Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Pool of Radiance - Welcome to New Phlan

I spent most of the time in the officer reading through the manual thanks to this page. I also succeeded in persuading my childhood friend, Luke to start playing 'Pool of Radiance' as well. However we had a disagreement on the rules of our 'friendly game completion race'.

You see, Luke is a WoW addict. I guess he wants it easy. He agreed on the 'no walkthroughs', 'no cheats' rules. But he wants unlimited saves. Boring I say to him. Now, even if he agrees to 'no saves' rule, I will not trust him. So that's the way it's going to be. He will play with unlimited saves, I will play using one save game per battle map.

Another thing. Looking at the manual, I found the following text that explains the contents of the configuration file (pool.cfg). I couldn't find this on the net, so it might be useful to other people googling for it.

The configuration file for the game is POOL.CFG. The first line of this file handles the display mode where C stands for CGA, E stands for EGA, and T stands for Tandy. The second line handles sound. P is for PC sound, T is for Tandy sound, and S is for silent (no sound). The third line is the path to game data. The fourth line is the path to save files. The fifth line is the introduction type - F is full intro and N is no intro. In order to reconfigure the game, delete the POOL.CFG file and restart the game.  

Regarding the game itself, I wasted some time thinking about how to proceed with the mapping. The best solution that I was offered from CRPGaddict was to just use an excel spreadsheet. I had openoffice installed, but anyway, just drawing lines and borders seemed boring to me.  However, google is your friend. After looking in some CRPG forums, I discovered Tiled, and Mappy, both are map-making software. They turned out to be very complicated and started using openoffice spreadsheets instead.

A pleasant surprise when I started the game was that the first quests I encountered where not those quests often found in MMOs. No 'go kill ten rats and bring back their tails' quests. Instead, I had to investigate a haunted graveyard, and look for some city-agents, and rescue a mercenary band.

A feature that suprised me (I didn't remember this when I played Dark Queen of Krynn when I was younger), was that the game prompted you to the manual in order to read the text of some quests or flavor of the game. It reminded me of those gamebooks, 'choose your own adventure' ( I used to be a fan of Lone Wolf, and Steve Jackson gamebook's). So, I was in a tavern and the game told me that '..I overheard 'Tavern Tale 1'. I had to go to the manual and read the passage with the same title. Nice old-skool touch.

On most current CRPGs I played, such as Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Fallout 3, even MMOs, such as WoW, I only cared about leveling fast and finishing the game. This time I am going to enjoy the setting of the game and the storytelling. I have been hearing that Pool of Radiance series features one of the best CRPG story, so I am going to savor it.

I was two hours into the game, and I haven't had a fight yet. I was mainly exploring the area, checking the shops and reading the Journal and Tavern entries as requested. I was spending a big chunk of my time mapping the town, hoping that this might save me much time later. Then, Openoffice (where I was mapping the town) crashed. I despaired. I was on the verge on changing my 'no-walkthroughs' rule and go get an online map of New Phlan. Thankfully, when I reloaded Openoffice, it auto-recovered my work. By the way, if you don't want to buy Office, or hesitate using pirated version, I highly recommend OpenOffice.

I managed to find the shops, I equipped all my characters using basic DnD sense. I still had a lot of Gold and Platinum left, but I decided to keep them for the time being. Did some more mapping and after a while, I entered one of the Taverns. Found the 'memorize' option and started memorizing spells for my casters. It's funny how familiar all this routine was. I guess CRPGs are like riding a bicycle. No matter if you haven't played one for years, you never forget the commands.

I decided to log off. I may have not progressed much, didn't even have a chance to fight, but at least I made a solid start. Next blog entry might take some time until it is posted. Next, I will enter the slums and check the graveyard where I got to do some quests. I will try to make some significant progress before I post again.

After 3 hours of walking around the time and mapping, the Maza warband decided to rest at an inn. Next day they will enter the slums.


Antonakis said...

Maaluska with only 2 HPs ? And two more with only 4 HPs ? That looks tragic, do these people really hope to call themselves heroes one day ?

PlutoNick said...

I thought it was Ok at best. Don't all spellcasters start with 1d4 hps? I will have to investigate. Frankly, I have been more fixated on getting good rolls on each classes primary stat, that I neglected to check their CON as well. Anyway, I expect to have a few casualties. The sooner the better. I will make replacement characters then.

Antonakis said...

It is true that mages (or whatever they call them in that edition) had 1d4 (+CON bonus). Clerics and thieves have 1d6 if my memory is not failing me. In that regard it's rather expected to have a mage with 2 HPs and I remember games where I also had weak mages to be honest. It's just that it feels funny for a person destined to become a hero to start with so few HPs. He could die by falling off his chair... hhmm maybe D&D was realistic after all! :D
Now that I think of it...I'm a bit confused through all those editions and different systems about which rules apply when. Like for example, do constitution penalties apply at first level HPs ?

Oh and by the way, should I switch to greek or keep it in english in case you have international visitors ?

PlutoNick said...

I'd rather we type in English. I was not sure if I should make this blog in English or in Greek in the first place. I am not very comfortable with English, but then again, I make tons of typos in Greek too. So, I decided to go for English.

Regarding HPs, I played DnD 3rd edition and ADnD 2nd edition. I don't remember anything about penalties, but then again, we never kept any characters that had so low HP. It would make sense to penalties to exist though, but they would never lower your HP less than 1.

Also, Fighter had 1d10 base HP, Cleric 1d8, Rogues (bards, paladins, thieves) 1d6, and mages 1d4. One of the main criticism of DnD (and ADnD) was that the first level was the most difficult level, because you could die from a single hit. There was an alternate rule, that when rolling for character you would receive the maximum possible result of the die (plus the con bonus). Now that I think this over, I may have confused various versions or even different RPG systems. It's been ages since I played a DnD pen and paper RPG.

Anonymous said...

It might be a good idea to adjust your party order so that the people with the highest hit-points and the lowest AC are on top. When you engage in battle, there is a good chance that those will be the first characters to take hits.

PlutoNick said...

I remembered that from Dark Queen of Krynn which I had played mmm, till the Lemuria part. Dunno how far I had progressed. This was more than 15 years ago mind you.

Antonakis said...

According to my own relatively trustworthy memory, I think you're correct about those DnD and AD&D rules. I also remember having the max HPs at 1st level rule and I always used it as a DM during AD&D 2nd and DnD 3rd. I know what you mean about one-hit deaths and since then the whole HP-system has always been one of my biggest complaints about the whole D&D system series. But this is an entirely different discussion that we could do for a long time and many pages and since it's slightly off-topic I will leave it at that. (I have even ranted about this on BGG 2-3 years ago! :p)

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