Thursday, November 29, 2007

PoR: entry 18 (proclamations, emancipations)

Hi. It's been a little while.

Lately I've been looking forward to Curse of the Azure Bonds, because I thought of a totally new way to go about blogging it. It should be pretty cool, I'll just tell you that right now. I'm not going to start it up or explain any more until I get to that point, so hopefully we're really hitting our stride in Pool of Radiance.

So where were we? Oh yeah. Supposedly there were a bunch of thieves in that on mansion on the north side of town. Yeah. No longer. We're still frustrated because we're so rich that we have difficulty picking up items without dropping stuff. Fortunately, there is more information to be had.
We're wondering if we need to be paying attention to all these Phlan politics. Is there an election coming or something? Why do we need to know all this dirt?
We got to meet Cadorna again. That was real neato. He sent us on some kind of diplomatic mission. Usually when someone gets sent on a "diplomatic mission" you can totally bet that eventually most of the "talking" will be done by "fists."

We thought we came to Zhentil Keep (our mission destination) in the west, but it may just be some kind of buccaneer weigh station. Whatever it is, we assessed the sitch, found out that this place practices some serious human slavery and then we got ready to seriously represent... with our swords... hard.

The end boss is surrounded by 4th level fighters and has about 120 hit points. Thankfully one of the clerics was able to get a 'hold person' spell in (usually it was uneffective, but we got lucky) and we were able to put him away with a cheap shot.

Yeah, we're feelin' a whole lot like Team America right now.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

PoR: entry 17 (how about some bigger pics?)

There was much rejoicing (yay)!
Our biggest bane in the game so far has finally fallen. The horrendous kobold cave is no longer an obstacle.It was a meticulous process enough without making any mistakes or being subjected to fluke lucky shots, but often around the time of the second and third waves we'd get a sort of otherworldly "game error."
Even after the third wave (including a beautiful "charming" of one of the magic-wielding envoy guards pictured below) we were annoyed to find it still wasn't over. We left Fatima in the cave and went back to Phlan to recover before our one final battle.
On the way back we bumped into some hippogriffs. I'm embarrassed to say that here's one more creature that I'm only familiar with through Harry Potter. Everyone thinks Rowling created an entire universe. Most people aren't aware that the wizardry universe has been around for quite some time, in more than Forgotten Realms form (like the proper Wizardry).
The demise of the kobold king was extremely anti-climactic.
Some of the kobold treasure was even less fulfilling. We're pretty sure it was all junk, considering the extra pluralization of "bootss." We tried to pick some of it up anyway, but we're still either too burdened to do so or we weren't meant to pick up the junk anyway. The most eye-candy of it all was the 50,000 copper pieces. Getting out our abaci, however, we discovered with the exchange rate that it was only 250 gold pieces.The last reward we expected to find in the cave was a freaking genie in a bottle. I had no idea that genies hated vampires. Is that sort of like pirates and ninjas or something? Man this Forgotten Realms stuff is all over the place. It's not just sword and sorcery fantasy. It's also kiddie matinee from the 50s with Dracula, the Mummy and Aladdin. Kind of funny in a madhouse sort of way that the hardest battle we've fought is to earn something to help us with the second hardest battle -- which we've already fought. Thanks a lot -- um, programmers.
The genie reminds me of my favorite joke, which I'll go ahead and repeat here. I don't usually tell jokes like these. My mom wouldn't approve. Anyway, a young married couple is golfing on a ritzy golf course with mansions lining both sides of the fairway. The wife slices heavily and they hear the ball crash through a mansion window and then a smaller crash inside. They make their way up to the house, knock and eventually walk into the open door when nobody answers. In the living room, they find a man sitting on the couch with a broken vase sitting next to him on the floor. "Thank you," he says. "I'm a genie. I've been trapped in that container for 5000 years. As thanks, I'll grant you three wishes." The couple huddles together and the husband says, "We'd like a billion dollars, we'd like to live forever and we want no pain in our lives from now on." "Granted!" the genie says. "Your check's in the mail and from now on you'll live forever and won't experience pain." After the couple says thanks the genie hesitates for a moment. "Um, I've done you a great favor, I'm just wondering if you'll do just one last thing for me. I've been cooped up in there for 5000 years and it's been a long time since I've been with a woman. I'm just wondering after all I've done for you, if you wouldn't mind my borrowing your wife for about an hour." Again the couple huddled together and figured that their payment was enough to forgive this one marital impasse. So the wife and the genie went upstairs to the mansion's bedroom. An hour later, they're lying there and the genie says, "Hey, how old is your husband anyway?" The woman answers, "Oh, he's about 30." Then the genie starts laughing and laughing before he says, "Your husband is 30 years old and he still believes in genies?"

Anyway, on the way home we went to the cave of Diogenes the dragon, which was very exciting because we hadn't been back since he gave us the kobold cave quest back in entry 5. After all that, the dragon did a lot of nothing. Must be a shut-in and unwilling to do anything terribly interesting. Maybe it's losing its mind. The thing actually spelled "congratulate" wrong. What's with the horrible spelling in the land? Are we hitting the dark ages or what?
Diogenes specifically mentioned using the efreet bottle (genie) against the vampire in Phlan. Fortunately on a return to the graveyard we came across a weakend Dracula inside a cross-shaped tomb. It's true. Genies hate vampires. Hard.
Our new commission is vague enough. Names? Places? Last seen? Direction? Accomplices? This is why bureaucracies do not make good police forces.In boredom, we hung out at the thieves' mansion in North Phlan. A couple of interesting journal entries were found there including some dirt on our old accomplice Bishop Braccio and a map of "NW castle." Perhaps the castle in the north west area of Phlan?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

PoR: entry 16 (better get yourself a garlic tunic, buddy!)

So, suddenly the end of the graveyard sequence was like we stepped into a Hammer horror production.

First it's mummies. I never really thought mummies were all that scary, but I guess the members of my party do. Every time I fought them, some our adventurers were "paralyzed by fear" right from the outset of the battle. That's pretty cheap. You can't just tell us we're scared by a powdery corpse in toilet paper.

Next up, we met up with a guy who told us where the head vampire is. He can join the party, but his name should have been a red flag for us. What is it -- MU Lvl 6 I think? I just checked GameBanshee to find his name, but they've never actually come across him. Sweet. Finally something that GameBanshee doesn't know that I've come across. Too bad I didn't get a screenshot with his name. Anyway, we noticed that once he takes us to the vampire -- ok, who are we kidding? It doesn't say the vampire's name, but we all know this is just straight-up Dracula. It's freakin' Dracula! Anyway, as I was saying, once the magic-user takes us to Dracula, he immediately turns on us and begins a fight with our party. If, when we meet the magic-user, we decide not to let him in the party, he spits at us and attacks us right there. Getting him out of the way doesn't make things that much easier when fighting Dracula because 'ol Vlad just pulls out another wolf if his magic-user minion is absent.

Dracula was a total pain to stake. We went back to town to stock up on mirrors that we readied with our free hands. I'm not totally certain that this did anything, but we finally defeated him by doing so. Dracula, like so many other undead, has an amazing ability to remove experience points. I haven't complained about too much with Pool of Radiance. I've come to terms with paying for level-ups just because we're getting so rich nowdays, but this immediate loss of XP sickens me. There's no way I'm continuing on with a game after a month's worth of experience is sucked away in a second. Therefore, it wasn't just about killing Dracula, it was about killing Dracula without him pulling that sissy move on any member of the party.
We discovered that a couple of lightening spells in a closed area really puts the smack down on Bela Lugosi.

Back in town, we leveled up again. Chlorine seems to have hit her max. Do clerics go past level 6? It doesn't have a level 7 in the manual. Disposo went up and we had a horrible time determining his bonus spell. We almost went with lightning so that he and Silver would have it. We also considered blink since we hate it so bad when monsters do it and we can't touch them. Finally settled on haste. May as well snag a spell that where it's several more attacks a turn instead of the single spell attack.

After the graveyard, we went ahead and decided that Dirten was expendable. We went ahead and cleared the Phlan Temple of Bane, thus providing the guy with fulfilling his original mission. Clearing the temple was really just one giant room filled to the brim with orcs that I neglected to get a screenshot for. It was a lot. Trust me. Perfect conditions for a well-placed fireball. We got banged up, but we all came out of it ok. The reward for our troubles was to just keep whatever we found in the temple, but we didn't bother searching for anything. Every one of us is filled to capacity with money and items. We can't even sell any of our items because we don't even have room for the money. Perhaps now is a good time to head back to the kobold cave. While there we can use up all the potions and scrolls filling up our inventory.

We did come across a curious journal entry and wall message whilst hanging out in the north of Phlan near the thieves' mansion and Bane Temple.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Por entry 15 (weighty matters)

Yeah, so the words "lux," "samosud" and "shestni" proved to be quite fruitful. Fortunately we live in the age of the internet. If I played the game ten years ago and didn't have the copy protection, it would be a lame time trying to "crack" the words we're supposed to say to the undead at Sokal Keep.

So it turns out that the undead of the keep are actually departed spirits of the honorable ones why tried to defend it from the bad guys! Saw it comin'. As part of this physical seance we were able to meet the fabled Ferran Martinez! I was hoping he'd be wearing a sombrero. The Pool of Radiance came into the conversation again and he name-dropped some villains associated with it -- Tyranthraxus, Edranka and Torath. As thanks for the conversation, Ferran seemed to give us the ok to graverob from his own body.

Back in town, they finally let us enter the Temple of Tyr. I thought for sure that we'd have to fight our way through that place. Bishop Braccio gave us an assignment to cleanse the temple on the north side of town. I think it's sort of like that part in the bible where the money-changers were selling animals or something in the temple and Jesus had to "clean house." This time, though, the animals in the temple are selling and/or killing the humans. Apparently they do so in the name of their god, Bane. Wasn't Bane that guy from the animated Batman who had the Mexican wrestler mask on? Anyway, Braccio went ahead and gave us Dirten, priest of Ilmar. Once again, who would name their kid Dirten? If he got the slightest speck on himself, everyone else would instantly think of his name and how appropriate it is. So Dirten is nice to have. He's like a missionary -- who kills! No, seriously though. It's always nice to have more cannon fodder.

So with the temple commission in mind we almost went straight there, but then realized that the graveyard was probably more pressing AND it's likely that Dirten would leave us after freeing the temple so we thought it would be useful to get rid of as many undead as possible with him as an extra cleric. Now that Sokal Keep is under control we have a much easier time getting to the graveyard. Instead of trudging our way through all the slums to merely exit the city and then come back in from the north, we can just take a boat out straight from the civilized area. Praise public transportation. This means that we easily can go to the graveyard, use all our energy on one fight, come back into town and then ship immediately out again after recharging.

Now the undead in the graveyard whine about being the "spirits who fought the dragons" and to leave them alone. Hey, not our problem. At the top of one tower was a pretty mean-looking wraith, but it was surprisingly easy to defeat. After the wraith, we continued our growing habit of defiling dead bodies.

Now, our biggest problem is weight. We're rollin' in the dough and have stone's worth of potions, scrolls and +weapons. Wonder if it's a good time to hire a Sherpa?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

PoR entry 14 (a very convenient truth)

So, we're not NEARLY as thorough as we thought.

First of all, it turns out that there was an unturned stone in the Kuto's Well area of Phlan. It's merely in the form of another old woman with foreboding tales. Interestingly, though, it appears the actual Pool of Radiance is making headlines, or soundbites I guess. "An evil spirit from an unholy pool guides your enemies. It hides behind a fair countenance. Be not deceived." Hmmm. Evil hiding behind a fair countenance, eh? I had a feeling waaaay back at the beginning that the good government of Phlan isn't all that good. We'll see.

Oh, and there was a weird journal entry discovered around that part of town too.

But the really important thing is that near the old woman we found another set of bracers. Now Disposo isn't guaranteed to be killed every battle.

So, as tough as we are, we felt it was about time to take care of that kobold cave again. I think we probably tried about six or seven times using various methods of fireball strategy. It's hard enough to fight everyone, but it's even harder to knock everybody over before the trolls start picking themselves back up again. Anyway, when we finally defeated the trolls and kobolds, the evil guy in the cave sent another wave of enemies on us. This one had warthogs. Nevertheless, we didn't succeed.

Dejected, we thought we'd hang out in the pyramid again for old time's sake. If anybody is reading this who has actually beaten the game, they probably laughed out loud at the last entry when I wrote that I thought I had the whole place mapped out. Obviously not. Either I missed a teleporter the first time around, or the game variables changed which enabled me to investigate further. I must admit that when the town clerk informed us that our next mission would be to clear up the pollution of the river, it was pretty obvious that it had to do with the pyramid in some way. The river is fine before the pyramid, but everything downstream of the pyramid is all gross and salty. The overhead view of the land shows that quite obviously.

Anyway, after a series of transportation stuff happening, we came across a door with a password on it that we needed to translate. Obviously this is some kind of copy protection that didn't come with the abandonia doxbox copy of the game I play. So, I consulted GameBanshee for the appropriate answer. Cheap, I know, but I suppose it's the price I pay for piracy of out-of-print DOS-based computer games from 20 years ago.

So behind the door, we found a big polluting machine that we disabled. Once again, the game gives us the option. It's sort of surprising that the game doesn't just do these obvious sorts of things for us.

After that, we dealt with the feared wizard Yaresh! Actually, I'm not sure we even knew his name before reading the sign above his room. Silver still had her fireball spell available, so defeating him was no problem at all. He was accompanied by five or six lizardmen, which is a surprisingly small entourage for this part of the game. I'm guessing that the pain of finding our way around the pyramid is the challenge here, and not the caliber of end boss. Yaresh left behind quite a bit of paperwork:
It's kind of nice to see that there are politics in the criminal world. It's not like there's just one enemy controlling everything. Good thing, there are politics. I imagine if the entire criminal element got along and was organized, then we'd already be enslaved to them.

Past Yaresh was just one more room with some lizardmen in there. They mentioned something about saying something to other lizards. Looks like we'll be doing a little more cheating to figure it out. Hey, you know what? That skeleton back on Sokal Keep! Oh, man! I just realized as I'm typing right this very minute. That thing didn't have something I'd figure out; that thing had something written on itself that's part of the copy protection! Whatever it is, it's what I'm supposed to say to the ghosts! Oh, craptacular. Well, we'll be talking about that next time. We'll also probably be talking more lizardmen in the future, because when we got back into town, the clerk said something about preventing them from joining the enemy.

So, yeah. They gave us a bundle for clearing up the pollution problem. This was bigger than the Pelican Brief. The environment is so hot right now. The experience achieved pretty much raised everybody up a level except for Chlorine -- who's at level 7 right now, so she's got a lot more XP between classes now. Unfortunately, we're out of money, so we can't buy our diplomas, at least not with cash. We'll finally need to trade in our gems and jewelry.

Not a moment too soon either. The clerk gave us a pretty cool +3 two-handed sword to use specifically on the undead. Apparently, the ghostly situation is so catastrophic, that the FEMA-equivalent on Phlan is actually distributing means to combat it.

Next up: Sokal Keep and Valhingen Graveyard... again.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

PoR: entry 13 (learneding!)

I'm getting this feeling that everything involving the dead or undead or whatever is just going to fall into place one day.

We enjoyed a nice little jaunt back into the graveyard. It was a fun old time, what with two clerics and a mage with fireballs. Bones just go flyin' everywhere! After dispensing with one army, we ransacked the tower they were coming from and found a spectre creating skeletons. So, I guess these skeletons don't actually come from the remains of the living, but they come from a guy incredibly adept at not following the Law of Conservation of Mass. Not only that, but this ectoplasmic vapor does something else that I think should be against scientific law. He actually has a "lower player class" attack. That means that even if we're able to kill him, I'm still forced to restore because if he even touches us, we lose weeks' worth of XP.

We bypassed that guy. We settled on the southeast corner of the graveyard. It had a nice, friendly juju zombie instead -- relatively speaking.

So we didn't clear the graveyard, but after all this Pilgrim and Derfindor raised to level three fighters and Derfindor also classed up his thief status to level four.

Aching for some more quick experience, we decided to continue mapping out the pyramid. Every once in a while we met some driders that would kill us, but soldiered on. The thieves we met were pretty good fighers but they didn't have any holding spells like we did. Cake.

We mapped out the pyramid as much as possible. We may have missed something, but as far as I know it's all here:
After the pyramid adventure we found ourselves leveling up again. The ball's a rollin' now! Pilgrim became a level three magic user and Disposo a level four.

The leveling up of our magic-users finally enabled us to learn the "knock" spell. That, in turn, finally enabled us to enter the gates of the closed-up Phlan library. I never thought that I'd get to a place in my life where doing research would be a welcome change from killing mythical monsters in medieval combat.

At the library we found exactly what we expected to find, which was books and tomes about the history of Phlan. We did find some healing potions and stuff, but what we were really looking forward to finding were some magic-user scrolls so we could copy them and have the spells without spending weeks leveling up to get them.

Fascinating research in the form of journal entries though. Finally, a few mentions of the game's title character. Too bad I can't make heads or tail of what this is all talking about.

It's also good to know that the map I've been using in the Adventurer's Journal really is a part of the game and not just put in there to throw me off.Besides books and things to find, the library wasn't too exciting on the fighting front. One of the rooms had this weird, leggy lizard thing and a spectre attacked us on the way out. I don't know if we were just lucky or what, but this spectre didn't pose a problem nearly as bad as the skeleton-creator in the graveyard. We met up with a crazy guy. He muttered lots of stuff, but we couldn't make any sense of it. We were nice, though and didn't kill him.

Oh, yeah! And there were also some surrender-monkey kobolds who gave us what appears to be a map of useless information.

Going home after an intense collegiate cram session was pretty sweet. The clerk was like, "amused by our descriptions." Nice to see him/her crack a smile. The clerk's a she, right? Also humorous that she said one of our bits of research had "small value." She then dispensed a single gold coin for us to fight over.

The new commission we received sure is a weird one -- end the river's pollution. Hmm. I guess we're going to have to hit the books again and come up with some kind of desalinization contraption. Maybe we could kidnap some Peace Corps volunteers.

Pilgrim went up to level four. Watch that guy! He's goin' places!