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I dusted off the old Commodore 64 a little while ago and found some old save games for Pools of Darkness. All of the games were at basically the same place. The final set of fights in the game.

Each of the parties I had and different make ups to them, but I remembered that I couldn't ever manage to get through that last sequence of fights and actually complete the game. (I tried it a few times again, just to see if it was as hard as I remembered... it was.)

Has anyone out there ever beaten this game? And if so, what was your party build and was there any special things or items needed to do it?

(I realize this is a pretty old game, so even just some fuzzy memories would be helpful.)

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Oh man this takes me back... –  tzenes Sep 17 '10 at 20:24
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It was that difficult, and only a select few will have beaten it. The Gold Box games (except, for some reason, the Buck Rogers variants) were brutal. I never even got to the final battles of any of them outside the BRs -- and I was a huge fan, and even a large contributor to the Unlimited Adventures community when it was around. –  John Rudy Sep 18 '10 at 4:58

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Pools of Darkness for the C64? I'm quite sure that Secret of the Silver Blades was the last AD&D-game for the C64.

But if you're really talking about Pools of Darkness, here are some hints:

  • Take only human characters in your party. All other races have level limits for all classes but thief. In fact humans will often start with a higher level than the maximum level other races can achieve.
  • Take six fighting classes (fighter, ranger, paladin) in your party and level them until they got 2 attacks/round. That would be level 13 for fighters and paladins and level 15 for rangers. Than change their classes: I recommend to change three of them to mage, one to cleric and one to thief. As soon as you get you characters up to level 14 (or 16, if they were rangers), they will get back their old abilities in addition to the abilities of the new class. So you have casters with lots of HP, that are able to use efficiently all kinds of weapons.
    • Instead of equipping you characters with heavy armour, give them rings of protection, cloaks, bracers, etc.. This way you will get the lowest AC. One of my characters got an AC of -21 wearing the following with DEX 18: Silver Shield +5, Bracers AC2, Ring of Prot. +3, Helm+4, Cloak of Prot. +4.
    • When you have created new characters you can choose to modify their attributes with the fitting option in the main menue.
    • You can keep your armour in the planes beyond limbo, if remove your characters from the party before going there and add one party-member as a dummy. After you arrived just replace the dummy with you original characters. I think you have to keep at least one character in you party before you add the dummy.
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I never got to the end but I beat the other Gold Box games. Rudy is right; the games were all difficult, but I found the difficulty tended to ease up in the final third, except for certain key fights, in the previous games.

What kind of parties were you creating? The ideal way to play the Goldbox games was to heavily leverage dual classing. Non humans provided no real benefits (Elves could get 19 dex but in AD&D there was no additional AC bonus over 18) and multiclassing wasn't very useful. But dual classing. . . dual classing was OP.

I may be repeating knowledge you are intimately familiar with, but Dual Class characters basically combined the best of both worlds once class #2 surpassed #1 in level. So you wanted all your spell casters to get a certain number of levels in fighter. It wasn't strictly necessary in Pool of Radiance but it really helped (especially in places like Yarash' pyramid. God that brings back memories), since your casters stayed useful. The right level to dual depended on the game, since the first 3 were each level capped. Basically, you wanted to shoot for the best "extra attacks per turn" level. I want to say it was 5 in PoR (3/2 maybe?). That gave you 5 levels of fighter HP, a good hit bonus (better than a mage or cleric would get for several levels).

Then you wanted to do it again in Azure Bonds. I actually had a system. To best leverage this, when I moved to a new game in the series I dualed my existing pure fighters. As soon as they could carry the party, I remade new pure fighters and ditched the somewhat inferior existing fighter/casters. Anyway, I want to say fighters went to 2/1 at 9 or so. And then to 5/2 at 13 or something (but you couldn't do that until Silver Blades iirc).

Anyway, Dual Class characters were key. You could easily wind up with 4-6 Figther/Casters with great martial prowess and a ton of spells. Everybody had very low ACs, lots of hp, and casters could easily fall back on melee - where they were deadly. Spell casting got less useful as the series went on as more monsters like Beholders started showing up (and weren't there Rakshasa in Silver Blades? Maybe I'm crazy). Still useful, but you found yourself running into more and more situations where spells were stifled by monster abilities. Still, the extra buffing and healing was huge.

You could really take advantage of this if you played through a given game with the same characters more than once. Also, I seem to recall if you got stuck you could simply start over with that party, and be better off (this was helpful in Azure Bonds. While you still lost your starting EQ - but you could stash it on characters in the guild, iirc- it was easier to get through the beginning when you knew where all the resting spots were and had more levels and spells at your disposal).

Were you making characters with max ability scores? That definitely made the game easier (but I was fond of the game giving you that choice; another difficulty modifier, basically. Knights of the Chalice does a variant of this, where you can specify how many 18s will be rolled in character creation).

Man this brings back memories. I hope GOG gets the Gold Box games eventually.

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I started with a whole new party in Silver Blades, and brought them along to Pools of Darkness. Everyone except perhaps 1 guy was dual classed, and all of them were humans. I got to that final fight with guys in the 30+ level range. All had max stats as well. About the only thing I hadn't done was "cheat" and dupe weapons/items in the party. I don't think you would get very far at all in PoD withouth a dual classed party. –  The Sasquatch Oct 21 '10 at 12:32
    
Wow, somebody is a tough critic. I'm pretty sure Silver Blades had 3 giant strength belts in it, but memory might be failing me (I know they were of varying or somewhat varying power. Like a Frost and 2 Hill or something). Alas, the games got so brutal these things almost became mandatory. Dragons, high level undead, beholders. –  peacedog Oct 21 '10 at 12:40

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