(This is part of my journey going checking out Pool of Radiance. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)
One of the weird dynamics of doing these retro gaming playthroughs is that there’s an ongoing pressure to make progress for the sake of the series. If I get bogged down in a scene or can’t figure out a game or get too frustrated, then it can all implode quickly.
This thought is very much in my mind with Pool of Radiance, because even after two sessions, I’m still trying to figure out how to play the game — nevermind make progress in it. I do deeply appreciate all of your comments and tips so far, and due to them, I decided to reroll my team and see if I can’t actually figure out how to fight properly.
As someone pointed out, you can go in during character creation and adjust the stats any way you like. I can’t see this being in the game for a reason other than to allow someone to max out ALL THE THINGS, which I of course do. Oh Michael, you are a magnificent beast.
Much better. You can also adjust hit points up as high as they can potentially go with that class/race/stat combo. I am a little confused how identical characters — same race/class — can have different stat caps, unless there is a difference between genders.
All of these are human except for George Michael, who is a halfling thief. Poor George Michael.
Next stop is the arms and armor shop, where I’m going to put some of this starter gold to good use by equipping… my characters… with…
Seriously. How many options do I need here? There are three pages of randomly ordered weapons and armor for sale, some of it sending me to Wikipedia to look up. I mean, do you know what a ranseur and spetum are? Apparently they’re both polearms that look more or less the same. I kind of wish I knew the stats on these, but all I have to go on are the prices, so I assume that more expensive = harder hitting. This FAQ fills in some of the gaps.
I’m a simple man. I pick up two flails and shields for my clerics, three broadswords and shields for my fighters, and a short bow and arrows for my thief. Tack on some armor, and we’re good to go!
The really good news — at least for me — is that I’ve cracked my menu navigation woes and have figured out how to trade and equip and view inventory. No wonder I was getting killed before — I was sending out naked characters to beat kobolds to death with their fists!
My only problem is that for some reason, the game isn’t letting me equip leather armor and a bow to George Michael, despite him being a thief. And I can’t sell the stuff back (I don’t think) and I’m out of money. Oh well, man, you’re on your own!
Save the game and double-save it, then I’m back to the slums for more Koboldian goodness! Right away, a pack of 11 rat-beasts attack. But this time… I am ready. Well, I think I am. Hope I am. Fairly sure I am.
I appreciate your dedication to realism and giving me choices, Pool of Radiance. I really do. But in what universe or campaign setting would I actually want to say yes to this? I don’t think the kobolds are going to take me in as a double-agent!
Woo! I won! I won! Only… this victory screen isn’t nearly as enthusiastic as the game over screen was for a kobold victory. Feels like the game has a bias, know what I’m saying?