When it comes to RPG’s one of the obstacles computer games have always had to overcome is how to proficiently transfer the unlimited experience of playing a pen and paper RPG, such as Dungeons and Dragons, to a computer, especially in the early days when you were limited to 32k, 48k, 64k and so on.
It could be argued that only with the spread of high-speed Internet access has this problem finally been overcome, with huge online worlds offering near-unlimited game play. However, back in the 1980s programmers had to make do with the entire world stored on one or more disks.
Triffid Software Research’s own attempt to solve this problem came in the form of the Runemagic Adventure series. Set over eight ‘adventures’ a player could create their own character, complete with individual statistics, equipment and spell lists that they would then use to try complete the adventures. After completing each adventure they would reload the character generator and update their character, buying better weapons and armour or learning new spells. Then they could start the next adventure in the series.
In ‘The Secret River’, the players’ quest is to venture into an underground cavern, guarded by Trolls, and drink from a magical river that bestows the drinker with strength. The game seems completely text based and the statistics are loosely based on the Dungeons and Dragons system of Strength, Intelligence, Constitution and so on. Instead of gold coins to collect you find ‘Luna’s’, otherwise known as Silver coins.
Sadly, it seems that only the first two in the series, ‘The Secret River’ and ‘The Wizard’s Citadel’ were released. And despite planned releases for the BBC Electron, Spectrum 48k and Commodore 64 these first two games never made it onto a different system. The most obvious reason why this would be is that the initial releases didn’t sell well enough to fund the release of the next six adventures. How far along these were, or the ports to different systems including the Commodore 64, is unknown.
Considering the innovative approach to Role-Playing, it is a shame the rest of the games weren’t released. With continuing success they could feasible have released dozens of adventures, allowing players to build strong heroes, which they could even trade with friends! For whatever reason the target audience presumably didn’t catch on (they even advertised in Games Workshops’ White Dwarf magazine) and today it is unlikely we’ll ever find out anything about the ports or the planned adventures in the series.
Do you know anything more of this game?
Contributions: Peter Weighill