Remembered: GOG Dig Up D&D Forgotten Realms RPGs

Looks like Friday night to me.

Youths, I know you do so enjoy disrespecting your elders, lingering outside the bowls club drinking Four Loko and ‘ironically’ listening to Barry Manilow. You can now up your rebellion by playing some of the ancient RPGs that fogies swear are better than games you herberts enjoy, then use that experience as inspiration for cutting subtweets.

Fogies, weren’t things better back in the day? As the saying goes, you can’t spell “progress” without “regress” if you’ve lost your glasses and your memory’s going. Relax. From today, you can easily revisit The Golden Age of RPGs. GOG have dug up thirteen old Dungeons & Dragons RPGs in the Forgotten Realms setting, you see.

The virtuous virtual vendor of vintage video games today launched Forgotten Realms: The Archives, three bundles of ye olde RPGs.

Collection One gives Eye of the Beholder I, II and III for £6.49. Collection Two packs Pool of Radiance, Hillsfar, Curse of the Azure Bonds, Gateway to the Savage Frontier, Pools of Darkness, Secret of the Silver Blades, Treasures of the Savage Frontier, and D&D: Unlimited Adventures for £6.49. Behind Door Number Three is Dungeon Hack and Menzoberranzan for £3.89.

For folks into dungeons and/or dragons, I calculate that’s about a bajillion hours of mirth from revered studios like SSI and Westwood for £17.

Really getting into the D&D swing, for the weekend GOG are also heavily discounting other D&D games, including Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment.

87 Comments

  1. Zanchito says:

    Oh, my! Nostalgia attack!!! Thanks for reporting.

  2. Sian says:

    Which game is the screenshot from? I remember either playing it myself or watching a friend, but I can’t conjure up the name.

    • Nasarius says:

      Eye of the Beholder. Same movement/combat system as Legend of Grimrock.

    • zacharai says:

      Eye of the Beholder II, Legend of Darkmoon. It was the only one with medusas, I believe.

    • Sian says:

      Thanks, you two!

      It’s more the UI, the portraits and that blood splatter on damage than the Medusas. Funny what causes nostalgia to flare, because I don’t remember much else.

      • Jenks says:

        Did you have a Sega Genesis?

        link to i.ytimg.com

        D&D Warriors of the Eternal Sun

        • Det. Bullock says:

          A Sega *what*?
          I never heard of such contraptions, though many (me included) had a Sega Mega Drive.

          Jokes aside, that looks very uhm, early 90s PC to console conversion, I still have headaches from Naughty Dog’s Rings of Power.

        • Sian says:

          Nah, we were a DOS/Windows family as far back as I can remember, though we did have an old Atari too.

        • trooperwally says:

          Oh my goodness yes! Warriors of the eternal sun was THE game. It was the game that made me pester my parents until they bought me a megadrive for Christmas one year. That was an incredibly Christmas holiday – sat on a mountain of cushions (the cable wouldn’t reach to the sofa) whilst eating all the chocolate I’d received for Christmas and pressing ‘A’ about a million times to keep re-rolling and optimising stats for each party member before I even began the game. Fun times.

          • jrodman says:

            Why do I love rolling up characters so much in computer games? I find it entirely a mixed bag at the table, where I’m typically looking to put my character concept onto paper, or get the game to help me find a character concept, and the mechanics are mostly just nuisancy.

  3. TheAngriestHobo says:

    Vehk is [i]rocking[/i] that Elven Porn-Stache of Charisma +10.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      …was worried about that.

    • ldgonza says:

      “Sexy Gorgon: Double Date”

    • MikoSquiz says:

      Half-Elven. D&D/Forgotten Realms elves can’t grow facial hair.

      • jrodman says:

        What if they acquire an Artifact of Facial Hair Power?

        • bonuswavepilot says:

          Tensor’s Greater Whiskers Abjuration [Neutral]

          Level: Wiz 3, Neutral 3
          Components: V, S
          Casting time: 1 standard action
          Range: Touch
          Targets: 1 standard creature
          Duration: 1 round/level (D)
          Saving Throw: N/A
          Spell Resistance: Yes (beardless)

          Causes a mighty beard to erupt from the target’s chin (or whichever area or appendage the caster deems his target). The beard will grow to 2 inches per caster level, at a rate of 2 inches per round, so long as the caster remains in contact with the target.

  4. TomxJ says:

    Lets all take a trip down memory lane!:

    So, I think it was in the second EotB, near the start you find a pile of bones and if you cast Raise Dead on them you got a new companion! I think he was a little halfling thief.

    So after that I cast Raise dead on ALL THE BONES!

    … and still do.

    • zacharai says:

      Elf mage/thief. Later there’s a Drow elf, same idea (put the bones in the altar thing to resurrect).

      • spacedyemeerkat says:

        How on earth have you remembered that?! (Unless played recently!)

  5. Elusiv3Pastry says:

    Wake me when they finally dig up Dark Sun: Shattered Lands. Where’s my Geritol?

    • ldgonza says:

      I still don’t know how to pronounce Tektuktitlay.. Teckucktitlay… Techuckhitlay… damn it!

    • ansionnach says:

      Never finished that one but had a good bit of fun with it. Seems like a very obvious direct influence for Baldur’s Gate.

    • Jenks says:

      Thrikreen are so badass

      I remember having to play through it twice, because the final confrontation with all the armies you raise completely bugged out for me the first time. Huge bummer but I loved the game enough to do it all again.

    • Berserkben says:

      I recently played through both Dark Sun games, lots of fun. Half-giants all the way!!!!

      Hardest part was getting the dosbox settings right.

    • Enkinan says:

      Beat them both…back in High School.

      Damn I’m old.

  6. harrylime says:

    Surely it’s not a sign of getting old, if i am more excited about this than of any other recent game release – it definetly isn’ t okay. It’s not.

    • JFS says:

      Yes. Yes it is. Don’t worry.

    • ansionnach says:

      Only played The Krynn Gold Box games about ten years ago and they were great. Well, didn’t finish the last one (Dark Queen of Krynn). Wasn’t as into that as they introduced more animation and mouse control, which made playing the games slower than just using the keyboard. I think this is a common problem with the latest Gold Box engine. The fact that you get down and play these games quickly with their keyboard interface makes them more satisfying and immediate than a lot of more recent games that have been lumbered with sluggish interfaces in service to “better” graphics.

      • Sian says:

        Oooh, the Krynn games. I’ve only ever played Death Knights of Krynn, but I loved it. I wish those would show up on GoG.

        • ansionnach says:

          Champions is pretty good as well. I didn’t like the new engine in Dark Queen. If I could somehow hack it to use the older one I think I could get into it.

  7. ansionnach says:

    That second collection is a real no-brainer. Fair warning, I’ve only played the Dragonlance Gold Box games (which are great), but the Pool of Radiance saga is often considered to be the highlight of the lot of them. If pack two came with all the other Gold Box games (Dragonlance and Buck Rodgers) it’d be even better, but they’ve at least thrown in the non-GB Hillsfar as a bonus.

    • tomimt says:

      Pool of Radiance will always have a special place in my heart, as it was the first CRPG I ever played. Though in all honesty I had almost forgotten how slow the combat can be in it, as you are forced to watch every enemy movement.

      • ansionnach says:

        I thought combat in these games was really fast, although it was probably the early 2000s by the time I got around to them and I set up moslo to run them probably way faster than they were intended to run.

  8. dungeoncrawl says:

    I soooo excited about this but can’t get excited to actually play them. These were out in my early to late teens when I was super into D&D but somehow never could get a pirated version (bad on me but that was my teens) and never played. But I know now that the interfaces, graphics, sounds, etc. will make it so hard to hold my interest. Knowing that I’ve got Dragon Age, Fallout 4, Sattelite Reign, Shadowrun HK, Torment, WL2 Update, all queued up…..I don’t think I’d ever be able to justify. Seems the farthest I can go back is BG1 (which I re-re-completed within the last 2 years along with Torment IWD1, etc.) I just don’t think I can jump back THAT far.

    • ansionnach says:

      The Gold Box games I’ve played are better than any of the Dragon Ages. Right now. The interfaces are also better and the games are streamlined, while still being genuinely RPGs.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      I find it helps to play them fullscreen on a small screen (like a small laptop) but don’t worry about the controls with EOB II. As someone else pointed out, the controls compared with most other RPGs of the early 90s are years, if not decades, ahead of their time.

    • jrodman says:

      Depends what you’re expecting.

      I finished Pool of Radiance within the last few months, and I found it a pleasure. There are some rough edges, but they’re managable. It’s not *pretty* looking, though, if that’s what you mean.

  9. Premium User Badge

    teije says:

    Some great stuff. Instead of playing these, I enjoy reading the CRPG Addict play through them. My nostalgia urge is satisfied, and I don’t have to impose my modern graphical standards unfairly on them.

  10. Det. Bullock says:

    I imagine many of these don’t have an automap, Wizardry VI was unplayable for me because of that.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      I’m not surprised, but take heart! The Wizardry games, along with the hideously overrated Ultima Underworld, and everything over game that used that horrible 360 degree pseudo-3d camera and/or mixed real-time and turn-based elements can’t hold a candle to the first two EOB games. Playing EOB II you won’t miss an automap, and you’ll be astounded at what can be achieved when dungeons are designed to be entertaining challenges, rather than frustrating obstacles, interludes between combat sequences, or just pretty backdrops.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        You will absolutely get lost in a featureless dreary maze, but a memorable dungeon, you will remember the way around!

      • Blake Casimir says:

        It isn’t the game’s fault if you find the real-time first person view “can’t hold a candle” to what is a technically inferior movement system i.e. grid-based.

        Really? Ultima Underworld hideously overrated? What utter bollocks. Begone, foolish boy.

        • jrodman says:

          Firstly, Eye of the Beholder etc are realtime first person view games. Secondly, you don’t really support the idea that free-movement is superior to grid-based. I feel they’re different styles of games and both fun in their own way.

      • ansionnach says:

        I’ve never heard anyone describe Underworld as horribly overrated before and certainly wouldn’t have expected the AD&D-lite of EotB to be held up as vastly superior. They’re Dungeon Master clones but UW took first-person RPGs so far beyond the imaginings of DM… to an exalted place, still untouched today by anything else. If that’s overrating it, it’s not by much. Perhaps if Daggerfall was bug-free and had loads of lovingly hand-crafted areas it would be worthy of licking UW’s boots. If any UW descendant is horribly overrated it’d be Deus Ex (which is still a very good game).

        • jrodman says:

          Having played neither in their day, I find trying both games now that Underworld has a sort of unworkably clunky interface. I have trouble even building a working model of whether to use left or right-click on items, and struggle with the movement controls (both mouse and keyboard), and frequently have to refer to the manual. Eye of the Beholder has a much simpler input scheme, and can be largely played with the mouse with obvious onscreen targets.

          Underworld may be the much more drastically groundbreaking game, but I have a lot of trouble playing it. So in that sense, for me, it’s overrated.

          • ansionnach says:

            Then I really do disagree entirely. I think its interface is great. People seem to think that every first-person game that doesn’t use familiar mouse+keyboard WASD controls is unintuitive these days. UW’s controls are about as complicated as they need to be. As far as I’m concerned, games that “moved on” from this interface to a more shooter one sacrificed interactivity. UW is a role-playing game and doesn’t need a shooter interface. That said, it pretty much does have keyboard controls very similar to WASD anyway… and this was a first (Catacomb, Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake did not ship with these controls). There’s no mouse look but then there’s rarely an immediate need to look up and down… and the controls for that (1, 2 & 3) are right above the keyboard ones. You need to interact with the environment very regularly so it makes complete sense that mouse movement is with the cursor. Clicking is simple: left click moves about in the main screen and selects/uses things in the inventory. Right click looks at things and if you drag it’ll interact (main screen only) or pick something up. As far as I’m concerned the expectation that every game should use WASD controls is akin to people wanting to play everything with a controller. UW is a very different type of game to the FPS games WASD suits and I can’t imagine a significantly better interface than the one it uses.

            Eye of the Beholder has a much simpler interface but it is a vastly more simplistic and inferior game. I don’t mind mapping myself where it’s part of the game but I’d much prefer to have an automap like in Underworld… and it has the best one I’ve ever seen – with space for you to write quest notes (very easy to lose paper). Combat in real-time blobbers is a real chore as well, since you’ve got to manage more than one person in real-time, reducing the importance of strategy. Probably couldn’t be simpler than EotB without adding keyboard shortcuts or an “attack all” button. EotB’s combat is much less of a pain than in DM, though.

            EotB certainly has a simpler interface but at what cost? An endless runner with only a jump button has a much simpler interface than both of them but that doesn’t make it a better game.

            I didn’t play UW in its day either, and only finished the second one about a month ago. They’re fabulous games and their descendants have gone so far astray that they’re still the kings of this genre.

          • jrodman says:

            You disagree that I was actually unable to play the game due to the UI?

            Keep in mind that I’ve played through generations of weird interfaces with no manual on platforms like unix terminals and commodore c64 tapes.

          • ansionnach says:

            No, I disagree entirely disagree with your reasoning that UW is overrated.

          • jrodman says:

            Even when I specifically say that this overrated view is specific “for me”? Interesting.

          • ansionnach says:

            Hmm… perhaps this conversation is something that should only continue face to face. Wouldn’t want to clarify further to have it misinterpreted… and perhaps you feel the same way?

          • jrodman says:

            Your predictive powers are impressive. I have no idea what you mean.

        • ffordesoon says:

          Just because there’s a logic to the control scheme in Underworld doesn’t mean it isn’t fiddly and clunky by modern standards. And it should be, given that it’s essentially the prototype for all the 3D first-person games which followed in its wake. To argue otherwise is a bit like saying writing in Early Modern English is just as easy for any given reader to understand as modern English. No one would deny Shakespeare’s genius as a dramatist, but that doesn’t mean someone accustomed to the formal conventions of the 21st Century play (or, more likely, the 21st Century novel) will necessarily have an easy time reading his plays. They often have a hard enough time reading novels written prior to the 20th Century.

          I’m usually the first person to call out the statement that certain mechanics are “outdated” – games culture is unhealthily dismissive of its history. That does not, however, mean someone who started gaming well after the WASD standard was codified would be able to pick Underworld right up. I have trouble with it myself, for the same reason I often struggle to get to grips with Shakespeare: I recognize the language as English, but it’s not my English.

    • Premium User Badge

      Phasma Felis says:

      You’re SUPPOSED to be drawing your own map on graph paper as you go, you wretched Philistine. What are you doing playing RPGs if you don’t like drawing maps on graph paper?!?

      (EotB still kinda sucks, tho. Games that simplify/sacrifice gameplay for cutting-edge graphics rarely age well.)

      • ffordesoon says:

        Yeah, you’re supposed to, but why would you want to? You’re not actually escaping a dungeon. You’re just doing the computer’s work for it. What if the player had to do all the math in the game too? At that point, they might as well just play a pen-and-paper game. At least a human DM can contrive a way for the trap options you inevitably chose to not be useless.

        Also, what if you suck at drawing maps? Why should a game be unplayable for someone who can’t draw all that well? Talk about unfair.

  11. Premium User Badge

    X_kot says:

    The Gold Box games are an important RPG games, so I’m glad to see them get their due. However, Forgotten Realms was never a setting that clicked with me, so I am holding out for the Ravenloft games: Strahd’s Possession and Stone Prophet.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      I loved the Ravenloft setting but I tried in vain to get into Strahd’s Possession. It was the controls and mechanics that let it down for me. It could have been a much stronger game had it been done on the same engine as EOB II, rather than on the Menzoberranzan engine.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        However, I also seem to remember that my copy of the game always crashed at a critical point, so if they brought that out on GOG I’d almost definitely get it and at least try to replay it.

  12. geldonyetich says:

    These newfangled VGA graphics are terrifying to me. I’m going to stick to Ultima IV, thanks.

  13. JamesTheNumberless says:

    The second game is one of the best RPGs ever. The first starts strongly but spreads its later content too thinly through too many maze like areas. The third game is a giant turd.

    None of these games had automaps but one of the things about EOB II that’s truly brilliant is the extent to which the game doesn’t need them. The dungeon design is superb and there are enough story elements, set pieces, and unique areas to keep it from ever feeling like a slog.

    Among the great shames of gaming, is that we had to wait 20 years for Legend of Grimrock to present a truly worthy follow-up to EOB II and Dungeon Master in terms of real-time grid based RPGs.

    • Risingson says:

      Yes, this. I remember being disappointed when Lands of Lore was released just because it felt too patchy after EOB2. There were other attempts at this kind of game, like Anvil of Dawn and Stonekeep, but I agree that they did not have that tight design.

      I wonder how much in EOB2 was due to thinking the map layouts and enemies over and over again, and how much to pure inspiration. It sits comfortably among Another World, Civilization, Flashback and Prince of Persia in the podium of my favourite games ever.

    • Grey_Ghost says:

      I strongly agree with all you said, especially about EotB3!

  14. Fearabbit says:

    Okay, who took this screenshot? Why are the heroes named after the obscure deep-lore versions of the names of the Tribunal and Dagoth Ur from Morrowind?

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      I’m more interested in why they’re that far into the game with still only four characters in the party, what’s causing that damage, and what exactly the priest thinks he’s going to do with those lockpicks… Nevermind, they’ll all be turned to stone in a second as none of them have equipped mirrored shields.

  15. pelle says:

    I actually spent an evening only a few weeks ago digging up my old (1994) goldbox cdrom and installing all the games in dosbox. I wanted to finally get to completing Pools of Darkness, continuing my saved games from when I played through the first three games in that campaign (I love that characters carry over between games!). Last several times I tried to play PoD I gave up rather early because that game is a bit confusing and it is so difficult to find out what to do next. Also my characters are terribly underpowered because I never heard about grinding, so instead of running around to kill monsters and level up I just save-scummed through the games. But I really want to keep playing with my old characters.

    One thing that is annoying with the goldbox cdrom is that the copy protection is intact. I hope that gog has removed it. In particular in some games it is annoying to have to look up answers to questions mid-game. Anyway will buy this from gog just to get (I guess) nice pdf-versions of the manuals.

    • jrodman says:

      You mean the codewheel lookups? I have NO IDEA why I kind of like the codewheel in the gold box games. I mean obviously the trick is that it has in-game utility with translating langauges, but that’s so shallow. I fall for it anyway.

      • pelle says:

        No, the codewheel could be fun, and did not happen very often. I guess it was partly for copy-protection, but I never even thought of that. But there is a question you need to answer when you start the games (looking up some word in the manual, except POR that used the codewheel). And some games added questions at important locations mid-game, or when you saved/loaded a game. It got increasingly annoying.

        For Pools of Radiance I noticed that the answers were in plain-text in the binary, and all five letters, so I just edited all of them to be DRAGON and saved a lot of time playing with the codewheel when starting the game (and you had to restart to load, which took a lot of extra time when save-scumming). When I tried that trick on later game it did not work, so I guess they deliberately or by accident stored it in a less obvious way.

        • jrodman says:

          Oh, my memory begins to return. I think I just played these games cracked since the first time around, even having bought them myself. I was on all the special access BBS systems those days.

          Yeah, having to go fish in the manual for a word mid-game sure is annoying.

    • ansionnach says:

      I’d just use a patching programme to remove the protection. It’s really easy to do. There are many that do a whole pile of DOS games (e.g. Locksmith, Rawcopy, Crock, The Patcher, Neverlock). Specifically, the first three of those will remove the protection from Pools of Darkness, plus hundreds more.

      As far as I’m concerned, gog often butchers releases by removing certain executables (e.g. config EXEs or the DOS/Windows one in a dual release). Installing your games and removing the protection in DOSBox is easy and gog’s configuration is minimal. They don’t always select the best sound card for the job, either (e.g. MT-32 and some games with GMIDI support).

      • jrodman says:

        The copy-protection of the gold box games is a little tricky to just patch out. In the game, you will sometimes encounter messages in elven or dwarven(?) runes and decode them as part of the game experience. Possibly you could arrange to have these messages displayed in plain text, but it kind of removes part of the game.

        • ansionnach says:

          I (probably) used one of these tools to remove the protection from the three Krynn Gold Box games and don’t remember being harassed for anything other than the journal entries (which were worth the read and a very smart way of getting around space limitations when paper was cheaper than data). That was maybe ten years ago. I’d guess that these patches probably do the job correctly, provided those making them knew there was more than just a code check at the start.

          • jrodman says:

            Perhaps you missed the middle part of my post, where I talk about how decoding messages was part of the play experience, completely independently from the challenge-answer stuff.

            (By middle part i mean the whole thing.)

          • ansionnach says:

            No, I did not. If the decoding requires direct feedback to the game or else it kicks you back out to DOS then it could be patched out, otherwise if it uses the manual and it’s more working out what to do next, then it’s hardly copy protection. I’ll probably play this game at some point and find out.

          • jrodman says:

            Ah, so you deliberately ignored the information presented. It is awfully consistent of you to continue to deny it in a new way though, and in addition declare that you will learn about it yourself from the game instead of learning about it in conversation.

            Well, when that happens, you can discover for yourself that the code-wheel is incorporated into game play, a device that was specifically designed to defeat easy use of the Xerox.

            Enjoy!

          • ansionnach says:

            You seem quite a prickly individual. I’ll take it that any pleasantries are said in the utmost insincerity. I won’t wish you a pleasant day.

  16. jrodman says:

    Holy crap, they finally unlocked them. Probably the most frequently requested games on the site that were not yet available. Likely several circles of legal hell were circumnavigated for this.

    Just the thing to overcome my distaste over their recent inclusion of online DRM in some games.

  17. kalirion says:

    I’ll have to buy collections 1 & 3 just to make up for pirating the games back in the day.

    On sale of course.

    • jrodman says:

      Would it be better or worse if I bought them for you at their “full price” (a fraction of the original).

  18. cpt_freakout says:

    PLAY THOSE HISTORICAL OBJECTS TO THE DEATH

  19. RPSDwarf says:

    I received the newsletter from GoG, Eye of the Beholder pack was an instant-buy! Oh, man! I was 13 at the time, I’ve found memories of this game, 1 and 2, mainly.

    Another series I would love see GoG taking out of abandonware status: Spellcasting text adventures series! :)

    • ansionnach says:

      All the Legend Entertainment adventures would be welcome.

  20. Premium User Badge

    syllopsium says:

    Nice! Played loads of other RPGs but never any of the Gold Box games or EOTB.

    However, first I’ll be finishing Ultima Underworld – never really played that, although I’ve got a fair way into UU2

    • ansionnach says:

      The UW games are superb. Was really looking forward to getting onto the second one because of review scores back when they were released (still have the magazines), but the first one was actually a far better game.

  21. Mormont says:

    Seht’s hair is more luxurious than I imagined

  22. MellowKrogoth says:

    I recommend playing Lands of Lore: Throne of Chaos (the spiritual successor to Eye of the Beholder games) instead of the EoB trilogy, it’s just better in all aspects. Then play the recent Legend of Grimrock 1 and 2, and then if you really feel like you want more and can stomach the older classics, go for EoB and why not Dungeon Master (link to dmweb.free.fr)