So it's here. Icewind Dale:Enhanced Edition. This was the game that first brought me to love fantasy, even though my time with it was short. Now it's been re-released with enhancements of every kind. What better way to celebrate this than with a role-played play-through? (My specialty) Now I'll keep working on the other play-throughs I have (three BG1, one BP1) but I have to start playing this, and right now I have a unique opportunity that I lacked with Baldur's Gate. A lack of knowledge. Sure I played this game as a kid, but that was over ten years ago, and I barely progressed at all, not to mention I was a child, so my memory of it is pretty foggy. That said, even though this is practically blind, I won't call it a truly "blind" play-through for honesty's sake. Regardless, why not have some fun with my ignorance? And of course, who wants to be normal and play this game a normal way? Why not play it solo? With a non-min-maxed character? Minimal reload? (only on character death/game breaking failure) Sure! Let's do it. As for difficulty rating, I'm playing on Easy, partly because I suck, and partly because I don't want to struggle too much. This is as much for you guys as it is for me, but if I don't enjoy it, then I'm less likely to make more of it. Anyway, without further ado, here's Glasgin. (Screenshot taken from the end of chapter 1) (Also, for those wondering about the pronunciation of his name, it's Glaz-gehn. I just made it up, but that's how I'd pronounce it.)
Now let's get started.
Chapter 1. Easthaven
The lone gnome sat at the table, silently watching the people go by. He noticed a man approaching him, and took a drink from his mug of strong mead. It was not nearly as potent a brew as what they made back in the village, but it was close enough for him to stomach it. The approaching man wore a suit of fine plate, and was surely some knight or such. At the very least a high ranking guard for the town. He came up to the table and began to speak.
“What’s this? New face in town, eh?” he said with a warm smile. “Well met, stranger. The name is Hrothgar, originally of Hillsfar, but now after years of traveling up, down, and under Faerun, I am content to call this town my home. Who might you be?” Firebeard grunted at the man before realizing he should speak.
“Greetings, Hrothgar. My name is Glasgin Firebeard.” Hrothgar smiled warmly again, but something in his eyes hinted at less warm thoughts.
“Well then, welcome to Easthaven.” he said, before his tone darkened to match his eyes. “Whatever your business in these parts might be, I would offer you this small piece of advice; while you’re in my town, you’d do well to be on your best behaviour. These folk are under my protection, and anyone who would seek to do harm to them in any way shall answer to me.” Hrothgar’s tone lightened again as he continued. “That said, I’ll let you get back to your cup. I’m sure you’ve had a long journey, and you’ll find there’s no better way to shake off the cold of the road than by downing a few mugs of Grisella’s best.” Hrothgar continued to speak, letting Firebeard know of the stores and inns in the area. When he was done, Firebeard thanked him and said farewell, though it was more a couple of grunts at different pitches than actual words. Before he left, however, Hrothgar said that once Firebeard had had a chance to rest up, he should stop by Hrothgar’s house. He left, making the rather cryptic statement “There’s some business I would like to discuss with you.” as he went. Firebeard shrugged and thought no more of it for now. He would see what amenities were available in the town, and then stop by Hrothgar’s later. A barbarian arriving in a town did not often draw much interest, but apparently someone had some need of him. After finishing his drink, Firebeard began speaking to the locals, seeing if there was anything of note to learn in town. Perhaps he could learn of some artifact he could obtain, or some dungeon where treasures could be found. His supplies were certainly lacking, after all. To his surprise, he learned that the owner of the tavern, Grisella, had an infestation of insects in her cellars. Firebeard thought it could be an amusing warm-up to slaughter them, once he had obtained a real weapon. His ceremonial staff was hardly a fitting weapon, though he was certainly trained in it’s use. He offered his assistance and she accepted happily.
From the other patrons of the tavern he learned little tidbits of information, such as an expedition that Hrothgar was supposedly preparing. Something about a disturbance up in the mountains. Another patron of note was one exceptionally rude fellow who assumed that since Firebeard was a gnome, he must be related to some “Fiddlebender” in Kuldahar, a town south of Easthaven. The man meant no harm with his words, however, and even offered some fish, a great export of the town, as a token of apology. He also mentioned that the weather had been unusually bad recently as well, though Firebeard had often seen foul weather living in his village, and thought nothing of it. He did mention a variety of creature sightings near town however that piqued Firebeard’s interests. The rest of the patrons were unhelpful, though all of them mentioned this “Fiddlebender” fellow, to which Firebeard became quite irritated.
After leaving he went straight to Pomab’s Emporium to buy his equipment. Yet another fool awaited him inside, however. The owner, who Firebeard assumed was Pomab, cried out,
“What is this? More barbarians come to my shop? No doubt with nothing to barter with but more wolf pelts and polished stones. Very well… let us get this over with. What do you want?”
Firebeard scowled but merely said “Right. I’d like to see what you have for sale.”
“And I would like to see some coin before I go to the trouble of showing you my wares. I have no patience for those who are ‘Just browsing’”. retorted Pomab. This was too much for Firebeard.
“Look, you toad, I have gold and I need supplies! Are you going to sell to me or not?!”
The little man cried out. “How DARE you speak to me in such a manner! Do you know who I am?!” Firebeard rolled his eyes.
“I don’t care who you are… I just want to buy something!” The man then began to blather on about his name and title or some such nonsense. Firebeard tuned him out. Once the man was done, however, Firebeard then mockingly replied,
“Forgive me, your lordship. I had no idea.” The man continued to blather, though he easily spotted Firebeard’s sarcasm. Eventually Firebeard cut him off.
“Whatever. Can I just buy something, please?” Finally the man relented, and began to show Firebeard his wares.
After purchasing some splint mail, a helm, a spear, some wine in case alchohol was needed for medical treatment, and several bags for holding items, he left, intending to return later to purchase a bow and greatsword, his other weapons of choice.
Before continuing, we should draw back from the tale for a moment, to better explain the life of Glasgin. Born into a most unusual village of mountain dwelling gnomes, Glasgin has grown up as a “barbarian”. Unlike for many, however, this is no job or title, it is merely a part of his culture. Though his tribe IS gruff, sometimes rude, often dirty, and lacking in “social graces”, they are a normal functioning society. This upbringing has left Glasgin with a strong body, but little knowledge. He is quite intelligent, however, and were the role of tribal leader chosen merely on intelligence, he would likely take the role. He is somewhat gruff, even for his tribe’s standards, however, communicating with more grunts than words when possible.
This society places great emphasis on one’s own strength, and the art of war is different to them than to most. What makes this tribe truly unique in battle are the tattoos placed on their face at birth by the shaman of the village. What to many appears as naught but a symbol of clan hood, is in fact a magical symbol that allows the wearer to draw upon great inner strength, releasing all fear from their body, thereby gaining an immense increase in power both physical and mental. Glasgin’s tattoo is an almost indescribable symbol, though it could best be said as a cat’s eye, with the rays of the sun bursting forth from it. This is due to Glasgin’s name, which in his tribe’s native tongue means “Burststar”. The symbol is colored a deep orange, but glows brightly when activated. The greatest warriors of the village are known for their talent to use this ability for longer than the rest, thereby giving them a state of almost immortality for hours at a time. This ability plays a key role in choosing the chieftain of the village. Every twenty-five years, all the men and women of the village that wish to participate are given a ceremonial staff, and nothing else. They are given five years to search the land and find weapons of immense power. These weapons are then used in a great tournament, where the village’s warriors fight till one warrior stands as champion. This warrior then takes the reigns of leadership, unless the previous chieftain makes a challenge of leadership. If this is done then one final battle is fought. Unlike the other fights in the tournament, however, this one is to the death. Most chieftains step down gracefully, but there are always some who refuse to accept retirement.
Glasgin is not overly picky when it comes to his tools, but he tends towards weapons of a two-handed nature, as he feels that ultimate strength comes from ultimate offense. Defense is important, of course, but he prefers to avoid the enemy’s blows, rather than take them. This is not to say that Glasgin is a speeding bullet, however, as he is only relatively agile. He makes the best use of what speed he does have, though, and is no slouch in combat. He fights with the staff, greatsword, longbow, and spear, as these were both common and useful within his tribe. He will likely obtain and use other weapons as time passes, however, since every clan member dreams of mastering every weapon.
Glasgin is a gruff, sometimes rude, and rather intimidating person to be around, but deep within he has a heart of gold. Or at least a gold core. He’s unmerciful to his enemies, heartless when faced with moral crises, and will always prioritize the needs of the many over the needs of the few, but despite his chaotic and sometimes heartless methods, he’s truly good, willing to go out of his way to help others, regardless of how menial it might be.
His appearance is unusual for a gnome, though the tattoo on his face is only part of it. Though he is but the height of a normal gnome, he is as broad as a dwarf, albeit thinner than one. Atop his head is a wild untamed mass of fiery gold red hair, and on his chin a beard equally as wild and flamboyant. The gnomes of Glasgin’s tribe are given their name upon birth by their parents, and their last name as they age. When Glasgin’s fiery beard first showed itself, “firebeard” was the nickname on everyone’s tongues. It stuck, and no one has ever had reason to question his name. His skin is dark for a gnome, having been tanned by many hours spent in the sun, and his brown eyes compliment his skin perfectly. Of course his body is also well-muscled, having been forged through a life of survival and warfare.
So now that we know a bit of Glasgin and his background, how did he come to Easthaven, you may ask? Well that answer is quite simple, really. The twenty-five years of rule for the current chieftain has ended, so those gnomes willing to try for chieftain were armed with the ceremonial staves and sent out, Glasgin included. While many of his clan mates traveled to nearby villages first, Glasgin struck out, heading straight for Easthaven. Few clan mates would consider it, and therefore any rumours of treasure or artifacts would be heard by his ears only. With this in mind he made the long and treacherous journey to the village, fighting whatever struck at him on the way. Eventually he arrived, and before anything else, he sought to warm himself with a mug of mead. And from there, you know the rest…
Once he had finished purchasing what he could for now, he returned to the tavern and proceeded into the cellar. What met him were but a few large beetles. Glasgin took up his staff, and did what any sane man would do. He squashed some bugs. After doing so he returned to Grisella, who thanked him profusely, but paid him a mere pittance of five gold pieces. He left the inn and began to search the town, looking for things of interest.
(Upon completing Grisella’s quest, Firebeard reached the 2nd level, netting him another 15 HP, as well as -1 THAC0)
The first person of interest Glasgin came across was a man who came running up to him before stammering out, “Oh, thank the gods. Whoever you are, you picked the perfect time to wander by. I could really use some help.”
Glasgin introduced himself, to which the man said that his name was Apsel. He then stammered out that he did not have the time for such pleasantries, however, so Glasgin asked what was wrong.
“A wolf somehow got into my workshop and is tearing the place apart!” Apsel exclaimed before continuing. “It attacked me as I was opening the shop this morning. I-I was so startled by the sight of the beast that I accidentally broke the key off in the lock while trying to get away. Now I can’t even get back in!”
Glasgin stroked his beard before replying. “What is it exactly that you want me to do?”
Apsel replied that he wanted Glasgin to kill it, to which Glasgin simply asked how he would get in the workshop. Apsel told him he didn’t know, but to break the door down if necessary. Glasgin shrugged and prepared his spear for combat.
Glasgin burst through the door and charged the beast. It took far longer to kill than he had expected, and he was injured quite severely by the beast. (5/30HP) Nonetheless, he returned to Apsel immediately. Apsel was overjoyed and rewarded Glasgin with an intricately carved scrimshaw dagger, for Apsel was a scrimshander. Glasgin was not one for knives, but he gratefully accepted the gift nonetheless. After this he went and rested at the inn for a while (4+days, I’m unhappy to say) before going out again. This time he met an old drunk who asked him for some wine, since Grisella had cut him off. With the right “incentive”, Glasgin handed over the wine he had bought for medicinal purposes. It wasn’t helping him much anyway, and he could use the gold. The room at the inn was more expensive than expected.
(Upon completing Old Jed’s quest, Firebeard reached the 3rd level, netting him +15 HP, −1 THAC0, and a weapon pip, which was placed in Two Handed Weapon Style)
Deciding to relax by the water’s edge, Glasgin went there, only to find a strange blue-skinned woman. He tried to communicate with her, but to no avail. Finally he told the woman to stay hidden from the villagers, as they might see her as a monster. After this strange circumstance, he traveled next to the temple. He spoke with both Accalia and Everard, but learned little of importance, though some strange local occurrences came up, such as more talk of Hrothgar’s expedition, which was apparently begun after a messenger from the south came speaking of evils in the mountains. The man died shortly thereafter, however, so not much information could be gained.
Sensing there was little else to be done as of now, Glasgin decided to explore the area around Easthaven. As he crossed the bridge out of town a little boy came running towards him. Glasgin stopped the boy, asking what was going on. The little boy began stammering about how he needed to get to Hrothgar, as there were monsters in town, and that they had stolen his fishing catch and that his father would be furious that he lost the catch. Glasgin took a second to decide whether this was like the fable of The Squire Who Called Dragon or true, and decided that false or not, it needed to be dealt with. He handed the boy the fish he had been given earlier, then rushed across the bridge, finding several goblins just as the boy had said. Jumping into action, Glasgin slaughtered them singlehandedly. He was wounded slightly, but nothing serious. He began searching for anymore of them to be sure they were gone. Fortunately there were only eight of them. Even more fortunately. he found the boy's catch on what appeared to be the leader of the group. Glasgin wasn't entirely sure he knew what to do with the fish, but he had given the boy his own, so he was glad to have another.
After dealing with the beasts, Glasgin returned to town. No fanfare, no thanks, no nothing. Glasgin didn’t much mind, however. He had gained something valuable from this. A pelt. (In reality I stole the pelt from a house, but I felt like Glasgin might not do such a thing) A winter wolf pelt, to be exact. With the money he gained selling it from Pomab, he was easily able to purchase a greatsword, composite longbow, and plenty of arrows. He next went back to the temple, where he picked up a second potions case. There was a second scroll case on sale as well but it did not interest Glasgin. He would be using few scrolls, merely carrying them for sale, as magic sold quite well in primitive areas. With this done he went to Hrothgar’s, seeing no need for further exploration of the town.
Hrothgar smiled as Glasgin entered, motioning him over. When Glasgin came near, Hrothgar began to speak. “Well met, friend. And welcome to my home. Make yourselfves comfortable, but try not to break anything. Many of these curiosities that you see lying about have… sentimental value.” Hrothgar gestured haphazardly to the various trinkets and baubles that were on display around the room. Glasgin noticed various body parts of animals, assorted spheres and stones, and even three mounts on the wall, though one was empty. From where they stood, Glasgin thought he could read the small plaque underneath it. He wasn’t quite sure, but he thought it read “invisible stalker”
Glasgin returned his gaze to Hrothar and gave him a surprised look. “Sentimental value? You don’t seem the type.” Hrothgar smirked.
“Ah, they’re all remembrances of my adventuring days. Little trinkets and the like that I picked up here and there. More keepsakes than valuables really, leftovers from my days of fortune and glory.”
Glasgin nodded slowly, thinking of his own journey for fortune and glory. “May I have as much luck as you.” he muttered.
Hrothgar smiled, the cunning mind showing through his eyes. “Indeed? Well then, this might interest you. I’m putting together an expedition of sorts, one which would surely provide opportunities for both fortune and glory. This is the business I wished to speak to you about.”
Glasgin raised an eyebrow. This might be the kind of lead he had been looking for. He grunted in a questioning way, which Hrothgar seemed to understand.
Hrothgar leaned against one of the display tables, his metal armour making a slight clink as it scraped the wood. Crossing his arms, he began to speak, occasionally gesturing with his right hand. “We’ve received word from Kuldahar, our neighbors to the south, that evil forces are stirring nearby in the Spine of the World Mountains.” Glasgin raised an eyebrow. “I am organizing and leading a party from Easthaven south to Kuldahar Valley to investigate. You look to be capable enough, perhaps you would like to join us. What say you?” Glasgin was always eager to face new challenges, but he was no fool.
“What sort of ‘evil forces’ are we talking about here?” he asked, stroking his beard absentmindedly as he spoke.
Hrothgar frowned. “I don’t really know. The messenger wasn’t too specific. I suppose if you want more details you could ask old Everard over at the temple, but time’s a-wasting. We need to get this expedition moving before the snows seal off the pass to Kuldahar. So what’s it going to be? Are you in or out?”
Glasgin stroked his beard a moment more before replying heartily. “Sounds exciting! Count me in.”
Hrothgar grinned broadly, his winning smile giving just a glimpse as to the many ways he was a strong leader. “Excellent!” he said loudly. “Glad to have you onboard. I plan to assemble the rest of the expedition and set out for Kuldahar within a few days.” His grin faded however, and he continued. “With storms brewing in the mountains, I’d rather we depart sooner, but there are matters that require my attention here about town.”
Glasgin replied immediately. “What sort of matters? Perhaps I could help?”
Hrothgar paused a moment before giving a thoughtful look to Glasgin. “Actually, now that I think about it, maybe you can help. Pomab, the local shopkeeper, has recently expressed concern over the rapidly thinning stock of his store. He’s been complaining that the regular caravan from Caer-Dineval is long overdue, and that if they don’t arrive soon, he’s sure to be out of business.” Glasgin rolled his eyes and muttered “Pomab…” to which Hrothgar chuckled slightly before continuing. “Now normally, I take Pomab’s whining with a grain of salt, but with heavy snows on the way, it would be best to make sure that caravan makes it through.”
Glasgin nodded. “So what is it you need me to do?”
Hrothgar replied “I want you to find that caravan. Leave town by way of the south bridge and scout the hills west of Lac Dinneshere—between Easthaven and Caer-Dineval. Caravans always stick close to the shoreline this time of year. Once you find it, see the caravan safely to Easthaven. In the meantime, I’ll assemble the rest of the expedition and make the final plans for our journey. Return here as quickly as you can, we must make for Kuldahar Pass while the weather is favourable. Good luck and safe journey.”
Glasgin nodded and left Hrothgar’s, deciding to stop by the inn and rest for the eve. He would set out in the morning and find this caravan and then be on his way to glory, treasure, honour, and power. These thoughts led him to a deep and peaceful sleep that night.
Inventory shot from end of chapter: