Pool of Radiance was the first of a long series of computer role-playing games that shared a common engine that came to be known as the "Gold Box Engine" after the gold boxes in which most games of the series were sold.


The game takes place in the Forgotten Realms setting, in and around the Moonsea region and the city of Phlan, which has been overrun by forces of evil. The city had originally held off many attacks, but the forces were marshaled by a bronze dragon which was believed to be possessed by a powerful spirit named Tyranthraxus. The object of the game is to have the party clear the old city of its marauding inhabitants, so the people of Phlan can rebuild and repopulate the areas.[2]

Civilized (New) PhlanEdit

The party begins in the civilized section of "New Phlan" governed by the city council. Here, the party buys equipment at the shops, rest up in the inns, listen to rumors at the pub, and make contracts with the clerk of the city council for various commissions. The party can also go to the training hall and hire an experienced adventurer to accompany the party.[3]

Slums (Old Phlan)Edit

Beyond this region the party enters the area of the slums, which have been overrun with monsters such as kobolds, goblins, and orcs. While obtaining a magical potion for Ohlo in the Old Rope Guild, the heroes will encounter a group of marauding ogres and trolls.


Title screen of the Pool of Radiance computer game.

Sokol KeepEdit

The next commission is to clear out Sokol Keep, a fortified area located on an island and is filled with skeletons and zombie. Inside the keep, the specter of Ferran Martinez suffers under a curse. When you remove this curse, the keep is cleared and the shipping lanes to Phlan are finally opened.[4]

Other locationsEdit

There are a variety of other locations encountered as the party ventures further into the city.

Kuto's Well
Catacombs filled with a bandit horde lead by Norris the Gray.[5]
Podol Plaza
A common meeting place where an auction is being held.[6]
The Pit
A buccaneer bar.
Cadorna Textile House
Where the adventurers recover the treasure of a council member, Porphyrys Cadorna.[7]
Mendor's Library
An old library containing information and histories of the area.
Temple of Bane
A holy building devoted to Tyr, which has been taken over by Mace, a half-orc cleric of Bane.[8]
Kovel Mansion
Stronghold of a local thieves guild.[9]
Valhingen Graveyard
A sacred place overrun with undead and controlled by a vampire.[10]

Outside PhlanEdit

Eventually the party ventures outside the city by boat, where they encounter a silver dragon named Diogenes in the Dragonspine Mountains. The adventurers visit an encampment of the Zhentarim, stop the polluting of Stojanow on Sorcerer's Island caused by Yarash, and learn the dark plans of one known only as the "Boss". They also work with the Nomads so they don't work with the kobolds, help an old lizardman kill Drythfi, and have to save Lord Bivant's heir from the Buccaneer Base.

Stojanow GateEdit

After the encounter at the Zhent outpost, the heroes reveal Porphyrys as a traitor of Phlan and the city council commissions the party to hunt him down. The trail leads to the Stojanow Gate, which is guarded by an army of bugbears and giants.[11]

Valjevo CastleEdit

The party enters Valjevo Castle, pass through a poisonous hedge maze, and battle a false Boss. They descend a stairwell to find the pool of radiance guarded by a bronze dragon, possessed by the daemon Tyranthraxus. Here, the Possessing Spirit offers the adventurers to join his side and after a titanic battle, the heroes of Phlan succeed in saving the town.[12]


Released in 1988, Pool of Radiance became a huge success, which led to a book and an AD&D module based on the game's plot called Ruins of Adventure. It is the first in a four-part series of Forgotten Realms Dungeons & Dragons adventure computer games published by Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI). In 1992, the game was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System under the name of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: Pool of Radiance.


The game was followed by the Curse of the Azure Bonds (game), which was based on the Jeff Grubb and Kate Novak's novel: Azure Bonds. It was developed by Strategic Simulations, Inc and released in 1989.


Buildings: Sokol KeepValjevo Castle
Islands: Thorn Island
Mountains: Dragonspine Mountains
Rivers: Stojanow
Settlements: Phlan
Church of Tempus



As the first game in the series, Pool of Radiance was to be surpassed in terms of features by later Gold Box games. Party characters could only be selected from among the classes of fighter, cleric, wizard, or thief, and the maximum class level was restricted to level 6 (9 for thieves, 8 for fighters). However, no subsequent Gold Box game featured player selectable character portraits, like Pool of Radiance did.

Pool of Radiance won the Origins Award for "Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Computer Game of 1988".

Differences between versions of Pool Of RadianceEdit

Pool Of Radiance was released for several computers/game consoles, so there are differences between the versions.

Commodore 64 (C64) and Commodore Amiga versions
Featured different music, while the DOS version had none. The C64 and Amiga versions also had more detailed graphics. Unfortunately, C64 had notoriously slow load times, unless the computer had a fast load cartridge installed. The game was also distributed on four double-sided floppy disks, making disk swapping a common frustration for players.
Nintendo (NES) version
Featured original music, different graphics, and a unique interface. It lacked many of the features of its computer counterparts, such as editing character icons. It also lacked several areas to explore, most notably the randomly generated creature lairs found on the wilderness map. Battles in the NES port were also considerably toned-down, partly because the NES had trouble with a large number of sprites and partly to lower the difficulty.


Pool of Radiance is considered to be very unbalanced with regard to difficulty, especially by today's standards. The frequent random encounters were often more challenging than the set-piece battles and tended to be very time consuming.


The Commodore 64 version of the game had an interesting bug - if a character had a lot of arrows you could split them until all of the character's 16 inventory slots were filled, and then split them once more. The result was that the topmost item in the character's inventory would be transformed into an item called "bag" and appear as a 17th item slot. The bag was not worth anything to sell, however it virtually made the base item +57. So if you had a plate mail transformed into a bag, you could get an Armor Class of well below -50 and if you had a weapon transformed into a bag, you would easily deal 60+ points of damage with each blow at a miss chance of 5% (natural 1). Basically, the same thing also worked with all other items that had quantities (quarrels, flasks of oil, silver arrows, carpets etc.). The bonus the so created item had and its name varied. Some had minor bonuses, some had huge bonuses and some had so high bonuses that they turned negative (silver arrows made superb items with a malus of about 100).
When fighting a wraith, it was possible to have a character's level drained until it reached 0 and then drained again, wrapping around the 8-bit register to level 256. If a member of your party survived, it was possible to resurrect this dead character and have a level 256 character with 256 hit points.
Not so much a bug as an exploit, if there was a particular item you wanted more of you could give it to a character then export them at the adventure hall. Strip the item from the character then drop them from the party. Re-enter the adventure hall and add the character back in - with the original item still in their possession. This could be repeated ad infinitum.

Game creditsEdit

  • Scenario created by: TSR, Inc., Jim Ward, David Cook, Steve Winter, Mike Breault
  • Game created by: SSI Special Projects
  • Programming: Scot Bayless, Brad Myers, Russ Brown, Ted Greer
  • Original Programming: Keith Brors, Brad Myers
  • Graphic Arts: Tom Wahl, Fred Butts, Darla Marasco, Susan Halbleib
  • Project Manager: Victor Penman
  • Encounter Coding: Paul Murray, Russ Brown, Victor Penman, Dave Shelley
  • Developer: George MacDonald
  • Testing: Joel Billings, Steve Salyer, James Kucera, Robert Daly, Rick White

Also seeEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Strategic Simulations, Inc. (1988). Pool of RadianceStrategic Simulations, Inc..
  2. Mike Breault, David "Zeb" Cook, Jim Ward, Steve Winter (August 1988). Ruins of Adventure. (TSR, Inc.), p. 3. ISBN 978-0880385886.
  3. Mike Breault, David "Zeb" Cook, Jim Ward, Steve Winter (August 1988). Ruins of Adventure. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 10–12. ISBN 978-0880385886.
  4. Mike Breault, David "Zeb" Cook, Jim Ward, Steve Winter (August 1988). Ruins of Adventure. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 13–15. ISBN 978-0880385886.
  5. Mike Breault, David "Zeb" Cook, Jim Ward, Steve Winter (August 1988). Ruins of Adventure. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 23–25. ISBN 978-0880385886.
  6. Mike Breault, David "Zeb" Cook, Jim Ward, Steve Winter (August 1988). Ruins of Adventure. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 31–32. ISBN 978-0880385886.
  7. Mike Breault, David "Zeb" Cook, Jim Ward, Steve Winter (August 1988). Ruins of Adventure. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 33–35. ISBN 978-0880385886.
  8. Mike Breault, David "Zeb" Cook, Jim Ward, Steve Winter (August 1988). Ruins of Adventure. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 20–22. ISBN 978-0880385886.
  9. Mike Breault, David "Zeb" Cook, Jim Ward, Steve Winter (August 1988). Ruins of Adventure. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 16–17. ISBN 978-0880385886.
  10. Mike Breault, David "Zeb" Cook, Jim Ward, Steve Winter (August 1988). Ruins of Adventure. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 36–41. ISBN 978-0880385886.
  11. Mike Breault, David "Zeb" Cook, Jim Ward, Steve Winter (August 1988). Ruins of Adventure. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 29–30. ISBN 978-0880385886.
  12. Mike Breault, David "Zeb" Cook, Jim Ward, Steve Winter (August 1988). Ruins of Adventure. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 42–54. ISBN 978-0880385886.

External linksEdit


Baldur's Gate series

Baldur's GateBaldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword CoastBaldur's Gate II: Shadows of AmnBaldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal
Icewind Dale series
Icewind DaleIcewind Dale: Heart of WinterIcewind Dale: Trials of the LuremasterIcewind Dale IIIcewind Dale: Enhanced Edition
Neverwinter Nights series
Neverwinter NightsNeverwinter Nights: Shadows of UndrentideNeverwinter Nights: Hordes of the UnderdarkNeverwinter Nights 2Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the BetrayerNeverwinter Nights 2: Storm of ZehirNeverwinter Nights 2: Mysteries of WestgatePirates of the Sword CoastInfinite DungeonsWyvern Crown of CormyrNeverwinter Nights (AOL game)Enhanced Edition
Dark Alliance series
Baldur's Gate: Dark AllianceBaldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II
Eye of the Beholder series
Eye of the BeholderEye of the Beholder remakeEye of the Beholder II: The Legend of DarkmoonEye of the Beholder III: Assault on Myth Drannor
Pool of Radiance series
Pool of RadianceCurse of the Azure BondsSecret of the Silver BladesPools of DarknessPool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor
Savage Frontier series
Gateway to the Savage FrontierTreasures of the Savage Frontier

Al-Qadim: The Genie's CurseBlood & MagicForgotten Realms: Demon StoneDescent to UndermountainDungeon HackForgotten Realms Unlimited AdventuresHillsfarMenzoberranzanSpelljammer: Pirates of RealmspaceDungeons & Dragons: DaggerdaleSword Coast LegendsDungeons & Dragons OnlineIdle Champions of the Forgotten RealmsTales from Candlekeep: Tomb of AnnihilationDungeons & Dragons: Arena of WarLords of Waterdeep

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