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Heart of Winter Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Heart of Winter? A: Heart of Winter is an expansion pack to Black Isle Studios' previous release, Icewind Dale. You must have a copy of Icewind Dale installed on your computer in order to play the expansion, but you don't have to have played the original Icewind Dale in order to play the new areas in the expansion.

Q: Who is developing/publishing Heart of Winter? A: Heart of Winter is being developed and published by Black Isle Studios, a division of Interplay Entertainment Corp. The Heart of Winter team consists of much of the core team from Icewind Dale, most of whom also served tours of duty on the award-winning Fallout 2 and Planescape: Torment CRPGs.

Q: What engine is Heart of Winter using? A: Heart of Winter is an expansion pack to Icewind Dale, so we're using the modified version of the BioWare Infinity Engine that was used for Icewind Dale with improvements from Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn and a few others developed by Black Isle Studios. The Infinity Engine is the core game engine that was used in Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment.

Q: What rules system is Heart of Winter using? A: Heart of Winter uses AD&D Second Edition rules, the same system used in Icewind Dale, but some of the special powers and abilities in the Third Edition are available in the expansion. As an example, thieves will have access to Sneak Attack and Crippling Strike abilities, and the new spell progression tables for rangers and paladins have been taken from the Third Edition rules as well because… well, just because it's cool.

Q: Can I bring my characters from Icewind Dale? A: Yes. Whether you are halfway through an Icewind game or have finished Icewind Dale, you can transfer your characters over with all items, experience, and spells intact and ready to kick some monster tail. There is only one provision - all of your characters must be at least 9th level in order to explore the Heart of Winter (for multi-class and dual-class, this level 9 cap is the sum of all the character's levels, so a 5th level fighter/4th level mage could travel to the expansion if they wanted to).

Q: Why is there a level minimum for the Heart of Winter? A: Just trust us. We're looking out for you.

Q: Can I just play Heart of Winter without playing Icewind Dale? A: Absolutely. You can either generate some brand-new characters of your own, or you can choose from pre-generated party members available in the expansion.

Q: If I uninstalled Icewind Dale, can I play Heart of Winter? A: No, you'll need to have Icewind Dale installed on your computer in order to play Heart of Winter.

Q: What if some of my characters died at the end of Icewind Dale? A: Never fear. As long as you beat the endgame, the computer will have saved your characters and recorded their information (minus their death, poisoned, diseased, or other harmful states) and will allow you to import them into the expansion with no hassles. So don't run through the end battle again and again to make sure that none of your party members die - as long as one of your characters survives, all your party members will be ship-shape when you go to Heart of Winter.

Q: If I'm in the middle of playing Icewind Dale, can I still play Heart of Winter? A: Absolutely - when the expansion is installed, you'll be able to travel to the Heart of Winter within the game, provided you are at least 9th Level and you can find someone to take you there.

Q: How do I get to the expansion while playing Icewind Dale? A: The expansion can be reached via a small house in the great tree town of Kuldahar (a town which you'll come across early on in Icewind Dale). This house was formerly locked up tight in Icewind Dale, but once the expansion is installed the door will unlock and you can head on in.

Q: What does Heart of Winter add to Icewind Dale? A: Other than the new areas available in Heart of Winter, you'll also have a lot of new features, spells, items, interface mechanics, and special abilities available to you once the expansion is installed. Here's a short list of what you can expect from Heart of Winter:

  • New Portraits
  • New Player Character Sound Sets
  • New Experience Point Cap for All Character Classes, Allowing Them to Reach 30th Level
  • New Experience Point Tables for Druids, Allowing Them to Advance to Much Higher Levels
  • Higher Resolution (800 x 600) - and even more detailed resolutions for the especially brave (although these higher resolutions are not officially supported).
  • Drop Away Interface
  • Gem Bags, Potion Bags, and Scroll Cases
  • Cool New Special Abilities for Bards, Thieves, Paladins, Druids, and Rangers
  • New Priest, Druid, and Wizard Spells
  • New Spell Progression Tables
  • Hot Key That Highlights Normal Doors and Ground Items
  • Ability to Buy Multiple Items from Stores

New Special Abilities for Paladins, Rangers, Thieves, Bards, and Druids (Much thanks to BioWare corporation for several of the new features above, which were pioneered in Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn.

Q: What kind of "Cool New Special Abilities" are we talking about? A: Bards get a selection of different songs they can play as they go up in levels that give their allies additional luck, bonuses to damage, regeneration, and improved saving throws, rangers can now "track" on every map in the game, paladins can smite their enemies with holy light, druids can transform into elementals, and thieves can perform Sneak Attacks and hit their opponents with Crippling Strikes. And that's just a few of the new abilities these classes get.

Q: Where does Heart of Winter take place? A: Heart of Winter takes place a little north of where Icewind Dale took place. Icewind Dale itself is, well, set in Icewind Dale, the setting for the popular Icewind Dale trilogy of books, written by R.A. Salvatore http://www.rasalvatore.com/ , and published by Wizards of the Coast. In the Heart of Winter, your party arrives in Lonelywood, the northernmost (and smallest) of the Ten Towns of Icewind Dale. Suffice to say, trouble rears its ugly head not long after you arrive.

Q: How many new areas will we have to explore? A: Heart of Winter contains five new major areas, including the beginning town of Lonelywood. Each of these areas has numerous sub-locations, so gather your exploring gear and wrap your cloak around you - some of these new locations are pretty chilly.

Q: How much playtime are we looking at in Heart of Winter? A: Current estimates place Heart of Winter's playtime at 20 to 30 hours. Not counting bathroom breaks.

Q: Can you get any NPCs to join your party in Heart of Winter? A: You won't have any NPCs in your party. You'll be creating your entire, six-person, party at the beginning of the game, or you may choose to use a selection of pre-generated player characters provided in the game.

Q: Will we be able to use our characters or NPCs from Baldur's Gate? A: No, you'll be creating a new party of one to six characters with which to explore Icewind Dale and Heart of Winter. You cannot use characters or save games from Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, Baldur's Gate I, Tales of the Sword Coast, or Planescape: Torment.

Q: Can I play a Drow? A: Only cosmetically. You can change you characters' skin to black and hair to white, but there are no rules in the game to give dark elves their Underdark powers.

Q: Are there any new magic items? A: Oh, yes - our resident itemsmith, J.E. Sawyer, has been industrious. Expect a bunch of new magic items scattered throughout the Heart of Winter, some of which are placed in specific areas or on specific creatures, others of which have been incorporated into the random treasure tables. So keep an eye out for them - once you get a hold of one, you won't be disappointed. Though your enemies might be.

Q: Are there any new spells? A: There are over fifty new spells in Heart of Winter. These spells have been equally divided between the druid, cleric, and wizard classes, so feel free to unleash your new arsenal of magic on your enemies. Some of these spells have alignment restrictions (Unholy Word, for example, can only be cast by evil characters... for obvious reasons), some are reversals on more common spells (Cause Light Wounds instead of Cure Light Wounds, Cause Disease instead of Cure Disease), and some are brand new, never-seen-before spells. The team has taken care that the new spells are spread out across many different spell levels, all the way from 1st Level to 7th Level for priests, and all the way up to 8th Level for wizards.

Q: What are some of these new spells? A: Expect spells like Seven Eyes, a 7th level wizard spell, which summons a series of protective eyes that defend against specific attacks and can be employed as special abilities. Soul Eater, a 6th level wizard spell, does damage to creatures, but on a successful kill, will raise a skeleton from the remains under the control of the caster. Blood Rage, a 5th level priest spell, can make a character tough and extremely powerful in melee, but you lose control of the character and can no longer track his or her hit points. And that's just a few of the spells you'll be able to use to hammer your foes into submission.

Q: Are there any new monsters? A: The Heart of Winter introduces a horde of new beasts for your party to put into graves. Aside from the Uthgart barbarians themselves, you'll be slugging it out with giant polar worms (Remorhaz), the specters of wailing virgins, waterlogged drowned dead, and vicious barrow wights.

Q: Any whips, flamberges, or any other new types of weapons in Heart of Winter? A: The Heart of Winter adds no new weapon types to Icewind Dale, though there are many new kinds of magic weapons to match every weapon type from the original game.

Q: Any changes to Weapon Specialization in Heart of Winter? A: Weapon specialization works the same as it did in Icewind Dale. Paladins, rangers, and multi-classed fighters are allowed to get two "stars" (specialization) in all weapon groups (unless prohibited by another class combination). Single class fighters are allowed to get up to five "stars" (Grand Mastery) in all weapons other than bows and crossbows. Single class fighters are allowed to get three "stars" (Mastery) in bows and crossbows. This change was made to balance melee and missile weapons appropriately. Don't worry, though, bows and crossbows are still powerful weapons in the game.

Q: Can we play specialty priests in Heart of Winter? A: Clerics in Heart of Winter are still general-purpose clerics -- they're better suited to the role of a general-purpose warrior, healer, and undead blaster.

Q: What resolution does Heart of Winter run in? A: Heart of Winter supports a greater screen resolution than Icewind Dale, allowing you to play in 800 x 600 resolution. You can also run the game 1024x768, 1280x960, 1600x1200, and 2048x1536 resolution, but these greater resolutions are not officially supported.

Q: What are the system requirements for Heart of Winter? A: Tentatively, these are the required and recommended specifications for Heart of Winter:

Required:
Pentium 233
32 MB RAM
8x CD-ROM
Additional 200 MB of hard drive for installation

Recommended:
Pentium 266
64 MB RAM
8x CD-ROM
Additional 600 MB of hard drive for installation

Q: What time frame does the expansion take place? A: The expansion takes place at the same time as Icewind Dale -- in the year 1281, the Year of the Cold Soul. This is before the Time of Troubles.

Q: Can we meet any historical characters like Drizzt or Wulfgar in the expansion? A: No, as in Icewind Dale, the expansion takes place about 16 years prior to the first recorded mention of Drizzt and about 80 years before Wulfgar is even born.

Q: Are there any new races, classes, or dual/multi class combinations? A: No, they're all the same as they were in Icewind Dale.

Q: How many CDs will the expansion come on? A: Just one CD, though you'll need to already have Icewind Dale installed in order to play the expansion.

Q: Is there a level cap, and if so, what is it? A: The Heart of Winter raises the experience point cap for all player characters, allowing them to reach 30th level (although accumulating enough experience points for this to happen can take a very long time, and may not occur if you're playing the game straight through - unless you're playing the "Heart of Fury" mode, described below). Druids have a brand new experience point table that allows them to reach higher levels.

Q: How many new portraits and voice sets are in the expansion? A: Jason Manley has done several new portraits for the expansion (ten at the moment, and the list is growing), and we may release more portraits for download as time permits. We also have six new voice sets in the expansion, three female and three male.

Q: Can we import customized portraits and voice sets in the expansion? A: Yes. You can import portraits into the Heart of Winter in the same manner as Icewind Dale.

Q: What's the best type of class-party mixture for the expansion? A: As in Icewind Dale, a "nuclear" party (including a fighter, thief, cleric, and mage) will always have at least one person appropriate for all situations, but any class-party mixture can make it through the expansion. Thieves, bards, druids, paladins, and rangers, however, have been given additional special abilities that allow them to stand out (and strike down their enemies) more effectively.

Q: Is Heart of Winter as non-linear as Icewind Dale? A: The Heart of Winter expansion is as linear as Icewind Dale. Just like Icewind Dale, however, dialogue options and NPC reactions can change according to the speaker's race, alignment, class, gender, or ability scores. You can also play through the expansion multiple times and find many new and unique magic items.

Q: What's the story of Heart of Winter? A: War is brewing in the North, and the combined might of the barbarian tribes is preparing to sweep down on the Ten-Towns. At the request of a barbarian shaman named Hjollder, you'll travel to the northern-most of the Ten-Towns, the small town of Lonelywood, to avert a battle and save the North from destruction. Along the way, there's a lot of history, restless spirits, bloodshed, backstabbing, broken hearts, dirty politics, and a little bit of fate and destiny sprinkled in to whet your adventuring appetites.

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