Daspota is located quaintly on the northern shore of the Gulf of Prem, almost exactly halfway along the land route between Prem and Thorwal. To the north are the Hlajdor Mountains, and it doesn’t take a clear day to catch a glimpse of the largest island in the gulf: Hjalland. Life in Daspota could be splendid. A lively trade route, a popular destination, a vibrant place of nordic beauty.

Alas, Daspota is the nastiest pirate nest in all of Aventuria. You don’t notice it when you first set foot in the town. The facades, the pavement, all the textures – you might think you’re in Thorwal. But no matter which door you knock on, no matter which building you enter, you feel none of the hospitality and kindness you have come to appreciate from the surrounding villages from Oberorken to Skjal, from Efferdûn to Phexcaer. Instead, you feel hostility and, a little later, the steel of axes and longswords in your upper arm, your hip or even your throat.

This could not be allowed to continue, my brother and I decided in 1992. We had to do something about this den of sin and, in true christian fashion, lead a cleansing crusade against the evil. And so we commanded our party, made up of Dwarf, Warrior, Wood Elf, Firn Elf, Druid and Mage, into Daspota time and time again. These were not only their classes, but also their names. In order not to get their classes confused by random fantasy names, we resorted to this somewhat inhuman executive behavior. And so, even after 50 hours of play, our dwarf was still called “Dwarf”. And this dwarf and his troop were now bent on executing every last thug in Daspota. And when I reflect on it today, the comparison with the Christian crusades seems a bit more appropriate. From the point of view of the inhabitants of Daspota it must have been barbaric to put it mildly. But we had a (self-imposed) order. And digging out such a nest is a lot of work, because each of the numerous houses had several lurking scoundrels to kill with sometimes more than one floor to clear above all – a lot to loot.

Because we are a bit odd, we couldn’t leave a single pair of worn-out bandit pants lying around, but instead monetized everything, absolutely everything, that we found. We took the great treasure of Daspota in passing, but it meant little more than just another leather helmet. This setup meant tedious travel. We spent whole months, probably years, transferring the low value goods of Daspota back to civilization. And not to nearby Valheim, but of course to the merchants we trusted, who had their stores with the best prices several days of journey away in Thorwal. We could walk blindly from the entrance of the village to the stores. Straight ahead, straight ahead, right, straight ahead, left, straight ahead, straight ahead, right, straight ahead, right, in. Or something like that. My muscle memory would know better. And because our troop could fight just fine, but not carry that much, it really was a lot of traveling there and back. The houses of Daspota were hardly distinguishable. It was the biggest grindfest the world has ever seen. And it filled our pockets with many more ducats than the game had anticipated for us to have at the time. But we were on an important mission: to finally make Daspota viable again and put it back on the tourist bureau maps of Aventuria.

However, we could have saved ourselves the cleaning of the pirate’s nest. As wiki-aventurica.de knows, “the chief hetman Tronde Torbensson stormed the place in 1014 BF together with his Hetskari and fighters from Hjalland and executed the surviving pirates. Afterwards he declared the place a “Hetort” and put it under the direct control of the chief hetmen. Today, merchants characterize the image of the place.”

I don’t recall any “surviving pirates.” Oh well. I guess at least it was some important groundwork.

Realms of Arkania: Blade of Destiny is only the first part of the Northlands Trilogy by German developer Attic, released between 1992 and 1996. When I later tried to play the second part, Star Trail, my party partly starved to death and was partly stung to death by insects on the very first night in the forest. The many new systems had me convinced that less is more and that Blade of Destiny is the only true RoA RPG. The remake that was released in 2013 seems to have turned out pretty awful.

This article is part of an ongoing series of texts on 30 games out of 30 years.

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