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Icewind Dale By John "Award" Del Percio, August 6, 2000
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Developer :Black Isle Studios
Publisher :Interplay
Release Date :Early July 2000
Demo Available : No
Table of Contents

· Introduction
· Closer Look
· Facts
· Final

Steel Yourselves

For those of you who are new to AD&D, and are coming from Action RPG's you'll find them so different, they are nearly a genre of their own. Certain characteristics remain similar to you, such as leveling up, experience points, and inventory displays, yet combat itself, and your purpose of gameplay is very different.

In an Action RPG, there tends to be no purpose to the game beyond leveling up your character itself. You play the game again and again and again racking up experience to level your character up, with minimal story line and events that occur, as not to force you to deviate from your senseless spree of sending the monsters back to whence the came. That is why they are called Action RPG's, they are entirely about action, but share some common attributes with a true RPG. AD&D games are true RPG's. Leveling up is just something that happens as you journey, and enables you to go farther. The primary focus; however, is the journey itself. You run across loads of new characters to speak to, events that occur, places with mysteries to uncover, and diplomacy. The ability provided to you to hold a dialogue with characters you may find truly enhances how you work.

An ancient tomb
The snowy rifts of the Dale
Vaults of the dead
Night time in the Spine

Another distinction is the AD&D rules set. Unlike the "anything goes, blast 'em" method of Action RPG's, AD&D has a very specific ruleset. Damage no longer comes in "30-35", but rather 2D10, 1D6, and similar odd sounding numbers. The AD&D games use a pure set of the AD&D Ruleset 2nd Edition, from the PandP games. Therefore, if you have a 2D10 attack, it means the sum of two ten-sided dice being rolled (and you thought that those odd looking dice in the hobby shop were just the result of a dice factory melt-down...) In AD&D, you must also worry about your THAC0 (To Hit Armor Class Zero.) Instead of your armor number counting up, it counts down. You can actually go into the negatives. What this indicates is that you have the given odds of your blow hitting someone with an armor class of zero. The odds improve if they have a higher AC (Armor Class), and decrease if they have a negative AC. (A note for those of you who recently became involved with the PandP game, if you're thinking I'm insane talking about THAC0, you've been using the 3rd edition ruleset. They changed the way THAC0 works since the 2nd edition.)

Wizards assault
Beautifully rendered statues
Dock on the lake in Easthaven
This doesn't bode well

The spell system is another interesting feature of AD&D, and in many ways, my personal least favorite. If you are used to Action RPG's, you're used to having a spell system where you have a magic source similar to your life source, and you can refill it with some form of potion. In AD&D, you gain more "spell memorization" slots as you level up. Every spell you memorize can be used only once until you sleep (away from monsters) or sleep at an inn. You can also store extra scrolls of spells to use without memorizing them. Not only that, but there are two families of magic, and many different spheres of magic. Not every caster can use them all. First you have the families: Priest spells, and Mage spells. Priest spells tend to be of a healing or divining nature, while the Mages focus more on blasting things, summoning things, and burning things. You also have the "spheres" of magic, in which your Mage can specialize. Necromancy, Combat, Summoning, Charm etc.

Lastly, the next thing you should know about AD&D is the creation of the party. Instead of starting a single character as a cookie cutter character, their stats are determined by dice rolls. Unlike the set required numbers, every class requires different main attributes, but may share in others. There are more stats to worry about, and they are all determined by a dice roll, so no two characters are created alike. Also, on levelup, it is common to gain nothing more than extra hit points. You can only increase stats with special items in the late game.

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