Let's Play Forgotten Realms Unlimited Adventures
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  1. #1

    Let's Play Forgotten Realms Unlimited Adventures

    I'm moving on from playing SSI's Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds and am now delving back into my love of older DnD modules. I've become pretty good at the SSI Gold Box games, and found a website full of fan-made modules based on the original TSR adventures. Many of these modules are ones I've always wanted to play, but I can't find a group that wants to play old school adventures, and Google + doesn't work well in Qatar. So I've decided that I'm going to play through them using FRUA, but with advice and help from the ENWorld community.

    So how did I go about making this happen?
    Step 1: I downloaded DosBox, an emulator for Dos games. Links can be found at abandonia.com
    Step 2: I downloaded FRUA, also from abandonia: Download Forgotten Realms - Unlimited Adventures | Abandonia
    Step 3: I followed the directions on how to run FRUA modules using UAshell.exe as described here at rpgcodex.net: Forgotten Realms: Unlimited Adventures (FRUA) thread | rpg codex > Now with extra t(w)its - https://twitter.com/#!/rpgcodex
    Step 4: I downloaded the highly recommended classic modules converted by Ray Dyer and found here: Module Listing - Classic modules for the pc
    Step 5: I ran the modules using uashell.exe and had a blast, using Ray Dyer's recommended adventure paths found here: http://therealm.flopsyville.com/Menu.htm

    I've only played four or five of the modules so far, and only completed one. For continuity sake, Ray Dyer converted all of these modules into the 2nd edition AD&D ruleset typical for Gold Box games. I thought about doing a play by play based only on my own decisions, but I figure what is the fun in that when I can get ENWorlders involved? I'll give you my own run down on what I've tried so far and my thoughts, but I'm afraid that may sway you on which adventure path we should work on. We have a number of options to choose from, all based on the AD&D 2nd edition ruleset. Which adventure path should we throw our six hapless 2nd edition adventurers? Pick you poison:

    The Southlands Adventure Path: (Average Total XP- 510,000)
    Game 00, Introduction (Level 1)
    Game 35, REF5, "Skeletons" (Level 1)
    Game 27, U1, Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh (Levels 1-3)
    Game 26, T1-4, The Temple of Elemental Evil (Levels 1-9)
    Game 29, X1, The Isle of Dread (Levels 3-7)
    Game 24, S2, White Plume Mountain, (Levels 5-7)
    Game 20, I2, Tomb of the Lizard King (Levels 5-7)
    Game 22, I7, Baltron's Beacon (Levels 5-7)
    Game 33, X8, Drums on Fire Mountain (Levels 5-8)
    Game 32, X7, The War Rafts of Kron (Levels 9-12)

    The Westlands Adventure Path: (Average Total XP- 445,000)
    Game 00, Introduction (Level 1)
    Game 06, B8, Journey to the Rock (Levels 1-3)
    Game 07, B10, Assault on Raven's Ruin (Levels 1-3)
    Game R2, Night in Daelwyn's Rest (Levels 3-5)
    Game 08, B11-12, King's Festival/Queen's Harvest (Levels 1-3)
    Game 03, B3, Palace of the Silver Princess (Levels 3-5)
    Game 04, B4, The Lost City (Levels 3-5)
    Game 19, GA3, Tales of Enchantment (Levels 5-8)
    Game 10, C2, Ghost Tower of Inverness (Levels 5-7)
    Game 12, C4, To Find a King (Levels 4-7)
    Game 12 Part 2, C5, Bane of Llewellyn (Levels 4-7)
    Game 25, WG4, Lost Temple of Tharizadun (Levels 5-10)
    Game 25 Part 2, S4, Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (Levels 6-10)
    Game 21, I6, Ravenloft (Levels 5-7)

    The Eastlands Adventure Path: (Average Total XP- 160,000?)
    Game 00, Introduction (Level 1)
    Game R10, R10 A Series of Mysterious Events (Level 1)
    Game 05, B6, The Veiled Society (Levels 1-3)
    Game 02, B2, Keep on the Borderlands (Levels 1-3)
    Game 11, C3, Lost Tower of Castanamir (Levels 3-5)
    Game 34, B5, Horror on the Hill (Levels 3-5)
    Game 01, A1-4, Aerie of the Slavelords (Levels 6-8)
    Game 09, C1, Hidden Shrine of Tomoachan (Levels 6-8)
    Game 28, UK1, Beyond the Crystal Cave (Levels 4-7)
    Game 31, X3, Curse of Xanathon (Levels 4-7)
    Game 30, X2, Castle Amber (Levels 5-8)
    Game R1, R1, Raethor's Prize (Levels 7-9)
    Game 18, GA2, Swamplight (Levels 7-9)

    There is also a final adventure path, but I don't plan to go down this one quite yet:
    Game 16, FRQ2, Dragonspear Castle (Levels 10-12)
    Game 36, REF5, The Dread Lair of Alokkair (Levels 11-13)
    Game R3, Early Winter, Fires of Spring (Levels 12-14)
    Game 37, Dungeon! A Board Game (Levels 12-15)
    Game 14, CM8, Endless Stair (Levels 10-14)
    Game 13, CM2, Death's Ride (Levels 12-14)
    Game 38, H1-3, Bloodstone Wars (Levels 14-16)
    Game 15, FA2, Nightmare Keep (Levels 16-18)
    Game 17, G1-3, Against the Giants (Levels 18+)
    Game 23, S1, Tomb of Horrors (Levels 10-14)

    Or should we blaze our own trail and form a different adventure path? Please tell me your thoughts on where I should start.

  2. #2
    As I'm waiting for posters to suggest which adventure path to tackle, I realize that I'm dealing with a threefold problem of antiquity. I am after all proposing that I showcase 30 year old modules (Castle Amber, Temple of Elemental Evil, etc), via a 25 year old RPG system (2nd edition AD&D), using a 20 year old video game (SSI's Forgotten Realms Unlimited Adventures).

    So some explanation may be in order for those of you not as ancient as I. FRUA was based on SSI's Gold Box game engine. It was a 1st person RPG, with a top down 2D tactical screen for resolving combat encounters. So travel, dialogue, and campaign choices occurred in the 1st person screen and combat in the 2D tactical screen. The first and most famous of the Gold Box games was the 1988 classic Pool of Radiance.

    Although I greatly enjoyed the character interactions and plots of the Infinity engine's Baldur's Gate and Planescape:Torment, the Gold Box games allowed for a more accurate simulation of tabletop play. Also, the FRUA game was more a module builder than a self-contained CRPG, and creating modules from classic TSR adventures is much easier to do in the FRUA Gold Box engine than it was for the Infinity engine.

    So now I've given a bit of an explanation on what the system is capable of. While I am waiting for posters to suggest an adventure thread from the list at the top of the thread I will give a demonstration of FRUA awesomeness. But which module should we use? It should be something relatively short, 1st level so I can make characters to demo, and have a classic adventure feel.

    Let's see what the FRUA Rose Dragon site has...

    T1: The Village of Hommlet by James Rand sounds interesting, but the adventure may be too long for demonstration purposes...

    Haunted House by Astradamir promises to be short, but I am not familiar with the author, and I would hate to demo something boring....

    The Lich that stole Kringlemas byWalter Von Tagen III... tempting... but it's not based on a classic module and 'tis not the season...

    Oh, what's this? Ladies and gentlemen we have a winner! Next up, The Orc and the Pie!

  3. #3
    FRUA is full of old-style goodness, but I haven't been able to run it since I bought my WIN7 machine. Rather than try to kludge something together, I'm hoping GOG (Good Old Games) will eventually add the gold box games, including FRUA, to their offerings. If they'll do all the work needed to get the games to run well on my WIN7 PC, I'll jump at the chance.

    That said, enjoy your gaming. Gold box is archaic in terms of computer design and graphics, but those games packed in a lot of good gameplay.

  4. #4
    Well, even if GOG did update FRUA to run on its own, you would still have to download the fan modules you wanted to try, move them to the FRUA directory, change the folder name to have a '.dsn' extension and run UAShell to get it started, so most of the hands on work would still be on you. Which is why GOG probably doesn't have FRUA high on its list of priorities.

    That said, I agree with you that the program is archaic, but the old school modules are imaginative. And we here are nothing but imaginative. I mean, just check out how TarionzCousin imagines his roleplaying group:



    The Orc and the Pie is still up next, but I am on my way to work first.

  5. #5

    The Orc and the Pie

    I'm on an early lunch break and have decided to stop teasing you and show off the game. This is the information on the Orc and the Pie according to Monte Cook:

    The World's Shortest (Yet Technically Complete) Adventure
    The World's Shortest (Yet Technically Complete) Adventure
    "The Orc and the Pie: A Parody"
    Adventure Background: An orc has a pie.
    Adventure Synopsis: The PCs kill the orc and take his pie.
    Adventure Hook: The PCs are hungry for pie.
    Room 1: The Orc's Pie Room
    You see an orc with a pie.
    The room is 10 feet by 10 feet.
    Creature: An orc.
    Treasure: A pie.
    Concluding the Adventure: Pie tastes good.
    Further Adventures: Somewhere, there is a bakery making these good pies. Perhaps it's guarded by more orcs.

    So since I am assuming there is only one orc to fight, I am only going to create two player characters. Let's make Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser from the Fritz Leiber books. Here we have the character creation page:



    Notice that we are lacking some choices, such as barbarian and assassin from 1st edition, and the monk and druid from original DnD. <grumbles about 2nd Edition>

    We'll make Fafhrd a level 1 chaotic good fighter. Another window comes up generating his stats. I hit reroll until we have these: Str 18 (71), Int 14, Wis 13, Dex 17, Con 13 and Cha 15 and Hit Points a lousy 6. Yes, the Gold Box rolls incredibly high for your PCs. I could also cheat and adjust the stats manually, but I like random rolls too much. Next, I pick an appropriate icon for him and save.

    The next character is the Gray Mouser. I make him a chaotic good thief and roll these stats: Str 14, Int 17, Wis 13, Dex 18, Con 12, Cha 11 and 6 hit points. His Charisma should be higher for the book character, but so should Fafhrd's Constitution and hit points. But let's just press. I name him, pick an icon and save.

    Now I have some new options highlighted on the game screen. I can add characters, which I do, which then allows me to click on Begin Adventuring. Notice that the game equipped my characters for this module, giving Fafhrd a shield, longsword and armor making his AC 0. The Gray Mouser was given a sword and leather armor, making his AC 4.


    Ok, enough talk. Let's begin. The opening screen starts and shows the start of our dungeon on the top left screen, our party on the top right, a compass in the center, and the text description on the bottom: The Orc and The Pie, By Monte Cook, An Adventuring Classic. The text was normally shown in this bottom window in the Gold Box games. Because the text length was so limited, the textual side of game play was limited in comparison to the later Baldur's Gate and Planescape games.



    Notice as I moved forward that the screen changed to show a picture of an orc on the top right where the 1st person perspective of the dungeon used to be. We just ran into our orc, guarding a tasty pie. It's fight time!



    The poor orc doesn't even get a turn. First I moved the Gray Mouser behind him to put a sword in his back. I didn't go for the backstab, so he only did 2 hit points of damage, but made the orc turn to face him. By doing so, he put his back to Fafhrd, who received a bonus from attacking from the back. Fafhrd did 9 hit points of damage, killing the orc and liberating the pie from eeevil!



    I get told that we received 7 XP for the kill, but the orc did not have any treasure. Poor guy wasn't armed or armored. The next screen says, "With the orc defeated, you eat the pie." Then "Pie tastes good!" Yay for the forces of good!

    We still need to pick our adventure path and then create six characters. Any suggestions?

  6. #6
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    The Westlands path would be good to start with as there are some modules few people have playe din there. Then, the Eastlands path would be cool, and I will be playing several of the adventures in the Eastlands path later as well.

  7. #7
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    I love Ray Dyer's work. I spent a lot of time playing through his conversions of the classics.

    Cheers!
    Merric Blackman
    Merric's Musings - reviews, session reports, play advice
    The Great List of D&D 5E Adventures

  8. #8
    @MerricB : It would be great to get your inputs and your own memories as we go through these adventures. I have also tried a superhero module based on the X-Men Dark Pheonix Saga that I will showcase later, and B2: Keep on the Borderlands, where my characters died a horrible death lost in wooded swamps.

    I very much approve of Mr_Spicoli’s advice, and so we are heading down the Westlands Adventure Path. I started on this path last week, before creating this thread, and the first adventure I completed in FRUA was B8: Journey to the Rock (the 2nd that I completed was yesterday’s “The Orc and the Pie”). I made a number of mistakes in that adventure, some of which I will repeat in order to show the consequences. Other mistakes I will avoid in play, but will talk about in detail when we reach that point (like when I had a magic-user attempt to cast sleep on animated objects.

    The Westlands Adventure Path will also allow us to breeze through several smaller adventures before grinding in a larger one. Journey to the Rock, Assault on Raven’s Ruin, Night in Daelwyn’s Rest, and King’s Festival/Queen’s Harvest are all short pieces. B3: Palace of the Silver Princess is the first large scale dungeon in which mapping will be a must, as we may have to explore around 100 rooms, if memory serves (I own the book but haven’t flipped through it in awhile).

    In the ‘Journey to the Rock’, the heroes are hired by a man who wants them to travel to untamed lands, explore a structure called ‘the Rock’, and bring back its secrets. So I need character creation ideas for a party of six to travel to the Rock, preferably without the names ‘Connery’ or ‘Cage’.

    The typical party normally consists of humans and half-elves, since level limits are such a punch in the gut when it comes to 2nd Edition. Elves and dwarves are also acceptable as their level limits are not as stifling, but rarely are gnomes and halflings given appreciation because of more restricted level limits. In Ray Dyer’s modules, however, there are often special events that only turn up if certain races or certain classes are in the party so we may want a diverse party.

    When it comes to classes, the standard configuration is normally a magic-user, a thief, a cleric, and three fighter types to act as meat shields. But sod that. The thief class is important, but we should go with a demi-human who has a second class in thief. A thief/magic-user would make some sense, since it would allow the magic-user to wear light armor and fire a bow, but he would advance too slowly and we want crowd control spells like fireball as soon as we can get them. An elven or dwarven fighter/thief may be better, but we would still struggle with slow advancement. A cleric/thief would advance faster than a thief/magic-user or fighter/thief, but would slow spell advancement for our primary healer.

    In the Pool of Radiance, paladins and rangers did not exist. Also there were plenty of experience points to be had, but a low roof when it came to game mandated level caps for all player characters. So I abused the system and played with a dwarven fighter/thief, elven fighter/magic-user/cleric, elven magic-user/cleric, and three elven fighter/magic-users. It took some work to reach the level cap before the end dungeon, but it was worthwhile. It was pure joy to watch my heavily armored magic-users create a shield wall before letting loose with five fireballs each round, while my dwarf backstabbed the leftovers.

    But abusing the system in such away will get us killed in the early parts of these modules, and later when we hit the demi-human level caps. I tried to take on the Keep of the Borderlands with the same type of party configuration I used in the Pool of Radiance. Things went fine at first, but I wasn’t leveling up as I went further into dangerous terrain and traveled further from the safety of the keep. I finally reached an area I was too low level to survive, and since I didn’t map as I went, my characters got lost to the point I couldn’t survive the random encounters long enough to escape during any of my reloads. If I had played single class characters I probably would have had more hit points to survive. So except for a multi-class thief character, we are going to play single character classes. Besides, it should make the LP more interesting as we struggle to keep the vulnerable unarmored magic-users alive.

    Also, if you would like to be immortalized in this LP, just let me know I can use your ENWorld name as a character and let me know what race and class you would like your PC to be. I would love to have our six heroes be picked and named after our own crowd.

    Next Up: Building Our Party and the Introduction!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Deuce Traveler View Post
    Well, even if GOG did update FRUA to run on its own, you would still have to download the fan modules you wanted to try, move them to the FRUA directory, change the folder name to have a '.dsn' extension and run UAShell to get it started, so most of the hands on work would still be on you. Which is why GOG probably doesn't have FRUA high on its list of priorities.
    My experience with GOG is that they set everything up for the main game to run. I just click the icon on my desktop and it runs - no messing with DOSShell, DOSBox, etc. I've spent hours trying to setup various old DOS games and have decided it's just not worth the effort, at least for me.

    I agree that I'd need to manually add the modules, but I don't expect that would be difficult. I did that all the time back when I used to run FRUA, running on a WIN XP machine.

  10. #10
    It's time to create our party of six. We are going with a paladin, ranger, two magic-users and a cleric. I decided that the sixth character should be a fighter/thief in order to make the fighter less boring. I decided not to go with demi-humans though some events in these modules can only be activated by certain races. Instead I will go with a group of humans and a dwarf because of the problem with level caps, and I want this party to attempt the entire adventure path. I've also based each character on people from ENWorld.

    First up, our lawful good human paladin. I'm naming him for our own @Fenris, who prefers noble characters. I roll until I get an 18 Strength. His stats are: Str 18/76, Int 13, Wis 13, Dex 16, Con 16 and Cha 17. But only 4 hit points...

    Next, our lawful neutral dwarven fighter/thief. This one will be named after our social butterfly, @Scott DeWar. I roll very high (even for Gold Box) for him. Str 18/56, Int 14, Wis 17, Dex 17, Con 17 and Cha 15. He starts with 7 hit points.

    We need a neutral good human magic-user. I considered a halfling with a bonus to Dexterity, which should have been able to dodge attacks better, and therefore give the magic-user a better chance of survival. But halflings could not be magic-users, and elves level cap at 11. So human she will be. We shall name our first magic-user after @Queenie, who prefers to play such characters. Her stats are Str 16, Int 18, Wis 10, Dex 18, Con 15 and Cha 14. I like the flame animation she has when striking, which I hope to show off in combat. She has 4 hit points.

    Next up is our chaotic good human ranger. I am calling this character @GlassEye, and a high Dexterity should be a great help with bow attacks. He has Str 14, Int 16, Wis 14, Dex 18, Con 18 and Cha 13. His hit points are 8.

    We'll go with a true neutral human cleric in order to try to bring in a healer/turner of undead. This one will be named @(un)reason for that chap who is taking on the Herculean task of reviewing the entire run of Dragon magazine. His stats will be Str 17, Int 14, Wis 18, Dex 14, Con 13 and Cha 14. 6 hit points.

    Last we need our second magic-user, who will be also be human. It seems fitting to name this character @Col_Pladoh. Maybe when he reaches the height of his power he will be known as Zagyg. Str 14, Int 18, Wis 17, Dex 17, Con 14, Cha 16 with 3 hit points.

    Now it is time to add the heroes to the party. I click them in this order: paladin, fighter/thief, magic-user, magic-user, ranger, cleric. When combat starts, enemies will often attack from two sides, so it's a good idea to have some folks that can handle melee attacks from the back. This keeps your magic-users safe in the middle. If the enemy only comes from one side, this also frees your ranger to fire off his arrows while the cleric can switch from support or bolster the melee line as needed. You can also change the party order when camped.

    This is what our party currently looks like:



    We have no equipment, so let's journey on into the introduction.

    A bunny?



    "Ahem. Yes, hello. I mean... greetings traveler. Your journeys have led you to the realm, a world of many worlds, a place of infinite possibility and myriad imaginations. Whether you are new to the realm or an old hand, campaigns begin here. All games currently available in the realm series are on the overland maps that come in this design. We at the realm have been very busy updating and preparing this little package. We have also prepared a series of short adventures. Each of these may be found the old fashioned way, by walking about the maps and stumbling upon adventure where adventure lies. Or for those of... less patience, you may cut directly to the adventures as you see fit. A brief description is provided for each vignette. Well, off with you, now. We have work to be done, and landscapes to paint. Work at the realm is never done, you know. Off with you, and Happy Adventuring!"

    This brings us to several options, Introduction to the Realm, Explore the Realm, Choose a Mini-Adventure or Exit the Realm.



    I choose to Explore the Realm, and when it asks me where fate takes me, I answer the Westlands. I am then placed on the Westlands map, and going south I find this:



    "You approach the home of Lirdrium Arkayz. To a wizard, knowledge is power, and Lirdrium wants to know the mysterious secret of The Rock. Many have tried to discover it, but The Rock keeps its secret well. If you are interested in undertaking this mission for Lirdrium Arkayz to the mountain known as The Rock, then Load Game 6, the UA conversion of Dungeon Module B8, Journey to the Rock, for Levels 1-3."

    And that's what we'll do next.
    Last edited by Deuce Traveler; Thursday, 5th April, 2012 at 04:19 PM. Reason: Fixing the pics

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