: This W/U
. Don't read this if you intend to play the game (Stranger things have happened. It is
availiable in collections).
Sequel to Champions of Krynn, this 1991 game is generally regarded
as just another of SSI's AD&D gold box series, with some justification. It
starts one year after Champions ends, at the anniversary of the victory at the battle of Kernen. The party (held at Gargath Outpost) is interrupted by the unexpected appearance of Sir Karl Gaardsen, the knobbly knight who died in the previous game, riding a death dragon. A new threat to the World as We Know It is uncovered, namely hordes of undead suddenly appearing all over the place and tearing people up. The mastermind behind this turns out to be the now legendary Lord Soth, former Knight of the Rose and closet necrophiliac.
The player takes on the roles of six adventurers,
which may be transferred over from the previous game or created on the spot. As in all the gold box games, I find this to be Death Knights' biggest deficiency; Your own characters are totally uninteresting cardboard stereotypes, and no real alibi is provided for why you're digging your way through hordes of monster without even getting a dental plan.
Players may advance as far as level 14 (18 for thieves), and spells go up to
seventh level for priests and eighth for magic-users.
The magic system has a somewhat unusual twist to it: each of the three moons of Krynn (red, white and black) has an order of mages that corresponds to it. Whites are Good, reds are
Neutral and blacks are, of course, Evil. Only good and neutral characters
are permitted in the game, which kinda makes sense, considering the nature
of things. The power of each order varies with the phase of their respective moon; at full moon, for example, you get to memorize bonus spells (which can be of any level! Yay!).
Being a dragonlance game, there are of course plenty of dragons in the game.
However, the most apparent theme of the monsters the player will encounter
is undead. Tons of undead. We are talking zombie mastodons, undead rocs,
undead beasts (a particularly nasty monster
which takes only half damage from edged weapons (+4 Mace! Whee!)), undead
dragons and an entire city of zombie giants. Of course, there are also
your regular Sivak Draconians, Kuo-Toa, nightmares (the equine sort), rogues and such thrown in for variety. That being said, you'll see why having a cleric or two in the party is more important than ever.
The main quest is pretty straightforward, leading you between cities on
a large-scale map, sometimes returning to the same place twice. There are also
a multitude of mini-quests; one in each of the smaller towns that are not
involved in the main quest, and several which are not marked on the map, but
will only be discovered by chance or by meticulously searching the whole map.
Most of these involve killing off an outbreak of monsters/bandits which
have taken over the place by destroying a central monster or item.
Doing these mini-quests is good for gaining levels, but is not necessary for completing the game.
There aren't many bugs in the game (at least not the Commodore version, which I played), but the one I found is particularly stupid. In fact, it may not be a bug at all, which would make it a particularly stupid design error. In the gnomish village of Quazle, the local evil overlord is camped out behind a locked door. Fine, my 13th level red mage cast Knock! Nothing. Let the fighter with the belt of cloud giant strength bash it in, then. Nothing. The only way to open this door turns out to be picking the lock. Too bad thieves are so useless in the rest of the game I didn't include one in the party... Nothing for it but to go create a thief at the training hall in Vingaard and levelling him up to level 12 or so.
I really enjoyed this game, especially the end part. Fighting your way through endless levels of dungeons and towers never gets boring. It all leads up to a great and difficult fight featuring death knights and iron golems. Beware; death knights can cast fireballs spontaneously, which heals the golems...
All in all, a solid hack'n slash experience with all you would expect from SSI's experienced developers.