Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Pool of Radiance
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Pool of Radiance

North American NES boxart
Developer(s) SSI
Publisher(s) SSI
Pony Canyon (Japan)
FCI (US/Canada)
Engine Gold Box
Platform(s) MS-DOS, Commodore 64, Apple II, Atari ST, Macintosh, NES
Release date(s) 1988 (DOS)
1990 (NES)
Genre(s) Role-playing game
Mode(s) single player
Media Floppy disk, cartridge

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Pool of Radiance is a computer role-playing game that was first released in 1988 for the computer, under the name of Pool of Radiance, and ported to the Famicom (Japanese version of the NES) in 1991 and to the NES in 1990. It utilized the Gold Box engine introduced by its 1988 version and later improved upon in Forgotten Realms Unlimited Adventures. The game (and the engine) features two different modes: first person perspective for NPC interactions and exploring and a more strategy-board based combat display, where characters and enemies are represented by small icons. Combat is turn-based and requires maneuvering close to your foe for close range attacks.

Setting Edit

The game takes place in the popular Forgotten Realms setting with most of the action taking place in or around the city of Phlan, located in the Moonsea region. During the course of the game the party will leave Phlan and have the opportunity to visit a pyramid, graveyard, Kobold cave, an abandoned castle taken over by lizard men, nomad settlement, the slums of Phlan, a slave camp, Zhentil Keep, and finally the fortress of Tyranthraxus.

Game Play Edit

AD&D Pool Of Radiance Battle

The battle system in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: Pool of Radiance

The player could create unlimited characters (limited by disk space), but only six principal characters could be in your party (expandable to 8 with the addition of up to 2 NPCs). During character creation, the player would select a race, gender, class, and alignment, and then accept randomly generated statistics, though these could be later altered before beginning the game.

Traveling throughout the game would bring the party into contact with NPCs that would give them quests. Completing these quests, and advancing the storyline (in addition to fighting monsters), would award each character Experience Points. When a character had sufficient experience points, they could return to Phlan and pay 1,000 gold pieces (100 Platinum), to be trained. Each class had a certain Hit Dice, which determined the minimum number of Hit Points they would receive when training, with Fighters having the most, and Magic-Users the least (sometimes as low as 2).

During training, Magic Users would select a new spell, the principal way for them to learn (though buying or finding scrolls and scribing them was another way). Clerics received their spells from their Deity, and thus had access to all of their spells at the apppropriate level.

Upon completion of the main story, the player is rewarded with a very long password, intended to allow the user made characters played in Pool of Radiance to be later transferred to the next game, Curse of the Azure Bonds. From there, they could progress to the next two. It likely would not have been uncommon to have the same characters at the end of the series (Pools of Darkness), that you had at the beginning (albeit far more powerful). However, not one of the following three games, Curse of the Azure Bonds, Secret of the Silver Blades or the aforementioned Pools of Darkness were ever ported to the NES, rendering the password useless.


The game is loosely based on the Forgotten Realms novel of the same name, though none of the heroes from the book appear in the game.

The game starts with the party arriving in the city of New Phlan. They are promptly greeted by a man who gives them a quick tour, pointing out the location of the docks, the temple of Tyr, the training hall, the slums and the city hall building. From here the party is left on their own. The party can complete missions given by the city clerk for experience points, money, and sometimes treasure. This made the game very open-ended, as most of the missions did not have to be completed in any specific order, though the first two had to be completed first to continue the story. The missions are:

  • Clear the monsters out of the slums of Phlan.
  • Defeat the monsters that have taken over Sokol Keep.
  • Travel to Podol Plaza and report on a magical item that is being auctioned.
  • Prevent a tribe of nomads from joining Tyranthraxus (done by helping the nomads repel an invasion of kobolds).
  • Slaying the Kobold King and his tribe (one of the most difficult missions in the game because the player needs to face three waves of attackers with no recovery time in between before they can reach the Kobold King himself).
  • Destroy the undead horde that has taken over Valhingen Graveyard (done by destroying a vampire in the graveyard. If the party found the Efreti bottle hidden in the kobold cave they will have a powerful ally in the fight).
  • Defeat the bandit Norris the Grey.
  • Defeat the thieves and traitors that have taken over Kovol Manor.
  • Reclaim a shrine of Tyr that has been taken over by worshipers of Bane (if the player waits long enough he will be offered this mission by the head priest at the temple of Tyr and be given a cleric NPC to assist with the mission).
  • Find history books about Phlan in old times.
  • Find out what is polluting the river and end it (involves traveling to a pyramid and defeating an evil wizard and his mutated lizardmen bodyguards)
  • Prevent a tribe of lizardmen from joining forces with Tyranthraxus (this mission is tricky because the lizard men's lair has a field around it that prevents the use of magic. To prevent the lizardmen from joining Tyranthraxus a character needs to defeat the lizard man chieftain in single combat).
  • After the party has completed several missions one of the city councilmen will give the party a special mission: find a box that was taken from him. The party is also asked to look for his servant Skullcrusher, who disappeared while looking for it.
  • Rescue the son of a city councilman who was taken by pirates (this mission involves finding the slave trader's camp and either breaking the boy out or negotiating with the head slaver).

Late in the game Councilman Caldera will ask the party to deliver a message to Zhentil Keep. The party will be given a tour of the Keep, invited to dinner, then escorted to their room. In the middle of the night they will be attacked.

The final mission involves defeating Tyranthraxus. First, the party must overcome the guards at the gates of Valjevo Castle. Once inside they must traverse a maze made up of poisonous thorn walls to find the hidden door that leads to Tyranthraxus' tower. Once the party meets up with the Boss (who has possessed a bronze dragon), they will be given the opportunity to join his army. If the player says yes, then Phlan is destroyed. If the player answers no, his party is attacked by Tyranthraxus's elite guard followed by the Boss himself.

Should the player win the fight, Bane pulls Tyranthraxus's soul through the Pool of Radiance. The party returns to Phlan where they are given a huge reward by the city clerk. The clerk will also give a password for each party member (presumably, this password would allow a player to import his characters into a future SSI D&D game).

In addition, there is a side quest given by an old man in the slums of Phlan. By recovering a potion of youth for him he gives the party a reward consisting of gold and magic items. Among the reward is usually a necklace of missiles, which comes in handy until any mages in the party can cast a fireball spell!

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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