Thursday, August 13, 2015

Game 199: Death Knights of Krynn (1991)

It was just about time for the predictable comfort of a Gold Box game. I have four of them to play in 1991, and I don't want them to get all clumped together at the end of the year.  I've spread them out like oases, knowing that I'll reach one every 8-12 games regardless of how bad or difficult the intervening games are.

I have no doubt that, just like its predecessors, Death Knights of Krynn will end up within the top 10 or 15 percent of games I've played as part of this project. I know that I'll enjoy the experience, particularly when it comes to combat. But what I also know--or at least suspect--is that the game isn't going to "wow" me. Gold Box used up all of its "wow" factor in Pool of Radiance, and since then it's been coasting on incremental improvements. That's fine--they're still great games--but it's too bad that SSI didn't continue to push the envelope the way that, say, Origin did with each new Ultima game (at least through 1992).

This game takes place a year after Champions of Krynn.
If you're just joining me, the Gold Box series is a collection of officially-licensed Dungeons & Dragons titles from Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI). Although not the first officially-licensed D&D games, they are the first to actually use D&D rules and themes. Starting with Pool of Radiance in 1988, the series spanned 12 titles in 5 settings through 1992, plus a construction set called Unlimited Adventures in 1993. This is my sixth Gold Box game.

Really? That's the helmet you're going with? You look like a droid.
Death Knights is a direct sequel to Champions of Krynn (1991; link to my first post), set in the Dragonlance universe. The games take place after a series of novels concerning the "Heroes of the Lance" and their war against the minions of the evil goddess Takhisis. A key plot point in the novels and in the first game involves the creation of "Draconians" out of the corrupted eggs of good dragons. In Champions of Krynn, my party worked for the Knights of Solamnia and foiled a plot to unleash a new horde of Draconians on the unsuspecting continent of Ansalon. Although I defeated the architect of that plan, the Draconian Myrtani, at the conclusion of the game, it was hinted that Myrtani was simply a lieutenant of a more sinister leader, a Death Knight named Soth. (The character appears extensively in Dragonlance literature.)

Sniff. I will try to remember the good times I had with the skeletal dragon.
As you may recall, my triumphant party at the end of Champions was:

  • Midsummer, a Level 7 lawful good female human knight
  • Dutch, a Level 7 lawful good male human knight
  • Grave, Level 7/7 chaotic good male Silvanesti Elf cleric/ranger
  • Squirrel, a Level 7/9 true neutral female Qualinesti Elf red mage/thief
  • Atmos, a Level 7/7 lawful good male Qualinesti Elf cleric/white mage
  • Coral, a Level 7/9 neutral good female Kender cleric/thief

I rather like my party. Everyone but Squirrel is capable of casting at least some cleric spells. I have two mages to back each other up and two thieves for backstabbing opportunities. I was happy to see that level caps go all the way to 14 for most classes and 18 for thieves. Oddly, new characters in Death Knights start at Level 8, suggesting that I didn't grind enough in Champions. I've never seen imported characters end up at a lower level than new characters.

As a quick reminder, the Dragonlance games do a few things different from the Forgotten Realms variants. You can't play evil characters, which wouldn't make sense given the nature of the plot. Elves and dwarves are divided into sub-races with special strengths and weaknesses. Mages specialize in white, red, or black (NPCs only) magic and have spells limited accordingly. They get bonus spells at different phases of the moon. Knights--which don't exist as a class in the Forgotten Realms setting--have several "orders" that they can progress through; higher orders mean more spells but also more experience to advance. They can also take command of NPCs in combat. "Kender" are halfling expies and have a special weapon called a hoopak and a special ability to taunt enemies into a mindless rage. All of this makes character choice and development more meaningful in Krynn than in Pool of Radiance and its sequels. 

Importing characters from Champions worked flawlessly, and for the first time in a Gold Box game, all the equipment came with the characters. The Knights of Solamnia had made off with my best stuff at the end of Champions (including a Girdle of Giant Strength and a Dragonlance), but I still have some +3 weapons and armor, which is better than brand new items.

My mage/thief and some of her imported items.
The game commences one year after the defeat of Myrtani. (Although imported characters have not actually aged a year.) The party has gone to the Knights of Solamnia outpost at Gargath to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the victory. Gargath was at the center-north of the Champions game map but is at the southeast of the Death Knights map; it seems to be the only repeated location.

This game takes place slightly northwest of its predecessor.

The introductory screens describe how Lady Maya, the beautiful silver dragon in human form, gives a eulogy for Sir Karl, our deceased ally from Champions. Suddenly, a skeletal dragon attacks the proceedings. Riding on the back is none other than Sir Karl, who has been corrupted as a Death Knight. He snatches a Dragonlance and rides off, the enraged Maya in pursuit, leaving skeleton warriors mounted on nightmares to fight the party and our Solamnic Knight allies.

Why does he have to be fat?

To be fair, I guess for him, honor and virtue didn't really "succeed."

Death Knights thus begins, just like Champions, with a relatively difficult battle. I liked it a lot, but I wouldn't have wanted it to be my first exposure to Gold Box combat. I don't remember encountering nightmares (undead horses) in a CRPG before; they're capable of blinding characters with smoke. The skeleton warriors were particularly difficult, as they're immune to magic, have high armor classes, and start with over 60 hit points. Two of my characters were unconscious before the end of the battle, and I'm sure I wouldn't have won if I hadn't started with half a dozen knight NPCs.

After the battle, I was free to wander around the outpost, which was besieged by the evil forces. There was a shop, a bar, a bank, a temple, and a training hall, and a series of micro-quests, like helping the temple clerics heal the wounded, patrolling the ramparts, and helping to bury fallen knights. In the cemetery, a journal entry revealed that Sir Karl's grave had been torn open and corrupted, and investigating it got me bitten by snakes.

A recounting of the scene from the adventurer's journal. If you're new to the Gold Box series, its games frequently tell you to consult journal entries for longer text passages or images.
At one point, I encountered a Dread Wolf, who spoke to me and said that he'd foil all my attempts to interfere with Soth's plans.

Eventually, a small group of warriors, mages, and clerics attacked the outpost. They weren't difficult to defeat (not immune to magic, among other things). When the battle was over, I was summoned to the commandant's chambers, where an old "knight emeritus" told me of a prophetic dream he had. He couldn't remember much, but a magic device called a "sleepstone," tucked under his pillow, had recorded it. He told me to take it to a Dream Merchant in Vingaard to decode it.

The commandant, Sir Bertil, told me that the Dream Merchant is "in Kalaman this time of year," however. Consulting the map, I saw that Kalaman was at the top, so I left the outpost and started in that direction. Within a couple of steps, I was in a random battle with several undead enemies that I don't remember from other games, including zombie mastodons and zombie minotaurs. It's a benefit that so many of my characters have the ability to turn undead.

A frequent message while traversing the wilds.

Rather than slavishly follow the game's instructions to go to Kalaman, I stopped in the city of Dulcimer on the way. The city was populated with the undead. As I entered, a text screen told me that: "Zombies fill a market to the east. A dog lurches past, pursued by an undead child." I was soon greeted by a lich, calling himself the mayor of the city. He asked if I'd ever visited Cerberus. Thinking he wasn't talking about my experiences in Elvira II, I said no, and he told me that I could "explore freely" except for the eastern exit and his private chamber.

Awfully friendly for a lich.

I didn't bother to map the Gargath outpost, and I didn't map Dulcimer, either. I normally like to map, but I wasn't in the mood for some reason. The "Area" command in the game shows you enough of the surrounding area to figure it out, and as long as you pay attention to the coordinates, it's not hard to make sure you step on every square in the 16 x 16 maps.

Naturally, I ignored the mayor and went for his private chambers. Before I entered, a specter appeared and told me that while destroying the lich would allow me to enter "Voice Wood," it was a bigger deal than simply defeating him in combat. I would have to find his phylactery and destroy it.

In the room beyond, the lich attacked me with several specters and wizards. It wasn't a difficult battle--"Fireball" was helpful given how they were arranged--but the specters managed to drain two levels from both Midsummer and Dutch.

Fighting the lich and his allies.

Once I killed the lich, I ran about town until I discovered the phylactery buried in a garden and destroyed it. All the undead collapsed at this point, and the game told me that "a great onus of evil has been lifted from this town." Clearly, I did this area a little bit out of order, but I made a note to return when I need to enter the "Voice Wood" for whatever reason.

Or when I need some undead eggs.

Returning to the road, I made my way to Kalaman, where I got my lead characters restored at a temple and leveled up some of the others. The knight commander, Daine, was eager for my help countering the growing influence of Lord Soth. He introduced me to "the beauteous Ariela, my advisor and consort," who told me that the Dream Merchant had a pavilion in the city's bazaar. She also warned me about Sebas Astmoor, "Soth's favorite and a potent cleric," who "left scenes of incomparable horror" the last time he was in Kalaman.

This is essentially the first time the party has heard of "Soth" in the game, although I guess he was probably pretty famous in the game world from the War of the Lance.

The bazaar occupies more than a quarter of the northwest of Kalaman. It's a maze-like area full of tent walls that you can tear through if you reach a dead-end, although that seems kind of jerkish. Anyway, when I approached the Dream Merchant, a bunch of guards suddenly shapeshifted into Sivak Draconians and attacked.

A true role-playing choice.

To recount, I met 5 types of Draconians in Champions of Krynn. Baaz are melee fighters whose skin is so tough it can capture a character's weapon for the rest of the battle. Kapaks can paralyze with their melee attacks and dissolve into pools of acid when killed. Bozaks explode when slain, damaging everyone around them. Auraks are the most difficult. They cast "Fire Shield" as their first spell, making it damaging to hit them in melee combat. Once you kill them, they immediately come back to life with 20 hit points. Kill them again, and they come back to life a second time, immortal and immobile--for three rounds, at which point they explode in a fireball.

Sivaks have the ability to change their features and impersonate humans--dangerous for plot reasons, but not in combat. I killed them quickly. Unfortunately, others kidnapped the Dream Merchant and got away. Wandering around, I found a note asking me to meet in the center of the bazaar after 16:00. "Since we both seek to stop the Lord Soth from coming to power," it said, "why not bring the sleepstone and the Dream Merchant together under rules of truce?"

I slept for a while, restored my spells, and went back to the bazaar. At 16:00, I was greeted by a red dragon leading a pack of blue dragons and carrying the Dream Merchant. The Merchant begged me to give them the stone, saying that "its message will not benefit these creatures." But I refused and found myself in battle with three blue dragons.

I'm not a fan of blue dragons because there's no "Protection from Lightning" spell. Sure enough, they slaughtered me in the first battle; none of my characters was able to withstand more than 2 breath attacks, and I just couldn't kill them fast enough. Fortunately, I learned that after 3 breath attacks in a row, the dragons stop using them. When I reloaded, I cast "Mirror Image" on my two spellcasters and had them loiter around the dragons while everyone else ran behind a wall to safety. The dragons' breath attacks affected only the mirror images for the first two rounds, after which I felt I was safe. I brought everyone else back on the battlefield and killed the dragons.

Immediately afterwards, the Dream Merchant croaked out "Crook! Vin..." and vanished. (This turned out to be instructions to visit him on Crook Street in Vingaard.) The Dread Wolf appeared and ordered his allies to attack, and I faced another battle with clerics, mages and evil warriors.

I love it so when they line up like this.

It appears that the next stop is in Vingaard.

I should have said "No," just to see if the game immediately ended.

Now that I've had a few hours of exposure to the game, I can report several changes in the mechanics from its predecessor:

  • The game remembers what spells you've cast, so you don't have to re-memorize the same ones over and over. You can memorize new ones if you want, but otherwise you just have to rest to re-memorize the old ones. This is a very welcome addition.
  • "Next" and "Previous" no longer target allies when aiming in combat. Yay! I've been complaining about this since the first combat in Pool of Radiance.
  • In combat, the game remembers who you last aimed at. If he's still alive in the next round, he's automatically targeted. Another very welcome feature.
  • SPACE has stopped working to center spells. Instead, there's a new "center" command--but it only works if you're cycling through enemies with "Next" or "Previous," not if you manually aim. This is a bit of a regression, but since the SPACE trick wasn't documented, it might be a benefit for some.
  • We're back to having to hit "Move" at the beginning of combat to start walking, instead of just being able to go right to the movement keys. Boo.
  • You now have the option to end the battle immediately when the last enemy dies, instead of having to deplete everyone's turn first. This is a good addition.

In total, the good changes outweigh the bad ones. Coupled with the "Fix" command introduced in Curse of the Azure Bonds, they address almost everything that was wrong with the original interface.

Other notes on gameplay.

  • As I said about the last few Gold Box games, they feature a pleasing redundancy in keyboard, mouse, and joystick commands. If you're using the keyboard, you just hit the first letter of the command. To use the mouse, you click on it. And if using a joystick, you move it until the right command is highlighted and hit the button. It's refreshing to meet a game that accommodates every player's style. I'm naturally using the keyboard almost exclusively.
  • I was surprised that the game doesn't support VGA graphics. I guess this is the last one that didn't, which means that I'm probably playing it in the right order for 1991.
  • I keep hoping that the Gold Box games will start showing more in the environment than just wall textures, and I keep suffering disappointment. 

Would it be so hard to show a mound?

  • It's been a running joke throughout the Gold Box series that the economies are horribly, horribly broken, loading up the player with so much money that the characters quite literally can't move. This is the case here from the first minute. In the first combat, I noticed that no one was capable of moving more than 3 spaces because they were carrying thousands of steel pieces from Champions. I dropped them all for mobility's sake. Even so, I left the outpost--the very first map of the game--with 12,000 steel pieces in the bank, mostly from selling enemy bracers. There has been nothing interesting to buy so far.

Why are bracers so damned valuable?

  • Have we ever had a discussion about how turned undead provide no experience? Why is that fair?
  • I love that the series has used the same full-party death screen since the beginning. I'm picturing a bunch of dragons and skeleton warriors breaking out the booze and dancing the night away.

  • The "adventurer's journal" concept is starting to feel very dated. Surely, there's no longer any space reasons that they couldn't have put the text on the screen. I think it's more of a copy protection issue than anything else at this point.

Nothing about Death Knights of Krynn so far has felt familiar, so I'm guessing I never played this one, even in the 1990s. On the other hand, the plot hasn't exactly been gripping so far (I'm running around trying to get a dream out of a stone?), and the nature of the storytelling has been a little clumsy. 

But man, am I happy to be back in Gold Box combat again. It's been since Moria, which I stopped playing back in February, that I've rated anything higher than a 4 in this category. I never get sick of the tactics and challenge that this combat system provides.

And I never get sick of this.

Time so far: 3 hours
Reload count: 2


In list news, I tried to get Return of the Ring working, but I couldn't get it running stably with a Dragon 32 emulator (the only platform it was released for). It was a tape game, and it kept wanting me to rewind, play, and advance the tape, and the emulator controls didn't seem to do the job or I didn't understand them. I think it's more of an adventure game anyway, despite being a sequel to an RPG.


  1. I really enjoyed DKK, in part because it had a lot of side quests, something COK was sorely lacking. It pays to stumble around a bit. I actually loved the Lich city, if only there had been a role playing option to just leave it as it is.

  2. Oh wow, this game has some gorgeous colours. We're talking prog-rock album cover, comic shop blacklight poster, airbrushed on the coolest van in the 1981 parking lot. You are missing OUT, Addict.

    1. In The Court of The Crimson Lich?! Close to the Undead Edge?! Selling Solamnia By The Pound?! ;)

    2. The colors in the game are a major draw for me. Combined with the open exploration and the roving un-dead, this is my favorite of the Dragon Lance titles

  3. The first Krynn game was the first Gold Box game I abandoned (after the first set of quests). I just don't know why my experience with it wasn't as good as yours, but I suspect I'll sit this one out as well. I'm looking forward to "Martian Dreams" however. We have a long way to go, but I hope it pops up before the halfway point.

  4. I much preferred this game to Champions. The overworld map harks back to Pool of Radiance and it pays to explore. It's just a shame the draconians are all generic.

  5. In addition to all the highpoints the Addict mentioned: around level 7 is also the time where the (a)DnD rules really shine and combat is just heaps of fun (see pictures)

    1. I agree. It's right at the point where the characters are just powerful enough, and you still have to be tactical about your spell use.

  6. "...but I wouldn't have wanted it to be my first exposure to Gold Box combat. "
    Heh it was for me :)
    I hinted a looong time ago possibly on the pools of radiance post about other uses for obscure spells such as snake charm, the graveyard section was what I was referring to. I remember the patrol option for the 3 duties in gargath could be annoying, so I always picked guard and grave duty for an easier life (the guard spot is outside the temple). There are a few unmarked areas on the overland map if you go hunting for sidequests. I did always wonder why those bracers were worth so much, it was like they were throwing money at you so that you could buy a castle (which would have been seen as a common goal in pen+paper).
    And now for some spoilers
    Gur obbx gung tbg fgbyra, gur guvrirf unir ernq vg.
    Jnyxvat fgenvtug vagb gur znva svtug jvyy or cnvashy ohg gurer vf nabgure jnl vagb gung svtug juvpu jvyy uryc n ybg

    And more generally..
    Nsgre lbh unir pbzcyrgrq gur tnzr, lbh zvtug jnag gb unir n gevc gb Qhypvzre ntnva, znlor gb gur fgbpxf

    1. I remember that Snake Charm (wasn't that at beginning), but can't get in my head how was it presented? Was there by default opition to charm snakes and if you didn't have the spell game just informed so or did the option for snake charm come only if you had such spell?

    2. Pretty sure it only listed it as an option if someone had it memorised

  7. "Have we ever had a discussion about how turned undead provide no experience? Why is that fair?"

    Turning them leaves them for someone else to deal with. You only get xp from the (t)urn command if your character is sufficiently high level to outright destroy the undead - by which point, the xp rewards are piddling in comparison to what you need to level up.

    1. Also, if turning awarded xp, some players of the paper and pencil version would argue that they could get unlimited experience by turning the same skeleton over and over again.

    2. And any DM with a hint of backbone could easily say, "Sorry, you only get experience once." Or, more sinister, "They not only become immune after the first turning, they hunger especially for your flesh in revenge."

    3. Why does experience only come from death, though? Does experience in D&D work like it does in Dark Souls, where you're literally sucking up the essence of the slain enemy? That's a rhetorical question, because I know it isn't, since in D&D you get experience from treasure and quest completion as well as defeating enemies.

      If I turn a bunch of enemies, I have successfully dealt with the situation. I don't see why that isn't worth experience as much as killing.

    4. Turning undead doesn't really make them afraid of you but the deity whose power you are calling on, maybe he/she gets the xp :)
      I think part of the point could be, if you make normal enemies flee normally, they won't want to fight you anymore, you get the xp. When you turn undead, they still want to eat your brains, they are just forced to escape until they are out of sight and/or the cleric stops turning (it is an ongoing action). In fact if the cleric corners them and gets too close, it breaks and they can fight as normal. The computer game just skips this and says ok they are gone, I remember now, only using turn undead in DKK if I was certain to get automatic destroys or if a fight just had too many level drainers.
      One nice touch about this game, is common street thugs learn their lesson after a couple times of getting their butts kicked

    5. I always figured turning just forced a morale failure--that's the way it worked in Pool of Radiance. If they get away,you don't get XP. They just cut out you having to chase them down.

    6. I guess it's the same as successfully fleeing or avoiding combat. D&D rules were specifically bloodthirsty in its earlier incarnates. Later editions allow awarding of XPs for accomplishing certain non-combat feats, tasks and challenges.

      I mean, I'm pretty sure the clerics and other divine-classes would definitely learn a thing or two after successfully making some undead run from their holy symbols, wouldn't it? It would definitely bolster their faith as they see it working to their advantage, right?

    7. I think 2nd ed is the first incarnation of d&d that specifically gave you xp for killing enemies; in OD&D and 1st ed, XP was rewarded for gathering treasure.

  8. A few notes:

    - paladins are back (in Champions they had been replaced with knights, here you can have either (but I think having at least one knight is still essential to do some quests)). You'd need to create a new character (replacing an existing one) to have one in your party, of course.

    - Sir Karl doesn't snatch a Dragonlance, he snatches the Dragonlance, the single one you could (canonically -- I think there was another, hidden one) find in the first game. That's so you don't start the game with any.

    - your descriptions of the draconians are mostly right, but I'd add that 1) Baaz capture weapons because they turn to stone the instant they die, and 2) Bozak can cast low level spells (Aurak can cast high level ones, too). Sorry, used to be a big Dragonlance geek back in the day. :)

    - you're correct, this is the last Gold Box game without VGA, and at the time EGA-only graphics already felt old.

    - the need for journal entries, at this time, was still mostly to save disk space; this game, and all others before it (I think it was the last, too) was also released for the Commodore 64, where that was a problem (even with journal entries in the manual, the game took up a lot of disks, and involved a lot of disk swapping). By the next game (when they stopped supporting anything except DOS and Amiga), I guess that the entries really became just copy protection (and, also, the font in the isn't particularly readable).

    - you can get better sound effects during combat by using Tandy sound (use "machine=tandy" in the DOSbox config file, and then delete the DKK.CFG file in the game directory, so that it asks for new settings when running the game again).

    1. (Addendum) If you try out the Tandy thing, remember to pick both Tandy graphics (they're exactly like EGA, but picking EGA on a Tandy machine won't work) and sound, when starting the game.

      About why bracers are so expensive, my theory is that magic users in D&D are "supposed" to have terrible AC, as they can wear no armor. But they can wear bracers, granting them at least decent AC, which is almost like "cheating" the universe's rules, and Gary Gygax doesn't like that. :)

    2. Were the graphics/sound any better on other platforms, like the Amiga?

    3. Not by a lot. The sounds were, I think, mostly the same as Tandy (better than PC speaker, of course, but not like the Amiga could do), and the graphics, while still 320x200 with 16 colors, benefitted from a better pallette than EGA (for instance, a decent caucasian skin tone, instead of EGA's white or red).

    4. Amiga has somewhat better graphics, for example smoother color choices than ega as usual. Character graphics for combat can be selected from premade char gfx which look a lot better than the self picked ones that atleat Chet seems to use, basically they're on the same level as monster gfx. No idea of sounds since I haven't heard the PC version ones but they're nothing to cheer about on Amiga, definetely more than just beeps but on Amiga standards nothing special.

    5. One of my characters is a paladin. I am using no knights in my game. It ups the tactical challenge since you cannot control NPCS in battle.

    6. I don't understand why they added Paladins. I can't remember mention of any Paladins in the Dragonlance books, only the god Paladine. Knight have the role of Paladins.

      As for the Amiga version, the best of about that was the very nice custom icons you could chose for your icons.
      Nice for a colour blind person, or you can end up with the...eccentric colours Mr Addict chose.

    7. Yeah there werent any paladins in the Dragonlance world, I still have the 1st edition rule book right here, which is what this game was based on. The Knights were the DL equivalent.

    8. Thanks for the supplementary stuff, Dehumanizer. I disagree on the dragonlance, though: the reason I don't have the one from the last game is that the knights commandeered it for their ongoing war. If the one at the beginning of the game is the same one, I think it's just a coincidence.

      Paladins do have one benefit, as knights don't have a "lay on hands" ability. That would have come in handy in one map where magic doesn't work.

    9. Ah, you're probably right, I had forgotten that you donate some of your most powerful items at the end of the previous game. Anyway, with this game being mostly about undead, a dragonlance isn't as important as it was before.

      Paladins also had a permanent Protection From Evil 10 ft radius on themselves, at least in 2nd edition AD&D. This game is first edition, so I'm not sure if it's in the game.

    10. Wait, I remember that the Irda can become Paladins, those godless lot.

      Also, for the Dragonlances, I specifically recall that you would need the Silver Arm of Ergoth and a special hammer to forge a true Dragonlance and has to be used while mounted on a dragon. Any other lances made with only one of the 2 artifacts will only give you a piss-poor version of it with a slight magical bonus over dragons & dragonkin.

  9. I think bracers are valuable since they're the only armor type wearable by mages. Wouldn't mages at best have an armor class of around 5 (considering all other possible bonuses) without bracers?

    I know I played the entire Dragonlance Gold Box series, I cannot for the life of me remember the plot of these games, unlike the four games in the Pools series. For those who have played them both, how was the overall story in the Dragonlance games? No spoiler obviously.

    1. I don't even understand why bracers have such low ACs. Wearing a couple of forearm protectors somehow makes my head and torso less vulnerable? Are these like Wonder Woman bracers where they can deflect any attack with lightning speed?

    2. They're definitely magical items, not simply physical. Explanations as to how the magic works may vary. D&D wiki claims, "They surround the wearer with an invisible but tangible field of force."

  10. WOW! I go to Dulcimir too before heading to Kalaman. It is a nice experience boost early in the game, though level draining is a loss. I found that the skeleton warriors and undead beasts provided the main tactical challenge of the game. Since you cannot wipe them out with damage spells, buffing spells and healing are key. Since my party is all elf, I frequently use haste. Mirror image and enlarge help too in the melee. I have also equipped all fighters with maces in the past, since swords do half damage.

    1. The best tactic against those dreaded Skeletal Warriors is bacbstabbing them with a Hasted and Enlarged Kender Cleric/Thief with a magic Hoopak.

  11. Oh hey, what a coincidence, this is the exact same game I'm playing through right now. Though at the rate I'm playing I'm sure you'll finish this game way before I do.

    Thought I might want to add something though--the "center-spells-while-manually-aiming" function isn't gone from DKK. It's just remapped to the 5 key on the numeric keypad.

    1. THANK YOU. If that's documented anywhere, I didn't see it. You saved me a lot of frustration.

  12. I find that I like this one best of the Krynn games. It's features so many undead and travel between towns is dangerous, especially if you party, like mine, was created for this game.

    I like the graphics of the game. The use of blues, blacks and reds gives the game a distinctive visual look.

    1. Yeah, the game has great atmosphere, I think.
      For some reason the game reminds me more about The Legend of Huma than the Dragonlance novels. Maybe it's the Dread Wolf both have in common.

    2. But... Legend of Huma is Dragonlance novel...

    3. I meant the Dragonlance trilogies.
      There's a very different "mood" between the books, Huma being more melancholic and sombre.

    4. Come on. The Twins Trilogy wasn't any less melancholic and tragic.

    5. The twins trilogy was one of the ones that turned me off Dragonlance when I was a kid.

  13. I played DKK right after I finished Champions. However, I didn't find any way to defend against all the level draining undead.

    1. Don't get hit, and hit the level drainers hard. I'm usually very conservative with spell usage, but when it comes to level drainers I try to take them out ASAP.
      If you do get hit use Restoration scrolls or the services of a Temple.

    2. That's pretty much what I've been doing. Makes the level-ups slow going, though.

    3. Protection from negative energy is what works in P&P and in BG's but I have no idea if that spell has been included in DKK

    4. Clerics of Majere repel undead at two levels higher than their stated level. Having one or two of them in the party can help.

    5. Isn't there Deathward in AD&D?

    6. Yes, turning works really well in the game. My characters can even turn vampires. And "turned" enemies just disappear; they don't run away. But there's still the occasional combat in which they get the first attack.

    7. Clerics of Majere?

      Majere is a minor god in dragonlance and the main protagonists family name was taken in honour of that god.

  14. Nice to see you doing DKoK, but what has happened to Antares? I'm worried you will end up doing the same thing as you did with Tunnels & Trolls and regretting it.

    1. Yes, you have a point. I need to suck it up and get back to it soon.

  15. This is The Best Gold Box game for me.

  16. Oof, it looks like even after getting your drained characters restored, they were still missing quite a bit of max HP.

    Those undead chickens are scary!

  17. I'm disappointed that the undead town isn't just, y'know, a normal town full of undead.

  18. Regarding Return of the Ring: Sounds like bad game design that it requires you to rewind. When I was a kid I had an educational game for the Color Computer 2 (U.S. version of the Dragon) featuring the characters from Disney's The Black Hole (yeah, kind of messed up) and it never required rewinding, even though it had actual voice acting (by cleverly playing it from the tape through the TV speakers).

    In fairness, though, I guess the game I played was probably a lot more linear.

  19. "That's the helmet you're going with? You look like a droid."

    Lord Soth's helmet is probably supposed to be "great helm" type of armor common in 13th-14th century, with some fantasy decoratives added, though not that far-fetched ones as great helm's wikipedia page shows also quite fancy bullhorned-version.

  20. Great game for sure, but there are just some fights that I refuse to entertain (GBC takes care of that), primarily the last fight.

    Lets give 5 enemies full powered fireballs and make them fear all your characters so they get a combination of back shots and the chance to lob non-stop fireballs at your party for free until they all die running. Seems like someone who had a little trouble in high school and never got over it was given the wheel a few too many times in my opinion.

    Once you remove that garbage though (and most of the same garbage from the other goldbox games), these games are actually real gems with good quality fights that are challenging but fair and winnable and have a great story.


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