The Cave of the Dracolich is, thus far, the our first really big “exam” dungeon. Lots of random encounters with Drow, who may have some good equipment, but which all disintegrates outside of the dungeon – and I do mean lots of random encounters.

Fortunately, there is a way to reduce the number of encounters slightly – and I do mean slightly. There is a party of members of the Swanmays – a Banner (Forgotten Realms term for an adventuring company) made up exclusively of women. If you have a woman in the party, you can get a side-quest to retrieve some items from the tower of the wizard you’re going to be fighting anyway. In return, they’ll give you a badge that will reduce the number of Drow encounters you face. In practice, it feels like there’s a random dice roll happening behind the scenes when you encounter Drow which will determine if it’s Drow who respect the badge or Drow who don’t.

However, the main test of this dungeon lies at the end with the titular Dracolich. This monster will clean your clock if you don’t go in fully buffed – ideally with dragon-slaying weapons, protection from dragon-fire, and magic that provides protection from fire. There’s actually a room in the dungeon that will provide a Sword of Dragon-slaying that is basically essential for this fight.

If you survive, you can proceed forward to the next area or backtrack to train up – I chose to advance forward, and I’d say that was a mistake, as you will find yourself taken immediately to the top of the tower for a cut-scene, before sending the party through another dungeon to fight your way through – which is especially frustrating since I’ve got a giant pile of cash and have several party members ready to level up.

Right after you leave the caves, this schmuck hits you with The Bonds

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