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My half-arsed collection of D&D games


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19 minutes ago, jdanddiet said:

Better imo but then I'm not a huge fan of GoT books 

Ha! Fair enough. I'd no intention of reading any fantasy, but in 2008 in a few guys at work were passing the soiaf books around, I read the first and was hooked. I hated lord of the rings. I'm might try a Salvatore book...

 

Sorry for thread hijacking op!

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I remember standing in a games shop with the box for Ultima 5 in one hand and Pool of Radiance in the other trying to decide on one. I went with Pool of Radiance in the end because the D&D license swung it for me. 

 

It's a game that's coloured my view of every RPG since and almost all of them have been found wanting in comparison. It's a perfectly structured game that instead of vertically stacked dungeon levels has a grid of city districts with multiple exits and potentially their own dungeon levels beneath them. You take on missions from a safe docks area and slowly clean up the ruined city, district by district, until you finally reach an overworld map full of it's own encampments, dungeons and villages. 

 

The tactical combat works beautifully because of how much care has gone in to constructing memorable and varied encounters. Desperate close quarters battles in cramped rooms. Huge, sprawling battles in plazas and town squares. Facing off against a single spectre in an abandoned library, an enemy that can wipe out a low level party singlehandedly if you were unfortunate to stray too far in to the city. Even the random encounters give you plenty of options from talking your way out of fights or the choice to engage at long range giving you a chance to buff your party and fire off ranged weapons as the enemy closes in.

 

It's a hoary old thing now, especially with the seperate journal booklet the game asks you to look up references in from time to time for flavour text and maps (the game was on Apple 2 and C64 as well as the 16 bit systems, so they had to save memory any way they could). Also the DOS version on Gog doesn't have mouse support or any of the quality of life improvements that Westwood (yep, that Westwood) added for the ST and Amiga ports.

 

The game that finally overtook it in my affections wasn't an RPG at all, it was UFO Enemy Unknown. I did take a look at Ultima 5 years later but it had a compatibility issue with the A1200 that I couldn't fix at the time, what little I saw of it looked cool though.

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On 03/03/2021 at 19:28, bplus said:

https://www.ign.com/articles/2008/03/07/dungeons-dragons-classic-videogame-retrospective

 

After googling a few of those games I ended up on this list on ign.

That's actually the article I remember, not the Digital Antiquarian one. The DA one only covers up to the launch of the first game in the series. It's a really good article but not an overview of the series. 

Unless he did a part 2 at some point, but if so, I can't find it. 

DA also goes a bit overboard, in my opinion, in his description of the combat system in these games words to the effect of "absolutely brilliant".

Having played Pools quite extensively now, I'd say the combat is pretty good, and certainly a step up from Ultima in how it encourages chess-like gameplay by using your characters strategically to block off the enemy from getting at your star players (magic users, basically, by the end game). But it's quite clunky and not at all intuitive. I often find myself making my wizard blast himself in the face, or having my cleric uselessly trying to Turn Undead on a group of pub brawlers, when what I meant to do was Target them with an arrow.  Maybe I would have been more impressed if I'd played it more extensively back in the day, instead of just getting immediately frustrated due to the amount of loading and disk swapping on the Amiga versions.

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So I've played a good chunk of Pool of Radiance now.

Firstly - and not necessarily something I was expecting to say - it's really good. I'd always half thought that these games tended to be a bit crap - probably coloured by my experiences with the Amiga versions as well as the fact that, for the same reason as I never personally got on with them, they didn't get a particularly glowing reception in the Amiga press at the time, from what I remember. 

But with the GoG versions, obviously all of the hassle of disk loading and swapping is eliminated, and once I got past the clunky keyboard-only interface it's actually a very addictive and immersive game. As I mentioned before, the environments and encounters have a bit more colour to them than what I've seen in Ultima and Bards Tale games of an equivalent vintage, mostly thanks to the text descriptions. And the combat is different - terrible in some ways, like how it makes you wait for turn after turn watching enemies fleeing from you, until they get to the edge of the screen and disappear. And great in some ways, like the careful thought you have to put into the arrangement of your characters on the board, so archers are covering melee fighters to stop them getting swamped, and spellcasters are tucked away behind a couple of beefy blokes with shields. 

There are lots of really stupid things about like how all the shops shut (at 2pm) for night time, but there's no other indication that the game has a day/night cycle and it has no other impact on gameplay, so it just means if you arrive at the wrong time you have to walk around until they reopen. And the money system where you have platinum, gold, copper, electrum and bronze coins - but nothing costs less than 1 gold coin as far as I can tell so all the other denominations are pointless. 

But it is very cool to see what appears to me to be a really quite faithful adaption of the core AD&D rules, in what is a not at all bad stab at doing a graphically sophisticated open world RPG, in 1988.

 

Yes I have been using the Gold Box Companion, to be honest it wouldn't be nearly as much fun without it these days, because I need an automap and I can't be bothered with the massively tiresome memorise spell/rest/cure light wounds/memorise spell grind you have to do after every combat in the early stages.  

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This came up on eBay today, bollocks to paying a ton for it though as it looks like it's passed through a dog. 

 

Dragon Strike

 

Might be a US version though as I don't see US Gold on the box?

I get the feeling these weren't nearly as popular over here as they were in the US. Probably because we didn't have hard drives. 

I do find these sort of stand-alone ones interesting. I know Heroes of the Lance was done over here so that's why it's a below-average "Euro style" - as I would say if I was a Youtuber - arcade adventure. But I don't know about things like this. 

I seem to remember there was one that was more like a straight-up strategy game, too, set in Krynn, that didn't fit into any of the other series. What was that one called?

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War of the Lance, I think. 
 

It looks like a US copy, but £100 is insane for a game in that condition. A sealed US copy is on sale at the moment for £150, which is also insane but is at least in good condition. The more obscure SSI D&D games are pretty hard to find, unfortunately. 

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On 09/03/2021 at 17:19, Anne Summers said:

Yes I have been using the Gold Box Companion, to be honest it wouldn't be nearly as much fun without it these days, because I need an automap and I can't be bothered with the massively tiresome memorise spell/rest/cure light wounds/memorise spell grind you have to do after every combat in the early stages.  

 

The Gold Box Companion is amazing.

 

Didn't play them when first released and wouldn't have made it through my (relatively recent) playthrough of the Pools games without it.

 

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On 12/03/2021 at 18:50, K said:

War of the Lance, I think. 

 

Yes. My first PC game I ever bought. I loved Krynn and the books and thought that this would be a Krynn RPG. I was so disappointed.

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So another 5 or so hours into Pools of Radiance - and bumped up against what seems to be its biggest flaw - from the walkthrough I've scanned I seem to be only about half way through the game in terms of locations I will visit, but my characters are maxed out (level 6 cap apparently) and I have more money than I can carry or could ever need to spend. So battles have just become a pointless grind and annoyance - the thing that made the random encounters fun was seeing what loot I could get and how my characters would get more powerful with experience. None of that is important now because I can't carry anything else, and dropped/left behind items are lost forever. (You can't stash money or items that you can't carry  anywhere and get them later, in other words). I just killed 6 fire giants in the biggest and most epic battle I've encountered yet and had to leave everything they gave me behind. The experience I got (6000-ish) would have levelled all my characters from 1 to 4 in one hit, if I'd got it at the start of the game. But at this stage in the game it's absolutely pointless and I don't think the game even tracks it, to let me benefit from it when I transfer my party to the next game. 

Not quite sure how it happened because I haven't been grinding at all, pretty much constantly just taking the path of least resistance through each chapter. 

Oh and another thing I've found out is that demi-human races have hard level caps well below human characters, to the point that the small advantages they gain (dwarf resistance to poison etc) are completely negated. So there's no point in choosing a race other than human unless you're just trying to handicap yourself. 

Still, uncovering the little maps square by square is fun, so I'll probably finish it off. Looking forward to getting onto the later games though where apparently lots of these niggling problems are cleared up. 

 

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17 hours ago, Anne Summers said:

So another 5 or so hours into Pools of Radiance - and bumped up against what seems to be its biggest flaw - from the walkthrough I've scanned I seem to be only about half way through the game in terms of locations I will visit, but my characters are maxed out (level 6 cap apparently) and I have more money than I can carry or could ever need to spend. So battles have just become a pointless grind and annoyance - the thing that made the random encounters fun was seeing what loot I could get and how my characters would get more powerful with experience. None of that is important now because I can't carry anything else, and dropped/left behind items are lost forever. (You can't stash money or items that you can't carry  anywhere and get them later, in other words). I just killed 6 fire giants in the biggest and most epic battle I've encountered yet and had to leave everything they gave me behind. The experience I got (6000-ish) would have levelled all my characters from 1 to 4 in one hit, if I'd got it at the start of the game. But at this stage in the game it's absolutely pointless and I don't think the game even tracks it, to let me benefit from it when I transfer my party to the next game. 

Not quite sure how it happened because I haven't been grinding at all, pretty much constantly just taking the path of least resistance through each chapter. 

Oh and another thing I've found out is that demi-human races have hard level caps well below human characters, to the point that the small advantages they gain (dwarf resistance to poison etc) are completely negated. So there's no point in choosing a race other than human unless you're just trying to handicap yourself. 

Still, uncovering the little maps square by square is fun, so I'll probably finish it off. Looking forward to getting onto the later games though where apparently lots of these niggling problems are cleared up. 

 

that sounds very unbalanced and frustrating

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The level cap in Pool of Radiance was 8, rather than 6 I think - are you playing with demi-human characters? PoR was made with pointlessly slavish adherence to the AD&D rules in some respects but not in others, and one of those was around level caps on elves, dwarfs, etc. I think you can remove the demihuman level cap with Gold Box Companion, so probably worth trying that to avoid frustration.

 

I seem to recall that you could avoid having to lug bags full of money around by buying gemstones.

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7 hours ago, K said:

The level cap in Pool of Radiance was 8, rather than 6 I think - are you playing with demi-human characters? PoR was made with pointlessly slavish adherence to the AD&D rules in some respects but not in others, and one of those was around level caps on elves, dwarfs, etc. I think you can remove the demihuman level cap with Gold Box Companion, so probably worth trying that to avoid frustration.

 

I seem to recall that you could avoid having to lug bags full of money around by buying gemstones.

That's strange because my human guys have definitely stopped levelling at 6. I have had a few odd things going on though and I wonder if it's down to Gold Box Companion. 

The gemstone thing is helpful, but the problem is you have to go back to the town to swap your gold for gems and you definitely can't be bothered to do that in the middle of a level where you get randomly attacked every few steps you take. 

On the final boss now and I've run into an even more annoying bug whereby the game just crashes to desktop with no error message or anything, every time I win the battle. Ho hum. 

Well I've definitely achieved my aim of finding out what wonders are hidden inside this legendary game, that I've been intrigued by since I was 10. It's definitely a very good game and the GBC makes it perfectly enjoyable even today, despite the niggles I've written about. 

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14 hours ago, Anne Summers said:

That's strange because my human guys have definitely stopped levelling at 6. I have had a few odd things going on though and I wonder if it's down to Gold Box Companion. 

The gemstone thing is helpful, but the problem is you have to go back to the town to swap your gold for gems and you definitely can't be bothered to do that in the middle of a level where you get randomly attacked every few steps you take. 

On the final boss now and I've run into an even more annoying bug whereby the game just crashes to desktop with no error message or anything, every time I win the battle. Ho hum. 

Well I've definitely achieved my aim of finding out what wonders are hidden inside this legendary game, that I've been intrigued by since I was 10. It's definitely a very good game and the GBC makes it perfectly enjoyable even today, despite the niggles I've written about. 

 

Are your humans multi-classed? From memory I think there's a lower level cap for multi classed characters. I had a party of 6 Fighter / Cleric / Magic Users the first time I played the game because I thought "How can this possibly go wrong!?".

 

It went wrong.

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On 19/03/2021 at 14:04, matt0 said:

 

Are your humans multi-classed? From memory I think there's a lower level cap for multi classed characters. I had a party of 6 Fighter / Cleric / Magic Users the first time I played the game because I thought "How can this possibly go wrong!?".

 

It went wrong.

Some are, but my fighter and mage are definitely single class, and they've definitely stopped levelling at 6. Must be my game is glitched due to messing about with GBC. (Workaround for the encumbrance issue - see something you want to take with you but it's too heavy? Wait till you get back to town then edit it into your inventory. What could go wrong?)

 

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Eye of the Beholder 3 seems to be a hard game to find in its original release. I know it's a poor relation of the others in the series, but I would have expected that it sold well, at least, considering the love for the first two games. 

Did it even get released in the same box style as the others? All I can find on eBay is the Kixx re-release. 

 

I've tried to play it a few times over the years and it always seems broken. In particular, I seem to remember it being horrendously slow, as in it takes an age to process each movement and redraw the scene. This was true even when I played it long after it was released on a computer that would have seemed unimaginably fast at the time the game came out. So I always assumed it was just programmed very badly.

If that is the case I would have thought someone might have tried to fix it by now, as its always been considered to be such a let-down for the series. 

Anyone else manage to get on with it?

 

actually videos I've found don't seem to suffer from the slowdown issue so perhaps I've been doing something wrong. 

Graphically, although clearly not cutting-edge for when it was released, it looks quite pretty today I think. 

 

 

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Kixx re-releases are the absolute nemesis of anyone trying to collect computer games from the early nineties. For every original box on eBay, there must be a dozen Kixx versions - presumably because people hang onto the originals, and try to offload the Kixx versions with their generic disks and horrible grey manuals.

 

I eventually managed to find an original copy of EOBIII, but it took a long time - they're not that common, and the price seems to vary wildly. Although there do seem to be a couple on eBay at the moment. You can pick them up for about £30 - £50 if you're patient, but they randomly seem to go for much more than that every so often. 

 

I've never actually played EOBIII all the way through - I keep meaning to play through the first two games again so I can take a party all the way through, but never seem to get round to it. The GOG version of EOBIII seems to run at a playable speed, so presumably they tidied up whatever glitches were making it grind to a halt on older PCs.

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12 minutes ago, Vimster said:

Generally speaking I've heard the first EOB is really difficult to play and that it's best to skip to the second one, is that right?  

 

No, the first game still holds up - I played it through a couple of years ago. It's basically the same as the second game, except with less variety. The first is a straight dungeon crawl, where you progress from level 1 to level 12, which are all laid out on a 32x32 grid. The second one mixes things up a bit, and has levels of much more varied size and shape. 

 

The main issue with playing the first game now is that there's only one save slot, which makes it a bit frustrating at times. You can play it through ScummVM however, which lets you have an unlimited number of save slots (but also means you can't take your party into EOBIII, as it's not emulated on ScummVM).

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When you started this thread, I remembered I had a copy of EOB 3 on top of by bookcase, where it's been for years.

 

I bought it new back in 1993, it even has the original till receipt in the box (I paid £39.99 for it).

 

I dug it out a few years ago when I was Ebaying of some of my big box PC games to help buy a road bike, and I don't think anyone bid for this even with a 99p starting bid.

 

Disk 3 has a dodgy disk cover, back in the day I put it in a protective sleeve to keep the dust out.

 

I'll gladly let it go for £20 including postage, just to see it go into a collection.

 

PM me if you're interested.

 

 

IMG_0030.thumb.JPEG.f6d34dd62cba5a55a3df566b3167e729.JPEGIMG_0031.thumb.JPEG.aac538998f220b0cf28da274df56ba71.JPEG 

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Weird how disk 4 is a different colour, mine is the same. I assumed it must be some kind of batch error, but looking on eBay, all of them seem to have a single grey disk.

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I've just checked, and you're right - the label says "HD", but it doesn't have logo or the cutout square on the disk. Excellent penny-pinching.

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3 hours ago, Vimster said:

Generally speaking I've heard the first EOB is really difficult to play and that it's best to skip to the second one, is that right?  

 

I replayed both in the last couple of years. They are both fine - EOB2 is clearly the better game but EOB1 is still worth playing.

EOB3 on the other hand... I remember reading the reviews and then buying the game - and being amazed by it! I couldn't understand why people didn't love it. 

Now I do - it feels less compact, somehow.

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On 26/03/2021 at 13:46, Roomservice said:

When you started this thread, I remembered I had a copy of EOB 3 on top of by bookcase, where it's been for years.

 

I bought it new back in 1993, it even has the original till receipt in the box (I paid £39.99 for it).

 

I dug it out a few years ago when I was Ebaying of some of my big box PC games to help buy a road bike, and I don't think anyone bid for this even with a 99p starting bid.

 

Disk 3 has a dodgy disk cover, back in the day I put it in a protective sleeve to keep the dust out.

 

I'll gladly let it go for £20 including postage, just to see it go into a collection.

 

PM me if you're interested.

 

 

IMG_0030.thumb.JPEG.f6d34dd62cba5a55a3df566b3167e729.JPEGIMG_0031.thumb.JPEG.aac538998f220b0cf28da274df56ba71.JPEG 

Done! PM incoming...

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On 26/03/2021 at 11:32, K said:

Kixx re-releases are the absolute nemesis of anyone trying to collect computer games from the early nineties. For every original box on eBay, there must be a dozen Kixx versions - presumably because people hang onto the originals, and try to offload the Kixx versions with their generic disks and horrible grey manuals.

 

I eventually managed to find an original copy of EOBIII, but it took a long time - they're not that common, and the price seems to vary wildly. Although there do seem to be a couple on eBay at the moment. You can pick them up for about £30 - £50 if you're patient, but they randomly seem to go for much more than that every so often. 

 

I've never actually played EOBIII all the way through - I keep meaning to play through the first two games again so I can take a party all the way through, but never seem to get round to it. The GOG version of EOBIII seems to run at a playable speed, so presumably they tidied up whatever glitches were making it grind to a halt on older PCs.

Is 3 as much of a letdown as the press at the time made out? Always found it hard to believe they would fuck up such a winning formula. But I have half a memory that the criticism was for the glitching/slowdown issues, in fact I remember the particular review I read (which was probably PC Gamer or PC format) saying it ran like a dog even on the most powerful computer they tried it on. 

What's so bad about it otherwise? Just boring level design and stuff?

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Oh and as we're talking about EOB - does anyone remember / know if there was ever a solution to the secret task on the final level of EOB1?

People who have played it probably know that there's a secret task you can do on every level that gives you a special item or some other non-essential reward. 

Back in the day I remember with 100% certainty reading somewhere ( I think it was somewhere official, so may even have been the clue book) that there was a secret task on the final level - the level where you fight the beholder - but solving it involved finding clues throughout the whole game, rather than just confined to the specific level, like with all the other secret tasks. 

None of the walkthroughs I've ever seen have mentioned it, so I hope it's actually a puzzle that no one's ever found the answer to, although that's pretty unlikely after all this time.

As an aside - had a quick look for solutions now, to refresh my memory, and most of the links I've found are dead - none of the links on this page work, for example - https://stanislavs.org/OldPages/stanislavs/games/eob1.htm

 

This is getting to be a bit of a problem. Several old games I've looked for help with recently, and I just haven't been able to find it, when I know it's been there in the past. The one I remember right now is Magnetic Scrolls Wonderland, where the only surviving walkthrough I can find seems to have an error and I couldn't use it to get past the place I was stuck. All of the other links I could find to other walkthroughs were dead. I guess there was a certain time when documenting and archiving all of this stuff was seen as a worthwhile thing to do, by people who used it as an opportunity to relive their childhood games and create websites (or "webshrines" as they were called) about them. Now those people have moved onto other things and probably in some cases got old and died, their websites have expired, or whatever - and there probably won't be another generation that is going to have the passion about these sort of things that it takes to do it. I guess there's the wayback machine but that involves remembering where the information you need used to be, and roughly when it was active, which isn't quite as intuitive as just being able to Google it like we could in the old days. 

 

 

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So I'm very much looking forward to getting onto a playthrough of the EOB series, which I have cued up on GOG for as soon as I'm done with the Gold Box and then the Krynn games. 

Just going into Curse of the Azure bonds now. Luckily my characters all immediately levelled up to level 8 (9 for my mage), so all those excess EXP I was picking up after I hit the level cap in Pool of Radiance weren't wasted. 

Porting characters across isn't that intuitive - you have to go back to the training hall in POR and Drop all the characters from your party, which causes the game to export the .CHA file you need to load them into COTAB. 

It refused to recognise my cleric though, which was interesting - if you remember I said that the final battle in POR was crashing on me every time? I worked out that it was whenever my cleric was about to die. So presumably there was something corrupted in his character data, and that's why I can't export him too. Never mind, rebuilt him in COTAB and you don't carry any equipment between the games, anyway, so its all good. 

So far, COTAB seems very similar, looking forward to seeing what sort of improvements they've built in as I go. 

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