Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pool of Radiance

Wait for it...Wait for it
          Today i'm going to be talking about Pool of Radiance one of the the first computer games I had ever seen or played. This game began the gold box series for SSI(strategic simulations inc) and TSR(Tactical Studies Rules) It was the very first pc adaptation of a D&D game as well as the first game to use the "gold box" engine it was released in 1988 and was the beginning to a very long line of D&D games. This was the first of a 4 part series including The Curse of the Azure Bonds,Secret of the Silverblades, and finally Pools of Darkness. These games revolutionized the Rpg genre and created a world of D&D no one could have imagined except of course the people that created them, but that's just a technicality we will over look anyway on to the game

          This game does have a copy write password doohickey of which is rather annoying but most downloads already have a bypass built in so don't worry about it too much. If you have a rune wheel you are luckier then most because that is the most ancient form of knowing the passwords 
My nordic ancestors would know how to play pool of radiance

             Pool of radiance was based off of the AD&D dungeons and dragons rule book or better know as the second edition rule set, which at the time wasn't even fully developed or published until the following year, in 1989. So this game was the coolest thing back then certainly for those fans of the series and for young aspiring nerds like myself.

Pop-eye up there says it best

       It's pretty standard AD&D stuff. You get Six party members in which to create your own mishmash of mages,fighters,thieves and clerics, being the main classes as well as cross classes for example the wonderful and versatile fighter/clerics, or the rogue/mage/fighter. Not a ton to choose from class wise but either way it gets the job done. 

I have a feeling this isn't natural

          There are several races to choose from, Human,Dwarves,Elves,Half-Elves,Gnome,and Halfling.  Each race has it's own level cap for each class. To me that is a huge short coming as sometimes elves are fighters too. But since their level cap is 8 I would rather have a dwarf fighter who can be level 9, or an elf who can be a level 12 mage then a dwarf who can be a level 9 mage. Either way you get my point here. After you get done changing the body and head to your preference you get to make your characters battle image. 

        This is where it gets really fun you can change what weapons they are holding and every color, so if I want a character that's blue and weilding a two handed flail I sure can, or a green armor wearing berserker red head I sure can. But this just really allows you to become attached to your characters, because you basically have all the say in what they look like you can even change them from tall to short considering there are wee folk in this game. For most games of the time this was not a possibility. here are some examples

I know it's hard to see but you can see the difference kinda

      Anyway you hit exit then it takes you back to the main screen then you add that character to the party and can either start out with just him or make the rest of the party. It is possible to play the whole game with a few people and then gather up npcs to fill up the rest of the party but to me it's more fun to make your whole crew and then jump into Phlan and mess things up.

Some men just want to watch the world burn

         The story is decent you are mercinaries sent to figure out what is going on with the city of Phlan and all the resurgances of monsters in the surrounding areas. A lot of the game takes place in Phlan but eventually you do leave and explore the countryside tracking down the ancient evil that is causing the ruckus. The art in this game is exquisite its like an moving second edition monster manual the monsters are all hand drawn and really cool looking. Exploration is fun as there is a map that helps you to navigate although it has no markers or anything of that sort it still helps by having.

Here is a partial map of Phlan and the surrounding areas

        Combat is perhaps the most interesting part of Pool of Radiance as it's turn based strategy made famous by SSI. You can fight using weapons or spells. Spells must be memorized at the camp screen seen below you can camp at any time to heal and memorize your spells and if your lucky you won't get interrupted by the various denizens of Phlan.

Thats a small looking fire
       Combat is based off of what a d&d game would look like if you happened to use die cast figurines and a grid board. In pool of radiance you can move a certain number of steps until you have to make an action. You can either run up to your enemies and attack or do ranged attacks from afar with ranged weapons or spells. There is a lot of different variations to do this but it is pretty simple so don't feel overwhelmed.

That's a whole lot of crazy going on

    The Review: Pool of Radiance is a great game for people who enjoy the box first person rpgs of yester year and even for those just beginning to play rpgs this is a good way to get into d&d as well. There are a lot of things I left out due to time constraints but this is an indepth rpg for it's time and the graphics are horrible. The character customization is fantastic and allows you to get into your characters and feel like your part of the adventure. There are a few things I wish were different such as markers for the map and a higher level cap since the game is rather long. Also the game can get extremely difficult as the monsters don't joke around about smashing your face in and setting you on fire however you just have to take it easy and work your way to the top and you will live strong. 

    You tend to collect tons and tons of loot which weights you down tremendously, making it hard to move around but then again. I lack the ability to buy things and tend to horde all the gems and jewels I find. Either way it's a solid game with many things to explore and plunder, if you have never played the old d&d games start here and your journey will be the most amazing one you could ever imagine I give this game a 10 out of 10 for making me the role playing person I am today and for making the dreams of d&d players come true 

The treasure being pool of radiance duh



  1. this old dungeon crawlers are so cool!

  2. I remember playing this game and getting <---> far

  3. This is a really neat old game!

  4. for sure the dungeon crawlers are my favorite rpg form, they are always fun to go back to. It is a really difficult game all of them are. Grinding can help but only to an extent because you still get pwned regardless lol.

  5. wow didnt not know this existed might have to have a whirl ^_^ reminds me of Dragon Warrior on the nes /swoon

    1. Indeed apparently pool of radiance was also on the nes I had no idea

  6. there is a problem with pool running on dosbox and here is how to fix it. it's a pretty quick fix as well If you do decide to play it. I had forgotten to mention it. either way enjoy and if you have any questions just ask me and i'll be glad to help as best as I can.

    Solving the "Insert Disk 3" issue:
    There is a POOL.CFG file in the directory
    When you open this in Notepad you'll see the following lines.


    SOLVE 1
    To get the game running in DOSBox make sure that you mount c c:\ and the game is unpacked directly in the root of C: (I doubt people do that though, they usually unpack the game in a games directory

    SOLVE 2
    You can also adjust the config file yourself to the location where the files are relative to the dosbox mount.

    SOLVE 2A
    You have unpacked the game to here:

    And your DOSBox will automatically mount d f:\games
    when you go to D:\ in DOSBox the POOLRAD path relative to DOSBOX is D:\POOLRAD

    So adjust the config file to

    SOLVE 2B
    Lets say you've unpacked them again to F:\games\poolrad, but you mount the F: drive do D:
    (mount d f:\)

    now when you go to D:\ the path is relative to D: so adjust the config file like this: