Just for fun, here are the new looks of the party members:
You may have notices that this portrait is different from the one in the “Killer bugs” shot. I decided that this portrait looked more like Imoen’s face than the other, more Asian portrait.
And, of course, the appropriately named, “Sir Not-Appearing-in-this-game”
Unfortunately, Kagain did not die this round. I was hoping that he would, to sort of set the tone for the rest of the game.
You see, I checked the “Heart of Fury” mode, which means that monsters are extra-special hard. One blow from one
of those bugs in the tavern basement will obliterate a level-1 character. Well, Kagain must be a craftier fighter than I
thought, because he landed several blows on the giant cockroach-thing without taking a scratch in return.
Finding that the bugs are going to be a tough fight, Pshaw & Co. decide to put off this quest for the moment, and try to find some better equipment. They visit one of the fishermen huts, and find Ol’ Jed, a hopeless drunk. Jed asks them to buy liquor for him (Grisella, the tavern owner, won’t sell him any more wine), but instead, Balan talks Jed into giving up his self-destructive lifestyle. Then they meet a guy who goes on and on about some dream he has (and seriously, folks, no one is interested in you telling about your dreams). Balan agrees to help him, then lo and behold, finds a sea elf that matches the description of the one in Joril’s dream. Balan acts as a go-between (Balan: “I hate being in the middle!”), and resolves both Joril’s dream problem, and the sea elf’s weird fixation problem. Joril gets the sword of his ancestor, the sea elf gets…whatever she was wanting, and Balan gets some XP. Huzzah! Imoen and Branwen are now at level two, and they haven’t even done any real fighting yet.
IWD rewarded players that included a bard in the party; extra XP could be garnered by singing to the sea elf instead of just talking to her. Also, the bard could tell a tale to a random villager and get a gem as payment. In the town of Lonelywood, the quest arc with the little girl would offer higher XP awards to a bard that chose the right conversation tree (tell a story about a bear, or some such).
A word about playing in “Heart of Fury” mode: it is an extremely difficult, but rewarding, challenge to begin with 1st level characters. The characters level up super-fast (you can get the cleric to level 8 with a party of four in just a few days’ time; in Baldur’s gate, it took several months of adventuring to achieve that), but the player must be a “combat as war” type player.