
Paladin and Ranger, have spellcasting abilities that are made
irrelevant by just being able to multiclass into something like
cleric. By removing your ability to multiclass, though, you may
want to use a complete Ranger - they get alot of free perks from
the start and will pick up some spellcasting that isn't made
completely obsolete by the ability to pick up a few druid levels.
Similarly, do you really want yet another arcane caster when your
ability to heal and go toe-to-toe with tough enemies will be
severely impacted as a result?
Party based on a single character type: This means creating a party
whose classes are completely from the group of warriors
(barbarian, fighter, paladin, ranger), priests (cleric, druid,
monk), rogues (thief, bard), or wizards (wizards, sorcerors).
These groupings are from AD&D times, and is a variant of having a
"theme" party. Each party-type has their own unique strengths and
weaknesses compared to other party types, though by far the wizard
group has the easiest time at higher levels. The warrior type
will have the easiest time early on, though they'll start running
into some roadblocks mid-to-late game, as they'll be heavily
reliant on your ability to find good weapons and armor, a steady
stream of potions, and the need for a high Expertise/Power Attack.
The priest group will have the best overall strength, being almost
as capable as fighters early on, backed up by their healing, and
having immense support spells in the end game, though their
killing power will be pretty limited. The rogue group will be
heavily reliant on using bards for crowd control and immense
micromanaging of thieves, but, as I mentioned before, bards are
nothing if not versatile and immensely powerful (though a simple
casting of dispel magic from the enemy will probably cripple a
bard's protections). The wizard group is by far the most powerful
in the end (a group of sorcerors can even go into HoF and conquer
it), but will have *immense* difficulty early on, when fighting
things like Ice Golem Champions who have high SR and AC and when
your spells, by comparison, are weak and your summons pathetic.
Party based on a theme: A variant of the above. Maybe you're a
party of tree huggers (druids and rangers only), or maybe you're a
group of zealous helmites (paladins and clerics of helm only).
Maybe it's a virulent group of mercenaries dedicated to stomping
out magic in the world (barbarian, fighters, rogues, and monks).
This is where your individual creativity and wackiness kicks in.
A. Appendix [Z00]
Aa. History [Z10]
2008.12.21 - Version 1.0 completed
Woooooo it's done.
Ab. Other works [Z20]
Thief Guide (Baldur's Gate 2)
Ultimate Analysis (System Shock 2)
"I must believe that each generation regrets the passing of
centuries-old monuments and nations that expired just before their
coming. To see the look in elders' eyes when they speak in
reverential tones of ancient cities, terrible generals, and the change
that they affected - it plants a longing in one's heart for the
- Maralie Fiddlebender