is a pair of games set in the Forgotten Realms
and made by Black Isle Studios
using the Infinity Engine. As you may guess from the title, they occur primarily in the Icewind Dale region, a windy, snowing valley in an area called the Ten Towns in the Spine of the World mountain, far to the north of towns like Neverwinter and Luskan.
The first game starts off in the humble fishing village of Easthaven, where your party has Jumped at the Call
of adventure to accompany the hunter Hrothgar to Kuldahar, a village settled in the soothing warmth of a gigantic oak tree that lately has been getting a bit too chilly. As you investigate the source of this, it turns out that the tree's vanishing warmth is part of a larger plot between two warring Eldritch Abominations
seeking to seize control of the region. The second game picks up thirty years later and similarly starts off with the village of Targos being beset by goblin attacks, and leads into a plot about an army of monsters preparing to conquer the region.
Interestingly, Icewind Dale
(and its sequel) has the player create an entire party (rather than one character), lending the games more of a dungeon crawl theme than Black Isle's previous Infinity Engine titles Baldur's Gate
and Planescape: Torment
. Plot is sparse, but not shoehorned in; rather, the game is written in such a way that the player can follow the plot as tightly as he desires, or ignore it entirely in favor of some quick monster-bashing.
Both games have been rereleased for current Windows operating systems on GOG.com
. Beamdog Studios have announced an Enhanced Edition of the first game, released on October 30, 2014.
Both games provide examples of:
- All in a Row: The party has several tactical formations options, including follow the leader. Life saving at several points in II.
- All-Star Cast: The voicing acting credits include Tony Jay, Michael Bell, Jim Cummings, Tara Strong, and John Kassir aka The Cryptkeeper. And that's just the first game's major characters.
- An Axe to Grind: Unlike Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale has two-handed axes.
- An Economy Is You
- Anti-Human Alliance: The forces the player fights in II.
- Artifact of Doom: Crenshinibon, taken from The Icewind Dale Trilogy.
- Artificial Stupidity: Oh, so very much so. When not controlling your party members, they will seeming randomly attack whatever enemy. When moving the party in a group, they will try to stay in whatever formation you have them in. This leads to a bumper car effect as the party member start bumping into each other due to Chokepoint Geography. The characters will eventually go the opposite way simply because they can. Often this lead to unnecessary deaths.
- Attract Mode: If you sit there long enough the Player Party will complain about it
- Badass Baritone: Kresselack, voiced by Tony Jay, combines this with Barbarian Hero, Warrior Prince, The Caligula and Black Knight in the first game. Also, your character can also have this kind of voice, supplied by none other than Tony Jay himself. Playing a boisterous barbarian warrior, no less.
- Battle Theme Music: See above
- Bears Are Bad News: Those darn dire bears swarming you in that tiny werejackal cave.
- Character Customization: Can lead to Alt-itis as you have to make up to six.
- Chokepoint Geography: It helps to know the Artificial Stupidity. Nothing like a Fireball on a narrow bridge to take out multiple enemies. However, due the above bumping, enemies can suddenly appear out of the Fog of War behind you.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Nym the Drow merchant, who single-handedly caused the fall of an ancient Elf/Dwarf alliance out of greed, gives you information about an alternative travel route so you'll have an easier time defeating an army that's hampering his business and then readily sells you out to them just because he could.
- Cosmic Keystone: The Heartstone Gem and Crenshinibon.
- Dialogue Tree
- Dungeons & Dragons: Set in the Forgotten Realms setting, with all the associated tropes one would expect including, but not limited to:
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Hrothgar is rather unceremoniously killed off in a cutscene after the first chapter. A reportedly famed elven adventurer in the inn in Easthaven can later be found dead in a cave—approaching his body triggers a boulder trap, explaining how he died.
- Elite Mooks: The Spectre Guards that creep in Maluradek's castle. In the sequel, the Slayer Knights of Xvim. They wear full-plate mails and carry Greatswords of the Soulless. The knights also double as Praetorian Guards.
- Elves VS Dwarves: Explained in the Severed Hand's back story in both games. Both races initially forged an alliance and successfully to fend off invading Orcs. This lasted many years until a theft of magical weapons broke their alliance into deep hatred of each others.
- Flunky Boss: Every end boss love this trope. Belhifet is flanked with two iron Golem. Icasaracht is backed-up with Sahuagin. The Luremaster has Spectre Heroes. Isair and Madae has a demon knight, a chimera, a wizard, Drows and other nasty creatures.
- Form-Fitting Wardrobe/Cleavage Window: On female armor, in the character sprites. In the character sprites, leather armor will conform to a female warrior's bust, which not only risks deflecting weapons at the face but is well-designed to guide weapons towards the heart. Also, it may not be steel, but it's still put a wedge of hard material right against the sternum, which probably isn't any fun to take a blow on.(This is hardened boiled leather, mind you, not supple worked leather). Metal armor is even worse; in addition to boob cups the entire area above the cleavage is left exposed.
- Grail in the Garbage: Pale Justice, the game's best sword, found on the corpse of a hapless adventurer in Dorn's Deep. Its inventory icon is the same as that of a regular longsword, and shopkeepers will buy or sell it for a pittance.
- Harder Than Hard: The Heart of Fury mode in both games.
- Heel-Face Turn: Saablic Tan was one of Big Bad's lieutenant until he got thrown out and turned into a umber hulk. He helps the party and regret the terrible things he did in the past.
- Horny Vikings: The Uthgardt and Reghed tribes in the game's backstory are pretty much this. A lot of the available portraits of the game also seek to encourage you to be like this.
- You can purchase a Bardic Horn of Valhalla from a merchant in Kuldahar. Even its icon appears like a Viking war-horn.
- Also, the Face of Death helmet's icon look likes a Viking helmet (a real one, mind you), it is also a Reghed artifact.
- Honestly, this game is set in the harsh north of Faerun, and is populated by people who have names like "Hrothgar".
- Idle Animation
- Ingame Novel: It's how both stories are told.
- Karma Houdini: See Chronic Backstabbing Disorder above. Hope you're not expecting to get back at Nym.
- Lawful Stupid: Paladins and Monks will routinely refuse rewards. Kinda pushes Evil Pays Better.
- Or just have another party member claim the reward. Which is just another kind of Lawful Stupid, come to think of it...
- Load-Bearing Boss
- Monster Shaped Mountain: The dungeon of Dragon's Eye is much in the shape of a dragon's head, hence the name.
- Numbered Sequels
- The Ogre
- One-Man Army: Technically six, but nevertheless, your party in both games plows through entire armies in their quests.
- In the first game, the two opposing demon armies of Yxunomei and Belhifet never quite get the chance to duke it out simply because the group infiltrates Yxunomei's stronghold and slaughters the entire army in small-scale room-by-room battles, all to get a MacGuffin that would point them towards Belhifet's stronghold, where they proceed to do the same. It gets better when considering that nobody around actually had any idea that the demons so much as existed, and the party goes to both locations following a partially unrelated investigation.
- The struggle against the Legion of the Chimera is what the whole story is about. Predictably enough, you end up solving the entire thing by yourselves.
- One Riot, One Ranger: The class choice of a solo option in Targos.
- Our Giants Are Bigger
- Our Wights Are Different
- Pausable Realtime
- Point-and-Click Map
- Point of No Return: Painfully with Oswald in the second. Happens multiple times in both games. Basically, when you are told to go over the pass or to Kuldahar, you can pretty much count on it.
- Proper Lady: Ginafae, a loving and kind lady.
- RPGs Equal Combat
- Minor subversion occurs in the first game when confronted by the first bone dancer in the main tomb in the Vale of Shadows. You'll get EXP if you try to reason with the skeleton and avoid a fight. Of course right after you finish talking to it, you go right ahead and kill it anyways.
- Spiritual Successor: Neverwinter Nights 2's second Expansion Pack Storm of Zehir is a lot like IWD in many respects: less plot, more dungeon-crawling, construction of a full party from scratch. Helps that they were made by many of the same people.
- Statistically Speaking
- Stereotype Flip: Ginafae in both games. She's a Drow elf, a member of a cruel and evil elven race, and yet, she's kind, loving and caring to people close to her.
- Stop Poking Me
- Suffer The Slings: Includes magical slings and magical/bonus ammunition! A good way to ensure your wizards and healers don't just sit back and remain useless when not casting spells.
- With This Herring: While the adventuring band in both games is presumed to be mostly inexperienced, one has to question what in the world all twelve were thinking when they decided to head to one of the most inhospitable regions of Faerun, the second band explicitly to work as mercenaries, with nothing but a bunch of quarterstaves.
- You No Take Candle: Lesser species such as Goblins, Orcs, and Ogres, speak in this manner.
The first game provides examples of:
- Aborted Arc: The exact reason why Kuldahar's tree is cooling down is only glossed over (if mentioned at all), as by the time you get to the point you can discover the cause there's much more important things to be concerned with.
- Artifact of Doom: Crenshinibon. Even the Big Bad can't completely control it in the end.
- Captain Obvious: There are many objects in the scenery that you can examine by clicking on them. The appearing text will tell you most of the time exactly what you already see (see a winged statue with stretched hands? 'This is a winged statue with its hands stretched')
- Chekhov's Army: Don't pay much attention to Hrothgar. Now, everyone else is Easthaven...
- Chekhov's Gun: Yeah, all that stuff the priest in Easthaven says about Jerod's Stone? Totally not important.
- Creepy Child: Yxunomei's human form.
- Dem Bones: You'll encounter a lot of them. In the sequel, not as much.
- End of an Age: Icasaracht mourns the death of her once proud dragon culture at the hands of man. She joined forces with Wylfdene out of sympathy for the similar plight of the barbarians.
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Luremaster
- Evil Is Hammy: Poquelin in the Final Battle.
- Excalibur in the Rust: Pale Justice
- Fan Remake: Using the modding toolset from Neverwinter Nights 2, available here.
- Flaming Sword: IWD has several examples of this as a random treasure, not the least of which is the Flaming Long Sword +2.
- A certain NPC in Dragon's Eye also carries this weapon, provided you don't mind killing him to get it.
- Genius Bruiser: Kresselack was a barbarian king, so he was most likely a strong person in life. He's also clever enough to trick you into helping him without lying.
- Godiva Hair: The Seer. She's also completely naked in the arctic and 70 something years old.
- Harping On About Harpies
- Haunted Castle: The Severed Hand, Upper Dorn's Deep and Maluradek's castle.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Both as backstory and in the ending
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Kresselack is voiced by Tony Jay, who also played the Big Bad in Planescape Torment.
- Horrible Judge of Character: Ginafae truly believes that her lover Marketh is a good person, despite having been abused by him several times. Several of Marketh's other enslaved and mutilated victims would like to disagree.
- Large Ham: Belhifet, specifically his human incarnation, Poquelin.
- Manual Leader, AI Party: The game gives the player the option of letting their party be controlled by AI (although micromanaging them is a better option during boss fights).
- Mineral MacGuffin: The Heartstone gem.
- Narrator All Along: The man telling your story is first thought to be a common omniscient narrator, until the ending cinematic where his calm and serene voice suddenly turns hateful and he reveals that he is Belhifet himself.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The Heart of Winter trailer narrates "She is the spirit of one who died in the North long ago." with footage of an old woman. This is then followed by captions "Something wicked chills the heart of Icewind Dale" complete with dramatic music, implying the old lady is responsible for the evils in the North. In the game however, the 'she' actually refer to a huge female white dragon, while the old lady helps the party of adventurers.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: At one point, you are sent to investigate a series of crypts to find out if they are cause of the problems plaguing Kuldahar. After killing everything and reaching their master, Kresselack, you find out that not only is he is not involved at all, but you just destroyed the only defense between him and an ice priestess who wishes to plunge his tomb into darkness.
- Another quest has you going to Dragon's Eye to retrieve the Heartstone Gem from Yxunomei. After retrieving it and butchering yet another army, you later find out that Yxunomei was Belhifet's greatest rival and killing her removed the only hurdle in his quest for world domination. Considering that the Gem was needed to find Belhifet in the first place, you pretty much had no choice in the matter.
- No Name Given: The Luremaster.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: Icasaracht made her own unborn children into soulless vessels so that she could be reborn as a dragon again in case of death. Her mate — their father — naturally objected to this insane scheme, and she killed him. She blames the humans for this too.
- Shout-Out: The Shadowed Orcs in the Severed Hand say "Zug Zug" when they attack, just as in Warcraft II.
- The Razorvine Extract ("property of Mourns-For-Trees") is a nod to Planescape: Torment.
- When asked about her gift of sight, the Gloomfrost Seer makes a cryptic reference to a "black-brambled garden", thus making her one of Ravel Puzzlewell's avatars.
- Erevain's Journal mentions Xan from Baldur's Gate.
- The elven bladesinger Lethias in the Severed Hand can sometimes be found muttering "The needs of the many...", a likely reference to Leonard Nimoy's Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
- Teleport Spam: Belhifet and The Luremaster's favorite tactic.
- To Be Lawful or Good: The party is confronted with a dilemma: kill Marketh, a cruel thief who works for the Big Bad and abuses his lover Ginafae among other things. Several of his victims will want you to deliver justice to him. However, doing so will doom Ginafae as she's been cursed with a geas. Only by sparing Marketh will the party be given the option of freeing her.
- Villainous Breakdown: Belhifet during the end cinematic.
- Woman Scorned: Icasaracht. From one point it seems like she had Aihonen's ancestor as a lover then later died because of him, thus invoking this trope. The other, and most likely case, is that she was just doing what dragons do and then came along the Hero Aihonen's Ancestor who then killed her, depriving her of everything she ever cherished.
Seer - A woman knows a woman's heart, and a strange, beautiful, and cruel thing it is. But the cruelest of all is a heart of winter
, for it beats not with love, but with loss, and *nothing* may comfort it.
Seer - When a human heart breaks, it may heal and forgive. When a heart of winter breaks, it is like ice... it shatters and can never be made whole again.
CHARNAME - Why does this... creature that's possessed Wylfdene... why does she want to destroy the Ten-Towns?
Seer - Her heart was broken once by a man of the Ten-Towns. A *mighty* breaking it was, for in it she lost her kingdom, her love, and her life. Now, her heart beats with the vengeance of winter.
CHARNAME - Surely she can be reasoned with. There is no need for war...
Seer - A woman's fury is a terrible thing.
The second game provides examples of: