Sahal, gnomish cleric/Illusionist, update 1
In Beregost, Sahal calmed Marl, gave a book to Firebead, accepted a couple of quest and killed Karlat via command.
It might be a bit early to kill Silke, considering she can cast lightning bolt, but with the pseudo dragon, command and the wand of magic missles, I was confident I could interrupt her spellcasting - and I was right. With a sleep spell ready, Sahal also cleared Landrin's home of any
spiders before turning in this quest at FAI. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I killed the ogre for the Girdle of Piercing and obtained the Ring of Protection +1 north of Beregost.
Next, the party travelled towards Nashkell. Sahal found Mirianne's letter and Zhurlong's Boots, but ran into his first bit of trouble while exploring the area north of Nashkell: The (out of spells) party encountered, among other monsters, a hobgoblin elite, and Imoen was poisoned and killed by its arrows. In the ensuing fight, the familiar was heavily wounded and had to retreat, and due to a series of bad luck, Khalid was killed as well before Sahal and Jaheira managed to finally take down the elite and its allies. Luckily, no permanent deaths, and Sahal carried all the important equipment to the Nashkel temple, where both dead party members were resurrected. I stopped using Sahals familiar in battle after this encounter, by the way.
After taking the free ankheg plate mail, resting and healing up, the party, buffed with bless and remove fear, entered the Nashkel Inn. Sahal commanded Neira, and the bounty hunter quickly fell. Sahal also talked to Berrun, Noober and Oublek, raising his reputation.
Next, I started exploring some of the surrounding areas: Northwest of Nashkel, the group encountered Drizzt, Bjornin's half ogres and Teyngan and his gang. At the carnival, Zordral was slain. Sahal fought his way through the Xvart Village, killed a mountain bear for Jared (new boots for Khalid, will be useful against winter wolves) and fought all the inhabitants of the Gnoll Fortress, mainly with the help of sleep spells. Also obtained the charisma tome (for Imoen - usually, I tend to give the pc all the tomes, but increasing Sahal's charisma from 3 to 4 seems completely irrelevant). Instead of just travelling back to Nashkel, Sahal met up with Brage and used the automatic travel option to return.
After selling and buying lots of things, Sahal explored the area northeast of Nashkel, killing Arghain, Ioin's group, some ogres for Sarhedra and saving Hulrik's cow via sleep spell. The Cloudpeak Mountains were next, and the party helped Albert, Drienne and the Dryad, but killed Sendai, Vax and Caldo plus their allies.
Eventually, the Sahal returned to the area north of Gnoll Fortress to slay more ogres and help Laurel. He also helped Charleston further north. All this provided Khalid with enough money to buy a full plate in Beregost.
Next, I decided to obtain some new weapons for my party: Sleep to defeat Zargal and his friends, bless, chant and the right dialogue options to kill Bassilus (Khalid used a potion of hill giant strength here). I brought Melicamp to High Hedge, but sadly, he died. Sahal returned Perdue's short sword, though. Near the mines, Sahal helped Prism to get Greywolf's sword (the bounty hunter was commanded), and even further east, a ring of fire resistance was found. The gnomish cleric/illusionist carried Samuel's body back to FAI.
With most chapter 2 areas except for the sword coast, everything north of FAI and the more difficult eastern regions (the mine exit area, Ulcaster, Gullykin, Firewine Bridge, basilisks and red wizards) explored, Sahal felt ready to enter the Mines of Nashkel. Khalid was well protected against piercing weapons, so the kobolds provided no challenge, and Imoen disarmed all of the traps. Sahal quickly made his way to the final level, where he buffed and quickly entered Mulahey's cave - the evil cleric was somehow trapped by his sleeping allies and quickly slain (Boots of Grounding and a new ring for Sahal). The party returned to Nashkell, rested, returned Joseph's ring, spoke to the Mayor and killed an easily defeated Nimbul.
So far, so good. The earlier trouble with the hobgoblin elite was annoying, but Sahal himself wasn't in real danger. All of the other encounters went quite well. As usual, I equipped Khalid with all the best ac-improving gear, especially against arrows - the others are simply using their ranged weapons and spells to support the fighter and interrupt casters. Sahal recently learned how to summon skeletons (which will be very useful), poison hopefully won't be a problem with all the level 2 cleric/druid spells available anymore. I'm also using chant and hold person for the tougher encounters. For level 2 mage spell, Sahal only has resist fear (allowing him to change his level 1 cleric spells to more command, bless and healing spells, since remove fear is no longer needed) - though I will buy a mirror image scroll, soon.