Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pool of Radiance: Clearing the City

The world at last! A find in Mendor's Library allowed me to look at a general map of the city and game world.

A few days ago, it took me one and a half postings to cover a single map area (the slums), and now I'm going to cover seven in one. I'm afraid my playing has been outpacing my blogging. These are the seven map areas that I've explored and cleared, based on their names on the map above.

Kuto's Well

The main part of Kuto's Well offered combats with hobgoblins, orcs, goblins, and kobolds, no different from the Slums. There were only a couple of fixed encounters. In the southern part of the map, I found a door guarded by some lizardmen with giant lizards. Defeating them allowed me to bust open the door and release a mysterious female prisoner, who warned me that "an evil spirit from an unholy pool" is behind my enemies (clearly Tyranthraxus and the Pool of Radiance). After she fled, I found a nice cache of arms and armor beneath a rug.

She follows this with: "An evil spirit from an unholy pool guides your enemies. It hides behind a fair countenance. Be not deceived." Wouldn't it be cool if Tyranthraxus was disguised as the City Clerk? I know that's not the case, but I think the creators missed a great twist ending.

There was a eponymous well in the area, though, and descending it led me to the secret caverns of the bandit Norris the Grey. This was a another maddening area to map, because most of the 16 x 16 grid wasn't used, and I was sure I was missing secret doors somewhere. The one secret door that I did find led to an area with nothing in it.

Norris had a letter on his body (recorded in my journal) in which someone called "The Boss" demanded he assemble his men and follow a hobgoblin on an unspecified mission in exchange for "food, treasure, and many slaves." Norris had drafted a reply in which he told the Boss that: "I will never follow the orders of a hobgoblin. I don't go on missions until I know exactly what we're supposed to do. And I don't go on missions for an unknown amount of 'food, treasure, and slaves.'" I like this Norris fellow; I'm sorry I killed him.

And what the hell was he, anyway?

In general, this journal entry does a good job illustrating how the game fleshes out its NPCs, even if you can't interact with the NPC or use this information to any real degree.

Podol Plaza

These role-playing choices aren't outstanding for the modern era, but no other game of this age offers such a variety.

Podol Plaza is where I was sent to find out what high-level item "the enemy" was selling at an auction. The area was crawling with monsters, and when I entered, the game gave me a nice roleplaying choice about whether I wanted to "stride boldly forward," disguise my party as monsters, or sneak around. I chose the disguse, and it held through much of the area.

The auctioneer was in the middle of the area, and there were a couple of ways to play the encounter, including trying to listen to rumors in the crowd, bid on the object, push your way forward to get closer, and so on. The auction ended with one of the bidders (called "Garwin" by the auctioneer) creating a distraction, snatching the item (some kind of wand), and running off. I don't know if there was any way to play it so that I would have gotten the object, or fought the auctioneer, or whatever, but the Clerk did reward me for the limited intelligence I returned with.

They were full of lies.

On the eastern side of the same area was a building that had been converted to a temple to the god Bane, who is tied in some of the literature I found with Tyranthraxus. I pretended that I wanted to join, but the orcs in charge saw through it and I fought a protracted battle. On the west side of the Plaza was a monster bar called the Pitt. The moment I walked through the door, a mercenary challenged me to one-on-one combat, which I won, but then the whole place erupted into a brawl. Oddly, I had a pack of hobgoblins fighting on my side, which is another nice combat feature that I forgot to mention yesterday. It occasionally happens that NPC squads join you in battle. Since your characters are in the front ranks, they often end up dithering around ineffectively in the back, but it's still a first, I think, for a CRPG.

The hobgoblins behind me are actually behind me!

Textile House

The Textile Complex was the most maddening of the areas in the game so far, featuring enemies that caused poison (frogs, lizards) and level drains (wights). The presence of huge packs of undead in the area is never really explained. The lower half of the map featured a sort-of hobgoblin town, complete with kitchens, dining rooms, and a nursery. A lot of these rooms had basic descriptions when I walked in (e.g., "a dilapidated former mansion; the tapestries on the walls are rotted and tattered") that gave a nice pen-and-paper-style RPG feel. Such depictions are scattered throughout Pool of Radiance, but they seem more densely concentrated in this area.

Well, now I feel like a dick.

I kept finding slaughtered hobgoblins with blood graffiti on the walls indicating that "Skullcrusher was here." Skullcrusher happened to be in the literal last square I searched on the map, imprisoned in chains. Apparently, he was a servant of Councilmember Cadorna, sent to the complex to retrieve the same heirloom box that was the object of my quest. I guess I could have taken him as an NPC if I'd had a slot free, but I didn't, so he happily went back to his master.

Mendor's Library

I originally attempted Mendor's Library after Kuto's Well, but no picking or bashing in the world would get me through the locked main door, so I had to wait until one of my mages had the "Knock" spell before I could return.

A basilisk was unexpected at Level 3.

In the library, I found four rooms containing stacks of books. One of them was guarded by a basilisk, which seems like a slightly unfair fight for my level, except fortunately I was able to overwhelm him and kill him before he could gaze (that must be what the mirrors in one of the shops are for). "Searching" the rooms seemed to have a random chance of producing a useful book. A couple times, I was about ready to give up when I suddenly found another book. This uncertainty led me to search each room about 100 times before I was sure I'd found everything.

This game and I have a philosophical disagreement about what is "useful."

There were five useful journal entries here. One was the map that starts this blog entry. Others gave me insight into the Pool of Radiance and Tyranthraxus. Apparently, the Pool of Radiance is one of many such pools throughout the realms. By immersing oneself in the pool and performing a certain ritual, one can gain great powers, including immortality. The book notes that the pool is not necessarily tied to a single physical location.

Presumably, Tyranthraxus the Flamed One did use, or is using, the Pool to achieve his powers. One of the books listed him as a "lesser power" among the god Bane's "hall of Minor Courtiers." Others in his group are given as Maram of the Great Spear, Haask, Borem of the Lake of Boiling Mud, and Camnod the Unseen. I looked these folks up the Forgotten Realms Wiki, and I can't claim to understand all the history that goes along with their stories, but the upshot is they all seem to be quasi-deities defeated by the "Dead Three"--Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul--in their quest for godhood. It's neat to see a tie-in with Bhaal at this point in the D&D CRPG oeuvre.

Another book suggested that Tyranthraxus was once a powerful mortal general who waged a scorched earth campaign across kingdoms called Barze, Horreb, and Vane. He was wreathed in some kind of magical flame, which eventually destroyed his body, setting his spirit free to possess other mortals. Someone named Baron Schodt was able to imprison him in a vial of water and toss it into the depths of a lake. Presumably, after that, he got free and somehow ran into Bane and . . . hell if I know. He's back, anyway, and probably the "Boss" that everyone's going on about.

I like games that feature this kind of in-game lore. Morrowind probably does it best: through various books, notes, and recollections of characters, you try to piece together what really happened to Nerevar all those years ago, and you never really get a final "answer."

Mendor's spectre attacked me on the way out. He was capable of draining two levels in one hit, but fortunately he went for an NPC first.

Someone needs to introduce Mendor to rubber stamps and overdue fees.

Kovel Mansion

I was directed to the Kovel Mansion area by the Clerk, saying it had been infested with thieves and she wanted me to rout them. The mansion was full of traps, locked chests, locked doors, and so on, and I seem to remember from my last playthrough (admitted, a long time ago) that it was the only part of the game in which a thief was really needed. Well, boy did my thief fall down on the job. I guess by multi-classing him, I ensured that he wasn't a high enough level to do any of the necessary tasks. We tripped every trap, and every lock required bashing it or using a "Knock" spell (I think I encountered a game bug here, because I was able to use "Knock" multiple times even though I had only memorized it once).

There was quite a lot of treasure to find, though, including some relatively high-level magic items (leather armor +4 is the highest plus I've received so far). Lone thieves kept attacking me, and I'm not sure of the purpose of that. There was only one big battle, with a group of thieves, some high level, but it wasn't too tough.

These thieves seriously need to put some shirts on.

The neat thing is that the bandit leader seems to have been collecting intelligence on Phlan, Tyranthraxus, and the surrounding area. There were several notes full of bulleted items meticulously organized as "facts," "strong rumors," "rumors," and "vague rumors." A whole set concerned Councilmember Porphyrys Cadorna, who lately sent me on a quest for a family heirloom. He is a "rising star" in council politics, rumored to be charming but vindictive, and apparently he contacted the thieves to get information about the Pool of Radiance, and is hiring mercenaries. Something tugs at my memory here, but I can't quite place it.

Another set of facts and rumors concerned Ulrich Eberhard, the leader of the expedition to retake Phlan. I haven't run into him yet. There's a vague rumor that he's actually bought by "The Boss." There were several maps whose labels indicated they were part of a maze in Valjevo Castle, which I'll have to storm eventually. One of the thief's notes indicated it was a "fact" that "The Boss" holds audiences in Valjevo Castle. He is apparently trying to recruit tribes of monsters in the surrounding area to re-take Phlan, and he is rumored to be a "dragon or a human who can take the form of a dragon," perhaps even a metallic dragon (which would be abnormal because they are usually "good").

Wealthy Area

This map, lying in between Kovel Mansion and the Temple of Bane, essentially served no purpose. There were endless random battles with orcs, goblins, hobgoblins, and ogres here. In all other maps, after I've fought enough battles, I've "cleared" the area and they've stopped. But I never cleared this one.

Those sigils become important.

There wasn't much to find: some orc living quarters, a cryptic message on a wall (see below), and a single journal entry that listed some numbers of creatures ("Ogres--1, Hobgoblins--40," etc.), but I don't know where. I've certainly killed more than those numbers here. The primary purpose of the area seems to be to ensure that you meet groups of orcs carrying leather holy symbols of Bane, so you can use them in the Temple of Bane area. If this wasn't clear, letting some goblin slaves go free gets you a warning to the effect that "to enter the Temple, you need a holy symbol of Bane."

Letting them go got me a hint, albeit a useless one.

Although the random encounters never stopped, I did find that my higher-level party was much more intimidating. Parlaying with the creatures in an "abusive" tone generally caused them to flee or to give me an anemic warning about "nonbelievers" needing to "hit the road, ya bums."


Temple of Bane

I had picked up Dirten a long time ago after the Clerk told me to go see Bishop Braccio at the Temple of Tyr. Dirten had a mission to clear out the profane temple and restore it to its rightful god.

Keeping hidden treasures is what we call a "given."

The Temple of Bane had an interesting geography. The 16 x 16 map was dominated by the large temple, surrounded by a series of outbuildings. It had more random encounters than even the Wealthy District, and even though I tried to parlay my way out of most of them, I kept getting surprised by unbelievable hordes of goblins.

At the entrance, the orcs, seeing my holy symbols, stood aside to let me in. I looted the temple of a couple of treasure caches before facing a major choice:

My Level 4 characters, undoubtedly egged on by the NPC Dirten, decided they had no fear of inciting the wrath of a god. I destroyed the temple and was attacked by a horde of orc fighters and bowmen led by an orc cleric named "Mace."

It was a long battle, but it's been a long time since orcs were a serious challenge. Between "Sleep" and "Hold Person," I took care of a bunch of them--including Mace--in the first round. The rest of it was just mop-up, and I have to hand it to the orcs: they held on, not one surrendering, until the last one fell. On the leader's body was a set of orders from Tyranthraxus telling him to investigate the source of the undead menace in Valhingen Graveyard, so apparently Big T isn't behind it.

Dirten left me at this point to take care of re-sanctifying the temple, and I returned to Phlan for my "reward"--nudge, nudge--from the Clerk.

I'm a sucker for pouty lips and high cheekbones.

Having completed these areas, Octavianus is a Level 5 fighter, Karnov is a Level 4 fighter and a Level 5 thief, Zink and Duskfire are at Level 4 in both fighter and mage classes, Lame Brain is Level 4 in both fighter and cleric, and Koren is a Level 5 cleric. My swordsman NPC is also a Level 5 fighter. He's risen twice, and I've had to front him the gold both times.

I'm getting to it!

My outstanding quests from the Clerk are:

  • A number of interrelated quests having to do with Valhingen Graveyard. I'm dreading this. I'm sure it'll be full of level-drainers. The Clerk gave a Two Handed Sword +1, +3 vs. Undead to help me out, along with a bunch of restore scrolls.
  • Find a tribe of kobolds and stop them from joining with the enemy.
  • Find a tribe of nomads and stop them from joining with the enemy.
  • Figure out the source of the pollution of the Barren River, which runs alongside Phlan.

You might note that some of these quests seem to require me to leave Phlan proper. I haven't mentioned this yet--mostly because I forgot this from my previous times playing the game--but Pool of Radiance boasts an extensive outdoor map!

Not all of the game's exploration is first-person.

More on that next time, but for now, see if you can help me solve some outstanding mysteries. No outright spoilers please, but I'd appreciate some hints (use ROT-13 if you're unsure).

1. In Mendor's Library, I came across three caches of gold foil. They don't seem to do anything (although they are equippable), and they sell for 0 gold. What are they for?

Mendor's Library left me with two mysterious items.

2. Also in Mendor's Library, I found a Manual of Bodily Health, which in other D&D games raises constitution. When I equip and read it, nothing happens. Just a programming mistake, or am I missing something?

3. Scrawled on a wall in the Wealthy District was this message: "NORTH WALL. RI__T FRONT GLAS_. __SE." There's nothing on the north wall of this district, and I can't think of anything it would apply to. Any ideas?

4. One of the items I found in the Temple of Bane was a ring of feather falling. Does this help anywhere in this game?


  1. there is only a couple of things you need from the library, and one you should save for the end! iirc there was a bug pertaining to one of the found items that one can abuse... oh and the manual does work.

    the ring.. may be good for the non-thief if possible in the cadorna task.. since only a true thief can do it..

  2. Stu, are you talking about the Cloak of Displacement bug? I thought that was only for the Amiga. Hmmm...I'll have to see if the fighter/mage I gave it to ever takes any damage.

    On the ring: I see what you mean. The well bit (which I didn't mention). That's a weirdly specific use for an item, though.

    Your cryptic statement that "the manual does work" is what's going to keep me up tonight.

  3. Having just played this game about two weeks ago, I can also vouch that the Manual of Bodily Health works. It raises your CON score by 1.

    I'm pretty sure the message scrawled in the Wealthy District points to something in the Temple of Bane, since that is the only place you encounter glass. If I remember right, it is a clue to some hidden treasure.

  4. I found that the Mattchat series of youtube vids start with a discussion of Pool Of Radiance:

    I don't think it goes into much that isn't covered here, but it it a good series and eventually interviews the creators of Bards Tale and Wizardry.

  5. Alright; I don't remember the novel except for a clenzvq naq n yvpu trggvat gnxra bhg ol gur jvmneqrff but "An evil spirit from an unholy pool guides your enemies. It hides behind a fair countenance. Be not deceived." and your notes at the end of Kovel Mansion seem too similar for me to think they are coincidence.

  6. Um, oppsss. Just found out: The 'Matt' of MattChat is the guy who wrote Dungeons & Desktops, which you've talked about in the past, and thus you probably know about it.

  7. The character reading the manual then requires what amounts to a restful vacation to get the benefits. If memory serves it takes at least a month of rest after reading.

  8. Really? Wow. I wonder if that resting has to take place immediately after reading, or whether I can spread it out between adventures.

    The annoying thing is, I don't remember what the character's constitution was before I read the manual, so I don't know if it later worked. Oh, well, it's only 1 point of constitution.

  9. IIRC Norris the Grey looked like a human with a short grey beard in the Amiga version.

    Both the gold foil and the message in the Wealthy District are red herrings, AFAIK.

    As for the Manual of Bodily Health, on my latest playthrough I followed the instructions: Read manual and then rest for 30 days. But no extra CON; it took some more weeks wandering about in the wilderness before a message flashed about getting the extra CON.
    More details and discussions about the Manual and other stuff here:

  10. If you use the Manual of Bodily Health on someone who has an 18 CON already, it will boost it to 19. At 19 CON, according to AD&D rules, that character will gain regeneration.

    I don't know if that actually works on the PC version, though (I haven't seen it happen). But, I can verify that it does work on the Commodore 64 version of the game.

    1. I cannot find this rule about 19 constitution causing regeneration in first edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (the ruleset of the game). I have searched the Player's Handbook, the Dungeonmaster's Guide, and even Unearthed Arcana. If it's in Dieties and Demigods I think we can safely assume this is not intended for mortals.

      In second edition AD&D this effect is listed as attainable for players in extraordinary situations, but starting at 20 constitution. At 19, "warriors" gain an extra hitpoint per level, and anyone would get a +1 on poison saving throws. Of course this game is not a second edition game, as that came out a few years later.

    2. I found this; it's in Deities & Demigods, p. 7. However, it says that you gain regeneration at Constitution of 20 and above. A 19 Con gives you +5 hp per hit die (still +2 if you're not a fighter), but no regeneration. Makes sense really; otherwise we'd have dwarf PCs running around with regeneration capability fairly often.

  11. This whole "pool of radiance" thing reminds me of one episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog:

    I think that the number of monsters should decrease when you kill them, that makes the most sense. Having an area where the monsters never disappear no matter how many you kill doesn't make any sense. But on the other hand being able to permanently "clear" an area doesn't make any sense either, what would prevent new monsters from eventually returning to the same area?

  12. Dear CRPG Addict,

    I agree about the manual, I remember that it did raise the constitution of the one who used it.

    About the Temple fight, if you do not destroy the altar and just take the treasure, you still fight Mace and his laity, only they are not so fanatic. Then you can destroy the altar later.

    You made a great point about what if the clerk were Tyranthraxus in disguise, but there is another person in that building who is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

    The graveyard is a pain unless you have those scrolls of restoration and multiple swords +3 versus undead.

    All in all, good post, you are doing a great job.

  13. Dear CRPG addict,

    I think the undead in the textile area are overflow from the graveyard, but I could be wrong. Hence the order from Lord T to Mace to investigate the problem.

  14. I knew I remembered a +3 vs undead sword! I loved that thing when I was a kid.

    Also, I think Nolan the Gray is a half-orc.

  15. Thanks, Petrus. I suspected that about the foil.

    I guess the consensus on the manual is just that I didn't rest long enough afterwards.

    Dude, I agree that it makes logical sense. I guess the best answer to your last question is that legitimate residents and the city guard move in and thus keep a return at bay.

    JJ, it's Cadorna, isn't it? I think I remember that from previous plays. I knew there was something about him. How in the world do you get multiple +3 swords versus undead, though? What you say about the textile area and the undead makes logical sense--I had forgotten that journal entry.

  16. Attacked by a horde of Randy's from Trailer Park Boys...(for those of you not familiar with this great show, Randy is a guy who never wears a shirt..)

    No idea what it means but here is my fill in:


    ?? LOL. Let me know...

  18. That was the best I could get, too, but it still doesn't make any sense. There was no glass case. Probably just a red herring.

  19. The Manual does work. It just will not show if you are using the PC version and you already have an 18 CON. Much like when you equip the Gauntlets of Ogre power, the game accounts for the bonus to STR but cannot display a score higher then 18(00). If you use the item duplication trick you can use the manual repeatedly and the regeneration affect dramatically increases.

  20. Mendor's Library and a bug in PoR gave me one of my most fondly recalled experiences in CRPGs: when my party fought the specter, my highest-level character was my 3rd level cleric, so the rest of the party hung way back while he went into melee with the undead monster. Of course, the cleric died after getting hit twice, the specter mercilessly robbing him of 4 of his 3 levels. The rest of the party felled the spirit before it killed anyone else and hauled the fallen cleric back to town.

    They sold the unidentified Manual for enough money to raise the cleric, but upon his revival, he turned out to be a 255th level cleric/magic-user with 255hp!

    The party rushed back to Sokal Keep and cleared it out with ease. Well, the cleric/m-u did...and dragged his unconscious comrades back to Phlan.

    Unfortunately, he then made the fateful decision to train, which brought him up to 0th level, from which there was no escape save to restart the game.

    Years later, in my first C programming class, I figured out what must have gone on behind the scenes to let this happen--definitely a case where "unweaving the rainbow" only helped me enjoy it more. :)

    1. That's a great story. Aside from the experience bug, though, I love that you didn't keep reloading until you defeated the spectre without dying. People who do that are missing the more satisfying parts of playing these games.

  21. According to the PnP paper version of the game that came out around the same time as the game Norris the Gray is a half-orc.
    And if memory serves me right the the message about the wall is in reference to the glass walls inside the temple. Of which are easy enough to find on your own.
    Also i took it to understand the notes in the thieves guild where written by skullcrusher.

    1. Thanks for clearing up those mysteries! Especially about Norris.

    2. Speaking of other Pool of Radiance things; You know there is a novel out, right Chet? I have a copy of it. ^^

    3. I didn't realize that until very long after I played the game. I was going to do a blog post about CRPG novels, and I bought both the first Bard's Tale book and the Baldur's Gate novelization for material to draw on. I couldn't bring myself to read more than about 10 pages of either, and I decided it would be too much torture to read the entire books for the sake of a blog posting. Is the POR book any better?

    4. Hmmm, I think I've read the first Bard's Tale novel, though I'd have to check. Not read the BG one as I didn't want to spoil the game. It was....not terrible, by old TSR novel standards. I wouldn't call it a good book though. It sold well enough that it was turned into a trilogy.

    5. I have a Pool of Radiance novel, but it was the one that came with the deluxe edition of Ruins of Myth Drannor. (By the way, I'm one of about five people who enjoyed that game. It was only later that I found out how buggy it was. I must've been lucky during my playthrough.)

    6. I have a Pools of Darkness novel, but I'm afraid reading it will ruin my appreciation of Pools of Darkness.
      From what I've heard the Curse of the Azure Bonds novel was not too bad. And from personal experience I know the Dragonlance novels are quite entertaining, but are most suitable to teenagers.

    7. Actually it turns out that I own all three: Pool of Radiance, Pools of Darkness, and Pool of Twilight, all by James M. Ward and Anne K. Brown.

      I'd offer to sell them here, as I'm trying to clear out my book collection (I have about 1000 books in my room, and they don't all fit on my bookshelves.)
      However, you can get them on Amazon for $0.01+shipping each.

      That said, if anyone is looking for old D&D novels, let me know; I probably have it in readable condition.

      Anyway, I remember the first one being soso, I don't actually recall reading the other two, so they were not very memorable.

      I also found that I own "Prison of Souls" by Mercedes Lackey & Mark Shepherd, "A new Novel Of The BARD'S TALE"
      It seems there were 3 books in this series (The others being 'Castle of Deception' and 'Fortress of Frost and Fire'). The one I have is *also* worth a penny.

      Man, it is going to be hard to offload these. Except for that one random D&D novel I found that is worth $30, these are worth nothing, even though I have several complete series.

    8. Oddly, my Magic: The Gathering novels seem to be worth quite a bit. o.0 Are they a lot rarer, or are Magic players just rich?

    9. Magic players are rich. Just looking at the prices of starter packs and booster packs made me sweat beads.

    10. I've definitely got friends with collections worth in excess of 50k.

    11. Wow. Mara got me back into Magic this summer, and we are definitely playing the cheap way. (Playing Commander/EDH, not buying expensive singles).

    12. From an RPG perspective, great job finding a girlfriend of that name. I mean, I'd like to think I'd hold out for "Dibella," but eventually your age starts to catch up to you, and you have to pick the next Divine that comes along or die alone.

  22. The gold foil can be used as a mirror against the Basilisk, if I remember correctly.

    1. Really?! Whether that's true or not, I'm going to believe it is. It solves a mystery that's had me haunted for years.

    2. According to the pen and paper version of POR, Ruins of Adventure,the gold foil was used in illuminating manuscripts. So a fun bit of window dressing that lacked enough detail to avoid confusion.

    3. Presumably in the original module, it's worth something, though.

    4. I recently went back to Pool of Radiance. I equipped all 6 of my characters with the gold foil and attacked the Basilisk. Unfortunately, I was not able to test the foil, as we quickly killed the monster. But I have a new party and will try again. One other thing. In the library, the party also found a bag of holding. Equipping it significantly reduced encumbrance for the character. Has anyone else found this item? I find that Pool of Radiance is very crammed with bits and pieces. It is also buggy. The last party for example, after visiting a temple had all their platinum turned into jewellery. So the character suddenly went from having 500 platinum to 500 pieces of jewellery. The effect on encumbrance and economy may be imagined.

    5. I'd never even heard of a Bag of Holding in a GB game. What platform are you playing?

    6. Dos on my laptop. This is the first time I ever saw it. You equip it and your encumbrance goes down. I forget how much as I have reloaded.

  23. Dammit,got to find the game and play it just to see if the foil trick is right, never did figure out why it was in the game. Of course, that was...yeesh, 20..5? 25 years ago? ouch

    Never figured out any use for woods holy symbol either, other than to sell...who is wood and why do I care that we found his holy symbol?

    1. I think it's just "wood holy symbol," as in a holy symbol made out of wood.

    2. except that it sells for 250 gold. WAY more than the normal wooden holy symbol

  24. Hello!

    Can't believe ppl are still playing a 1988 game. Know what? I am too :)

    I'm almost done with it, playing with the maze in the castle. Haven't found the baddy yet.

  25. On the C64 you could fill your inventory with darts or arrows by splitting the stack if you then split the gold foil the top item in your inventory turned into some strange item I forget what it is called but it sold for a crazy amount of gold. the same trick worked with any item that could be stacked. oil holy water and darts all turned into an OP missile weapon that fully encumbered whoever carried it. Made killing the trolls in the slums super easy. you could also give these hidden items to an npc that you added to your party then attack said npc after any battle the npc would turn on you if you killed them you got a ton of xp for the hidden items.The most legit way to get more than one of any item you find in the game is to play through the game multiple times with the same party.

    1. Reminds me of this Diablo glitch.

    2. Wow. Thanks for the info, medullan. I had no idea. I guess the more complex the game, the more ways to exploit bugs.

      I mercilessly used the Diablo glitch to rack up money and buy potions to increase my attributes the first time I played. I look forward to playing more honestly this time around.

    3. If you attack / kill the city watch in Phlan, they drop some decent items, several 2 handed swords +2, couple of wands of magic missile and few other not as good magic items, like chainmail +1 ect. If afterward you have a problem with people not liking / dealing with you in Phlan, you need to complete a task for the council, easiest way I found, was go get 1 article from mendor's library and hand it in, and they loved you again.

      An easy way to lvl your casters / magic users quickly, is to fight with them solo in the Phlan training area. each lvl you get 100xp per kill, per level or player, so lvl 5 will get 500xp a kill, and it doesn't take long. Sleep and hold person work awesome till about lvl 4, then you need stinking cloud for awhile, till high lvl hold person. The magic user levels fastest doing this, then when you go out to adventure, your magic users have a lot of hit points, and many spells memorized to actually contribute to the group.

  26. As for the ominous Manual of Health that can be found in the Library or elsewhere: It really does raise Constitution permanently for one point.

    I have no idea how someone should know how to do that who is not familiar with D&D because it is not in the handbook for the computer game. If one uses it on a character at first nothing happens. But if you look at the display screen for magical effect (which usually gives fire resistant, blessed etc) you get "character X is studying Manual..." and after some time (or resting, I am not sure) you get "character X is training with Manual..." When I saw this I remembered someone mentioning that one has to rest 30 days or so "training" with that manual. I did this and actually gained one CON point. But I have no idea if it works not only below 18 (I tested it 17->18) but also 18 -> 19, or from 19 to 20 with dwarf characters. I do not know about poison resistance but otherwise I think the only effect in the Goldbox games is 2 additional HP/lvl for 15-16 for everyone and 3-4 additional HP/lvl for fighterw (ranger/paladin/knight) with 17-18 CON. I do not know if one gains even more HP or a regeneration feature with >18 in the computer games. A normal CON 19 dwarf does not regenerate.

    1. Con 19 provides regeneration in Curse. Not sure if it was implemented in PoR.

      Regen is super slow at that Con. Can't be bothered to look it up, but it's like 1 HP every 10 or 50 minutes.

    2. Interesting. I am pretty sure that my current CON 19 dwarf did not regenerate. I am not sure if I played Curse more than once (I think I played it twice) but probably never with a dwarf. At least I do not remember regeneration. In my first try at Pools of Darkness I had a dwarf fighter/thief but I do not remember regeneration either. With the Fix command handy there will not be so many situations with visible regeneration. Or maybe I simply forgot or he had only 18 CON. And because of lvl caps this character was among the weakest, so when I played again, then with a different party.

      The problem is also that even disregarding the lvl caps a dwarf is not ideal as a thief because his max 17 Dex. The bonus for ranged weapons and initiative a DEX 19 elf gets is considerable (I remember a game when that character was almost always the first active) but the bonus of 19 CON seems very slight in the Gold Box games...

    3. Thanks for the information about the manual, Johannes. That clears up a very old mystery.

    4. Yes, you can use the Manual of Bodily Health to get regeneration in PoR. You need to start with a dwarf, since dwarves can get maximum CON 19 (which in itself isn't any better than CON 18). The Manual can increase it by 1 point to 20 following a long training period. At 20 Constitution you do get regeneration... it's fairly dramatic and most useful traversing the overland map.

  27. It's no wonder you couldn't understand the entries about the Seven Lost Gods. That section of the Pools of Radiance journal started off a very long, very large, very confusing mystery among Forgotten Realms fans that lasted until 2007.

    They are essentially primordial spirits that were destroyed by the gods of Faerun long ago. Bhaal, Bane, and Myrkul took on a few when they were adventuring in search of power themselves. (You'll find out how they become gods when you get to Baldur's Gate in 2044.)

    Additionally, it bears pointing out that Bhaal isn't just a thing from Baldur's Gate. He's been around in the Realms since they were first created by Ed Greenwood, so his mention here is a bit of that world-building you enjoy so much.

    1. One of the recent FR designers by the name of Brian R. James wrote an article that finally detailed who some of the Lost Gods were and WHAT they were. (A longer version of what I gave above.)

      To contrast that, in 2002 we learned that Borem of the Boiling Mud was evil. unkillable, and that he has magics to turn stuff into boiling mud! (More significant than you'd think. He'd left a couple swamps behind.)

    2. That's always bothered me a little bit. Thanks for providing this additional context!

  28. More differences and musings from the NES port:

    1) The library wasn't locked.
    2) I was able to clear out the wealthy area, but it took more encounters than most.
    3) The gold foil only adds 100 gold to the party
    4) The message scrawled is differnt, something like "temple hidden treasure, 3 caches"
    5) There's no ring of feather falling
    6) There was a large garden overridden with green slime that would throw the party out immediately. I never did find a way around this.

  29. Right, this is going to be a huge post, so much so I had to divide it in to two. Sorry about that!

    Podol Plaza

    In my game, I was able to get closer to the auction & identify the wand as a Wand of Sleep, which a cloaked figure bought for 5,000G. I have no idea if it was Garwin or not.

    I had the opportunity to bid higher, but I didn't because I found it too expensive, lacking the knowledge that money would become a hindrance not much later on.

    There's probably a couple of other ways the auction could go, which is frankly impressive for such an old game.

    Textile House

    If you pick up Skullcrusher before going into the rooms he "decorated", he'll proudly point out his work, which is a nice touch.

    Mendor's Library

    The Manual of Bodily Health works, even on a character with 18 CON. You can actually tell when you Encamp, choose Magic & then Display, as the character will be reading the Manual & some time later, you get a message that "X has begun training". This can be easily missed if you take another step forward. Again some time later, "X character something something healthier" & the CON will increase by 1 point. Again, easily missable. You don't have to rest, it works while adventuring.

    Kovel Mansion

    In the Kovel Mansion, I had a level 6 single-class thief, and she failed a couple of locks & bungled most of the traps, so I'm either very unlucky, or it's nearly impossible to come out of the mansion unscathed. Luckily, the traps were pretty pathetic.

    I could lift the two fine carpets, but even a stripped naked 18/00 character couldn't handle the 62 other carpets, and there's no way I know that separates them before you pick them up. Maddeningly, the game tells you there's still treasure left & asks you if you want to go back to pick it up. I really wanted to shout "HOW? HOW DO YOU EXPECT ME TO DO THAT, YOU INTERCOURSING PIECE OF MULCH?" at my screen, but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't accomplish anything.

  30. Wealthy Area/Temple of Bane

    These are connected, and will only be cleared if you win a certain fight in the mansion in the Wealthy Area & defeat Mace in the Temple. Then, you can rest anywhere in both areas.

    The "NORTH WALL. RI__T FRONT GLAS_. __SE." hint seems to be false, as I've scoured several sites & even the official
    strategy guide, which tells you flat out that it is indeed false. No other information is available. I'm pretty sure, however that I glimpsed something on some site, but didn't read it right away because spoilers & then closed it by accident & couldn't find it again. This is really driving me crazy, as I cannot remember what words I used to search for it the first time.

    When I got to the Mace fight, I defiled the Altar, but couldn't tell if the Orcs were enraged or something, as I already had a Fireball spell, along with a couple of Sleeps. It was something magical to hurl a Fireball right into the centre of a sea of Orcs & watch it expand outwards in a "circle", picking them off one by one, leaving a huge gap in the middle. Sleep on the leftovers & it was a massacre. Good thing too, I shudder to think how long it would take for all those Orcs to make their move.

    NPCs joining you in battles is also very impressive, I got into a tavern brawl & had lots of thieves joining me against the guard. Why I was against the guard I have no idea, but since it was a spacious tavern, the thieves were able to get close to the guard. Since I had the Fireball spell, I just took out the trash, in a manner of speaking. Guards & thieves alike died by the dozens. Oops. My bad! And that’s how you’re evil without anyone knowing – just slaughter everyone.

    What’s more curious is that as soon as the battle started, one thief just bolted as far away from the battle as he could, and since he did this the 3 or 4 times it was his turn, I have to assume this was intentional & that SSI programmed NPCs to have a chance to say “Nope, I'm out” & just leg it. Absolutely amazing.

    I'm loving this game, despite its almost overwhelming clunkiness & bugs.

  31. Old information, I know, but...

    At the auction, if you choose the "move closer" option and avoid being revealed by the immediately following check to see if the monsters see through your disguises, you get the information that will be most useful to the clerk--that the "item of great power" is actually a much overhyped wand of fear. That's the only way you can bring back more information about the auction than either "a man in plain clothes who is probably an agent of the Boss wound up with whatever-it-was" or "the auctioneer ran off when they recognized me as an intruder."

    1. Thanks, Kish. I'm not saying it was keeping me up at night, but the nature of that wand has been a lingering mystery.

  32. Poison almost destroyed my party. An expedition into the Textile area brings a successful battle with Hobgoblins, but a frustrating battle with scorpions. Of five characters, three were poisoned, one knocked unconscious, and one left standing. My elf fighter/magic-user holds off the remaining two scorpions and lugs the other four to the library area. She revives the unconscious fighter and the two lug the others back to Sune's Temple.

    Not only are they poisoned, but they are dead as well. Thus you must first purchase cure poison and then pay for raising. That adds up to about 6500-7000 gold pieces per character. The party was financially wiped out, for a time. I am glad they revised this in later games.

    1. They are not dead, only "dead". Neutralize Poison will cure a character "dead" from Poison if not waiting too long. Slow Poison will increase that time. If you walked right back to the temple NP should have worked and been much cheaper than Raise Dead.

      Oh, and I'm sick and tired of Google making it so bloody cumbersome to post a simple message. It's not like I'm logging into a bank or something.

    2. I must have taken too long to get back I guess. Having the clerics cast cure poison did not remove the "dead" notice and no heal spell would help. I am happy to say that despite that and a couple of level drainings, the party has continued on restoring Phlan to its glory.

      Yeah, I am with you on google posting.


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