Since we first sent this interview, some of the questions have been answered on the BIS forums, but there's still some interesting tidbits to be learned. Check it out:
GB: I've read that you have made several improvements and refinements to the Infinity Engine, even expanding upon what we saw in Shadows of Amn. Can you give us an idea of what improvements you've made? Any handy interface tweaks you'd like to share with us?
Kevin: We have been spending a lot of time implementing new rules from 3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons. The armor class value has been changed from showing a negative number, to now increasing from the base number of ten. There will also be three types of armor bonuses: armor, shield, and deflection. Another change is THACO has been removed and replaced with attack bonus. Saving throws have also been converted to 3E rules using Fortitude, Reflex, and Will. The interface is currently undergoing a facelift, and is not yet final. Plus we will still have the option to hide the interface; this option was introduced in Heart of Winter from the BG2 code.
GB: Can you give us some examples of what abilities or bonuses a character will receive for choosing one of the new sub-races? In addition, what penalties and detriments will there be for playing, say, a Drow character?
Kevin: Some of the bonuses to playing a Drow character are: +2 to Intelligence, +2 to Dexterity, +5% Pick Pockets, +5% Move Silently and +10% Hide in Shadows. Plus Drow characters have really cool resistance bonuses such as 25% Magic Resistance +1% per level, and they have a 90% Resistance to sleep and charm spells. Dark Elves (Drow) will suffer from penalties such as -2 to Constitution, -50% experience points through 10th level, and -2 to attack bonus, damage, and saving throws during the day. Something albeit cool, but still a potential penalty is the chance that a spell such as Fireball could potentially blind the Dark Elf character for set amount of time. The Gray Dwarves have some really beneficial abilities and bonuses. Some of the abilities and bonuses are: +2 to Constitution can cast Invisibility 1/Day, is granted immunity to Paralysis, they will gain 20% to their move silently ability, a +4 armor bonus vs. Giants, they will gain 10% to their open locks ability, and gain 15% to their find/remove traps ability. We are still playing with the stats in balancing, so these are subject to change.
GB: Can you give us a rundown of what 3rd Edition rules we will be seeing in Icewind Dale II?
Kevin: We've brought over a whole ton of the new 3E rules. Starting from Character Creation, you'll be able to choose from all the 3E based races and classes (ie Barbarians, Monks, Half-Orcs, etc). Ability scores are no longer fixed between 3-25, and statistics are very linear now, giving the player a much easier time in figuring out how well his character is progressing throughout the game. After every four levels, you'll get to add one point to one of your ability scores. Plus the combat system has been totally revamped to use Base Attack bonuses, armor class that is better the higher the number is, and spells use the new Fortitude, Will and Relfex saving throws.
GB: You've stated that some of the most powerful D&D items ever seen in a PC game will be obtainable in Heart of Fury mode. Care to give us some examples of what we might find?
Kevin: One of my favorite items is the bastard sword, (Rage of Chaos). This bastard sword does 2D4+5 damage. Among the special abilities this weapon provides are during battle, user may become berserk, and provides an additional 2-12 points of damage when slicing through lawfully-aligned creatures. But the really cool ability this weapon provides is immunity to the following spells: Sleep, Power Word: Sleep, Hold Person, Cloak of Fear, and Dire Charm. Below is the history that comes with this powerful Heart of Fury weapon, (Rage of Chaos).
This weapon is a sight to behold. The blade is crafted of red-gold with a silver edge. The guard is finely polished platinum, and the wire wound hilt is crafted of black adamantine. When drawn, the blade radiates a rainbow of colors.
This weapon has been considered both a curse and a blessing by those who wield it. Against lawful creatures it does devastating damage and attacks are made with an uncanny accuracy. Rage of Chaos has been known to turn the tide in many a battle. Unfortunately, the wielder loses control of his or her faculties and flies into a berserk rage upon drawing the weapon. The blade is also believed to be cursed. Once held, it cannot be relinquished.
The history of Rage of Chaos is unknown. The weapon has appeared throughout the realms in various battles over the centuries only to be lost once again.
GB: Will players be required to play in Heart of Fury mode to reach level 30? If so, how high can characters advance in (normal) mode?
Kevin: Currently we are designing around 1-15th level first time through, 16-30th level in Heart of Fury mode. This is of course, subject to change plus or minus a few levels. If someone really wants to keep rolling through rest encounters to kill enough monsters to get to level 30 in the regular mode though, they can certainly have at it :).
GB: Will Targos be the only city that we'll be visiting this time around? Any chance of a return to Lonelywood or maybe even Kuldahar?
Kevin: Sorry guys can't give away too much information right now. I have to leave some surprises for you :).
GB: The ending cinematic in the original Icewind Dale made it look as though we may not have seen the last of Belhifet. or have we? How about Icasaracht?
Kevin: Once again, I can't really talk about the ending right now. But we are confident that the players will be happy and surprised with the outcome in Icewind Dale II.
I'd like to say thanks to everyone at Black Isle Studios, especially Kevin, for taking the time to answer our questions. We hope you enjoyed reading their answers.