|Pools of Darkness|
|Developer(s)||Strategic Simulations, Inc.|
|Publisher(s)||Strategic Simulations, Inc.|
|Platform(s)||Amiga, MS-DOS, Apple Macintosh, NEC PC-9801|
|Genre(s)||Role-playing game, Tactical RPG|
|Media||3½" floppy disk|
Pools of Darkness is the fourth in a four-part series of Forgotten Realms Dungeons & Dragons Gold Box adventure computer games, published by Strategic Simulations, Inc.. The game was released in 1991. The book loosely based on the game was released in 1992.
The story is a continuation of the events after Secret of the Silver Blades.
The party starts their adventure in the city of Phlan, charged with the task to safely escort Council Member Sasha on a diplomatic mission. Upon leaving the city, Lord Bane, along with four of his lieutenants, claims the entire land of Faerûn as his own, and magically teleports, destroys, and removes many cities off the face of the land. The goal of the game is to systematically restore order to the realms by destroying Bane's minions one by one, and returning light and order to the land plunged in darkness.
To play Pools of Darkness, one simply needs to create characters and form a party. The gameplay basics are identical to all games in the series. The game does come with a pre-designed party, but many players prefer to create their own characters. One can modify the appearance and some colors of the character's combat icon and then name the character. A maximum of six characters may be added to the party and it's highly recommended to use all six spaces as the game does not give any handicaps for smaller parties. NPCs sometimes join the party in the game, making it possible to have more than six characters. Characters can also be transferred from Secret of the Silver Blades.
The party's objective is to defeat Bane's lieutenants Thorne (an ancient red dragon), Kalistes (a Tanar'ri Marilith), and Tanetal (a Tanar'ri Glabrezu) and acquire the items they possess. The ultimate goal is to reach Bane's Land and face off against Bane's last and greatest lieutenant, Gothmenes (a Tanar'ri Balor).
All of the lieutenants are found in other dimensions, which can be reached using portals known as Pools of Darkness. Travelling through the pools can cause many types of items the characters are holding to be permanently destroyed and lost. The party may opt to leave these items in a vault to save them. Naturally, any items from the dimensions will suffer this same fate when travelling back to the realms. Some items that will survive include the Vorpal Long Sword, magic rings, and composite bows.
There was a way around the destroying of items when traveling through Elminsters portal. You could export all your characters, then get to the other realm, them remove all current players and import the exported characters on the other side. Note, even with this trick, POOLS was a very tough CRPG.
There are also many side quests the party can do along the way, which is a good idea for gaining experience and items, especially early on. There are a lot of invisible areas on the overworld the party can enter, so it's a good idea to look around the open fields for any such places. This is true of all the overworlds.
The mandatory quests involve:
- Clearing the Steading near Dragonhorn's Gap, which opens the way to the Dragon's Aerie.
- Clearing the Dragon's Aerie, which opens the way to Thorne's Cave via a Pool of Darkness.
- Clearing Thorne's Cave, which will give the party the Horn of Doom.
- Clearing the drow caves and Kalistes' Temple under Zhentil Keep, which opens the way to Kalistes' Land via a Pool of Darkness.
- Clearing Kalistes' Parlor, which will give the party the Crystal Ring.
- Clearing the red tower of Marcus, which opens the way to Moander's body via a Pool of Darkness.
- Clearing the heart of Moander where Tanetal resides, which will give the party the Talisman of Bane.
- Clearing Arcam's Cave under Mulmaster, which opens the way to Bane's Land via a Pool of Darkness.
- Finally, clearing Bane's Land and defeating Gothmenes.
There are also side quests in several places, and famous people in the realm too. For example Elminster was always there to maintain the dimensional portal for the party should they arrive at any Pool of Darkness. The lost princess Alusair Nacacia will ask the party to help her to fight Rakshasas in Myth Drannor. Lastly, after finishing the final quest, the party had the option to either end their journey or go through one more dungeon of enemies and traps, known as "Dave's Challenge".
It is also recommended to do the quests in this order, while doing any desired side quests.
Pools of Darkness differed from its predecessors in a number of ways. Unlike the other Forgotten Realms gold box games where the party always stayed in Faerûn, the quests that the party have to endure traversed many dimensions to do battle with Bane's lieutenants. These include Thorne's Cave, Kalistes' Land, a visit to then sleeping Moander's colossus body in Astral Plane, and finally Bane's Land itself in Acheron.
The game was by far the most extensive of any of the gold box series, in storyline depth and possibilities of advancement and equipment. The game also featured better graphics at the time as it supported VGA 256 colors instead of 16.
Mages have the ability to get up to level 9 spells (the maximum). A popular spell available in this game is the Delayed Blast Fireball, which can cause damage to many targets at once. Unlike Secret of the Silver Blades, the fireball cannot be delayed and is cast immediately.
Another minor difference is the font used in the game is less stylish, but easier to read.
Differences between versions of Pools of DarknessEdit
In the Amiga version, scrolls could be joined into bundles, while the MS-DOS version didn't feature this option.
Also games could be loaded in the camp menu of the Amiga version. MS-DOS users had to restart or enter a training hall and remove all their characters from the party to load a game.
There is only one known version of the game for MS-DOS:
|MS-DOS||V1.10||Turbo Pascal 6.0 (exepacked)|
Combat victory bugEdit
One way to win a combat without killing the monsters is to have the party run to an out-of-the-way spot where none of the monsters can see it. This can only be done indoors and cannot be done on the overworld. The only feasible places to hide are behind walls. The monsters will typically not be able to find the party if it is positioned far enough behind a wall. Just stay put and keep guarding and the game will eventually declare the party the winner and give experience. If a monster locates the party during the process, the bug will not work.
The items of a character that was disintegrated by the mage spell disintegrate were all destroyed. This could be exploited to save item slots, while still gaining the powers of some items, e.g. vorpal swords, and all rings except rings of protection.
While the items were destroyed by the spell, the magical abilities or protections they granted were not removed from the character. E.g. a character that was disintegrated while wearing a vorpal sword in his hand, could, after his resurrection, sometimes behead creatures with any weapon, even with bows and arrows.
- Game creation: SSI Special Projects Group
- Developer: Ken Humphries, Dave Shelley
- IBM Programmers: Russ Brown, Jim Jennings, Kerry Bonin
- Music: "The Fat Man", Dave Govett
- Testers: Phil Alne, John Kirk, Andre Vrignaud, Brian Lowe, Alan Marenco, Glen Cureton, Mike Balajadia
- Artists: Maurine Starkey, Richard Payne, Fred Butts, Jean Xiong, Mike Provenza, Cyrus Harris, Ed Trillo, Kevin Thompson, Laura Bowen, Mike Nowak, Mark Johnson
- Encounter Authors: Chris Carr, Ken Eklund, Lori White, Tom Ono, Gary Shockley, Dave Georgeson, Cynthia Hwang
- Pool of Twilight, the sequel in the Pools book trilogy
- Pool of Radiance
- Curse of the Azure Bonds
- Secret of the Silver Blades
- Gold Box
- Strategic Simulations, Inc.