Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pool of Radiance: The Story Begins

The party in camp.
We met on the ship: six rank amateurs who, for one reason or another, couldn't return to our homes. Octavianus was the son of a noble from Cormyr who fled his home after his father led an unsuccessful rebellion against the king and was executed. Karnov was a blacksmith whose clan had lived in the Thunder Peaks. He had gone trading in Tilverton and returned the next day to find that orcs had risen from the depths of the mines and slaughtered every dwarf in the city.

Lame Brain's merchant family had kicked him out of his native Sembia--and had given him his unfortunate nickname--after a mistaken punctuation mark on a contract forced them to trade six ships full of fabric for 13 silver pieces and a cursed girdle of femininity. Beautiful Duskfire, a shopkeeper, had fled Neverwinter ahead of a plague only to be picked up and sold into slavery by pirates. She was eventually bought by a kind wizard who taught her a few tricks before dying of old age. Zink was an acolyote at a temple of Waukeen in Amn who had been accused (falsely) of stealing church funds. Finally, Koren was a descendant of Phlan's original settlers. Her family owned an inn in Hillsfar and, growing up, she listened to them talk and talk about someday reclaiming the city. She decided to do something about it.

One by one, we made our way to Hillsfar, picking up a few skills and bits of knowledge along the way and choosing the paths that would become our professions. In the city, we encountered--on every street corner, it seemed--posters proclaiming riches and glory in Phlan, and each of us sold the last of our possessions--horses, jewelry, heirlooms--to procure passage across the Moonsea and to buy arms when we arrived. The ship was crammed with adventurers like us, and I know not what caused the six of us to find each other, recognize something different, and take each meal together. Perhaps we all recognized that none of us had anything to lose; that we had no other place to go. Whatever the cause, by the time we stepped off the ship at the docks and encountered a tiresome local named Rolf, we had become a party.

The civilized section of Phlan.

The maps in Pool of Radiance are 16 x 16, and almost all of the squares are used. The civilized section of Phlan was fairly easy to map, as there were no encounters, and many of the shops were clones of each other.

Between the six of us, we had almost 550 gold pieces, and it was a measure of the bond we'd already established that no one objected to simply pooling our gold to make our equipment purchases. Octavianus bought a wicked-looking great sword, Karnov went with a battle axe, Lame Brain and Duskfire both outfitted themselves with long swords, and Zink and Koren hung maces on their belts. With the remaining gold, we bought what armor and missile weapons we could afford.

The creators of the game took pains to ensure that every non-magical weapon from the AD&D rules was included in the shop. I could be wrong, but I don't think any other D&D-based game features glaive-guisarmes, fauchard forks, and becs-de-corbin.

This is too bad, because becs-de-corbin rock.

I suspect you could count on one hand the number of players who have ever bothered with these more obscure weapons. There's hardly any reason to. The game's own manual says that the long sword does the most damage of any one-handed weapon, and a two-handed sword does the most damage of any two-handed weapon. For clerics, the obvious choice is a mace or flail. You have to admire the attention to detail but wonder at the waste.

I'm pretty sure the game was based on the first edition of the D&D rules, which had the race level caps (as we discussed yesterday) but also had fewer equipment restrictions on multi-classed characters. My fighter/cleric cannot equip bladed weapons (oddly, he can't equip a morningstar or sling, either), but my fighter/magic users are happily wandering around in long swords and mail, and my fighter/thief seems to have no problem with metallic armor.

Although you find coins of all denominations in the game--copper, silver, electrum, gold, and platinum--when you make transactions at stores, your money automatically gets changed to platinum pieces, which prevents you from having to lug around too many coins. Coins and items have weight, and they limit the number of moves each character can make in combat. I remember abandoning heaps of coins in previous plays just so I could effectively fight.

Thus equipped, Zink insisted that we check out the nearest tavern. I thought it an odd suggestion for a priest, but he pointed out that taverns are usually the places for the best local intelligence. The common room was dominated by an anglish lord, boasting at the top of his lungs about his adventures, but we ignored him and pressed into the back rooms. In the midst of gambling and winning several platinum pieces, we heard that a group of ogres east of Phlan were holding a princess captive. Somebody also mentioned a silver dragon living in the Dragonspine Mountains. But a crazy man screaming about a man called "Turtle," walls that weren't there, and living daggers drowned out any other attempts at intelligence-gathering.

In other words, even odds.

Unfortunately, we had only been in the tavern a short time when the tensions caused by the huge influx of adventurers arriving on our ship erupted, and we found ourselves smashed between eight armed and drunken mercenaries and a company of the city guard. With no other recourse, we took the side of the guard. The mercenaries gave us no chance to offer them quarter. Karnov took a blow to the head and fell unconscious. With no other options, we grimly felled them and then suffered the added indignity of fleeing from the city guards, who apparently could not tell aggressor from defender. Lacking the funds necessary to pay for Karnov's healing, we rented a room at an inn, and over almost nine hours of resting, Zink and Koren memorized and cast "Cure Light Wounds" until our party was hale again. The magic users also took this opportunity to memorize sleep spells.

Facing down a group of brawlers. I'll talk more about combat--including the fact that NPCs sometimes fight on your side--in a future posting.

Taverns are deadly to first-level adventurers. Every few steps, a brawl breaks out for one reason or another. I stopped visiting after I fought two of them.

One of the great things about playing this game in the Internet age is that I can use the Forgotten Realms Wiki to look up things about deities, cities, races, monsters, and other aspects of D&D lore that the creators of Pool of Radiance simply couldn't fit into the game. I wish I'd had this when I was a kid. I've always been confused about how the god pantheon is organized in Faerûn, and now I know.

Resuming our exploration of the small city, we found temples dedicated to Tempus, the god of battles, Sune, the goddess of love and beauty, and Tyr, the god of justice. In addition to several arms and armor shops, there were stores selling silver items--handy if we need to face undead--holy relics, and expensive jewelry of all things. The city park was drab and lifeless, and the Barren River to the north of the city was foul and poisoned.

I think the only use for this stuff is to tie up large amounts of gold in less-weighty items.

When we felt we had a strong sense of the layout of Phlan, we decided to approach City Hall about our first commission. There were four proclamations posted outside. Three of them concerned the Valhigen Graveyard: the Council wants to know about reports of undead roaming the graveyard, and wants a report on previous missions and mercenaries sent to inspect it. The fourth simply asked interested adventurers to clear out the monster-inhabited sections of the old city. I consulted with my fellows. Zink, who bears a special hatred for undead, wanted to stalk out for the cemetery at once, but the rest of us persuaded him that a little experience with less dangerous enemies was probably best for the time being.

The screenshots below show the in-game proclamations and the related text highlighted in the Adventurer's Journal. It's odd that the quest for Valhigen Graveyard--which I think is a fairly high-level quest--is showing up in the proclamations so soon:

We stepped inside the building and paid a visit to the pleasant but dutiful city clerk. She reiterated that the old city needed to be cleared of monsters but also gave us two commissions that were not listed in the proclamations: the scouring of Sokal Keep on an island near Phlan, and a general quest to find any maps, books, or other materials that provide information about the city before its destruction.

We left City Hall and stepped into the bright sunshine and looked nervously at each other, as if wondering which of us would be the first to fall. Duskfire half-heartedly suggested that we spend one more night resting up in the inn before taking on the monsters, but even as the words left her lips, she knew what we all knew: there was no use waiting any longer. Not knowing whether we'd find bugbears or beholders on the other side, we marched through the gate and into the old ruins.

They won't be suspicious when I return triumphant!

I can't say for sure that I'll keep up with all the storytelling, but I can say that this is one of the few games that makes me want to tell it like a story. This game and Ultima IV offer the first game worlds, so far, that are large and yet maintain thematic integrity. The two Might & Magic games I've played so far are great games, no doubt, but the sci-fi angle doesn't work very well, and both have assorted goofiness that distract you from the plot and story. Most of the other games I've played are simply too limiting in their scenarios or role-playing options to be great "stories."

I don't want to suggest that Dungeons & Dragons is the end-all, be-all of roleplaying. There are plenty of great franchises out there. But the D&D games do benefit from a familiar world and a consistent set of rules and expectations. Because the Forgotten Realms has so much existing lore, the game world feels a lot larger than the extent you can travel in the game itself.

None of this quite explains why setting out on a quest to clear ruins of monsters feels somehow more heroic than saving an entire planet, which is what most CRPGs ask you to do. Perhaps the unpretentiousness of the task makes it easier to view the PCs as real characters with a real story to tell.

To make the game as fun and challenging as possible, I'm going to follow my usual rules. Only one save per game map, and reloads are only permitted in cases of full-party death (barring cases in which I want to explore an alternate path for purposes of the blog). Slain characters must be raised or replaced.

Off to the ruins!


  1. Excellent post, I am loving the story telling.
    That font in game however, is painfully hard to read.
    The Forgotten Realms is actually not the default game world, mearly the best selling ones. In fact several of the gold box games are set in Krynn, the world of Dragonlance, which is very different though I have no idea how much of that was conveyed in the games. In fact the Forgotten Realms isn't the default D&D world: Over various editions it has been either Blackmoor (aka The Known World), though this has rather fallen by the wayside in recent times, Greyhawk (My personal favourite and far more consistent in feel then the FR) or the unnamed setting used in 4th edition known as Points of Light.
    Polearms were a big thing for Gary Gygax, one of the original writers of the game, so they made it into the second edition books. Third edition and on removed 90% of them as no one used them, as they were generally worse then swords, and hard to get around corners in a dungeon. Again, infantry in war games was usually equipped with them, so it made sense for the wargames to have them and D&D inherited them.

    I think part of it is that so far all the games have been fantasy, or fantasy with bits of SF thrown in: You've not played an really good game set in any other genre, have you? I'd love to see your opinion on Arcanum, or Deus Ex, or Fallout some of the other non-fantasy RPGs that came out later on as people expanded beyond what was layed out from D&D.

    1. The default setting for D&D referred to as "known world" was not exactly blackmoor, it was mystara, which is the setting for the capcom D&D games.

      Mystara is actually blackmoor in the far future, from ikipedia: " When the history of Mystara was codified, it was established that Arneson's Blackmoor had existed in the world's distant past, achieved a technologically advanced civilization and then destroyed itself in a global catastrophe that shifted the planet's axis."

  2. On the more story based quest: I think game designers have the 'must make things epic' syndrome. It is hard to relate to a quest that envelopes the whole world. I mean, the world is big, and that brings in all sorts of problems: Why are people not helping you? Why do you have to pay for gear? Etc, etc. Saving the city is easy to relate to: We all know what a city is like, we can imagine it in ruins, it makes sense that you are just one out of many mercenary bands working on this so of course you pay. I often prefer my stories small & local, with simple goals. It also makes sequels much, much easier, as well, how do you top saving the world?

    Also: FIRST POST! Now I have to do work, as I'm already going to have to stay late tonight to make up for all the time I've spent writing and reading this post.

  3. I applaud your rule on saves and will try it myself. Usually what happened to me is that one character would get clobbered, the cleric, for example, and the party did not have the cash for a raise dead. At any rate, I like this game also, in that if you clear a room, it stays clear and you can use it as a forward base. Last point, I am one of those who had his fighters equipped with glaives and bec -de corbins and so forth. In fact, I remember finiding a magical glaive in this game. Pity they never continued this. I liked equipping my character like a German Landskneckt. If only I had some firearms to go with it.

    Your posts bring joy to my life.

  4. The canonical reference on polearms, glaives, guisarmes, glaive-guisarmes, guisarme-glaives, glaive-guisarme-glaives...:

  5. I do enjoy the story telling and hope you decide to continue with that.

  6. It seems silly that 90% of the weapons in the game are anti-cavalry weapons when you never face mounted enemies.
    Oh well, better with too much useless stuff than too little due to dumbing down.

  7. I have to admit, I love having my name as part of the adventure. It is awesome to be mentioned!

  8. The bec-de-corbin appears in some of the later Wizardry games, if I remember correctly. I'm really looking forward to seeing Wizardry 6 & 7 (and maybe someday 8) covered on this blog.

  9. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this one and hoping to pick up a few tips too. I played the game properly for the first time this year. I think I'm maybe about a third of the way through and I haven't cleared the graveyard yet. I haven't played for a few months but I suspect I'll be dusting off my party to continue their adventure as you progress through the game.

  10. Canageek, Wasteland should be coming up in this years offerings and I am looking forward to how it gets reviewed.

  11. I like the storytelling, it's nice to see the game inspires you.

    "I'm pretty sure the game was based on the first edition of the D&D rules"

    Not the first printing, but first edition in a sense. Early D&D has a tangled publishing history. Pools of Radiance is based on first edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons from 1976, which is not exactly the same as "D&D Basic" that was meant to clarify the early rules, clean them up and make them easier to understand to non wargaming hobbyists that came to this new hobby with a standard set of preconceptions.

    What is called in modern lingo 'zero version' or OD&D (original d&d) in the form of the occasionally-brilliant, occasionally-baffling three little booklets came out in 1974. A parallel read of OD&D and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is very enlightening.

    Further gold box games would cohere with second edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, I believe, which was published in 1988, and is the one I grew up with.

    1. Even D&D Basic was a bit muddled, as they published several versions, the 77, 81 and 83. Also, the original set went beyond the three books, as it added Eldritch Wizardry, Blackmoor, Greyhawk and the Deities pamphlet. Which is why it is so hard to actually identify a single set of rules prior to the first AD&D (the one I grew up with), though even there, with proliferating Monster Manuals and additional rule books which eventually got amalgamated into the 2d edition, the first edition was in pretty much in flux 2 or 3 years after it was published as well.

  12. Nice storytelling. I think the excessive(?) gear list is part of the charm of the game, whether people choose to use it or not. I like that they ported the PHB's gear into the game and then let you decide how you wanted to outfit your AD&D party. Despite it not being an optimal choice, sometimes I would use guys outfitted like a halberdier or with a short sword and shield, emulating soldiers from various eras.

    I've always figured that the goal of a CRPG should be some form of emulation of a tabletop game - though they lose the interpersonal social experience and free-form areas, they usually pick up in terms of combat, puzzles and interesting traps (if done well).

    [D&D Nerd]Beyond that, I believe that you will find that your thief hybrid in armour will perform less well in heavier armour than he would in leather due to skill penalties and that your multi-class X/mages will not be able to cast their mage spells in armour. I don't recall whether or not the game features fully featured elven chain that might allow elf multiclass casters to cast spells since I tend not to use multiclass characters due to the old racial level caps. I believe the cleric can't use slings due to them being considered piercing damage at the time and either way, that's the restriction on morningstars - they're considered blunt/piercing damage due to the spikes covering the weapon's head. Hope that helps.[/D&D Nerd]

  13. Canageek, I'm not sure I said it was the default game world--just the most common one. It's also the most...well, I don't know whether to go with "cliched" or "familiar." If you've only played a few CRPGs, whether in the FR setting or not, you probably know that Orc < Ogre < Giant, for instance. Whereas most casual CRPGers wouldn't know intuitively the difference between a Aurak draconian and a Sivak draconian (God, I hated those Sivaks). This isn't saying that I dislike campaign worlds with original foes--Morrowind stands out in this regard--it's just that occasionally it's fun to play a new plot in a familiar environment.

    Your explanation about polearms (coming from wargames, where there was actual infantry) makes a lot of sense.

    You make a lot of great points in your second posting about "epic" quests. Not only does it seem odd that you're not getting more assistance, but it makes it hard to justify all the side quests. The world hangs in the balance and you want me to waste time strongarming a moneylender, or convincing your wife not to leave you, or whatever? This game, on the other hand, is almost all at the "side quest" level.

    (Granted, this changes as the four games in this series progress.)

    Thanks for the link, Gorgasal. I didn't even know a lucerne hammer was a polearm.

    Acrin1, I seem to remember the graveyard being horrifically hard, but I can't remember why. I'm relying on 17-23-year-old memories, though.

    Helm, I appreciate the history. I did a quick lookup and saw that AD&D2 was published the same year as this game, so I figured that the game must have used AD&D1.

    Sean, I can't say anything about the fighter/thief's performance, but I put him in leather just in case. The fighter/mages, though, have no problem casting their spells in regular chainmail. You're right about the full cleric not being able to use a sling. I have her loaded up with hammers that she can throw instead. I appreciate the explanations!

  14. Making things more complicated they didn't give the original OD&D boxed sets any edition numbers, so they are usually refered to by the editor in charge of them. Then in 2000 when 3rd edition came out they realized that there had not been a D&D product for years, so there was nothing to be 'advanced' from (Which always bugged me as a kid: I figured I wasn't understanding it as I couldn't find the 'normal' rules for the AD&D rules that the AD&D rules were an advanced version of.) Therefore despite the fact that 3rd edition was the descendent of AD&D2e it was babled Dungeons & Dragons, 3rd edition.
    Then they came out with 3.5, as it just cleaned up a number of problems.
    With 4th edition they completely rewrote the game, again calling it 4th edition D&D. This angered a lot of people, and a company called Pazio made a game called Pathfinder, that was basically D&D 3.75: A bunch of improvements but not in the same direction as 4th edition, and not actually called D&D.

    So you can be forgiven for getting mixed up as to what edition anything is based on.

    I'm going to head home now, as I've already stayed over an our late at my job to make up for the time I spent posting this morning.

    1. My fave 3e hilarity was polymorph. Basically polymorphing into other things was advantageous for a lot of reasons so what was probably intended as an attack spell "hahaha my pretties now you're a frog!" wound up being a spell you made the wizard cast on you to become permanently more powerful (regenerating like a troll sounds cool, make me a troll)

      One of the 3rd party supplement books similarly included a lycanthropy "curse" we all hassled the wizard into casting on all of us cuz actually being a lycanthrope owns.

  15. Before that however: One thing I like about CRPGs (and some RPGs as well) is that sometimes you wind up wearing strange things: You get a +3 Be-de-Corbin when the rest of your weapons are +1? Guess what the fighter is using! This doesn't work in games were you have to specailize (which is one of my complains about some games: If the fighter is specialized in longswords and I give out a +3 scimitar he is going to be annoyed and no one will use the awesomely powerful weapon, because they have already invested a bunch of time & energy in longsword. In tabletop RPGs I can compensate for this as a DM, but in CRPGs if I pick an odd weapon to specialize in then I'm just screwing myself over as I'm never going to find a good magical military fork.

  16. I commend you for your pluralization of bec-de-corbin.

  17. In other news, you might want to look at your feed Addict: it still shows Paladin as your most recent post.

  18. Speaking of storytelling, there WAS a tie-in novel to this game, you know (as there were for Curse of the Azure Bonds and Pools of Darkness). I read it back in the day. I vaguely recall it being not half bad, by the degraded standards of D&D novels. It was certainly easy enough to tell that it was based on a videogame.

  19. I own that novel in fact, and remember it as it was typeset differently then the other ones: 'Lightning Bolt' instead of lightning bolt. I thought it was quite odd and wondered if it was much earlier then the other D&D books I'd read.
    It wasn't bad as I recall, but I don't remember much about the plot other then the final boss, and I fear that might be a spoiler for the game.

  20. They actually did a trilogy. One based on this game, one on Pools of Darkness, then one that was a next generation follow up.

    Of course current Forgotten Realms lore decided to jump 100 years or so and kill off pretty much everyone you may have cared or loved in the books/game fluff while tweaking everything to fit 4e's silly ruleset. (A ruleset so bad the estimated playerbase went from 5.5 million in the 3e days down to 1.5 million now.)

  21. On the plus side they also killed off most of the god NPCs that made the FR so annoying. I swear, the authors did more damage to that setting than anything else. 'Lets add another 24th level archmage with a habit of meddling with everything! It worked for that Greenwood guy!'

  22. Addict: It's weird that your multiclass mages can cast in armour, but that's cool. I wonder if there's a weight cutoff or something where that works, because I could've sworn they couldn't even in PoR. It's possible I only tried it with banded mail or using shields or something, though. Huh. :)

    Re: D&D Editions: 4E's rules aren't so much bad as... well, I don't think experienced tabletop players are really the intended audience. It's setup more like a board game based around fantasy combat with lots of flashy stuff for everyone to do. The power descriptions generally preclude anything even mildly low fantasy without changing the fluff and there doesn't seem to be much attention paid to anything that isn't combat oriented. Basically, it'd probably be decent for a pure dungeon crawl, hack 'n' slash type of game or be easier to turn into a turn-based computer game of some sort. It also seems fairly apparent that they were trying to make things a _lot_ simpler for kids and people who've never played a tabletop game before. Pathfinder (or 2nd and 3rd edition) are far better rulesets for having an actual roleplaying game and something that resembles the original product. Even the books, though they're a nice quality and very colourful, have an art style that seems to be aimed at teens and kids.

    I can understand why they went that direction for 4E, though, even if it's unsuccessful in the long run. I find 3E (and to a lesser extent, Pathfinder) to be a bit of a pain to introduce someone who's never played any tabletop game to because of things like assigning feats, skill ranks and gaining level dependent abilities. In 2E things were a lot simpler with just gaining level dependant abilities (no choice involved unless you played a spellcaster) and even proficiencies were optional and very basic. In 4E you pick your powers, but they're mostly interchangeable, skills only get chosen at chargen and feats aren't anywhere near as big a deal as they were in 3E.

    Anyway, Pool of Radiance reminds me of a time when there weren't as many systems and subsystems - instead there were just tables for saving throws, THAC0, etc. I used to have books of homebrew rules to "fix" this or that. These days, I think there's something nice about its simplicity even if it's still weird to me that strength alone is the attribute consulted for melee accuracy.

  23. Enjoying the posts. I do like the storytelling, continue if you want too.

    As far as the pole arms go, Gygax had an admitted pole arm fetish. And as noted, it probably had something to do with his wargaming background. But he was long gone from TSR when PoR came out. He left at the end of 85, I think. So, I'm sure they were included just because they were in the rules, not because SSI thought they added anything to the game.

    That brings up another point, the exotic pole arms were not optimal. And for pen and paper D&D it didn't it didn't matter. There may have been role playing reasons for using these weapons. It's you and other people telling a strange story together. You don't play D&D to win. No one says, "I played D&D today and I won!".

    For a crpg, the ultimate goal is to win. You are playing a canned adventure. And at the end of the day there are 2 things that can happen. You play well enough, and you win the game. Or, you quit playing the game before winning the game. There is not much reason to do non optimal things, such as using weird pole arms, if it prevents you from winning.

  24. See if you can tell the difference between a glaive, a guisarme and a glaive-guisarme at

  25. What I find a bit weird in this game is the XP rewards system.

    I win complex battles for hours with pools of 20-40 creatures at a time (or 2-3 strong ones, ogres, giant scorpions...), gaining like only 25-150xp each time, grinding up slowly to the next level.

    Then I open a chest, find a short bow+1, and get 5000xp for everyone because I've "found treasure".

    I guess this has roots in AD&D1 rules, but am I the only one to find it a bit unbalanced?

  26. When you get to Wasteland, I'll be VERy interested in seeing what version you play. Apparently, one of the versions of Wasteland had something... not quite right with it, and of course, THAT is the version that is spread throughout the internet and all everyone gets. Which is so weird- it was like 5% of the Wasteland "printing", and now 95% of all that's available.

    If you get the Non-Weird version, let us know! I want one :)

  27. There's several quests that take place in Valhigen Graveyard; some of them are quite low-level (I notice one of your missions is just to pop in and have look around, presumably fighting a few undead so you have something to report.) and some very high-level (like clearing the whole graveyard.)

  28. @Georges - that was a long-standing debate in the D&D player community back in the day. Players almost always got more XP from treasure than from monsters. Some DMs ignored that rule, so it took forever to level.

    But the fact of the matter is that this was by design. D&D has a reputation for being about killing monsters for progression, but that was really just a (significant) secondary source. Getting XP for treasure was an earlier, simple version of what we now consider "quest XP." Achieving your goal (and getting the loot) was the point, not necessarily the trail of bodies you left to get there.

  29. Canageek, I think they redirected me feed when I signed up for AdSense. The new link is:

    FHMCG, my understanding is that the POR novel was BASED on the game, whereas the COTAB game was (at least in part) based on the novel. About a year ago, I thought I'd do a posting on CRPG-novel tie-ins, so I went online and bought a Bard's Tale novel, Curse of the Azure Bonds, and Baldur's Gate. I couldn't read more than a couple of paragraphs in any of them without practically losing my lunch. Don't look for that posting any time soon. But I might try to force myself through COTAB so I have the backstory.

    I'm only vaguely aware of the 4E rules. Has there been a CRPG based on them yet? I did find that I liked the 3E rules in Icewind Dale II and Neverwinter Nights.

    SER, you make a good point about the relative difference between goals. When I did play my few tabletop D&D sessions, I didn't understand how there was no way to "win." I think the first DM finally said, exasperated, "you win when you have your own castle and mistresses and a bunch of gold, okay?"

    Anym, thanks for the link. I got 12/22. I don't understand how there can be so many different-looking things called "glaives."

    Coyote, I think you do a good job answering George's question. A couple of my characters almost always get knocked unconscious in big battles, so if they didn't get quest- and treasure-related experience, they'd never level.

    Ben, thanks for the clue. I haven't even found the graveyard yet, so I guess it's moot at this point.

    1. PoR was the first "novel" I ever read. I played the game so much I had to read the book. I am pretty sure it was based on the game, but the CotAB novel was more of background for the game of the same name. I don't think they made a book based on the 3rd game, Silver Blades or something, but I remember reading Pools of Darkness which is the 4th game. Also, they had another book, Pool of Twilight, that had no game.

      3 years later I respond to your post. :) I am a geek.

      Actually, I am reading through these PoR posts, enjoying the heck out of them. I am going to play the games again myself now that I have read so much, and I am looking for a few select comments that mentioned updated versions or mods for the game to let you play with the newer engine (which is still very old, but allows rangers and paladins in PoR).

      I don't care how old they are, I am enjoying the coverage of this game a lot. Love the story telling, true RPGing!

  30. The newly released Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale game uses 4th edition rules. It's only been out a week or so. I haven't played it yet.

  31. Oh, and thanks, Keir. I always think of this Onion article:,3351/

  32. @CRPG Addict:

    This list is relevant to the discussion:

    As far as I know, D&D Online and Neverwinter Nights 2 are the newest D&D video games, and they're both 3.5E.

    I played a bit of pen & paper 3E (and/or 3.5E, can't remember), and I liked a lot of the changes compared to what I knew of 2E from video games based on it.

    As far as D&D CRPGs go, I've still never managed to beat Baldur's Gate, and I haven't really seriously played any of the earlier licensees. I loved and finished Icewind Dale + IWD: Heart of Winter (mostly for the music and for being expected to roll my whole party from scratch).

    I imported my victorious IWD1 party into IWD2, but quickly put it down due to a combination of burnout and being disappointed with Black Isle's attempt to shoehorn 3E rules into an inherently 2E engine in order to cash in on 3E hype. I can't recall specifics any more, but I remember feeling aghast at seeing a lot of 2E and 3E elements side-by-side. I kind of regret it, but now I feel like I should play through the Baldur's Gate series before re-tackling Icewind Dale - and I'm having trouble sticking with BG1.

    NWN1 was built around 3E from the ground-up, but I didn't play it much either because my initial impression was that the single player campaign was atrocious. The fan-created multiplayer campaigns were more fun, but I got in on those too early I think.

  33. I kind-of liked the multi-class and dual-class rules better in 2E, and I didn't like the relative experience points in 3E at all. It basically ensured that all parties reached the end of the game at the same level, no matter how much extra work you put into grinding.

  34. I've never been enough of a power-gamer to mess with dual-/multi-class much, although I found it's the only way to survive in the Dark Sun CRPGs.

  35. Relative XP makes sense though: Slaying foes much weaker then yourself isn't going to help you learn (gain experience) much. They dropped it in 4e due to the math complications though.
    AD&D has this as well in that monster XP remains flat while the amount of XP per level rises, so that grinding on weak monsters helps less and less each time you level, 3e was just more explicit about it. Some editions even used exponential progression so that low level characters newly joining the party could become comparable in power quickly, while the experienced characters had to look for bigger and bigger challenges to keep levelling.

  36. Oh man, 35 comments already!

    I'm not really surprised that PoR is generating such a warm response, but I wish I could join the conversation sooner. Pesky proxy at work keeping me from comment when I should be working, sheesh.

    First things first, please do continue the in-character narrative, it's very entertaining and adds another layer to keep me enthralled in your journey through the game. Is this an accurate example of the storytelling you usually develop when you play a CRPG - and part of what makes the genre so significant for you - or are you going out of your way to make it more elaborate since it's being presented to an audience?

    I'm still in the middle of an archive binge to catch up on your posts since last year, and so far I haven't seen you discuss this aspect in depth in its own post, so please ignore me if it's already been addressed elsewhere - I'll get to it soon. It's just something that really fascinates me, especially after being let down by most of the current trends in modern gaming, I read your posts on Omega or Ultima and feel enraged whenever I see game designers throw around buzzwords like "emergent gameplay" as if it was some new concept, instead of looking back to games as these and realizing how their simple but deep game worlds enabled the player to forge his own fun and interactions instead of just passively watching the pretty eye candy on the screen as games degenerated to movie-like experiences.


  37. william, what is the weirdness? I played from a store bought copy back in the day so I don't know if I had the weird one or not. Disregard for now if it will be a spoiler for addict and we can discuss it when the proper time comes.

  38. Geez, I don't check the site for a few days and I miss all this! Clearly I have to check this site more often. I had no idea I was going to become one of the main characters in an elaborate retelling of an old computer game!

    ...Err, by the way, the whole "falsely accused" thing -may- have been a bit of a fib. Mostly the "falsely" part. *cough*.

  39. HunterZ, I wouldn't call the single-player game in NWN "atrocious," but the plot was a bit...confused. The expansion packs, in my opinion, were much better. I really did like the implementation of 3E rules, forcing you to make a lot more tough choices than 2E when leveling your characters--choices that had a strong role-playing element.

    Canageek, you contravene your own point, though: the 2E rules ALREADY had, in effect, "relative XP" since it takes so much more to rise from Level 11 to Level 12 than from Level 1 to Level 2. Butchering hobgoblins is only going to get you so far. What I hated about the 3E rules is that some of the games based on them started giving NO experience for certain foes. Moreover, the amount of experience was based on the average party level, so if you decided to dump your thief at Level 10 and roll a new mage instead, that mage was getting paltry experience (since everyone else was still Level 10). Admittedly, this was only a real problem with IWD2, since NWN was basically a single-player campaign.

    Macnol, I'll try, but I got sick of the narratives halfway through my last posting. I don't think I was very subtle in abandoning it. On your rant, I haven't done a posting on that, mostly because I'm completely ignorant as to marketing and reviews of current CRPGs. I haven't played a new one since...well, Oblivion, probably. For all the blogging I do, I'm shockingly unaware of the latest developments in the genre.

    Zink, did you at least do something altruistic with the stolen funds? Otherwise, I have to change you from lawful to chaotic.

  40. I was just kidding around, don't worry about it.

  41. Hmm, I think I mixed up my points.

    Basically 3e doesn't give you XP for anything who's total challenge is 7 levels or more below yours (Or 7 levels above, but if you manage to beat something like that it isn't in a straight up fight, and thus you should probably get roleplay XP, not combat XP- it comes up much less often).
    I don't know how this worked in NVN or IWD2; Were you often killing rats with 7th level characters? The 3e XP rules were archaic and not very well done, which is why I refuse to DM it (They tie into the calculating an appropriate challenge for the party, making figuring out what will slaughter the party wholesale vs what they will walk through very hard).
    Anyway, yes, you don't get any XP; however in a tabletop game a (good) DM is never going to have you fight foes that weak. I think part of it is to prevent players going to villages and slaughtering all the defenceless inhabitants then claiming XP for each one, but really if I remember the XP chart you were getting negligible XP there anyway, so they just but in 0XP instead of 1XP (or fractional XP) to save on bookkeeping and to really send DMs a message that you shouldn't have 10th level characters slaughtering rats.

    There are other problems with the XP/Challenge Rating system such as the fact it doesn't handle multiple foes well, so most fights wind up being one big monster vs the party, and the fact it is a pain in the ass to make up encounters on the fly, all of which 4th edition fixed (though it then made combat stupidly long by jacking up everyone's HP and reducing damage, so that the average fight at 1-10th level takes an hour [according to Mike Mearls, one of the designers]).

    Also: 3e made a move away from the traditional 'Everybody starts at 1st level' model. In the early days of D&D you didn't have one character: You have a character, several henchmen and a bunch of hirelings. Remember: it started as a wargame where you had armies fighting, then you moved to smaller scale. I don't know the exact details, but henchmen would gain XP like characters, and when they were a satisfactory level (or if the character died) you took them over as a full character, so you never had to actually play as a 1st level character in a party of 10th levels unless you got totally wiped out.

    Over time people got more into playing characters, the rules got more complex, and it was never actually explained in the books that you should go into the dungeon with this party of people, so over time the game moved to 1 player, 1 character.
    Various groups have different solutions to this: You take over an NPC and join the party, you make a character at the parties current level (or current level-1). I saw a 6th level barbarian join a 10th or 12th level party once (Convention play, it was the only game available) and we kept him alive and moderately useful, but we had to burn a lot of buff spells on him to doso. It isn't really a fun experience having your character sit around session after session waiting for your character to be useful and hiding because the damage of one hit will kill you.
    I can't remember the 3.5 XP rules, but I remember when 3.0 came out some people were annoyed that since you used average level if you had a lower level person in the party everybody got more XP: The Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting actually included alternate XP rules to 'fix' that, and they probably changed it with 3.5, I never read that section heavily.

    Basically I sounds like the problems come from the rules being ported to a video game with a different set of base assumptions and not compensating for that, either by talking to someone to understand the *purpose* of the rules (A common problem when people houserule things) or by changing the rules slightly.

  42. I think you nail it in your last paragraph. I wouldn't expect a DM to design a campaign around my Level 10 characters fighting goblins. But if I, as a player, feel like re-starting IWD2 with my already-experienced party, I want at least some experience for all those goblins.

  43. I got Pool of Radiance after reading this blog. However installing it tougher than I thought. Got couple of questions.

    Did you get sound by default? I can't hear anything.

    Can you use arrow keys? Or just the key '7' for up, and '1' for down?


  44. I didn't have any problem with sound. The arrow keys don't do anything. 7 and 1 on the keypad to scroll through menu options, and 8, 4, and 6 to move. I didn't like it at first, but ultimately it saves you a lot of trips off the number pad.

    I'm using DOSBox, by the way, in case that's the answer to your sound issue.

  45. I am using dosbox too. I was expecting some intro music, which I couldn't hear. It turns out there is no intro music. I am using dosbox too.

    I found out that you can change some stuff if you mess around with the pool.cfg file. It's contents are:


    The configuration file for the game is POOL.CFG. The first line of this file handles the display mode where C stands for CGA, E stands for EGA, and T stands for Tandy. The second line handles sound. P is for PC sound, T is for Tandy sound, and S is for silent (no sound). The third line is the path to game data. The fourth line is the path to save files. The fifth line is the introduction type - F is full intro and N is no intro. In order to reconfigure the game, delete the POOL.CFG file and restart the game.

  46. Thanks, PlutoNick, I was wondering how the configuration worked. MobyGames must be wrong in saying that the game has Adlib / Sound Blaster support, unless there was a patch or later version released that added it in?

    Also, does anyone know if there is any effective difference between Tandy and PC Speaker sound?

    I've tried playing this a little in DOSBox, but despite being a huge fan of DOS games I don't think it will hold my attention. Probably it's because I cut my CRPG teeth on Wizardry 6 and therefore see most older first-person ones as too much of a step backwards.

    I did find a BorderLine extension for LibreOffice/OpenOffice that lets you use keyboard shortcuts to draw cell borders in Calc (their version of Excel). I was able to map out a dungeon in Crystals of Arborea (which, BTW, I hope is on the list because there's almost nothing written about it that I can find) without too much trouble, although it didn't have any doors.

  47. I doubt it supports anything else besides 'PC speakers' or Tandy. Tandy is marginally better than a pc speaker. You can check Youtube. I found a video where a guy is playing Pool of Radiance using Tandy sound. Don't expect much.

  48. We have slightly different versions, I think. My default paths didn't say anything about "Wizworks."

  49. I think that the Wizworks paths appear on the Gamefest edition. Other than that, it's pretty much the same.

  50. I loved your storytelling. And incidentally, this is why I love pencil-and-paper roleplaying, even if it's harder to fit into my life. A skilled DM and a group of dedicated players can make a game world really come to life in a way that a CRPG never can. Sure, you can imagine things as more detailed in a CRPG, but (normally) you don't have anyone to share that with, and somehow that also detracts from the experience.

    Of course, I haven't played the pencil-and-paper game in years because it's far too difficult to fit into my life these days.


    Perhaps the unpretentiousness of the task makes it easier to view the PCs as real characters with a real story to tell.

    This. It's exactly what I always loved about the Gold Box games. The sense of your character's place in the world always made sense. The last game moved into the "save the world" category (Pools of Darkness), but by that time your character level was high enough that it actually made sense.

  51. There aren't many games like this, though, are there? Most CRPGs deal with an epic threat to the entire world. The good thing about D&D games is that by setting them in large, established campaign worlds, the developers are almost forced to make the threats more localized.

  52. Not really, didn't BGII have a massive world-shattering plot? Baulders Gate is set in the same world as PoR.
    The Dragonlance games were set in another world, with one big story that was rather world-shattering. Made several gold-box gams off of it.

    Game designers seem to thinkm that massive world-shattering plots are the only things that will hold peoples interest.

  53. "Game designers seem to thinkm that massive world-shattering plots are the only things that will hold peoples interest. "

    Bioware seems to think that romances is what will hold people's interest. And the worst thing is that it seems they are right. :-(

  54. Did you make that map of Phlan yourself, or is that from the manual? If you made it yourself, maybe you could point me towards the software you used? I'd like to try out the Gold Box games, and I'm toying with the idea of actually making maps as I go along (I usually don't bother, but I'd like to give it a try).

  55. Nikolaj: He makes the maps himself using Excel, which sounds excruciating to me.

    I did find an addon/plugin for LibreOffice/OpenOffice Calc called BorderLine that lets you use keyboard shortcuts to draw cell borders. I was able to map a dungeon in Crystals of Arborea that way and it wasn't horrible, but still wasn't ideal. I've thought of making an Android app or something for doing CRPG mapping, but haven't acted on it.

  56. Thanks HunterZ. Using Excel sounds excruciatingly slow to me, but I actually have OpenOffice installed, so maybe I'll check out that Borderline thing.

  57. As HunterZ said, I use Excel. However, a reader pointed me to a bit of software called ZMapper, which looks cool. I've downloaded it but I haven't tested it yet. You can find it here:

  58. That looks pretty good. Thanks for the link.

    I already completed PoD, and I frankly gave up on the mapping, but I think I'll try this program out with the sequel.

  59. I think I've come across zmapper before but passed it over because it's a commercial product that hasn't been updated in 6 years.

  60. Does anyone know of a way to play pool of radiance on my android phone?

  61. Sorry to ask but I haven't cought up with any new Wasteland posts on the blog.. So, what about that "weird" version mostly circulating around someone said above? I googled a bit and didn't find any references on that..

    Thanx in advance..

  62. Manolis, to be honest, I had completely forgotten about this thread by the time I got to Wasteland. I didn't notice anything "off" about the version I played, and I never heard another word about it. Perhaps if william is still around, he might jump in here and clarify.

  63. Just wanted to say how much I'm enjoying your blog. Only found it a few days ago as I was googling for info on the old gold box games. I recently got a new win7 64bit laptop and found to dismay that I couldn't run my old pc games! Got familiar with dosbox and got them running. Was collecting old PDFs of the manuals when I found your site. Brings back memories. Am planning to replay POR soon. One of the few games I did actually finish (may have been on commodore, though, I can't recall) will continue to follow your addiction ( think we have some stuff in common :) - my addiction is on display at . Cheers, Alex

  64. Glad to have you as a reader, Alex. Let me know how your POR campaign goes.

    1. And so, about 18 months later, I return ... :) I'd heard that you had stopped blogging for a bit but glad to see you've got it going again. For me, I am just about to embark on POR. Got distracted by life for a bit there (I'ma single Dad , have other hobbies like guitar and programming, and am easily distracted by shiny objects ..) I also got obsessed with getting all my old DOS games working with DOS Box. Dug out tons of them and wrote little bat files and packaged them with installers and icons so I can easily install them when I choose to play em on my Win7 laptop. (yeah ... ok uber geeky).

      Anyway, POR awaits . And really got to try Star Flight (never heard of it before your writeup)

    2. And I just remembered I have a Blogger acct I can use to reply. So that should make future replies easier..

    3. That was quite a postponement. I hope you enjoy the game!

  65. A thought that perhaps the Addict doesn't have an opinion on since he hasn't played much tabletop D&D, but it seems to me that Pool of Radiance dialed down the fatality of early AD&D quite a bit by allowing people to stay alive even when reaching 0 hit points, yes? This would've been a very fatal game if they had done so...

    1. I don't know about later versions, but this concept was around in 1st and 2nd edition AD&D (or maybe only 1st edition, can't really remember). Your character isn't all dead until -10 HP. At exactly 0 HP he's only unconscious, while at any negative number he's considered bleeding out. Bleeding is stopped by bandaging the wounds, which also heals a small amount up to 0 HP. Once someone heals your character above 0, then you wake up. Pretty sure this wasn't a house rule for our group.

    2. It was an optional rule: The "Deaths Door" optional rule specifically. It wasn't a core part of 1st edition, and I don't think it was a full part of 2nd edition. It was a very widely adopted house rule however, and may have been an optional rule presented in the DMG. However it was one of the big "We listened to fans" changes that 3e made.

      Both pathfinder and 4e expanded the range you go below zero based on your con.

    3. Whether it was in the original rules or not, I'm glad it was in POR. Resurrections make your characters lose 1 point of constitution. I would have ended the game with 0.

    4. Not quite: If they implemented the full 1st ed AD&D rules then your starting con is the maximum number of times you can be raised. However, each time you get raised you have to roll Resurrection Survival, which is based on con. So each time you get brought back it is harder to get brought back again. 18=100%,17=98%, not bad at first. However, once you hit 13, 90% chance, it increases to 5% lost per point of con. So you still have over a 50% chance as long as you have more then 5 con, but if you ever fail a roll you are dead forever and can't be raised, so it only takes one bad roll.

      There is no mention of the Death's Door rule in the 6th printing (1980) of the 1st edition rules under Hit Points (pg 34); it is just when you hit 0, you die. Or at least it implies this. However, in the DMG (Revised Edition, 1979, pg 82-83) it states that at 0 hp you fall unconise and lose more then 1 hp a round. Also that you will be in a coma for a few rounds after being healed, and need a week of rest after that.

      In 2nd edition, 1989, a character is killed at 0 hp (PHB, pg 105). This information is repeated on pg 72-75 of the DMG, with more detail. However on page 75 it has the Hovering on Death's Door optional rule. Binding wounds can stop bleeding under it, and a cure spell heals the character to 1 hp. After that no cure spells work until he or she has had a day of rest, they can't fight or cast spells. The Heal spell works normally however.

      In 3rd edition you die at -10, pass out at -1, and have a bunch of penalties at 0 HP. However, once healing puts you above 1 HP you are back to normal, no waiting.

      4th edition lets you go down to -ve con I think. You get 3 saving throws to not die (A bit better then even odds each time), one save (10+ on a d20) means you stop dying and can wait to be healed. Any healing also stabalizes you, 1HP or more means you are back in the fight.

      Pathfinder (3rd edition, but better) allows you to go down to -ve con, and you make a saving throw (roll based on con, class and level) to not die, the saving being harder the more damage you've taken (-1 = 11+ on the dice, plus any modifiers you have, -16 = 26 on the die, with modifiers, which is good as the die only has 20 sides!)

    5. Dayum, what an answer! Yeah thanks for breaking it down. I just happened to be looking through the 1st edition DMG and it appears I have the revised 1979 edition. I never knew that Gygax included negative hit point rules. I always just assumed that early editions of D&D had death at 0 hit points.

      Btw I'm a Pathfinder player :) I know, random.

    6. Fantageek, some days you're my favorite person.

    7. I have no idea what the names you are making up even mean anymore. At least it is better then "Carnageek" (I'm hoping that was carnivorous geek and not something sexual) and 'Geek in a can' which are the two most common things people mess up about my nick.



      geek = ???

      I would take it as a compliment. That stuff is good!

      Oh, wait... maybe he meant it as "fantasy geek." That's pretty awesome, I think.

      We might mess with you, Canageek, but we love you. :)

    9. As you are from Canada, I suppose I shouldn't have expected you to know that Fanta is a tasty fruit-flavored soda produced by the Coca-Cola company.

    10. I know what Fanta is, though I think it has real sugar in it in Canada (most do), but I have no idea what 'pop-geek' means.

    11. If memory serves, for the 1st Edition death's door rule you'll want to look at Unearthed Arcana, which added a fair number of additional rules, tweaked level limits, added some (unbalanced) classes and generally made itself one of those "optional" supplements that everyone wanted to treat as required.

  66. This comment has been removed by the author.

  67. When I go to the spot where the jewelry shop is supposed to be, it appears to be empty. Does it open after you complete a quest or something?

    1. It's only open during the day, I think.

    2. If it was nighttime, though, I think he would have had to break in.

      HunterZ, I'm not sure what the issue is. The shop was definitely there from the beginning. I don't believe there's anything vital in the shop, though. Purchasing jewelry just allows you to convert some of your gold to something lighter in weight. Sounds good, but you'll probably never have a reason to convert it back, so you might as well just drop the gold.

    3. Thanks guys. Looks like Petrus was right, it doesn't "open" until later in the day. Pretty strange since most other shops seem to open at midnight and close at dusk.

      I found the hidden treasure room in the slums (after overhearing a hint in the old hemp market), and got so much money that 1 person can barely carry it all. Now I'm trying to figure out what to do with it.

      I'm not really happy with the jewelry conversion option, as I only get around half the value back when I convert it back into money. There also isn't anything amazing to buy in town beyond what I was able to afford with the ~500 starting gold (maybe the fine composite longbow from the silver shop, but I still can't afford it and the adventurer's guide doesn't say what its stats are).

    4. Seriously, you'll go crazy if you worry about what to spend money on. At the end of every expedition, go to the store. Identify your unidentified magic items. Train anyone who can be trained. And then you might as well throw away the rest. You'll have plenty more by the next time you return.

    5. Yeah, I completely forgot about training, and then I hit some encounters that yielded a bunch of +1 gear that needed to be ID'd. Now I'm actually too short on cash to train my Mage/Thief to Thief level 2!

      Is paying for training an actual rule in AD&D 1st Ed? I always thought that was a stupid money-sink concept in CRPGs, since you're already conceptually training on-the-job as a prerequisite for leveling up.

    6. Yes, it is presented as a rule by Gary Gygax in the AD&D 1st Ed Dungeon Master's Guide. But many DMs did not use it because of the conceptual problem you raise. Also, who would train an 18th level wizard? And the poor 2nd level thief would have to wait to actually afford his or her training after attaining enough XP to reach 3rd level.

  68. I know this is an old post, but because this blog is still active and this information might be interesting anyway:

    It's odd that the quest for Valhigen Graveyard--which I think is a fairly high-level quest--is showing up in the proclamations so soon:

    (Code may not work, but intent should be clear.)

    It's showing up that early because how many undead you face in Valhigen Graveyard is dependent on how long has passed before you go there. I'm not sure how long a time-unit is, or whether time-units consist of number of game-time days that have passed or number of quests completed, but when you start the game, there are no skeletons (except for the giant skeleton, who is alone), no zombies (except for the juju zombie, who is alone), and no wights in the graveyard.

    Every time W time-units pass, the spectre who you encounter assembling skeletons creates a new skeleton, who goes to either guard the giant skeleton or wander the skeleton section of the graveyard. Every time X time-units pass, the spectre who you encounter animating zombies creates a new zombie, who goes to either guard the juju zombie or wander the zombie section of the graveyard. Every time Y time-units pass, the spectre who you encounter summoning wights creates a new wight. If you kill a spectre and leave the graveyard, no new undead of the type it created will show up as long as it's gone (see below).

    The vampire can summon spectres; he won't create any spectres beyond the baseline the graveyard starts with, but if you go to the graveyard, kill one or more of the three spectres that create lesser undead, and leave, every Z time-units, he'll replace a spectre, who will promptly resume creating its type of lesser undead.

    Also replying to ronaldsf's comment right before this one:

    Also, who would train an 18th level wizard?[/quote]

    A significant amount of the point, in those days, was that as you became more powerful, seeking out one of the few members of your class who was even more powerful than you and convincing them to train you was a quest in and of itself.

    1. I admit I was skeptical when I read this comment--it seems awfully advanced for a 1988 game--but the official cluebook confirms at least part it. I wish more games would adopt this mechanic for the final battle. The longer you take screwing around in the game, the more allies the bad guy has when the final sequences commence.

    2. I can at least confirm the pen+paper module, that was based/co-developed on the crpg had this mechanic. Each spectre would spawn different types of undead in the graveyard, I think the vampire could replace one spectre per week.

    3. Counteracting this - the longer you wait, the more rewards you are offered to do it (incl scrolls of resto, I believe, which are pretty important against the level drainers)

    4. That's an interesting mechanic. No idea if it made it to the NES version, but it would seem some undead would be in the graveyard by the time you're able to reach there. First Sokol Keep needs to be cleared, and then you're powerless in the graveyard without magical weapons to fight the spectres/vampire.

    5. To add to this, even later (for those who may find it), in most sections of the game, time matters.

      From the moment you first enter the section, monsters in set encounters will start to multiply based on time. This includes time in town, resting, etc. I actually ended up in one playthrough with a room literally filled with 20+ hobgoblins due to this.


  69. More differences from the NES port:

    1) There are only gold and gems (sold for gold) for currency
    2) The full equipment list is modified, but still much larger than necessary
    3) My magic-user/cleric never had any issues with using darts or a dagger


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