Blade of Destiny logo

Derring-do is considered passé these days. However, AF adventurers are hard to hold back as we found out when they explored the latest US Gold RPG.

Dungeons & Dragons just doesn't cut the ice if you're a German role player. Apparently, everyone is playing Das Schwarze Auge, which roughly translates as 'The Black Eye' (that's black as in evil, not black as in after a punch-up). The game is built around the world of Arkania, where Dragons are disgruntled, Elves are elevated and Orcs are 'orrible. Actually, it's more medieval fantasy, although there wasn't as much magic in medieval times as there is in Blade of Destiny.

The story behind the game takes place in the peaceful land of Arkania which is under threat from a band of Orcs. You control a band of adventurers whose mission is to recover the nine parts of a map showing the location of the lost blade of destiny, which you should then proceed to bury in the Orc chief's head.

Unfortunately, the previous owner of the blade got rather tied up with a bunch of Orcs who chopped off bits of his anatomy and confiscated his sword.

You've not only got to find bits of the map, but you build up a group of adventurers who aren't afraid to travel into the snowy wasted of Orcland and fight with all the unpleasant beasties. So, fearlessly, you travel through the various realms of Arkania, righting wrongs, drinking beer, and saving helpless dragons from terrifying maidens...

It's the way I tell 'em
All right, so there's nothing stunningly original about the concept or the background in this game. It's not a storyline that's likely to win any prizes for originality, but because it can be approached from many ways, and the solutions also vary, it keeps you interested every time you start a new game. The storyline also provides a good background, and the places you move through have a 'real' feeling to them.

Your first stop in this game should be the manual, because you're not going to be able to get into it within five minutes. The manual gives you all the information that you're likely to need on the towns, cities, gods and countries of the realms of Arkania. It also explains the complex character creation system.

To create a group is a rather involved process - you have a series of the usual characteristics such as strength, wisdom, intuition and dexterity - as well as attributes such as superstition (fear of magic), avarice (greed) and necrophobia (fear the dead).

Each will have a different effect - a character with high necrophobia is more likely to run away if confronted with an army of 'dead' Orcs, than an army of living Orcs. There's no such thing as a free lunch with characters, so if you set a character's strength attribute high, he, she or it, is likely to turn out to be somewhat lacking in the brains department.

Character creation is performed in a separate program, which also sets up a disk for saving games if you're running off floppy disk. To set up characters you can either start from scratch and roll a set of virtual dice for the various attributes, or you can pick an Archetype - such as Warrior, Dwarf, Rouge or Druid.

From this basis,you increase certain attributes, although this will also lead to other ones being reduced. It's a good idea to get a range of different characters, as you will need many skills to get on in the game. Once you've created your group, you save them to disk and go into the main part of the game.

A night out on the town
You and your happy band start out in Ragnar, one of the more cosmopolitan cities in the realm of Arkania. Here, you can move around the city familiarising yourself with the controls, and checking out what's going on. A good place to start is a tavern - they're full of locals gossiping. There's also a dungeon in which you can practice the combat system.

Once you've had a look around town and equipped your team, it's time to go out into the big wide world. But first you need to find one of the signposts on the edge of town. When you walk into a signpost, the map screen appears and you decide where to send your band and keep track of their progress. If they come across anything, or are attacked, you are moved on to the relevant screen. Even if your adventurers are tough, they will need to sleep sometimes, but if you set up camp for the night, put some guards on watch - you never know what sort of nasties are around.

In to battle
Combat takes a completely different approach from that used use by most other RPGs. Instead of using the normal player point of view, you are presented with a pseudo 3D view not dissimilar to that of Battlechess.

Each of the players and nasties take turns to carry out their actions, which are controlled bya system of points. For instance, if you've got five points, you can either move five squares or attack the enemy, but not both at the same time. Your actions can be move, attack, cast spell, switch weapon or wait. If you've got any archers in your party, it is best to keep out of the fray and shoot baddies from a distance, as they're less likely to get chopped up here. The players have their own little animation and accompanying sounds, and these work well to give a realistic feel to the combat section.

If the fighting all gets a bit too much, you can run away by moving off the edge of the board, but if you're blocked in you have to fight it out. This means that fights last longer and are more involved, requiring real thought instead of the usual button pressing frenzy,

If you survive a fight, each of your players is given a number of experience points, based on how nasty the opposition was and if you encountered any new monsters. Collecting enough of these means your character can advance a level, where they can improve their characteristics. Magicians can also use this to learn new and better spells.

As you move through the various areas, you pick up rumours and carry out a series of tasks. This will eventually lead to obtaining all of the bits of the map, which will lead you to the last resting place of the blade of destiny. To get anywhere near the blade, you will need to have some pretty tough adventurers, so don't expect to complete this game in a few hours - it will be more like a few weeks.

It does run on a standard 1Mb A500, but you have to lose either the complex bitmapped graphics or the in-game music, if you're running on a machine with only 512K Chip RAM. Playing on a floppy drive only system is possible, but prepared to spend a lot of time waiting for the program to load data, even if you have a lot of memory. It does take advantage of any extra drives, but there's still a lot of disk swapping involved. This is a brilliant excuse for buying a hard disk - it's almost unplayable on a floppy drive only system.

The whole approach of the game is based on games such as Dungeons and Dragons than other RPGS like Eye of the Beholder. This works in its favour, because you're working withing a better designed and more established system. For instance, there's more variety of magic in Blade of Destiny and it is well thought out.

It's certainly a game that will take a long time to solve, and it's challenging enough to make it worth coming back to. This game is the first in a trilogy, and the future for the realms of Arkania looks extremely bright.

Blade of Destiny
  1. Main view: this is the view of the town or dungeon as you move through it.
  2. Characters: each of the members of your team has a place here, and a NPC (non-player character) fits into the far right if they join your party.
  3. Control icons: here, you can carry out various operations such as splitting your party up, getting information on the town you are in, consulting the map of the town and casting spells to heal injured members of the party.
  4. Time: This shows what time of day (or night) it is.

Blade of Destiny logo Amiga Joker Hit

Bisher liess sich die abenteuerliche Welt Aventuriens ja nur mit Papier und Bleistift bewaffnet durchstreifen, dank der wackeren Recken von Attic linst das Schwarze Auge nun auch vom Amiga-Monitor. Und dank des wackeren Jokers erfahrt Ihr brandexklusiv, wie ihm die Konvertierungs-Kur bekommen ist!

Um Deutschlands beliebtestes Rollenspielsystem auf den Computer umzusetzen, hat Attic Software eng mit Fantasy Productions, den Designern der Originalvorlage, zusammengearbeitet - insgesamt wurde eine halbe Million Mark investiert.

Ob sich der Aufwand gelohnt hat? Und wie, noch nie hielt sich ein Rollenspiel derart genau an seine Vorlage! Daher mag die Story auch dem einen oder anderen merkwürdig vertraut vorkommen: Allem Anschein nach sammeln sich die Orks nördlich der Stadt Thorwal, was sicher nichts Gutes zu bedeuten hat. Da keinerlei Chance besteht, jetzt noch schnell eine Armee aufzustellen, ruhen alle Hoffnungen auf dem sagenumwobenen Schwert "Grimring"; immerhin konnte dieser Säbel schon mal das Fürchten lehren.

Die "Schicksalsklinge" hat nur einen Fehler - keiner weiß so genau, wo sie sich derzeit befindet! Da gibt es zwar einen alten Lageplan, doch verteilen sich dessen 12 Fetzen auf ebensoviele Leute. Was fehlt, ist ein Helden-Sextett, das willens und fähig ist, das Mosaik durch Erfüllung der da mit verbundenen Kleinquests zusammenzusetzen...

So eine Abenteurer-Truppe hält das Spiel fixfertig bereit, wer auf die Instant-Heroen zurückgreift, bringt sich allerdings um das Vergnügen einer ultrakomplexen Charaktererschaffung auf sage und schreibe elf Screens! Vom Krieger über Gaukler, Zwerge, Hexen und Druiden bis hin zu verschiedenen Elfen stehen insgesamt 12 Rassen bzw. Klassen zur Wahl.

Alle haben sie sowohl positive wie auch negative Charaktereigenschaften und können über 50 verschiedene "Talente" vorweisen oder zumindest erlernen. In der Praxis wirkt sich das so aus, daß man einem Krieger zur Not sicher das Fallenstellen und Fährtensuchen beibringen kann, aber bei exotischeren Beschäftigungen wie Tanzen oder musizieren wird er schon nicht mehr so willig mitspielen.

Wie auch immer, am Ende bleibt ein Gruppen-Platz frei, er ist für einen rechnergesteuerten Non-Player Charakter bestimmt, den man während des Spiels aufnehmen kann.

Sobald das Team endgültig steht, wird das bequem zu bedienende Inventory (im Stil von "Dungeon Master") noch anläßlich eines Stadtrundgang mit Waffen und Proviant gefüllt, dann kann das Abenteuer beginnen.

Übrigens darf die Party jederzeit in beliebige Untergrüppchen aufgeteilt werden, sollten also Lustmolche in Euren Reihen sein, könnt Ihr sie vor Antritt der Reise noch zu einem kleinen Bordellbesuch schicken ja, selbst sowas gibt's hier!

Die Schnitzeljagd nach dem schicksalschwangern Küchenmesser führt die Party kreuz und quer über eine Landkarte, bei besonderen Vorkommnissen werden hübschen Zwischengrafiken mit witzigen Texten eingeblendet.

Die Helden könnten beispielsweise auf einen Höhleneingang, ein verlassenes Gebäude, einen toten Kollegen oder eine eingestürzte Brücke stoßen. Ganz egal, ob man dann eine Fährte verfolgen, irgendetwas reparieren oder sich mit einem Haufen Zombis, Piraten, Wölfe etc. rumschlagen muß - stets geht es hochkomplex und nach allen Regeln der DSA-Künst zur Sache.

So werden die Kämpfe in Runden abgewickelt, die Recken dürfen einzeln befehligt und positioniert werden, wobei Bewegungspunkte und zahllose Nah- und Fernkampftechniken (Schwert, Bogen...) im Spiel sind. Wegen der besseren Übersicht prügelt man sich auf einem eigenen Kampfscreenmit isometrischer 3D-Grafik, aufgrund der eisern durchgehaltenen Regeltreue sind die Gefechte jedoch ziemlich zeitraubend.

Der Lohn der Mühe sind dann viele schöne Erfahrungspunkte, Beförderungen sind hier allerdings nur bis Level vier möglich (die Papier-Module reichen diesbezüglich ja schon bis Stufe 25).

Apropos Regeltreue: Auch beim Digi-DSA kann nahezu jeder zaubern - aber ob auch jeder mit jedem der 82 verfügbaren Spells zurechtkommt?! Wahrscheinlicher ist, daß sich so mancher Jung-Hexer mit seiner bescheidenen Zahl an Magie-Punkten erstmal selbst verzaubert, weil ihm ein Helden-Kollege in Weg steht! Oder weil er sich vorher nicht genügend konzentriert hat. Oder weil Goldmachen halt eher was für Profis ist. Oder...

Ihr seht also, das Game ist nicht nur sehr umfangreich (allen 52 Städte!), sondern auch irre komplex. Möglicherweise gar zu komplex? Eben nicht, dank zwei unterschiedlicher Schwierigkeitsgrade kommen auch Neulinge hier gut zurecht. Besonders, da für Bequemlichkeit in jeder Hinsicht gesorgt wurde: Eine jederzeit abbrechbare Quickfight-Option sorgt auf Wunsch für pflegeleichtes Kämpfen, in den Städten und mehrstöckigen Dungeons gibt's Automapping.

Unterhaltungen werden im Multiple Choice-Verfahren geführt, und dazu kommt die bis jetzt vielleicht genialste Rollenspiel-Steuerung überhaupt. Man kann das Schwarze Auge nämlich einerseits über automatisch mit der Situation wechselnde Icons (über 50) bedienen, andererseits genügt ein Druck auf die rechte Maustaste, und es erscheint ein Pop Up-Menü mit sämtlichen momentan verfügbaren Handlungsmöglichkeiten!

Grafik und Sound (Musik & Waffengeklirr) befinden sich auf ähnlich hohem Niveau. Wer Spirit of Adventure kennt, hat davon auch schon ein ungefähre Vorstellung. Außer dem Kampfscreen und der Reisekarte wird alles im gewohnten Rolli-3D gezeigt, und zwar wirklich, wirklich wunderschön. Nebenbei - an der tollen Optik war mit Sascha Jungnickel sogar eine Entdeckung der Joker-Galerie beteiligt.

Kurz und sehr gut, die Computer-Premiere des Schwarzen Auges ist wirklich rundum gelungen, bessere Rollenspiele kennt man allenfalls von einem Lord British. Wenn die geplante Fortsetzung nur halb so gut wird, kann man schon zufrieden sein!
(C. Borgmeier/od)

Blade of Destiny logo

Into D&D? Well, now there's BoD, an RPG off the PC with, er, lots to see.

Don't know about you, but I was never too fond of any RPGs up to the time of Beholder 2. It was the puzzles that got me; their 'solve this or - ha! - you can't get any further' nature I found frustrating, unnecessary and bereft of realism.

Things changed with Ishar and its sequel, which, by offering freedom of movement and superior character interaction, looked great on paper. (Can't say I've played them, though). Then came Might and Magic 3, which was not only far bigger, but by allowing exploration outside any one particular puzzle provided scope, authenticity and just the sort of inspiritment you needed (Rich, I'm not going to tell you again about this 'making-up-new-words-when-you-can't-think-of-the-proper-one' business. Ed.

Character interaction was enhanced as you inevitably found yourself popping into temples, shops, banks, taverns, inns and such, usually for something more vital than a friendly hello. And then there was Legends of Valour, which I seem to remember reading a review of, once. The RPG to end all RPGs, apparently. Texture-mapped graphics, hundreds of different routes through the game, and not a statistic or dice roll in sight.

Judging by the press release, Blade looked promising. A conversion of a German PC game which took an original team of over 20 full-time programmers over a year to pen, the Amiga version has been voted Game of the Year by such discerning publications as Amiga Joker (whoever they may be).

We are promised auto-mapping, archetypes for individual characters, unique 'negative' attributes such as Superstition and Phobias, computer-controlled allying characters, over 200 spells, a stand-alone character-generation program, the option to split your party, over 52 towns and villages and realistic weather. But is it any good?

Over 400 hours of gameplay are promised

Time to load up, circumspect, and report back, I think. Don't go away.
Well, I certainly found it friendly. In its disfavour (Right, that's it. You're fired. - Ed) I found the visual similarity of the buildings exasperating at times - until I had a rough layout of the area committed to memory I needed a disk-accessing peek at the map at almost every corner. (Why they couldn't have the word 'Tavern' above the taverns, or 'Shop' above the shops is beyond me).

As ever, you can almost hear the box tittering as you open it and the manual sniggering if you've only got one meg and no hard drive, but even with my A500's mere half-meg upgrade and one external floppy drive, the minimal disk swapping and forfeit of sound seemed quite reasonable considering how large an adventure I was playing.

And large it is too. I'm not sure quite how far I got (over 400 hours of gameplay are promised), but I kind of got the feeling that if Blade of Destiny was an ice-cream Snickers, I've hardly even been treated to a peanut (Blimey - Ed).

Having reached a third village, there was still no sign of the nine map pieces I was after (joined together these would show me the location of The Blade of Destiny, which I could use to kill the Orc Chief and beat the game). Going by disk numbers, Blade is approximately twice the size of Beholder 2 - which, suffice to say, means that it's probably huge. The biggest D&D clone to date, I'd expect.

The thing is, having seen the fresh third-person perspective approach of Legend, Space Crusade and various console games like Zelda, every time I see a straight first-person-perspective D&D clone I can't help thinking it looks a little old hat. I know graphics don't make a game, but after seeing (pictures of) Valour, Blade's graphics do little to turn me on.

"But BoD is still huge," they'll retort, and there I'm beaten. Blade of Destiny is very large indeed. I just hope the two follow-ups we're promised are spiced up considerably, that's all.

Blade of Destiny logo CU Amiga Screen Star

Strapping on his mighty weapon, Jon Sloan steps into a world of beautiful warriors and brave women... or should that be the other way 'round?

The Amiga role-playing market is pretty tough to break into successfully. What with the amazing Eye of the Beholder series (Eye of the Beholder I & II) and, more recently, Legends of Valour, the standard of this genre has risen dramatically since its early days. There are quite a few hot games out there and RPGers are a choosy bunch.

Into this arena strides Blade of Destiny. Converted from Germany's number one role-playing system, Das Schwarze Auge (literally, The Black Eye), Blade is the first of the Northern Territories Trilogy. Set in the Realms of Arkania it is filled with strange characters with even stranger names, like Sir Shaun of Crispy (I kid you not) and Alrik v. Angbar. It tells the tale of a famous sword lost in the lands of the Orcs and of a brave band of adventurers who set out to find it. Actually, it is a little more complex than that, but you get the idea.

The first thing that strikes you about Blade is the sheer size of the map of Arkania - there is over 184,000 square miles of territory and more than 80 towns to visit, not counting the numerous hidden dungeons! With a play area this size it would be an easy cop out for the programmers to restrict you to a linear progression. Amazingly that is not the case. Your hearty band is free to travel and do almost anything and need not follow a set route to achieving its ultimate goal.

It is this freedom that makes Blade so wonderfully appealing. Your travels through the Realm will take you to many towns and villages looking for clues to the sword's location. When visiting you are bound to come across intriguing tales of local monsters that no self-respecting adventurers should ignore. These sub-plots not only serve to prolong the main game but also give it an added level of realism. And realism is a theme carried through the whole game - you actually believe that this place could have existed.

It is an established standard for this genre that you should view the action in 3D from the first-person perspective and, in that respect, Blade is no different. Although this can be a graphically exciting means of playing it can also be very limiting. For instance, other than sticking the warriors at the front tactics are difficult to execute. Blade has recognised those faults and offers a second viewpoint when you get into battle.

In a fight situation the screen shifts to an isometric perspective very similar to that in The Immortal. Whilst Blade's graphics are nowhere near as good as those in The Immortal, it is a brilliant way of organising battles. You can execute some high level tactics placing fighters, magicians and archers in appropriate positions. It is even possible to split the party into smaller groups and have your most perceptive characters scouting ahead for the many floor and ceiling traps that litter the dungeons.

This changed view has allowed the graphics artists to have a field day, too, with every spell cast accompanied by an appropriate explosion effect and, considering there are over 70 spells to choose from, that is a helluva lot of animations. This spell system must be the most comprehensive ever with spells for just about every situation from turning solids to liquid to blinding opponents with a lightning flash.

Physical combat has been developed well, too, with fighters given the choice to guard, parry and attack at one of three levels of commitment. That realism I was mentioning earlier comes into play here with players able to fumble attacks and weapons and armour prone to breaking right in the middle of a pitched battle with 10 Orcs. It is a pain when it happens but overall it is tremendous fun. On the subject of pain your characters not only sustain weapon damage, but they can also catch a disease or get infected wounds!

Before I explode from using too many superlatives I have got to tell you that Blade does have its flaws. The graphics are far below what we have come to expect from this type of game. Whilst the static screens are very detailed and colourful the 3D ones are not. Dungeons are especially difficult to negotiate as the walls are a nauseating shades of blue which serves to hide corners and doorways even when you are standing right next to them.

Fortunately there is an auto map which clearly marks where you are and what is near. The towns, too, are very repetitive with whole areas empty of graphics - houses do not appear until you are about three squares away from them. The isometric sections are also quite poor with characters moving stiffly about. My final major moan concerns the combat itself, which, apart from it being difficult to target specific squares, is appallingly slow. Still, I guess these are the prices to be paid for the rest of the game's size.

It would be impossible for me to go into detail about every aspect of Blade - it really is too huge to do that adequately here. There are over 70 statistics and skill areas unique to each player. But it is safe to say that if you have ever played a computer-based RPG and felt frustrated that it did not do something that you know it should do then Blade will not frustrate you in the same way. There are limitations, after all it is governed by the coding and not by some Dungeon Master's imagination, but it is the most comprehensive RPG ever to appear on your Amiga.

This may not have the graphical beauty of Legends of Valour or The Immortal, nor the intuitive control system of the Eye (Eye of the Beholder I & II) series, but if you can live with those failings then I can heartily recommend its purchase.


No well dressed adventurer should even think about venturing out into the wilderness or deep into some dark dungeon without taking his weapon. That is not all either. In Blade, just like real life, if you plan to spend the night comfortably under the stars, it is wise to carry a bedroll, plus food, plus water, plus... well the list could be endless.
Having played a good range of RPGs over the years I think that it is safe to say that Blade offers you the largest choice of equipment and weapons ever. There are some weird and esoteric swords, a range of axes, plus rope ladders, shovels and some pretty nifty snow shoes.
What you eventually decide to take is entirely up to you, but there are a lot of factors to consider that do not normally make an appearance in other RPGs, including weather, terrain and wild animals.

Blade of Destiny

It is inevitable, but no matter how hard you try to avoid it you will find yourself in a fight sooner or later.
Anyway, once battle has commenced you will be greeted with a screen like the one below. All combat is governed by movement points which vary from character to character. The amount you have varies according to what you are carrying, how strong you are and whether you have been surprised or not. It is a familiar means of sorting our fighting that all regular RPGers will be used to. It basically means that you can draw a weapon, move, decide to change weapons and attack providing you have enough points.

Blade of Destiny
  1. Active character.
  2. Combat area.
  3. Active party member's options. This is a generic box, so every option appears even if yo cannot perform that action. The numbers in brackets by each option indicate how many movement points that action will take.
  4. Inactive party members and monsters. It can get a bit confusing here if you are being attacked by characters from the same class as your party members - all the graphics are very similar!
  5. Active party member. This is indicated by the highlighted square he is standing on. His portrait also appears in the top left of the screen.

The RPG market is awash with games, some good, some not so good, and some utter rubbish. Here is a brief guide to three alternatives to Blade.

Featuring texture mapped graphics for extra realism, this game is the benchmark for non-linear adventuring. Players start in a massive city and basically have to find their quest before embarking on it. An excellent, smooth scrolling adventure.

These games set the standards in recent times for what an involved RPG should be. Eye II was released early 1992 and is still keeping player perplexed. A very traditional game with players exploring dungeon-like environments, solving puzzles and doing battle with monsters.

if the isometric combat screens appeal to you then buy this game. It is the most graphically detailed isometric adventure yet and offers a lot of gameplay. More an arcade game than a true adventure, its fault lies in progress being strictly linear with instant death greeting a wrong move. The best thing is that it is out on budget.


With 12 characters available chances are that you will find one close to your perfect image of what an adventure should be. It is a good idea, though, to go for a finely balanced team of six heroes. It is no good facing up to a 50-foot dragon with six pickpockets! Try to get an even mix of fighters, magicians, rogues and hunters. That way the team should be prepared for most eventualities.

Blade of Destiny
Jesters are all-round characters with experience of both wilderness and town survival techniques.

Blade of Destiny
These guys are the barbarians in the game. Renowned for their love of drinking and fighting, they also make great sailors and explorers.

Blade of Destiny
Masters of armed combat, warriors are useful in a fight. They are the only class able to handle the two-handed sword.

Blade of Destiny
Missile weapons and tracking skills make Hunters great for fights on the road. You will never be short of food with one of these in the team.

Blade of Destiny
In a town, Rogues come into their own. Whether it is for picking pockets or locks, they are a vital component in a balanced team.

Blade of Destiny
Pandering to stereotype, Dwarves are short, like fighting and drinking and are excellent underground.

Blade of Destiny
Masters of non-book magic, Witches are also skilled at evaluating humans and are very intuitive.

Blade of Destiny
Apart from controlling the forces of nature Druids are capable of summoning and controlling demons.

Blade of Destiny
As scientists Magicians tend to learn all they know from books. Do not mess with one if he has got a wand though.

Blade of Destiny
More human than elven, the Green Elves are great with missiles and can often teach a magician a thing or two.

Blade of Destiny
From northern Arkania these Ice Elves are masters of an unknown form of magic. They are also handy with missiles.

Blade of Destiny
Silvan elves are great with a bow and, being the most secluded of the races, are excellent survivors in the wilderness.