Icewind Dale's gameplay incorporates a modified version of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition ruleset. The rules' intricacies are automatically computed; the game keeps track of statistics and controls dice rolling.
The player begins the game by creating an adventuring party of up to six characters. During character creation, statistics including name, gender, race, class, ability scores and weapon proficiencies may be altered. Magic users and thieves have more statistics, in the form of spells and thief abilities, respectively.
After a character has earned enough experience points through completing quests and defeating enemies, the player is given the option of leveling up that character. The player may alter several statistics when leveling up a character, while others are automatically upgraded. Certain character classes require less experience than others to achieve a new level. An experience point limit of 1,801,000 is in place for all characters, meaning that certain classes are able to reach higher levels than others.
The player may order characters to engage in movement, dialogue and combat. Combat occurs in real-time, replacing the originally turn-based system. The player may pause the game at any time, during which orders may be given to characters, who will carry them out when the game is resumed. Gameplay is focused mainly on combat, often against large groups of enemies.
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