Title: Betrayal at Krondor
Released: 1993
Published By: Sierra
Developed By: Dynamix

Betrayal at Krondor is a DOS computer role playing game set in the world of Midkemia, which is the domain of the renowned fantasy writer Raymond E. Feist. BaK (as it is frequently abbreviated) includes many of the memorable characters and locations from the Riftwar fantasy series by Feist. The game is actually billed as being part of the Riftwar Legacy, which has been expanded to include several books (one of which is a Feist-written novelization of Betrayal at Krondor). Furthermore, Feist has taken the events of Betrayal at Krondor to heart, and has included ever so subtle references to the story of the game in his later books. For instance, in Rage of a Demon King, the character of James uses a 'magical' spy glass, briefly, which he alludes to having acquired while on an adventure. That adventure is the one of Betrayal at Krondor, a chapter of which revolves around that very spyglass (and a poison dispensing spider object).

Betrayal at Krondor is draws heavily from Feist's universe, and he had input for the game's story, Raymond E. Feist was not involved in the actual production of the game (though he was in on the writing). This led to a few problems after the release of the game, when Feist said that the artists on the game must not have read descriptions of the characters (for instance: James looked like at least 30 years old in BaK, when in fact he was quite a young man). Feist was not terribly upset, though, what with Betrayal at Krondor being a good game overall.

Characters, Setting, Plot
Locklear, a squire of the court of Krondor, capital of the Western Realm, is escorting a Moredhel chieftan, Gorath, to the city of Krondor. Gorath bears a warning for Prince Arutha of Krondor. The dark elves, the Moredhel (Gorath's people) are on the war path, and the Kingdom is threatened with a terrible war. Betrayal at Krondor starts off with some action, with a scene of an assassin attacking Gorath and Locklear on the road to Krondor. Owyn Belforte joins them, and their quest to get Gorath to Krondor alive.

The game follows a series of chapters, each of which is a different part of the story, and has different objectives for the player to complete with his party of characters. The course of the game has the characters uncover the betrayal which has set the Kingdom and the Moredhel up for another war. The player must try to avert the war, and in the course of doing so, travel to many different parts of the Kingdom, the Moredhel lands, and even another planet.

There is a massive amount of side story in Betrayal at Krondor. Many non-player characters (NPCs) have lots of dialogue, and even (gasp) quests for the characters to complete. There are some very involved side quests, which have little impact on the actual story, but serve to get the player much more involved in the game.

The Game
Gameplay in Betrayal at Krondor follows a simultaneously narrow and broad path.

The Narrow: There is a linear progression of chapters in Betrayal at Krondor, with only one outcome. The characters follow the storyline in each chapter, and must complete the chapter objectives to move on to the next one. The only way for the game to be lost, is for the characters to all die in battle, or for some critical quest item to be lost in a game quirk (bug). As long as the player presses on, the game will get won. And there is only one ending (sorry).

The Broad: Most every chapter gives the player the run of the map of the Kingdom. For example, when you start the game out with Locklear, Owyn, and Gorath, you can go straight down the road to Krondor, or take the long way around. This is a highly effective strategy for advancing the characters very early on, making them rather powerful for the rest of the game. It also allows the player to experience far more of the side quests, and fictional flavour that has been written into the game. The areas are also massive. It can take a very very long time to completely scout out the Dimwood Forest, but exploration certainly does have its rewards.

The game world is rendered in three dimensions, with most objects and bad guys being two dimensional images. When the party encounters a character on the road, or a story element has been triggered, then the screen will transform to a either a dialogue screen, which displays the characters portraits against the 3D terrain as they converse, or there will be a story text for the player to read. Overall, the story text makes Betrayal at Krondor seem very much like a book (which is exactly what the designers were shooting for).

Combat occurs on a board of squares, with the characters and enemies taking turns acting. Combat is one of the more satisfying aspects of Betrayal at Krondor, because it allows the player to exercise and increase the skills and attributes of the characters in the party. The character system in Betrayal at Krondor is not level based, and the skills and attributes of the character increase with use. The mechanism that is made available to the player to help shape the advancement of their character is the 'selection' of certain skills. When the player is looking at the character sheet of a character, they may choose a number of skills for their character to 'focus' on. Chosen skills will increase in level faster than unhighlighted skills, but, the more skills that the player chooses to highlight, the slower they will advance.

Strategy Tip: For best results, select the skills of evasion, melee (for your fighters), and magic (for your magic users). These are the ones you should keep highlighted most of the time. Before you enter a tavern, for instance, deselect these skills, and have only your 'barding' skill highlighted. This will lead to faster improvement in each of your character's skills.

The Music
The music of Betrayal at Krondor is, simply put, wonderful. Jan Paul Moorhead's soundtrack is diverse, catchy, and creative. There are a number of truly unique tracks, which help set the tone of the different parts of the game. From the grand, sweeping fanfare for the city of Krondor, to the dark, sinister, creeping music for the sewers and the Northlands, to the bouncy and cheerful music for encounters on the King's Road, to sharp and disciplined music for the fortress at Northwarden... Moorhead has created an excellent soundtrack that complements Betrayal at Krondor extremely well, enhancing the game by way of mood and tone.

The music in the original floppy disk and the free download versions of the Betrayal at Krondor is MIDI, however, the CD-ROM version of Betrayal at Krondor comes with redbook CD audio, meaning that the music can easily be played on a CD-equipped stereo (don't play the first track!), or ripped to mp3s (or oggs). The CD audio is of much higher quality than the traditional MIDI, due to the fact that it was played on high quality equipment, with high quality instrument samples.

Much of the music for Betrayal at Krondor is available (for free!) through Quest Studios, in both traditional MIDI formats, and even a few high quality mp3s. http://www.queststudios.com)

For Free?
Kind of. Betrayal at Krondor was released for free by Sierra as a 10 megabyte download in order to promote the upcoming 'sequel' to BaK, Betrayal in Antara. Antara is very similar to Betrayal at Krondor gameplay wise, however it lacks the quality story and writing of BaK. Sierra no longer distributes BaK from it's website, however it should not be very difficult to find at a warez site, since it's a small game and it's probably not too illegal to have it for a download (however, Sierra likely could have stipulated that it cannot be distributed without their consent).

One version that is available for download online is from the Home of the Underdogs, an abandonware site that offers a 'rip' of the BaK CD version, with an interview by Raymond E. Feist, and CD music. It is 57 megabytes to download.

http://www.the-underdogs.org/game.php?id=116

The 'Sierra Classic' version that is still available commercially does not contain the Feist interview, and it may not contain the Betrayal at Krondor CD music.

The Credits
Design: John Cutter
Lead Programming: Nels Bruckner
Programming: Steve Cordon, Timothy Screlchun
Graphics / 3D Programming: Damon Mitchell, Vance Naegle
Level / Scenario Design: Neal Hallford
Graphics / Artwork: D. Brent Burkett, Rhonda
Conley, John Garvin, Viggi Hippler, Robert Kraft, Peter Lewis, Sean Murphy, Tito Pagan
Music: Jan Paul Moorhead
Art Director: Mike McHugh
Cover Art: D. Brent Burkett, Roger Smith
Documentation: Barbara Ray, Sue Roberts
Director: John Cutter
Writing / Dialogue / Story: Raymond E. Feist, Neal Hallford
Playtesting: Gerald Azenaro, Corey Boyer, Tim Boyer, James Domico, Oliver Fellguth, Brent Gilbert, Robert Harrington, Dan Hinds, Chris Hunt, David M. Tatum, Wayland M. Wasserman, Wesley Malespino, Zachary Marcus, Penny May, Chris Medinger, Joseph Muennich, Sam Nicols, Warren P. Gunther, Duri Price, Jeff Rollosson Halbhuber, Chris Singleton, Lewece T. Champetier, John Wolf
Quality Assurance: Forrest Walker
Acting / Voiceovers: Sher Alltucker, Danette Artusy, Mark Baker, Kevin Barclay, Allen Beausoleil, Stan Boyd, Thyra Boyd, Robert Canaga, Jan Carpenter, Jane Chase, Bill Chilla, Keith Cooper, Todd Croson, Richard D. Mitchell, Sylvan DuPlant, Ted Ellis, Roger Emmert, Howard Epstein, Laura Fulks, David Gauntlett, Joseph Gilg, John Gilpatrick, Kim Harris, Tucker Hatfield, Viggi Hippler, Stan Jackson, Daniel Kaufman, John Keeys, Michael Kovcholovsky, Robert Kraft, Chris Leebrick, Peter Lewis, Greg Mantell, Zachary Marcus, Samuel Martinez, Eric Milligan, Tuan Myers, Jan Paul Moorhead, Stanley Pender, Bill Reed, Alan Roberts, Ken Rogers, Earl Ruttencutter, Marc Siegel, David Snider, Justin Stafford, Colleen Tunnell, John Urhammer, Mark Verrier , Alan Wagner, Dennis Williams, Douglas Zalud-Mackie
Special Thanks To: Kerrie Abbott, David Aughenbaugh, Mike Boyersmith, Mark Brenneman, Michelle Cordon, Melanie Cutter, Jenny Gray, Dan Hinds, Bob Lindstrom, Dariusz Lukaszuk, Jerry Lutrell, Joel Mariano, Kyle Miller, Mark Potter, Tony Reyneke, Kim Screlchun, Janna Silverstein, Jeff Tunnell, Thomas Van Velkinburg

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