Monday, September 27, 2021

Revisiting Pool of Radiance (1988), Part 2

The epic battle begins.
     
In my first entry on the subject, we learned that the tabletop module Ruins of Adventure was not the source of the CRPG Pool of Radiance. Instead, the module was a byproduct of the CRPG--a way for TSR to make some money from the same material that they developed for SSI. The same authors are credited on both products.
    
Despite the similarities in the overall story (a group of adventurers helping to restore order to the city of Phlan) and geography, the two products diverge in several notable ways. I find this particularly odd because the Ruins of Adventure module suggests that it could serve as a de facto hint book for Pool of Radiance: "Players of Pool of Radiance will find useful clues to the successful completion of their computer mission in this module." I started this replay taking the module at its word, only to find that the differences are significant enough that a player really couldn't rely on the module at all. Phlan's Old City, as we saw, has a completely different map in the module than in the CRPG. The CRPG fills the area with encounters while the module only has random battles in the area, an inversion of what you would typically expect.
   
The variances continue in the area that most CRPG players would explore early in the game: Sokol Keep. The module gives a lot more background as to the strategic importance in controlling the island keep. The module players get the mission from the head of the City Council, Miles Dormans, who I don't think even appears in the CRPG. In Pools, the party gets the mission from the clerk, like every other mission.
    
The backstories complement each other, however. In both, Sokol Keep was the last part of Phlan to fall during Tyranthraxus's conquest. The last garrison was commanded by Ferran Martinez, a priest of Tyr. When he saw that the Keep would fall, he cast a last-ditch spell to protect it, raising armies of undead from the burial grounds. These undead still wander the keep today. The module says that if the characters successfully reconquer the keep from the undead, the monsters will respond by sending their own parties to try to take it back from the characters. The CRPG, on the other hand, has the monsters already anticipating the reconquest and thus already in the Keep in force. The player can even find a note from Tyranthraxus instructing his minions to prevent the characters' success.
   
Once again, the map provided in Ruins is different from the one in the CRPG. And once again, it is surprisingly less imaginative.  The module map contains no dead space except half a dozen squares in the northeast corner, whereas the CRPG map uses dead space effectively to suggest the overall architecture of the keep. The CRPG map puts the chapel (with the final battle) in the center while the module map has it in the upper-left corner.
     
Two takes on Sokol Keep.
    
Both start the same way, however, with the discovery of an elven skeleton outside the main gate. A pouch on his corpse holds a piece of parchment with three words. The CRPG player has to translate them with the codewheel: LUX, SAMOSUD, and SHESTNI. In the module, the latter word is for some reason SHESTNIK, and SAMOSUD has the last two letters eaten away; the players have to discover the rest of the word for themselves, although I had fun imagining them doing a Bruce Campbell in Army of Darkness by yelling "SAMOS" and then mumbling something unintelligible at the end. SHESTNI or SHESTNIK is used in both products to deter undead from attacking the party. The undead enemies are all skeletons in the module but include zombies in the CRPG.
     
As I wrote over a decade ago, this still gives me a tingle.
   
For most of the rest of this entry, I'm going to offer a detailed analysis of the rest of the differences and similarities between the two maps. I won't do this for every area in the game (unless commenters clamor for it), but I thought it would be interesting to get into the weeds with one map.
 
**   
 
CRPG Encounter (2,11): Insects fall from the walls and ceiling. The party finds itself in battle with two giant scorpions. Their hits can cause poisoning, which means instant death for a party this level. Fortunately, they're susceptible to "Sleep."

Module Encounter: No analogue.
    
**

CRPG Encounter (2,8): Unused room with thick carpet of fungus, where it's safe to rest.

Module Encounter: No analogue.
    
**

CRPG Encounter (13,10): Old stable covered with mold and fungus. Nothing to do there.
   
Module Encounter (12,13): The same old stable, but a green slime will attack if the characters search the area. The creature must have been deemed too difficult for an early-level CRPG party. 
   
**
   
CRPG Encounter: No analogue.
   
Module Encounter (14,11): An old granary with a thick growth of fungus. Characters can eat the fungus for a +2 saving through against fear for 24 hours. 
   
**
   
CRPG Encounter (13,7):  The collapsed remains of a blacksmith shop. "The croaking of frogs greets your entry." If the party lingers, they get attacked by four poisonous frogs (again, "Sleep" did a nice job here). Searching a corner produces a hammer +1.  
   
Module Encounter (13,8): Absolutely identical. It's also notable that although the room configurations are completely different, the coordinates of these two encounters are almost the same.
  
**
   
CRPG Encounter (14,5): An old armory. "All of the weapons and armor have decayed into uselessness." However, there's an illusory door on the back wall. This leads to a hidden area with a magic set of equipment: shield, long sword, chain mail, and mace.
    
No remains untouched by time or glow in the corner in the module.
    
Module Encounter (6,3): Again, virtually identical, including the illusory wall. Characters cannot detect it by searching; they must "boldly walk through it." Items are the same, except the chain mail is only "suitable for dwarves." Note, however, that this encounter is after the big battle with orcs and hobgoblins.
   
**
  
CRPG Encounter (6,2): The ruins of a barracks full of "the remains of bunks and chests." There are no items to find, but the party can encounter a group of haunts--ghosts of the defenders of the keep. Feeding them the keyword LUX causes them to "burst into a chorus of howls, moans, and other lamentations over their fate and the fate of their families." Ferran Martinez's spell bound them to the keep and they want to be released. They point the party to a secret area beneath the floorboards with a diary that explains (in a journal entry) what happened in the keep. There are also 5 gems in the compartment.
   
Module Encounter (9,2): So identical that it even uses much of the same text, including the part I quoted above. The big difference is the specific text of the diary isn't given in the module; the DM must make something up. There's also only one gem in the module.
   
**
   
CRPG Encounter: No analogue (or just a couple of the empty rooms).
   
Module Encounter (1,15 and 9,9): Empty storerooms with nothing to do.
   
**
  
CRPG Encounter: No analogue.
   
Module Encounter (7,10): A kitchen covered in ochre jelly. A Potion of Heroism is hidden on a shelf. The authors probably felt that an ochre jelly was too difficult a foe for a party of this level, particularly since CRPG characters are more limited in their innovations than tabletop characters; for instance, CRPG characters cannot create fire without an explicit spell or weapon. Still, it would have given me something else to do with these jars of flaming oil.
   
**
  
CRPG Encounter: No analogue.
   
Module Encounter (2,3): Some officer's quarters in which the full word SAMOSUD is written on a piece of paper. The room has a "slithering tracker," which is not a monster I've ever encountered before in a Dungeons & Dragons game.
  
**
   
CRPG Encounter (7,3 or 8,3 or 7,5 or 8,5): In the hall outside the main chapel, the party is attacked by a huge force of 31 orcs, 4 orc leaders, and 15 hobgoblins. To me, this is one of the most memorable battles in not only the game, but in RPG history. The first-time player is horrified at first, but hopefully figures out how to approach it with a combination of tactics, terrain, and spells. It seems spectacularly unfair to a party of this level, but the force the party faces is entirely physical (no magic) and almost entirely melee, except for the orc leaders with missile weapons. The orcs and hobgoblins have low THAC0s and mostly miss their attacks.
 
There are several ways to approach it. I buffed with "Bless" and "Enlarge." After the battle began, I made liberal use of "Sleep" on the approaching enemies while some of my characters tried to take out the orc leaders with "Magic Missile" and missile weapons. That didn't work very well (I kept missing or rolling low damage), but fortunately the orc leaders ran out of arrows after a few rounds, so I just had to heal their damage. After that, it was mostly a matter of using "Sleep" and "Hold Person" to create packs of immobile enemies around which the others got hung up. Having six mages capable of "Sleep" really helped.
       
Things look dire, but most of these enemies are asleep.
    
You only have to clear out half the enemies before the rest start surrendering. After the battle, I found a note on a hobgoblin's body with his orders from "The Boss."
   
Module Encounter (4,11): The number of enemies is the same, but none of the orcs are designated as "leaders." Technically, the battle does not happen here, in the entrance hall, but rather once the party reaches this location, the monsters will enter the Keep via the main gate. The party might encounter them anywhere. The module suggests that any undead still roaming the area will attack the army, which does not possess the code words.
  
There's no note from "The Boss," but the module makes it clear that the monsters "secretly followed in canoes and now want to prevent the characters from reclaiming the fort." The module specifies that the orcs make a "fighting withdrawal" once 20% of them have been killed and completely flee once 50% are dead. Surrendering is not given as an option, and I always wonder what it's imagined that my CRPG characters do with their surrendered captives. You never hear about them again, which is a bit ominous.
   
**
  
CRPG Encounter (8,10): The party encounters the ghost of Ferran Martinez. He asks whether the city "has been freed." The party has the opportunity to lie, tell the truth, or flee. If they tell the truth, Martinez says that "the city fell long ago to the unblessed creatures, imbued with the might of a magical pool." He specifically names "Tyranthraxus, Edranka, and Torath." He says that the sage Mendor was trying to find information about those wars, and he gives the party the SAMOSUD password before disappearing.
    
The party can also attack Martinez and have to fight a specter capable of draining two levels per hit. He has nothing and nothing happens if he dies. If you lie, he calls you out and disappears.
     
I'd note that the chapel has four confessionals in the CRPG but not the module. This makes sense, I guess. Is there any Forgotten Realms religion that includes confessions?
     
Note that Martinez is interpreting the pool incorrectly, like everyone in this game does. The only "might" anyone gets from it is being possessed by demonic creatures from another plane.
     
Module Encounter (2,3): Essentially the same except that the module spells the name "Tiranthraxus" in this one place only. It gives dialogue text for Martinez which is nearly identical to what he says in the CRPG. After he disappears, the characters can find a map of the city.
   
I was hoping the module had more to say about Edranka and Torath, but like the CRPG, it never mentions their names again.
  
**
 
The module does not mention the specific rewards for clearing out Sokol Keep. In the CRPG, Sasha gave us enough gold and platinum to give us 1,308 experience, far more than we had accumulated during the adventure. Afterwards, her next two missions are the recovery of information from Mendor's Library and determining what's going on in Podol Plaza, where an "item of great power" is rumored to be up for auction.
     
She also told us that Councilor Cadorna wanted to see us. He gave us a mission to recover an unnamed treasure from his family's old estate in the southern part of the textile complex. The module has a lot to say about Porphyrys Cadorna, including that his family's wealth comes from the "cloth guild." He is charming and intelligent but venal, obsessed with restoring his family's position of wealth and power. He holds the "least significant" position on the Council (echoed in-game by Sasha calling him "junior council member") but has greater ambitions.
      
I don't quite follow this logic, but I'm glad you're happy.
     
The module agrees that he first approaches the party after they have cleared Sokol Keep. However, he simply hires them to clear the Textile House rather than to find a specific object. And in the module, only after the players solve his first mission does he give them a second one to recover texts from Mendor's Library.
    
As I sorted through the looted equipment, leveled up, and memorized new spells, I thought about what makes Pool of Radiance the best Gold Box game. Part of it was in this very process. It has both a hub-and-spoke geography and an expedition-and-return exploration system. Most of the other Gold Box games keep you mobile for the entire plot. One of the worst parts about an expedition-and-return system, though, is having to "return" prematurely. It's like coming home from work in the middle of the day but having to go back to work again. Yuck. The module reinforces this preference by having Cadorna act like a dick to the party if they return to Phlan without clearing Sokol Keep. "So a bunch of frogs were just too much for you?" the text has him say. He then "votes against allowing any more missions to the PCs until the island and keep are cleared." I wish the CRPG had offered more of the depth of Council interaction hinted in statements like that.
    
Cadorna looks a bit like Commander Riker after he grew his beard.
    
The area around Kuto's Well was the most obvious place for the next expedition. In the CRPG, no one gives it to the party as a quest, but you have to pass through it between the Old City and either Mendor's Library or Podol Plaza and the Textile House. In the module, however, a sixth-level halfling fighter named Zolonsho approaches the party once they achieve Level 3 and asks them to accompany him.
 
The module portrays the well as a kind of "neutral area" in which no group denies any other group access to the well, the most reliable fresh-water well in the city. That doesn't mean everyone is friendly, however, and the party can encounter hostile groups of kobolds, orcs, and hobgoblins. The CRPG isn't as explicit as the nature of the area, but it basically conforms to this setup. There are only a couple of fixed encounters but lots of potential combats. We were attacked by kobolds as we entered the area, and I got to use the "sweep" attack that fighters received at Level 3. This allows them to attack every enemy in reach when the enemies are sufficiently low level. No other D&D game has this. 
    
The map of Kuto's Well in the module is very close to the CRPG, consisting of small groupings of buildings around the edges of the map with the well itself in the middle. The CRPG has one fixed encounter in the middle-south. After fighting some gnolls and then a lizard man leading some giant lizards, the party finds a mysterious woman locked in a building. She thanks the party for freeing them and says that the party's foe is an "evil spirit from an unholy pool." The module has no such encounter.
     
This woman doesn't even have an analogue on the NPC list.
    
Both products have a hidden area beneath Kuto's Well, home of the bandit leader Norris the Grey. I remember commenting on his ugly appearance in the game; the module makes it clear that he's a half-orc. In both products, the party has an option to surrender to Norris and be dumped in the ruins with no valuables. The module choreographs the battle with Norris in more detail than the CRPG, specifying various hit and run attacks, arrow attacks, and other ambushes around the various chambers. The CRPG has a bit of this--some arrows fly at the party when they first arrive--but mostly Norris just attacks in a random chamber. The composition of the enemy force is different. In the module, he has goblins, orcs, and kobolds, but in the CRPG he has kobold leaders and lizardmen.
    
It's effective, but slaughtering enemies as they sleep always feels a bit evil.
         
The CRPG battle has the enemies arrayed in two battle lines. Again, "Sleep" really helps here, cast in groupings of three on the second line, although not as much as "Lightning Bolt" would help. Norris has a magic long sword in the CRPG that he doesn't possess in the module, plus a message in which Tyranthraxus tried to order him into his forces. Norris's treasure hoard is about the same in both products, and both make it clear that the primary outcome of defeating Norris is a base of operations that the party can use. Of course, that has limited utility in a CRPG, and I suspect most players (like me) never returned to the area again.
     
I can do that almost anywhere.
     
Again, the two maps of the areas are mostly the same but with some weird variances. The module map lacks a pointless secret area that has bothered and frustrated me every time I played the game. I was hoping that the module would explain why it was there. I was actually hoping it would explain more about Norris, too.
     
My map of Norris's area (left) from the CRPG versus the module's (right).
     
That seems like enough for this session. In a few weeks, I'll finish Podol Plaza, Mendor's Library, and the Textile House.

49 comments:

  1. I don't know if it came up in the original Pool entries, but as a piece of curious trivia: "samosud" is Russian for "lynching" (literally, "self-judgement"), and "shestnik" is an archaic word meaning something like a courtier (literally, "someone who parades").

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    1. I don't believe we've ever heard that before. That is fascinating. There's no way it's a coincidence. Maybe the authors had a Russian dictionary handy.

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    2. FWIW, I *believe* those words came from Zeb, who wrote most of the story. IIRC, he was an English teacher before he began working at TSR and he had a good knowledge of literature. If those words appear in Anna Karenina or other famous Russian lit, I bet he picked them up from there. :-)

      Mike

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    3. By the way, it’s SokOl Keep, not Sokal.
      And Sokol is a “falcon” in Russian.

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    4. Not that it´s something important, but in Czech too :-).

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  2. Confessionals are a curious thing to add aren’t they? I guess they’d make sense for a god of justice (Tyr) or self-reflection (that’d be an interesting god).

    I think sweep lets you attack N opponents where N is your fighter level. It added a lot to the sense of progressions for fighters.

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    1. Yes, sweeping lets you attack a number of times equal to you level (so in a gold box game, az most eight times), against enemies that have less than 1 HD (hit dice, for all intents and purposes, the level of a monster). It is present in at least every Krynn and FR gold box game - remember the giant centipedes in Throtl in CoK, for instance.

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  3. It's weird that "sweep" is not used in other games. So many CRPGs could have benefited from such an option.

    "Norris the Grey. I remember commenting on his ugly appearance in the game; the module makes it clear that he's a half-orc."

    Funnily enough, in the Amiga version he looks human, with a short beard. I want to say he looks like Kenny Rogers, but my memory is probably playing tricks on me. Maybe he looked like Chuck Norris? I can't find any screenshots of the Amiga version.

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  4. "particularly since CRPG characters are more limited in their innovations than tabletop characters"

    And when weighing the myriad of possibilities to solve an encounter with innovation against the minor convenience of having the calculations done for me, the tabletop experience always comes out on top.

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    1. I can see why, but in that formula, you also have to include the difficulty of getting a group of people together for multiple extended sessions, finding a good DM, and keeping everyone focused. Many players find those things frustrating or impossible enough that the CRPG always comes out on top.

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    2. One wonders why someone who thinks CRPGs are so lousy would want to show up and comment on a CRPG blog!

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    3. Well, Bret, my first crpg was Might&Magic II and I designed Chet's fancy new banner, which more than qualifies me to comment here - I can still cherish a computer game *alone* while my monthly pen'n'paper group is the far more exciting event to look forward to...

      Kids today.

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    4. I've always really enjoyed the outside-the-box problem solving that TTRPGs cultivates, but I can never play a TTRPG for any length of time because I just don't have any interest in theatrics. I don't want to put on a silly accent or listen to other people describe their character's imaginary tattoos for thirty minutes. I just want to find creative ways to murder slimes and open locked treasure chests. Sadly, I haven't ever been able to find a group with similar priorities.

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    5. @Chet&Daniel

      I certainly get your point, but doesn't that imply that we're living in a world where gathering a group of like-minded people to share the joy of a hobby seems next to insane or impossible?

      Not a world I'd like to live in.

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    6. In a more general term:

      If my initial comment made a single one of you nerds/geeks/addicts consider to pick up a source book and start your own group, the world would be a better place for it.

      (pats his own shoulder)

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    7. This is off topic but Is there a good online community for ttrpg that you could recommend?

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    8. Tabletop RPGs and computer RPGs are historically related (CRPGs being a year or two younger) and bear a lot of similarities, but they each provide distinct experiences that the other cannot fully reproduce. CRPGs are worthwhile in their own right, not just partial substitutes for tabletop campaigns.

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    9. @Ksmb

      Start at your local hobby store which is offering tabletop products, they often carry contact lists of interested players in your vicinity.

      The online platform MeetUp, which is about meeting in person, often has an RPG subsection for your area.

      Hope that helps...

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    10. CRPG as a genre is how TRPGs were mainly played in the 70s and 80s, it's frozen in time (I don't think many modern players are concerned with moving miniatures around, and dungeon crawling is less common).

      I recall Dave Arneson commenting on the Gold Box series, that it did not innovate as much as he had hoped, and that CRPGs are mainly hack and slash (some might say he was the actual inventor of D&D). So the two genres nowadays may not have much in common.

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    11. Say what now? The two most popular RPGs on the market, 5th edition D&D and Pathfinder, heavily involve hack-and-slash, dungeon crawling, AND moving miniatures around. This is a sharp change from the 1990s where miniature-less games like World of Darkness and 2nd edition D&D were highly popular.

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    12. Pathfinder is pretty small, and D&D 5e is a lot less about miniature combat than 4e. And perhaps most importantly, the actual experience of play these days is...not particularly rigorous. People seem to use D&D as a very loose framework, because it's the only RPG they know.

      It's absolutely true that the dungeon crawling CRPGs of the 80s-90s hew pretty closely to the spirit of oD&D and its wargaming roots. They've largely done a very poor job of capturing what the hobby would evolve into in subsequent decades. There still hasn't been a half decent Call of Cthulhu (1981) videogame, despite pretty intense interest in the Mythos in the past decade or so.

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    13. "...doesn't that imply that we're living in a world where gathering a group of like-minded people to share the joy of a hobby seems next to insane or impossible?"

      I suppose it does. And yes, that's sad.

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    14. There are several virtual tabletops on the web, such as Roll20 and Foundry, where you can gather people for the hobby and play online. These are EXTREMELY popular, and yes these use (virtual) miniatures and maps and rigorous play.

      Just look at sites like https://warhorn.net/organized-play to find out what the most popular tabletop RPGs are. Why yes, Pathfinder is VERY popular, as are dungeon crawling, and moving miniatures, and "rigorous play". Check your sources y'all.

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    15. "I can never play a TTRPG for any length of time because I just don't have any interest in theatrics. I don't want to put on a silly accent or listen to other people describe their character's imaginary tattoos for thirty minutes. I just want to find creative ways to murder slimes and open locked treasure chests."

      Man, you gotta find better people to play with. I don't mind a bit of roleplaying every now and then, but, at the end of the day, killing the filthy underground people and taking their stuff is what the game is all about. All in the name of Law and Good, of course. :)

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  5. The differences between the two iterations is fascinating. I wonder if there is a different team involved with each working from the same set of notes? I appreciate the blow-by-blow for this posting, but would like to hear more in future postings as to why some of the differences exist and whether they are informed by the different modes of playing (CRPG vs tabletop).

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    1. I sent off an e-mail to one of the authors to see if he would comment.

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    2. I replied to Chet's email and he might put it up here or summarize. One point that I want to make sure is clear is that PoR was published first and RoA was essentially a port of that (from digital game to analog module). I don't believe any of the four of us designers (me, Steve, Zeb, or Jim) were involved in the paper module at all.

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    3. In case it wasn't clear, "MikeBro" is Mike Breault, one of the original PoR authors. Thanks so much for commenting, Mike. What Mike sent by e-mail was:

      "The truth of the matter is that the designers (me, Steve, Zeb, and Jim) of the computer game really had no contact with the paper module (Ruins of Adventure). The editor (Scott Haring) assembled that module from the work we'd previously done on PoR. Consider RoA to be a port of PoR (from computer game to analog module).

      "I think there were things Scott missed as he was porting the information over. He might have actually been playing the computer game and noting things down and missed some stuff. He would have had our original paper maps that we created at TSR and then sent over to SSI. I know some things had to be changed on those paper maps to fit constraints from the game engine."

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  6. In a table-top RPG, the wide open possibilities of a minimally described area and a bunch of random encounters has the potential to be less boring than in a CRPG where nothing much will happen if not explicitly added. Maybe they also had a page limit they were trying to keep it under, who knows?

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    1. I also think this explains the absence of "dead space" in the module map. Tabletop parties can be obsessive about things that look like there might be secrets in them, and it takes many times as long to resolve "try everything" at the table than in a CRPG. You can either add "there are big solid stone pillars here" to a lot of room descriptions, or you can leave 'em out.

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  7. TSR's (and many other paper publishers) released their products in "signatures" of multiples of 32 pages. IIRC that was the cheapest size multiple on offset printing presses (I could be wrong). RoA was 96 pages long so there very well may have been cuts made to keep it down to that page count. ;-)

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    1. That's an interesting insight. I could see why that would make sense.

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  8. I played this game on a Tandy 1000. I did not have a big enough hard drive for an install so I had to switch disks. The big battle against all the goblins at the pyramid literally took me all day waiting for the battles to run. I loved this game so much I played it to completion even with how slow it was. It was like 5 minutes just to save the game.

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  9. All this can work very well as a modern CRPG, with only a minor additional touches and expansions. Like being able to make a BG2-like stronghold from the Norris's hideout.

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    1. It was adapted as a Neverwinter Nights module, and I remember it playing quite well, although I've not played the original or the tabletop version so I can't compare them.

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  10. "Surrendering is not given as an option, and I always wonder what it's imagined that my CRPG characters do with their surrendered captives. You never hear about them again, which is a bit ominous."

    We captured some enemies once during our tabletop campaign. I decided to role-play a short trial with a subsequent execution. Our GM was not amused.

    I mean, geez, it was a medieval/renaissance setting. It's not like the Geneva convention had been invented yet.

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    1. If you're going for a realistic medieval setting, then surrender should absolutely be an option; sure, the peasants were cannon fodder, but if you encountered someone of any importance on the field of battle, killing them was rarely the goal: the real money was in capturing them alive and ransoming them.

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    2. Yep, there's a lot of money in ransoming prisoners. Enemies who surrender are basically additional loot items that carry themselves!

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  11. Personally, the big battle at the keep was one of the worst parts of the game to me. I only wanted to have one of each class in my party, so I only had a single mage and priest in my party, and in the end the fight took me a few hours to get through and sapped a lot of enjoyment in the process. I remember trying to check the old posts here to see if there was anything I was missing, and by the end of it I was just glad I was done with it more than anything else.

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  12. I have nothing substantive to add, but I want to say that I am quite enjoying this comparison between the CRPG and its tabletop counterpart. It is a change from the usual type of posting, in a good way.

    Can we expect more of this type of content in the future, or is Pools of Radiance the only CRPG with an associated module?

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    1. That's a good question - the only other module/game pair I'm familiar with is Troika's Temple of Elemental Evil and the 1980s module it's based on. That game was released in the early 2000s though, so it might be a while before we get to it.

      Wikipedia tells me there's a Curse of the Azure Bonds module, though, so maybe we'll see that sometime soon.

      (I'm also really enjoying the comparison.)

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    2. I don't know if this will be a one-off, but at the very least he's already mentioned it's a bit of a side/bonus project as a result of extra time over the summer and a specific patron request.

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  13. Eating random fungus on something in a dungeon sounds like a great way to die instantly, not get a useful bonus. I wonder how many people playing the tabletop module ended up eating the fungus?

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    1. At least in the tabletop game one of the characters might actually have some botanical (or mycological) knowledge, or the characters could use their senses to try and gauge the potential danger, eat a tiny amount of the fungus and observe the effects, etc.

      In a CRPG, typically all you get is "Do you eat the fungus? (Y/N)", followed by "The fungus was poisonous. You are dead. Reload? (Y/N)." Or in this case, "Eating this random fungus and surviving makes you feel invincible."

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    2. Yep. Knowledge of plants or fungi is a skill that your character can have. There are rules for this in the player's handbook, but I have not so far seen these implemented in any D&D computer game.

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    3. Still, it seems odd to me that a player would even think to try it. Tabletop must have played very differently back in the day.

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    4. Nah. The traditional four archetypes of tabletop players are the Real Man, Real Roleplayer, Munchkin, and THE LOONIE. These still exist, sometimes with slightly different names. The loonie plays largely for the lulz, and would totally eat random fungus in a random dungeon.

      Obligatory tvtropes link, https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheLoonie

      Delete
    5. I have played a p&p game once in the past decade, and I did actually eat random fungus in a dungeon and it went badly.

      Delete
    6. @Anonymous I played in a 2e AD&D campaign with a guy who was technically a Loonie but he knew how to keep it from getting annoying. He had 2 simple rules:
      First rule - If he ever found himself getting bored as a player he'd roll a d20.
      Second rule - upon rolling the die he'd consult a chart of 20 odd behaviors for his character to act out, then he'd act it out right then and there.
      It could actually be pretty funny and kept the game lively to keep him from doing random stuff.

      I played a game with another Loony and by God we were all ready to kick him from the table, the group and our contact lists in about 10 minutes.

      Delete

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