This is quite possibly one of my Top Ten games that I played in my childhood. It was the first in the loosening of the D&D/AD&D brand that I can remember. D&D/AD&D (from now on abbreviated as D&D) was a tightly controlled brand as I recall. I had the original D&D board game and somehow found (at a reasonable price) the AD&D Players Handbook (1st Edition), so I’ve always been a D&D player. There were some small attempts to match D&D to the new world of home/personal computers as they were rising in popularity at about the same time. However, Strategic Simulations’ (SSI) “Gold Box” games (so called because of the “gold” coloring on their boxes) were the PERFECT realization of the D&D ruleset at the time. No other games series had taken all of the rules (from spell memorization, to spell effects, to combat, to handling ability roles, etc) and so completely merged them into a game that had fantastic combat along with a mysterious story.
Me and My Uncle Loved D&D
Okay, so this might be a slight exaggeration. I loved D&D and my uncle tolerated it, but as we got other RPGs such as The Bard’s Tale II, he also began to be a fan of the genre. So when I got this game, we both created separate parties and did solo runs of the game and we both beat the story with our individual characters, passing strategies and tips back and forth on the best way of beating certain monsters. Imagine playing chess, but instead of competitively, you played it cooperatively, each against a computerized foe that was out to destroy your lowly band of digital creations–that was part of the fun of the game. A sort of “multiplayer” experience before online was even a “thing” in gaming.
Friends in High School Loved D&D
Okay, so this is actually true, although it wasn’t everyone. We had a core group of “RPG” players who played D&D and Warhammer Fantasy RPG and who allowed be to GM. I was a fan of the Palladium Books series of Games (Rifts, Heroes Unlimited) and they dutifully switched whenever I bought a new game system and wanted to run it–looking back, I realize they were a patient lot! However, a few of us had computers so we also began playing Pools of Radiance at the same time, so there was shared experiences as we would (again) talk about strategies and tips from what we learned in the game. Even then, however, I was fairly resistant to spoilers, so I don’t recall talking a lot about the plot of the game, but even still, it was still awesome to be invested in this game on multiple fronts.
While I went on to buy other games and branch out from the “Gold Box” games, I still remember Pool of Radiance specifically as one the best times that I’ve ever had in gaming and will always have fond memories of this game.