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D&D General Demetrios1453 Plays the Gold Box Games

Pool of Radiance (Part 61): Valjevo Castle (Part 4)

We pick back up, fresh from our gnoll murder...

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No problem. That gnoll looked to be a bit overbearing as a boss. Why didn't you complain to Tyranthraxus' HR team?

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That's "RHODIA" in Dethek. Another use for the copy protection wheel!

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Well, that will help once we turn our attention to the hedge maze here in a bit. Thanks for the help and warning!

With that, he leaves. And then suddenly we remember that we were going to search the records hall across the alleyway when we were attacked. So we head back over there to search.

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Why not?

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Intriguing. But nothing of importance in this game at least (It will be of importance in later games, though).

But before we can search much more...

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Bad timing for you, bud. However, we're not going to murder some innocent scribe just for doing his job. We'll just tie him up for someone to find after we leave.

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With that bit of excitement out of the way, we search for further interesting information.

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We've already spent hours already, so why not?

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Stupid alarm.

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Just reading some books...

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They apparently don't like that response.

But they probably won't like this response either!

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A reasonably decent fireball at last!

We quickly take them down afterwards.

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Same story as with all the other patrols. Great XP, too much money, and the human leader has a magical longsword.

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We start to search a bit more, and...

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This is getting seriously annoying.

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Brin is out of fireballs, so has to resort to other spells...

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Well, he's dead quickly at least.

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Again, we quickly take them out.

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Lots of XP, too much money, magical longsword.

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Hopefully with fewer interruptions this time!

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Interesting. He hasn't even conquered everything north of the Moonsea yet, and we're rapidly bringing even that to an end. I guess kudos to him for having lofty expectations and believing in himself.

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The game not so subtly saying "Get out of here and go kill things".

With our spells a bit depleted, we head back to the armory to rest.

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Hopefully that will be long enough for the alarms to finally stop going off so we don't have to keep dodging patrols!

We head out, and head west.

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They're fire giants. They're intelligent and orderly, not like their hill giant cousins. So the place shouldn't look like a pigsty. The game has a very low opinion of anything outside the traditional PC races...

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Nicely lined up, we do a risky move with Brin, since fireballs aren't going to be of any help here...

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They don't take too much damage, but at least the one nearest Brin decides, surprisingly, not to attack her out there isolated by herself, but to move around the other three to the spot just above Bant.

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My melee and ranged make quick work of them.

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Again, lots of XP, too much coin to carry.

However, they do have something useful on them...

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The second one is "RHODIA", which we already knew, and will let us into the hedge maze. The first one, however, is much more useful. It says "HARASH" (in Espruar), and we can use it to get out of the tedious never-ending patrol fights by doing a quick parlay. Yes, we'll lose some potential XP, but most the characters are at or are near the level limits for the game, so that's not going to be a serious loss. In fact, the characters are well above what freshly-made characters in Curse of the Azure Bonds would be starting out at.

Leaving this building, we continue west.

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Well, that is interesting. We go investigate.

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Well, at least he's direct and to the point!

As are we...

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Lots of nice stuff on this one:

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The chainmail and the two-handed sword aren't anything special, but the javelin of lightning is nice, even if it's just a one-shot item.

We head back out, and reach the entrance to the northwestern quadrant, the last section before we head into the hedge maze, and, ultimately, the castle proper itself. We'll start up there next time!

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Pool of Radiance (Part 62): Valjevo Castle (Part 5)

Off to the northwestern quadrant we go.

We explore a short way in, and then enter a door to the north.

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Nothing to find here besides the rats, unfortunately.

We leave and continue to walk east.

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Hmm, we had this exact same thing happen a short time ago. Again, we enter the building to investigate.

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Like before, this guy is straight to the point.

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And is quickly disposed of.

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No exciting javelin this time, just your standard longsowrd +1

With nothing else to find, we continue to the northwestern corner of the complex, and enter a building there.

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Interestingly, this is one of the few times the game forces facing. We were facing west, but the game turned us around to face east towards the incoming threat.

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Apparently, no matter what you choose, you confuse them and they go away.

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With the threat gone, we search the room.

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Of course.

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We'll be handing around potions of speed for the final battle (instead of wasting a precious spell slot on haste), so the more we collect, the better!

We walk out the door, and immediately upon doing so...

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Another patrol...

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But now we have a solution to this continual headache. This time we parlay.

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And speak the password...

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Again, we're losing XP by doing this, but saving a lot of time and resources by just using the password to make the patrols leave us alone. We turn south, into the last section of this outer ring, to continue our exploration.

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Oh, something isn't gross and smelly for once. No need to linger though, and we head south once more.

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Ouch! What was that?

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Ah, I see. Well, time for some combat then.

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Luckily there are just four again.

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Brin moves around and whips out the wand. It's less risky this time since all four are basically locked down by the melee.

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Pretty decent action shot there!

While the wand didn't do much damage, we do take care of them fairly quickly.

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You know the story - lots of XP, too much treasure.

As we exit, we look across to the inner wall and see the second entrance to the hedge maze. We'll be headed in there soon!

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Our last stop in the outer quadrants is a doorway to the south...

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Another nicely bunched-up group of hill giants. You know what that means...

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Actually, both of my magic users shoot off a fireball, at the same target location.

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First Brin gets off a nice 21 damage one...

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And Brandir gets of a monumental 28 damage one!

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Between the two fireballs, we kill or badly weaken all of them, so clean-up is short and quick.

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Lots of XP, too much treasure to carry. Again.

We search the room a bit...

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OK, this will hopefully make up for the treasure from the giants we were unable to carry.

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Well, not exactly.

And with that anticlimactic discovery, we've completed the four outer quadrants of the castle. Only the hedge maze and the inner tower remain to complete the game! We'll head back to town one more time before we tackle those areas.

We head out of the castle grounds...

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Through Stojanow Gate...

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Through Podol Plaza and Kuto's Well...

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And through the Slums back into the city proper.

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When we defeat Tyranthraxus, we're just going to murder them in the street. We'll be so popular at that point that bystanders will probably cheer us as we do it.

No need to visit the city clerk, so we just head to the store to sell extra stuff and consolidate our funds.

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Yeah, there has to be an overflow error in the funds, as I had much more platinum than that. Thankfully, it's not like it's hurting me much, with all those gems and jewels.

We head to the inn to rest and memorize spells.

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Next time, we enter the Hedge Maze. We're now just a handful of posts away from completing the game!

Maps of the four outer quadrants of the castle:

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Pool of Radiance (Part 63): Valjevo Castle (Part 6)

We're headed of out of the settled area for probably the last time, as there's not going to any real reason to head back into town from here on out before we've completed the game. The next time we return, it should be as conquering heroes!

So we head back to the Slums, past our favorite suspicious guards...

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Through Kuto's Well...

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Through Podol Plaza and to the Stojanow Gate:

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And into the outer area of Valjevo Castle.

We head back to the northwestern quadrant, to the gates we passed by a short time ago.

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We learned the password from the enslaved cook.

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And into the hedge maze!

This maze is huge, taking up the better part of four 16 x 16 squares. And while, yes, you can cut through the hedges, it's not a good idea as there's a good chance one or more party members will be insta-killed by the poisonous thorns as you push through. So, we'll avoid that potential fate and just stick to the open paths...

Immediately to our left is a building (in fact, there's a building in all four corners of the maze), so we'll move around a bit to see if we can find an entrance.

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And there it is. We'll head in.

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Hmm, still a bit suspicious...

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Nah, let's attack.

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Well, OK then. Let's see these notes.

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Interesting. But not much beyond what we've already learned.

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We then head through the maze, heading south by southeast. I chose the entrance we came in because it's the quickest way to get to our next objective, which we are heading for now.

Through the maze we go...

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Over to the southeastern portion of the maze.

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Until we get to a doorway into the central tower.

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In we go...

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Gasp! Is this Tyranthraxus? Have we found the Boss at last?

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It is! He's a little less... fiery than advertised, but if he says he's Tyranthraxus, he has to be, right?

We parlay...

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And choose "Sly"

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Oh my, he appears to be an impostor! Who would have believed it?

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We confront "Tyranithraxus" and two thief bodyguards.

We quickly take down the false Boss.

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Irritatingly, the thieves can't be targeted, from being all thief-y I assume..

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Let's try a different tactic to target them...

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Darn, not even that is working. Well, everyone start meleeing away!

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And then the last one starts running across the room. Since he can't be targeted by ranged weapons, this is extra irritating. The party begins to give chase..

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And Baroness Bella takes him down.

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Nice XP! I wonder what treasures they may have?

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Not bad.

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Very interesting.

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And this is why we bee-lined to this fight. The longsword +5 is obviously the best weapon in the game, and, even by the most Monty Haul-est of campaigns' standards, completely ridiculous to give to a party of 6th - 7th level (which is why we only get to keep it for the about 10 combats left in this game before we lose everything at the start of Curse of the Azure Bonds). We won't turn it down though! Baroness Bella will equip that, send her sword to Bant, who sends his sword to Buffy. Buffy will also take the ring, which is an improvement for her.

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That's very impressive for a 7th level character!

There are no exits to the rest of the central keep building from the False Tyranthraxus' throne room, so back out we go, heading back up towards where we met the captive mage in the northwestern corner.

Unfortunately for us, we set off another alarm when killing the false Boss, but here in the maze there will be fewer combats while it's going off than there were when we were outside it. That doesn't mean there aren't any combats though!

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With only four, we should take them out pretty easily, as long as no one gets bitten and fails their save.

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Brother Baltor did get bitten, and pretty badly, but thankfully made his save and isn't dying of poison right now.

And we quickly take down the last snake.

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Now we are going to head south, so we head past the courtyard in front of the gates we came through earlier.

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Whoops, wrong way, we just looped back around on ourselves!

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We head to the southwestern section.

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And around through the endless maze...

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Until we reach the entrance to the southwestern building. In we go!

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We surprise some giants.

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Three hill giants won't even cause us to break out in a sweat.

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And Baroness Bella takes down the last one with her new sword.

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Like usual with giants lots of XP, but uselessly large amounts of coin.

We leave the building and head to the southeastern quadrant.

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We wind through the never-ending maze...

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And reach the building in the southeastern corner. We go in...

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And... we've reached the upload limit. The undoubted horrors that lay beyond will need to wait until the next post!
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I was pretty young when I played this the first time through, so I didn’t catch that the fake Tyranthraxus was a fake. I ran around really confused afterward that he was not only such a pushover but that no one seemed to care he was dead. (Eventually I figured it out!!)

Characters safely transferred over to Curse! Without their equipment, of course, since they couldn't let you keep all your nice stuff. The transfer required me to re-edit stats, as it reverted to the defaults I posted about back at the beginning, and even stripped the extra CON point from Baroness Bella from the magical tome (that's completely unfair of course, but she did still maintain her hit point total). Also had to run a quick fix for the GBC paladin and ranger mod (just download from the GBC website and follow the instructions), since the modded powers don't transfer and have to be re-added. At least Brother Baltor now has has his extra damage vs giants ability! That didn't even exist in PoR, so couldn't be modded in. Thankfully, transferring to the later games is nowhere near as involved.

Now back to posting the final parts of the Pool of Radiance walkthrough...
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Pool of Radiance (Part 64): Valjevo Castle (Part 7)

We open the door to the southeastern room of the hedge maze.

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Again, the game thinks fire giants are as dumb as hill giants. This is demeaning. The Fire Giant Anti-Defamation League should send in strongly-worded letters.

Anyway, what are they arguing about?

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Of course its something silly. Granted, frogs and toads would be absolutely tiny from a giant's perspective, so I can see how they would have trouble telling them apart.

Technically, frogs and toads aren't exactly equivalent. Toads are a sub-clade of frogs, so not all frogs are toads, thus making them not equivalent. We tell them that.

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Our friend tried to help, and then forgot he tried to help. Well, in any case, time for battle!

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Four fire giants aren't too hard for us at this point, so we charge forward.

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And soon they are taken down.

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Like always, too much money to carry off. Random clean-up persons are going to find several fortunes after this is all over.

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We leave the southeasten corner room. We head north a bit, and see the gates that lead to the southeastern quadrant.

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We head up north to the northeastern section of the maze.

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Along the long paths of the maze...

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Until we reach the northeastern corner building, the last of the four for us to find.

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We enter...

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Hmm, even a pack of trolls shouldn't be too much of an issue.

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Only eight of them.

And you know what's good for trolls? Fire.

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That's a pretty good damage for a fireball at this level!

With them damaged pretty severely, we take them down quickly...

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And with that, we're done with the set locations within the hedge maze. Only the Inner Tower awaits!

So, before going into the final section, we take a quick rest to heal up and regain spells.

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Rested up, we return to one final wander through the hedge maze.

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We head back south to the southeastern section...

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More and more hedge maze...

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Circle back and re-enter the northeastern section through another entrance.

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Go to the northwestern section.

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And enter the doorway to the main part of the inner tower.

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Going inside, we enter what appears to be a large featureless room with no exits.

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But our searching shows us something different!

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There's a hidden doorway here!

We go through and find stairs up (note that the wall to the left is invisible from this side, if it wasn't completely illusory to begin with).

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We go to a landing on the second level. There are stairs down behind us (where we came up), ahead of us, and, apparently, a secret door to the left. At least this time the game told us! However, we leave it be for a moment, and head down the steps ahead.

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Yes we do.

We enter a room that seems a bit... weird. And worrisome!

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Oh, nothing suspicious about statues frozen in terror, right? Someone just has weird taste...

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Well, so much for that hope. We need to kill her before she can use her gaze attack!

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Which we do, pretty easily.

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She unfortunately doesn't give much in the way of XP, or have much treasure. The giants have spoiled us concerning both of those recently.

We head back up the steps, and then through the secret door we found there.

We reach the second level proper, and take the corridor to the right.

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Sure, why not?

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It just leads back to the medusa room, so there's no need to jump, other than to take falling damage. If the medusa were still alive, the character opening the trapdoor would have had a chance to be petrified.

We leave this room and head back to the other corridor leading from the steps.

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We've come all this way to be confronted with some of the most diabolical foes of all - bureaucracy and waiting rooms! Curse you Tyranthraxus and your evil schemes!

We go talk with the dagger-happy dude waiting with us.

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We decided to parlay nicely with him, but he doesn't have much to say.

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Well, it would be rude to turn down an invitation like that!

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Despite wanting to yell out "Your death!", we parlay nicely with him. Lovely laurel leaves by the way. Someone's a Caesar wannabe. That never bodes well.

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Execute Order 66, right.

(Al-Hyam Dhazid was the scared wizard we found at the start of the hedge maze).

We don't leave immediately. This makes him suddenly and suspiciously nervous.

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Nah, bud. This has "stab you in the back" written all over it.

He takes our rejection of his plan poorly.

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But it's quickly over for him.

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Hopefully he has something nice.

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Ah, a replacement for the one that he used up in the graveyard!

And the XP gained by killing him is enough to get Baroness Bella to the next level!

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And what perfect timing! For all that's left to do is to go over to the stairwell outside the office and head down to chamber of the Pool of Radiance and confront Tyranthraxus himself! Join us here next time, as we fight the final battle and complete the game!
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Pool of Radiance (Part 65): Valjevo Castle (Part 8) - Valjevo Castle and GAME completed!

This is it! Time to finish Tyranthraxus off and complete the game!

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As we stand in front of the stairwell looking down, it's obviously time to buff up. I didn't memorize haste as I have several potions of speed around, so it's time to start using those.

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(At the start of the next combat, each character who used a potion of speed will get a message that they have aged, which will add one year to their age on their character sheet. As Baroness Bella is the only human with a relatively short lifespan, this doesn't matter too much, and for her, elixirs of youth are available in later games once we start using the potion's equivalent spell haste on a more frequent basis)

Also, it's time to use those potions of giant strength I've been hoarding.

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What? Wrong class? I guess the modded paladin and ranger classes are causing it to bug out. This is seriously annoying. Well, at least the potions of speed work. Bant and Brother Baltor use the ones they have as well.

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The potion of giant strength works for Bant at least.

Brother Baltor casts his buffing spells:

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(Oops, I only got a screenshot after he had cast bless and prayer.

But now, for the BIG buff:

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I've been saving the dust of disappearance until this point. It's like a hugely overpowered mass invisibility spell that lasts for a very long time and doesn't drop even after attacking or casting spells. Basically, no foe can target anything but melee attacks on those immediately next to them, and even those are at a negative. As no equipment or items transfer to Curse of the Azure Bonds, there is simply no reason not to use it now.

Here is what the party looks like buffed out:

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Weird. I'm not sure if there's some bugs going on here, but characters under the same effect have different durations. I've never seen that happen in one of the Gold Box games before. I'll chalk it up to PoR early installment weirdness.

All buffed up, we head down the steps.

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An ancient bronze dragon? How unusual! But we've read multiple accounts concerning Tyranthraxus taking over host bodies, so probably the dragon is an unfortunate victim to that process.

(Also, an ancient dragon in 1e is nowhere near as ominous as it would be in later editions).

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Whelp, the inevitable guards and fight against them.

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Wait, it said two guards previously. That's 12! Oh well, we should be able to take them out pretty quickly, especially being buffed and invisible.

Both magic users go quickly, and both immediately decide that fireball is the best option here...

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Both will choose the same target location.

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Both get decent damage from them. But these guards have 87 HP each, so it's going to take a bit to wear them down.

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As they can't see me, the enemies outside of melee range just stand there and guard.

Since they remain lined up, my magic users decide to use some other items...

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And I don't have to worry about the guards moving to attack them when they are all isolated out there due to the invisibility!

We've started to grind them down after a couple of rounds.

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Buffy tries to get into the magic action.

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But with less than spectacular results.

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As the melee have started to take down the ones directly in front of them, Brin switches out to her bow, but Bragir launches another bolt from his wand.

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(This one made his save, it was actually a 16 point damage bolt)

After that, we take care of them pretty quickly. Buffy tried to get in some backstabs, but just didn't have any luck.

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Nice! That's enough for Brother Baltor to level up!

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As for their treasure:

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I failed to get a screenshot of it, but they are all plate mail +2, which is an improvement for the magic-users. They quickly equip it while Tyranthraxus waits impatiently to have his BBEG final battle speech of gloating and hubris.

Here's how the party looks going into that battle. We didn't even take a hit from the guards.

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(The level limit on cleric is really hurting Brother Baltor's hit points here - he goes up significantly at the start of Curse of the Azure Bonds when he can level in cleric again. He's out two cleric levels at the moment because of the limit!)

We make ourselves comfy for the inevitable incoming Big Bad rant.

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Really? We just carved through your guards like they were butter.

But the game forces each character to choose yes or no. If you have evil NPCs along (hirelings, for example), they will choose to join him.

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After we all choose "Attack", the final battle starts!

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(The icon actually looks pretty good, other than the wings, which just look completely wrong. Thankfully, dragon icons in the later games actually look really good. In fact, there's an overall graphics improvement for all things, including foes, in all of the games after this one)

Really, the only problem is that he has a very low AC, but with the weapons we have, that's not as a significant problem as it could be. Also, most of our buffs are still up, including most importantly, the invisibility. We hit him a few times (and a few misses) before his turn comes up. He attempts to use his breath weapon (which went so quickly that I didn't get time to get a screenshot), but because he can't see a target, he aborts it! Meaning, by the middle of the second round...

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Well, that was a bit anticlimactic!

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He wasn't even worth as much XP as his guards!

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And no treasure as well? A tyrannical leader of a city in dragon form should have oodles of treasure! I guess we forced him into bankruptcy due to him trying to replace all the followers we disposed of?

But, anyway, our attention is drawn towards the dying dragon...

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(Not shown, the quick animation as he's sucked down into the Pool, and the Pool going empty. In the module, Tyranthraxus can actually jump to a new host like a party member at this point. Thankfully they didn't put that in the game)

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The game just teleports you to the entrance to Civilized Phlan, instead of making you walk all the way back through the hedge maze and five zones. That was actually very considerate of the game designers! Thanks!

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We drop the head of the defeated dragon-demon, and just behead the guards right there in the street, in front of the cheering crowds. If anything, the cheering grows louder.

On to the City Clerk!

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I would hope so!

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Wow! 45,000 XP!

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Nice of them to give us so much. Not that it will be of any use at all, since, here in a few minutes, the characters will be transferred to Curse of the Azure Bonds and lose everything, including the piles of gems and jewelry that we've been given. But it's the thought that counts, right?

But the reward was not for naught though. The XP will stay, and not only will that help once we get into Curse and start to be able to advance level-blocked characters again, it's enough to allow Buffy to level now!

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And that's that! The game is won! The city clerk says we can continue on adventuring around if we wish, but we've pretty much done everything we can - we could wander around the wilderness a bit to find random encounters for some extra XP I guess, but that would be a tedious endeavor for little gain at this point. Time to move on - Curse of the Azure Bonds beckons!

I'll do a quick post to show how everyone looks at the moment, and maps of the final two zones. After that, I'll do a post in the next few days on my thoughts on this game before starting up Curse. Please feel free to post your thoughts on Pool of Radiance as well!
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