A Good Mix
The big attraction for IWD has to be party creation and combinations. You have to go with the party that suits you and your style of play. Having said that, there is one party that I feel covers many angles in the game: Human Paladin; Elf Ranger; Half Elf Bard; Dwarf Cleric; Human Thief and Human Mage.
Bear in mind that there are several race, class, sex and alignment specific items, dialogue options and actions. With a sprinkling of different alignments and sexes the above party should enable you to tackle every event in the game. I usually take 2 thieves concentrating on different skills and dual-class them to a fighter and a mage, removing the need for a dedicated thief. A dual or multi-class cleric can make that character a more effective fighter too, by level 9 or 10 (the minimum is 9 for HoW – most parties in IWD will have a cleric of level 10 or 11) your cleric has plenty of healing spells and resting until healed is usually pretty easy anyway.
By level 9, Paladins and Rangers (level 8) can cast priest and druid spells respectively. If you're willing to drop the, in my opinion, meagre benefits of weapon mastery beyond specialisation (2 proficiency slots), these characters become excellent supportive spell casters for your cleric.
Don't assume that you must have 6 party members. Two or three multi-class characters will be able to handle most situations (though they might get swamped by the sheer number of enemies and multi-classing reduces the average number of hit points a character can have) and get you very near to the XP cap, which wasn't even touched in IWD with a party of six.
Submitted By: Gruntboy
If Brute Force Doesn't Work, You're Not Using Enough
Icewind Dale advertises itself as "an old-fashioned dungeon crawl." In my
old AD&D campaigns, that meant "Walk around, kill just about everything you
see, and collect lots of XP and cool stuff." If you approach IWD with that
mentality, you will do very well at the game.
In my opinion, the best way to have all of your characters live all the way
through the game is to start most of the party off as human fighters. After
you get them up a few levels, start dual-classing them out. That way, you
can beef up their HP and WP slots in one or two areas, as well as take
advantage of the fighter's exceptional strength. Plus, when your second
class surpasses the fighter's old level, they will be able to use any weapon
or armour in the game, not just those limited by the character's new class.
Once you start to encounter more powerful monsters, convert one to a thief,
one to a cleric, and one or two to a mage. Leave one or two as a fighter or
fighter sub-class. When you roll up attributes, drain charisma, wisdom and
intelligence down to 8, so you don't incur any saving throw penalties, and
max out strength, constitution, and dexterity (except for those characters
which will need those attributes to dual-class).
The disadvantage of this strategy is that you won't be able to use any of the
demi-human only items, but, hey, that's a small price to pay when each of
your characters can use a composite longbow and two-handed sword and will not
have to run away from a frost giant because he's only got 50 HP. If you like
non-humans, I've found that elven fighter/mages and dwarven fighter/thieves
are among the most useful. To me, the only purpose of gnomes, bards, and
halflings is to be a decoy or pack mule.
A well-rounded party will make your life easier and the adventure more fun in
Baldur's Gate 2, but not in Icewind Dale. The linear story line and lack of
class/character-specific side quests ensures that just about every party will
have the same adventure from start to finish. The emphasis is on fighting
off bands of myconids, ice salamanders and spectral orcs, not character
development or plot. Therefore, you only need to be as subtle as a
Submitted By: HighLord Dave