Just a Rat in a Cage

2020-09-22 (6)

I rescued this gentleman in the Cadorna textile house.  What kind of city bureaucrat has an assistant named “Skullcrusher” anyway?

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Not so fast!

After reaching level 2 and actually testing import into Curse of the Azure Bonds, I was dismayed to find that almost none of my party could successfully dual class! It turns out my original research was mostly correct – characters may not dual class to or from paladin and are only allowed to dual class to ranger from cleric. Furthermore, as per 2nd edition rules, I should have ensured any character destined for duality had both 15 in the prime stat of his or her birth class AND 17 in the prime stat of the new class.

Back to the drawing board!

Now Woodward, eventually to be a fighter/magic-user, will take the place of Mina and Parsifal will become a fighter/cleric as originally planned.  Dunn will dual class to fighter/magic-user last.  And now with at least two decent mages in the mix for Secret of the Silver Blades and Pools of Darkness, the party can afford to have a multi-class, elf fighter/magic-user/thief.  Hopefully a lot more versatility in Pool of Radiance will make up for a bit less power later on.  Will the party be up to the (Dave’s) Challenge?

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Once more unto the breach, dear friends!

Here we go again, this time with an all-new party now that I’ve learned characters MAY in fact dual-class into Paladins and Rangers in Curse of the Azure bonds, so long as they meet the strict attribute and alignment prerequisites. Curse of the Azure Bonds gives you the minimum required attributes on new character creation, but NOT when dual-classing an imported character. Some adjustments:

* Zamis is no more; replaced by Erythrina the Human Magic-User
* Ery’s slot on the front line is taken by Mina, the Human Fighter who will dual class into Ranger when the party migrates to Curse of the Azure Bonds

To ensure successful migration to the new classes in Curse, a few characters will need considerably higher attributes than otherwise standard for fighters.

Parsifal: at least 9 INT and CON, 12 STR, 13 WIS and 17 CHA. Exceptional STR and 17+ CON would be nice to have.

Mina: at least 14 WIS and CON, 13 STR and INT

Finally, I’ve decided to switch to the standard PC-compatible version 1.3 of Pool of Radiance for easier installation and to pick up a few minor bug fixes. I’ll miss the hearing the same Tandy music score that plays at the start of every single combat… sadly, the Tandy music was removed at some point around version 1.1 or 1.2. I can only assume by that point SSI decided maintaining a separate build just for a brief song on the aging Tandy platform wasn’t worth it. Fear not, rousing Adlib tunes … tune… will return in Secret of the Silver Blades!

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Sokal Keep Part II

The trolls will be dealt with another day.  Having silenced the alarms in the slums, the party collected the commission and set sail for Sokal Keep.

Searching outside the gates revealed an elf skeleton and parchment containing several words of Elvish.

The party defeated the first random encounter – 2 giant scorpions – and camped for the night.  Fortunately this gave Torel a chance to memorize 2nd level cleric spells, which I had neglected to do after reaching level 3.

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Foul Corruption!

Somehow in the course of transferring the party’s progress to a vintage Tandy 1000 TX and back to a modern PC, the Pool of Radiance save game files became corrupted and the party’s inventory was wiped clean!  The Gold Box Companion toolkit was used to bestow upon our hapless adventurers gear comparable to the vanished equipment so that the quest might continue.  Weapons and armor +2 and bracers AC 4 all around!  To add a bit of panache, Parsifal was given a two handed sword +1, +3 vs undead in place of a shield and Torel, who previously wielded the party’s most powerful weapon, was given a Mace +3.

Ready for battle, the party ventures forth into the slums of Old Phlan…

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The Bigger They Are …

… the harder they fall!

After a hiatus of more than a year, the campaign has resumed.  The first item of business: clear the last remaining fight in the Slums, the trolls and ogres in the old rope guild.  With the entire party at level 4 and wielding +1 magic weapons, no fancy strategy with sleep spells and ranged weapons was necessary – just an old fashioned beat down.  Leading with a stinking cloud spell took two enemies out of the fight immediately, but without slings or darts the party’s cleric, magic-user and thief all but useless for the rest of the battle.  The fight yielded 1000xp and put Silencio and Zamis over the top to reach level 5!

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The Battle of Sokal Keep

During the first foray into Sokal Keep, the party managed to turn aside the undead patrols and also find the hidden room with the journal detailing the history of the keep.  However, the city clerk did not consider the area cleared so it was back into the fray where I was forced to confront THIS unfortunate encounter.

Off to the right are two more screens full of Orcs, Hobgoblins and Orc Leaders.  Things took a turn for this level 3-4 party when Zamis cast Stinking Cloud while out of range and was forced to abort, losing the spell.  After dispatching half the enemies the party tanks were down to single-digit hit points and the party’s most powerful magic item, a scroll containing the level three spell Fireball, was invoked.  Unfortunately the blast clipped Ery for 24 hit points, knocking her out of the fight, but the sight half a dozen Orcs incinerated in one fell blast broke the monsters’ morale and the rest surrendered.  I had planned to save this scroll for a second battle with the Trolls in the slums, so they will need to be dealt with the hard way if another scroll cannot be found.

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First Party Wipe


The company met its untimely demise at the claws of the trolls in the Old Rope Guild.  Attempt number two, with hirelings, bit the dust almost as fast.  Next time: higher level Magic-Users and Stinking Cloud!

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The Party Reaches Level Two

After clearing the eastern half of the slums, the party reached level 2.


A few reloads were needed when the Thief and Magic-User received a paltry few hit points each, but with the hefty bonus from 18 CON, I did not sweat only increasing the three fighters’ hit points by 10-13.  Why three fighters?

I decided at the beginning of this 4-game campaign that I wanted to finish Pools of Darkness with the same 6 characters who entered Phlan at level 1.  This has significant ramifications in regard to party make-up.

  1. No Paladin, because I cannot dual-class to to this class in Curse of the Azure Bonds, although 1st edition* pen & paper rules should allow this
  2. I could dual class to Ranger in CotAB, but I want to switch from a fighter class, not toan anemic Magic-User/Fighter with a nature fetish.
  3. Multi-classing is Right Out** due to the severe level limit restrictions for non human player characters (other than the Thief class).

*The gold box games are plainly based on first edition although they were published during the heyday of AD&D 2nd ed.  At least the rules are not as broken as in Pool of Radiance 2, but that is a topic for another post.

**I can and did beat Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds with non-human and multi-class characters way back in 1990, only to find that level restrictions becoming a real problem in Secret of the Silver Blades.  Completing Pools of Darkness with a full party of non-humans would have been a daunting task indeed.  In fact, the hint book for PoD cautions the player against attempting this.

What do these constraints mean?  Dual classes for everyone!  Getting a few levels of fighter makes an enormous difference to the hit point pool for my combat casters, and a fighter/cleric makes a passable (arguably even better) Paladin.  No lay on hands? No problem —  I’ll just cast an extra Cure Critical Wounds!  For maximum versatility, my dual class player characters will have varying levels of Fighter experience.

  • Parsifal (Fighter) will become a Fighter/Cleric around 17, since a plain vanilla fighter will suffice for CotAB
  • Dunn (Fighter) will become a Fighter/Magic-User around 15
  • Ery (Fighter) will become a Fighter/Magic-User the earliest, perhaps 13 or so.  What is better than one Fighter/Mage? Two Fighter/Mages!
  • Torel (Cleric) will stay a Cleric
  • Silencio (Thief) will become a Thief/Magic-User around 10.  While the Mage dual class makes the ability to read from scrolls redundant, having a second Magic-User toward the end of CotAB may be useful.
  • Zamis (Magic-User) will remain a Magic-User

Of course all of these plans are theoretical at this point.  The slums of old Phlan await!

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First Post

Today marks the first update of this retro-gaming blog, tentatively titled: Remembered Realms: Recalling Games Past.  Expect the format and content to change as I update and learn to use this WordPress site.

I have decided to launch this blog by beginning a new campaign in the first computer RPG I ever owned – Pool of Radiance!

Pool of Radiance Box Cover

I hope to continue with the same party and eventually complete the core SSI “Gold Box” AD&D role-playing games.

  1. Pool of Radiance
  2. Curse of the Azure Bonds
  3. Secret of the Silver Blades
  4. Pools of Darkness

Time and interest permitting, I may attempt the Dragonlance PC games or take a detour to Hillsfar after completing Pool of Radiance.  For an authentic retro-gaming experience, I will be running these games in DosBox on a modern PC – unless of course I can find the correct emulator to recreate the Tandy 1000’s glorious four-voice sound circuit!

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