Reviews of 'Champions of Krynn'
Reviews of 'Champions of Krynn'
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Champions of Krynn Is a computer role-playing game released by Strategic Simulations Inc. (SSI) in 1990. The game used the "gold box" engine featured in SSI's Forgotten Realms roleplaying games, combining 2d overland and 3d "dungeon" viewing panes.
Several years after the War of the Lance, the Solamnic Knights are trying to rid the lands of Ansalon from the lingering evil forces in the central lands. The Knights' council receives word that the scattered evil forces may be organizing for a new offensive, and the Knights send senior knight Sir Karl Gaardsen and a group of young adventurers to investigate. You control the actions of the group under Sir Karl's command.
Gameplay starts with building a party of six adventurers (you can play with fewer characters in your group, but this makes the game more difficult because your group will lack manpower and depth of skills). The characters can be of several races including humans, mountain dwarves, hill dwarves, kender, silvanesti elves, qualinesti elves, and half-elves. The classes available are fighter, ranger, knight, cleric, mage, and thief. Further class options include choice of patron deity for clerics and white and red robes for mages. You can customize your characters' battlefield appearance and even their ability scores to your taste. Bear in mind that character creation is based on AD&D 1st edition rules, so younger players used to 3rd edition should be aware of such things as limited class choice for different races, multiclass restrictions, THAC0 and armor class. The knight is needed for one of the optional sections of the game, and to access one of the key magical items within, and so is a wise choice to have in the party. A second fighter is also a good choice, preferably a single-class fighter as he will advance faster than the knight. A good-aligned and a neutral-aligned mage and cleric will give you the spellcasting power you'll need. Neutral-aligned red-robed mages gain access to higher-level spells faster than good-aligned white robed mages, but both robes have access to different sets of spells. One of each will allow you to use all the spells available in the game. Similarly, a neutral-aligned cleric gets high-level cleric spells faster. But the good-aligned clerics gain powers that the neutral clerics lack: better healing, better THAC0, or greater turning power depending on choice of deity. Finally a thief will allow you to disarm traps and open doors you can't bash down.
As mentioned above, your characters interact with the game world through various viewpoints: the aforementioned 2d overland map, the 3d dungeon view, and the 2d tactical combat map. In combat, learning how to position your characters (heavily-armed, high HP characters in front, weaker characters behind), movement and guarding, and aiming your spellcaster's spells are all keys to victory in the game. The combat is turn-based, however, so you have ample time to study the combat environment and decide the best way to maneuver your characters in the fights you'll face. If you still find things too difficult, you can adjust the difficulty of the opponents when you camp.
Speaking of camping, rest and resting often is another key to victory. Camping is convienient in that you can make camp at any time in the game, allowing you to save just before major battles. When you camp, you can save the game, memorize and refresh your spells, adjust the difficulty, adjust the speed of the game messages, change your characters' battlefield appearance, and change your party order and makeup. You can also use the "fix" command to have all you clerics heal and refresh their spells in one command. This speeds up the time you need to spend in camp, but bear in mind that your rest can be interrupted in dangerous areas. In safe areas, it is wise to rest and keep an eye on the moon phases as you rememorize spells. The moons of magic allow you mage characters to memorize more spells and make their spells more potent depending on phase. It's usually wise to rest until the white moon and red moon are full so your mages
You'll find a fairly logical progression in the game of the places your party will need to goal in order to accomplish its objective. Some modern MMORPG players will scoff at the linearity, but given the technical limitations of the time, the freedom to explore is as much as one can expect.
Champions of Krynn was a fine game for its time. Its implementation of AD&D rules was true and had some interesting choices with the knights, clerics and mages. If you can muddle through the well-dated graphics and gameplay (don't expect Neverwinter Nights), you'll find it an enjoyable journey into the world of Krynn.
Grade: 4/5 (very good gameplay for a game of its time, but still could have delivered the additional areas to explore that were featured in the sequel, which came out only a year later).
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