Upon returning from my trip to Maui this year, I was welcomed by a package containing the “Gold Box” classic Curse of the Azure Bonds by SSI.
Before leaving I knew I wanted to take a deeper dive into the Gold Box games. I had already done a fairly half-assed flyby (meaning: I didn't finish it) of Pool of Radiance
(1988) and really
liked what I saw. I will have to give it the full deep-dive some day and play it to the end.
What made these games really special at the time was that many had first been books before being translated into games. Not every D&D fan out there is keen on the massive Forgotten Realms arterial setting, but I like it. It is the birthplace of so much great content, including future endeavors across Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter.
So, before hopping on a plane ride that is close to 6 hours going west (about 5 hours on the return trip, thanks to the jet stream) I downloaded Azure Bonds to my Audible account. I wanted to really get into the D&D mindset before starting the game, and this book was written before the 2nd Edition rules had even been published. So yes, it’s very old-school. The audio book is over 14 hours long, but I was able to get well past the half-way point by the time I got home.
The computer game, which came out a year later in 1989 (as also did a D&D game module) was released right around the same time as 2nd Edition. In fact, advertisements for it could be found in the Gold Box edition of Azure Bonds. Second edition was probably my favorite BITD. I kept playing as my brother was a hard-core dungeon master. In fact, at age 47, he still is and plays via Skype/Facetime every weekend. But I digress…
The Audbile book Azure Bonds is a lot of fun. The woman who reads it to you, Kristin Kalbli, is pretty good as the story progresses. At first she’s a bit robotic. And at times, since there are so many different characters involved, she accidentally blends some of the character voices together (it's subtle, but I picked up on this occasionally). But she does a pretty nice job of setting the right tone even if the story feels a bit like ‘teen fiction” at times. The story itself is actually a bit more surprising at times than I expected it to be. It's not deep by any stretch, but the characters are very interesting as is the relatively fast-moving plot. It makes me want to go get more of these when I’m done (I already know which ones, too!).
In any case, I found the game on Ebay for $14 before I left, and it was waiting for me when I got home after a nice Spring Break. The box is really screwed up, but all of the contents are pristine.
I ultimately installed it, and immediately created my party using the character’s names I had encountered in the book. I can’t wait to dig in!
Nerdy Experience: The HD Installation
Azure Bonds comes on two floppy disks. When you pop in Disk 1, you see the awesome launch icon with the character Alias (that's her name) looking back at you. You also get two icons for HD installs. Interestingly, you can only install to hard drives with the names DH0 or DH1, if you happen to have those.
As some of you might recall, my hard drive IDs are weird
. The previous owner (or the Quantum hard drive company itself) decided eons ago to label my hard drives QDH0 and QDH1. I can’t rename the IDs of the partitions without wiping out all of the data. And, so far, it really hasn’t ever affected my use of the Amiga 2000 one bit, other than having to occasionally change a path here or there from the typical defaults.
Anyway, SSI coded the HD installs with paths you couldn’t alter. You only got those two choices. Now, for a brief second there I considered just copying the disks and playing off floppies. Big deal. But then I got to wondering…
My HD IDs are set up like this:
QDHO: “System” boot drive, workbench and system tools; 9MB
QDH1: “Fun” games drive; 40MB
Then I added an 4GB SD micro drive to my SCSI chain a few weeks ago. So, keeping the IDs consistent I created
QDH2: “Flash” additional and future new games drive, 2GB
QDH3: “Ming” I had been planning to use this for productivity software titles, but currently it was empty
No matter what I tried with the Azure Bonds installs, though, I couldn’t get it to work. I couldn’t edit the icons. Actually, they appeared to be batch scripts, so changing the Info really didn’t affect the code being run anyway. Copying all of the files off the disks to HD resulted in broken drive paths when launching the games of HD.
Then I fired up HDInstTools to run an experiment. I went into the Partition Tools and changed Ming’s ID to DH1:
I worried that doing so might confuse the machine on boot, so I really didn’t want to rename it to DH0: where Workbench lives (in QDH0:). Following me so far? But I remembered that the boot priority numbers
are what really matter in the SCSI chain, not the names or IDs. And those were good to go no matter what I did. In theory.
I had to do a reboot for the ID reassignment to take place. By doing so, I was warned all of my data would be lost. I didn’t care since that drive was empty.
I took a breath, and rebooted.
And lo and behold, it worked! I was able to rename the ID to the much more common DH1: even though it is the 4th drive in the chain! The order of the drives supersede the IDs. So now my drives look like this:
QDH1: (orig games)
QDH2: (Flash (he’s a miracle!)
DH1: new games
I think I may actually move the data that is sitting on Flash over to DH1 and rename QDH2 to DH0;
It’ll look like a total clusterfuck to some, but it’ll actually work even though my DH0 is actually storage, not a boot drive.
But, much more importantly, once I clicked on the install icon for Azure Bonds, it saw the new drive and got to work! Boom, shaka-laka!