It can be a lot of fun, sure (for example, I received a ring in Gullykin which give permanent "Luck" to Valeria - certainly added by a mod, but I'm not sure which one) - but it can also be quite dangerous, which is why I am avoiding Ulcaster School, because Hard Times adds a high level encounter there which I've never played in my life - no idea how tough it will be.
Valeria Karinor, human skald, update 5
So - I finally started making some bad calls, showing my relative inexperience with BG1 compared to the second game. I just don't know the scripts for the BG1 mages very well, and then there are the deadly Cloakwood ambushes - knowing were exactly the traps are would have been helpful
As you will see, Valerias run almost ended this time (really, it came down to a lot of luck), but in the end she survived and is doing much better now.
Anyway, before all the trouble started, Valeria was exploring the Ulcaster area, avoiding the school. She also went to the fishermen's village and killed a lot of Ankhegs, helped a farmer and accidentally murdered Tenya (there was an arrow mid flight when she surrendered, nothing I could do). Next, the group travelled to High Hedge to buy some potions for potential basilisk ambushes and attacked the red wizards - Valeria found her first tome here, increasing her charisma to 19.
In the same area, Imoen accidentally triggered a trap (even though I knew it was there! Shouldn't be so impatient), and I decided that Khalid needed to drink a potion of freedom to protect the party from spiders. On the way back to FAI, the exact basilsk ambush I expected did in fact happen, so - good thing I bought those potions, otherwise I propably would have lost at least Khalid, potentially everyone. I also decided to clear out the Firewine Dungeon, luckily without any major problems.
Next, the party entered the second Cloakwood level to defeat Centeol. The spiders gathered around Khalid (who had used a protection from poison scroll), Valeria used her slow spell, Khalid drank a potion to protect himself from fire and Coran threw his oil of fiery burning at the group, severely weakening all the enemies - they were quickly killed.
In the next area, afer defeating Peter, some shadow druids attacked the party, and while their leader used an undisruptable hold spell, he soon perished as well. Now it was time to challenge Drasus' party. First, the enemies were lured away, then taken out. The invisible mage managed to use his confusion spell before dying, affecting 4 party members, but it wore off before any harm was done. Oh, and Drasus dropped the Boots of Grounding - this will be important later on!
Now it's time to get to the interesting part. Hareishan, the wizard in the second level of the Cloakwood Mines, and her group of guards. I didn't really remeber their KI behaviour, so when I tried to lure some of the guards away, I was quite surprised to hear Hareishan immediately cast improved invisibility. While retreating, my party was flanked by another group of guards using another entrance (I approached Hareishan from the south). Next, before I could disrupt her (she was out of sight, and I couldn't use spells on her anyway due to her improved invisibility), the wizard used her lightning bolt spell. It was quite devastating, as you can see here. Yes, this is Valeria at 11 hp, while the bolt is about to bounce through her again. Well, she would have been dead already if not for the Boots of Grounding. She drank a healing potion before the bolt hit her again - and luckily only took 8 points of damage! Now that I think about it, I should have had her drink a potion of absorption instead, that would have been MUCH more safe. The next bounce didn't hit Valeria at all, and the spell ended, though all party members but Coran and Imoen were at devastatingly low hp at this point.
Hareishan didn't continue to be as smart, however, and walked up the group, so she was killed rather quickly, and the other guards could be defeated.
By the way, this incident continues the trend of lightning bolt being the number one reason for any of my BG1 fails. I don't know if someone here remembers my first successful triology no-reload attempt (a druid called Kalis) - there, I at one point lost an entire party of 5 (everyone but the main character himself) to a single lightning bolt, and they all died permanently.
Next mistake: I knew I had to rest, but I tried to rest inside the mines, not remembering the GIGANTIC spawn of guards you can encounter here if you do that. I have no screenshots for this, but a lot of bow-using guards targeted Jaheira, almost killing her - which is why I ran outside, trying to rest there - but I was too lazy to move to a more open space, so, again, impatience was my undoing, as I was disrupted by two lowly guards who killed Jaheira before she could move away (her AC is quite horrible at this point). So - back to FAI, to resurrect Jaheira. Now, after getting my fighter/druid back, I tried to return to the mines, but during one of many ambushes, this happened: klick here
So, essentially, the trap seems to be right where the party starts off, and Imoen didn't manage to find it before I had to move my characters to avoid the ettercap's attacks. The net disabled most party members, though I did have another potion of freedom for Khalid (my last one) and Spider's Bane for Ajantis (though he isn't proficient with two-handed swords - no one in my party is, sadly). The death of Jaheira and the almost-death of Khalid is mainly the result of underestimating the ettercap's poison, getting exactly the character who could remove it poisoned, having my one antidote and one elixir of health on exactly the wrong characters and having an extended period of time in which Jaheira always failed her save.
So - back to FAI again. This time, I finally managed to reach the mines. I was extra careful with enemy wizards now, and both Natasha and the ogre magus didn't manage to harm my party at all. Now, Davaeorn was another story. I used some potions (but not too many - they are quite rare and expensive with hard times) to protect select party members (especially Khalid and Valeria), equipped Coran with the few magical arrows I found (less than 20), the others had to use melee weapons. Now, Davaeorn was disrupted a few times, but he managed to use a fireball, killing an isolated Imoen (even though she used a potion of fire resistance). Luckily, Davaeorn was helpless against Coran's magical arrows, and with some quick hits, a crit and a hit from Jaheira, he was eventually defeated.
Now, with Baldur's Gate open, Valeria delivered some minor items for some of the quests to gain a little bit of experience, killed a couple of wizards thanks to remove fear, helped Aldeth again to gain a melee weapon for Ajantis and killed Larze. She also had Coran drink 2 potions of master thievery and steal Algernon's Cloak.
New items include the Short Sword +2, the Ring of Fire Resistance and the Cloak of Protection +2 (all from Davaeorn). Valeria is now a level 8 skald and plans to visit the Sword Coast next. By the way - does a potion of mind focusing protect a character from being charmed? This game is so much easier when you have a cleric.