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Default Is Pool of Radiance just unfair, or am I doing something wrong?

September 21st, 2016, 21:32
Originally Posted by Pessimeister View Post
Not a huge fan of multi-classing, personally, but that's just me. I like the purity of a single class where possible. Character class experiments in general are fun with the gold box games though.

@ Zaleukos
I had a single mage and a cleric/mage in my very first Azure Bonds party. The always memorable Dracondras fight in Hap was one of the first I remember where this combination was just lethal.
In the Gold Box games, which represents first edition D&D, multiclassed character enjoy many benefits of all classes with very few drawbacks. So if you're looking to make the game easier, its better to play them. Mages suck in combat when their spells run out (which happens quickly) and thieves just plain suck in combat. However, if you multiclass them as fighters, you gain access to a wide variety of weapons, and can still draw on there special abilities. They are also only effectively one level behind a single class characer in EACH class for most of the game.
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September 21st, 2016, 23:13
Yep, and I think the games pretty much assumes you will be multiclassing.
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September 22nd, 2016, 19:17
There are some definitely drawbacks to multi-classing, though it's still a strong option especially in a low level game like PoR. You have to be a demi-human to multiclass, which means your levels are capped. This isn't an issue in PoR, but it's a big issue in later games. If you are an elf then you also can't be raised, which I believe the game does enforce. That can be a massive headache.

Multi-class characters also get screwed over on hit points due the ways it gets calculated. This is a significant issue, and as you level there is a good chance your fighter mage will become so fragile you'd never want him up from in combat. If you use some kind of editor for maximum hp this isn't an issue but if you play it straight then again it's a serious problem.

And of course you are about a level or two behind. Not a huge deal, but if your a mage who doesn't have fireball yet, it may sometimes seem like it.

Multi-classing was generally most popular for rogues. Rogues were awful in AD&D but you never knew which gold box games would contain traps and locks that made them important. Multi-classing fighter or even mage allowed you to have a rogue while still having a useful character.
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September 22nd, 2016, 19:41
If you plan of carrying the same party through all the PoR games, then it makes it more difficult for the later ones. I swapped them out I believe for pure casters or dual-classes.
Last edited by Thrasher; September 22nd, 2016 at 22:13.
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September 22nd, 2016, 22:12
Pools of Darkness may even be impossible if you have a heavily demi-human party, given the idiotic AD&D racial level limits. You could only max level as a Thief on a demi-human. Later games like Baldur's Gate seemed to ignore these restrictions.

It's been years, but I think I ended up with only a Dwarf Fighter/Thief in Pools of Darkness, with the rest being Human <class>. Leaning heavily towards Mages as they pretty much ruled PoD.

I think that's why I preferred the lower level games like Curse of the Azure Bonds and Treasures of the Savage Frontier over the high-level stuff found in Pools of Darkness and Dark Queen of Krynn. AD&D, of any edition, starts to break apart by the low teens IMO, as does 3.x D&D. At 20+, it's a complete mess.
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September 22nd, 2016, 22:19
Originally Posted by Thrasher View Post
If you plan of carrying the same party through all the PoR games, then it makes it more difficult for the later ones. I swapped them out I believe for pure casters or dual-classes.
Yeah. I hadn't considered this as I made a new party for each game.
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September 22nd, 2016, 23:01
I'm considering running through the Savage Frontier series again. I know they're not considered the best Gold Box games but I need some more memberberries.

High level D&D is possible, even fun in some contexts (being able to take on the Planes and have Earth-shattering consequences can be fun) - though having a computer "DM" probably isn't the best way to feature the ruleset. Still, I liked Pool of Darkness. Enjoyed every one of those games, really.
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September 22nd, 2016, 23:06
Pools of Darkness was so over the top hard, it made it really crazy fun.
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September 23rd, 2016, 05:17
Originally Posted by ElderGnome View Post
I'm considering running through the Savage Frontier series again. I know they're not considered the best Gold Box games but I need some more memberberries.

High level D&D is possible, even fun in some contexts (being able to take on the Planes and have Earth-shattering consequences can be fun) - though having a computer "DM" probably isn't the best way to feature the ruleset. Still, I liked Pool of Darkness. Enjoyed every one of those games, really.
I just started a run of Gateway to the Savage Frontier today. I don't recall actually playing it back in the day, though I may just not remember it. I do remember beating Treasures of the Savage Frontier though, as that was one of my first wins in a CRPG.

I walked outside of Yartar, and immediately got mobbed by a group of hill giants. Old school gaming at it's finest.
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September 26th, 2016, 01:20
Originally Posted by azraelck View Post
Pools of Darkness may even be impossible if you have a heavily demi-human party, given the idiotic AD&D racial level limits. You could only max level as a Thief on a demi-human. Later games like Baldur's Gate seemed to ignore these restrictions.
My pen & paper group also completely ignored rules like that. We never thought rules like that made any sense, and so we did not use them. In fact, I think I know of more people who ignored them than people who used them. Then again, early D&D did have a lot of strange things that, in retrospect, either are very unintuitive or flat out bad design.

Originally Posted by azraelck View Post
I think that's why I preferred the lower level games like Curse of the Azure Bonds and Treasures of the Savage Frontier over the high-level stuff found in Pools of Darkness and Dark Queen of Krynn. AD&D, of any edition, starts to break apart by the low teens IMO, as does 3.x D&D. At 20+, it's a complete mess.
AD&D (at least AD&D 2) really has its sweet spot at around level 4-8, where most classes feel roughly balanced compared to each other, and you don't get any of the things that completely breaks the game. Sub level 4 (and level 1-2 in particular), AD&D combat is very random. I'm personally not a fan of really low level AD&D, be it Goldbox or Baldur's Gate.
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September 26th, 2016, 08:27
Dark Queen of Krynn is good for multiclass. Qual Elves can go 14 fighter/max mage levels. Dwarves can go 10 cleric/max fighter and kender max thief/12 cleric.
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September 27th, 2016, 02:15
Originally Posted by Fnord View Post
My pen & paper group also completely ignored rules like that. We never thought rules like that made any sense, and so we did not use them. In fact, I think I know of more people who ignored them than people who used them. Then again, early D&D did have a lot of strange things that, in retrospect, either are very unintuitive or flat out bad design.
I think everyone's PnP group ignored the racial limits.

I seem to recall Gary Gygax stating the limits were there specifically to make AD&D a Human-centric game, as he felt there would be no reason to choose humans otherwise. So it was very much intentional bad design.

AD&D (at least AD&D 2) really has its sweet spot at around level 4-8, where most classes feel roughly balanced compared to each other, and you don't get any of the things that completely breaks the game. Sub level 4 (and level 1-2 in particular), AD&D combat is very random. I'm personally not a fan of really low level AD&D, be it Goldbox or Baldur's Gate.
I agree. Dark Sun: Shattered Lands started off at just the right point, L3-4 IIRC depending on class and multiclass, though I can't recall what you ended up at in the end, since I've not played it in years. I disliked the 4 person limit to the party though, and the UI seemed a bit clunky, but I otherwise liked it.

If someone ever remastered the gold box games, I would hope that they'd get the BG-style ruleset, with the racial limits ditched in the trash where they belonged, and some missing classes (2E Bards and Druids mostly) added in. Add in a usuable automap, the journal moved in-game, and I'd gladly rebuy them.

On my Gateway run, I finished that and transferred most of my party into Treasures, ditching my two multiclassed characters for a pure Mage and a Fighter/Thief. Thieves get the short end of the stick in Gateway. I never got any armor until the Bracers AC 4, Ring of Protection +2, and Cloak of Displacement toward the end for my Mage/Thief. I also never got a replacement for the short sword and short bow, carrying those all the way until the end.

I'm debating sticking with the Gold Box games for a while, and hitting Pool of Radiance, which I never actually played. That line of games, I only played Secrets of the Silver blades, which IMO is the worst of the GB games I have played, and Pools of Darkness. Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds, like Gateway to the Savage Frontier, will be new territory for me, even if the style is very familiar.
Last edited by azraelck; September 27th, 2016 at 03:07.
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September 29th, 2016, 01:36
I'd be interested in reading your thoughts on the game fnord, having never played the original PoR. Those random encounters sound appalling but it'd be nice to know if it improves much through the game having a mechanic like that.
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September 29th, 2016, 17:40
Originally Posted by lackblogger View Post
I'd be interested in reading your thoughts on the game fnord, having never played the original PoR. Those random encounters sound appalling but it'd be nice to know if it improves much through the game having a mechanic like that.

I've got a bit further into it, but lost interest.

The game is very faithful to its source material, which is both a good and a bad thing. It's good in that if you're familiar with AD&D you can easily get into it, and it also means that you get something that's designed to be understood (unlike some other CRPGs that hide a lot of things under the hood). On the downside, AD&D has a lot of quirks that I'm not so fond of. The game balance is quite poor, races have class level limitations (except for humans, who can do anything), meaning that if you plan to export your party, certain race/class combinations is a strict no-go. Female characters are objectively worse as they get -1 str, so go with an all-male party. Actually, go with an all-male all-human party to be on the safe side.

The combat is actually quite good. You get a large are to move your characters on, and there's plenty of room for tactics. Positioning and good use of spells is important for your survival. Against a group of enemies that's stronger than you, but not overwhelmingly stronger, it's really fun. The fact that you don't need to worry about long animations (a big pet-peve for me in many more modern turnbased CRPGs) is also a big plus, as it keeps the combat moving.

On the downside, the game really loves throwing huge groups of enemies your way, with little regard for game balance. There's also a lot of combat, which can start to get repetitive after a little while. There's a way to automate combat, but if you do, then it will still be set to automated combat the next time you run into an enemy, which means that you run the risk of having your characters do something really stupid at the start of combat against a more powerful enemy.

The interface is surprisingly easy to work with. It could be better, but learning the keyboard commands, and menu navigation was not a problem. Sadly it's also a bit slow, and this is in particular an issue when it comes to memorizing spells, which needs to be manually re-memorized each time you rest. You also need to manually cast healing spells before resting (this was apparently fixed in later games). If you want to reload, you need to restart the game, and you can't name save files. Not massive issues if you're running the game in dosbox, but still issues (it would have been worse on real hardware).

Pool of Radiance did lay a good foundation, but I feel that the game has been surpassed. And from my short attempt at Champions of Krynn, it feels like they quickly learnt from at least some of their mistakes. I've not got far enough into Champions of Krynn to be able to tell you how good the game really is, but in terms of quality of life things, it's the better of the two.
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September 30th, 2016, 02:08
Actually, the female STR penalty is dependant on race. Elf chicks get it worst, maxing their STR at 16, while Human females can go to 18(50). I think the rest you might be correct, but I don't know for certain.

The series is very much human centric, and it gets worse the higher level you are. Since I've been porting my party over game to game, my Pool of Radiance party is 5 humans, and a dwarf fighter/thief. Thieves are about useless outside of the odd locked door or trap.
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September 30th, 2016, 03:07
Earlier games did seem rougher on racial limitations. I think they were overall less focussed on every party being a successful faceroll ezmode party and more true to lore/desktop type facets.

Games have slowly evolved to make sure every starting party has an excellent chance to complete the game without much hassle.

The racials were supposed to be more powerful set scenarios in exchange for weakness but the other mechanics such as dual class human overshadowed them. Honestly early versions were a min/max dream
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September 30th, 2016, 16:41
Originally Posted by azraelck View Post
Actually, the female STR penalty is dependant on race. Elf chicks get it worst, maxing their STR at 16, while Human females can go to 18(50). I think the rest you might be correct, but I don't know for certain.
I'm testing right now. Unless otherwise noted, max stats are 18
Gnome male: Str 18(50)
Gnome female: Str 15
Elf male: 18(75), Dex 19
Elf female: Str 16, Dex 19
Dwarf Male: Str 18(99), Dex 17, Con 19, Cha 16
Dwarf Female: Str 17, Dex 17, Con 19, Cha 16
Half-Elf Male: -
Half-Elf Female: Str 17
Halfling Male: Str 17, Wis 17, Con 19
Halfling female: Str 14, Wis 17, Con 19
Human Male: -
Human Female: -

So yeah, seems like I was incorrect. With Humans, it's fine to create female party members. With any other race, male is the only way to go, due to lower str.
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September 30th, 2016, 20:51
Originally Posted by Wisdom View Post
Earlier games did seem rougher on racial limitations. I think they were overall less focussed on every party being a successful faceroll ezmode party and more true to lore/desktop type facets.

The rules might stick close to the original, but encounter design does absolutely not. And I don't just mean that as in how they throw unwinnable situations at you, but also the size of the combat encounters.
Also, just because every class and race are viable options does not mean a game has to be "ezmode". That's just up to basic game balance. If you design hard encounters, the game won't be "ezmode".

Originally Posted by Wisdom View Post
Games have slowly evolved to make sure every starting party has an excellent chance to complete the game without much hassle.
You seem to be confusing two separate issues here. Game balance & challenge. A game can be balanced and still challenging. But by getting rid of beginner's traps, mistakes that first time players do because of things they could not possibly have foreseen without having perfect information about the game, you're cutting down on needless frustration. A game can still be challenging without beginner's traps.

Originally Posted by Wisdom View Post
The racials were supposed to be more powerful set scenarios in exchange for weakness but the other mechanics such as dual class human overshadowed them. Honestly early versions were a min/max dream
This is something that really cuts down on the depth of the game, as you cut down the number of possible different solutions that the player has to consider. There's a clear "right" answer in many of these cases.
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September 30th, 2016, 21:01
Originally Posted by Fnord View Post
The rules might stick close to the original, but encounter design does absolutely not. And I don't just mean that as in how they throw unwinnable situations at you, but also the size of the combat encounters.
Also, just because every class and race are viable options does not mean a game has to be "ezmode". That's just up to basic game balance. If you design hard encounters, the game won't be "ezmode".



You seem to be confusing two separate issues here. Game balance & challenge. A game can be balanced and still challenging. But by getting rid of beginner's traps, mistakes that first time players do because of things they could not possibly have foreseen without having perfect information about the game, you're cutting down on needless frustration. A game can still be challenging without beginner's traps.



This is something that really cuts down on the depth of the game, as you cut down the number of possible different solutions that the player has to consider. There's a clear "right" answer in many of these cases.
That's true. For example you can start the game with 5 human fighters and 1 human cleric. Dual class 2-4 fighters at levels 2 and 3 and you have by level 4 or so a much better party than anything a single class party could do. This means if you understand the rules you have an inheritant advantage. This is also the case in games like Wizardry and Bard's Tale. Personally I like this, but if you don't want to bother with complex mechanics, that it makes games like this less interesting.
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October 1st, 2016, 00:14
Originally Posted by forgottenlor View Post
This means if you understand the rules you have an inheritant advantage. This is also the case in games like Wizardry and Bard's Tale. Personally I like this
Me too. I try and read the manual thoroughly at the very least before delving into some of the older RPGs. I don't like knowing *too* much, though, in terms of how to min-max, "preferred" builds, etc. I stay away from the "this is how you are supposed to do it" type guides, as I usually just like to wing it and make creative choices as to how I build my party or character(s), etc.

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