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I played this game back in the day. I just started playing it again after all these years and I'm getting my butt handed to me right out of the gate when I first enter the slums. The first encounter I come across I lose a character or two. I forgot how brutal these older games are. Any basic tips would be appreciated. Thanks.
Here are a few tips that will help at low levels:

1. Fighters with high Strength are particularly good at the start of the game. Note that, because the developers were sexist, only male characters can reach the highest allowed Strength scores at the start of the game. (Of course, you *could* hex edit your female character's Strength, but that means knowing how to use a hex editor.)

2. Before you start, you can use the Modify Character option to max out your stats. Having maxed out physical stats does make a difference, though note that, from what I have read, apparently having high stats can make more enemies appear in each encounter. (That last point only applies to PoR, not the later games.)

3. Sleep is severely overpowered at low levels. Not only does it not allow a save, and it makes the enemies unable to act (which is bad enough as is), it also turns normal attacks into instant kills against those affected. You should always have Sleep memorized until it stops being effective. (Of note, this spell is so powerful that it would be unfair if enemies were to use it against you; I think that this issue was avoided simply by not giving enemies this particular spell.)
Yea I'm still trying to get use to the controls. I forgot to even memorize any spells at first. So thanks for the reminder on that. Also my characters are acting by themselves. How do I control them manually. And also how in the heck is my thief suppose to backstab? Every time I attack a monster from behind they turn around. Let me's a few more questions:

1. I just started the slums and I'm getting random encounter after random encounter. Should I try to fight in all these cases?
2. Encumbrance. How do I know if my guys are over encumbered?
3. Should I try to rest after every fight to heal and re-memorize spells?

I'm sure I'll think of others. I'm terrible at this game but I have vivid memories as a kid being good at
1.Encounters yield XP and loot so it's worth fighting them. As long as you have random encounters you can walk around close to the exit to the city to be able to retreat there and sell loot comfortably if you want.
2.Everyone has a maximum carrying capacity depending on strength (4500 with 18/00 str for example) the higher the encumbrance is compared to it the less movement you get. Attacks per round are unaffected.
3.Yes. There's no time limit in the game.
cbarchuk: And also how in the heck is my thief suppose to backstab? Every time I attack a monster from behind they turn around.
You need to have a different character attack the enemy first in that round. That establishes the enemy's facing. Then you can attack with your thief from the opposite side of the first attacker. Make sure that your thief is not wearing any armour heavier than leather (if multiclassed).

I agree with what kmonster said above, and to add a few more clarifications:
1. There are often only a limited number of random encounters in an area (usually 10-15), once you defeat all of them there won't be any more in that area and you can rest safely.
2. You can see the movement rate on the character sheet to note how far it's gone down.
3. Some locations on the maps will note "This looks like a safe place to rest", you can rest in those areas without risk of being interrupted by a random encounter.

Another tip: always have at least one Detect Magic memorised, and always cast it on the loot following a battle. (There is no other way of finding out if any of the items are magical). You can skip this for wandering monsters in the early part of the game though, they never have magic.
[Minor SPOILER ahead: TheOnlyRandomEncountersWhichHaveMagicItemsAreNPCFightersClericsMagesandThieves)
Post edited March 03, 2016 by 01kipper
Thanks for the help guys. I'm getting used to the game. It's been...a while to say the least. But that charm is still there that brings me back to my childhood. A few more questions:

1. What are the best graphic options? I've got a lot of jagged edges on the character sprites as well as the text on the screen. I've seen a few videos where those jagged edges were a lot smoother. Any recommendations for this would be great. I'm playing in windowed mode with the gold box companion.

2. How do you know if you're engaged with an enemy? I can't ever tell if I'm going to receive opportunity attacks or not.
Post edited March 03, 2016 by cbarchuk
1. That would be caused by graphics smoothing algorithms such as HQ3x, which is often available as an option in emulators. However I cannot comment on this specific case, so I'll leave it to others. (Plus I never use them anyway even when available).

2. If you are in a square next to an enemy (including diagonal), they will get a free attack if you try to move away into a square which is not next to that enemy. (The same applies to enemies fleeing from you). For large-size enemies (who take up two or more squares) I have the feeling it only applies to the top/"head" square(s) of the enemy, not the "feet" square(s), but I really cannot recall 100%.
01kipper: You need to have a different character attack the enemy first in that round. That establishes the enemy's facing. Then you can attack with your thief from the opposite side of the first attacker. Make sure that your thief is not wearing any armour heavier than leather (if multiclassed).
Oh, also to clarify this a bit more, you can also wait for the monster to attack (which will also give it a facing) then attack from the opposite direction with your thief. The important thing for backstab is to know the enemy's current facing and attack from the opposite direction. The facing can change during each round if the enemy attacks or is attacked.
Post edited March 03, 2016 by 01kipper
Backstab is not very effective in PoR since it requires two attacks to set up the backstab. The other Gold Box games only require one prior attack. OTOH you can backstab any creature in PoR, while in the rest of the series you can only backstab creatures that occupy one square.

Sleep rules against low level creatures like, the most dangerous ones being Goblin Chiefs and Kobold Leaders.
Hold Person is very effective against medium to high level humanoids, while Stinking Cloud works against most other monster that are not undead, Fire Giants probably being the most dangerous of those.

Maxing out stats is a double edged sword as it also more larger random monster groups.

Hireing a Hero or two can make a huge difference in the beginning. They will take their share of XP, but there's more than enough XP in the game, so not to worry.

And I see dtgreene (who hasn't even played many of the games she is offering advice about) is spamming her usual slander about the AD&D designers being "sexist" for making males have higher STR. It's like accusing Nature of being sexist.
Anyway STR is not that all important; the most important stat in the long run is Dex.
Thanks again for all the tips. I'm having a blast playing and I'm starting to get use to everything. But yea I just don't get how to set up backstab. I understand it I think but not knowing the initiative order really makes it difficult. There's been a few times where I've had my thief delay his turn to see if I can get another one of my characters to set it up. But again since I don't know the turn order for my characters or the monsters, setting it up is painfully difficult. I think I've done it once and it was by accident. So if anyone has any further tips on this that would be great. I want to get the most out of my thief. But it sounds like I need to pay attention more to facing like kipper mentioned. Do I need to be flanking the monster with another character?
Probably the safest and easiest way to backstab would be to delay TWO character's actions until after the enemy has moved/attacked, then move & attack with the non-thief, then the thief move and attack from the opposite direction.

**It's been a very long time since I played a thief character in PoR (I usually skip that class) so I'm just relying on my hazy memory. PetrusOctavianus could be onto something with the mention of TWO attacks required to set up the backstab...
Post edited March 04, 2016 by 01kipper
Well I may just stick bow on him. Seems like a lot of work to me.
**Update: I did a bit of research, I found a comment where someone said in PoR the backstab will only work if it happens directly opposite a prior setup attack from an ally AND both the setup attack and the backstab attack have to be after the target's last action. So if the target moves/attacks in between the setup attack and the backstab attack, this will ruin the backstab. So, if you're lucky and both your setup attacker and your thief get their actions in before the enemy, then you can backstab right away. Otherwise, you'll need to wait until after the enemy has his move/attack, then do the setup attack, then do the backstab attack.
Thanks for that info. Man, that is a lot of work to plan out. Again the problem is I have no idea what the initiative order is. I think I'm just going to stick to a bow. That seems to make the most sense. I've tried to set up backstab many times at this point by using the delay command which is a wasted turn where I could've attacked. Another issue is I have no idea when the round begins or ends.
I wouldn't bother with backstabbing in PoR, since it will involve half the party partaking in it. But in is very effective in the subsequent games, especially when you face magic resistant humanoids like Drow and Rakshaka.

To know when the rounds start and end: the characters' with highest Dex usually start the round. If you keep Delaying one of your characters' actions until everybody else have moved you will know when the current round ends and when the next one beings.
Post edited March 04, 2016 by PetrusOctavianus
Well I'm actually using a party you recommended Petrus in a prior thread. So I'm using a dwarf fighter/thief. If I decide to go with a more ranged version of the character is it worth dropping the dwarf and making a halfling fighter/thief that uses short bows?