Treasures of the Savage Frontier marks the end of the road for SSI’s Gold Box engine. It has given good service over the nine AD&D (and two Buck Rogers) games starting with Pool of Radiance in 1988. There have been a couple of hiccups along the way, but for the most part the series has been very good.
- There were at least a couple magic stores that sold the whole gamut of +1 weapons and armour. I don’t recall seeing one in any of the other gold box games apart from the occasional store that sold wands, potions and scrolls.
After completing quests in all the cities it was off to Mirabar to meet with the Councilors of the Lord’s Alliance and to prove our innocence. This brought up the usual end game screens with pages of reading…
What came next seemed disconnected from the main quest and felt like it was tacked on afterwards. We were tasked with retrieving a magical gem from the hoard of a long dead (yeah, right) dragon. This was to be found in Ice Peak in the far north of the overworld map.
The dragon’s lair was located in a maze-like area on the far side of a one way door – once in you can’t get out.
Alas, I was unable to finish the game due to an impossible penultimate battle. You are attacked by three groups made up of blackrobed mages, spies and masters. The blackrobed mages and blackrobed spies always get the jump on you and have a propensity for casting hold monster and hold person spells. The blackrobed masters finish off held characters and disrupt my mages spells. I’m lucky if I can get through the first round with half my party able to move. Having a hasted party, invisible characters, and even turning the level down to Novice makes no difference to the outcome. After many failed attempts I watched a couple of ‘Let’s Plays’ on YouTube to see how it was done. The videos showed the players being attacked by two groups of four and one group of five. I had this…
Thirteen opponents would have been doable, twenty-five were not. If anyone has any ideas please let me know*.
Although I couldn’t complete the game I did like it. Contemporary reviews weren’t very kind calling it more of the same. This is fine by me as I like the series. Also, I found Treasures of the Savage Frontier was refreshing as it took us back to where Hold Person and Stinking Cloud spells still worked and my starting characters couldn’t yet cast Fireballs.
It was not quite the fitting end to the series I had hoped for but I still enjoyed it. Here’s hoping SSI’s Dark Sun engine games are just as good.
After finishing writing this entry I did go on to complete the game. I needed to load up my final save just to confirm the names of the enemies in the ‘unwinnable’ battle so I didn’t bother buffing. I decided to have a go anyway and was lucky enough to get off two fireballs before the enemy started to cast, so disrupting most of their spellcasters. Their first volley of ‘holds’ only affected a couple of my party. Some friendly dwarves and extra enemies turned up and I eventually won with only three dead characters. The end game….
Having no chance to rest or heal we were thrown into a battle against Freezefire. This was an ancient dragon that once terrorised the realm. After the last battle it was disappointingly easy. Although it had a -8 AC, it only had 56 hit points and was not immune to magic. It went down within two rounds managing to hit only one accompanying dwarf with some kind of cold attack.