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Where to start with old school RPGs

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by dacencora, Mar 18, 2020.

  1. dacencora Educated

    dacencora
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    Pretty new to the Codex, and to old school RPGs in general. I grew up on KOTOR and other Star Wars games, but I never played any "real" RPGs until recently.

    I have acquired quite a collection of old school RPGs on GOG and I'm wondering where to start.

    Last year I played the Baldur's Gate series for the first time and I absolutely loved it. I also played Planescape: Torment and really loved it as well.

    So I am wondering which games of the following are worth playing and where to start with them:
    • Eye of the Beholder trilogy
    • The Pools series
    • The Savage Frontier series
    • Secret of the Silver Blades
    • Hillsfar
    • Ravenloft series
    • Krynn series
    • Wizardry series
    • Utlima series
    • Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday
    I know that the Eye of the Beholder series (or at least part of it) was recreated in Neverwinter Nights and that the Pools series was recreated in NWN2. Would you recommend these interpretations vs. playing the originals?
     
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  2. octavius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    octavius
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    Start with Wizardy 1.
     
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  3. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    I would also include the Might & Magic series, I through V.

    Secret of the Silver Blades is part of the SSI Gold Box Pools series. It bridges the adventure from Curse of the Azure Bonds to Pools of Darkness, with characters transferrable through all games.
     
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  4. dacencora Educated

    dacencora
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    Nothing beyond V? I do have all of those as well. Forgot to mention that series.
     
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  5. luj1 You're all shills

    luj1
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    Nope.
     
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  6. dacencora Educated

    dacencora
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    Ah yes, sorry I should have mentioned that I have indeed played Morrowind (as well as all Oblivion, Fallout 3, F:NV, Skyrim, Pillars, Tyranny, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, NWN1&2). I do want to play Fallout 1&2 and they're next on my list after I finish The Outer Worlds, but I want to play some old school RPGs too. I'm trying to see which ones are worth going through for the first time at this point.
     
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  7. Prehistorik Learned

    Prehistorik
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    I suggest starting with original Pool of Radiance and experience culture shock of how playable 30 y.o. game can be, despite rudimentary graphics.
    Another good choice is Buck Rogers, with much improved UI.
     
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  8. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    VI and VII are good, but they are more modern experiences. The first Might & Magic will require you to draw maps, if you really want to go Old School.
     
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  9. Crispy Who's really in charge here? Undisputed Queen of Faggotry

    Crispy
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    If you want to try something with an old school feel to it but with more modern graphics and interface, go with Temple of Elemental Evil.
     
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  10. Tarantulos-Eduardo-Sanchez Arcane

    Tarantulos-Eduardo-Sanchez
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    BUY GRIMOIRE.

    PROVE YOUR ALLEGIANCE.
     
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  11. Butter Magister

    Butter
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    I suggest going backwards chronologically. Jumping into the mid-80s can be a bit much if you didn't play anything early 90s first.
     
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  12. badger76 Learned

    badger76
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    This isn't on your list, but Darklands is a seminal work from the early 90's.
     
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  13. howlingFantods Learned

    howlingFantods
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    For Might & Magic I strongly recommend starting with World of Xeen (IV - V). It's old school but also intuitive and forgiving.
    For Wizardry start with VI. It's somewhat difficult to create an effective party, but the rest of the game is fun and less difficult than earlier entries. It will also ease you into mapping.

    You didn't mention it but I'd also recommend playing Dungeon Master. It's free on abandonware sites
     
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  14. mondblut Arcane

    mondblut
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    Start with Grimoire. When you feel comfortable, dip into Wizardry 7.

    If you'd rather tread lightly, that's M&M 3-5.
     
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  15. Sreggin Etah I Learned

    Sreggin Etah I
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    Might and Magic games are the easiest crpgs to get into.
     
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  16. rusty_shackleford Arcane

    rusty_shackleford
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    Start with a real classic like Fallout 3 before moving onto the more retro stuff like Skyrim
     
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  17. smaug Self-Ejected Patron Shitposter

    smaug
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    Don’t play Pool of Radiance if you’re starting with gold box, play Champions of Krynn first because PoR’s UI is garbo
     
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  18. Atleticano Shoutbox Addict

    Atleticano
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    Rpgs started with Fallout. But you can start with Baldurs Gate, if you want. Its not necessary to go beyond that.
     
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  19. Efe Arbiter

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  20. Gregz Arcane

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  21. Dramart Educated

    Dramart
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    Try them all, play it for two to four hours and then decide what you like. Don't feel bad if you dislike those games, they're from the Flintstones' Age.
     
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  22. Reality Educated

    Reality
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    RE: Goldbox

    Radiance is a personal favorite of mine, but it doesn't let you enjoy certain aspects of goldbox combat (such as backstabbing) as well as Kyrnn, or Azure BLades, because the scaling number of enemies means that you have to fight down the WALL OF 20-40 orcs and thus you don't get that freedom due to the pressing concern to armorclass and to hit bonus your way through and then sleep/stinking cloud over experimentation with other spells. I do like it's maps and clearing it block b y blyock, but it prevents me from recommending as a starting game. It also lacks the pseudo cursor memory or fix command (in other games using rest will automatically assume you want to memorize the spells you chose last time, but Radiance is all manual all the time)

    Frontier is also an okay starting point in theory, but I think it's a little TOO easy, even for attempting the first in your sequence.
    At the end of the day Kyrnn or Azure Blades is probably the best starting Goldbox game, because enemy quanity is toned down in favor of quality, which makes backstabbing feel more reasonable to pull off, as well as making you feel more open to experimentation in general. (It has higher highs combat wise as well)

    Buck Roger's has a couple serious differences that make it a different experience than other GB games -
    1: The medic skill occurring post combat automatically kind of forces the player to have the benefit of what would be "rest abuse" in other games, while technically being clean.
    2: Grenades and such act like the glorious fireball spell of the other games, but without slot limits, the lategame can lean to totally nuking encounters in a way you can only do on special occasions in other GB games. I do like the protective items like flak, especially comparing lategame silverblade/pool of darkness, but that won't happen t you in Azure and Kyrnn anyway. I think playing it first leads to an impression of GB games having "actives" used more frequently than they normally are and it would be weird to go into Radiance or Kyrnn second and suddenly realize how much bigger the vanilla fight command is.

    As for the rest of the games.

    I played Legend of Grimrock before first playing Eye of the Beholder - HATED (grimrock) and went into Eye of Beholder with low expectations, I would say I ended up with a medium-average reaction to EoTB with things I liked and disliked (but that's so much better than how Grimrock treated me)

    M&M is easy to get into. It's probably a safe choice for first old RPG. I personally would go Wizardry first though.

    Wizardry 1 is a pretty magical experience, the game is really tightly built, which works to the strength of playing it for the first time, even for someone new to DRPG. 2-3 do use the same 20x20 grids, but don't have extra QOL improvements to really make playing them before Wizardry 1 have any purpose - I feel like it's the only one of all these series where it's possible to play the later games first and then go back to the older games and STILL have a rising, more and more positive experience.

    Wizardry 6-7 (especially 7) score very highly with their fans, but are probably the most unforgiving starting point - It might be worthwhile though, just for the sake of arguably the highest high points of all of these games.

    Wizardry 8 - I actually played it first of all wizardries and I loved it < It doesn't really naturally lead back into the other old school games and you can feel like it's trying to distance itself mid playthrough though.

    Ultima...……………. Is not for everyone and certaintly not me (I think Ultima Underworld > rest of Ultima franchise)

    Ultima 1-3 are kind of skippable even if looking for a history dive.

    Ultima 4 is the first one that is a major historic milestone - Ultima 5 is much more playable and an equally good time capsule of thematic world building elements beyond the fighting part of good vs evil taking center stage in an RPG "for the first time"

    Their is another school of people who claim that Ultima 7 is capable of being "your only Ultima" and it has some things that are overwhelmingly cool and will make you want to rethink how RPGs should be designed - eg the NPC schedule, and the persistence of its world etc - I do think that you should be warned that U7 combat is basically Goldbox gone sexual and wrong in every way - But the rest of the game DOES make it worth it (it's a more extreme version of Fallout 1&2's famous weakness in the combat area in exchange for strengths in most other areas)
     
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  23. Tarantulos-Eduardo-Sanchez Arcane

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  24. Tigranes Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Tigranes
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    Generally speaking, Baldur's Gate is I think the cutoff point for when RPGs start to feel quite different in terms of UI, handholding, design sensibilities.

    So I would try out the older ones, and if one doesn't work for you, don't think it's the end of the world, dip back into something later on and you'll soon find great games there.

    As someone who started CRPGs with BG & PST, I later found Ultima Underworld, Ultima 7, and Wizardry 1 very appreciable (though I think in most cases Wiz6? might work better). M&M 5/6 are cool to try, though I would also say M&MX is a pretty faithful, easier to pick up introduction.
     
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