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 Icewind Dale II Guide

 
   
 
 
Icewind Dale II Guide

======================================================================
             C h r i s    L e e ' s

    H e a r t    o f    F u r y,    P o w e r g a m i n g,
                          a n d    B e y o n d                   v 3.7
======================================================================



======================================================================
  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 or Apple-F) and type in the four letter key
next to the section (doing only the three numbers after the asterisk
will probably send you to a random section of the guide).

Note that if you ever want to navigate back to the Table of Contents,
search for (with an asterisk in front) '---'.

Periodically, you'll find mentions of "find shortcuts" - the asterisk
followed by the three digit number is exactly what they reference,
only without the asterisk.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
  0.  Special Note   *000

  1.  Introduction & Contact Info (aka What the hell is this?)   *100

  2.  Basic Heart of Fury Mode Concepts   *200
    a.  AC   *210
    b.  Your base attack bonus   *220
    c.  DR   *230
    d.  Saving throws   *240
    e.  Luck   *250
    f.  Damage vs Crowd Control   *260
    g.  Swords vs Magic   *270

  3.  Building your Party   *300
    a.  Decoy   *310
    b.  Buffers   *320
    c.  Crowd Control   *330
    d.  Other Roles:  Damage/Healing   *340
      i.  Maximizing physical damage   *341
    e.  Alignments:  Good vs Not Good?   *350
    f.  Good and Bad Feats   *360
    g.  Good and Bad Skills   *370

  4.  Key Racial Breakdown   *400
    a.  Human/Aasimar   *410
    b.  Drow   *420
    c.  Deep Gnome   *430

  5.  Class Breakdown   *500
    a.  Barbarian   *510
    b.  Bard   *520
    c.  Cleric   *530
      i.  Domains   *531
    d.  Druid   *540
    e.  Fighter   *550
    f.  Monk   *560
    g.  Paladin   *570
    h.  Ranger   *580
    i.  Rogue   *590
    j.  Sorcerer   *5a0
    k.  Wizard   *5b0

  6.  Spells of Note   *600
    a.  Buffs/Support   *610
    b.  Crowd Control   *620
    c.  Damage   *630
    d.  A Word on Summons  *640

  7.  Gearing Up   *700
    a.  Which weapon proficiency to take?   *710
    b.  Weapons of Note   *720
      i.  High-Saving Throw Weapons   *721
    c.  Armor of Note   *730
    d.  Accessories of Note  *740

  8.  Sample Parties   *800
    a.  6-person Good Party   *810
    b.  4-person Good Party   *820
    c.  2-person Evil Party   *830
    d.  Playing a Smaller Party  *840

  9.  ...and more!   *900
    a.  Important Notes   *910
    b.  Challenges   *920

  10.  Chapter-by-Chapter Notes   *A00
    a.  Prologue   *A10
    b.  Chapter One   *A20
    c.  Chapter Two   *A30
    d.  Chapter Three   *A40
    e.  Chapter Four   *A50
    f.  Chapter Five   *A60
    g.  Chapter Six   *A70

  A.  Appendix   *Z00
    a.  History   *Z10
    b.  Other works  *Z20
======================================================================



====================================================================== 
0.  Special Note                                                  *000
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Aside from a few minor bugs, Icewind Dale II is a remarkably stable
game (after you install the official patch, that is).  Unlike Baldur's
Gate or Baldur's Gate II, you won't find any massive third-party
fixpack to address outstanding issues.

That being said, there *are* still a few minor issues that have been
fixed, but it rarely ever gets publicity, so it behooves you to go to
    http://www.sorcerers.net/Games/IWD2/index_editors.php
and download the "IWD2 Unofficial Item/Spell Patch by Gimble".  Unzip
it using your favorite archiver and toss the files into your IWD2's
Override directory.  Most of the issues are minor, but if you want a
complete, solid play experience, it's still pretty good.

The only unfortunate outstanding issue is that Improved Initiative is
bugged and unfortunately cannot be fixed by conventional third-party
override methods.  Though, if someone can make a modified DLL or
something to actually fix this, I'll gladly pay them a financial
reward (let's say 200 USD).

If the link is broken, let me know, and I'll fix it.
====================================================================== 



====================================================================== 
1.  Introduction & Contact Info (aka What the hell is this?)      *100
----------------------------------------------------------------------
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
all).

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 "IWD2 FAQ: " and send it to:
    s___i_m__u_l__c__r_a@uchicago.edu
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                             *200
----------------------------------------------------------------------
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                                                           *210

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
attacks/turn.)

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:

  Innate:
    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)

  Feats:  
    Expertise (up to +5)
    Dodge (+1)
    Deflect Arrows (+1 vs ranged)

  Spells:  
    (Mass) Haste (+4)
    Tenser's Transformation (+4)
    Barkskin (up to +5)

  Items:  
    bracers: Brazen Bands (normal+collector's edition only, +5)
    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.

  Dexterity:
    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)

  Armor:
    Bracers of Armor +4
    spell: Mage Armor (+4)
    spell: Spirit Armor (+6)
    spell: Shield (+7)

  Deflection:
    Farmer's Cloak (+3)
    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.

  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
    Avenger sword.

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)
  AC:
    10
    +6 (Dexterity)
    +14 (Monk Wisdom)
    +3 (Monk AC)
    +5 (Expertise)
    +5 (Indomitable Bands)
    +3 (Sunfire Talisman)
    +3 (Crow's Nest)
    +1 (Dodge)
    +4 (Haste)
    +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)
  Total
    65

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
"extra" AC.

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 good
protection.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
2b.  Your base attack bonus                                       *220

Fortunately, monster 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
all times.

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
your attacks.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
2c.  DR                                                           *230

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.  This means that a
character with 10/+2 DR and 5/+1 DR will only have 10 damage negated
against an enemy with normal weapons, instead of 15.  DR in the form
of "Slashing resistance" or "Piercing resistence" *does* stack, and
also stacks with "5/+1"-style DR.  This means that a character with
5/+1 DR and 1/- Slashing resistance will have a total of 6 damage
negated from an enemy with a normal slashing weapon.

  Innate:
    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/-)***

  Items:
    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
      Slashing/Piercing/Bludgeoning)
    shield: Mooncalf's Shield (HOF only, permanent Protection from
      Arrows, in other words essentially 10/+5 against arrows)

  Spells:
    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
    easily.
  *** The notation for War Chant of the Sith is a bit misleading.
    While the game says "2/-", it really gives you 2 Slashing, 2
    Bludgeoning, 2 Piercing, and 2 Missile, so it stacks with other
    such resistance as well as 5/+1 style damage resistance.

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.  It's possible to get a potion gift after
Oswald leaves in his airship in Chapter 3 that may permanently
increase your resistances (like giving you Slashing 1/-), but the
potion you get is random from a list and you only get one per play
through, so it's not something to hold out for.

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                                                *240

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 odds.

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 -2 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 or Destruction).
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, which you can check out in section 7ai (find
shortcut:711).
----------------------------------------------------------------------
2e.  Luck                                                         *250

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 party),
Young Ned's Knucky (+2, HOF only), and Tymora's Loop (+3, random
drop).

What Luck actually does is a bit of a mystery.  There's quite a bit of
misinformation out there, and I've even been mistaken in earlier
versions of this guide.  At the very least, Luck __actually__ alters
dice rolls instead of simply giving them a bonus after the fact - 
so a Luck of +1 means that a 19 becomes a 20, a 1 becomes a 2, etc.
What __kinds__ of dice rolls it affects is a bit harder to
ascertain, but the ones I've managed to test and confirm follows.

  Luck does (Confirmed):
    Increase base weapon damage
    Increase To-Hit and Critical Threat rolls
    Increase healing effects recieved by the character
    Reduce spell damage recieved by the character

  Luck maybe (Difficult to confirm, hinted at by description):
    Increases skill checks
    Increases Spell Resistance rolls

  Luck definitely doesn't (Confirmed):
    Increase spell damage done by the character
    Increase "extra" weapon damage effects (like the +1d6 fire damage
      on "Flaming" or "Flaming Burst" weapons)
    Increase saving throw rolls
    
A character's total Luck isn't displayed anywhere, so you just have to
calculate it based on what items/spells/songs are going on.  Suffice
it to say that the earlier mentioned 4 sources are the only places
you can get Luck.

Basically, with a bit of Luck, physical damage 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!  (Though, because the dice are actually being
modified by the roll, it'll look like your character is just rolling
lots of 20s instead of actually critically hitting on a 15.)

Factor in Executioner Eyes, and this guy is pretty much critically
hitting on every other strike.  Not to mention that when equipped with
something like a Great Sword, the guy effectively does maximum damage
with each hit (as each d6 in the 2d6 base damage gets shifted up by
6).  The sheer damage output becomes *insane* at that level.

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, Young Ned's
Knucky, Tymora's Melody, and Luck is a total of +10 luck.  How insane
would that be???
----------------------------------------------------------------------
2f.  Damage vs Crowd Control                                      *260

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 castings of Meteor Swarm.

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.

NOTE:  The only downside to holding/stunning an enemy is that, while
they're helpless, you can not critically hit them, so you may need to
adjust your targetting strategies to maximize your damage output.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
2g.  Swords vs Magic                                              *270

As a corrollary to the above, as magic-based damage gets worse,
weapon-based damage gets much better.  Your base attack bonus (see
section 2b, find shortcut: 220) becomes sufficient for hitting
monsters. You start maxing out the number of attacks you can make in a
round. Finally, 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
steam.

As a case study - one of my HOF parties contained a brute damage melee
character equipped with Young Ned's Knucky, dual Cera Sumats, Power
Attack +5, Weapon Specialization: Long Sword, and 26 Strength (thanks
to the +6 STR belt).  By herself, she contributed roughly 70% of all
kills and all experience earned by the party - this even though I had
other spellcasters who could cast Wail of the Banshee!  Basically, once
she started attacking an enemy, that enemy would be dead in a few
rounds - it was not uncommon for me to see her critical several times
in a row for upwards of 60 total damage per hit.  So while I could get
other spellcasters to burst out area of effect spells that hit for
roughly 100 damage per monster (if I was lucky), this one melee
character provided the sustained reckless damage that keeps the party
moving from one fight to the next without needing to rest.
======================================================================



======================================================================
3.  Building your Party                                           *300
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Time now to take the basic Heart of Fury mode concepts and put them to
action!
----------------------------------------------------------------------
3a.  Decoy                                                        *310

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.  NOTE - the official patch ostensibly fixes
    AI scripts to recognize when ORS is being used.

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 some easy ways
to load up on Spell Resistance.  Be warned abou trying to stack up
needlessly high levels of resistance, though, the game caps your Spell
Resistance at 50, so there's no point in being a Drow dual-wielding
Light of Cera Sumat and Cera Sumat and having a Holy Aura buff.

  Base Spell Resistance:
    Deep Gnome (11 + Character Level)
    Drow (11 + Character Level)
    Level 13 Monk (10 + Character Level)
    divine spell:  Spell Resistance (12 + Character Level)
    
  Stackable Spell Resistance Bonuses:
    Potion of Arcane Absorption (permanent +2)*
    Potion of Magic Resistance (permanent +1)*
    arcane/helm spell:  Aegis (+3)
    divine spell:  Holy Aura (+25)
    divine spell:  Greater Shield of Lathander (+40)**
    longsword:  Light of Cera Sumat (+30)
    longsword:  Cera Sumat (+15)
    robe:  Robe of the Evil Archmagi (+1)*
    
  * The game is a bit confused about the notations here, as the item
  descriptions are as "Magic Resistance 2/-", and other effects
  listed like that (like the ring Cold Steel Reflection) only provide
  __Magic Damage__ Resistance.  These are probably bugs in the
  implementation of these items, but fortunately they're bugs in 
  your favor.
  ** It's a great bonus, sure, but it only lasts 3 rounds.

It is possible to go through the game without an actual Decoy (if a
bit significantly more challenging), since all your summons get major
buffs in Heart of Fury mode.  Under this approach, though, you'll need
to stock up *heavily* on the big summons like Shades, Animate Dead,
Gate, and Shadow Conjuration, as the last thing you want to happen is
a single enemy to cast Banishment to completely wipe out your army.
(The Yuan-Ti spellcasters in Chult all have atleast one copy of
Dismissal, for example).  Moreover, for later battles, powerful
enemies like Slayer Knights and Apocalyptic Boneguards will be able to
mow through your summons with relative ease, so you definitely want a
ready set of spells to resupply your army.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
3b.  Buffers                                                      *320

Buff and debuff spells become an important staple for a HOF party.
Here's a quick selection of buff spells that you could apply to your
entire party (a listed spell may only affect one target at a time,
but its listing means that at the very least, you can target multiple
party members over several casting).

  Innate:
    paladin: Aura of Courage (level 2)*
    bard: All Bard Songs

  Arcane:
    abjuration: Mind Blank
    conjuration: Mage Armor
    divination: Executioner Eyes
    enchantment: Emotion: Hope
    illusion: (Improved/Mass) Invisibility
    illusion: Invisibility Sphere
    transmutation: (Mass) Haste
    transmutation: Bull's Strength
    transmutation: Cat's Grace
    transmutation: Eagle's Splendor

  Divine (for clerics, unless otherwise listed):
    Bull's Strength
    Champion's Strength
    Exaltation
    Holy Aura
    Magic Circle Against Evil
    Negative Energy Protection
    Prayer
    Recitation
    Remove Fear
    Spell Resistance
    Strength of One
    druid: Aura of Vitality
    druid: Barkskin
    lathander:  Aura of Vitality
    mask: Executioner's Eyes
    oghma: Eagle's Splendor
    oghma: Executioner's Eyes
    paladin: Spell Resistance

  * There appears to be a bug where the Aura doesn't actually do
  anything for your party members. :(

Of these, probably the most important are Barkskin (for the +5 generic
AC to put on your Decoy), the bard song 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
spell.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
3c.  Crowd Control                                                *330

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.

I'll cover this in more detail in the class/spell breakdowns
(sections 5 and 6a, respectively; find shortcuts: 500, 610), 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                                 *340

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 
Heals.
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5di. Maximizing Physical Damage                                   *341

Let's do a small exercise in maximizing physical damage. rechet did so
in his Powergaming Party Guide (available at gamefaqs), but his 
analysis is actually flawed. He presents the following mix as the best
build for outputting damage:

  (Half-Orc) 1 Paladin/4 Fighter/7 Cleric/12 Sorcerer/6 Rogue

this is wrong.  I will demonstrate that, contrary to what might be
expected, the best build for outputting damage is in fact:

  (Half-Orc) 30 Paladin

First, let's examine why we start with a Half-Orc anyway.  The easiest
answer is that it's the only race that lets you start with 20
Strength.

Second, why use a Paladin?  There are multiple parts to the answer to
this question.  The first answer is that you get a +1 Strength bonus
per play through, raising the Strength to 22 by the Heart of Fury
endgame.  The second answer is that you get access to the spells Draw
Upon Holy Might, Prayer, and Holy Power.  The third answer is that you
get access to Fiendslayer, a feat that gives you +2 to hit and +2 to 
damage against the endgame toughies.

Just from this base scenario (before I elaborate further), your 
Paladin is up against the final bosses.  He or she buffs him or her
self with Draw Upon Holy Might, Prayer, and Holy Power and is equipped
with Massive Greataxe of Flame +5 in addition to having Power Attack 
enabled.  This is how the damage would work out:

   22 (base average damage from weapon)
  +16 (from Strength of 32, x1.5 for two-handed bonus)
  + 4 (from Holy Power)
  + 2 (from Fiendslayer)
  + 1 (from Prayer)
  + 5 (from Power Attack)
  ---
   50 per strike, attacks are +44/39/34/29/24 (30 +5 from weapon,
      +11 from Strength, +1 from Prayer, +2 from Fiendslayer,
      -5 from Power Attack)

With such a large attack bonus, many of those strikes are essentially
guaranteed to hit, especially when we start adding external buffs to
the mix (Recitation, Emotion: Hope, Bard Songs, Luck, Tymora's Loop,
Young Ned's Knucky).  Let's assume for the sake of argument that we
are up against a character with AC 40, reasonable for end game IWD2.
The net damage would be:

    .95 * 50 (+44 guaranteed except on 1)
  + .95 * 50 (+39 guaranteed except on 1)
  + .75 * 50 (+34 misses on 1-5)
  + .50 * 50 (+29 misses on 1-10)
  + .25 * 50 (+24 misses on 1-15)
  ----------
    170 average damage per round

Now, couldn't we do better by adding in some other classes?  Short
answer is no.

First, what about adding enough Fighter levels to get Weapon 
Specialization for the +2 damage?  Well, the big difference between
a Paladin at level 30 and a Paladin at level 26 is Draw Upon Holy 
Might gives +10 and +8 to Strength, respectively. That 2 point
difference in Strength is a +1 difference in damage and to hit.  In
this case, the net damage works out to be (the 26/4 Paladin/Fighter
has 1 less to-hit and 1 more damage than a straight out 30):

    .95 * 51 (+43 guaranteed except on 1)
  + .90 * 51 (+38 misses on 1-2)
  + .70 * 51 (+33 misses on 1-6)
  + .45 * 51 (+28 misses on 1-11)
  + .20 * 51 (+24 misses on 1-16)
  ----------
    163.2 average damage per round

As enemy AC goes up, this difference becomes worse.  In fact, the
only time having the Fighter levels is better is when you have luck
(to negate critical misses) and are up against an enemy weak enough
such that the fourth attack will always hit, ie so that you have
something like this:

   1.00 * 50    1.00 * 51  (enough luck and +hit to always hit)
  +1.00 * 50   +1.00 * 51  (enough luck and +hit to always hit)
  +1.00 * 50   +1.00 * 51  (enough luck and +hit to always hit)
  +1.00 * 50   + .95 * 51  (just enough luck and +hit to miss only 1)
  + .75 * 50   + .70 * 51  (misses on 1-5 or 1-6)
  ----------   ----------
  237.5/round 237.15/round

As you can see, this is the break point where +hit no longer has an
advantage, so the 26/4 Paladin/Fighter blend starts to beat out the
Paladin. In addition, the more damage you do (with external buffs
like Emotion: Hope) the break point becomes even more trivial (since
an additional +1 damage becomes less important compared to the 5%
increased chance to miss).  And anyway, as you might be able to tell,
being in this such a situation for this break point to matter is 
going to be kind of rare in endgame Heart of Fury mode.

Now, what about those Cleric levels?  Well, they were only there in
rechet's guide because he wanted Holy Power and, well, we already
solved that with levels of Paladin - plus, those Cleric levels dilute
the high attack bonus that the Paladin gets.

Those Sorcerer levels were there for Tenser's Transformation.  Now,
the main benefit is the +2d4 Strength, which stacks on top of other
Strength bonuses. However, on average this is only +5 Strength, and
the cost for that is to lose 12 Paladin levels, which in and of itself
is a loss of +4 Strength from Draw Upon Holy Might.  Moreover, because
of rounding that average extra +1 Strength from Tenser's 
Transformation wouldn't actually result in extra damage.  All this
uncertainty and you give up the ability to recast Draw Upon Holy Might
and Holy Power as needed (in case they get dispelled or run out of 
time, since DUHM only has a 10 round duration), since Tenser's blocks
further spellcasting.  You wouldn't even be able to cast Tenser's
again in case you got a bad roll (and getting better than a 5 from
a 2d4 is actually fairly uncommon, only on 6 out of 16 possible
different rolls of the dice).

What about Rogue levels?  Well, they were there for "sneak attack"
damage, which is absolutely silly.  You sacrifice a lot of attack
bonus to do that, and if you really want that extra sneak attack, you
can just use Smite Evil (and get extra Smite Evil via feats) to do
+30 damage per hit, which is way more than the piddling 3d6 you'd get
from 6 levels of Rogue.

Now, of course, this is just an illustrative example.  If you were
to actually use a 30 Paladin in Heart of Fury, you'd find that once
the monster you were attacking turned around to counterattack, that
Paladin is going down really fast.  Even with a high Lay on Hands and
that 1d10 hit die, 300+ health is going to still go away in just a
round or two of dedicated attacks from an Apocalyptic Boneguard or
Slayer Knight of Xvim.  Of course, this was also true of rechet's
build, as Tenser's Transformation blocks any casting of Mirror Image
or Improved Invisibility, for example.

But it is meant to demonstrate that, in the end, with all the
multi-classing and min-maxing opportunities available, you still just 
can't beat a good ol' fashioned holy warrior.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
3e.  Alignments:  Good vs Not Good?                               *350

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.

  Good:
    Access to (Light of) Cera Sumat swords.
    Ability to cast Holy Word recklessly.*
    
  Evil:
    Ability to use Neutral/Evil only items, such as
      Bile of the Damned
      Massive Halberd of Hate +4
      Robe of the Evil Archmagi
      Unholy Halberd of Chaos
      Xvimian Fang of Despair
    Immunity to Blasphemy/Unholy Blight.
    
  * See section 6b (find shortcut: 620) for a full treatment.

The main argument against mixing and matching is that the alignment
specific spells (Holy Word/Holy Smite, Blasphemy/Unholy Blight) start
becoming more useless for you to use and your party becomes more
vulnerable to them.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
3f.  Good and Bad Feats                                           *360

I'll only be touching on feats that I think deserve special notice.

  Aegis of Rime/Aqua Mortis/Scion of Storms/Spirit of Flame
    It's not immediately obvious, but when the game says "all", it
      really does mean "all", which includes any elemental damage off
      of magical weapons, for example.  Because of this, even if you
      may never be casting elemental damage spells, it may still be
      worth getting the appropriate feats, as it may just be
      equivalent to getting Weapon Specialization plus some resist.
    An example of this is getting Aegis of Rime while using Halberd
      of the North.  The +20% Cold Damage on the Halberd is almost as
      good as Weapon Specialization and also gives you some cold
      resist.

  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 a second 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? Great!

  Dirty Fighting:
    It's a "nice to have", but because enemies can save the effects
    so well in HOF mode, don't expect it to be a game-changer.

  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. Stay away.

  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 (find shortcut: 220) 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 damage.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
3g.  Good and Bad Skills                                          *370

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 10 or so with a modest
    Intelligence.

  Knowledge (Arcana):
    See Alchemy (though you need more like 15 base skill points here).
    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.  Plus, a
    medium-level Druid makes both Knock and Open Locks obsolete, as a
    Dire Bear can break open every lock in the game (though you may
    have to try a few times for some of them).

  Pick Pocket:
    Note - previously I mentioned here that you needed a really high
      Pick Pocket score to get access to Young Ned's Knucky.  Truth be
      told, that was an assumption I made, as previously I had always
      just gibbed him instantly using the enablecheatkeys CTRL-Y
      trick.  (Sorry!)  Upon actually testing this out, however, it
      seems like even with a really high legitimate Pick Pocket, while
      you can (with a 5% chance) steal some gold off him, the Knucky
      itself is virtually impossible to get through this means (I made
      about 50 attempts with a 48 Pick Pocket score, which is 33 plus
      7 from Dexterity plus 8 from Master Thievery).  In the Gearing
      Up section (find shortcut: 720), I mention specifically how to
      obtain the Knucky, and it certainly does not involve picking
      Jemeliah's pockets.
    In fact, it seems that in HOF mode, pick pocketing becomes
      __extremely__ difficult (having puny chances of success with
      even closed to maxed out stats), and as far as I can tell,
      aside from Jemeliah, no one else gets their loot upgraded.

  Spellcraft:  
    I think this is underrated, but you shouldn't really need more
    than 20 (including your Intelligence modifier) 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                                          *400
----------------------------------------------------------------------
There are a few races that bear special mention for character 
creation.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
4a.  Human/Aasimar                                                *410

In my opinion, the human and aasimar human subtype are the best
overall races for your characters to use.  

  Human:  
    One extra feat and two 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 multiclassing 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 Trolls.

Extra note - I left this out before, but the tiefling (while not as
good as a straight-out human or aasimar) gets a mention because they
get a +2 to intelligence, so it's something to consider if you just
have a straight out Wizard who doesn't need to multiclass.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
4b.  Drow                                                         *420

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?

  Awesomeness:
    Bonus to intelligence.  One of only two races that allows for a 20
      Intelligence, which not only means lots of skills, but really
      powerful Wizard spells.
    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.

  (Minor) Downsides:
    Light blindness isn't *that* bad, since most of the game takes
      place indoors or underground, where it has no effect.
    Penalty to constitution is bad, but with all your other free stats
      you have a net plus of four stat points (though you won't be
      able to create a Drow with 18 Constitution).

However, Drow are extremely limited in multiclassing options, so
you'll need careful planning (and good attention to gender!) to avoid
multiclassing penalties.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
4c.  Deep Gnome                                                   *430

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
multiclassing penalties.
======================================================================



======================================================================
5.  Class Breakdown                                               *500
----------------------------------------------------------------------
This is where I take apart each class and discuss their potential for
HOF mode.  I rate their relative merits on a 4 point scale, as
described below.

  4/4 - Must Have:
    You pretty much need a __very__ good reason to not have as many
    levels of this class as possible.

  3/4 - Pretty Good:
    A definitely positive addition to your party, but this class is
    not absolutely essential for Heart of Fury success.

  2/4 - Mediocre or Specialized Use:
    The class has a lot of weaknesses, but there may still be some
    refined use case where you would want a few levels of it in your
    party.

  1/4 - Just Plain Bad or Incredibly Specific Specialized Use:
    There's almost no reason why you want to touch this class.  Do
    this maybe if you're going for a novelty approach, or just can't
    part with this class concept.  There still may be a remote use for
    this class, so you may still be able to squeeze it in if you want
    to.

  0/4 - Stay Away!
    Absolutely terrible.  There's no saving this class.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
5a.  Barbarian                                                    *510

Overall rating:  0/4

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                                                         *520

Overall rating:  3/4

The Bard has a bunch of things going for it.

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 Tale of Curran Strongheart is also handy, as it bestows immunity
to fear and can even be an instant-cast Remove Fear if you take
advantage of Lingering Song (simply start singing it and then
immediately do something else to trigger the effect).  Unfortunately,
Siren's Yearning has a low Will save DC of 14.  Furthermore, the
regeneration effect of War Chant of the Sith and the enthralling
effect of Siren's Yearning don't trigger while they're lingering, so
to get the full effect of War Chant of the Sith (and any effect from
Siren's Yearning at all), you have to just keep your bard doing
nothing but singing.  Still, Lingering Song is abusively powerful, and
you can arbitrarily stack songs.  Turn on Tale of Curran Strongheart, for
example, then immediately switch over to Tymora's Meldy, and you get
instant immunity to fear for 2 rounds as well as a huge, party-wide
Luck/saving throw bonus.

Second, the bard actually makes for a formidable fighter.  While the
Base Attack Bonus 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
fighter.

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                                                       *530

Overall rating:  3/4 for one cleric, each additional cleric is a 2/4.
Some domains get higher or lower ratings (see next subsection; find
shortcut:  531).

Clerics are very versatile.  However, the major problem with clerics
is that multiples tend to get redundant very quickly (which is why I
have decreasing scores for each successive cleric you add to your
party).  Moreover, to really get the most out of a cleric, you really
need to focus on a cleric's competitive advantages, or else the cleric
will be outclassed by more focused classes.  Their competitive
advantages are as follows:

  Highest spellcasting stat in the game:
    Non-banite clerics are tied with druids in being able to get their
    wisdom up really high, thanks to Every God Ring (best stat
    boosting item in the game), the numerous Wisdom-boosting potions
    you'll find, and the fact that multi-classing to a Paladin will
    get you a free +1 Strength/Wisdom per play through.  Banite
    clerics, however, get even more Wisdom goodness, as they get a
    futher +2 Wisdom per play through.

  Best casters of Symbol: Hopelessness:
    This is one of the most powerful spells in the game, and clerics
    can do it better than any other class.  A Drow Banite with an
    Every God Ring, two Potions of Holy Transference, and two Potions
    of Clear Purpose gets a whopping 42 Wisdom in the end game, which
    is a full +6 extra DC on top of the best a Sorcerer would be able
    to manage.  Not to mention that the Banite gets an additional +1
    DC from their domain perk since Symbol: Hopelessness is a
    Will-save-based spell.  This means that a maximized Drow Banite
    can cast Symbol:  Hopelessness with a mind-numbing spell DC of 35,
    compared to the (by comparison) paltry 28 a maximized Sorcerer can
    do.

  Best healers:
    Clerics are the best healers in the game.  Druids have Heal and
    Mass Heal at one higher spell level than Clerics, which means that
    they get fewer castings at lower levels.

  Among the best physical damage:
    You may dispute this point by pointing to the Fighter, but any
      physical character can be made better with cleric levels, thanks
      to spells like Draw Upon Holy Might, Champion's Strength, and 
      Holy Power. Holy Power, of note, is a full +4 damage per attack
      for the duration. This also has the side effect of making them 
      excellent ranged weapon wielders, as weapons like Bows don't get
      affected by Power Attack, yet Holy Power will give them a damage
      bonus to go along with their higher attacks per round and attack
      rating.
    Do note that a high-level Paladin will ultimately be able to out
      do the Cleric in damage, since Paladins get all the same 
      essential spells but also have a higher base attack bonus and
      an extra, useful feat (Fiendslayer). But, Clerics are far more
      versatile, whereas you generally don't want more than one or
      two levels of Paladin.

  Many useful spells that don't require saving throws:
    Some of this is in the form of spells like Recitation, which have
    global effects, some of this is because they spend a lot of time
    casting spells on themselves and their party members, or because
    they are casting summons.  Point is, you don't need a lot of Spell
    Focus feats to realize their full potential.

As long as you keep in mind all these aspects and spend time
accentuating them instead of working against them, you will find that
clerics add a lot to your party.  Just don't get a Lathander cleric
and hope you can accomplish much with the Meteor Swarm domain spell.
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5c.i.  Domains                                                    *531

Choosing a domain is a very important decisiont to make for a cleric,
and as such, a discussion of the good and bad aspects of each deity's
domains is warranted.  Some domains are of particular note and thus
will get a rating bonus or penalty.

  Painbearer of Ilmater:
    Painbearers can be Lawful Good (thus allowing for a Paladin
    multi-class).  They have many useful domain spells (Magic Circle
    Against Evil, Emotion: Hope, Holy Power, Stoneskin, Holy Word,
    Symbol of Pain).  Furthermore, their domain ability "Ilmater's
    Endurance" (which increases Constitution by 6 for 1
    round/level/day) is quite useful if you plan on getting a
    high-level cleric (to lengthen the duration of the effect), as 6
    constitution at level 30 is equivalent to 90 extra health.

  Morninglord of Lathander:
    Morninglords can be Lawful Good (thus allowing for a Paladin
    multi-class).  Their domain spells are a bit mixed in usefulness,
    though getting an extra Heal and Mass Heal is nothing to sniff
    at.  Unfortunately, their domain abilities are useless, but this
    is largely made up for by the ability to be Lawful Good.

  Silverstar of Selune:  -1 Rating (2/4, 1/4 for each other cleric)
    Pretty terrible.  The domain abilities are irrelevant, and, aside
    from Elemental Legion, so are the domain spells.  You can't even
    be Lawful Good, thus also negating one of the main reasons to have
    a Good-aligned cleric.

  Watcher of Helm:
    You can still be Lawful Good, but that's pretty much all this
    domain has going for it.  You __do__ get an extra casting of
    Greater Command out of the domain spells.  You also get a casting
    of Iron Body and Aegis, which are more useful for a cleric than a
    mage, so if you're into using those spells, that's a plus.

  Lorekeeper of Oghma:
    While you can be Good or Evil with this domain, you can't be
    Lawful Good, and you don't get the Banite Quest.  Still, you get
    free castings of Identify (thus releaving you of the need to get
    Knowledge: Arcana and Alchemy), and the domain spells have a few
    really useful ones (Malison, Greater Command, Symbol of
    Hopelessness though at one less spell level, Executioner's Eyes,
    and Wail of the Banshee) amidst some otherwise useless ones.
    Getting Wail of the Banshee or Executioner's Eyes may even better
    than getting the +2 Strength/Wisdom from the Paladin quest (though
    the Banite bonus is still better).

  Dreadmaster of Bane:  +1 Rating (4/4, 3/4 for each other cleric)
    If you're playing evil, you __absolutely__ must have at least one
    of these guys in your party.  They get the benefit of a
    Banite-specific quest (that I've mentioned over and over) that
    nets you a +2 permanent Wisdom per play-through and have arguably
    the best domain ability in the game (all their spells requiring
    Will saves are at +1 DC).  Not only that, Banites have really
    useful domain spells in the form of Emotion: Despair, Greater
    Command, Gate (available very early on since it's at spell level
    7), Power Word: Blind, and Mass Dominate.  Banites are well suited
    to being Decoys (due to their insanely high Wisdom scores) and
    debuffers (due to their insanely high DC's).

  Battleguard of Tempus:  -1 Rating (2/4, 1/4 for each other cleric)
    Pretty bad.  Relatively useless domain abilities (you can easily
    get Martial Weapon: Axe proficiency just by multi-classing), and
    all of the high-level domain spells are useless on Heart of Fury
    thanks to really high enemy health.  The only consolation is that
    you can get a special book in Targos that lets you cast Champion's
    Strength for free once/day that only Battleguards can use.

  Demarch of Mask:
    Relatively weak/useless domain abilities, a lack of any Paladin
    multi-classing possibilities, and no Banite quest bonus for
    Wisdom.  Still, these shortcomings are compensated for by a whole
    slew of useful domain spells (Minor Mirror Image, Blur, Mirror
    Image, Emotion: Despair, Improved Invisibility, Shades, Mass
    Invisibility, Blasphemy, and Executioner's Eyes).  The only domain
    spell level that misses out on something decent is the 5th, and
    even then you still have Shadow Conjuration you could use there.

  Stormlord of Talos:
    No Paladin multi-classing and no Banite quest.  You do get two
    handy domain abilities (5/- electrical resistance and "Destructive
    Blow", which gives +2 hit/damage for 1 round/level/day).  Plus,
    while not much of the domain spells are useful, you still end up
    with some heavy hitters, namely Tremor (though only at spell level
    seven) and Wail of the Banshee.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
5d.  Druid                                                        *540

Overall Rating:  3/4

I think the druid gets an unfairly bad rap.  On normal, I'd put the
druid as the best class in the game (a party of six Druids casting
Static Charge - which ignores Spell Resistance - would be brutal), 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 (and
Tremor affects undead).

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).

Note:  It's good to point out that once you have a Druid who can
shapeshift into a Dire Bear (which is possible by the level 12
breakpoint), you no longer need anyone with Open Locks, as with a
massive 30 Strength, the shapeshifted Druid can break open every lock
in the game (though will occasionally need several tries to accomplish
it).
----------------------------------------------------------------------
5e.  Fighter                                                      *550

Overall Rating:  1/4

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
ever need.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
5f.  Monk                                                         *560

Overall Rating:  2/4

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 +45 SR off of
dual-wielded Holy Avengers).  Of course, the stunning effect is decent
and potentially really hard to resist and only affects fists (though
the stun only lasts 1 round), 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
getting SR).
----------------------------------------------------------------------
5g.  Paladin                                                      *570

Overall Rating:  2/4

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 two out of three of those points can be
accomplished with just 1 level of Paladin, and the remaining point
with just 2 levels.  The paladin's spellcasting, while possessing a
few key spells like Draw Upon Holy Might, Prayer, Recitation, and Holy
Power, is otherwise mediocre, lacking the stuff that makes the Cleric
pretty good and versatile.  On top of that, the Paladin's ability to
turn undead is meaningless as turning is fairly useless already.

That being said, the Paladin does have a couple of other things going
for it that might make it reasonably useful in a certain setup.  
First, Paladins get a couple of neat feats - the most important being
Fiendslayer, which requires 8 Paladin levels and Weapon Focus in Large
Swords.  It gives you +2 hit and damage against chimeras, demons, 
dragons, and half-dragons.  These happen to be the toughest enemy 
types in the game, and half-dragons, demons, and chimeras in 
particular dominate the last chapter of the game, so you effectively 
get a better version of Weapon Specialization against a lot of your 
enemies (Isair and Madae are demon/half-dragons, by the way).

Second, with a large Charisma (Sorceror/Bard multi-class?) and a
decent number of levels, Lay on Hands effectively becomes another 
Heal.  With a 30 Charisma, just 10 Paladin levels would be enough to
effectively function as a Heal for your more fragile characters (it
would heal 100 health).

Third, thanks to divine spell-casting, the Paladin is better at
brute physical damage than a Cleric.  The Paladin has a higher base
attack bonus than a Cleric, which helps make those 4th and 5th
attacks in a round connect with the enemy even with a full-on Power
Attack 5 turned on.  As a result, Paladins can deal more outright
physical damage than a Cleric (especially coupled with Fiendslayer),
though they lose out on a lot of the Cleric's flexibility.  See 3d.i
(find shortcut: 341) for more details.

* The Aura effect appears to be bugged in that it doesn't actually do
anything for your party members.  You'll see a symbol on your other
party members in range, but they'll still get feared.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
5h.  Ranger                                                       *580

Overall Rating:  1/4

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
divine spells suck (nothing like Holy Power which the Paladin gets).
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:
    Trolls
    Undead
    Yuan-Ti
    Ogres
    Orcs
    Lizard Men
    Giants

Trolls are consistently found throughout the game, save for chapter
four and six, 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).

Undead are fairly prominent throughout all the chapters 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, getting a good favored enemy bonus against them is probably
your best bet, if only just to get as much of an advantage as you can
against the endgame Apocalyptic Boneguards.

Yuan-Ti, while pretty absent for most of the early game, dominate
chapter five ridiculously and are a really annoying bunch of monsters,
filled with annoying spellcasters and SR-backed warriors.

After that, I just listed enemies in my percieved order of
decreasing prevalence.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
5i.  Rogue                                                        *590

Overall Rating:  0/4, 1/4 if you're really good at micromanagement or
you're creating an AC-based Decoy.

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.

There is, however, one very specific use for a Rogue - Crow's Nest,
which is an item that gives +3 Generic AC and is thus essential for an
AC-based Decoy, can only be equipped by a character with atleast one
level of Rogue.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
5j.  Sorcerer                                                     *5a0

Overall Rating:  4/4

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
Blast Fireball.

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:  3/4

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, bonuses to Charisma are easier to find
than bonuses 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 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 reflected in my rating, a wizard is just as good, if not
better, than a sorceror at first, but with each extra wizard you add
to your party, 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                                                *600
----------------------------------------------------------------------
6a.  Buffs/Support                                                *610

  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.  Be warned that ability bonuses don't stack.

  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 (giving a whopping +2
    damage bonus in addition to other rolls), 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 careful aiming.

  Exaltation (abjuration):
    One of a cleric's essential 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 weapons.

  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 target.

  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/cleric 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 off 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.  Moreover, the
    damage they do can effectively bypass all sorts of damage
    resistance, so your spellcasters will probably even be able to
    outdamage your main damage engines in some cases.

  Prayer (conjuration):
    I've already mentioned this hundreds of times before, but I'll say
    it again:  +1 to attack rolls, damage rolls, and saving throws for
    your party, and an unsavable -1 to enemy attack rolls, damage
    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 of prayer.

  Recitation (abjuration):
    Very similar to a version of Prayer on crack.  Unlike Prayer, it
    won't affect damage rolls or enemy damage rolls, but it will alter
    attack rolls and saving throws by +2 for you and -2 for enemies.

  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 disaster.

  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                                                *620

  Banishment (abjuration):
    This is effectively a Wail of the Banshee directed at summons. 
    Enemy summons, through some quirk of Heart of Fury, tend to be
    very vulnerable to spells, so in some cases, this is much more
    cost effective at clearing the screen of enemies.

  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 controlled undead.

  Disintegrate (transmutation):
    An instant death spell that has the amazing benefit of killing
      undead or creatures who may be normally immune to death effects.
      In the former case, not only is handy to have an insta-kill
      against undead (who normally have low fortitude saves anyway),
      but is *really* useful when you start running into super tough
      undead like Apocalpytic Boneguards (though they have good
      saves).  In the latter, giving yourself an option against
      creatures like the Guardian or Slayer Knights of Xvim is always
      nice.  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 for it to fade to nothingness.
    It's important to note for all you Baldur's Gate veterans that,
      unlike in those games, Disintegrate-ing an enemy in Icewind Dale
      II does __not__ destroy their items.  Any enemy destroyed in
      this way will simply leave their treasures on the ground, so
      feel free to be reckless in your Disintegration.

  Dismissal (abjuration):
    One of the quirks about summons in Heart of Fury is that those
    created by enemies retain their normal-difficulty health die
    information.  Given that, Dismissal is 95% of the time an
    instant-kill spell against enemy summons.  Only the most powerful
    summons cast by the most powerful enemies will be able to shrug it
    off.

  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.
    Moreover, this spell has one amazing distinction over Mass
      Dominate - it can dominate monsters that Mass Dominate would
      miss.  Slayer Knights of Xvim are the best example of this, as
      they are normally completely ignored by Mass Dominate's effects,
      but are still vulnerable to being individually dominated via
      Dominate Person.  Though, you'll still need Malison,
      Prayer/Recitation to give yourself a shot at breaking past their
      high Will save.
    Contrary to the spell name/description, you can use this to
      dominate non-humans (like animals) as well.

  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 area of effect
    is a bit limited, though.

  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 (find shortcut: 240), 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 or underground.

  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 special
    creatures).

  Great Shout (evocation):
    Its area of effect is pretty useful in cramped fighting quarters,
    and with proper Spell Focus, this spell effectively provides an
    extra way of stunning a huge swatch of creatures for a few
    rounds.  Plus, it casts really quickly, so it can be useful for 
    getting a character out of a bind.

  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.

  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 creature.

  Holy Word/Blasphemy (conjuration):  
    A high-level cleric spell 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 two 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.  You can stun down an enemy mage before
      he or she has the chance to start casting big spells and 
      quickly run in with a few melee attackers and dispatch the mage
      before he or she can recover.
    Holy Word is also great as an escape spell, and not just for the
      person casting it.  Stunned enemies acquire new targets when
      they snap out of it, so simply casting this (at near-instant
      speed, need I remind you) and then moving all endangered,
      non-Decoy characters away will save you lots of
      reload/Resurrection headaches.
    Blasphemy is a much worse version of Holy Word (since it affects
      Good instead of Evil enemies), but since it also targets neutral
      enemies, you'll still be able to get some mileage out of it.
    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.

  Mass Dominate (enchantment):  
    A ridiculously powerful spell to no end.  When you use this, one
      of two things tends to happen:  you gain control of nearly all
      of the creatures on screen, or you gain control of a chunk of
      the creatures on screen.  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 slight caveat 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 or
      Emotion: Despair).  Anything overly beneficial may come back to
      haunt you when the spell wears off (such as hitting all your
      minions with Improved Haste or Mass Heal).
    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 (except maybe cast prayer/recitation).
      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
      saves.  Moreover, there may be many cases in which Wail of the
      Banshee will have no effect, whereas Mass Dominate 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.
    Note that every once and a while, instead of keeping an enemy in
      place, this spell will instead fear the enemy.  I'm not quite
      sure what the odds of it holding versus fearing are, though.

  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 make 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                                                       *630

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
    Chain Lightning
    Horrid Wilting
    Meteor Swarm
    Skull Trap
    Acid Storm
    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
close quarters.

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
destroying them.

Skull Trap has a really low area of effect, which is both a plus and a
minus.  A plus because there's less risk of accidentally hurting one
of your own party members.  A minus because you have to aim with great
precision.  In addition, skull trap only triggers by proximity, so if
you miss just a smidgen, the skull will just float there until
something triggers it.  However, it deals a nicely hard-to-resist
slashing damage.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
6d.  A Word on Summons                                            *640

Amongst all the generic Summon Monster and Summon Nature's Ally and
the other similar spells, there are a few that stand out.

  Animate Dead:
    A cleric gets this as early as their third spell level, and it's a
      mainstay from that moment on.  The Boneguards and Zombie Lords
      you were summoning in normal get appropriate upgrades in Heart
      of Fury, complete with damage resistance.  Zombie Lords are
      resistant to fire and bludgeoning damage (though vulnerable to
      slashing), and Boneguards are resistant to slashing and piercing
      damage (though vulnerable to fire and bludgeoning).  Plus, being
      undead, they are immune to a bunch of spells that other enemies
      might use against you (like Blasphemy).
    The summons stick around for a super long time (the longest of any
      spell) and, best of all, are immune to Horrid Wilting, so can
      serve as tanks while you blow away any enemy with that nice
      damage spell.

  Gate:
    The Gelugon this calls in will remain useful for most of the game,
      having many attacks, extra Frost damage, immunity to basic
      weapons, a constant fear effect, and a super duper long
      duration.  Just make sure that all your party members have
      Protection from Evil on them, or else the Gelugon will turn
      hostile on you.
    Note - for any of you Baldur's Gate veterans, it's important to
      note that unlike those games, any enemy killed by the demon
      called in by Gate (and other similar Protection From Evil-based
      summons, like all the (Lesser) Planar Allies and weaker demon
      spells) still grant you experience.  Plus, they don't have any
      annoying area of effect spells that'll make you regret calling
      them in.

  Shades:
    Brings forth super powerful monsters of all varieties in a
    slightly weaker, shadowy form.  The "weaker" part hardly matters;
    you're still bringing in creatures like gigantic Frost Giants
    still capable of soaking up and dealing lots of damage.
======================================================================



======================================================================
7.  Gearing Up                                                    *700
----------------------------------------------------------------------
7a.  Which weapon proficiency to take?                            *710

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, both one handed and two.  Plus,
the critical threat range is 20/x3, which couples very well with luck
bonuses and Improved Critical (far better than for 19-20/x2 critical
weapons).  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, you'll probably want one melee character get Focus'ed in
Bastard Swords or Polearms.  Pudu's Fiery Blight and Bastard Sword +3:
Cold Fire are easy finds and are both among the best melee weapons you
can get (though Pudu's Fiery Blight is at the end of the game).
Halberd of the North is also easily available in a store in Kuldahar
and is also pretty decent.  Plus, choosing Bastard Swords leaves you
open for the possibility of using the primo Miasmic and Heroism
varieties.

After that, 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 them.

Things get iffier next.  Maces and Hammers are decent choices after
that, but there's nothing spectacular to write home about, save for
some jaw-dropping completely random drops in the shape of clubs (see
the next session for more details).  Plus, most two-handed options
(Polearm aside from the ones I already mentioned, Great Sword,
Quarterstaffs, and two-handed Hammers) aren't spectacular enough over
two-handed axes or simply dual-wielding two one-handed weapons (unless
you have a very, very high strength).

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 attack bonus.

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                                              *720

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).  This is available when you go
    deeper in to Fell Wood.

  Bastard Sword +3: Cold Fire (bastard sword):
    You'll always be able to find this as a set drop, which is good,
    because this gives you a nice staple for any Bastard Sword wielder
    to brandish.  It's also one of the better one-handed melee
    weapons, dealing 1d10 + 3 damage plus 1d6 cold and 1d6 fire, for
    an average of 15.5 damage.  The elemental versatility also means
    that you'll be able to take advantage of weaknesses pretty well.
    You'll find this early off one of the enemies in the fight 
    against Saablic Tan on __normal__ difficulty.

  Bastard Sword of Heroism (bastard sword):
    If you're really 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.
    The earliest I've seen this is in one of the containers after the
      Tyrannar fight at the top of the Cleric Tower in the Severed
      Hand on __normal__.  On Heart of Fury, there's a much greater
      chance that enemies (starting with the Saablic Tan fight) will
      just randomly drop this.

  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.  This HOF weapon is available
    from Gerbash in Kuldahar.

  Club of Confusion (club):
    In addition to having solid base damage (1d6+5 and a 99% chance to
    deal 2d6 more, for what is essentially 15.5 base damage) and being
    keen, the best part about this weapon is that the 50% chance of
    confusing the target __does not allow for a save__. With a high
    attack rate, you'll be able to make sure that all the enemies
    you're attacking stay relatively docile (though confused enemies
    being attacked still have a tendency to fight back).  You'll find
    this in the Mage Tower in the Severed Hand.

  Club of Dazing +5 (club):
    Not a terribly exciting weapon, except for the fact that it takes
    a save higher than 36 to resist the stunning effect and that it's
    one of few weapons that have a 100% chance to proc this stun
    effect.  (Some other weapons have a less than 100% chance even
    without mentioning so.)  This means that you can easily stunlock
    an enemy with this weapon, which is just nice.

  Club of Destiny +5 (club):
    It's just a lowly club, but it still deals a respectable 1d6+5
    damage.  More importantly, it permanently enhances the wielder
    with Luck, as if Luck or a potion of Luck was used on the
    character.  Thus, it won't stack with those other spell or
    spell-equivalents, but it does mean you won't have to keep buffing
    someone to take advantage of the myriad plusses a luck bonus gets.

  Club of Freezing Flames +5 (club):
    This gets a special mention because despite being a lowly club,
    it's one of the best melee weapons in the game.  It deals 1d6 + 5
    base damage, with an additional 2d6 fire and 2d6 frost (both with
    an extra +10% chance of 1d10 fire or frost), which comes out to a
    whopping average of 22.5 before the 2d10 total extra elemental
    burst damage chance.  Not even the Bastard Sword of Heroism can
    top that.  In fact, the only reason why the Massive Greataxe of
    Flame beats out this weapon is because you get extra Strength
    damage off of wielding the greataxe with two hands. Unfortunately,
    this is a random drop, but the plus side is that since it's a
    club, pretty much any melee user can pick it up immediately.

  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
    game.  This is available off the enchantress in Targos.

  Golden Heart of  (long sword):
    One of the best long 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.

  Halberd of the North:
    It's available early on even in __normal__ difficulty off Conlan
    in Kuldahar (and you can get a second in HOF mode), but it's
    still one of the better weapons in the game.  It does a
    solid 17 average damage per strike (5.5 base + 10.5 cold, with a 
    10% chance for a further 1d10) and is sure striking, though it
    offers no attack bonus.  The combination of sure striking and
    the massive amounts of cold damage makes this a perfect weapon
    for dispatching Isair, as the sure striking does a good job
    of piercing through a lot of his defenses, and Isair has an extra
    weakness to cold damage.

  (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 2, but the other benefits of the two Holy
    Avengers are too great to ignore.  Refer to a walkthrough if you
    need help finding these weapons.

  (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 Boneguards).  The
    earliest one you can get is on normal difficulty, completing rank
    6 of the Battle Square in the Ice Temple.

  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.  This is a random drop.

  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.

  Miasmic Bastard Sword (bastard sword):
    It doesn't look terribly exciting off the top, since it only does
    a base 1d10 damage and has a bunch of conditionals for its extra
    effects.  However, you'll quickly realize (and I note this below),
    that enemies need a high saving throw to resist the "Venom" and
    "Stunning" effects, so with a high base attack bonus and a full
    five attacks per round, you can disable enemies rapidly and keep
    them under multiple poison effects at once.

  Pudu's Fiery Blight (halberd):
    Wow!  It does a solid amount of damage (1d10 + 5 plus 2d6 for an
      average of 17.5 plus a 10% chance of 2d10 burst), but more
      importantly, the stun effect is ridiculously hard to resist, so
      much so that against all but the toughest or luckiest of
      monsters, you can pretty much keep them stunlocked while you
      mercilessly eat away their health.
    In fact, barring two really huge negatives, this would be the
      hands-down best weapon in the game, as the high damage combined
      with the nearly-impossible-to-resist stunning would essentially
      let a melee character with 5 attacks go toe-to-toe with any
      monster in the game.
    The first negative is that this is available only at the __very__
      end of the game, after you kill Pudu.  Depending on how you play
      out the end quests, this may mean you still have a few more
      battles (and still two really hard ones coming up), but it
      definitely minimizes the time you get to use this.
    The second, more severe, drawback, is that since this is available
      at the very end of the game, you'll fight quite a bit of
      monsters that are completely immune to the stun effect, namely
      Slayer Knights of Xvim, Apocalpytic Boneguards, Isair, and Madae.
    Still, being able to let one character go one on one with most of
      the enemies in the top-of-the-war-tower battle is one hell of an
      endgame perk for someone who's been dedicatedly investing in
      Halberd proficiency/focus.

  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.  This is available from one of
    the Underdark merchants.

  Scimitar:  Blood Trails (large sword):
    If you read the next subsection, you'll note that monsters need to
    roll a 30 for their Fortitude saving throw to resist the effects
    of this weapon.  You'll also be pleased to note that the effect
    they're trying to resist is a whopping 5 damage/round for 10 round
    wounding effect (most wounding effects are 1 damage/round or 2
    damage/round at the most).  With Malison/Recitation/Prayer, five
    attacks/round, and a high attack bonus, you can quickly rack up
    all sorts of insane periodic damage on an enemy, as each instance
    of the 5 damage per round stacks on top of each other!  Mages,
    with their lower fortitude saves, will find themselves quickly
    bleeding to death.  Plus, it sure doesn't hurt that this is also
    sure striking (ignoring most damage resistances) and also deals a
    +1d6 slashing damage per strike (though this just makes up for the
    fact that the base weapon damage is a mere 1d6).  This drops off
    Iyachtu Xvim.

  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
      "Gotcha!"  You can get this off Gerbash in Kuldahar.
    There's a caveat, though - both this and the normal version of
      this axe __do not__ get a bonus to damage from strength.  At
      least this means you can put this on a character with 6 Strength
      with no ill effects.

  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 images.  You
    get this for slaying the mini-boss at the end of level 1 of
    Dragon's Eye.

  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).  You can find this at various points in the
    game (some as random drops), but you can buy one for sure off the
    Underdark merchants.

  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.  Also note that, unlike what
    the game says, it's more a Hopelessness (special stun) effect than
    a Despair (penalty to rolls) effect, which makes it better an
    effect than you'd think.  Too bad it's available so late in the
    game as a drop off an enemy mage (Saablic Tan, right before
    arriving at the Severed Hand).

  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, so you'll be spreading
    enormous of poison around with this weapon in tow, just be warned
    that the poison doesn't stack, it merely refreshes with each
    fresh injection.  This is available in Chult off a table in the
    southwest section in the temple.
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7b.i.  High-Saving Throw Weapons                                  *721

I mentioned before that the vast majority of weapons and weapon-like
effects are pretty much useless since they require a measly 14 to save
against.  I also mentioned that there were a few exceptions.  There
isn't really a pattern to them, other than the fact that these are all
Heart of Fury-mode-only items.  However, because I think you, my
faithful reader, are special and deserving of my attention, I've gone
through a lot of the weapons in the game and tested them out, just to
see which are really worth using.

There are a few gotchas - First, I didn't go through any ranged
weapons.  Second, I only tested out weapons that someone might
conceivably want to use, so I didn't test out any normal-mode weapons,
nor did I test out lame 1d8+2 weapons with a chance of doing something
lame for a saving throw.

How to read the following table:  across from each listed weapon is
the DC/Saving Throw for its special effects.  This is the number that
the enemy must roll with the specified save in order to evade them.
Across from that are any special weapon-specific notes that I had to
add.

The way the weapons are sorted may not make much sense (why is the a
"club" grouping separate from the "blunt"?) but that was because I was
just going by what was in DSimpson's item listing, so eh, what are you
gonna do.

Finally, if a weapon in a given category isn't listed, it is safe to
assume that the saving throw it needs for its effects is 14 or is so
similarly low it is not worth your efforts anyway.

  [Weapon Name/Category]              [DC/Saving Throw]       [Notes]
  AXES  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Coward's Flight                       n/a                   *1*

  BLUNT WEAPONS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Mace of Stunning Frost Burst          40 Fort
    Stunning Star of Speed                40 Fort

  CLUBS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Club of Dazing +5                     37 Fort
    Club of Confusion                     n/a                   *2*

  DAGGERS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Xvimian Fang of Despair               24 Will/see note      *3*
    Ysha's Sting                          37 Fort

  FLAILS  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Pustule's Flail of Boils              37 Fort               *4*

  HALBERDS  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Holy Swizarnian Hammer of Lucerne     14 Fort               *5*
    Life's Blood Drinker                  see note              *6*
    Pudu's Fiery Blight                   >46 Fort              *7*

  SWORDS  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Bastard Sword +2:  Black Adder        24 Fort
    The Black Lamia's Tongue              27 Fort
    Bleeding Short Sword +4               28 Fort
    Charged Short Sword of Wounding +5    40 Fort
    Lolth's Cruel String                  see note              *8*
    Miasmic Bastard Sword                 36 Fort               *9*
    Scimitar:  Blood Trails               30 Fort
    Scimitar+4:  Ichor                    27 Fort

  *1* Neither the Panic or Slow effect on Coward's Flight allows for a
  save.
  *2* The confusion effect on Club of Confusion has no save.
  *3* Even though the game says it's an Emotion: Despair effect, the
  graphics and the effects on the enemy mirror that of a Symbol:
  Hopelessness effect.  The save listed is for that effect - the Flesh
  to Stone effect has a separate, low Fortitude save not worth
  mentioning.
  *4* All the extra effects of Pustule's Flail of Boils ride on the
  same save as the Venom effect, so you won't see a separate save for
  them - you'll just see contagion/dolorous decay occur at their
  respective rates if the enemy fails their save.
  *5* While the save sucks on the holy smite effect, it still has a
  small, if piddling, effect even when the enemy saves. Unfortunately,
  it also seems that the holy smite triggers at *way* less than the
  listed 25% - it seems more like 5%.
  *6* The wounding effect on Life's Blood Drinker has no save, but the
  vampiric effect has the typical, low 14 requirement.
  *7* The Lower Resistance effect on Pudu's Fiery Blight, like the
  spell, has no saving throw.  It's also important to point out that
  my test creature (Frost Giant), which has a +27 Fortitude Save,
  could only succeed on a natural 20 to resist the stun (a natural 20
  always succeeds) - so I have no idea what the DC actually is, but
  suffice it to say that for most enemies the stun will work 95% of
  the time.
  *8* Lolth's Cruel Sting has the low 14 save, but the poisoning effect
  still has a minor effect even when the saving throw succeeds (2
  damage per second for 6 seconds).
  *9* Instead of two saving throws, one for the poison effect and one
  for the stun effect, the Miasmic Bastard Sword has only one save for
  both - it just means that 25% of the time the enemy fails his or her
  save, he or she also gets stunned.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
7c.  Armor of Note                                                *730

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.

  Barbarian Shield (shield):
    Tied in overall effectiveness with the shield of duergar fortitude
      in boosting health, this one grants +1 Constitution.  This means
      that a character who started with an odd number for their
      constution stat will get 30 extra health at the end of the game,
      twice as much as the duergar fortitude shield! Unfortunately,
      this constitution bonus can be negated by using some other item
      that grants more than +1 to constitution.  Depending on the
      circumstances, though, this can be a really good shield to use.
    Barbarians that you summon using Raging Winds have a chance of
      leaving this shield on their corpse when they die in combat.

  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). This is available off one
    of the soldiers in the Barracks in the Severed Hand.

  Cornugan Hide Armor (light armor):
    One of the best DR-granting items since it also combines with a
    nice regeneration effect.  It has 20% arcane spell-casting
    failure, though, so arcane spellcasters with three ranks in
    armored arcana will still have a 5% failure rate.  This is
    available for completing rank 3 of Battle Square in the Ice
    Temple.

  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).  This can be found in a
    container in the Severed Hand.

  Milton Sixtoe's Armor of Absolute Self (light armor):
    Permanent mind blank and 15% arcane spell-casting failure rate. 
    Not shabby.  You find it in the treasury in the temple inside
    Chult.

  Mooncalf's Shield (shield):
    As often mentioned, this shield grants permanent Protection from
    Arrows, which effectively means near-immunity from ranged attacks.
     Get this in the Prologue when Targos gets attacked - normally
    there's a soldier standing in front of a shield display preventing
    you from getting this, but during the attack he'll move (or die).

  Shield of Duergar Fortitude (shield):
    One of the best hit-point boosting shield in the game, granting
    +15 hit points.  You get it as a reward for clearing the River
    Caves of monsters.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
7d.  Accessories of Note                                          *740

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.  Available off Sheemish's special stash
    after you've set free the Aerial Servant inside Orrick's Tower.

  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).  Available off Sheemish's special
    stash after you've set free the Aerial Servant inside Orrick's
    Tower.

  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.  You can find
    this at various points, but the earliest is buying it off
    Nathaniel in Kuldahar.

  High Tyrannar's Band (ring):
    A really good charisma-boosting item (+4), with a side effect of
    wisdom (also +4).  You get it after you slay the mini-boss at the
    top of the Cleric's Tower in the Severed Hand.

  Lyre of Inner Focus (instrument/shield):
    An instrument you equip like a shield, bestowing an amazing +3
    Strength and +2 Constitution. You can get this off of one of the
    Underdark merchants.

  Young Ned's Knucky (amulet):
    Super awesome!  See section 2e (find shortcut: 250) for more
      details.  Jemeliah, a random NPC in the Targos general store,
      has it on him.  It seems like this is virtually impossible to
      obtain via pick-pocketing, and, in fact, the only seemingly
      legitimate way to obtain this is to cast an instant death spell
      on Jemeliah.
    This is because if Jemeliah dies instantaneously, no one seems to
      care (which doesn't appear to be true of other characters).
      This means that you have to either cast Finger of Death or cast
      Destruction and then hit him with it (though you only have a 5%
      chance with Destruction due to its low save requirement).
      Disintegrate doesn't work because it takes a while for Jemeliah
      to disappear, and he becomes hostile the moment the Disintegrate
      bubble touches him.

  Raging Winds (instrument):
    A super fast way to summon a miniature army.  These berserkers are
    pretty effective on HoF mode (even in the endgame) and are
    undyingly loyal (so don't worry about hitting them with spells by
    accident).  On an amusing note, instead of saying something like
    "RAAAR" or "FOR TEMPUS", very rarely the barbarians will yell
    "Look at me!  I'm a crazy frothing barbarian!".  Glad to see Black
    Isle's sense of humor.  This is available off Beodaewn's caravan.

  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. 
    Available inside a container in the Severed Hand.

  Tymora's Loop (ring):
    MEGA AWESOME!  See section 2e (find shortcut: 250) for more
    details, but unfortunately it's a purely random drop.
======================================================================



======================================================================
8.  Sample Parties                                                *800
----------------------------------------------------------------------
8a.  6-person Good Party                                          *810

This is an all-purpose good-aligned party.  There isn't too much
tricky multiclassing, save for the Decoy.  Properly played, you'll be
able to breeze through all sorts of challenges in HOF mode - this
party covers all the necessary bases while still providing some nice
redundancy as well as some backup strategies.

  Decoy:  
    (Lawful Good) 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 Rogue, get 2 levels of Paladin,
    1 level of Monk, then just level squat and get the remaining 16
    levels of Monk in one shot).

  Insane damage:  
    (Lawful Good) 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
    bonus.

  Support/Healing:  
    (Good) 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:
    (Good) 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:  
    (Good) 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:
    (Good) Aasimar
      Sorceror 30
    Aasimar for a higher Charisma, and maxed out Sorceror to max out
    every single damage spell possible.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
8b.  4-person Good Party                                          *820

This is proof for all you skeptics that you can play with less than 6
characters with good success in HOF mode.  The structure is a bit
different than a 6-person, as you won't have the luxury of free
character spaces to have a dedicated damage spell caster and a
dedicated debuff spell caster.  There's some tricky multiclassing
here, especially since some levels you need to manually gain to help
ameliorate severe HOF challenges (your Decoy, for example, won't have
any mage levels for illusion spells until well into HOF).  In
addition, two of these characters want a Paladin level early so that
they can benefit from both instances of finishing the Paladin quest
(which, in addition to yielding the Holy Avenger swords, gives +1
Strength and Wisdom).

You'll note that here I'll provide alot more information than on the
6-person party, as decisions about stats and items become far more
important with a reduced number of characters.

  Decoy/Backup Healing:
    (Lawful Good) Deep Gnome
      Class Levels:
        Monk 1
        Ranger 1
        Paladin 2
        Rogue 1
        Morninglord of Lathander 14, 
        Illusionist 11
      Base Stats:  8 Str, 20 Dex, 8 Con, 14 Int, 20 Wis, 4 Cha
      Extra Stats:  All 7 into Wisdom
      Notes:  Drink one Holy Potion of Transference
      Important Items:  Every God Ring, Chimandrae's (Warded) Slippers,
        Crow's Nest, Indomitable Bands, Farmer's Cloak, Sunfire
        Talisman, Light of Cera Sumat, Golden Heart of 
    Pretty general decoy.  Lots of AC, plenty of illusion magic (Blink
      is a staple), and extra Heals and Buffs via the cleric levels.

  Insane damage/Support/Healing:
    (Lawful Good) Human
      Class Levels:
        Painbearer of Ilmater 20
        Paladin 1
        Fighter 1
        Sorcerer 8
      Base Stats:  18 Str, 6 Dex, 16 Con, 4 Int, 18 Wis, 14 Cha
      Extra Stats:  All 7 into Wisdom
      Notes:  Drink one Holy Potion of Transference and one Potion of
        Clear Purpose
      Important Items:  Dwarven Ogre, Ned's Lucky Knucky, High 
        Tyrannar's Band, some weapon with elemental damage (Club of
        Freezing Flames, Halberd of the North, Massive Greataxe of
        Flame, etc.)
    There are two major reasons that this character is Human.  The
      first is to enable 2 skill points/level even with a sub-10
      Intelligence, which means the character can max out
      Concentration and get enough Spellcraft to pick up Aegis of Rime
      and Spirit of Flame (to boost elemental weapon damage).
    The second reason is to let this character multiclass without
      getting the steep -20% experience penalty.  The Fighter level is
      there to let the character wield the Dwarven Ogre, but the
      Fighter level also means that multiclassing gets a little tricky
      without either a race that supports any multiclass
      (human/half-elf) or a cleric multiclass (female drow).
    Equip this character with a Dwarven Ogre, 18 base Strength for a
      total of 26 after Paladin quest bonuses, Prayer, Emotion: Hope,
      and Holy Power, a two-handed weapon, and Luck bonuses, and watch
      the damage skyrocket to enormous levels.
    With all the Wisdom, this character also makes a decent debuffer,
      having a total of 34 in the end game, being able to use Greater
      Command, Symbol: Hopelessness, and even Hold Person to decent
      effect.
    The Charisma lets the character use important decoy-like spells,
      and the High Tyrannar's band will give you 18, which gives you
      an oh-so-important extra 4th level Sorcerer spell for Improved
      Invisibility.

  Buffing/Crowd Control/Diplomat
    (Good) Aasimar
      Class Levels:
        Druid 12
        Sorcerer 18
      Base Stats:  8 Str, 14 Dex, 8 Con, 14 Int, 16 Wis, 20 Cha
      Extra Stats:  All 7 into Charisma
      Important Items:  Master's Robe (for the +3 Charisma)
    Going for twelve druid levels off the bat will be __incredibly__
      useful, as having those druid levels will make your life
      significantly easier on normal (and help you realize why I would
      rate it the best class on normal difficulty).  With proper level
      squatting, you'll be able to get 18 Sorcerer levels early on in
      HOF, and then you can start tossing around Mass Dominate, Chaos,
      Dominate Person, Power Word: Blind, etc.

  Damage/Support/Skills
    (Good) Tiefling
      Class Levels:
        Diviner 19
        Bard 11
      Base Stats:  11 Str, 15 Dex, 14 Con, 20 Int, 4 Wis, 14 Cha
      Extra Stats:  All 7 into Intelligence
      Important Items:  High Master's Robe, Lyre of Progression
    This class has so many skill points you won't know what to do with
      them all.  Anyway, having the mage levels will help in normal,
      as this character is well suited to picking up spells like
      Disintegrate and Finger of Death thanks to all the extra Spell
      Focus that will come out of the extra feats from the Diviner
      levels.  This class also benefits from reckless abuse of
      Lingering Song.  Put both Tymora's Melody and War Chant of the
      Sith on your toolbar and memorize what function keys they map
      to; throughout every battle, alternate between the two each
      round.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
8c.  2-person Evil Party                                          *830

This party will let you reap the rewards of being sinister:  access
to some top-notch items, and the ability to completely shrug off
Unholy Blight and Blasphemy (a perk you don't fully appreciate until
you experience it for yourself).  Plus, because evil clerics can become
Banites, you get extra oomph from that too (as their religious bonus
is arguably the best of all clerics, and they also get the +2 Wisdom
per play though thanks to the Banite quest in the Kuldahar graveyard).

It's my basic theory (that I haven't tested) that you __must__ be evil
in Heart of Fury to do a 2-person party, as the extra Wisdom is
essential for AC and maximizing the chance that your debuffs connect,
plus the immunity to Blasphemy when you only have two characters is
__just that important__.

  Decoy/Debuffer
    (Evil) Deep Gnome
      Class Levels:
        Monk 1
        Rogue 1
        Dreadmaster of Bane 20
        Sorcerer 8
      Base Stats:  8 Str, 20 Dex, 10 Con, 14 Int, 20 Wis, 2 Cha
      Extra Stats:  All 7 into Wisdom
      Notes:  Drink both Potions of Holy Transference, one Potion of
        Clear Purpose, both Potions of Arcane Absorption, both potions
        of Magic Resistance
      Important Items:  Bile of the Damned, Chimandrae's (Warded)
        Slippers, Crow's Nest, Indomitable Bands, Farmer's Cloak,
        Sunfire Talisman
    You'll have a sick Wisdom with this class (40 in the end game),
      which not only means an insane Monk AC bonus, but an insane DC
      as well.  You can drink another Potion of Clear Purpose if you
      really want to and use an Every God Ring instead of Bile of the
      Damned, but then you're giving up a precarious amount of health
      as well as the ability to do any damage at all with this class.
  
  Swiss Army Knife
    (Evil) Male Drow
      Class Levels:
        4 Fighter
        26 Diviner
      Base Stats:  18 Str, 8 Dex, 16 Con, 20 Int, 4 Wis, 6 Cha
      Extra Stats:  6 into Intelligence, 1 into Constitution
      Important Items:  Dwarven Ogre, Ring of Hearty Strength (for the
        +1 Constitution), Xvimian Fang of Despair + some other hawt
        weapon for dual-wielding (Bastard Sword +3: Cold Fire, Bastard
        Sword of Heroism, Club of Confusion, etc.) OR Mooncalf Shield
        for protection from ranged weapons
    This is your all purpose class.  Your other character is there to
      soak up enemy attacks and do some basic buffing/healing/debuffing,
      but this character is all about laying down the heavy stuff -
      Wail of the Banshee, Mass Dominate, Animate Dead, Shades,
      Dominate Person, Chaos, Slow, etc.
    I chose a Wizard-based mage instead of a Sorcerer simply because
      of the diversity in spells you need.  Since you can learn as
      many spells as you want, this will let you stock up on spells
      you may only need situationally (like Control Undead or Meteor
      Swarm for those damn jellies).  The biggest risk with this class
      is that you'll run out of some key spell (Wail of the Banshee,
      for example) or misprepare for a fight (got too many Dominate
      Persons when you were expecting Slayer Knights of Xvim, when you
      end up fighting a bunch of lesser creatures and Chaos would've
      been better).
    This class also needs to be able to melee, because there are just
      some situations where this character needs to get down and
      dirty, like when you've run out of Mordenkainen's Sword.
      Unfortunately, your base attack bonus isn't too great, so you
      probably shouldn't even use Power Attack.
    This class should also have a lot of back up weapons handy, just
      to handle all the possibilities (fire damage for trolls,
      disruption weapons, Kegsplitter, Goblin Slayer, frost damage for
      Isair and Madae).
----------------------------------------------------------------------
8d.  Playing a Smaller Party                                      *840

Playing a smaller party introduces new types of challenges to your
game play.  By far, the hardest part about having a smaller party is
playing the first parts of normal difficulty!  This is because you'll
still need to be level squatting, but at such low levels, all your
characters will be missing any kind of useful ability for survival.

In fact, you'll note that while going from 6 to 5 characters is only
slightly harder, playing with progressively less characters becomes
exponentially more difficult.  The early game is particularly 
demanding - whereas smart play can outmatch the later game with a 
party that's smaller and still level squatting, the developers really
planned out the first couple of chapters for a party of six being
pushed to their extremes by armies of weak goblins.  To help you 
along your way, here are a few pointers.

  Use a Deep Gnome Decoy:
    It's not as important when you have a party of six or even four,
      but once you get less then that, there's a lot of pressure on
      you to have a character that can withstand lots of enemy
      attacks while your (much) smaller party (all of whom should be
      squatting at low levels) slowly and pathetically whittles down
      the enemy.  The easiest way to do this is to take advantage of
      the Deep Gnome's +4 natural AC bonus and free casting of 
      Mirror Image and Blur.  Both of these go a long way into your
      decoy's survivability without requiring any kind of class-
      specific abilities.
    In fact, such is the usefulness of the Deep Gnome's innate 
      abilities, that your decoy - arguably the most important part
      of a Heart of Fury mode party - can easily stay at extremely
      low levels (even level 1) much better than the rest of your
      party.

  Get Castings of Fireball:
    Level squat, but once you are able to, let a Sorcerer get up to
      level 6 and make sure Fireball is the spell you pick up.  Even 
      if you have other plans for this character, you will probably
      more than likely be able to spare a spell slot for Fireball.
    With an extremely small party and with everyone level squatting as
      much as possible, Fireball essentially is what enables you to
      play the early game without having to slam your head through the
      wall in frustration.  Since a smaller party will get more
      experience (since the same amount is being divided amongst
      fewer characters), you'll even be able to get Fireball earlier
      than larger parties!
    Once you get Fireball, your fortunes change dramatically.  Fights
      that were an exercise in hoping monsters didn't critically hit
      your decoy too many times to overwhelm the Mirror Image now
      become easily dispatched.  Even otherwise impossible fights --
      like the drums of the Goblin Warrens's outposts -- become fairly
      easy with a couple of well-aimed Fireballs.

  Invest in/Use Potions:
    But what do you do when you're still low level to even use
      Fireball?  This is especially problematic when you're fighting
      the Broken Tusk Clan in Shaengarde - with a party of three or
      less level 1 or level 2 characters, the Orc archers will eat
      you alive very quickly.      
    Oswald has some Potion of Explosions and similar potions that you
      should not hesitate to spend money on.  Smaller parties have
      lower cost requirements than larger parties, so you shouldn't
      worry about blowing a significant amount of your net worth on
      the potions.

  Use up Your Scrolls:
    If you're advanced enough that you're playing with a reduced
    number of characters, you should already know what spells you
    need.  You should then just use up any and all other scrolls
    you find - using a scroll of Melf's Minute Meteors instead of
    hording it or memorizing it can make the early game a lot easier.

  Buy a Necklace of Missiles:
    You can buy it off Beodaewn's caravan after Oswald crash lands.
    It starts off with 40 charges and in many ways is better than
    just a Fireball (larger explosion, no Reflex save).  With a good
    use of a Decoy and intelligent use of Mirror Images, this single
    item will give a lot of success for a long time (I'm generally
    able to make good use of it well into the Underdark).
======================================================================



======================================================================
9.  ...and more!                                                  *900
----------------------------------------------------------------------
9a.  Important Notes                                              *910

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.
    Note that Mordenkainen's Sword counts as using a melee weapon, so
      you'll still get hurt severely by the Fireshield.  Mirror
      Images, though, do block the Fireshield damage, so you can
      mitigate it that way.  (Is there anything Mirror Images
      __can't__ do??)

  Caster Levels:
    This is related to the above, but enemy levels are __high__ for
      purposes of certain uncapped spell effects.  This won't come
      into play too often, because hopefully you're good at resisting
      effects.  But I've seen Skull Trap do upwards of 170 damage
      (spelling instant death for my more fragile characters), and
      have had durational effects like Charm last for __extremely__
      long periods of time.

  Collector's Edition:  
    Having the collector's edition is the only legitimate way to
    obtain the Brazen Bands/Indomitable Bands, which is by far the
    best source of generic AC in the game (a whopping +5).  However,
    if you aren't blessed with such a copy, then you can get around
    this by using a console command.
      1: You need to switch on the console.  This is a lot easier than
      in previous Infinity Engine games; just open the configuration
      program and switch on "Enable Cheat Console."
      2: While you're in the game itself (before Nym in the Wandering
      Village leaves), press control+tab to bring up the console, then
      type in:
          ctrlaltdelete:setglobal("IWD2_BONUS_PACK", "GLOBAL", 1)
      and press enter (you need to use all caps for the stuff in the
      quotes).  Then Nym will sell the Avarine Decanter.  Buy it, use
      it (by putting it in your quick slot), then, if you want the
      Brazen/Indomitable Bands, simply free the genie instead of using
      any of his services.

  Level squat:  
    If this isn't a familiar term for you, you should read this
      section carefully - 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 character's development.
    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.

  Mirror Image generation:
    The spell description would have you believe that it's a
    completely random generation of 2-8 (or 2d4, as it was in Baldur's
    Gate I and Icewind Dale I).  It's actually misleading, as it's
    based on the Baldur's Gate II version of the spell, which is
    dependent on caster level (it's something like 1d4 + 1 per so many
    caster levels).  This means that high level (20+) casters will
    frequently max out their Mirror Images per casting, but lower
    level casters (5-) can get stuck with two.

  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                                                   *920

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 a lot 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 the 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.
======================================================================



======================================================================
10.  Chapter-by-Chapter Notes                                     *A00
----------------------------------------------------------------------
This is where I just jot down some pointers and notes for various
parts of your HOF campaign.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
10a.  Prologue                                                    *A10

The Prologue is fairly trivial, especially considering how rough the
final battle with Isair and Madae was at the end of normal.  Just be
sure about two things.  First, if you're level squatting, keep level
squatting as the Prologue is fairly trivial to get through.  Second,
get to the various stores ASAP and stock up on all the great HOF items
that you can use (Goblin Slayer, Kegsplitter of Shaengarne Ford,
Golden Heart of , etc).  In fact, you can get through the
ambush with just one character with a high attack bonus and Goblin
Slayer.

If you insisted on creating a Tempus cleric, remember to get 
Tome of the Lord of Battles in the locked cabinet in the medical tent.

Be sure to check all the containers in Ulbrec's house, as two of the
books are actually special items (Legends of Icewind Dale and Heart of
Winter... do those sound familiar to you?), and Legends of Icewind
Dale lets you cast two potentially useful spells three times/day
(Heart of Winter is bugged in that it says it lets you cast Power
Word: Blindness, but instead casts the much, much less useful level
two spell Blindness).
----------------------------------------------------------------------
10b.  Chapter One                                                 *A20

Shaengarne Ford will be your first test of skills, as you'll find
yourself swamped with massive swarms of orcs.  This is where, if
you're not used to HOF tactics, you'll have a sudden and very steep
learning curve.  You have to heavily emphasize your Decoy (or whatever
else you're using for tanking the enemies) and really start laying out
the crowd control and debuffs, as otherwise you'll find the orcs being
able to withstand spells like Meteor Swarm without budging.

The Horde Fortress should be, comparatively, much easier, even easier
than normal.  The reason is that now you have Goblin Slayer, so now
you can just easily slay those spawning Goblin Worg Riders whenever
the drums start playing.  The Goblin Slayer, in fact, will help you
clear through half the Horde Fortress without needing a break (except
maybe a Heal or two), and you're already used to dealing with Orcs
from Shaengarne Ford.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
10c.  Chapter Two                                                 *A30

Most of this chapter is fairly straightforward, though it's important
to note that all the Ice Golem-type things count as constructs, so the
Kegsplitter of Shaengarne Ford will slay them with one hit (no more
struggling with blunt weapons like on normal!).

Similarly, you may even find the Battle Square on HOF easier than on
normal, as now you have better spells (like Wail of the Banshee) and
better skills (like a high AC if you're a decoy).  Notable ranks to
complete are 2 (for Potion of Holy Transference), 3 (for Cornugan Hide
Armor), and 9 (for Wand of Animate Dead).  If you have a wizard who
needs certain level 8 spells, you can try for them here, too, though
it's not too time-effective.

Be sure to buy the Raging Winds off Beodaewn's caravan before you do
anything else to him, as it's an excellent Bard item (see Accessories
of Note for more info, find shortcut: 740).

Remember to revisit where Oswald was after he leaves and you finish
the Ice Temple.  Instead of the crashed Airship, you'll see a note
from him as well as a good, permanent-effect potion of some kind. Hope
for a good one (like the Potion of Arcane Enhancement, which gives a
permanent +1 Intelligence and +1 spell resistance).  This also happens
on normal difficulty, so remember to check both both times you play
through this section!
----------------------------------------------------------------------
10d.  Chapter Three                                               *A40

The Wandering Village is pretty straightforward.  Make sure to pick up
the Avarine Decanter off Nim (see the "Important Notes" subsection in
section 9) if you're using an AC-based decoy.

Those butt-hard Will-o'-Wisps from normal are easily slayable in HOF
once you realize that Wail of the Banshee is effective against them.

The Frozen Marshes you'll find to be terribly annoying, as they're
filled with Trolls and Trolls are fairly resilient to most HOF tactics
(stunning is useless, they're immune to Holy Word, not effectively
controllable, Wail of the Banshee is hard to trigger on them).

For the River Caves, a good strategy is to send your Decoy (or some
summons and a character that can go invisible) out first through the
initial segment of the tunnel, while keeping the rest of your party
sits back where the ropes drop them off, along with some protective
summons.  This is because, in case you forgot, Hook Horrors will spawn
near the entrance and try to ambush you, and getting ambushed from all
sides can be a recipe for doom on HOF.  This is because, of course,
any character not designed to take physical damage will easily get
overwhelmed and annihilated in a few short rounds.

Hopefully you also have some high-powered fire damage spells or lots
of castings of Disintegrate, as the Ochre Jellies in the lower part of
the River Caves will tear your party apart if you're not careful.
These jellies split into an extra lower health version of itself every
time you hit them, and the only real way to damage them is with fire.
If you're careless and just let your party AI attack recklessly,
you'll end up with a screenful (I've accidentally made upwards of
thirty), all of them gleefully hitting your characters for upwards of
sixty damage a pop.  The solution is to either
Malison/Prayer/Recitation them and hit them with Disintegrate, or send
in a Decoy/bunch of summons and fling Meteor Swarm after Meteor Swarm
and hope your front line is able to keep the jellies back.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
10e.  Chapter Four                                                *A50

At this point, if you already haven't, you should be earnestly
checking all the containers, as the loot starts to get consistently
upgraded (so you'll be finding progressively more +3/+4/+5 weapons as
you get futher into the game, instead of the boring old Masterwork
stuff).

Remember, the Iron Golems guarding the tomb under the Black Raven
Monastery can be dispatched easily with the Kegsplitter of Shaengarne
Ford.  Also, be sure to buy the "How to be an Adventurer (2nd Ed.)" if
you're still lagging behind the full level 30 for your characters, as
you should be close to maxing out by now.

Remember those annoying Mind Golems in the Mind Flayer Citadel?
Again, the trusty Kegsplitter of Shaengarne Ford will dispatch them
easily.  No more annoying can't-quicksave-Mind-Fog!

The Underdark merchants feature all sorts of things you need, so be
sure to pick them up (and don't talk to the ones in the lower left of
the map unless you're at full health, as they'll ambush you instead).
----------------------------------------------------------------------
10f.  Chapter Five                                                *A60

If you have a Club of Disruption (or some other Disruption weapon),
you'll still be able to get some use out of it (but unlike normal
difficulty, you'll need to be using Prayer/Recital/Malison here). Make
sure to pick up whatever you need from Nathaniel (like another Every
God Ring), Sheemish, and Gerbash.

If you're having a hard time trying to take out all the Yuan-Ti in
Chult after you fail to convince Ojaiha to not attack Kuldahar, try to
fight the battle without removing any of your Initiates Robes and
swapping them for your actual armor.  A good portion of the temple
guards will only turn hostile if you aren't wearing the Initiates
Robes, so you can cut down on the number of enemies that start
swamping you by almost a third by doing this.

The Guardian in Chult will hopefully not be too difficult.  You can
still try and Disintegrate him, but you have a microscopic chance in
HOF mode.  Hopefully, though, your Decoy will be able to toe-to-toe
the dragon.  Note that if you're relying on summons, you may be in for
a hard time, as the Guardian can basically Dismiss summons at will.

You'll find that in the third level of Dragon's Eye, alot of the
Armored Skeletons have been replaced with Iron Golems, but no problem
thanks to your trusty Kegsplitter.

Similar to the River Caves, you need a copious amount of fire damage,
as the only way I can figure out how to kill all the Mustard Jellies
(and Olive Slimes) is via fire (or many, many, many Disintegrates).
By my count, it took six Meteor Swarms to wipe them all out at once.

The Efreetis will pose a problem for you, as their Fire Shields will
do ridiculous damage to your melee attackers (see "Important Notes" in
section 9), so make sure you have disposable summons at hand or
effective ranged attacks.

The Paladin quest is an epic battle, but you've got a few factors in
your favor.  First, your summons are much more effective than on
normal (relative to the enemies).  Second, you've got more defensive
spells at your disposal.  Third, Dismissal is just as good as it was
on normal.  That being said, summoning a few Animate Dead before the
fight will be really useful as their HOF-beefed stats can take out
Atalaclys the Lost (who spawns at the north end of the graveyard)
fairly quickly.  Stocking up on Dismissals is good because this will
let you annihilate the various summons that Inhein-who-was-Taken will
keep bringing in.  Try to engage the ranged attacker (Jaiger of the
Fanged Season) early, as otherwise he'll be able to pick off your
fragile characters very quickly with his super-accurate arrows (Mirror
Images don't do much against many super accurate arrows per round).
Aside from that, try to keep the three melee guys - Broken Khree the
monk, Kaervas Death's Head the dwarf, and Veddion Kairne the warrior -
busy with summons and the like until you have the other, larger
threats dealt with.  With a really good Decoy, you'll be able to
toe-to-toe these guys one at a time.  That being said, Broken Khree is
the easiest as his main strength on normal (AC) is useless against
your super high attack bonuses on HOF mode.  Veddion Kairne should go
down next.  Kaervas Death's Head will be your roughest final guy, as
he has enormous damage resistances.

If you're doing the favor for Nickademus (killing all the demons
trapped in the Ice Temple), be sure to check out the boxes in the
lower left room, as one of the potions there is a Potion of Magic
Resistance, which gives the drinker a permanent +1 to their Spell
Resistance.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
10g.  Chapter Six                                                 *A70

If you're good, you have two really rough fights in this chapter. If
you're evil, you have three somewhat rough fights in this chapter. The
two fights in common are the one on top of the war tower and, of
course, the epic final battle against Isair and Madae.  Evil parties
have an additional hard fight when trying to get the antidote at the
top of the cleric's tower.  There's also a potentially annoying fight
against Xvim's avatar.

  Getting the Antidote/Top of the Cleric Tower:
    If you're good and have two clerics, you can lock down the worst
    of the bosses with Holy Word while casting important defensive
    spells to make up for the fact that you're being ambushed from all
    sides - though you have to make sure you get those Holy Words off
    fast as Blasphemy and Symbol of Hopelessness gets tossed around
    here.  If you're evil, you're in for a rougher fight, as you won't
    be able to buy yourself recovery time with Blasphemy, but
    fortunately you're also immune to the enemy's Blasphemy, though
    Hopelessness will still potentially annihilate you if you're not
    prepared.

  Iyachtu Xvim:
    This fight can be pretty easy if you play it right. Simply have
      someone who can cast Improved Invisibility/Mirror Image also
      equip something that bestows Non-detection.  In many cases,
      Iyachtu Xvim will get stuck casting Invisibility Purge over and
      over and over again, to no effect, all while you slowly whittle
      away his health through his massive resistances.  If you don't
      want to be lame, then refrain from using Non-detection.  That
      being said, the fight becomes much harder, as there's little
      room for navigation, and Iyachtu Xvim will gleefully make any
      non-AC based solution for a Decoy irrelevant.
    Note - it __is__ possible to hit Iyachtu Xvim with Symbol:
      Hopelessness, so keep that open as a viable strategy.  However,
      he has a +20 Will save even after Malison, Prayer, and
      Recitation.  This is where having a high wisdom Cleric comes in
      handy - a maxed out 30 Charisma Sorcerer has a 35% chance of
      landing it (a DC of 28), while a maxed out 42 Wisdom Banite
      Cleric has a 70% chance (a DC of 35).

  Top of the War Tower:
    Best tactic is to cast Mass Invisibility as soon as you regain
      control of your characters while simultaneously casting (faster
      cast) summons.  This way, your party will go invisible and be
      hidden from the massive ambush, while your summons will keep
      attacking and lose invisibility, thus causing all the enemies to
      retarget your summons.  This is important as most of the enemies
      in this fight are immune to Holy Word, so you have no time-buyer
      if you're good.  Once you're able to survive the initial ambush,
      regroup to the right side and then start dividing and
      conquering.  Remember! Slayer Knights of Xvim make excellent
      Dominated pets (and they can also be stricken Hopeless).
    Be careful about Blasphemy, as it gets tossed around a bit in this
      fight.  Be also careful about Dispel Magic - your party should
      be able to resist it, but a critical failure means you lose a
      lot of protections.  More importantly, it gets cast repeatedly
      on the enemies, getting rid of all the debuffs you've been
      laying on them.  Make it a point to knock out the mages quickly
      (with Disintegrate).

  Isair and Madae:
    If you're good, it is imperative to have Mass Invisibility cast
      before you go downstairs from the War Tower fight. Madae will
      start off the fight with a Blasphemy or two, and being invisible
      from the start will mean that enemies won't be able to
      completely wreck your stunned party.  Madae will use Blasphemy
      several times throughout both parts of the fight, so this is one
      place where being evil really pays off.  Make aggressive use of
      Mass Heals here, as they will not only keep your party alive,
      but they will also keep your Monk allies alive (presumably you
      saved Ormis Dohor), and they are very important tanks,
      especially since they're all buffed up for Heart of Fury mode.
      Stock up heavily on Dismissals, as Madae loves high level
      summons, and there's a mage to the right of the battle (where
      you should go immediately) that also casts lots of high level
      summons.  Keep Exaltation around, as Madae also loves abusing
      Symbol of Hopelessness, and Exaltation is the only spell that
      can deal with Hopelessness.
    When you finish the first part of the fight, load up on buffs like
      Mirror Image; Madae starts off the second part of the fight with
      more Blasphemies, so once again, being evil really pays off
      here. This time around, however, the pair is lower on defenses
      and annoying ability to call in powerful summons, so they're
      "just" surrounded by a pack of Slayer Knights of Xvim.  Remember
      that these guys can be disabled with Symbol of Hopelessness or
      with Dominate Person.  The latter will give you some fodder to
      toss at Isair and Madae.
    In both fights, the twins are particularly susceptible to cold
      damage from weapons.  They're vulnerable enough that, combined
      with their insanely high normal damage resistance, the smallish
      frost damage on weapons like Bastard Sword +3: Cold Fire may
      deal more damage than the base amount.  In particular, the
      Halberd of North and other weapons with Frost Burst deal their
      burst damage independently of the base frost damage, and both
      instances of the damage get beefed up.  Between the two twins,
      though, I've found that Isair is more susceptible to physical
      damage, though his high-level Fireshield (which will deal
      around 55 damage per hit) makes him more painful to go after.

Congratulations!  You've beaten one of the hardest RPGs ever!
======================================================================



======================================================================
A.  Appendix                                                      *Z00
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Aa.  History                                                      *Z10
 
  2010.09.05 - Version 3.7 completed
    The scope of the guide has expanded a bit, so it's allow now a
      "Powergaming" guide.
    Added new section (3d.i) discussing maximum physical damage.
    Added new notes in light of 3d.i to Cleric and Paladin sections.
    Random typo/formatting tweaks.

  2010.05.03 - Version 3.5 completed
    Removed erroneous note about Mass Dominate affecting Slayer
      Knights of Xvim.
    Added section about playing smaller parties.
    Added extra notes about Paladins.
    Added some copy changes about Rangers.

  2009.11.01 - Version 3.4 completed
    Changed find shortcut system to use a shorter, four-key sequence.
    Modified Luck section with new notes.
    Amended Pick Pockets notes.
    Added mention on Spell Resistance cap (50).
    Reworked rating system in class section.
    Expanded Cleric section with info on specific domains.
    Added note about Paladin spellcasting.
    Added special note about Slayer Knight vulnerability to Dominate
      Person.
    Added extra info about Holy Word/Blasphemy.
    Added new section to Spells of Note:  "A Word on Summons"
    Added note about drop rates for Bastard Sword of Heroism.
    Expanded section about Pudu's Fiery Blight.
    Removed redundant information about drop rate for Massive Greataxe
      of Flame +5.
    Added note about where to get Scimitar: Blood Trails.
    Fixed note about where to get Ysha's Sting.
    Added note about where to get a Barbarian Shield.
    Added note about where to get the Shield of Duergar Fortitude.
    Added note about where to get the Raging Winds.
    Fixed where you can find "Baron" Sulu's Hook (mixed it up with 
      a different dagger in Chapter 1).
    Greatly expanded Sample Party section.
    Changed 4-person Evil Party to 2-person Evil Party.
    Expanded Important Notes section.
    Added "Caster Levels" and "Mirror Image generation" to Important
      Notes.
    Added notes about Heart of Winter and Legends of Icewind Dale
      to Chapter-by-Chapter guide.
    Added note about upgraded loot in Chapter-by-Chapter guide.
    Added note about Raging Winds in Chapter-by-Chapter guide.
    Added note about Ochre Jellies in Chapter-by-Chapter guide.
    Added note about Mustard Jellies in Chapter-by-Chapter guide.
    Expanded War Tower fight in Chapter-by-Chapter guide.
    Expanded Isair and Madae fight section in Chapter-by-Chapter
      guide.
    Various copy changes.

  2009.08.31 - Version 3.1 completed
    Whoops, Destruction actually sucks (creates an item that has a low
      saving throw of 14); that's what you get when you ASSume.
    Added a note about Destruction creating an item-like effect
      in the Saving Throws section.
    Corrected notes about getting Young Ned's Knucky (I'll confess
      that previously I just gibbed him using the cheat keys).
    Added a find shortcut for the Table of Contents.
    Changed a strategic suggesion for Isair and Madae - Invisibility
      is not as effective as Mirror Image in protecting against
      Blasphemy.

  2009.08.30 - Version 3.0 completed
    Woooooo new major version!  Complete redo of the formatting
      in the document for better readability.  Also reflects the
      fact that I added a new subsection a couple of versions ago.
    Fixed note about resist potions in the Damage Reduction section.
    Fixed typo about Malison giving -4 to saves instead of -2.
    Removed information in the Luck section concerning spells, as
      luck appears to not affect spells or spell-like effects.
    Moved discussion on Holy Word to Crowd Control section.
    Added note that Aura of Courage is bugged to Buff section.
    Added note about where the Bastard Sword +3: Cold Fire can be
      found.
    Fixed incorrect average damage for Pudu's Fiery Blight (was 15.5,
      should have been 17.5).
    Added note about Oswald's potion in the Chapter-by-Chapter guide.
    Added note about Nim in the Chapter-by-Chapter guide.
    Added note about reducing the number of attackers in Chult in the
      Chapter-by-Chapter guide.
    Added note about Potion of Magic Resistance in the Chapter-by-
      Chapter guide.
    Fixed incorrect find shorcut references.
    Added note in earlier history to indicate why a jump to 2.0 was
      warranted.
    Various minor fixes elsewhere.

  2009.08.18 - Version 2.3 completed
    Forgot to mention that the "weapon proficiencies"
      section got some new stuff added.
    Added Pudu's Fiery Blight to items of note.
    Accidentally left out Ysha's Sting from the new weapon saving 
      throws section.
    Polished up the weapon saving throws section to have actual
      numbers for everything, have all evil/neutral weapons tested,
      and fixed up the layout.
    Reworked and rerated the cleric section.
    Minor text fixes/changes.

  2009.08.17 - Version 2.2 completed
    Added Bastard Sword +3: Cold Fire to items of note.
    Added Club of Confusion to items of note.
    Added Club of Dazing +5 to items of note.
    Added Club of Destiny +5 to items of note.
    Added Club of Freezing Flames +5 to items of note.
    Added Miasmic Bastard sword to items of note.
    Added Scimitar:  Blood Trails to items of note.
    Removed Scimitar of the Soulless from items of note (saving throw
      sux)
    Added new subsection detailing weapon saving throws.
    Minor text changes.

  2009.05.03 - Version 2.0 completed
    Woooooo new major version!  New section: "Chapter-by-Chapter
      Notes".
    Added note to Pick Pockets (potions may not actually stack).
    Added note to Symbol of Hopelessness (chance to panic).
    Removed erroneous note on Skull Trap (does not ignore SR).
    Renamed "HOF Tactics and Notes" to "Important Notes".
    Added Farmer's Cloak to the AC deflection section.
    Added notes on where one can find the items of note.
    Expanded Sample Party section.
    Fixed "Collector's Edition" console command.
    Added note to Druid score.
    Added note to Crowd Control notes.

  2009.03.22 - Version 1.4 completed
    Fixed Brazen Bands AC bonus from +3 to +5.
    Added note on Collector's Edition to HOF Tactics section.
    Fixed navigation shortcut for armor.
    Added a note on Otiluke's Resilient Sphere for the Decoy section.
    Added a note on summons in the Decoy section.
    Added Banishment and Dismissal to the Crowd Control section.
    Added a "Special Note" section.
    Fixed a few random mistakes.

  2009.03.08 - Version 1.3 completed
    Fixed comments about +intelligence to also include Tieflings.
    Added extra notes for Mordenkainen's Sword.
    Reworded commment on Stunning Fist attack for Monk.
    Fixed various typos.

  2009.02.21 - Version 1.2 completed
    Added an extra note for "Pick Pocket".
    Elaborated a bit on "Mass Dominate".
    Fixed various typos.

  2008.12.22 - Version 1.1 completed
    Fixed some incorrect references to "Ned's Lucky Knuckle".
    Added notes for "Barbarian Shield".
    Fixed various typos.

  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)
======================================================================



====================================================================== 
The Stinger
----------------------------------------------------------------------
  "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
unnattainable."
        - Maralie Fiddlebender
======================================================================
 

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