Created in 1988 by SSI, Inc. under a license from TSR, Pool of Radiance was the first computer game to bear the AD&D (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons) name.

Although there were a few minor flaws in the design, this game was the catalyst for the very popular gold box series of games from SSI.

Set in the Forgotten Realms game world, Pool of Radiance set your band of adventurers in the ruined city of Phlan, on the northern coast of the Moonsea. Phlan was being re-colonized, and the city council offered your party dozens of missions to clean out the monster-inhabited ruins.

The game design was ambitious in several ways. First, the non-linear gameplay was almost unheard of in a game of this size. There were tons of quests in the city and nearby wilderness, most of which could be done in any order you chose. Mapping was extremely simple, since every "zone" was a 15x15 grid, and was helped along by the coordinate display available in most areas. This was also a bit of a flaw, because once you had mapped an entire area, the areas you hadn't seen became obvious, and therefore it was too easy to find secret areas. Of course, mapping was optional, since in most areas, you were able to go into "map mode" and see a top-down map of the section the area you were occupying.

It was also innovative in that the combat mode was strategic in nature. When you entered combat, you would move to a vaguely isometric view (The rest of the game was in first-person static, like Wizardry), and be able to issue turn based commands when each character gained the initiative.

Top all of this off with a long and varied AD&D style storyline, and you have the makings for something that even SSI could not improve on in their later gold box releases.

While none of this may seem very impressive in light of more recent achievements in computer games, it was incredible in 1988. Not to mention, the game has so much replay value, it might even surprise you today.

(Note: Excessive epic anecdotal crap follows. If you want actual facts, scroll to the bottom. =)

I have to admit I haven't played the game that much, but in a way, it represents something that grew on the background and helped me to meet the world.

I remember the time when I got my Commodore 64. It was an used machine and I got the previous owner's warez stash with it. I had heard of these "role playing games" the Big Boys were playing. It sounded all so complex and enthralling to me, even when I didn't have a very good idea what it was about, but the fantasy genre beckoned. Now, with the machine, I had this game called Pool of Radiance that was supposedly a "role playing game". I couldn't get past the copy protection. I could watch the demo. Didn't get much wiser, but it seemed pretty interesting and did amaze me a great deal. I also got to play Ultima V (broken disks troubled that one) and that was among the last straws...

Years passed. I got this game from an abandonwarez site and tried playing it. Oh, jeepers. I thought the thing was neat, but aged. Aged, aged, aged.

Then, a while later, I found something pretty neat. I'm now older, supposedly wiser, I probably qualify for actual roleplaying. And these days, I just love Neverwinter Nights, which is a pretty good computer RPG and also works supposedly with multiple players...

And from the other hemisphere comes Chris Fowler's Neverwinter Nights port of Pool of Radiance.

The circle was complete. I now have in front of me a new challenge: The son of the old adventure that in turn inspired me to find out more about RPGs, and got me into the hobby.


This new NWN adaptation of Pool of Radiance was originally released in August 15, 2002. Neverwinter Vault - where this module is rightfully enough ranked right in the top ten, being one of the most downloaded modules also - lists 1.12b as the final version, but I suspect a new version is coming (the author talks of adding "real" kobolds to the mess). As expected, the module is very very heavily based on the original PoR, which in turn was based on "Ruins of Adventure" module. The original module was for 1st edition AD&D, so we have come a long way when we now play the same module with 3rd edition...

The module has some changes from the bare NWN. For example, you can't rest on every area of the game.

The module is intended to be played with one player (you get a henchman, though) and it's recommended to start it with a new level 1 character. It can also be played with a small party in multiplayer.

I have only seen relatively little of the game (the website says it takes 20+ hours to complete, and I've only played for about two... =) but I can say the module is rather interesting. The only complaint - and an acknowledged fault - is that the dialogue isn't very immersive and could use some improving. But otherwise, this module is excellent stuff to play.

One interesting detail that also tells something of the close of the circle: The SSI game for C64 had a pretty interesting opening music. The same opening music was apparently also used in old AOL multi-user game "Neverwinter Nights" - that is unrelated to the Bioware's new game, but the thing was pretty interesting anyway. =)

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