Champions of Krynn

Title		Champions of Krynn
Game Type	RPG
Company		SSI
Players		1
Compatibility	Most Amigas
Submission (Ronny Cook)

Champions of Krynn was one of the earlier "Gold Box" AD&D role playing
games from SSI, set in the "Dragonlance" world. Its interface shows a
great deal of improvement since Pool of Radiance, and the graphics are
also a bit sharper, but neither point has ever been the strong point of
the Gold Box games.

The display, as with the other Gold Box games, is broken up into a small
"3D" view ahead of your party, a party summary, an area for display of
text messages (and occasional images) and a row of buttons for basic
functions. The party moves step-by-step, which makes mapping easier; in
most areas, it is possible to replace the 3D view with a (very) rough map
on a 16x16 grid. The party summary is very useful, indicating who is in
your party and how healthy they are at any time. The text area is only
large enough for fairly short messages but works around this by
occasionally referencing "journal entries" in the included documentation.

Clicking on the 3D view will move or turn your party but typically the
keyboard is much easier to use. The buttons at the bottom of the screen
also have keyboard shortcuts. Eventually you will find yourself largely
ignoring the mouse. Unfortunately there are only ten save game slots and
they are each identified only by a letter from A to H.

One problem with the 3D view is that monsters and features of interest are
usually not shown until you actually encounter them. For example, you may
be walking down an apparently clear street then be informed of an
encounter with a group of monsters holding a barrier. On the other hand,
all movement and combat is turn-based, so there is no time pressure.

The game's plot is fairly straightforward and usually you are led by the
nose from place to place. There is enough freedom of action within each
location, however, that you don't feel hemmed in. As with the other Gold
Box games, Champions of Krynn is at least as much a strategy game as an
RPG; the larger encounters require a careful balancing of hit points,
available spells and positioning.

Character building is nicer than in the Forgotten Realm games as non-human
characters are not restricted nearly as badly as in the alternative series.
Most races can reach quite high levels in their chosen professions
before they are blocked from advancement. This means that passing characters
along to the next game in the series (Death Knights of Krynn) actually has
a point.

If you are a fan of Dragonlance you will occasionally encounter characters
from the books (assuming that sort of thing is important to you).
If you encounter a Non Player Character (NPC) who joins your party and
then have an encounter (usually a fight) your knight's leadership
abilities may allow you to control an NPC as if it were one of your own
characters. This can be a godsend given the typically braindead artificial
intelligence (sic).

The interface is much improved over Pool of Radiance; the need to
laboriously re-memorise every spell has been eliminated. The mapping scheme
is still very iffy but better than nothing.

After you win the game, all your best weapons are taken away from you
(supposedly in order that they may be used in fighting the war; actually
to avoid grossly unbalancing Death Knights). This is an... interesting way
of rewarding someone for winning a game. :-)

Overall, I found Champions of Krynn to be absorbing and fun. It may not
look good compared to more modern titles, but the gameplay remains solid.

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