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Pool of Radiance

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Pool of Radiance, a role-playing video game released in 1988 by Strategic Simulation, serves as the adaptation of TSR's Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) fantasy role-playing game.

Origins and Development

Birth of a Classic

Pool of Radiance was crafted in the crucible of TSR’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons universe, introducing gamers to the Forgotten Realms fantasy setting.

The game’s narrative unfolds in and around the bustling port city of Phlan, a pivotal location in the vast AD&D realm.


Staying true to traditional D&D gameplay, Pool of Radiance allows players to assemble a party of up to six characters, each with unique traits and abilities. The primary objective is to cleanse the city of Phlan from marauding foes and eventually confront a formidable evil leader.

The game seamlessly combines first-person exploration with top-down isometric views during combat sequences.

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Critical Acclaim

Upon its release, Pool of Radiance garnered acclaim, securing the Origins Award for “Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Computer Game of 1988.

While some critics noted similarities to contemporaneous games and occasional pacing issues, the game’s captivating graphics, immersive role-playing elements, and innovative combat aspects were widely praised.

Gameplay Mechanics

Character Creation and Customization

Players embark on their quest by creating a diverse party, selecting races, genders, classes, and abilities for each member.

The game offers six races and four classes, allowing for varied character development. Non-linear storytelling, a hallmark of the Gold Box series, enables players to impact the narrative based on their decisions.

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Combat Dynamics

Pool of Radiance adheres to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rule set for combat, providing an array of options for different character classes. Fighters wield weapons, magic-users cast spells, and thieves strategize to “back-stab” opponents.

The game introduces tactical nuances such as sweeping attacks and character-specific combat options.

Progression and Exploration

Character advancement is achieved through accumulating experience points (XP) gained by defeating enemies. The game provides training opportunities within the city walls, enabling characters to enhance their skills.

Exploration unfolds in a three-dimensional first-person perspective, with players navigating through various encounters and strategically managing resources.

Plot and Setting

The Forgotten Realms

Set in the expansive Forgotten Realms world, Pool of Radiance centers around the city of Phlan, nestled on the northern shore of the Moonsea.

The narrative commences with the city in ruins, plagued by evil creatures, prompting the city council to enlist adventurers to reclaim their home.

Quest for Redemption

Players embark on a quest to rid Phlan of monsters and restore order. The storyline unfolds through a block-by-block exploration, including quests to clear the slum area and Sokol Keep on Thorn Island.

As the characters delve deeper, they unveil a malevolent force, Tyranthraxus, possessing an ancient dragon, at the heart of Phlan’s turmoil.

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Play Pool of Radiance online

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Are there additional quests beyond the city of Phlan?

Certainly! The game’s narrative expands to encompass the outlying areas of the Moonsea region, offering diverse quests and challenges.

How does character progression work in Pool of Radiance?

Characters gain experience points through defeating enemies, and upon accumulating enough XP, they can undergo training to attain higher levels and enhanced abilities.

Can I customize my party in Pool of Radiance?

Absolutely. Players have the flexibility to create and customize their party, choosing from various races, classes, and alignments.

What sets Pool of Radiance apart from other RPGs of its time?

Pool of Radiance distinguished itself through its pioneering combination of first-person exploration, top-down isometric combat, and adherence to the rich lore of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.