Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pool of Radiance [Books]

As a teenager, I spent countless hours playing Pool of Radiance with Nebraska Steve.  It probably served as my introduction to the Forgotten Realms, and I still believe the AD&D Gold Box games had a combat system that was the most faithful to what tabletop D&D combats are like using miniatures.  Reading the novel brought back so many of those memories, as the locations in the book (Sokol Keep, Valhingen Graveyard, the Stojanow River, etc.) were virtual locations I spent many real-world hours trying to clear of virtual monsters.  The novel's story still holds up well and would serve as the premise for a solid campaign: the city of Phlan was attacked by dragons years ago, rendering all but a small portion of it a rubble-strewn wasteland that was undefensible and soon occupied by thousands of orcs, gnolls, and other foul creatures.  A small portion of the city, Civilized Phlan, is safe behind walls, but the task of reclaiming the rest of the city must proceed block-by-block, and much of the work falls to adventurers hired by the city's governing council.  The novel has three protagonists:  Shal, a wizard whose master was recently murdered; Ren O' the Blade, a ranger/thief whose lover was killed a year prior; and Tarl, a newly-minted cleric of Tyr.  The three are each in Phlan for their own reasons, but find themselves manipulated by a member of the Council to further his quest for power.  Along the way, they learn of the mysterious Lord of the Ruins who has actively blocked Civilized Phlan from expanding and who is deriving power from a mystical pool.  This is more traditional meat-and-potatoes D&D-style fantasy than other FR books, but still quite enjoyable if you're in the right frame of mind.

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