Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.
If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’m a big fan of Dungeons and Dragons. Heck, even if you’ve just listened to me on this show, you may have heard me gush about Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2, two of the best RPGs in existence if you ask me. So today, let’s go back to the earliest of Dungeons and Dragons RPGs. Today’s game is Pool of Radiance, developed by SSI and released on Amiga, Commodore 64, MS-DOS and Apple 2 in 1988.
While Pool of Radiance isn’t the first video game to use the Dungeons and Dragons branding, it is the first to actually try and adapt the tabletop rules. Pool of Radiance uses an adaptation of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules, sometimes today referred to as the 1st edition rules. Players can generate a party of six characters made up of six different races: Humans, Dwarves, Elves, Half-Elves, Gnomes or Halflings. They then pick a class from the four offered: Fighter, Cleric, Wizard or Thief. Players can then adjust stats and choose an alignment for each character which represents their morality. Lawful Good being an upstanding pillar of society and Chaotic Evil being a D&D version of the Joker.
Pool of Radiance takes place in the Forgotten Realms, a familiar setting to D&D fans. This is the same world with famous characters such as Elminster, Drizzt and Volo. It is also where video games such as Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale take place. Pool of Radiance settles by a town known as Phlan which has been beset with evil creatures for some time. In a desperate attempt to save their town, they make a call to adventurers to root out the source of this evil. Your group arrives at Phlan and must set out to discover what evil force is causing Phlan’s misfortune.
When SSI set out to make a Dungeons and Dragons video game, they wanted to stay as true to the original game as they could. Artwork was often lifted directly from the Monster Manuals and classes behaved as they would in the original game. This would all come together to form what they would call the Gold Box engine, an engine that classic RPG fans may be familiar with. This engine would be used to create a number of other D&D games over the years, including three sequels to Pools of Radiance. A hallmark of the engine is the ability for players to save their characters and transfer them between different Gold Box games, allowing for a continuous adventure for players. The Gold Box engine would be used in 13 official products as well as a tool released for players to make their own adventures. Today, players who want to experience these classic games can find them on GOG.com. Pools of Radiance was also later released on the NES in 1992.
Thank you so much for listening and a big welcome to those of you joining for the first time! I want to give a huge shout out to Old School Gamer Magazine for sponsoring this show and allowing us to keep talking about great games every day. If you, like me, remember the Gold Box games, you also probably remember the games of Howard Scott Warshaw, the famed Atari 2600 developer. If you want to read about his time working on Yars’ Revenge, go to oldschoolgamer.com/day to sign up for a free digital copy of the magazine. That’s oldschoolgamer.com/day. Tell them I sent you and it will really help out the show. Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day.
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