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Located on the northern shore of the Moonsea in Forgotten Realms, Phlan was once a flourishing trade city. However, lately monsters began settling in it, gradually turning whole districts into ruins. Only New Phlan remained under human control, but its inhabitants are afraid to venture into the monster-infested areas. In order to clean the nearby Barren River and rebuild Phlan, local authorities spread rumors about alleged riches hidden somewhere in the city. A party of adventurers, attracted by these news, sails towards Phlan and accepts the quest.

Pool of Radiance is the first adaptation of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons role-playing system in a computer game format. In the beginning of the game the player can use a pre-made party of six characters or create each of them from scratch. Six races (human, elf, dwarf, gnome, halfling, and half-elf) and four classes (fighter, cleric, wizard, and thief) are available. The player can tweak the attributes of the characters and assign a moral alignment to each one.

Exploration of the town and hostile areas (dungeons) is viewed from a first-person perspective in a pseudo-3D world. Enemy encounters are random and take place on separate isometric combat screens, where player-controlled party and enemies take turns fighting each other. Experience points are awarded for defeating enemies, and characters level up after having accumulated set amounts. Fighters gain more attacks, thieves become proficient in backstabbing, while clerics and wizards can memorize more spells to cast before they need to rest. Non-human characters can also "multi-class" (learn the abilities of another class) when leveling up.

The NES version was substantially different from other versions. It removed references to the Adventure's Journal and some of the more complex features of the computer versions, like different currency units. Battles were significantly reduced in size, the graphics were overhauled and redesigned so that the game could be controlled with a control pad, and music was written for it. A randomly generated dungeon feature was also removed.


Pool of Radiance DOS Caught in the middle of a drunken brawl at the tavern (can't an adventurer just drink & gamble in peace?)
Pool of Radiance DOS Camp
Pool of Radiance DOS Receiving the first mission from the clerk
Pool of Radiance DOS Phlan: Outside the City Hall

Promo Images

Pool of Radiance Magazine Advertisement
Pool of Radiance Magazine Advertisement
Pool of Radiance Magazine Advertisement
Pool of Radiance Other

Alternate Titles

  • "光芒之池" -- Chinese spelling (simplified)
  • "Pool of Radiance - A Forgotten Realms™ Fantasy Role-Playing Epic, Vol. I" -- Tag-lined title
  • "プール・オブ・レイディアンス" -- Japanese spelling

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

An oftentimes irritating, but nevertheless rewarding experience Lukasz Gorski (13) 2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars
The proud progenitor of the infamous AD&D Gold Box series Ray Soderlund (3576) 3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars
Probably the best AD&D game of the classic era of any platform. woods01 (163) 4.17 Stars4.17 Stars4.17 Stars4.17 Stars4.17 Stars
The game that started it all for me! Mattias Kreku (439) 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars
An excellent first edition AD&D simulation game! Cryptic Wizard (2) unrated
Great game. Wolfang (168) 3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars

Critic Reviews

100 aktuelle PC-Spiele 1990 9 out of 10 90
Dragon Mar, 1989 4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars 90
Power Play Mar, 1989 84 out of 100 84
Joker Verlag präsentiert: Sonderheft 1992 62 out of 100 62
Computer Gaming World (CGW) Dec, 1988 Unscored Unscored


Topic # Posts Last Post
Are you sure there's a PC-88 version of this game? 3 Edwin Drost (4489)
Jan 26, 2022
CCS64 loading 7 Pseudo_Intellectual (64820)
Jul 20, 2010
Manual? 1 SharkD (439)
Feb 23, 2010



This was the first Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D) game ever created by the software developer Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI). AD&D was originally a popular fantasy role playing game system developed by a company called TSR, Inc.. SSI adapted this role playing system to the PC in 1988. Pool of Radiance was also first of the many AD&D games to follow that are set within the Forgotten Realms. The game was so successful that it caused TSR to write a novel based on the story in the book.

In the same year, SSI released two more of these newly developed AD&D PC games: Heroes of the Lance and Dungeon Masters Assistant Volume 1: Encounters.

Copy protection

This game used 2 forms of copy protection: Code Wheel lookup at start-up and a Journal to read important text passages.

Cover art

The game box's cover features a painting by artist Clyde Caldwell, also used as the front cover to the 1989 novel of the same name as well as to the 1988 RPG module "Ruins of Adventure" inspiring both.

Monster portraits

Many of the monster illustrations of the Macintosh version can be found in one of the AD&D 2nd edition accessories, the Monstrous Compendium Volume One.

Other ports

An Atari ST conversion was advertised, but is generally considered vaporware, the strongest indication probably being the lack of an import option of Pool of Radiance characters in the sequel (Curse of the Azure Bonds) which the other versions offer.

A port for the Apple IIGS was also advertised, solid evidence that it was released has yet to emerge.


  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 12/1999 - #49 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
Information also contributed by Indra was here, Pseudo_Intellectual, William Muir and Yakumo .

Related Web Sites

Tony Van (2855) added Pool of Radiance (DOS) on Dec 01, 1999
Other platforms contributed by Trypticon (11040), Rebound Boy (19644), Andy Voss (1875), Terok Nor (33084) and Unicorn Lynx (181409)
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