Author Topic: Pool of Radiance AAR: A GrogHeads™ Experience  (Read 52197 times)

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Offline BanzaiCat

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Pool of Radiance AAR: A GrogHeads™ Experience
« on: August 20, 2015, 09:46:03 AM »


So GOG released the Gold Box series of games today, which includes the Pool of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, and Secret of the Silver Blades games, which started it all. There's several others in the game collection itself, and three other collections with other D&D-themed games. Go check it out on GOG if you are interested/have a chance.

I'd like to do an AAR on Pool of Radiance here in the forum. Is there any interest in reading such a thing?

I have plenty of other things to do, but this won't take up a lot of my time since I'm very familiar with the game - I spent hours upon hours plunking away at it on my grandfather's Apple IIc back around 1989/1990 or so. Those that don't want to buy the game but still want to get a bit of a vicarious experience as I go through it, by all means read on.

To make it more interesting, I'd like to include forum members in the party. If anyone's interested in lending their names, I will name the character after your screen name here. I'm going to take up one of the slots (duh), so that leaves room for five party members. I'll control the characters and tell the story in the AAR, but if I get a lively response/crew on board here I might open it up to suggestions as to what 'missions' to complete next, if there's multiple choices to be made.

I'm somewhat open to what race/class you might want, but in general, this is how I used to do it, if I remember right:

1 - Human Fighter (probably me)
2 - Dwarf Fighter
3 - Human Cleric
4 - Elf Fighter/Mage
5 - Human Thief
6 - Human Mage

I like human-centric parties in this game system because Humans have unlimited levels. I think POR caps characters overall at a certain point, but I'm thinking long-term, going into the next games (Curse of the Azure Bonds and Secret of the Silver Blades). Like I said, though, if you want to lend your forum name to one of these adventurers and want to provide your input as to what race/class you suggest, let me know.

For my own recommendation, I move that Gus be the Dwarf Fighter. Or, Dwarf, period. Or Halfling.  :D

FAQ QUESTION: Will I 'cheat' and make everyone's stats 18? Probably. I'm not sure though, and am open to suggestions. I remember clearly how I'd amp up every character to 18 in everything (18/00 in Strength where allowed, too), and I STILL had a challenge in the game. Lower stats are asking for trouble as the game is challenging enough at several points throughout (I remember tons of very hard battles). If nobody cares, I'll probably do it. These are larger than life heroes, after all. If anyone makes a compelling argument to not do so, then I won't. Simple.

Let me know.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2016, 04:34:28 AM by bayonetbrant »

Offline Barthheart

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Re: Pool of Radiance AAR: A GrogHeadsTM Experience
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2015, 10:33:41 AM »
Hard at work at home today eh?  ;)

I'd like the Human Thief.

I'd say don't use amped up stats but that's just me.


Offline Sir Slash

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Re: Pool of Radiance AAR: A GrogHeadsTM Experience
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2015, 10:57:15 AM »
My avatar name was my Hunman Paladin character back in POR, Sir Slash. I'd be honored for you to use it though it fits more a fighter character. But either way, I'm in In-Laws on free food.
"Take a look at that". Sgt. Wilkerson-- CMBN. His last words after spotting a German tank on the other side of a hedgerow.

Offline bbmike

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Re: Pool of Radiance AAR: A GrogHeadsTM Experience
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2015, 10:59:48 AM »
Human mage. A human mage named bbmike!  ::)
"My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplace of existence."
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"You know, just once I'd like to meet an alien menace that wasn't immune to bullets."
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Offline BanzaiCat

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Re: Pool of Radiance AAR: A GrogHeadsTM Experience
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2015, 11:20:47 AM »
Hard at work at home today eh?  ;)

Believe it or not, yes. It's all I can do to not try to at least fire this thing up and mess around with character generation!

That's three so far...and I'm going to go out on a limb and use Gus as a Dwarf. One more slot if anyone wants their avatar name on it!

Offline KyzBP

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Re: Pool of Radiance AAR: A GrogHeadsTM Experience
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2015, 02:20:53 PM »
Cleric has my name written all over it.  Human is ok but everything is better withe Dwarves!

Offline Bison

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Re: Pool of Radiance AAR: A GrogHeadsTM Experience
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2015, 03:56:18 PM »
Pfft!  That's way too many humans!  Coward!

Offline bbmike

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Re: Pool of Radiance AAR: A GrogHeadsTM Experience
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2015, 04:23:00 PM »
bbmike casts a "you must go now" spell on Bison!  >:D
"My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplace of existence."
-Sherlock Holmes

"You know, just once I'd like to meet an alien menace that wasn't immune to bullets."
-Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart

"There's a horror movie called Alien? That's really offensive. No wonder everyone keeps invading you!"
-The Doctor

“Before Man goes to the stars he should learn how to live on Earth.”
-Clifford D. Simak

Offline Bison

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Re: Pool of Radiance AAR: A GrogHeadsTM Experience
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2015, 04:37:09 PM »
Your cantrip failed pathetic mage!

Offline BanzaiCat

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Re: Pool of Radiance AAR: A GrogHeadsTM Experience
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2015, 05:14:31 PM »
OK, good. I actually had one other slot open, so I randomly decided to make mirth our resident elf mage/fighter. I accidentally put him in a dress when creating the characters. Oh well.  >:D

Anyway, here's a bit of an intro and a background.

I played the hell out of this game on my grandfather's Apple IIc back in 1989 or so. At that time, I got a job at North Star Mall at a little store called Babbage's. They've long since rolled into EB, which long since rolled into GameStop, unfortunately. Babbage's was a great place to work; too bad I was a dumb kid.

In any case, I had no computer of my own (not for a few more years anyway), and with my mighty employee discount, I purchased Pool of Radiance pretty much the first time I laid eyes on it. I believe it was 49.99 or 59.99, something crazy like that, but once you got a box like that home, opening it up to smell the fresh disks and paper in there...and there were a LOT of both. The good old days of swapping disks out (including a save disk, which you needed without hard drives at the time) are something I don't miss terribly much. Going from Phlan to the Phlan ruins early in the game, I think required a disk switch-out.

I remember mapping the hell out of everything on graph paper. At the time I was in my second attempt at college, so I'd get to class early (parking was a BITCH in the area) with several hours to kill. Often I'd study (no I wouldn't), or I'd sit there and figure out what I was going to do once I got home from class and went over to the grandparents' house. I made maps, hand-drawn and otherwise. Holy hell I wasted a lot of time as a young man. Yeah, I probably should have tried to get laid more. It is what it is.

So when I saw tgb post the link to GOG's sale on the gold box D&D games, my jaw did drop open. I was giddy (I may have mentioned this). And I really hoped this game would stand the test of time and be as immersive as I remember it being.

Would the damn thing even load, though? Fortunately Bison reported no problems. My rig is going on eight years now, but surely it could handle a bit of software from 1986. We will see...



So far, so good...



OMG YES



Wow...okay, well, the game comes with several PDF pages of scans of the original code wheel that came with the game, so I used that to get past the security question. Man did THAT ever bring back memories...though I would have preferred an actual wheel...oh well.



At this point, I was left with a little bit of gun-shyness. You see, a few times over the years I'd download a copy of Pool of Radiance and try to run it. It would work flawlessly. To this point, anyway. I could create characters but the game would not save, and I wasn't nearly savvy enough to figure out how to jury-rig it to work right. The game always wanted me to "insert a disk," which wasn't happening. No more 5.25" disks on these computers - mine is old, but not that old.

Well, this time, it was all good, thankfully! Everything seemed to work fine as I went in to create characters...

So my first one (me) was going to be the first-line fighter of the group. I always liked playing tanks/warrior types, so this seemed fitting.



Hmmm...a good roll-up, but the 80s dance video look has got to go!



This guy looks more 80s male perm than the 80s does. Nope...



No, too Gus...



No, too easy...



Good enough.

So, let's meet the rest of the party...

GUSINATOR, Dwarf Fighter

"Hello Ladies!"

KYZBP, Human Cleric

"Golly! It sure is neato-keen to be adventuring with you guys! Which end do I hit the monsters with, again?"

MIRTH, Elf Fighter/Mage

"Hello, creatures of indeterminate gender! Swoon as I bust out my Flashdance moves..."

BARTHHEART, Human Thief

"If'n thievery doesn't work, there's always the candy chariot to lure the kids into!"

And last but not least, BBMIKE, Human Mage

"It amuses me to be here. Can't you tell from my expression?"

So it was with great glee (not the TV show, but honest excitement and talent) that we arrived at the docks of Phlan. We'd heard terrible things coming out of ships that barely made it past Sokal Keep, which stood mute guard at the head of the bay which Phlan was located in. They had troubles everywhere, even in  the old parts of the city, and were woefully short on adventurers. We pooled what money we had to get into Phlan, and when we docked, we were greeted by KYZBP's twin, apparently.



The tour was rather boring. He didn't point out any of the inns that Phlan was peppered with, but that's okay. A little wandering around and we could easily find what we were looking for. First, we stopped by the Council Clerk's office, which is apparently responsible for handing out bounties and missions (the tour guy did manage to point this out).



She was kind of bitchy, but I think that's because MIRTH kept putting the moves on her, and GUSINATOR kept playing with his chest hair. Being that his head barely tops her desk, it was fairly a mystery to tell why he was gyrating so.

Next, we hit some markets, spending our rapidly-dwindling supply of Platinum on much-needed adventuring equipment. Apparently, we entered Phlan with the clothes on our back and a total of 100 Platinum Pieces. In the D&D universe, this amounts to 500 gold, something of a small fortune. Apparently it's the going rate for first-level adventurers in this world, so be that as it may, we suffered and made do.



After loading up on the basics, we hit a local inn and rested, memorizing magic spells, a very important thing to do in this game.

We quickly saved the game in preparation for hitting the Phlan Slums, the next step in our grandiose adventure.

Offline bbmike

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Re: Pool of Radiance AAR: A GrogHeadsTM Experience
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2015, 05:20:28 PM »
My god, I look like a gay Ken-GI Joe doll. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
"My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplace of existence."
-Sherlock Holmes

"You know, just once I'd like to meet an alien menace that wasn't immune to bullets."
-Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart

"There's a horror movie called Alien? That's really offensive. No wonder everyone keeps invading you!"
-The Doctor

“Before Man goes to the stars he should learn how to live on Earth.”
-Clifford D. Simak

Offline BanzaiCat

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Re: Pool of Radiance AAR: A GrogHeadsTM Experience
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2015, 05:21:45 PM »
My god, I look like a gay Ken-GI Joe doll. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

;D

There aren't too many portrait choices in this first game...

Offline BanzaiCat

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Re: Pool of Radiance AAR: A GrogHeadsTM Experience
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2015, 06:05:52 PM »
Entry #2
Phlan Slums




It's a fixer-upper, at least!

The City Council wants these slums 'cleared,' which in game terms means beating a set number of random encounters and/or defeating all 'permanent' encounters. In this game, there's a difference; the random encounters are exactly that, while the permanent ones are hard-coded to the locations in these slums.

I know what's in store. My characters do not, however.

We wander the filth-encrusted halls of these slums for a while, wandering to the north and picking our way between broken stone walls and through collapsed wooden holes in walls. The entire place makes Times Square of the 1980s look like a clean room at IBM. Often, the muck pulls at our boots in a near-winning attempt to pry them from our bodies.

Surprisingly, nobody complained. Except GUSINATOR, whom complained about a lack of lady parts.

After wandering around the north a bit, we find a door that is surprisingly intact, and even more surprisingly, locked. I give it an armored shoulder and, hooray for super-strength, it shatters into a thousand splinters (well, maybe a couple of hundred, but that'll make a good starting point for our eventual bard song).



A bunch of ugly, pig-faced creatures are arguing over a piece of paper. If it has more than one letter on it, it's highly doubtful that any of them will figure it out.

Right then, GUSINATOR belches. Loudly. The pig-faced Orcs turn around, notice us, and pull out their weapons. I shrug. It's not like we're here to avoid killing things. That's what dungeon crawls are all about!

The Orcs are accompanied by Goblins, which are somehow uglier and shorter than even GUSINATOR. With glee, we charge into the fray.



I wish I could report it was an epic battle. With MIRTH and BBMIKE each casting a Sleep spell, pretty much all of our assailants collapse in a dream-like coma. It's fairly easy, even for us first-level noobs, to put them out of our misery quickly.

We kind of look at each other rather guiltily. Wordlessly, we decide that the creatures we faced in this one-sided affair will be reported as four times stronger, and with helpless children being held hostage.

The treasure, as it is, is pretty much a bunch of arms and armor. I gather up a lot of them, though I don't think we'll get much for it in town. The Long Bow and Arrows go right to Barthheart, though.



It's not exactly the riches we were hoping for, but neither did we expect anything less than a long road ahead of us.

We found the least dirty spot on the floor, made camp, re-memorized spells, and prepared to move on.

Offline mirth

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Re: Pool of Radiance AAR: A GrogHeadsTM Experience
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2015, 06:29:43 PM »
OK, good. I actually had one other slot open, so I randomly decided to make mirth our resident elf mage/fighter. I accidentally put him in a dress when creating the characters. Oh well.  >:D

I was going to ask for the elf, but I thought the slots were all full. I know it's too late to change my name, but I was going to go for Mirtholas.

And of course I'm in a dress, I'm an elf.
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Offline KyzBP

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Re: Pool of Radiance AAR: A GrogHeadsTM Experience
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2015, 08:14:04 PM »
My god, I look like a gay Ken-GI Joe doll. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
At least you don't sound like one...minus the G.I. Joe part.