The Dark Queen of Krynn is the third, and final game, in a three volume series of titles set in AD&D's Dragonlance campaign setting developed by SSI using their Gold Box Engine. It was preceded by the first game in the series, Champions of Krynn (1990), and its immediate sequel, Death Knights of Krynn (1991). Prior experience with either two titles was not required, although veteran players may find it beneficial to import characters developed throughout the story arc.
The game begins two years after the events in Death Knights of Krynn. The commander of the unified armies that had defeated the evil dragons in the War of the Lance, Laurana, has extended an invitation to the characters to join her in the city of Palanthas. She suspects that although the War has long been won, evil continues to fester in hidden pockets throughout the land and requests your help in dealing with them once and for all.
It is part of SSI's Gold Box series of games based on TSR's Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition ruleset and set in the Forgotten Realms. It continues to the use the Gold Box engine first pioneered with Pool of Radiance and then enhanced for use across those games that had followed it such as Gateway to the Savage Frontier or Champions of Krynn. Because it is relatively based on the same engine behind SSI's Gold Box series of RPGs. only the setting has changed.
The game, based as it is on the Gold Box engine, continues to use the grid-based, 3D system wherein the world is viewed from a first-person perspective with 90° turns and movement spaces. As with nearly every Gold Box game, party members were displayed in the upper right hand corner along with hit points and armor class. Random enemy encounters would provide combat opportunities within the game against mixed groups of foes, providing experience.
When combat would start, a tactical turn-based system was used to display the battlefield viewed from an isometric perspective. Every member of the party including each monster were shown as individual icons that had a limited number of moves onscreen. The player was challenged to maneuver their party on the map, take cover behind obstacles such as wells, or even block doorways and act as tanks in order to protect their spellcasters.
Upon starting, a verification question is shown which directed the player to find the indicated word answer in either the rule book (the manual) or the included Adventurer's Journal. The disks themselves did not have any copy protection allowing players to make copies and play on them instead.
As with the previous games, there was an extensive amount of documentation included with the package:
- A basic manual with setup instructions and an outline of the rules
- An Adventurer's Journal going into detail on the races, classes, and the magic system of the game; it would also double as an additional layer of copy protection as it contained the scene description references for the game.
- A Quick Reference card for commands
Characters could be transferred from the previous game, Death Knights of Krynn (but not Champions of Krynn).
The party of heroes arrive in Palanthas after receiving the invitation from General Laurana who asks for their help in investigating several reports of evil having round a new foothold within the region. The party are sent to the city of Caergoth only to discover that most of it has been demolished with most of its citizens missing or slain in the battle that had crushed it.
In searching through the city, they encounter draconian patrols that they must fight through and eventually run across Captain Daenor who had lost his sister there. He explains what had happened and asks for their help in searching for the draconians responsible. Eventually, whlie journeying on the Silver shark, they discover a shipwreck on a nearby beach. They explore it and follow tracks leading up the overlooking cliff face and find a cave filled with a horde of draconian soldiers.
The hostages that they had taken from Caergoth are also there along with Crysia, Daenor's sister, who is under a charm spell and aids the enemy. She warns the horde of their approach and pits them against several battles throughout the tunnels as they follow her deeper into the caves. After freeing the prisoners and speaking with the Mayor of Caergoth, they eventually find another way out from the caves and witness Crysia escape atop a blue dragon.
They return to the Silver Shark, but the ship meets misfortune on the waves, sending the characters into the water. The Dargonesti elves from the underwater city of Naulidis rescue and enchant them with spells allowing them to breathe underwater. As they get used to their lives under the sea in Naulidis, sea dragons attack prompting an evacuation of the city. They also rescue Captain Daenor who tells them that sahuagin are holding sea dragon eggs hostage, forcing their parents to fight for them.
The party head to the ruins of Celanost nearby where the eggs are secretly kept and rescue them from the mercenaries and the monsters conjured to protect them. The eggs are returned and the sea dragons agree to end their attack and unite against the treacherous sahuagin. They find the sahuagin leader, Prince Talhook, as he prepares to assassinate Prince Lyzian of Naudilis. Thankful for their help, the sea elves bring the party to the continent of Taladas.
In the Hamlet of Hizden, the party awaken in an inn and the party speaks to Ezra as Lyzian has suggested. They are told about the Luminari lighthouse and a wizard that may be able to assist. But before they are able to explore this lead, the sahuagin attack once again in revenge. After defeating them, they head to the lighthouse.
There, the wizard Fastillion gives them valuable information along with two keys to the inner chambers of the tombs below. Unfortunately, before they meet him, they discover evidence of his insanity as he has filled his home with many tricks and traps, most of which he has already forgotten about. However, in exploring the tower, they discover a woman of the Hulderfolk who had been crushed by a gorgon before she had turned it to stone. As she dies, she tells them how to reach Fastillion.
Upon reaching him, he proves to be a valuable source of information and informs them that they must seek the Oracle of Tengur in the tombs of the old city of Kristophan. He gives them the keys and the party set off for the Capitol of the League.
Kristophan is filled with both humans and minotaurs, but it is clear that the minotaurs hold absolute power within the League. Upon exploring the city, they hear about the disappearance of a tome known only as the Book of Amrocar. There are many other adventures within Kristophan that the party takes part in, but eventually, they must find the Oracle. They also find a thief named Selias who helps them to reach the tombs that they must explore.
Within the tombs, the party run across many undead encounters that threaten to destroy them. A secret circus of the undead is also found within its walls including many puzzles and deadly traps. The party also discover that the Oracle has been broken apart into many scattered pieces, each one of which must be found and whose trail seems to lead ever deeper into the tunnels and towards a lair of powerful vampires.
With the Oracle assembled, the party follow a lead to the Hulderfolk Wood where they quickly become lost unless they can recite the ancient words of frienship. They also run across Tasselhoff Burrfoot, one of the Heroes of the Lance, who is just as lost as they are. Together, they manage to overcome the enchanted forest's defenses and are brought before the Hulder King and Queen for a banquet. However, they discover that the spiteful Queen's magic has allowed a month to pass in the outside world while the party was trapped within the Wood. But they have also gained a powerful artifact that will prove useful later: the Iron Dragon Scale.
They resume their quest by following another lead to more draconian activity within the city of New Aurim, the captal of the Thenol Empire. They find that the Thenolians are preparing for war and that the draconians are within the King's palace. They decide to join the army as part of their cover and are given uniforms, allowing them to pass freely throughout the city and infiltrate the palace.
Now disguised, they search the palace for more information concerning the draconians, discovering that the barracks are filled with them. The draconians plan to use the Thenolian army as a tool in gathering more dragon eggs. Still believing that they are a part of the military, the party is then asked to escort a group of draconians to Hawkbluff. But Thenolian rebels attack and kill the draconians instead. The party then penetrate even deeper into the palace which now appears to have been largely abandoned to monsters.
Within the inner palace, the King who now acts as a mere puppet to of the Tyrant Trandamere is all but useless to them. But the Queen shares what she can of their plans. They also meet Grunschka, a dwarf, who aids them against the draconian infiltration. They descent into the bowels of the palace where they manage to disrupt the ritual of corruption over a massive number of dragon eggs, stopping it before more draconians can hatch and ruining the plans of evil in the process.
The party then follow the clues to Hawkbluff where Tyrant Trandamere, the real power behind the Thenol Empire, awaits with his own army. Gates requiring specific passes fill the hallways but a friendly jeweler in the town outside of the fortress helps them in forging the required items. Within Hawkbluff, the party discover that a temple to Hith had been constructed within its walls and that its architect, Davik, has been imprisoned. However, after freeing him and with his help, they escape through the temple after taking back the Book of Amrocar from the Tyrant who flees.
The party discover that they must go to the village of Bai'or where they find that it has been converted into a shipyard for the navy that will transport the draconian armies assembling on Taladas across to Ansalon. The "sharkmen" that run the village are actually in the employ of the draconians, but as they are not trustworthy, several dragons have also been put into place to ensure their loyalty.
After many battles and in aiding the villagers against the sharkmen, the party defeat the dragons and discover one of their number that is different. Deformed and corrupted, she tells the party her story as a failed creation at making a dragon host powerful enough to act as a means for Erestem, otherwise known as Takhisis in Ansalon, to enter the world. If the party helps her recover from her wounds, she tells them to head to Blackwater Glade and seek the othlorx dragons there.
In Blackwater Glade, they give the Iron Dragon Scale that they had earned from the Hulderfolk to Tremor, the red othlorx dragon, whose lair they discover the entrance to with the Book of Amrocar. They also meet a wandering bard named Baldric who is really the silver dragon, Baldranous. Although he appears cowardly, he is actually assessing the party's battle prowess from a distance. If the party is patient with him and keep him in the party, they will also get a reward. Eventually, they learn that the draconians are camped by the Lava Sea and the silver dragons fly the party to the citadel at Aldinanachru.
There, they find that the gnomish citadel is in chaos. The king has decided that all social classes must be thrown out and that every worker must now exchange their position with someone else, throwing everything into disarray. Eventually, the party reveals that the King is actually a draconian and that his plan was enacted in order to ensure that the forces of good would not be able to use the gnomes' firefleets and windships.
Once the true king is found and restored to his throne, the party heads to the Tower of Flame to defeat the evil forces gathering there and stop the Dark Queen. At the victory celebration following the King's proper restoration, red othlorx dragons led by Tremor attack, but the party manage to defeat them.
At the Tower, the party riding a gnome windship leap through a siege port within its walls and find themselves at the highest level of the structure. However, Crysia re-appears as their friend, Captain Draenor, leads them across a flimsy bridge. Crysia severs the bridge and the party fall into an air shaft, losing contact with the Captain. The party must now fight their way up from the bottom of the structure in order to stop Takhisis' return.
They smash through the Tower engines, crippling its defenses, and then defeat beholders protecting the siege ports. Opening these, the gnomish forces waiting outside storm the Tower. As the party makes their way upwards, they also encounter a coven of black wizards healing the wounded dragons that arrive, and then defeat them causing many others to begin fleeing for their lives. At a temple, they also find and defeat draconians that have gathered together to celebrate what they believe to be the impending return of their Queen.
Once they have penetrated the core of the Tower, they are drawn into the Abyss itself by a whispering man who turns out to be the infamous, Black Robed mage and former Hero of the Lance, Raistlin Majere. They free him and he tells of Takhisis' plans to enter Krynn, but also tells them of how to stop her before it is too late. As they sneak past the Queen who is engaged in a complex ritual, they distract her by hurling a rock at a nearby bell. The plan succeeds, but only the party is able to escape. Behind them, Raistlin and the Queen fight each other.
The party find themselves back in the Tower where a five-headed, chromatic dragon who is to be Takhisis' vessel, awaits them. It is also at the Tower that they discover that the Grathanich, the grey stone created by the god, Reorx, and whose power had shaped the gnomes, dwarves, and kender with its life-changing powers, is also there and had been used as a powerful tool in creating the five-headed dragon. Once killing it, it frees itself from beneath the egg that it had come from and the party pursue it as it floats throughout the Tower.
However, at the top and with beings of every side pursuing it, the stone eventually falls down a shaft and is forever lost. The party escape the Tower onboard a gnomish airship to the gnomish citadel where they are finally hailed as heroes.
The Dark Queen of Krynn is the third and final game in the Dragonlance series of SSI's Gold Box titles. The same Gold Box engine that was created for Pool of Radiance continues to see use in this campaign series with few changes. All of the gameplay mechanics are based on the 2nd edition of the Dungeons and Dragons ruleset, otherwise known as AD&D (Advanced Dungeons and Dragons) from TSR.
Players begin The Dark Queen of Krynn by creating a party of six heroes. The parameters used in creating each character include race, class, affiliation & alignment as well as the likeness of the icon that will appear in combat. These factors will dictate what sorts of weapons & armor your characters can use, if they use magic & what kind of spells they can learn.
After creating the type of character, players can determine the value of a series of attributes that he or she will begin the game with. Players can roll and re-roll their statistics until satisfied with the levels of Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, Charisma, Hit Points, Armor Class and Experience Points. Players' approach to the game will depend on the mix of characters to be added to your party.
Once the party is assembled, gameplay consists of taking assignments from the commandants of Knight outposts and NPCs in the towns which you visit as well as encounters you have while traveling between locations on the overworld map. Combat is turn based and includes character movement which impacts tactical decisions such as ranged vs melee attacks, deployment of party members and order of targeting. Successful battles will result in the party earning XP & currency as well as looting items and weapons from your fallen enemies.
With the introduction of the Gold Box series as a part of the Dragonlance campaign series with this title, seven races are now available for players to choose from and is the first step in creating a new character. Before, in the series based on the Forgotten Realms setting, only six races were available.
Players can also select what kind of sex their character is which has no effect on their abilities, only in their appearance for the character portrait.
- Mountain Dwarves: Excellent warriors, expert craftsmen, and strong workers, they also harbor a strong hate for giants and their diminutive nature allows them to dodge their attacks much easier. Their hate for goblins and hobgoblins also gives them bonuses in battle against their kind. They are also a hardy race and able to resist the effects of magic and poison.
- Hill Dwarves: They are just as stubborn and as tough as Mountain Dwarves although not as charmismatic.
- Qualinesti Elves: Long lived and resistant to sleep and charm spells, elves are often considered among the best spellcasters in the Realms although they are also skilled with a sword. They cannot be resurrected, however, but they can multi-class in many more different combinations than others. They are also much friendlier than their Silvanesti cousins.
- Silvanesti Elves: They are just like the Qualinesti, although are typically more arrogant.
- Half-elves: These share the hardiness of their human half along with the sleep and charm resistances of their elven parent, but not their long lives. And like their elven parents, are capable of noticing things out of the ordinary.
- Human: The most common race on Ansalon, they are average in most respects but have no major weaknesses, either. Capable of dual classing.
- Kender: They are a diminutive people who bear an extreme curiosity often "misinterpreted" by others as thievery. They are very resistant to magic and poison and can easily taunt others with a silver tongue often making their opponents go into an uncontrollable rage. Their dexterity adds to their accuracy with their weapon of choice, the hoopak, or in picking a few locks to satisfy their inquisitive nature.
Each character has a set of basic attributes that affect various abilities as defined by the 2ed AD&D rules that the game is based on.
These determine factors such as combat prowess and how many spells a magic user can memorize before they must rest and re-acquire their spells once again. During character creation, the player may re-roll as many times as they want. Prime requisite attributes are those that are a requirement for certain classes. For example, Fighters must have a good Strength score in order to be effective.
The natural maximum for any attribute is an 18, although it can go higher depending on factors such as race and magical effects. Throughout the game, unless it is due to an outside intervention such as a spell or a piece of equipment, these attributes never change even when a character levels.
- Strength (STR) - determines physical power and damage with weapons; also affects encumbrance in combat
- Dexterity (DEX) - reflexes and the ability to remain hard to hit in combat; affects ranged weapons such as bows as well as a thief's abilities
- Constitution (CON) - a character's health is determined by this and hit points are derived from this score and a bonus calculated against it with every level. This also determines a character's chances for coming back to life with a resurrection spell, but in the process, a point of constitution is permanently lost.
- Charisma (CHA) - affects the perception that others have of a character
- Intelligence (INT) - affects the ability to reason and think. This is an important score for magic users as it determines how many spells they can memorize and use per level.
- Wisdom (WIS) - this is important to clerics and determines how many spells they can store in memory and use
Attributes, such as Strength and Dexterity, are also affected by the selection of race and certain bonuses and minuses are spread across them as a result. For examples, dwarves are inherently stronger than the other races and, thus, have a bonus to their Strength and Constitution scores.
AD&D's alignment system determines what a character's outlook is. Players can choose what alignment their character starts off with, although actions within the game can slowly shift it. Certain character classes are very much restricted to certain alignments.
- Lawful Good - Characters that are based on this alignment strictly interpret the rules and respect order above all else for the benefit of everyone
- Lawful Neutral - Moderation is far more important than the extreme, balancing their decisions between good and evil
- Lawful Evil - The strong survive to enslave the weak, but one must rule in order to conquer and order must keep those that follow this character in line. An army is always stronger than a mob.
- Neutral Good - Some rules are needed along with the freedom to decide what is best depending on the situation at hand
- True Neutral - Everything must be balanced; both good and evil have their place and neither must overcome the other
- Neutral Evil - Law and chaos aren't as important as the results in bringing evil to the world
- Chaotic Good - Random actions and the freedom to implement them are more important than the rules in valuing life and ensuring the welfare of others
- Chaotic Neutral - Randomness and chaos are more preferable to being evil or good
- Chaotic Evil - This character will go to any lengths to grab power and influence, disregarding anything that may make sense or in cooperating with others to achieve their goals. Unpredictable and ruthless.
Gender is treated only as a cosmetic choice in the game as with many others, but race plays a major part in determining what classes a character may be restricted in playing as. The game allows dual and even triple classing among characters depending on certain options such as race.
From the stock of basic classes, players can pick from certain combinations, although experience is divided among the classes that a character belongs to. As a result, they level much more slowly than a character dedicated to a single class.
The basic classes are:
- Fighters - They can fight with any armor or weapons, but have no magical ability. When they reach 7th level, they can get an extra attack per round.
- Solamnic Knights - They are the pinnacle of chivalric honor on Krynn and are divided into three orders: the Knights of the Crown, the Knights of the Sword, and the illustrious Knights of the Rose. They start out with plate mail, a long sword, and a shield, but with very few coins to spend. In addition to this vow of poverty, 10% of their monies are sent back to the order every time an outpost is visited. When Knights of the Sword or Rose rise to sixth level, they are able to use some clerical spells.
- Rangers - They are a fighter and can defend themselves without the need for armor and weapons if need be. They do bonus damage against giant-sized creatures and must be of good alignment.
- Thieves - They can disarm traps, undo locks, and help themselves to anything that isn't well protected. They can't wear any armor heavier than leather, but they can backstab in combat for critical damage.
- Clerics - Fighting priests that can wield a mace, but no edged or pointed weapons, as well as use armor. They pray for their spells and automatically memorize any of the spells available for a level when they reach it. Clerics can only be of an alignment the same as that of their chosen god.
- Magic Users - Powerful spellcasters are always welcome in any party. They start out weak and remain physically fragile throughout their careers, but the powers they command at higher levels can rend parties of monsters apart in the blink of an eye. Nothing like a little human-sized artillery to bring onto a battlefield. On Ansalon, their spells are also affected by the wax and wane of its moons. As with Knights, mages are also split into three orders based on alignment with their own strengths, abilities, and favored moon.
White Robes - good aligned mages belong to this order
Red Robes - those of a neutral persuasion belong to this order
Black Robes - evil mages are often members of this order; cannot be PC characters in this game
- Paladin - A warrior class able to use most weapons and armor, they must be of Lawful Good alignment, can cast Cure Disease once a week, and at ninth level gain the ability to cast clerical spells. They also have the ability to turn undead, particularly useful in this chapter of SSI's Dragonlance saga, as if they were a cleric at two levels below their actual level. Introduced to the series in Death Knights of Krynn.
Non-human characters can multi-class with a mix of these to enhance their abilities by sharing skills across them, although they level up at a slower rate because of the experience distribution across different disciplines.
The Moons of Magic
The three moons of Krynn figure prominently within the game's magic system depending on their phases: Solinari (the white moon), Lunitari (the red moon), Nuitari (the black moon). Their phases are displayed onscreen as a part of the interface.
Mages of the White Robes, for example, gain their power from the white moon, Solinari, and gain two additional memorized spells as a result of it being a full moon.
Many towns have the same locations within them, offering a variety of services:
- Inns - These provide a safe place to rest although it will cost some coin.
- Shops - A variety of supplies such as armor, healing salves, and nearly anything else that the party may need can be purchased here. Inventory changes from time to time.
- Temple - Where healing and resurrections can take place if the party has enough coin to donate. Resurrections are particularly expensive.
- Bar - Visiting one of these allows the player to catch up on the latest news and gossip within an area
- Bank - Maintained by the Solamnic Order, deposits of money (not equipment) can be made at each branch in allotments of 100 pieces at a time. A fee is also charged for the service.
Overland travel was displayed when the party left a civilized area such as a town or an outpost. Cursor keys allowed the player to maneuver them across this map and the Area command could toggle the view between the 3D first-person look or back to the overland view depending on availability. Random encounters would often make travel dangerous, but unavoidable. Likewise, travelers encountered on the road may offer their help with certain services.
The Gold Box RPGs had standardized themselves with a basic system that was shared across most of the party-based entries. The interface both for party management and information display were similar across titles such as this one making it easier for veterans to get into the game and creating a similar look.
Fighting in the game continues to be handled through random and set encounters wherein experience, items, and gold are earned. When combat begins, an isometric view (the combat map) is presented with every member and attacking monster shown as an icon.
It is a turn based system with each side taking their turns to maneuver and issue commands. This tactical approach, in conjunction with the obstacles present onscreen such as walls and doorways, allowed the player to create their own strategies.
Initiative played an important role in determining who goes first. Each round is divided into ten segments and every character and foe act on a specific segment determined by their initiative. Actions can be delayed and held until the end of round and the computer can fight for the player using the Quick command.