Saturday, August 31, 2013

Champions of Krynn: No Time for Losers

The futile quest begins.

Playing a Gold Box game is a little like wandering into a club on Frenchmen Street: What you experience might not be the best show ever, but you're certain to have fun no matter what. This is one of a small handful of games for which I'm slightly annoyed when I have to stop the momentum of the game to take time and blog about it.

Despite enjoying it, I'm not enjoying it as much as either Pool of Radiance or Curse of the Azure Bonds. The game is far more linear than the previous outings, with Sir Karl leading you from quest to quest on a leash, providing the game a more novelesque feel than its predecessors. I tried to buck the prescribed order by making a beeline across the map to the large city on the east side, but it didn't go well.

It's hard to imagine that I'll be able to win this in just a few more levels.

Mostly, however, it's the combat I'm not enjoying as much. I still think the Gold Box engine is one of the best tactical combat engines ever offered in RPGs, but the nature of the enemies I've encountered makes it more difficult to fully appreciate it. This is for a few reasons:

1. My melee fighters might as well be blind. I realize I handicapped myself by eschewing the fighter class and making so many of my characters multi-classed, but damn. At Level 5, my knights' THAC0s are 13 and 14, meaning they'll only hit an enemy with AC0 7 or 8 out of every 20 times. In practice, it seems like even less. I think the THAC0s are comparable to what I saw in the previous games; the issue is that in this game, enemies have much lower ACs than in Pool or Curse. Even spellcasters.

A common scenario is that I'll use spells ("Hold Person" primarily) to get a party of fighters and clerics down to a manageable number, like two fighters and a cleric. A new round begins. Confident that I can hit the cleric before he can cast, thus preventing having to waste any more of my spells, I send Midsummer at him. She misses. I send Dutch at him. He misses and the cleric starts casting a spell. Grave charges him and misses. Coral fires her hoopak at him and misses. He casts "Hold Person" and holds three of my characters. The fighters knock out two of them. I finally sigh and "Hold" the cleric if anyone is still standing who can cast it.

My characters surround the elvish curate but fail to hit him even once.

2. Not being able to rely on melee fighters ever hitting puts a strain on available tactics. I can't say "you take the one on the left, I'll take the one on the right" because there's a decent chance both will miss; success or failure thus comes down to spells. But...

3. Because I multi-classed all of my spellcasters, I've been slow to acquire useful spells. I just got "Fireball" towards the close of the last session. 

One day, I will increase the challenge of a Gold Box game by not selecting "Fireball" as my first third-level spell, but not today.

4. The game isn't pulling any punches as to the enemies it offers. Recall that in Pool of Radiance, I didn't fight my last dragon until the final battle and everyone was Level 8. In this game, I've had dragons at the apex of two maps. In Pool, the worst encounter with spellcasters maybe had one priest and two mages; this game routinely serves up combats with four or five clerics plus both mages and elf fighters also capable of casting "Charm" and "Magic Missile." I've had my entire party wiped out by ghasts and Kopak Draconians, both capable of paralysis, and giant snakes capable of instant-death poison.

Still, I don't mean to suggest that the combats aren't fun or challenging. They are, and I've enjoyed them more than the average RPG, just not more than the average Gold Box game.

In terms of plot, I've explored three areas since I last blogged. When I arrived at the second outpost, Sir Karl gave me two quests: retrieve a silver rose from a graveyard in Jelek, and chase down rumors of a Dragonlance in the Tower of Gargath. I chose Jelek first.

You wouldn't perchance be diverting resources from a war so you can give a gift to your girlfriend, would you?

The gate guards at Jelek saddled me with a multi-classed fighter/surfer named Skyla who had a habit of disappearing just before each random encounter and returning with a suspicious story just after. He kept pressing me to see his "friend" in one part of town.

Someone forgot to tell SSI that it was the 90s.

His "friend" turned out to be a group of guards who tried to kill me as Skyla ran off. A halfling--sorry, Kender--thief aided me during the battle and explained that a group of evil guards had taken over the city, taking orders from a "Sir Lebaum," a corrupted Solamnic knight who was supposed to be dead. The guards had been digging up every grave in the cemetery, stirring up undead, for an unknown reason. I thought it was to find a buried Dragonlance, but later it seemed that the lance had come from somewhere else.


Anyway, the map culminated at the silver rose, which I picked, causing me to be attacked (for some reason) by two black dragons. Capable of spitting acid, they did a number on my party the first two times I tried to fight them. I only won by using a couple Potions of Speed and a lucky casting of "Stinking Cloud." I suppose I should be lucky I killed them at all, since my understanding was that in this universe, only Dragonlances allow mortals to kill dragons.


There didn't seem to be any way to permanently return control of the town to the townsfolk, so I left. I was a bit annoyed that I never encountered Skyla again to kill him, but maybe he shows up later.

The Tower of Gargarth consisted of a town around its base and a multi-leveled tower in which the levels shrank as I climbed up, pursuing the elusive Myrtani, putative leader of the evil forces, and his stolen Dragonlance. Myrtani's forces had completely taken over the town, and it was full of fighters but also oddly clerics leading giant rats and snakes. "Snake Charm," which had previously been helpful in only a single fight in Pool of Radiance, was invaluable here, since snakes can cause instantaneous death. (Technically, this can be reversed with "Neutralize Poison," but that's a Level 4 spell and no one has it yet.)

The tower gave me the first encounters with Kapak Draconians, capable of causing paralysis in their melee attacks. They also dissolve into pools of acid when killed, which can screw up the battlefield.


As I battled up the tower, I met the old castellan, who said he'd hidden the Dragonlance in a secret area. But when I got there, the weapon had already been looted by Myrtani. I finally encountered him in a room where his forces were packing up copper dragon eggs, presumably for later transformation into Draconians.


I killed scores of his minions as I chased him up the tower. I figured the map would end in a battle with Myrtani and my recovery of the Dragonlance, but instead he escaped with it on the back of a red dragon.

Upon my return from Gargath, Sir Karl--without taking the rose or anything--sent me to recover an "item of great fighting prowess" from the tomb of Sir Dargaard, an ancient Knight of the Rose, who I guess appears in the books. The tomb's ghosts put me through a series of moral tests, such as bravely walking through rings of fire even with low hit points, fighting difficult enemies, refusing to take treasure from the tombs, and finding and immediately relinquishing a long sword +5.

What, all the tithing I've been doing isn't enough?

When I passed the tests, I got Solamnic plate for my knights, a Girdle of Giant Strength, and a bunch of experience points.

Only knights can wear Solamnic plate. The developers must have included six in case the player had a party of six knights. that would be a heck of a challenge.

On the way out of the tomb, a party of Draconians attacked (they'd been trying to get into the tomb for a while but couldn't get past the ghosts). It was here that I first faced a Bozak Draconian, spellcasters who explode when slain, damaging everyone around them.

When I returned to the outpost again, it was then that Sir Karl congratulated me on Gargath and thanked me for recovering the silver rose. He gave me some intelligence about a nearby base occupied by "renegade ogres" who might be trying to ally with the good armies. Some of Myrtani's assassins are on the way to kill the leaders, and I guess I have to put a stop to them.

A lot of miscellaneous notes:

  • The copy protection system is mega annoying. When you first load the game each time, you have to answer a question that involves looking up a word in the Adventurer's Journal. That's fine. But at random times when you're saving the game, it demands another word from the rule book, a different document.


  • In a few places, I've found platinum pieces. I don't know if these exist in the Dragonlance world or if it's a programming error. Either way, they convert to steel pieces the next time I visit a shop.
  • Speaking of money, I've learned the hard way no to have the good stuff--jewelry and gems--in the pockets of my knights when we enter an outpost because they "tithe" almost all of it.
  • I haven't found many magic weapons yet. My lead knight has a long sword +2, but my second knight is still using a regular two-handed sword. The only magic two-handed sword I found turned out to be a cursed one.

This is why we wait until we get back to town to identify things before equipping them.

  • I've promoted both of my knights to Knights of the Rose, the highest level available. I was surprised how quickly this was possible. The manual didn't really suggest any downside to these promotions (except the money thing, which I've solved by just transferring it out of their hands before entering outposts), and I thought it made sense to take them for role-playing reasons.
  • I found Gauntlets of Ogre Power in some cache and gave them to my Kender thief. It's really improved her backstabbing ability.

I love a successful backstab almost as much as a fireball.

  • The number of spell slots available to mages waxes and wanes with the moons. White mages and red mages get an extra two bonus spell slots (usable at any level) when their respective moons are full. This makes a big difference. For my red mage right now, it's the difference between memorizing three "fireballs" or only one.
  • You can drink all you want in taverns and you won't get drunk. The "tavern tales" you get are mini journal entries that give rumors and hints as to the world. The previous two games also featured them, but I don't think I really mentioned them.

"I hear they're going to be hiring mercenaries down in Sanction. I say we get out of htis hick town and go down to where the real action is."

  • Wilderness battles are as annoying here as in the previous two games. The enemies start too far away and it takes too long just to find each other.
  • I've been mapping every area. I really like mapping.

My map of Jelek. The large open area is the graveyard.

  • Jelek had a magic shop. Everything was too expensive for me right now, but it's nice to know that all my riches won't go to waste.

I'll be back.

  • At one point, the game told me that I was "attacked by minions of Takhisis." Considering I hadn't heard anything about Takhisis (the evil goddess from the books) so far, I think that's a bit of a spoiler.

This guy and Skyla need to form a band.
 
What I like most about the game is the frequent role-playing choices that it provides. I think there have been more so far than in all of Pool of Radiance. The series of screen shots below shows some examples.

Instead of just saddling you with NPCs, it gives you the option to refuse them. Not that I'd refuse her. Hubba hubba.
 
There were several places in both cities where I could try to bluff my way past guards.

Do I trust this guy who says he works for Sir Karl?

Given my position, it's hard to imagine that he doesn't already see me.

Instead of fighting these evil guards, I had the option to gamble with them. I lost and then killed them.

These choices, though they all lead to the same place, are welcome in an era when "role-playing games" offered precious few role-playing opportunities. I hope that an increase in such choices is a major theme of the 1990s. Don't disillusion me if it's not.

I'm particularly curious if there was a way to approach the tom of Sir Dargaard "evilly" by looting it or refusing to give up the long sword +5. I have to remember to write all these things down to look up in a walkthrough later.

72 comments:

  1. I dont remember it being so linear but I do remember it not being my favourite of the gold box. the latter two episodes are ok.

    now this is way better than secret of the silverblades, that game is so dull its amazing. some intern must have knocked it out its really bad.

    One game I'm not sure is on your list but is really a must is Death Lord (apple2)...

    multiclassing in d&d rules sucks big time, there is almost no advantage to doing it.

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    1. Multiclassing works well in the Krynn games, especially elves who can be high level Fighter/Mages and Cleric/Rangers.
      I found a good mix of single classes and multi-classes to be a good choice. You need some single class fighter types with as much HP as possible to wield the Dragonlances, Fighter/Mages are the most powerful characters, Cleric/Ranger is better in combat than a pure Cleric and a Kender Cleric/Thief is excellent for backstabbing, and is a powerful character in the first two games (but rather useless in the last).

      My prefered party is this:
      Human Knight
      Dwarf Fighter
      Human White Mage
      Qualinest Elf Fighter/Red Mage
      Silvanesti Cleric/Ranger
      Kender Cleric/Thief

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    2. Since the experience points to go up a level typically double each level, dual-classing only sets you back one level. It's generally a good trade-off in terms of flexibility. When you run out of spells, you can fight.

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    3. Corey, I agree, although I'd observe that dual-classing isn't multi-classing :-)

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    4. Yeah, Stu, I have to disagree with you. Multi-classing provides the benefits of two classes for very little drawback. Among other things, it makes spellcasters less useless when you're not using them to cast spells.

      I went with two knights for more of a role-playing reason than for party optimization.

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  2. That Girdle should help with your chances to hit. Using bows will give you two attacks per round. Hell, you may even consider buying Darts to get three chances per round to hit those spell casters.
    Using Wands of Fireball, Ice Storm and Necklaces of Missiles is my prefered method for dealing with packs of enemy spell casters. Have you found any yet, after the first Wand of Ice Storm?

    The encounter design is rather poor is some areas, as you have noted. There's one positive thing to not having read the Dragonlance books: you won't get so annoyed by all the elven enemies. "Elven Killers" is especially cringeworthy.

    It warms my heart to see your Kender do 36 points of damage from a backstab. Good idea to give him the Gauntlets.

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    1. I didn't find a Necklace of Missiles, but I do have a Wand of Fireballs. These games don't give you any indication of the available charges, though, so I tend to err on the side of conservation.

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  3. "Instead of just saddling you with NPCs, it gives you the option to refuse them. Not that I'd refuse her. Hubba hubba."

    Really? You'd go for a woman whose skin has been badly burned from the neckbones down?

    Try to unsee that.

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  4. Bypassing the DRM in gold box games -

    http://simeonpilgrim.com/blog/2010/07/21/gold-box-games-cheat-codes/

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    1. Maybe I'm missing something, but the code for CoK doesn't seem to work.

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    2. Works for me. Note, that there's a space between "Woof" and "Helm". Finally, no annoying copy protection anymore! :)

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  5. It sounds like Pool of Radiance and co are more like Baldur's Gate, while this is more like Icewind Dale.

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    1. That's a good analogy in terms of linearity and such. So far, I agree, but I'm not very far into the game.

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  6. The game sounds extremely hard, still, that's kind of the charm from these old school rpg's.
    That DRM system is annoying.

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  7. Your problems with hitting things are due in part to the fact that your party is comprised entirely of either Knights of the Rose or multi-class characters. They are all lagging at least 1 level (perhaps 2) behind where a single class character would be. This is not game breaking at all, and should make for a more powerful party when they reach max level. In the interim, it just makes a better challenge for you!

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  8. I think the downside of promoting your knights that Dave was alluding to is that the experience points required to level up increases. I believe you gain access to spells faster though; but I haven't seen the class xp charts in years for this game.

    And another thing mentioned in the comments- you want your knights to level fairly quickly and have high constitution to get as much hit points as possible. In 2nd edition AD&D, dragon breath does damage based on the current hit points of the dragon. The dragonlance works similarly, it does damage based on the current HP of the wielder.

    I have played the sequel (but years back with very fuzzy memory), but that was the only Krynn gold-box game I had owned.

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    1. In the Gold Box game the dragons do full breath damage even if wounded, but the Dragonlance damage is based on the wielder's current HP.

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    2. 2nd ed dragons dont depend on hp for damage (been playing it 20 yrs) lesser dragonlances do weilders current hp and arent needed to kill a dragon on krrynn... they just make the task slightly less suicidal.

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    3. There's something a bit silly about the notion of dragonlances winning a war against dragons.

      Dragons in the books were nigh immortal as far as humans were concerned. Their only weakness being the lances. It's like, if I were endowed with the power of flight, and had a gun, the fact that an enemy of mine had a sword (which is certainly lethal!) wouldn't really worry me.

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    4. Tristan: It has been a while, but as I recall, it wasn't humans winning a war against dragons. It was humans and good dragons winning a war against evil dragons. That dragonlance is much more useful when it is weilded but a human on the back of a gold dragon. There were infantry models, but mostly they were used from dragonback to gain and edge.

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  9. I personally never multiclass. I prefer pure classes even if they are limited later on.

    I think a large part of your problem is that you have two knights not being used optimally. Knights are better for meat shields. They should be blocking all enemies from reaching the rest of the party (with aid from some other HP beefy character if need be). Knights won't hit often at lower levels. They should be used as doorstops instead of melee specialists. Then can still be used to kill things, but you should never move the knight in such a way that it isn't blocking enemies. That's their main advantage with their armor.

    Though if it had been my party. I wouldn't have made two knights. I would have had a ranger instead of two knights. Long range capable and versatile. You can easily block off enemies with your Knight, Fighter, and Ranger and if given the opportunity have your ranger snipe distant "helpless" enemies. a Ranger and the hoopak wielding theif can take out a good number of enemies per turn. Rangers get actions pretty fast as they level. Which means they can fire multiple arrows.

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    1. Rangers get multiple attacks slightly slower then the other fighter types. But only the melee attacks increase; unless Hasted you'll always fire two arrows per round. So bows are very useful at lower levels when you get a double chance of hitting, but at higher levels two melee attacks are usually better unless you find some Fine Longbows and magic arrows.

      The ultimate weapon for "sniping" helpless enemies is the Hoopak. It doesn't use ammo and it can be used as a missile weapon even if adjacent to enemies (so can hammers, dagger and clubs, but only at a range of 3 squares). Hoopaks are really versatile weapons since in melee they can be used for backstabbing and are considered blunt weapons against skeletons. So they are the ultimate weapon against certain numerous, annoying enemies in Deatk Knights of Krynn.

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  10. Oh and as far as the large wilderness maps being hard to find enemies on. You can free aim and move your cursor around to find them. They usually aren't that hard to find for me. I find them, set up a defensive position, and have long range characters move around hitting who they can from a distance until the enemies cross. You shouldn't run to the enemies. You should make them come to you. That way your melee characters get a free hit as the enemy arrives.

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    1. The problem is we have no the patience to wait forever while the enemy arrives :)

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    2. Usually takes them like 2-3 turns to cross the battlefield. You can't go through 2-3 turns of free long range hits?

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    3. By "find," I meant more reaching them, not that I literally didn't know where they are.

      I don't use bows as often as I should. It's annoying to keep having to remember to buy new arrows, and to keep going to the "view" screen to switch out melee weapons and bows. I know this is a pathetic complaint for someone who claims to love tactical combat, but there it is. I'll suck it up and try harder.

      I would point out that there are usually a ton of obstacles between the characters and the enemy on wilderness maps, so you don't always get the free shots you're hoping for.

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    4. Switching everyone's weapons constantly is annoying. Instead, I would usually just make one of my rear line fighter/mages the party's dedicated bowman. That way you have someone to use all those arrows and high end ranged weapons.

      We all know elves love their bows, so it makes sense from a role-playing perspective. It also gives the character icons some variety, because I'd use the bow and arrow icon.

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  11. I only have vague memories of playing some Gold Box games but I remember that they were never as engaging or fun as the Might and Magic or Ultima games. Maybe cause I wasn't too familiar with D&D but the other games seemed to provide more opportunities for exploration and discovery, while the Gold Box games were rather combat heavy and unlike M&M where you can just CTRL-A your way through all the boring combats you actually had to play them out in the Gold Box games (or rely on the bad AI).

    Which Gold Box game is your favorite (either of all time or of the ones you've covered in this blog so far) and what do you think makes them so fun? Sorry if you might've already covered this in a blog post though.

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    1. The first one, Pool of Radiance, remains my favorite so far. There were a few engine upgrades after that, but I loved the low-key nature of the main quest, the numerous side quests, and the real sense that you were improving the city as the game progressed.

      I've had a lot of fun with the MM games (and I agree that CTRL-A is a great feature), but in general I prefer the tactical combat engine of the Gold Box games and their less goofy, more realistic nature. Champions of Krynn will have a scene where you burst into a kitchen and a terrified cook gives a yelp and drops the ladle in the pot, dives under a table, and fearfully tells you that the password to the main keep is "SWORDFISH" while begging you to leave. Might & Magic II would have you come upon that information written on a wall.

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    2. Or fighting the cook, 50 kids helping out in the kitchen and then discover the information written on the stove.

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    3. I went and reread some of your Pool of Radiance posts and it's interesting how you state that the actual D&D game is better suited for the computer than for real life and that PoR brought the D&D experience fairly faithfully to the computer screen for the first time with PoL.

      From the couple of times I've played D&D I agree that it isn't a great game. Usually it ends up becoming nothing more than the DM following a set module and being very combat and "roll playing" heavy. And I felt like the Gold Box games actually emulated this aspect of the game pretty well.

      I think it just might be the combat. After playing RPGs for over 20 years combat is the most basic element and easiest to simulate in a computer game. Therefore it has the least variety throughout the various games and gets very repetitive. From what I remember the tactical combat system is a nice refresher but combats eventually take forever and bog the game down. Or maybe I should actually give PoR a chance and play it sometime and reevaluate. But I do generally enjoy RPGs for the exploration, discovery, puzzles, atmosphere and story the most and probably combat the least.

      Anyway, keep up the good work!

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  12. Regarding knight of the X, They are effectively three different "classes" that upgrade in hierarchy. Crown are the fighery folks, Swords are the "casters" (paladins), and Roses ... level slowly? (It's all the extra training they put in?)

    To be honest, when poking around at tabletop AD&D I... never found the knights of Solamnia a good fit. It really felt like they were cramming *everything* clerical/paladinistic/fightery into the knights with a code that would make normal Paladins weep. (The reason for knights of the sword being so annoying is that in the "default" setting, clerics were unknown, making the knights of the sword basically the only game in town for clerical healing.)

    I'm not sure, at all, how faithful the game is to this, or if it even allows you to continue advancement in the same order.

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    1. I'm not too familiar with the full history, but I do remember clerical healing being ultra rare in the beginning of the Age of Despair. I think it comes back eventually, so maybe this game happens after whatever event that was.

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    2. I remember that each had their own patron deity (Kiri-Jolith, Habbakuk and Paladine).

      To switch to a higher order requires completion of trials and meeting statistic requirements.

      Swords are basic fighters, Crowns are like paladins while Roses are like clerics with THAC0 at the same level as fighters.

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    3. I don't remeber nights doing any healing, anywhere in the books. Now, I didn't read all of them, and it was a long time ago, but I recall a few cases of knights getting into trouble as they had only knights with them, no healing.

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    4. You were probably reading the stories that were based before the Gods returned to restore the knighthood back in power.

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    5. the knights suck bad in 2nd ed. I have rewritten the entire order and added a "sheild" knight order that you can take instead of sword, the choice determines your abilities as rose. as written in second ed, you may as well play a Lg fighter or palidin and just ignore the pansy knights of solamnia. They are merely fighters/paladins with fancy armor and a fraternity. My knights don't get ANY priest spells, but have their own unique abilities (ex sheild knights can sacrifice hp to heal others and radiate protective energy to all who stand behind them, sword knights can negate magic resist at higher levels, a 1st level rose has command over all the lower orders regaurdless of rank, a crown knight continues rolling fighter hp to 15th level, ect). I play strictly 2nd ed, and just change the things that tsr did stupid. (or lazy)

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  13. I don't like too much the SSI Dragonlance games, I love Forgotten Realms setting much more. Even on pen & paper D&D :)

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  14. Coral = Coral Reef = Thief?
    Squirrel = Squirrel Cage = Mage?

    Thats all I can get.

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    1. Atmos = Atmospheric = Cleric
      Grave = Grave Danger = Ranger
      Dutch = Dutch White = Knight

      "Midsummer" was a bit of a mistake. I was using a rhyme dictionary to come up with rhymes for "knight," and one of the ones it suggested was "night." I went with that theme without realizing until later that it wasn't a rhyme at all but a homonym. I fail at rhyming slang.

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    2. Midsummer seemed obvious to me from a literate man like you.
      Oberon, Titania...

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    3. It's a good thing there's no Druid or we might see one named "Body".

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  15. A couple of Remarks.

    1. Knight of the Rose And sword only differ in the fact that sword Needs less exp.

    2. Sir dargaads tomb can be played evil. It is Hard though.

    3. best Party is One Human And Five qualinesty elves, all Dual Multi class.

    4. it is possible to Play this Game with 6 Human knights, yes. And it is easier than One would expect. Enough wands around to circumvent the Absence of magical abilities.

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    1. 1. I think Knights of the Rose get a better Leadership bonus. But it's not enough of a bonus to be worth it, IMO.

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    2. Well, too late now. I guess the one upside is that I'm less likely to hit the level cap.

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  16. Knights of the Rose can advance past level 18, the others can't. This makes no difference until DQK.

    Ah, you went to Kernen! Even the cluebook tells you not to do that, which is why I did eventually. If you're willing to reload a few times you can pick up quite a bit of XP.

    There's no way to keep the long sword +5, and unlike Pool of Radiance, where you can pick fights with the city guard, Temple of Tempus, and council guard and get their stuff, there's no advantage to being evil in the tomb--you don't get any extra treasure or anything.

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  17. Alright guys, I've been watching some Let's Plays and am in the mood for some mild grinding, pretty graphics, ridiculous outfits, and possibly a good story. Does anyone want to suggest a JRPG that my 3 year old, non-gaming laptop could run? Preferably one I can use without a mouse, and that isn't action based or real time.

    I recently liked some parts of The Last Story; the plot for sure, and the fact I could spend ages playing dress up with my characters and turn on and off bits of there armour. No idea why it is Wii exclusive, as it didn't have any motion controls. I also beat Skies of Arcadia: Legends, but found it rather repetitive and boring by the end.

    I know JRPGs aren't super popular around here, but I figure at least some of you must have suggestions. I'll also take western RPGs with similar traits.

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    1. Suikoden 2? You miss out on a few references if you haven't played the original Suikoden, but mostly it's a new story. A really good story too.

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    2. Vandal Hearts (PS1) if you like TRPGs.

      Lufia II for SNES if you haven't played that before.

      Wild Arms (PS1) is pretty good, although graphics are dated by now.

      Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure (PS1) if you want to try something different. It's pretty short, but fun and easy.

      Lunar 1 and 2 are good, and also on the PS1.

      and... I keep starting to write up more recommendations, but then I remember they have action based combat. I will say I've heard good things about Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii.

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    3. If you want a game where you can play dress up, Resonance of Fate stands out in my mind as a game that was focused on fashionable customization for your character. Here's two links to see what I mean.

      It's a little unique in that your characters will run away scared if you don't play right. I just played it a little so I'm not really sure if it's that great, but when you mentioned ridiculous outfits and playing dress up I thought of this game.

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    4. I second Suikoden II. Don't need to play the original at all.

      Also, it isn't as JRPGish as most (it has deep, tactical combat) but Final Fantasy Tactics is excellent. Great story and combat.

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    5. I thought about it Kenny, but I've heard that it really doesn't hold up very well.

      Zenic: I don't have a PS1, just a PC. Also no controller to play emulated PS1 games with.

      Xenoblade Chronicles is really grindy, far more grindy then I enjoy. I considered it when I was buying The Last Story since I found out about them from the same place (Test Chamber by Game Informer).

      I've got several tactical games on the go right now (X-COM, Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic).

      Perhappes I should just get around to finishing The Witcher. That doesn't drain too much brain power with tactics on easy anyway.

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    6. The sanctity of this place has been fouled.

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    7. Heh. I'll throw Chrono Trigger for the SNES to the pile. It's simple, it doesn't have dress-up elements, but I remember it as a rousing romp. It's for the times when you want to save people from killer robots, then jump into a time rift and go punch a dinosaur.

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    8. I don't think you need a controller to play PS1 games if you're emulating them. It helps: it's probably more comfortable to play with a controller; but if you're playing non-action RPGs anyway, it wouldn't matter much if you played with a keyboard. I was emulating the PS1 in high school to play my friend's (real) FF7 and it was great. One of the few RPGs I've actually finished. I think I was using ePSXe to do it.

      Delete
    9. Yeah, PS1 didn't have native support for analog sticks. They all used the D-pad, which the arrow keys on a keyboard can handle well enough.

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    10. List of my top 10 favorite Console JRPG series of all time...
      10. Breath Of Fire
      09. Ys
      08. Gensou Suikoden
      07. Uncharted Waters
      06. Parasite Eve (Part 1 only)
      05. Persona/Digital Devil Saga
      04. Mother
      03. Legend of Legaia
      02. Xenogear
      01. Chrono Trigger

      Gasp! No Final Fantasy? What blasphemy is this! XP

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    11. Oh, and honorable mention for a few other Action RPGs other than the Ys series...

      飛龍の拳 (HiRyuuNoKen; literally translated to Fist of the Flying Dragon)
      River City Ransom
      Secret of Evermore
      Brave Fencer Musashi
      Mega Man Legends
      Terranigma
      Soul Blazer series

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    12. Breath Of Fire: I played 2 on some version of Gameboy, probably Advance, and found it not to my tastes. I was doing well, then the final dungeon comes along and is brutally hard, and I only ever found one, possibly two, of those fusion things. Also the plot is just mindnumblingly depressing.

      The rest look interesting.

      I'll admit, I got the itch from watching LRR do a playthrough of the first bit of Legaia 2. Are any of the above games in that general genre?

      Also; what is with all the console games? Do JRPGS not come out for PC?

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    13. I love tactical RPGs, but I have X-COM, XCOM and Age of Wonders if I feel like playing one of those. Or I could get my parents to mail me my gameboy, FF:TA and my strategy guide (I dislike games that have a ton of hidden stuff you'll only ever see with the guide, such as hidden classes, items that you have to steal, etc.)

      ----

      Resonance of Fate is PS3/XBox 360 only, and I can't emulate either one, nor one one. *Sigh*

      -----
      Hum, lots of top-down classic games here. I should have realized that while you lot would known lots of JRPGs they'd all be classic ones. Thanks anyway!


      Eldiran: I loved Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, though it was easy to break the game by accident, so most of it was really easy (just leave some low level characters in your roster and forget about them)

      It got a lot more fun once I fired them.

      -----

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    14. I'm still not really sure what kind of games you like, but here are some you might enjoy:

      Jade Cocoon (PS1) - Monster collecting and battling
      Kartia (PS1) - TRPG w/ cards
      Brigandine (PS1) - TRPG, I've only heard this is good
      Baten Kaitos (Game Cube) - Card based attacks. More classic than not, but it wasn't mentioned yet.
      Azure Dreams (PS1) - If you like Rogue-likes and town sims...
      Paladin's Quest (SNES) - I personally couldn't get into it because magic uses HP, but I plan on giving it another shot and others have said it's good.

      Also, there are a few games with fan translations that are worth checking out. I've looked into it myself, but have heard some are pretty good.

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    15. that should say I haven't looked into it...

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    16. @Canageek - From what I can see, Legend of Legaia had a pretty unique combat system (I'm sure it's what got your attention, amirite?). Xenogears have something similar but you do not need to guess what are the special moves.

      Most of the JRPGs I can find for PC are Hentai ones. Don't ask me why. It's most probably due to that smaller studios, that had to depend on sex to sell, could not afford a console dev kit + license. I do not wish to find out that I'm the one with the problem. Would you like JRPGs that are made in Taiwan instead? http://www.fy.com.tw/product/product2.htm

      Also, regarding Tactics game, I much prefer Ogre Battle (the predecessor) than Tactics Ogre (which spawned all the Tactics RPG).

      @Zenic - I didn't play much Tactics RPG because of all the micro-management and the lack of freedom (all combat is mission based). But I'd give Azure Dreams a thumbs-up as well. Every time I play that game, it makes me feel sad that girls would only like me if I'm rich and out slaying monsters, not sitting alone in front of a battered old TV playing a game that was bought with my last penny.

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    17. @Canageek - Also, about Breath of Fire? Each game is standalone with each "sequel" being basically a rehash of the same storyline about the same leading character with the same name and abilities but in a different world, accompanied by different NPCs. The best of the series is, I think, 3.

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    18. Kenny: Most of them? o.0 damn. Legaia caught my eye as it looked mostly mindless and like something I could play in a window while talking to people online. Also LLR's commentary probably made it look more fun then it is.

      I don't care where the game was made, actually. I just want a break from highly tactical games, and something I can play, explore, have not hugely complex stats, and have a chance of winning unlike say, a rogulelike.

      Ogre Battle 64 was the one I liked, those I hated its use of hidden variables, and wish someone would make a mod for it that made those visible.

      Breath of Fire is way too depressing. I played the second one and goddamn. No. Just no. Was fun at the start of the game when it was silly and hunting animals for meat with a crossbow and such, but later....with the demons and people sacrificing themselves and things? NO. Bad. Depressing.

      Delete
  18. I always cheated to keep a copy of the +5 longsword. One of my favorite things about the gold box games was the simple way you could duplicate items with the character save functions.

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    Replies
    1. Weird. Do you remember it actually being a viable weapon.

      When I last checked that item was labeled a +5 longsword, but if you equipped it, you did not get the corresponding damage or THAC0 bonus.

      It's possible the version I played was newer/older and that was a bug.

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  19. I started playing these games again and ran across this blog while looking up other info. I'm a massive Dragonlance fan and I think part of the problem with things that you question is that if you read the books and understand the world, the games makes more sense. It keeps pretty clearly to the book story lines as far as what characters can and cannot do. While CoK isn't the best of the trilogy, there is always Death Knights of Krynn. I've just started the Dark Queen of Krynn, but I don't like the graphics and play style of it. The best of the three, DKK, let you wander around towns and streets without just picking a destination like CoK or DQK. If you haven't played DKK yet, give it a try.

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