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SummaryPool of Radiance Revisited
The GoodLike the starter of the series, Pools of Darkness features a non-linear plot that allows for wide latitude in approaching the game. Whereas in Pool of Radiance you operated withing the environs of Phlan, here you campaign around the whole Moonsea region. The plot itself (Bane making an all out attempt to dominate the region) allows for a wild array of creatures to fight - giants, dragons, undead, drow, demons, rakshasha and so forth. The game offers lots of battles and quite a few challenge the best parties.
This game also has the characters journeying to other dimenisions to fight Bane's lieutenants. This can be fun as it offers new terrain, experience, and more bizzare creatures. One of the dimenisons is in fact the body of the fallen god Moandar - and you get to move and fight around his body and in it. This is without doubt one of the freakier gold box games.
The BadThe above mentioned journeys to other dimensions are in part a poorly desguised attempt at leveling. When you travel to these places, you have to leave all your magical gear behind as the winds of limbo will probably destroy them. This means you land in a new land with nothing but memorized spells for protection. Usually you can find some new gear fairly easily, but in effect your party is underpowered while in the alternate deminsions, but you have to go there to win the game. I do not mind play balance, but this seemed like a last minute thought.
More importantly it exposes a crucial flaw that is common with all the gold box games. The characters seem to be nothing more than platforms for cool magical gear, weapons, and spells. Remove the +3 plate mail and +4 sword from your fighter and he is worthless in combat - no matter how strong! The only other important features seem to be the character's armor class and to hit stat.
Thus your characters have no real personality. Even alignment has no real effect in the game, which I thought was a shame. One of the plot devices of this game is that the various evil leaders you fight do not like each other. They often will offer money to the party to kill a rival, and then try to kill you later no matter what you did. This should have been changed into a possible plotline for an evil party, but you cannot play it out that way. You have to win by killing all four of Bane's lieutenants and their subordinates no matter your alignment.