The Fortress of the Black Hills is aimed at Adepts. A tough bunch of Experts would probably have a good shot at finishing the zone though. I mapped and completed the zone with an Adept tri-class.
There's an interesting puzzle in this zone so, if you like that kind of thing, I'd suggest you don't read the rest of this description and instead head to the library where you'll find most of the clues you need to finish the zone.
The entrance to the Fortress is guarded by a group of Stone Giants. Astaroth had no problem taking them on one at a time but they do hit hard and with no resistances you could have problems with two. The giants guarding the entrance can see invisible and will attack you even if you're sneaking. Once overcome you need to unlock the gate (I used knock, as I did for most of the doors in this zone), 'cast knock gate west' and 'open gate west' got me in.
Once in I'd suggest you head to the library, home of the Black Robes, to the south of the Fortress. Standing in the Narrow Hallway (Na) you'll overhear the lamentations of a poor spirit: 'Four are the keys to the keep and power. One to be fought for, and one to be bought. One you must steal, and for one you must deal. Heed well my words, and power and wealth shall be yours.' It refers to the four Black Keys you need to open the way down to the treasure under the Fortress. There are also lots of books to read in Between the Shelves (Bs) gives a history and info on the Keep.
You can obtain the first key by giving MacArthur the Book of Shadowed Pasts. The book can be found on a Shadowy Thief in the Hidden Passages (Hp). To get to the passage you mut unlock the wall (I used knock again) and then 'push wall'. This works on any of the three entrances to the passages. To open a way out from within the passage use 'pull wall'. You'll need sense life or something similar to see the Thieves.
The second of four keys is obtained from Katarina in the Mysterious Bedroom (My). You need to buy the key from her at a cost of 39k gold. The room is dark so you'll need to be carrying a light, and be visible otherwise she won't deal with you.
The third key comes from Zacharius in the Command Room (Cr). You'll have to fight him for it but beware of using blade barries or fireshields as all four Keys are fragile and can be smashed - then you have to wait for the zone to reset and get all four keys again. Using a key from before the reset won't wget you past the golems...
The last key is held by the Beholder Lord in the Front of the Council Chamber (Fc). To pass into the Council chamber you need the three keys from MacArthur, Zacharius and Katerina otherwise the golems that guard the way will not let you pass. Once there you'll see three mobs, on from each of the tribes in the Fortress, and the beholder. I'm sure you're meant to steal the key from him but I lured each mob away one by one until he was alone and killed him for it instead...
Once you've got all four keys you must make your way down to the Jail cells. The Jailor has a key that will open all of the doors in the jail but you actually want to unlock the wall in the western Black Hills Jail (Bj) and the 'pull wall' to open a hidden way west. In the next room unlock the grate and then 'lift grate'. In the Musty Passage (Mp) you need to unlock the torch and then 'twist torch' to open the way west. In the Darkening Passage (Dp) push the statue to open a passage down. As you go down two beasts will attack you, once dispatched unlock the door to the east with the fourth black keyu to find a treasure room with an unlocked chest in it. It has four traps in it so either have a thief with you or plenty of heals!
There are no death traps in this zone I could find but there are plenty of mobs to fight, all over 100k per kill. Many have reasonable items and are protected well. A few final notes: Unlock the shelves and then 'open shelf' in Between the Shelves (Bs) to open a way to the two Quiet Chambers (Qc), in each you'll find a mob with an interesting Sceptre. Mikhail in the Puritan Bedroom (Pb) has a 'hudetreasure' in his inventory but it is in fact a trap. Don't bother with it.
If you'd like to make a quick run to this zone, we recommend the following directions, starting at The Common in Shadowdale: 9sws3ws2w2s2w3sws5w2sws2w3s6wswsw5s3w2sw4s2w2s3w.
Hp---Hp---Hp---Hp---Hp---Hp---Hp-Hp-Hp-Hp-Hp-Hp | + Hp Cr Darkspyre Keep | + | | Wr Kr | + | Hp Sb Nw-No-Ne Wk | | | | | | | Fo+We-Ce-Ee+Si-Ba Wk | | | | | | | Sb Sw-So-Se Wk Spine of Mon Crewyll Hp | | | | Ba-Ba-In-Ba-Ba Wk Nh | | | | | Bc-Bc-Bc+Pb Bc-Bc-Bc First floor Da Ic-Ic Wk Mb | | + | | + | \ | | | | | Hp+Ma+Bc My Bc Db Bc Lb Bc-Bc-Dh-Dk-Dk-Dh-Ih+Ef-Ic-Ic+Bg-Bh-Bh-Bb-Hw-Sunset Mtns | | | + | / | | | | Hp Bc Sh+Bc-Bc-Bc+Qb Jail Cells Na Ic-Ic Wk | | | | An-Na-An Wk Hp | | | El Wk | | | Hp Fl-Fl-Fl Wk | | | | | | Bs Li Bs Wk Hp | | | | Qc+Bs Li Bs+Qc | | | | Hp Bs Li Bs | | | | | Bk-Li-Bk Hp | | Rr | + Hp---------Hp-------------Hp-----------Hp-Hp-HpBlack Hills Jail
Fj Dj Up to the Fortress + + / Br+Bj-Bj-Ej / + + Dp-Mp Oj Dj / Sm-BlFirst Floor
Fc | Bo + Ec | Ts \ Down to the Fortress
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