Gold Box Playthrough: Pool of Radiance Part 7 – Ruins of Adventure

This time I’m getting into something slightly different. I ordered a copy of the tabletop RPG adaptation of Pool of Radiance, titled Ruins of Adventure, and while I’m getting through the next chunk of the game, I figure this is a good time to talk about that.

Ruins of Adventure adapts the general structure of the video game, with a few exceptions. The scenario drops the concept of “Clearing” city hexes through completing enough random encounters and instead presents the player with a variety of missions to be completed for the city council, to further the liberation of the city – generally taken from the game’s main quests.

Where things get more involved is, since we are dealing with a role-playing game campaign here, an expansion of the role of Cadorna. We haven’t gone through the entirety of Cadorna’s plot yet, but I might as well mention that as the game goes on, Cadorna will eventually turn on the party, feeling that their actions could potentially cause a problem to his ambitions. However, this generally comes out of the blue, particularly since you don’t interact with him directly as often.

On the other hand, in the adventure, he has a more involved explanation of his plot and his goals, both in the sense of his objectives, and how he’s going to carry those actions out. That said, the adventure does have a few significant hitches.

The biggest hitch relates to the whole matter of Phlan’s city council. Cadorna is the only one who gets anything resembling a detailed write-up. I don’t mean in the sense of stats – I mean in the sense of motivations and goals. The other members of the council have broad-strokes 1 paragraph write-ups, but only Cadorna feels like a full person, which is frustrating because as a GM, what I’d like to be able to do is figure out the other members of the council’s agendas, so when Cadorna starts trying to get the players killed, I’d like to have another fleshed out patron on the council who might provide further assistance to the players, and could take the place of Cadorna as a patron once he’s skipped town.

Additionally, as I mentioned in the discussion of The Slums earlier in the game, the balance of the original title is based around the idea that you’d be clearing city hexes – especially in the early phases of the game. Where we’re at now, we’re not getting as much from clearing city hexes as we used to.

All of that said, Ruins of Adventure feels like an adaptation that got everything that worked from the game and turned that into an campaign that would last a group for quite some time, and which also would in turn serve as a strong jumping off point for further adventures, both in terms of giving the players a base of operations, and giving the players a narrative investment in this particular chunk of the Realms.

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