Author Topic: Another Pool Of Radiance AAR  (Read 700 times)


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on: April 19, 2022, 01:38:22 PM
Episode 0: Here We Go Again
 :silly: :silly: :silly:

The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons system, specifically these Gold Box games, well…I’m no stranger to ‘em. I’ve played these a lot but not more so than back in the day.

The first, Pool of Radiance, was released in 1988. I bought my copy back then and I loved every minute of it. I’d make maps and plans for each time I’d get back on to play it – I had to use my grandfather’s Apple IIc, which was at my grandparent’s house, so it wasn’t something I got to play all the time, nor every waking moment. I’d plan things out so I could use my time sparingly and make the most progress in an hour or two each week. It not only provided me entertainment while playing, but also whenever I’d draw out maps or plans; this was all done without the help of a clue book, which comes standard with this game when you buy it from GOG (along with the Adventurer’s Journal and the game manual).

Not to mention the code wheel, which you get as a program as part of the game. But, you don’t need it to play. I think it’s only included for nostalgia’s sake.

Such was a lot of copy protection back in the 80s and early 90s – look up the fourth word in the third paragraph on page 29, or line up these hieroglyphic-like runes to find the code word to enter into the computer, to allow you to pass.

Fun times.

A few years back, I attempted an AAR on another website, which unfortunately was not done to fruition. The image hosting service I used decided to throw up a paywall, which ended things for me. Still, it was a lot of fun to write and the humor was enjoyable (and seemed to be well received, too). So, I bring you this next attempt at going through the entire Forgotten Realms series, starting with Pool of Radiance.

I’ve created the party already, but have only included myself in it. I decided to go with some rather unique names and classes/races – at least, for me. Here is the party:

Male Human Fighter – BC
That’s my avatar. As spiritual and actual leader of the party, it’s my duty to include myself herein. Only issue I have with this is, the game is very limiting in levels and classes. Being a human means unlimited level advancement and will translate across all three chapters of this game. A fighter is the best option as he’ll be in the front of every fight, pretty much.

Male Dwarf Fighter – Chunk Beefpunch
Where there’s one fighter, another would be needed in the front line. A dwarf is a natural choice here as their inherent strength and constitution make them ideal damage-soakers (and -givers). The name just quivers with dwarvish fighting power.

Male Half-Elf Fighter/Mage – Presley
This was by far the easiest choice, party-wise. A fighter/mage is a great choice in this game as the extra melee help will be nice, and his ability to cast spells, while more limited than a pure mage, will later on provide a needed boon to fighting large numbers of enemies. Half-elf was a natural choice, so he’s kind of an Elf but not quite (he’s quite Elfish, actually). If you don’t get it yet, I don’t want to spell it out.

Male Gnome Fighter/Thief – Dimble Mocklaw
I’ve never done a Gnome character in this game, not ever. Kinder in the DragonLance games, yes, but never Gnomes. I thought it would make an interesting addition to add this character. The name, well, sorry it’s not a pun. And no, his portrait is not a mod nor included in the actual game. There are damned few portraits to choose from in this game, and I realized I picked one that’s the same as one of the other characters. Seeing as to how it takes so many seconds of redoing characters, I thought it would be easier to just photoshop him to look like an actual Gnome.

Female Human Cleric – Kyant Elpya
She really can help ya. She’s a cleric, after all. But I thought the name was a good one. Not nearly as good as the Half-Elf’s, but I’m trying. Kind of.

Male Human Magic-User – Frostitute
No, I didn’t even try, here. A frost mage – well, at least, he has aspirations to be one, but there’s no such thing in these games. I thought this might have some potential for yuks down the road. And no, he doesn’t wield a microphone. Not this character, anyway.

So, it’s with this merry band of monster murderers that we delve off (or, sod off) to Phlan to carve a path of wonton destruction, looting, and property desecration, as any good DnD characters should!

By the way, I will add to this as I can over time. It might take me a while but it's almost therapeutic to write something here in the forums without the pressures of a deadline. Hope everyone enjoys this.


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Reply #1 on: April 19, 2022, 01:50:41 PM

...don't give up the day job  ;D

“O Lord God, let me not be disgraced in my old days.”

'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers'


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Reply #2 on: April 19, 2022, 01:59:08 PM
Episode 1: Welcome to Phlan

Our coming together for this mission was no easy matter, for our backgrounds so different that one would admire how the timing worked out. But our one commonality – a desire to become heroes, and get rich while stacking the bodies of our enemies like so much useless cordwood in lustful displays of slaughter and mayhem – well, on these counts, we had much in common.

The boat barely rocked as it slid across the Moonsea, which was as flat and calm, much like Frostitute’s love life. It was barely one evening’s travel to the environ of Phlan, a port city that was once great but is now nothing more than a mere nugget clinging like a +4 Tick of Power to the shoddy, barn stable-like ruins of the surrounding area. A large keep sat smack dab in the middle of the bay; our boat hugged the coastline, and in the predawn darkness, we went unspotted by the orcs and goblins that the boatkeeper said adorn the keep like popped corn in a movie tub. Whatever that is. These Northerners and their way with words!

Soon, the boat, which we could barely call it such, nudged itself against a refurbished yet stubby dock. At the end was a custom house, and it wasn’t long before a man with a sales-look about him came flashing out of the interior, headed down the dock towards us.

Golly gee whilikers, greetings oh courageous ones!

…hi? Courageous?

Hahahaha, why yes! It’s been a few nights since the last group of sucke…err, s-sought after heroes…yeah, that’s it…came through here. My name is Rolf, and I am appointed by the Council of Phlan to introduce new cannon fodder to the fair city of Phlan.

Did you just say “cannon fodder?”

Oh my yes, that’s our funny little term around here for ‘brave, stalwart adventurers that have all the answers that none of the previous hundreds of first-level yahoos have had.’

That’s quite a mouthful.

Yes, and hopefully you don’t choke on it like the rest of them have.

Wait, what…?

No time like the present to take a tour of the civilized part of Phlan, no? Right this way!

Rolf, as cheerful as he was annoying as he was contemptuous of what he must have seen as yet another green party of greener adventurers that would give even Ralph Nader pause, took us on the tour.

So there are temples in town, to temper the temptation of temp…orary…uh…heroes, or something. I dunno, I haven’t written anything in a while, okay?

In any case, when requested, we dutifully turned around to see…

A “plan to open up sea lanes” sounds dangerous, and probably therefore something that shall be laid squarely on our laps. Call me Nostradamus, but…

The training hall will indeed be important to level ourselves up (whatever that is, we’re new, remember?).

It looks like a community college.

But Rolf telling us the most important building of all, we couldn’t help but to hazard a guess or three…

A mmmmmmage’s tower, perhaps?


Weapons hall?

…no, but-

Battle pits where losers are sacrificed to a just yet bloodthirsty gawd?

See, if you’d jus-


(sigh) Sure, why not.

Despite our best guesses, this was City Hall, where commissions are issued to solve problems that the City does not have the resources to do, or is too lazy or bureaucratic to try in the first place. (Ultimately, the last guess was probably spot on.) Thereby, they leave it to first-level adventurers because hey, if they get slaughtered, there’s always more where that came from!

The city park sounds like a wonderful place where there’s probably little chance of getting ambushed by critters, I’m almost totally certain. Surely, there is no innkeeper there that has a basement with a handful of rats that need to be dispatched?

And then, we turned to…

Ah, therein lies the monsters, or ‘level gainers.’

Rolf leaves us on his own, with a wave of his hand, probably off to greet the next group of greenhorns coming off the boat to be fed to the monsters waiting hungrily outside the civilized area’s gates. But maybe we are truly on our own, and no competitors will come?

Well, this IS a DOS game from 1988, so it’s doubtful this game has the horsepower. I think we’re safe to assume we’re the only heroes. Even though we’re NOT. Right?


We head back to the City Hall, but before we go in, we need to stock up on a few things. We wander the streets a bit until we find a shop to arm ourselves, and not look like a bunch of grubby peasants. We also found an inn to get a good night’s rest within, and also to memorize spells.

Or ‘spell’ in the case of our 1st level wizard. Despite having an 18 Intelligence, this *is* an old version of DnD, so Frostitute has very few avenues for spellcasting this early on.

But wait! What is this bit of official graffiti?

Proclamation LXIV
Be it known that the council is interested in acquiring information as to the disposition of various formerly-living entities rumored to be harassing honest citizens in the vicinity of Valhigen Graveyard. A reward is offered to any person who shall travel to said graveyard and return an eye-witness account.

Hmm. Sounds like a place where first-level characters have no business going. Next!

Proclamation LXXVIII
Be it known that the council is offering a reward to any person or persons who can provide information as to the disposition of several council agents who have been sent to investigate the unseemly happenings in the vicinity of Valhigen Graveyard.

Yup, see above. Next!

Proclamation CIX
Be it known that the council is offering an inducement to any individual who shall serve in the rescue force for the mercenary band of Taimalg-the-Invincible which has disappeared inside Valhigen Graveyard.

Okay, I’m sounding like a broken record, now…next!

Proclamation LIX
Be it known that the council is interested in reclaiming the remaining blocks of the city of New Phlan. To reclaim said blocks they must be first cleared of monsters, vermin, and other uncivilized inhabitants. To this end the council is offering a reward to any person or group who is responsible for clearing any block of the old city.

Okay, this we can probably get behind.

We head over to the gates to be eyed suspiciously by the guards, because it’s not a complete adventure until everyone thinks you’re in cahoots with the denizens squatting on the other side of the walls.

We even enter these slums until we realize “whoops, we should probably get a commission to do this, otherwise nobody will know we’re here.”

Meaning, at least getting an official City Council stamp of approval would mean further adventurers could loot our corpses when we get trampled in these slums. We shall see.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2022, 02:02:37 PM by BanzaiCat »


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Reply #3 on: April 19, 2022, 01:59:18 PM

...don't give up the day job  ;D

Not likely, mate. :)


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Reply #4 on: April 20, 2022, 04:53:50 PM
Those are some sweet-looking miniatures!...wait...ah...

Great initial write-up BC. Looking forward to the next installments. Pool of Radiance is a classic. I replayed it a couple of years ago. Graphics are of course dated but I think the gameplay itself still holds up very well. I honestly prefer how this game handles the movement in adventure areas over many other games.


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Reply #5 on: April 21, 2022, 08:47:20 AM
Thanks, Bison!

Working on the next installment now. Actually have it finished but it's shorter than these others, so I will play a bit more when I have some time.


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Reply #6 on: April 27, 2022, 05:38:36 PM
Just a note - I'm backtracking a bit. I saw this available on Steam and saw too it has a much nicer screen size and a bit of a better interface, key-wise (not a huge improvement, but good for me). In GOG, which is where I started this, it would either have a full screen or a much, much smaller screen (maybe 1/16 of my monitor's size). While I could play it, I wished I could just make it larger on the screen. This can be set in the Steam version, so I went in on this series there, and am currently replaying up to the point where I left off. The only difference is the portrait for Dimble Mocklaw looks like an in-game character and not a Photoshopped atrocity.

More to come soon. :)


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Reply #7 on: April 29, 2022, 05:00:33 PM
Interesting Discovery TimeTM

I was just playing for a few minutes to try to catch my party up in Steam, and noticed something very interesting, and quite by accident. You won't notice it if you're running in full screen mode. The launcher has a window where you can specify your screen size. If you set it to 1080p (like I did), so I can see the game screen in a large-ish size and still be able to take good screenshots and write some notes in Word, you'll be able to see there's an automatic mapping function that displays to the right of the window.

Plus, notice the characters along the top of the game window. It might be hard to read in the screenshot, but the green text with each one is status effects. Pretty awesome.

If you've been on the fence about getting this, I'd suggest buying it on Steam instead of GOG. Having the auto-map isn't a new thing (you could always see your surroundings in the game itself, if you wanted to), but this is a nice, new feature to the game.


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Reply #8 on: April 30, 2022, 05:42:00 AM
Oh, wow.  That is indeed extremely handy.  (Yet one more example of why I'm increasingly turning to the dark side and ditching GOG for Steam, at least as much as possible.) 

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