Feb 172014

The Better Half

So… after a long time of not posting, I’m back. I’m taking a page from Geoff and writing about some of the other D&D CRPG’s out there. I have to admit that I’ve been only been dropping in on DDO occasionally lately. Seems like my game playing goes in cycles. My latest MMO fun has been a rotation between DDO, Marvel Heroes, and Star Trek Online. On the the traditional single player side though, I am rediscovering one of the classics of computer gaming — the old AD&D gold box series.

Now you may ask, why in the world would you want to play a series of games that started being release in 1988 and have graphics which are the next step up from the old 8-bit graphics that are the current retro rage? Several reasons actually. These were some of the first CRPG’s I played. I have many fond memories of saving the city of New Phlan and fending off the draconian menace from the world of Krynn! The AD&D games in the Gold Box series (there were also Buck Rogers games) are all based on the 1st edition rules which is kind of interesting. The old rules had a quirky sort of charm  that i believe reached it’s height in the 2nd edition rules.

A few other things that make these games an attractive proposition at this point — they appear to be abandonware. While I have bought every one of them (I have a very large collection of older PC games), it’s very handy to be able to pull them off the Internet whenever I am ready for a new one since some of my copies are still on floppy disk! If you want to play these games though, you will need to set up DOSBox for your system since these are DOS games. I would also recommend using a frontend for DOSBox if you intend to play more than just one DOS game. I use D.O.G. myself. The other set of tools  I use is called the Gold Box Companion. This has to be one of the most awesome free user built sets of tools I have ever seen to aid playing a computer game. With it you can make up for several of the shortcomings of these games by:

  • Fixing no way to map in-game (although there is a rudimentary area command built into the games)
  • one click spell memorization since it is a little cumbersome the way they have things set up
  • a status bar for all your characters!
  • several ways to cheat if you tend toward that inclination including character editing and teleporting
  • an easy way to document what you’ve done on what map

In fact the mapping system is good enough that I am considering using it with several other non Gold Box games!

One of the other things you will need to make sure you have is a copy of the game documentation. All the games use an old form of copy protection which requires you to enter words from the manuals at various times during the game. It’s kind of a pain, but since the manuals are all available online, I would recommend doing that rather than trying to find a hacked executable. Hacked software is a good way to get a virus anyway…

For those of you who lean to the completionist side of life like me, one feature of the games you will enjoy is the ability to move your characters from one game in a series to the next one. How awesome is that!? I just finished Champions of Krynn and I’ve moved my characters in all their glory with all of their nifty equipment to the Death Knights of Krynn game! This has to be one of my favorite things about any game — the ability to grow and improve throughout the story.

A list of the various games (taken straight from the Wikipedia listing— they do a great job!)

Additionally, Spelljammer: Pirates of Realmspace (1992) used the Gold Box combat engine.

So if you try any of these games, give me a shout. I’m always up for questions about this sort of stuff. Adventure on!



  5 Responses to “Going back to my roots”

Comments (5)
  1. Oh man I so loved those games! Thanks for the memories. And to think I can play them again, now? Tempting

  2. It’s actually a lot easier than it sounds, especially with the Gold Box Companion.

  3. While I’ve never played those games I do have dosbox on my computer for when I want to run around some older rpg & rts games. There are a lot of older games that are more fun than newer ones, in my opinion.

  4. I am currently in the middle (so to speak) of whipping up some Vitual Machines (VMs) to run older games. The biggest problem (so far) is that the (2) biggest names in VM-ing – namely VMWare and VirtualBox – do not have virtual graphics cards that support directdraw and/or direct3d in Win98SE VMs (stupid, I know). Microsoft Vitrual PC 2007 SP1 is the last version of Virtual PC to support Win98, but it is not as friendly as the other two. It does, however, have some directdraw/direct3d support natively. But even that seems to need tweaking (more experimentation is required on my part) to get proper functioning video.

    But there are ways around the video limitations – you just need to do your homework and possibly experiment with what others have already done (still working on that part).

    Still, for the more popular games (ala “Tomb Raider” and “Thief” series), you can find patches and other ‘hacks’ to make them run (reasonably well) on newer OSs and newer hardware, if you don’t want to mess with VMs.


  5. And here I was struggling to find a place that I could slide out my old Amiga system to revisit that very same Champions of Krynn. Ty. Very timely.

What do you think?

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