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D&D General Demetrios1453 Plays the Gold Box Games

Pool of Radiance (Part 56): Valhingen Graveyard (Part 6) - Valhingen Graveyard completed!

Having sanctified the vampire's coffin, we are actually going to backtrack a bit for an encounter that can only take place at this point. It's a bit awkward to have to head back, but for some reason, the programmers didn't allow for the encounter to be triggered the first time you go through that location.

So we head back towards the edge of the wight zone, and meet a man wandering, completely not suspiciously, around the graveyard.

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Nah, bud, you're an obvious trap (and he is, he'll betray you the first chance he gets if you let him join).

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A 6th-level magic-user is nothing to sneeze at at this point, but there's only one of him and six of us.

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And that is that.

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Nice, we'll give that to Buffy, who only has a +1 ring right now.

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We'll trade the old +1 ring to Brin, to be saved for later.

This encounter taken care of, we return to the northeastern corner of the graveyard to search for our elusive vampire. We find what looks to be a wall in front of us, but GBC shows there's a door there...

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We go through and find some stairs going down.

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A pit seems as good a spot to find a vampire as any, so down we go!

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We'll ask him if he's seen a vampire anywhere around.

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Woah! The tall, pale man with very white teeth was the vampire all along!

Note that our efreet buddy, who has been chilling out in his bottle this whole time since the kobold caves, has decided to pop out now that we've encountered a vampire. Unfortunately, he's not in the best position to get at the vampire, with little hope of the battlefield opening up in a way for him to do so.

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The vampire has apparently called for some wolves to aid him, as vampires are wont to do.

Time to start taking this threat down before he can harm us! The magic users pop some magic missiles.

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The efreet, in the only useful thing it can do in this battle, takes down one of the wolves.

I move Buffy around to get into position for an epic backstab. Honestly, a character named Buffy taking down the vampire from behind? You couldn't script it any better!

She misses.

Baroness Bella takes down the vampire right after.

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With the vampire down, the remaining wolf goes quickly.

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The battle is won! The vampire is dead!

But suddenly...

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Argh. Stupid vampires!

But before we follow it...

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We sure do!

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That's a lot of gold. Enough that it threatens to start encumbering my party. We'll still take it anyway - we're adventurers after all!

As for the items it had here...

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Oh look. Even more scrolls of restoration. Not like we don't already have a couple dozen already. And why would a vampire have scrolls of restoration anyway? I guess loot from previous, less lucky, adventurers?

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The shield gets put aside to be sold, and I'll give the wand to Bragir, whose wand of lightning seems to have used its last charge and crumbled into dust the last time he used it.

But it's no time to linger. We need to track down the vampire before it can re-form and regain its full power. Obviously, it's going to head back to the coffin we encountered earlier.

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That's a pretty funny way of putting it. "Oh, by the way, there's a vampire here." Not even "The vampire you previously defeated is here" or something similar.

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He's considerably weakened compared to the last fight, so we hopefully can take him down quickly.

And indeed we do...

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With the XP of killing him, Baroness Bella can now gain a level!

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And somehow I missed the screenshot for the level-up window. She will now have 105 HP, her THAC0 goes down by one, and, like Bant, she will now get 3 attacks every 2 rounds.

Now that we're done here, it's back to the city to earn our well-deserved reward. The Valhingen Graveyard is one of the toughest and most combat-intensive areas of the game, so the reward better be good!

We leave the graveyard and head towards the boat.

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And return to the city.

Instead of going straight to the City Clerk, we head to the weapon shop so we can clear out inventory and consolidate our cash to lighten our encumbrance. Several party members were down to only a 3 speed in the last vampire fight.

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The first thing we do is sell all those extraneous cleric scrolls. We have a lot of them.

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Yes please.

Brother Baltor's inventory in particular is filled with them.

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We'll let him keep a couple just in case, as well as the scroll with 3 spells which has some non-restoration spells. His inventory looks much better once the rest are gone.

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Remember how I gave Brin the extra ring of protection +1? It's because we can buy her just plain old non-magical banded mail and have her wear that with the ring, which will lower her AC compared to her chainmail +1 alone.

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With that, we buy some arrows to consolidate our coin. Our funds at this point:

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All done at the store, it's time to see the City Clerk!

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"Some" undead. My dear City Clerk, there was far more than just "some". Still, we'll take the reward...

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That's OK I guess.

Then she speaks again:

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OK, "special prize" sounds more like it!

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Wow, that's a lot of XP!

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25 jewelry is actually quite a lot.

Once she's given us the reward, she mentions that Urslingen wants to see us, which is just him imploring, once again, for us to capture the Stojanow Gate:

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It's our next stop anyway, so hopefully we'll give him cause to quit his whining about this soon.

To prepare for our assault on the gate, we head back to the in to heal up and memorize spells. And to scribe those spells on the magic-user scroll we found!

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Brin will scribe the one spell on the scroll she doesn't have.

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And after that's done, Bragir will scribe the remaining two.

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Spells scribed and memorized, we rest up. Next stop, the Stojanow Gate! We'll start up that mission in the next post. With only this and the castle left to go, we're in the endgame now!

Valhingen Graveyard map:

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The graveyard is one of the most atmospheric and thrilling parts of Pool of Radiance and has always stood out to me as a highlight of the adventure.

However, when I recently adapted the adventure for live play (when I ran a Pool-of-Radiance & Curse of the Azure Bonds mega campaign), it struck me at how random the vampire and the graveyard are with the rest of the story. So I tried to find some connective tissues.

(Spoiler tags because I spoil some things about the video game...)

I decided that the vampire should have a personal reason for wanting to raise an undead army to take on Tyranthraxus, so I came up with the idea that he was a previous host to the spirit, who had only barely managed to survive the process and became a vampire due to his own twisted will and all the supernatural forces at play. Feeling rejected by Tyranthraxus, he naturally wanted revenge, and hunted him down over many years, searching for a way to control the Pool of Radiance. I had him try to actually forge an alliance with the player characters after they trashed his undead-making factories (they politely declined).

As for the random mage you encounter in the graveyard, I made him 'Genheeris', the high-ranking mage you encounter in the final stage, sent to spy on the player-characters and their progress in the grayeyard. This let me introduce one of Tyranthraxus' lieutenants early on and give the players an 'a-ha!' moment when they encounter him later... in my game Genheeris teleported out of the graveyard before the PCs could attack him.

As some side-notes, I linked the silver dragon in the mountains to the bronze dragon, they were friends and he was looking for the fate of his companion. And Yarash I tied to Dracandros in the next game... but I don't want to digress too much!


Pool of Radiance (Part 57): Stojenow Gate (Part 1) - Stojanow Gate Completed!

To get to the Stojanow Gate, we have to go back across the city, as it's on the northern edge of Podol Plaza. So, we head back into the Slums.

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At this point I would hope it would be more "enviously" than "suspiciously". Also, it would have been cool if after a certain point (say clearing Podol Plaza or the Cadorna Textile House), there would be text that the Slums have started to be resettled by good, law-abiding folk.

We head past Kuto's Well...

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And through Podol Plaza, exiting it to the north.

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A short distance into the Stojanow Gate area, we meet up with an interesting character.

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We decide to converse with the man.

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250 GP? Is it a solid sterling silver wagon, or something? But still, it's our best hope to get through the gate undetected so we can get past its guards unaware. I have a feeling that Mr Cart Driver knows this and has upped the price accordingly. So we fork over the money. It's not like we don't have enough to spare.

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Thanks, I guess.

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Giants in the castle? That's worrying news. And it appears that we'll be fighting bugbear guards to gain control of the gate.

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Bugbears and ettins at the gate, it seems. Well, he's somewhat made up for his price gouging with some decent information at least.

Taking his wagon and posing as simple merchants, we move forward towards the gate.

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A bit of a geographic reminder for those who don't want to search through the thread to find the post with this map:

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I can only guess that supplies and reinforcements are being sneaked through Podol Plaza even though it's been cleared of enemy patrols.

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Watching the bugbears warily, we move forwards towards the wall to the right of the gate.

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Not wanting to blow our cover, we move back away from the wall, then head west towards the gate itself.

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This is getting to be an expensive subterfuge. But not wanting to blow our cover, we pay up.

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Success! We are through the gate undetected! Now we just need to take out the guards in the towers to either side of the gate, then return to take care of the bugbears.

We head towards the east tower first.

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Up we go!

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I assume the 14-foot long beds are for the ettins.

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You'd think we would have noticed that before we noticed the furniture!

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Yikes! The Boss has a medusa? Good to know that ahead of time.

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Well, surprise combat time it is!

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Oh dear, that's never good. Well, let's take out this group as quickly as possible.

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Well, the bad news is that there's a magic-user in this bunch. The good news is that he's apparently suicidal and decided to run to the front, when a wall of ettins ahead of him would have been a far more prudent strategy. We obviously focus our fire on him.

As my melee begin to swing away at him, Brin decides that they all look a bit chilly and could do with a nice warm fire.

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By the time she can cast, the magic-user is down and the aide next to him is already pretty hurt.

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23 points! Not bad. While the ettins are still up, the poor aide has met his end.

With the ettins wounded, it takes little time to take them down as well, and the battle is soon over.

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There isn't much treasure, but among it is a magical ring!

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Another ring of protection +2! That will be a nice upgrade for Brin!

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With nothing else here, we head out and go to the western tower.

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And up we go!

It's described exactly the same as the previous tower, to the 14-foot beds and the same inhabitants. At least they are having a different conversation.

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Considering the only area of Phlan left under the Boss' control is this gate and the castle behind it, this seems to be a bit... optimistic.

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Hmm, I guess that alarm in the other tower can't be heard here. Surprise attack it is, again!

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And Brin does the exact same thing as well...

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And she does the exact same damage a well. Serious deja vu in this battle!

The humans have been taken out again, and all that needs to be done is to take out the wounded ettins.

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After killing the first two, the survivor runs to the other side of the room. Bant and Baroness Bella give chase, with Bant getting the killing blow in.

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Sadly, no magic ring in the treasure this time.

All that's left now is to take care of the bugbears at the gate. We head back down from this tower and go east. Upon entering the gate area....

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Even with that many bugbears, this should go quickly.

Bragir has felt left out when it comes to the fireball department, so he takes his chance to lob one into that big group of bugbears...

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That's basically every bugbear left since my melee rushed forward and took out a few. That one gaining cover behind the wall is going to have a (briefly) lucky day.

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Oooh, 30 points of damage. By far the best fireball we've seen so far!

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Three made their saves, while the one sheltered by the wall took no damage. Not that he'll last much longer...

We rapidly take out the survivors...

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And soon the battle is over.

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They don't have any real treasure. By the time we've done searching them...

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And the Stojanow Gate is now in the hands of the forces of Phlan! Only the castle remains in the Boss' hands.

With that done, we head back to town.

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Suspiciously among the cheering crowds, no doubt.

Off to visit the City Clerk!

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And with that, as she says, we will head back and lead the assault on the Valjevo Castle, the stronghold of Tyranthraxus. That's where we'll pick up next time.

Map of the Stojanow Gate:

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As you can see, it's a pretty encounter-light area, which is why I was able to get it all into a single post.
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Pool of Radiance (Part 58): Valjevo Castle (Part 1)

With the Stojanow Gate cleared, it's time to head for the final location of the game - Valjevo Castle, where Tyranthraxus awaits!

But first, the reward given by the Clerk is enough for Bant to level up.

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Bant has hit the max level for fighter in the game, and thus GBC will show his XP bar as full from here on out.

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Everyone else still has levels to gain in one class or another, although we've hit max for Brother Baltor's cleric levels and Bragir's and Brin's magic-user levels. We might max out other classes as well before the game is over. I'll probably have a significant amount of leveling to do immediately at the start of Curse of the Azure Bonds.

Off to the store. We didn't get much of interest, so it's mainly buying arrows and consolidating my funds.

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And now to the inn rest, heal, and memorize spells before we trek across town to the castle.

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Once we're ready to go, we head back to the Slums...

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(I really hope the party will have the clout to get these guards fired once we've finished saving the city)

And then we go through Kuto's Well...

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Through Podol Plaza, and then the Stojanow Gate...

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Until we reach the entry to the castle area.

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Valjevo Castle is huge. It's basically divided into three concentric sections, each larger than the last. In the center is the castle proper, surrounded by a large hedge maze, and then an outer castle area. We're headed into the outermost section first, which is divided into four quadrants. The entrances from the Stojanow Gate lead to the southwestern quadrant.

As we enter this area, we go into the first door on the right.

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As one of the strategy guides says, it's a big leap from us being someone they haven't seen before to assuming that we're here to kill Tyranthraxus! But if that's what they want to leave, we won't disabuse them of the notion.

We choose "Nice" and speak to them.

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Sure! Sounds like as good a plan as any!

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Simply leaving is the best choice. You can tie them up, but there's a chance they'll be discovered and the disguise fails, and if you kill them, they not only curse you as you die, but the disguise will be ineffective as well.

Being disguised means we can walk around without too much interference, unless the party does something to set off an alarm, in which case you'll be questioned and possibly attacked by the alerted guards. But even then, it's hard to lose the disguise unless you do a few specific things.

We're going to fully explore the entire southwestern quadrant, then turn back around and explore the remaining quadrants counter-clockwise. This gets the best items as quickly as possible.

So we head out from the laundry and head west. We skip past a few doors for the moment, and enter the first door along the western wall....

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This room isn't accessed much, so it will be a safe place to rest. We don't need to do so yet, but it's good to identify such locations as quickly as possible should we need to hastily retreat to one.

We're going to rest since it's night, and it's better for most encounters if we wait until day.

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Rested up, we head out and go through one of the doors we passed previously.

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Fire giants! That's a pretty rough first encounter of one of the true giant types.

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We walk up to him.

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We can't let the smith armor up Tyranthraxus' forces, especially with fire giants at his side. So we decide to attack.

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Luckily 1e fire giants are much weaker than their current versions. We start concentrating on taking them down.

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We take them out so quickly (I guess we took them by surprise) that they don't even get a shot in before all but one is dead. The survivor rapidly retreats across the room.

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And Brin takes him out with a bow shot.

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The giants give excellent XP.

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Mainly because of what they have in their bags...

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The game faithfully follows 1e rules on giants' bags, meaning they have a ridiculous amount of coin after you kill them. It's not convenient to carry around (and we actually decline to do so to avoid encumbrance), but it is very helpful on the path to leveling up.

The smith apparently had a couple of magic items, which we take in lieu of all that heavy coinage.

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Done here, we head north, investigating the doors to the east (the west is just a huge wall, with the hedge maze inside). Most of the rooms are unused and uninhabited, but some do stand out...

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Well, that's gross. We'll head out and see if we can find something less disturbing.

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And, yes, a temple of Bane is less disturbing than that smokehouse.

What exactly is at the end of the room that's crudely altering things? But before we can ponder 1980s spell-check errors...

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He definitely looks suitably smug to be a priest of Bane.

And, no, we politely decline being blessed by Bane. And by "politely", I mean "violently".

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Three clerics - we need to damage them as quickly as possible before they get any hold spells off! Luckily, the two 1st-level clerics will be taken out in a single hit, two at most.

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Yep, single shot.

Bant takes down the leader, which I unfortunately didn't get a screenshot of. But in any case, it's a quick battle, and the acolytes of evil have been taken down!

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Let's see what that cleric had...

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Very nice! All three items are upgrades!

Brother Baltor will keep the mace.

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I give Buffy the necklace so she can have something to do (firing off fireballs) when faced with foes immune to damage from non-magical weapons.

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And Bragir gets the plate, which an upgrade over his banded mail.

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We move back towards the "alter"

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No we don't. There's only a few silver in the offering box, and attempting to steal it will cause damage. Bane doesn't like people stealing his change!

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As tempting as it is (and, yes, they are magical swords), again we don't. First of all, the swords can only be equipped by characters of lawful evil alignment (which is one of the very few moments in the game where alignment matters) and will do damage to anyone else who tries to use them. Secondly, the swords are apparently quite distinctive and hard to hide, so we will lose our disguise if we remove them. So we leave them behind, and exit the temple.

And, well, that's it for the southwestern quadrant. We backtrack towards where we entered and then continue eastwards. Next stop, the southeastern quadrant! But we'll cover that in the next post.
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I messed up, set off the alarms, and my disguise did not hold up. Having to fight 6 hill giants and a fighter 6th, every 4-6 squares
There are piles of 10,000gp scattered everywhere as I cannot carry it. Luckily I can still rest in the coal shed.
Everyone is now max level but I guess I should continue to the end.

Pool of Radiance (Part 59): Valjevo Castle (Part 2)

On to the southeastern quadrant we go!

We go through the first door we see on the right, and...

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We seem to have fortuitously caught them, literally, napping...

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We charge into combat while they are unprepared.

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Eight hill giants it seems.

Well, with them all grouped up there...

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That neatly will hit them all, without endangering my party in the least.

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With that fireball having softened them up, they go down pretty quickly...

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And soon they begin surrendering.

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Again, some excellent XP due to the treasure they carry...

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No, not that treasure!

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Again, it's just too much for us to carry. We just leave it there for, presumably, the city militia who will come to clean this mess up later to find.

With nothing more to find in this room, we head to another nearby building. We enter and...

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This could randomly do damage to one or more characters, but somehow everyone dodged the falling debris.

This room, like the coal bunker, is safe to rest in (and no more cave-ins after this one either!)

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Despite this being perfect for a spider ambush, nothing so exciting happens. It's just flavor text.

We head north after reaching the corner of this quadrant. We enter the door immediately next to it.

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These are actual guards, and this their post. We attack as normal, but there's an added, and unpleasant, result.

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Ugh, that alarm means there will be extra patrols. We'll have to tread carefully for a bit until things calm down. Of course, that's after we deal with these two giants...

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With just two of them, they go down quite quickly.

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(I'm getting better at catching these final blows, which are much more interesting than the "The battle is over. Continue? Yes/No" screens)

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Hmm, that's not too much gold. We might be able to pack that away without gaining too much encumbrance. No harm in giving it a try!

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With that annoying alarm sounding, we head back to the safe area (the collapsed ceiling room) to rest until it goes away. Usually it's no more than two hours.

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A quick nap later, we head out to explore. Hopefully the alarm has died down.

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Well, darn.

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Another quick nap.

We head out, and, with no immediate messages that the alarm is sounding, we explore a bit and see two doors down an alley. We look into the first one, and see an old, familiar face.

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Well, well, well. How the mighty have fallen.

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I'm not terribly trusting of a person who can't even invoke Chauntea's name correctly. Well, that and trying to have us killed.

Tthe city has placed a bounty on his head. And they'll need that head as proof...

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Again, sorry, we have trust issues.

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And what all the pain to come exactly is... we'll see in Pools of Darkness.

That belated, bloody work done, we go to the next door down.

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Well, well, well, a well!

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I mean, we dived into the pools at the lizardman keep, so why not?

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Our hearty dwarf will!

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No, we just got our armor all wet just for fun.

Of course we do.

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Well, 1 point of damage is perfectly acceptable for a (hopefully) cool new sword.

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Oh, a very cool sword indeed. And a hot sword indeed!

Bant grumbles, but that's much better than his axe. So he equips it.

(I can only assume someone thought the sword was on fire and threw it into the well deliberately?)

We leave the alley, and continue to head north. At this point, we look west at the inner wall (Yes, there's a parallel inner wall in all four quadrants; you can see bits of it on the map). This is one of the entrances to the vast hedge maze within those walls, and, beyond and within it, the actual castle keep at the center of this whole complex, wherein lies, we assume, Tyranthraxus. We aren't going in there yet - we're going to complete the circuit of the four outer quadrants first.

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We head into the next door, and catch some hill giants unaware again.

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Let's hit them before they're fully armored up!

They're grouped up again, so you know what that means...

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Well, that's a complete garbage fireball roll. If you had rolled 6d6 out and got that, you'd be cursing at those dice when all the ones and twos showed up...

But it doesn't really matter in the end. Since we caught them by surprise, we kill off a bunch before they can even react, and the remainder surrender quickly.

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Good XP, but too much treasure, again.

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Suddenly, I get a message that that cursed alarm is still going off... And then we immediately have to deal with its consequences...

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Well, at least we're still inside, so we can murder this patrol without too much issue.

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Only five hill giants with their human minder. This won't be too bad, thankfully. And, as they are grouped up...

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This will catch them all other than that topmost giant, and Bant remains safe.

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Another terribly sub-par fireball.

Yes, giants throw their boulders at you. Brin luckily dodges one coming her way.

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These giants, being guards, don't surrender, so we have to take them down to the last man... er giant.

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Great XP again (which really helps as the needed XP to level goes up pretty substantially at these levels)

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Hmm, that's not too much gold, so maybe we can take it? As the party ponders the piles of gold spilling out of the giants' bags, I've unfortunately reached the image limit, so we'll pick back up here next time.
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I messed up, set off the alarms, and my disguise did not hold up. Having to fight 6 hill giants and a fighter 6th, every 4-6 squares
There are piles of 10,000gp scattered everywhere as I cannot carry it. Luckily I can still rest in the coal shed.
Everyone is now max level but I guess I should continue to the end.

If you search in a certain location (which will be in the upcoming post or the next), you'll find the passwords to give to the guards if you parlay with them.

Pool of Radiance (Part 60): Valjevo Castle (Part 3)

Tempted, the party takes the gold.

This was a mistake.

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Fully encumbered, there's nothing to do but drop it. We'll just ignore any massive amount of coins from giant bags from here on out.

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That's much better.

However, the human guard did have some treasure of his own...

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We'll keep that to sell later.

There's just one place left to explore in the southeastern quadrant. We head north and enter the last door before we head to the gate that leads out to the northeastern zone.

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Well, that's unexpected, and a bit annoying. We need to take them down quickly before they can bite. Luckily, even if they do, we're fairly high level so we still have a good chance to make our poison saves. But, there's still a chance someone will fail and suffer an insta-kill, so best take them out fast.

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Luckily, with so few, we are able to dispose of them quickly.

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With this quadrant done, we retreat back to the collapsed ceiling room and rest up before we head to the northeastern section.

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After resting, we head north into the next area.

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We enter the first building on the right.

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They don't take our explanation that we're here to learn calligraphy.

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I just imagine books, ink, and paper flying everywhere.

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With only two of them, this ends as quickly as expected.

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Let's see if they have anything of interest.

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Well, we already have a fine collection of two-handed swords as good or better, so they're sorted into the "to sell" column.

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Despite the noise and potential for interruption, we search the papers in this room.

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OK, so anyone who claims to be Tyranthraxus needs to be on fire, or they're a fake.

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Well, duh. We've permanently dealt with that issue though.

With that obnoxious alarm still ringing, we skip past a couple of doors and head to the safe room in this section.

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Woohoo! 0 XP!

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Here you can get any item sold in the regular weapons and armor store for free. At this point, that's really useless, unless you decide that profit is the only true objective, and steal as much as possible to drag all the way across town to sell.

Best just to rest up until that alarm clears.

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Actually, we want to wait until daylight again, which is helpful when it comes to encounters in this area.

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After resting overnight, we head back out shortly after dawn.

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It's still sounding? It must have been going all night. The monsters here will be particularly grumpy this morning, no doubt.

Nevertheless, we'll still explore around a bit and risk bumping into patrols.

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Sure, let's see what further info we can find.

But as we begin our search...

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They unfortunately don't take our excuse that we left our library cards at home.

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All nicely grouped up, so...

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Again, sucky damage. Either everyone is making their saving throws, or the dice hate me suddenly.

Still, with our weapons and ability, they go down swiftly.

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Great XP again...

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And we'll take the nice magic longsword. But the mounds of coins will have to stay.

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In fact, the XP was so good, several characters can now gain a level!

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Or, in Buffy's case, two levels, in different classes!

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ACs and HP are looking very nice now!

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Completely forgetting for the moment that we were supposed to be searching the books here, we cross the alleyway to the door directly across from this building.

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Neither of the bottom two choices lead to anything good, so time to attack that meanie overseer.

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Thanks for the help! That made it easy, but, conversely, didn't give the group any XP.

As we've reached the image upload limit, we'll pick up here next time, waiting for what info the newly-freed slaves can tell us.

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