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D&D General Demetrios1453 Plays the Gold Box Games

Pool of Radiance (Part 44): The Buccaneers' Base (Part 3) - Buccaneers' Base completed!

Faced with a large group, Brin will do what she can to thin their ranks.

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Not an ideal center point, but it will still damage a good number of them.

Bragir follows with one of the few spells he has left.

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That will get us a good sized group and hinder foes trying to get around that wall.

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Brother Baltor gets in on the action, trying to take out some of the higher level foes immediately in front of the group.

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All of this clears out a good number of them, but there are still a lot left, and now they start moving around and flanking - indeed, my group is basically surrounded by the end of the first round.

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Time to break out the melee weapons.

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And do some further crowd control.

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Bragir pops off his last remaining spell.

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Things are still a bit hairy, but we've managed to incapacitate quite a few.

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(Note that one of the 30 HP foes succumbed to that last sleep spell, which was a pleasant surprise)

Totally out of spells and having several foes around him, Bragir pulls out his two-handed sword.

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Brin, meanwhile, still has a few spells up her sleeve.

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Time to take out some of those incapacitated foes...

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It's nice to take out one of the foes with more HP in one shot like this...

Having noticed that the 30 HP buccaneers are susceptible to sleep, Brin casts it again.

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The tide has definitely turned. Now the ones who aren't incapacitated decide discretion is the better part of valor and start running for the hills.

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The ones who ran actually escape, as I'm far too busy dealing with the remaining leaders and the few remaining incapacitated mooks.

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Bragir has moved down, and since he has fighter levels...

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...he's mass murdering the sleeping foes.

Soon, we're down to just one leader, who still hadn't been hit up until this point. Baroness Bella hits him first, which leaves him open to something I've been wanting to do from the game's start...

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It's so tough to set up, but it's sooooo satisfying when you pull one off. You have to hit a foe (and in PoR, it can only be a single-square foe) with one character, and then, in the same round, move your thief around to be exactly opposite the character that hit the first blow. It's hard to set up since if there are still a lot of foes around, they'll swarm your unfortunate thief, and there are no nifty withdraw moves a 1e thief can do. Beyond that, figuring out facing when icons in the game only have two positions (facing left or right) and when rounds end make it tough to get all the stars in alignment. But I got it here, and as a result this fight is finally over.

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Let's see what loot this group had.

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Uh... that's a lot of magical loot here. We're used to seeing maybe two or three magic items at most, and this one even continues on to another page! While this will become a common occurrence in later games, so much so that we'll just nonchalantly abandon mounds of magical loot because "they're only +2 items", we need to grab as much of it as possible now so we make a tidy profit. Unfortunately, all of them are +1 items, so there aren't any upgrades here.

The first thing we'll do is drop all that plate we had gathered up in the previous fights. Plate may sell for a tidy sum, but it will pale in comparison to this magical loot.

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After rearranging inventory and dropping as many useless and/or cheap items as we can (no real need for my melee to have arrows!), we are still forced to leave a few items behind. I'm guessing that the magical chain will sell for more than the magical longswords, so they're what I'll be forced to leave behind.

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Sadly, no.

Having gathered our treasure, we look around to see what else the buccaneers may throw at us.

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Victory! And even better news, we gained have enough XP for someone to level!

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(Also, the party took surprisingly little damage after four straight fights, with the last one being surrounded)

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And, for Brother Baltor, that's as far as he will get in this particular game as cleric. The games in this series have level limits for each class, but, frustratingly, they're not all the same level for each class, nor are they near a common XP limit. Fighters and rogues can advance much higher than clerics and magic users:

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So my magic-users are close to their limit as well, while Buffy and anyone with a fighter level (and paladin and ranger, since we're modding things a bit to allow them in this game) will still be able to advance for some time. Thank goodness for my multi-classes, or the cleric and magic-users would have hit their caps a while back! The good news is that XP is still tracked after hitting the cap, so they will (likely) be able to immediately level up once we're in Curse of the Azure Bonds. And thank goodness for GBC, since in the vanilla games, if characters had enough XP to gain 2 or more levels at the start of a new game, they would be able to gain only a single level, and then lose all XP beyond 1 XP below the next level (the games lessen the insult a bit by offering easy combats in the starter areas to gain enough XP to get that second new level, but you'll still have likely lost a significant amount of XP); GBC just lets you level up as far as you have XP for at the start of a new game.

Anyway, having leveled up, it's time to leave this den of iniquity behind.

Once you leave, the square basically is empty. As shown below, I had left the square with the base icon and then re-entered it, and nothing happens, not even a text saying it's abandoned.

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Back to the boat, and back to Phlan!

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First stop - the store. We have a stupendous amount of magic items to get rid of this time.

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Aha! I was right! The magical chain does sell for more than the magical longswords.

After disposing of all the loot, and buying arrows (including for our melee who dropped theirs to pick up magical loot) our group funds are quite impressive indeed!

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No need to even worry about the gems and jewels, we'll go buy our last fine longbow outright with cash!

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Or funds are a bit worse for wear, but still quite impressive.

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Next - off to see the City Clerk!

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That looks like it's going to be an impressive amount of trinkets!

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Not bad.

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"Trinkets" indeed?

The scrolls are, again, two copies of restoration each. We're going to need all this anti-undead stuff here very soon. Only the Zhent Outpost is between us and the graveyard now.

And, for now, that's it for the City Clerk. When we check for any new commissions:

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So, we go to rest up, and then it will be time to go visit the Zhent Outpost. We'll start that adventure in the next post!
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Pool of Radiance (Part 45): Outpost of Zhentil Keep (Part 1)

Time to go rest before we visit the Zhent Outpost.

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Now at 6th level in cleric, Brother Baltor's memorized spell list is now quite impressive.

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All rested up and spells memorized, time to head out to meet our new Zhent neighbors.

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Off we go to the west once again.

(Something that could have been done a bit better, in my opinion. Our earlier overland expeditions were mixed between the east and central regions, while these last two, indeed literally the last two, are both to the west. You'd think they'd have mixed in the west a bit better with the other regions).

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We leave the boat and head west, past the ruins of the buccaneers' base, and on across the grasslands, until the Zhent Outpost is nearly within sight. Then, suddenly...

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Ooooh, quicklings! Definitely something different for an encounter this time...

By the time I'm even able to take a screenshot, several quicklings have zipped across the map towards the group. While the maximum normal movement rate for PC races is 12, quicklings get a movement of 96!

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They also have an impressive AC of -3, which will make them especially hard to hit. But, with only 7 HP, they'll almost certainly go down in one shot once the characters land a hit.

There's no need to move towards them at all, I'll just set my melee on Guard and let them come to me.

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Bragir is getting flanked by a couple, and takes a small bit of damage (they get several attacks per round, but even when they do hit, it's for pretty minimal damage). He pulls out his two-handed sword, and he and the others rapidly dispose of them.

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The rest have moved forward, and we've quickly thinned their ranks. Soon the battle is over.

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Even with no real treasure, they give nice XP.

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(I'm quite happy to have encountered them - quicklings have always been a favorite of mine, probably due to first encountering them in this very game. Since they're just a random overland encounter, most POR games go by without bumping into them, and they aren't featured in any of the other Gold Box games).

We continue towards the Zhent Outpost, until we spy it off to the south...

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We go up to the fort.

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We say that we are, and are allowed into the fortress.

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Once inside, we're given a quick tour.

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Hmm... looks like we got stuck with a rejected Bond/Indiana Jones villain in this section. He no doubt speaks with a hammy German accent.

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"No, Bond, I expect you to DINE!"

Well, sure, tour part 2 it is!

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Note that he says they "can" hold, not that they "do" hold...

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Is he getting paid for each use of the word "fine" and variants thereof?

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I'm a bit skeptical. Surely the dragon would have just flown over the walls?

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Well, they look very spartan. Just like every other room in the game.

We freshen up for dinner, including doing a quick Fix for the damage taken from the quicklings. It wasn't much, but it's always a good idea to go up to max in these situations. Plus, the commandant would probably think it uncouth if we bled all over his dinner.

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We set up a rest for a few hours to pass the time until we're summoned to eat.

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Sounds tasty!

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We'll talk about magic for a bit.

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"I'm curious if you have any insights about the object that gives its name to the game we're all in?'

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Yet another intriguing story about the Pool and its resident fiend.

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We decide to talk a bit about Phlan this time. He's obviously trying to pry information from us about the town, so we should best be on our guard.

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Intriguing theory. Especially as we've never heard of this "Tirantikus" before.

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We'll say there's been some trouble. That can hardly be news to even the Zhents by now.

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Oh, quite strong! Quite strong indeed! So much so that a neighboring city-state well known for being expansionist and a haven for the worship of evil deities should never, ever think about attacking it.

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We'll do our best in taking care of that, in the relatively near future.

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At this point, it's probably for the best that we don't give out too much more info to the Zhents about Phlan. So we decide to go quiet.

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I mean... surely we could have come up with other topics of conversation...

Oh well, back to our quarters for what should surely be a good night of uninterrupted, peaceful sleep!

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Yeah, if it's suddenly giving us a choice to "sleep with a watch", we should probably take the game up on that offer...

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Gasp! So unexpected! Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!

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With only four of them, this should go quick. They were obviously planning on taking us by surprise.

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Unfortunately, they had a back-up in case we weren't surprised.

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That's a bit more impressive, but still not too much of a challenge at this level. We don't even waste spells on them (not just because they aren't worth it, but because we're about to go through a gauntlet of even tougher fights).

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It doesn't take us long at all to start thinning their ranks...

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And soon they are completely taken care of.

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But these fights haven't gone unnoticed...

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Time for our second break-out attempt in a row from a heavily manned fortress. We'll pick up at this point in the next post!

(And as for why we were treated cordially and then suddenly attacked, the game doesn't tell you outright, but the cluebook does: Cadorna had slipped in a note at the very end of the diplomatic correspondence proposing an alliance between himself and the Zhents, and to kill the party as a sign of their approval. So the Zhents didn't discover that until they had read through everything thoroughly, after they had treated us to dinner).
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Pool of Radiance (Part 46): Outpost of Zhentil Keep (Part 2)

We head out of our quarters, into the chaos of the Zhent forces forming up to confront us. We move towards the front gates, but just as we get there...

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Well, this won't be so tough. Eleven 4HP guards will be virtually no challenge at all, especially with my warrior-types sweeping...

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At this point, we could walk out the gates directly in front of us, return to Phlan, and the mission would be considered completed. But what fun would there be in that? And beyond that, there's some nice treasure and XP available if we clear out this den of iniquity.

So, we stay and start moving around. It's not long before we meet the first wave of defenders. These waves will steadily increase in size and difficulty until we encounter the final two groups with the fortress' leaders.

So... Round 1!

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Is this the best they could do?

It goes as quickly as you would think.

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We wander around a bit more.

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We're going to stay in this narrow walkway, which it will make it so that the ever-increasing number of foes will find it tough to outflank us.

Shortly thereafter...

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Round 2!

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This is a bit meatier than the previous fights, but still nothing that will give us any worry. Some of those in the back have crossbows, which periodically score a hit (but, thankfully, in 1e crossbows only did a ridiculously low 1d4 points of damage - Gygax must have hated and looked down upon them as much as medieval knights, despite the actual damage they were capable of!). Still, we mow through them rapidly, with my melee sweeping in the front and my ranged taking out the corporals in the back.

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And we're done...

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We walk a bit further forward, and then meet the next group.

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Round 3!

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Slightly larger group, same tactics.

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We continue forward until we meet the next group:

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Round 4!

The groups are getting larger, so for the sake of saving time and to reduce the number of crossbow bolts coming the party's way, Brin will throw out a sleep spell just to decrease the time between turns and to control the battlefield a bit. I'm saving my fireballs until the tougher fights later on.

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Bragir joins in as well.

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All those lovely "X"s are going to make this much easier.

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And soon we're done...

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We wandered to the edge of an open area for this battle, so we move back into the narrower walkway. A few steps beyond...

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Round 5!

And this group is noticeably smaller, and with no corporals, which isn't how it should go. What's likely happened is that the foes were generated up against the wall, with the area to the south being inaccessible to the rest of the battlefield, so the game just generated what it could and dropped the rest. A lucky break! Nothing more but easily sweep-able 4 HP guards in this group.

It doesn't take us long at all to thin out their ranks considerably.

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A couple towards the top break morale and start running. But unfortunately for them, it's hard to outrun arrows. A friend of mine once had a t-shirt that had a picture of a longbowman with text that said, "Go ahead and run, you'll just die tired." They die tired.

And the battle is soon over.

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We move north, but before we can take a second step, things escalate.

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Having cleared the preliminary waves of guards, we now face the first of the two groups led by the leaders of this fortress.

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This is obviously going to be a bit tougher. Time to call in the artillery!

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Decent damage for a 5d6 fireball, but any of those that make their saves will still be up.

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We took a few down, but a lot made their saves. Luckily, that drops them to single digit HP. Also, my melee have been targeting Bant's cousin on the front line. Bant isn't mad that his cousin has joined the Zhents, just disappointed...

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And down he goes.

Time to get things moving along faster, and to quiet down the guards in the back with crossbows, with a sleep spell.

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The party quickly moves through all the wounded ones near the front, while again some in the back break morale and try to run.

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And soon enough, they're all dead or have fled the battlefield.

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While all the previous battles didn't have much XP, and just basic equipment for loot, this one looks to be a bit more lucrative.

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Nothing much exciting there, just +1 equipment, and no one needs the gauntlets. They'll sell well, though.

But before we have time to think about that, a large group of Zhents appears from around the corner...

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Time for the final battle! We'll start there in the next post!
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Pool of Radiance (Part 47): Outpost of Zhentil Keep (Part 3) - Outpost of Zhentil Keep completed!

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Time to finish this up!

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This is obviously going to be a lot tougher. The Commandant has 100 HP, and he has a caster next to him. The rest we can just wear down.

Time for Brother Baltor to start taking out their leaders if possible.

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He gets the spell off...

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Well, that went poorly. Only a hapless corporal got held, while the Commandant and his wizard made their saves...

Well, if subtle means fail to work, it's time for brute force.

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Except the enemy wizard goes while she's casting the spell, and, worse still, he has a a wand of lightning. It went by so fast that I didn't get a screenshot, but it's a bit lucky Brin is still standing as it bounced off the wall behind her and hit her twice. These games love bouncing lightning bolts off walls like that. So not only did Brin fail to cast her fireball, she's pretty badly wounded as well...

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Bragir doesn't have any such flashy spells left, but he can still incapacitate foes...

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Meanwhile, melee have been concentrating on the wizard, and Baroness Bella gets in the killing blow.

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Then the Commandant goes, and he apparently has a javelin of lightning. Again a flash of lightning crosses the screen too quickly for me to get a good screenshot, but he hit poor Bragir pretty good. Both my magic-users are in poor shape now...

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Brin tries yet again to get a fireball off.

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While Brother Baltor tries again with hold person.

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With much better results...

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Now Brin successfully completes her casting of fireball...

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20 points of damage. A bit above average for a 5d6 fireball, and it should take down quite a few of them, and seriously hurt the others in the radius.

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Yep, that took a lot of them off the board. We've got plenty of held/sleeping foes, and quite a few are in single digits as well.

Shortly afterwards, it's auf Wiedersehen to the Commandant.

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We've rapidly cleared out many of the others as well. There's a stubborn group of four up top who are still shooting at us with their crossbows, but as we take down the others, they begin to surrender.

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And soon the battle is won, although definitely not with out some serious damage taken!

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That's a nice XP reward. Presumably the late Commandant and his wizard had some nice items on them!

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Indeed they did! Let's check out exactly what they are.

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Well, Buffy picked it all up, and she can definitely use the better bracers and upgrade from her shortsword to that longsword. The magical plate will go to one of our melee (Baroness Bella has better plate from the buccaneer camp), but all of them have better shields than this one. Two rings of fire resistance are a great addition to my melee, and will allow a bit more flexibility when casting fireballs. That wand will be very useful for one of my magic users...

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We'll trade Bant's banded mail to Brother Baltor.

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And since Brin was the one hit by the wand, it's only fair to give it to her.

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With the XP, Bant is ready to level up!

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The big thing there is that he now gets 3 attacks every 2 rounds, which will increase his overall damage quite a bit. What will happen in combat is that he'll get 1 attack the first round and 2 attacks in the second, with the pattern repeating until the combat is over.

Also, he rather impressively has over 100 HP now.

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Yet another den of iniquity destroyed.

Since we've vanquished our foes, it's safe to rest - and, man, do we need it!

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We heal up and re-memorize spells.

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And now it's time to head back towards Phlan.

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Just to see what would happen, we try to re-enter after leaving.

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Wow, they restocked up on soldiers quickly. We decide to just leave it be and head back to town.

We make good time, but then, just as we pass the old buccaneer base:

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Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?

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Brin decides to cast fireball.

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Well, darn, that's at max distance. We'll get what we can, I guess.

When they move a bit closer, Bragir tries his luck...

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The problem with fireball on overland map is that its radius is one square less than casting it indoors (thanks, esoteric 1e rules!), so I'll get all the snakes here, but just barely.

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Some of the snakes get close. Seeing as they are venomous, and a failed save vs poison basically means insta-kill, I spend a few anxious moments until the party can take them down.

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But, soon they are dead or slithering away.

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Excitement over for now, we head to the boat to Phlan.

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Well, isn't that bad timing? Sunset is at 14:00, at which point everything shuts down. We won't be able to get to the City Clerk or the stores before night falls. So, off to the inn we go...

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We rest up and memorize spells. After resting, we'll visit the City Clerk for our reward (and other news!), but that will be in the next post, since I've hit the upload limit for this one.
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Pool of Radiance (Part 48): Return to Podol Plaza (Part 1)

Having rested until morning, we head out of the inn to meet with the City Clerk

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Heh, I imagine Cadorna had no problem making those bets, seeing as he had inside information!

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Well, that's a nice amount of XP!

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And some nice rewards!

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Well, that's rather abrupt. She goes from joking about Cadorna not thinking we'd return quickly to telling us to kill him!

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We go through the doors to meet with Lord Urslingen.

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We're honored. Although it does sound like another suicide mission. Perhaps Cadorna isn't the only one worried about our growing power?

In any case, we have a new commission, although we still have the graveyard to deal with first.

Our business with the city council done, we head to the store to sell our loot.

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I wonder if when he hears we've returned to town he has like an army of servants/hirelings dragging in bulging bags of platinum to pay for what we sell him?

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Oh nice!

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Wow, even nicer still!

Our current combined funds after selling off the loot:

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Pity we don't have any more fine longbows to buy!

Since I haven't shown them in awhile, here are the character sheets for the party:

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(Bant has well over twice the multi-classed characters' XP due to having an XP bonus for being single-classed. Baroness Bella should have this too, but I'm guessing it's not working correctly due to the paladin class being modded into the game. As you can see, the multi-class characters all have the same XP other than Brin, because, if you remember, she was unconscious for a single combat back in the Slums)

As I suggested it a bit ago, and didn't get any objections, I'm going to use the editor to change Bant's longsword into a battleaxe. This is actually a bit of a nerf since battleaxes only do 1d8 vs large creatures while longswords do 1d12 (which was probably the main use of a d12 back in 1e and 2e days). But it's nice to do so for role-playing purposes, since what self-respecting dwarf goes around using a longsword?

So to do this, we open the editor (which you have to get from the GBC website, as the Steam version of GBC doesn't have it)

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We go to the upper right, and choose his longsword.

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And use the dropdown to change the weapon to "Battle Axe"

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But... that actually only changes its name on screen (which will come in handy in Pools of Darkness when someone decided, for no apparent reason, that battleaxes are two-handed - so I'll do a sneaky reversal of what we are doing here and re-name a longsword to battleaxe for Bant to use, and this time it will be doing 1d8/1d12 damage). To actually change it to a real battleaxe, we have to click in the section below the dropdown and change the Type. "36" is the number for longsword...

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And "1" is the type for battleaxe, as it's the first weapon alphabetically in the list.

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I hit "Apply item changes", and we have turned that longsword into a battleaxe!

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We then hit "Apply changes" on the right, and go back to Bant's character sheet to see it updated in-game.

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Well, that was certainly exciting. So, what to do now? We have commissions for the graveyard and the gate, but looking at the characters' XP, I notice that there are three of them very close to leveling up:

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So, instead of doing one of the two tough commissions we currently have available, why not do something relatively easy to gain those levels? What we can do is clear Podol Plaza. We went there to observe the auction, which completed the mission we were given at the time, but there's also a reward if you clear the block afterwards. We didn't do so at point, since, as you will see, the battles there would have been a bit tough for lower-level characters. Now that the party is much more powerful, we'll head over there and clear the block by defeating 10 random encounters to complete this bonus mission. In any case, by clearing Podol Plaza, it will make it easier to get to Stojanow Gate here shortly, since we have to go through the former to get to the latter.

So, back through the gate and past the glares of the guards, who still apparently don't trust us.

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Through the Slums and Kuto's Well we go...

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Until we get to Podol Plaza.

What we will do is circle around the platform where the auction took place in the center of the block, and put on "Search", which will greatly increase our chance of running into a random encounter. Sure enough, we soon bump into some goblins.

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We advance.

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We advance again.

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(This series of three screens happens for each encounter in the zone while we're doing this, so we'll skip it in the future)

We choose combat, of course.

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While you are clearing this block, the game tells you exactly how many creatures you are fighting, which is nice, since all of them, as you can see, are in large groups.

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Of course, even 31 goblins aren't any challenge to us. My warriors can sweep them, while the ranged take them out easily with their fine longbows. The only real issue is flanking, but we can take them out before that becomes more than a minor nuisance. It's not really worth even expending spell slots for them!

In fact, we take so many down so quickly that, even with a large number remaining, they start surrendering.

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We move a few steps...

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Yeah, 31 wasn't even near the maximum numbers you can meet up here. As you can see, this is why you wait until a bit later to clear this block - lower-level characters could potentially take some serious damage before clearing out this many, even if they are just goblins.

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Again, we just sweep and fire our bows...

However, this group has some leaders, so our ranged are going to concentrate on them, since the leaders have bows themselves.

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Again we wear them down. Once the leaders are taken out, they begin surrendering again...

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And the battle is, again, quickly over.

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Given our positioning, I realize that going clockwise around the auction block means that Brother Baltor is on the outside edge. By going counterclockwise, Bant would be on the outside edge, which will set him up nicely for sweeping (which Brother Baltor, as a ranger, doesn't get for some reason). So I reverse direction and begin marching around counterclockwise for this reason.

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We'll pick up here next time (and I'll make sure to summarize these battles reasonably quickly, since it's mainly just marching around in a circle killing things).

In the meantime, since I couldn't fit it in the last post, here is the map of the Zhent Outpost:

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Pool of Radiance (Part 49): Return to Podol Plaza (Part 2)

We continue to work on clearing Podol Plaza.

A short time after dealing with the second goblin group, we meet up with a different type of foe...

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Hmmmm! This will be quite a bit tougher than goblins, since we can't sweep.

Time for a slightly more... violent approach.

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Brin luckily is able to cast the spell before any orcs can hit her...

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20 points is decent damage for a fireball cast by a 5th-level magic user, and even if they make their saves, they're still dead.

After watching the damage kill each in turn (which takes a bit), there's now a nice hole in the middle of their group, and a lot fewer orcs to have to deal with.

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In fact, it doesn't take much more to have them start to surrender.

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And this battle is soon over.

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Walking a bit further, we meet up with another foe, this one a bit more powerful than the last...

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Ogres are a bit worrisome, but there are only nine of them, so we should be able to take them down fairly quickly, even with them having significantly more HP than orcs and goblins.

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They annoyingly begin to flank, so Bragir has to switch to his melee weapon...

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But that's only a minor speedbump as we rapidly take them down.

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Not long after... it's ogres again.

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They go down as quickly as the last bunch.

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One annoyingly tries to run.

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But it's hard to outrun arrows...

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And the battle is over.

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We're several battles in, and even with the huge number of foes, we've barely suffered a scratch...

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A few steps more, and we're back to goblins again.

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They start flanking, so Bragir decides to deal with those near him...

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Outside of that, they are quickly being dealt with.

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Some begin to flee...

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But, again, we have bows to deal with any runners, while we clear out the last few that stand their ground nearby.

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Next battle, it's goblins yet again.

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55 is our biggest number yet.

But we have ways of thinning their ranks.

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We're already seven battles in, so Bragir decides to wipe them out a bit more efficiently.

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Worryingly, several goblins flank and attempt to hit him, but none actually land a blow before he gets off the spell.

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16 points of damage means that any ones in the radius are certainly dead.

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Now we just need to concentrate on the leaders, and they should start surrendering or breaking morale soon.

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Or they surrender before I kill them. Either way works.

But it's only the leaders that surrender - the grunts decide to run away, and there's a lot of them doing so.

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I pick off as many as I can with arrows, but some do manage to get away.

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Since Brin and Bragir have used their fireball spells, the party decides to go to the only safe zone in area to rest so we can get them back. I had planned to do that halfway through, after the fifth encounter, but we haven't encountered many orc groups, and no hobgoblin groups, which are the ones where fireballs are the most necessary, so it was possible to hold off on doing so..

We head to the southwestern corner of the zone, to the hidden temple of Ilmater.

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We heal up, memorize our spells, and head back out. With only a few encounters to go, we should finish up quickly.

But we've reached the image limit, so we'll complete clearing the zone in the next post.

Pool of Radiance (Part 50): Return to Podol Plaza (Part 3) - Podol Plaza completed (again)!

The party leaves the temple, and continues to work on clearing out the last few random encounters in Podol Plaza.

Soon enough, it's goblins again.

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With only a few encounters left to do, we pull out the big guns as soon as we can...

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A 16 damage fireball is hardly ideal, but it's easily enough to take down any goblin in its radius.

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To deal with the goblins nearby, Bragir follows with a spell of his own.

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Basically, between those two spells (and a sweep or two), the goblins have already had enough.

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Unfortunately, this means a large number of them are running away instead of just a few like on previous occasions. I mean, having a reputation where you see your enemies driven before you is nice (that's part of what's best in life, after all), but it makes it so much more annoying to deal with them as they scatter all over the place.

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We take out as many as possible with arrows, but still quite a few get away.

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As the last one flees, the battle is over.

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Now nearly done, we walk forward a bit to our next encounter.

Which is goblins.... again.

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(55 is the maximum number possible, so that's why we keep getting that many)

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With Bragir going first, and since we've long since become tired of large groups of goblins, and since they are still nicely bunched up, it's time for a fireball again.

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Oh, isn't that just a lovely bunched-up group to launch a fireball into? The only spaces within the spell's radius without a goblin standing in them are the the three center squares of the bottom row.

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20 damage is yet again nothing less than overkill, and the spell leaves another huge hole in their ranks. We took down probably 2/3 of them with just this single spell...

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Bant sweeps away on some of the survivors...

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And shortly thereafter, the few still left again start to flee.

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And again, as the last one flees, the battle is over.

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We've been picking up spare change after each battle, and I noticed that some of the party were beginning to move a bit slow.

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Well, that much change will do that. Let's hope we don't have much in the way of battles necessitating any high mobility soon.

We continue to wander...

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But after making several circuits of the auction block, it seems that there are no more encounters left. I've gone back and counted, and it seems that we've done only 9 instead of the 10 required, but sometimes there are invisible triggers in the programming that count as an encounter, so maybe that's what happened here.

The only way to find out is to head back to the City Clerk and see if we get the reward for clearing the block. So back through Kuto's Well we go...

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Then through the Slums, past the never-ending glares of the guards at the gate...

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And in to see the City Clerk.

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Yep, looks like we've completed it!

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Hopefully that's enough to get everyone leveled up who was close, as that was the whole purpose of tediously killing literally hundreds of goblins and other creatures in Podol Plaza.

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Argh. What the...? There can't be a hair's breadth left in Brin's XP bar!

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Off by a mere 12 XP.

Well, let's level up the other two at least.

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It's just fighter levels, but every bit helps, especially with lowering that THAC0. Still, it's not as bad as if had been their non-fighter levels and Brin was just agonizingly short of getting fireball #2 each day. If I didn't have auto leveling on, I'd just go to the training hall and have Brin fight a duel to gain the required XP, but since I do have it enabled, she'll just gain the XP in the very next encounter and level up then.

We go to the store, and as we didn't pick up any loot of significance in clearing Podol Plaza, we basically do nothing but buy arrows in order to get our pooled funds rounded off to gold and platinum.

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Time to rest up before we head out for an actual challenge.

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We heal up and memorize spells...

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But our memorized spell list for the magic-users will look a bit different now.

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Because where we are going, sleep spells will be of little help (if not outright useless), whereas magic missile is almost always effective. Yes, we're finally about to enter the Valhingen Graveyard, where undead abound.

To get to the graveyard, we can either traverse the entire city back to Podol Plaza and exit to the west, or just get on a boat. Obviously, the latter is the preferred, quicker option.

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Across the Bay, sir.

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An invisible boat, it seems.

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We leave the boat, and move one square north.

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And now we have the option of entering the graveyard. Far faster than going all the way through three blocks of the city!

We go through the gateway into the graveyard...

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(Not shown is the flash of light and crash of thunder that appears for just a moment between this screen and the next. It's actually pretty effective as an early CRPG jump-scare).

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We'll end the post here at this point, before venturing into the graveyard. Next time we'll start the exploration of this hellish, undead-filled landscape...
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Pool of Radiance (Part 51): Valhingen Graveyard (Part 1)

We walk forward a bit, warily, from the main gateway, But before too long...

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(I really enjoy the overall feel and atmosphere of the Valhingen Graveyard. It's actually also pretty challenging, too, even at the party's level. The designers of this area really hit a home run).

The skeletons rise from their graves, and the battle is on! That's a lot of skeletons! Luckily, they only have 5 HP each. Unluckily, only bludgeoning weapons do full damage. Luckily again, my characters have enough strength to more or less negate that issue.

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(By the way, all the gravestones from the map are huge walls on the battle map. It's like we've all been miniaturized, or in a giants' graveyard. This increase in scale from main map to battle map has been noticeable before, but it's more obvious here!)

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Time for Brother Baltor to shine! One of the reasons to wait until the cleric is 6th level before coming here is that clerics don't just turn skeletons and zombies at that level, they outright destroy them. Let's see what he can do! Turn baby, turn!

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He only managed to get a couple of them :(

Oh well, we'll just grind them down the long way then. It's not like they'll be able to do much damage against us, even in those numbers.

They still do manage to flank, so Bragir has to break out the melee weapons.

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Soon, however, we've driven them away from our ranged and have the skeletons penned away from them. Brother Baltor moves south to draw the ones nearby towards him instead of through that gap and up to the ranged.

And in a couple more rounds of bone-crushing, the battle is over.

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And that's enough to level Brin up after missing out by so few XP in the last post.

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Now that we're well into the graveyard, a quick overview of our goals here. The Valhingen Graveyard is divided into several sections, each prominently featuring a certain type of undead, with a few scattered other types here and there. We are, as you may have guessed, currently in the skeleton zone. The goal in each section is to destroy whatever is creating the type of undead for that section. Beyond that as well, the number of the typical undead that can appear in encounters in a section is capped at a certain number based on your party level and strength, so once you kill enough to bring that number down to zero, and also kill the creator, that section of the graveyard will be considered cleared, and no more of that type of undead will appear there. Go out of the graveyard and return without doing both, and you could just reset the undead count right back to where it was at the start. And it's useful to be able to leave if you want to rest, as if you try to rest in the graveyard, even in a cleared area, you'll likely be interrupted by ghouls.

So, we warily move to the south, towards a big building in that direction.

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Well, it certainly will help in destroying them if we surprise them!

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Another large group. Hopefully Brother Baltor does a bit better this time with turning...

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Looks like he got around 7 this time - much better (you can destroy up to 1d12 per attempt in 1e, apparently)

After that, it's just time to grind them down. It's a pity that Bant and Baroness Bella can't sweep them, and all the lowered damage means periodically a hit won't damage a skeleton enough to kill it fully and leave it with 1 HP.

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The skeletons annoyingly go around that wall and reach my ranged, but we soon take care of that.

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And soon the battle is won.

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We move around that corner and reach the entrance to the building. We enter, and...

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That's hardly an army compared to what we've just been fighting.

Time for Brother Baltor to do his thing!

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He does fairly well and takes out a few of them. Shortly thereafter, the battle is done.

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We move through the doorway into the next room...

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Oooh, a giant skeleton!

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With 28 HP, it's not going to go down in just one hit.

It's turnin' time!

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And he takes out a good number of them this time! Only a few remain down to the southeast. The giant skeleton was of course not affected.

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So my melee concentrate on the giant skeleton while my ranged take on the ones in the far corner. Of course, they do start to move up, but by that time, we've taken out their leader.

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And shortly thereafter, the battle is done.

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We do a quick search.

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Of course we open it!

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Wow! That's a good amount of XP for us at this level! There must be some nice treasure in that chest.

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I assume that most of that XP came from the jewelry. The scrolls are, yet again, two copies of restoration each. While we're appreciative for all these scrolls as we're in an undead-infested area, we've actually begun to run out of room to efficiently store them in our inventory!

We leave this building and continue southwest, to a larger structure in the corner of the graveyard. When we reach its door...

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Brother Baltor turns again...

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And only gets a couple of them.

Meanwhile, the skeletons are yet again moving around the wall to the north to attempt to flank.

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But we soon start wearing down their numbers. With no skeletons in front of him, Brother Baltor moves around to shore up the front in that area.

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And the battle is quickly over.

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Now that the battle is won, we look towards the door to our left.

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Well, that's hardly a good sign. But we need to get into that building, so, with trepidation, we open the door and enter.

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Ouch! Luckily we haven't been hurt too much before, and only two characters are affected.

We continue up the steps at the far end of the room (the map keeps you on the same level, but that sort of doorway indicates a stairwell, even if you aren't technically going up or down in game terms).

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Aha! The creature responsible for creating the skeletons (who is momentarily invisible in that screenshot as it flickers in and out). Destroy it, and we'll be all but done with this area of the graveyard.

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Spectre! We need to take it down quickly! If it hits anyone, it's level-drain time.

Bows are useless, as it's immune to non-magical weapon damage and we don't have any magic arrows left, so everyone switches to melee to destroy the incorporeal undead. Luckily we have initiative on it since it was surprised, and after a few hits, Bragir moves forward and slays the foul creature, even before Brother Baltor could attempt to turn (which would be tough to achieve at his level anyway)

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Another nice XP reward!

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At this point, after moving Bragir up, I realize I've been nerfing myself a bit - Baroness Bella and Bant have been carrying around the special undead-killing two-handed swords we got earlier, but aren't using them. I move them over to Brin and Bragir to use while here whenever they get into melee.

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(As you can see, I've gotten so overloaded with restoration scrolls that Bragir is carrying some spares for Brother Baltor.)

Since the spectre was the one creating the skeletons, as long as I've killed enough skeletons in this zone to bring their count down to zero, I've cleared this section and neither the roaming skeletons nor their spectral creator will respawn if I leave. I move around this part of the zone to see if I trigger any more skeleton patrols.

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After moving all around this area for some time in "Search" mode (which increases encounter probabilities), the party encounters no more skeletons. It does appear that we've dropped the skeleton count to zero, which, combined with taking out that spectre, means that this area will remain free of skeletons should I go in and out of the graveyard. It's time to enter the next section, just beyond the point where the party is standing now: the zombie zone!

We'll pick up there in the next post.

Pool of Radiance (Part 52): Valhingen Graveyard (Part 2)

Time to start clearing the zombie zone. We literally take one step into their area and...

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This will actually be a bit easier than the skeleton area, actually, since there are fewer zombies per random encounter, and the characters will all be doing full damage against them (unlike the skeletons which took full damage only from bludgeoning). So despite them having twice as many HP as the skeletons, we should be able to push through these fights a bit more quickly.

Yet again, Brother Baltor does what he does best...

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Excellent turn attempt! Looks like he got 11 out of a max of 12!

(By the way, this is why I had a cleric as a potential seventh PC for the game. I've played with seven characters before, and two clerics here really take out a lot of undead and make clearing the graveyard so much easier).

We rapidly take down the others.

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And soon the battle is over.

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After finishing the battle, we continue south and east towards a large building nearby. As we reach the door, we're met by yet another group of zombies.

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Ugh, that's not a good position to start the battle. Massive numbers of zombies to either side, ready to move at will towards my ranged.

Luckily, Brother Baltor is able to turn a large number of them (I failed to get a good action screenshot of him doing so), which takes out almost all of them on the east side.

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The ones to the west still outflank the group though. But it's not as bad as the ranged being attacked from both sides. Also helping out here is that zombies always go last in initiative, which helps out thinning their ranks before they can even attack.

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Time to break out the new sword for Bragir.

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And soon the battle is over.

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We enter the door to the building...

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A juju zombie. It's basically a tougher version of a zombie that really hasn't seen much updating since 2e (apparently it did get 3e stats, but in one of the more obscure FR products, and nothing since). Annoyingly, it looks exactly the same as the other garden-variety zombies surrounding it.

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Well, ranged isn't going to do well against it, since it appears it can only be damaged by magical weapons.

But beyond that, it's Brother Baltor's turn..

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He apparently only managed to get 2 this time...

But he makes up for it on his next turn by taking the juju zombie down.

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Soon, there are only a few left.

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And the battle is over...

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Let's see what the juju zombie was guarding.

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Very nice! So much so that my magic users are close to leveling and getting that precious second fireball per day, with Brother Baltor soon to gain a ranger level as well.

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You can probably guess what's on those scrolls. I appreciate that the game gives you lots of restoration spells if you need it, but it's really becoming an inventory-clogging issue now.

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The most notable item in this treasure is a second wand of lightning. We'll give that to Bragir since Brin already has the one we got from the Zhent outpost.

We leave this building and head up north to the next notable structure in the area.

I'll say right now that this upcoming fight is probably my most hated in the game. I was even considering skipping it, because it so often ends up in a TPK or at least with a lot of the party dead and the rest in bad shape in more ways than one. But I decided to give it at least one shot just for completeness' sake.

We enter this new building, and spot some sarcophagi against the far wall. We approach, and...

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Ugh. Five mummies. They are a real pain to deal with on just an individual level, but five is just plain awful. Usually it's just two or three at most, but I apparently had some bad luck with the random number generator this time.

However, I did have some good luck in another way. As you can see, Brin is incapacitated due to the mummies' fright aura. But the other five characters, including the ones immediately next to the mummies, are not. Usually, and this is one of the reasons I dread this fight, one or more of the characters next to the mummies will be affected by the fear as well, leading to insta-kills. Thankfully, none of the mummies can get around to Brin before the effect wears off next round.

(Besides the fear aura, mummies can inflict characters with the mummy rot disease if they hit, which is another way of them causing problems even with characters that survive. I also foolishly failed to pre-buff for this fight, since bless and prayer would help with the saving throws for the effect, as well as help out in other ways).

OK, Brother Baltor, it's time for a pretty vital turn attempt...

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They are too high level for him to outright destroy, but he still manages to get a truly excellent turn attempt and gets four out of the five! They will be running right past my melee in their attempts to escape, which means plenty of free attacks. And I can just concentrate on the one non-turned one to take it down while the others huddle in the far end of the room.

After they move around a bit, Brin shakes off her fear, and plots her revenge...

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Since they're scattered, this will at least get the three around Bant (one of the five has already gotten taken out simply by running past my melee due to be turned and succumbing to the free attacks).

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And it takes them out entirely. The only one remaining is a turned one that's fled to the upper corner. Since non-magical arrows can't harm them, Brin continues to cast her spells.

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I run my melee up there, and Bant takes the last one out.

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The good news is that none of the mummies managed to get even a single hit in, meaning I'm safe from mummy rot (confirmed by the GBC window which lists statuses for each character). I remember years ago not checking for it after this battle, and then midway through Curse of the Azure Bonds, after one month of in-game time had occurred, one of my characters began taking mysterious - and permanent - CON damage because of it.

We gain enough XP for several characters to level! And, as mentioned previously, no nasty red "Mummy Rot" in the statuses above the characters.

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Bragir doesn't have much to choose from for his spells, so protection from evil, 10' radius it is.

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Brin goes for the much more important lightning bolt. Yes, she does have a wand, but that will go bye-bye when the party is imported into CotAB.

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Surprisingly, there's no treasure to be found in here (I mean, usually mummy tombs are stereotypically filled with good stuff - I guess this one was previously looted).

I would like to go and rest so my magic-users can memorize their spells now that they have leveled, but I need to wait until I can confirm the zombie zone is cleared so I'm not having to fight things in this area all over again. So we head out and move towards the remaining building in this area.

As we get to its doorway...

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Not too bad of a fight. The ones to the south will be bottlenecked by that doorway. And Brother Baltor gets to go first!

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Well, he got a few of them, but it shouldn't take to long to defeat the rest.

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We enter the building now that the doorway has been cleared. Oddly, despite the text from the start of the previous battle saying that it had been locked, it opens normally.

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At least no poisonous gas this time!

We go through some doors and up some steps, until we enter the main room of the building.

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Another spectre creating undead!

This one was surprised as well, so we quickly concentrate on taking it down as quickly as possible. Both Brin and Bragir shoot off magic missiles toward it.

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And soon it's dead, before it could even hit us once.

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It has decent, if not terribly exciting, treasure.

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We head out and wander around the zombie area to see if we trigger any more random encounters. After moving around for quite awhile, nothing else pops up, so it seems that we've cleared this part of the graveyard. As a result, we're going to leave the graveyard to rest up and memorize spells for the next, much more dangerous section: the wight zone! We'll pick up there in the next post.
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