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Pool of Radiance

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs


GAME DEVELOPER:Strategic Simulations Inc. (SSI)

GAME PUBLISHER:Strategic Simulations Inc. (SSI)

Copyright 1988, Strategic Simulations Inc. (SSI)

In the annals of RPG gaming, few series can boast of being “pioneers” of the genre more than SSI with its “Gold Box” series, all based on AD&D mechanics and worlds licensed from TSR. Of these, four games set in the “Forgotten Realms” world stand out as the best of the bunch. Comprising four games released over four years, Pool of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, Secret of the Silver Blades, and Pools of Darkness remain a lot of fun even today as some of the most addictive – albeit maddeningly combat-ridden – RPGs ever created. Pools of Radiance and Pools of Darkness are my most favorite of the series. Pool of Radiance because it was a great beginning to a solid RPG system, and Pools of Darkness because it gives you a chance to meet famous NPCs from AD&D world, marvel at the non-linear storyline, and develop your heroes to very high levels. All four games are must-haves for RPG fans everywhere, although Secret of the Silver Blades is a disappointment compared to the rest.

GameSpot’s nice History of AD&D gives a good overview of Pool of Radiance as follows: “Released in 1988, Pool of Radiance was the first of SSI’s illustrious gold box AD&D series of games. Based in the Forgotten Realms universe on an actual AD&D campaign module, Ruins of Adventure, Pool of Radiance took the rules, statistics, and number-crunching of the pen-and-paper game and brought it to computer screens everywhere.

The game itself began in New Phlan, a small settlement built on the ashes of a once-great city. The player would assemble a mercenary party of up to six characters, with two slots open for NPCs. The adventure began with a block-by-block quest to rid the ruins of the old city from the monsters and evil spirits that had since taken residence, then later expanded to the outland areas of the Moonsea, culminating in a dramatic battle with the demon Tyranthraxus the Flamed One.

Though somewhat criticized for its limitations, such as the availability of only four character classes (fighter, magic-user, cleric and thief) and the low character level cap (level nine for thieves, eight for fighters and six for spellcasters), Pool of Radiance, with its detailed art (many pictures were based directly on illustrations from existing monster manuals), wide variety of quests and treasure, and fully tactical combat ultimately succeeded in its goal of bringing a standardized form of AD&D to the home computer, and laid the foundation for other future gold box AD&D role-playing games.”

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