These two city hexes are effectively linked, in the sense that one cannot be cleared without the other, and both are light on fixed encounters, so I’m covering them here in one combined post.
This area, compared to the Valhigen Graveyard, is kind of a walk in the park. It’s not easy, as encounters have enough numbers to overwhelm the party of you get here too soon, or aren’t careful. Also, until both hexes are cleared, the party can’t rest here. However, the party can parlay their way through random encounters to preserve resources, and fixed encounters don’t regenerate the way they did in the Valhigen Graveyard.
The encounters here are also almost entirely Orks, meaning Magic Users (with Sleep), and Clerics (with Hold Person) are very effective here. Also, by this point you probably have access to 3rd level spells, so you have access to Fireball. This becomes invaluable when it comes to the area’s climax – a big pitched battle in the Temple of Bane. The fight opens with a slew of orcs gathered together in one big clump, making them the perfect target for AOE spells in general, and Fireball in particular.
This, in a way, leads to a big problem I’m running into at this point – the level cap. Level progression in Pool of Radiance is capped out at 6th level for most classes, with Thieves being able to go up to 10. So, except for Deedlit (a dual-classed Fighter/Magic-User) and Woodchuck (a Thief), my party has reached the cap. We’ve also got all sorts of magic weapons and armor, pretty much covering all the reasons to take on side quests – money would literally weigh us down as we have nothing to spend it on, and we’re kitted out.
In a tabletop game, especially for AD&D 1st edition, this wouldn’t be an issue. There isn’t an artificial level cap to make XP gains meaningless, and the party also needs to save up cash for when they hit Name Level and start spending on their holdings. Additionally, even if you weren’t getting involved with Name Level stuff, an inventive GM could have the party get involved in financing the reconstruction of the City – Kingmaker style, with additional political adventure hooks coming out of that (particularly with Cadorna).
In the game, on the other hand, none of those articulation points are present, so once you’re well kitted out, and have hit the level cap, you have a mechanical disincentive to straying from the critical path. This is a bummer, as there’s plenty of narrative incentive to continue adventuring. Story-wise, I should want to go to the mysterious Wizard’s tower to stop the flow of poison into the Stojenow. I should want to negotiate peace with the Nomads, to make sure my new home was safe. However, here it’s more of a hindrance than a help.