Pool of Radiance, the first of the SSI's licensed ADnD games, was the game which turned me into a RP-gamer in real life. I was 15 when I started playing it, in 1990, and it was my second foray into the world of big RPGs after Bard's Tale 3. Some months after getting into PoR, I spotted a hand-written poster while walking in the city which advertised a "game of fantasy", where "you're the hero" or somesuch, played in the library on weekends. I NEED TO BE THERE. My father, who was a rather hardheaded religious bigot, bless his soul, wouldn't hear about it, going on the "it has magic, that's from the devil!" drivel that needs no introduction to the US readers among you. But my paternal grandma, who was a serious authority in the family, supported my intent, which was enough to get me the permission to go. And thusly started my 20 year stint with tabletop roleplaying games: got into ADnD as many others of my generation, abandoned it in the early '90s for Shadowrun and Earthdawn, I came to love Mage: The Ascension from the World of Darkness, and later developed a taste for freeform roleplaying after trying out Amber. After spending more than a decade with rulebooks, I ditched them, and in my final RPG campaign, about 4 years ago, I used a very simple homegrown system to focus on the storytelling and cut down on time spent with combat. Tabletop roleplaying stopped because my close group of friends, we got too old and tired to submerge ourselves in it, but cRPGs are still a big part of my life.
I'm mostly an old-school gamer in my tastes, but not really a nostalgia gamer. Master of Orion 2 is the only old game that I regularly play, which I consider "good as it is", though still far from flawless. The reason I don't have rose-tinted glasses is because I have a strongly critical mind (math does that to you, and I was a regular at math competitions, best place was national 7th), and I found many faults with the old games back when I played them for the first time. A good example of this is Master of Magic: the premise of the game is fantastic, there are a lot of great ideas in there, but on the whole, the game is a huge mess which does little to reward strategic skill, yet still requires copious amounts of micromanagement. My memories of the oldies are far from spotless.
Pool or Radiance was the first of the many Gold Box games, and I played them all:
Pool of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, Secret of the Blades, Pools of Darkness -- The subjects of this Let's Play, tied to the Moonsea region of the Forgotten Realms. The first and the last one, the two Pools games are great, Curse has good encounter design and tough challenges but is weak on story and setting, Secret is horribad is every aspect (and it takes you away from the Moonsea setting, teleporting you to the far north, to a place which no one cares about).
Champions of Krynn, Death Knights of Krynn, Dark Queen of Krynn -- Dragonlance saga. The three moons' phases affecting mage spells was a cool addition to standard ADnD rules, plus some other stuff that set it apart like the Krynn-specific subraces. Decent efforts all-around.
Gateway to the Savage Frontier, Treasures of the Savage Frontier -- FR/Sword Coast saga. Outsourced, entirely bland and forgettable.
Countdown to Doomsday, Matrix Cubed -- The Buck Rogers saga. This is a future Earth sci-fi setting with ADnD-inspired rules, similar to D20 Star Wars. It has spaceship combat, gameplay is strongly skill-based (there are no spells), and the missions are mostly interesting and detailed. You get to visit the planets in the solar system, and each of those has its own lore, sci-fi fauna and in some cases, even harmful environmental effects. Also, space pirates! Everything is better with pirates. Very enjoyable packages, I replayed these once.
Spelljammer: Pirates of Realmspace -- Another outsourced and hastily scraped together game when the GB engine was getting obsolete. Borders on unplayable, lots of bugs, features missing.
Over the years, I sometimes considered replaying the Gold Box classics, or maybe just the best of them, but in the end, they were just not good enough. I would much rather replay Mask of the Betrayer, for example, or Fallout 2. When I stepped in the disengagement attacks debate with a post, I needed a Gold Box screenie to show disengagement attacks happening. I couldn't find a proper one with Google, so I installed Pool of Radiance and took the shot myself.
At that point, the temptation to replay came up again. Okay, so the games in themselves are not that appealing, but what if I poured on some additional challenge? After a while, I came up with a few self-imposed limitations and started that long forgotten, ancient ritual of (re-re-re-re-)rolling my characters.
So this is a continuous Let's Play of the 4 games in the Pools saga, listed above, with the following additional limitations:
1. No dual-classing. In a high-level campaign like Pools of Darkness, dual-classing makes the game too easy. No multi-classing either, but that's not a real limitation. Since PoD is an epic level game, going to level 40, and unlike the IE games, it implements non-human multi-class level limits, multi-classed characters are out. Under the standard ADnD rules, an elven fighter/mage cannot level beyond 7/11, and that's that.
2. I will keep the Hit Point rolls on level-ups, and never reload to get better rolls. This will have a huge impact in the long run. I know what awaits me at the end of the road, where I'll have to fight Minions of Bane, Pets of Kalistes, drow spellcasters, dragons, and the rest of the merry band of baddies, more than two dozen at a time. I'm a bit unsure at the moment whether I'll be able to finish with the backline having around 50 hit points, I reckon, and the tanks around 100? Unlike in DnD3+, hit die rolls and Con bonuses stop at level 9/10, you a get flat 3/2/1 increase... But I'll do my best, I need this additional pressure to get motivated to play Gold Box again.
I will not limit myself on combat reloads. Mass battles are one of the iconic features of the Gold Box games, and very soon I'll be drowning in masses of level-draining wights and disintegrating beholders and Hold Person-casting clerics. No, thank you, just getting through Pools of Darkness with limited characters will be enough.
I have already finished Pool of Radiance and the first dungeon of Curse of the Azure Bonds, and got a bunch of screenies ready for write-up. The rest of the Let's Play won't feature long rants about me, just the games. Is there interest in this? I'm going to play through them anyway, but I'll only write details if there are enough readers. 5 will suffice to stroke my ego. Please either throw a like on this post or write a post in the thread if you're interested. Thanks!
Edited by Endrosz, 29 November 2014 - 04:20 AM.