I was wondering if anybody else here remembers playing the old Gold Box Strategic Simulations Games? I found the first one in college. Someone in the computer lab had a copy and would allow you to play it in the lab. Ah, 8 bit graphics! And he'd also copy it for you (this was long before I learned computer game piracy was an issue, so I acknowledge how wrong I was back then for doing so. He'd even pulled apart the code wheel and photocopied it, so you could get a copy of it and cut it out (along with the windows that showed the codes). My biggest memory was that there was a place in the training hall where you could hire other adventurers to go adventuring with you. If you hired the 6th level fighters, when they died, they dropped Plate Mail +1 and a +1 Sword, which was like free loot. Oh yes, and the hardest encounter in the slums was three Trolls who would regenerate after you killed them if they weren't killed by fire. And they were tough. But if one of your characters was standing on a downed troll and got killled, they'd regenerate instead of the troll. Good times! And when I finally got my own computer, it was all in color- Holy Crap! It was like a whole new game!
The Encounter with Tyranthraxus at the end, in the body of a Bronze Dragon, had to be one of the most difficult i've ever fought. The game allowed you to reach 6th Level, and even at that level, six characters attempting to kill a Bronze Dragon with 88 hit points and a breath weapon was NOT easy.
And then the next game, Curse of the Azure Bonds, takes away all the treasure you managed to garner in the first game. (Cue Dirk Dastardly-style cursing here.) I think my least favorite section of the game takes place in the tower of Dracandros. It's a long, hard slog, and his fire shield at the end gave me fits.
My favorite in that series is the third game, Secret of the SIlver Blades, which just really felt epic. You are summoned to a new place (again, without your gear) and have to deal with the aftermath of a war between two brothers- a Paladin and a Mage. You have to slay the Spirit Abomination the Mage has become and free his soul, while at the same time defending the town from an attack from monsters formerly imprisoned in a glacier, which has begun to melt. I loved the mines- all nine levels of them! And the character of Vala, who you free in the mines and who becomes your companion. Plus, there is a huge section of ruins you can spend endless time exploring, and an area with teleporters that allow you to travel back to town from deep in the Mine/Ice Crevasses/Castle, but only after you travel to get there. I played this game a lot, and it remains my favorite of all the games.
Pools of Darkness was the end of the series, and it took you back to Phlan, only to watch it and other cities get scooped from the Realms and into Limbo, and you have to fight Tyranthraxus, again, along with a whole new, Higher Level set of foes. I only played it fully through once, but it was damned near EPIC.
I also ended up getting a copy of Dark Queen of Krynn long after it came out as part of a "Value Games" series. I'd never spent much time playing in Krynn, even though I had played the original modules when they came out ages before. And this one takes the characters from Ansalon (where all of the Original Modules happen), to Taladas, the sister continent, inhabited by, among other things, minotaurs, where you have a final showdown with Tiamat in her Dragon form. Not having played the previous two adventures, my characters were crippled at first because they didn't have a Dragonlance, and you need to fight Dragons in an underwater city. Without a Dragonlance, that was... difficult to say the least. It wasn't until I'd finished and re-imported my characters to play again a second time that I felt I was up to some portions of the game.
So, do you remember playing the SSI Gold Box games? What are/were your favorite memories and encounters, or least favorites? Please, share your stories!