The Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight

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The Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight
The Bard's Tale II box cover
Developer(s) Interplay Productions
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Designer(s) Michael Cranford
Platform(s) Amiga, Apple II, Apple IIGS, Commodore 64, DOS, NEC PC-9801
Release date(s) 1986 (C64), 1987, 1988
Genre(s) Role-playing video game
Mode(s) Single player

The Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight is a fantasy role-playing video game created by Interplay Productions in 1986. It is the first sequel to The Bard's Tale. It is the last game of the series that was designed and programmed by Michael Cranford; another programmer created The Bard's Tale III.

The game features Dungeons and Dragons-style characters and follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, The Bard's Tale, also created by Michael Cranford. The Bard's Tale II takes place on a larger scale with an explorable wilderness, six cities, and multiple dungeons which give this game its dungeon crawl character. The game has new features such as casinos and banks, and introduces a new magic user called an archmage, among other changes from the first game in the series.

Although it received mixed reviews upon release, it won the Origins Award for Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Computer Game of 1986.


Do you believe in legends? Legend states that, "Unimaginable power is bestowed upon the one who reforges the Destiny Wand..." Regardless of whether or not you hold faith in the stuff of legend, you must defeat Lagoth Zanta, regain the seven fragments, and reforge the Destiny Wand—it is the only way to save the realm.

 The wizard Saradon.[1]

As a beginning player, a wizard named Saradon, having heard the news of your victory over the evil wizard Mangar (in The Bard's Tale), contacts you with dire news: "Lawless mercenaries from the neighboring kingdom of Lestradae ... under the guidance of an evil Archmage known as Lagoth Zanta" have stolen the Destiny Wand, that, through its power, "has maintained peace and prosperity for the last 700 years".[1]

The player's manual provides the following overview of the game:

As The Destiny Knight, you must assemble a band of adventurers, track down the seven pieces of the Destiny Wand, and defeat the evil Archmage, Lagoth Zanta. Once you have defeated the evil Archmage and have managed to collect all seven fragments of the Destiny Wand, you must reforge the scepter into a unified whole, thus reunifying the Realm (and winning the game).[2]

Where the previous game took place in only one city, The Bard's Tale II features six (albeit smaller) towns and a large wilderness area. Players begin in the city of Tangramayne, below which is a four-level dungeon called the Dark Domain that is designed to get new, inexperienced parties started. By defeating the "Dark Lord" on Level Four and returning a princess to the surface, characters receive a bonus of 400,000 experience points—provided they have not yet reached level 13 or changed class (for magicians and conjurers).[3]

To complete the game, players must collect segments of the Destiny Wand. The wizard Saradon has informed the party that they are hidden in seven separate locations "within a Snare of Death—a puzzle room that will require all the wisdom and cunning at your disposal in order for you to survive".[1] The first segment is located in the Tombs, in the city of Ephesus. The key required for entry into Dargoth's Tower is also located here, on the second of three levels.[4] The second segment is in Fanskar's Fortress, located in the wilderness outside of the six cities. When Fanskar is defeated at the end of the first and only level, the party acquires the second segment.[5] Dargoth's Tower contains the third segment. It is in the fifth and final level above the city of Philippi.[6] The fourth segment can be found in the Maze of Dread, which comprises three levels of sewers below the city of Thessalonica.[6] Next is Oscon's Fortress in Corinth where the fifth segment can be had after negotiating the snare in its fourth level.[6] The Grey Crypt has the next segment, and its entry is located in a building in the wilderness. It has only two levels, but magic cannot be used in it. The seventh and final segment of the Destiny Wand is in the city of Colosse. In the northwest section of the city is a large rock called the Destiny Stone. Upon entering a crack in the stone, the party finds itself on the first of three levels. After completing the snare on the third level, the last segment is found.[7] To finish the game, an archmage in the party must take the seven segments to the Temple of Narn in the wilderness. The archmage reforges the segments into the Destiny Wand and becomes the Destiny Knight. But the game is not complete until Lagoth Zanta is defeated in the Sage's Hut.[7]


Changes from The Bard's Tale[edit]

Although the "same interface and graphic display as the original game" (The Bard's Tale) are used in The Bard's Tale II,[8] there are some noticeable changes. The world is a larger scale than The Bard's Tale. For example, instead of one town (Skara Brae), there are now six: Colosse, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, Tangramayne, and Thessalonica. There are a total of "25 dungeon levels and an outdoor wilderness area to explore."[8] Michael R. Bagnall summarizes some of the other changes:

A new combat system now features ranged combat, so you'll need long-range weapons or magic to hit foes up to 90 feet away. This offers tactical challenges not present in the original game. There are also lots of new spells and Bard songs, plus a variety of fresh monsters and a special character class, the ArchMage.[8]

A screenshot during gameplay (Apple II version)

In addition, there are now "Death Snare Puzzle Rooms" that have real-time time limits in the seven dungeons. "Some puzzles involve typing in passwords learned in other areas of a maze, while others require you to follow specific patterns while traversing a dungeon. Few can be solved by pure logic alone."[8]

Players can also now summon multiple creatures to join the party. Additional new features include banks (where players can store money which will be available even if the party is defeated and the game is restarted), and casinos where players can try their luck at a blackjack-like game (not implemented in the PC version).


Characters can be imported from The Bard's Tale, Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord (on Apple II versions),[9] Ultima III: Exodus, or created from scratch and trained in Tangramayne's "starter maze".[8]

Players can create a party of up to seven active characters; additional characters can be created and stored at the Adventurer's Guild in each city. They can be created as a human, elf, dwarf, hobbit, half-elf, half-orc, or gnome.[10] Character classes available at the start are the warrior, paladin, rogue, bard, hunter, monk, conjurer, and magician. The sorcerer, wizard, and archmage classes are not available at the start.[11] Character attributes (strength, intelligence, dexterity, constitution, and luck) are generated randomly during character creation (with values from 1–18) and affect gameplay.[12] Empty character slots can also be filled with players or creatures through random encounters, spells, or the use of figurines.


The Bard's Tale II has a number of features that were seen in The Bard's Tale. There are "unmarked buildings" that contain little except a possible monster encounter or the entryway to a dungeon or castle.[13] Each city within the game has an Adventurers' Guild where characters can be created, parties saved, and other actions performed.

Roscoe's a cagey old mage who opened his chain of Energy Emporiums hoping to cash in on the sorceral energy crisis of '27.

 Player's Manual.[14]

At Garth's Equipment Shoppe players can buy, sell, or identify items. Parties can withdraw saved money from an account at Bedder's Bank for the Bold and spend it gambling at a casino, playing a game similar to blackjack.[15] A stint at a casino can be followed by a celebration (or players can drown their sorrow over a loss) at a tavern where various drinks are available and the bartender provides advice—for a price.[15] When ready, a party can venture into a dungeon to explore, fight monsters, and gain the experience needed to advance levels and become powerful enough to complete their quest. After a return to town, parties may need to make a trip to a temple where characters can be healed, restoring hit points, levels, life force, youth, flesh (for characters turned to stone), or life itself. Roscoe's Energy Emporium is another useful stop, where spell casters can pay an exorbitant fee to have spell units restored.[14] And when ready, characters can visit the Review Board to advance levels and change character classes (for magic users).[15]


Review scores
Publication Score
RUN A[16]

Scorpia of Computer Gaming World gave the game a mixed review. She noted several improvements over the original, such as an easier start and more easily recognizable buildings. However, the snares were considered excessively tedious, and the gameplay skewed heavily in favor of mages.[17] Scorpia later called the game "without a doubt, the worst of the series",[18] but another writer for the magazine called it "a fine sequel to Bard's Tale".[19] RUN magazine reviewer Bob Guerra praised the game's new enemies and their corresponding animations and stated the game "offers an irresistible challenge to all fans of role-playing fantasies."[16] Compute! stated that Bard's Tale II "lives up to its predecessor's excellent reputation". The magazine described the game as one "for the true adventure gamer. It is a very difficult and challenging game, and it requires great intestinal fortitude", and suggested that beginning adventurers avoid it.[20]

The game was reviewed in 1987 in Dragon #120 by Hartley and Patricia Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers suggested that "If The Bard’s Tale was to your liking, then you’re going to absolutely go crazy for The Bard’s Tale II: The Destiny Knight."[21]


Michael Cranford, a devout Christian, named five of the cities in the game after cities mentioned in the New Testament: Corinth, Colosse, Philippi, Ephesus, and Thessalonica. This was his last Bard's Tale game because he decided to go back to university to study philosophy and theology.[22]

Dave Warhol, who composed the music for The Bard's Tale II, founded his own game company in 1986, named Realtime Associates.

Bill Heineman (programmer of The Bard's Tale III) has said that the original name of this game was to be Tales of the Unknown - Volume II: The Archmage's Tale.

See also[edit]

The Bard's Tale (1985)


  1. ^ a b c Simerly 1986. p. 1.
  2. ^ Simerly 1986. p. 2.
  3. ^ Bagnall 1988. p. 31. The players' manual says that "only characters less than level 12 receive the maximum reward for completing the starter dungeon". Simerly 1986. p. 15.
  4. ^ Bagnall 1988. p. 31.
  5. ^ Bagnall 1988. p. 31–32.
  6. ^ a b c Bagnall 1988. p. 32.
  7. ^ a b Bagnall 1988. p. 34.
  8. ^ a b c d e Bagnall 1988. p. 30.
  9. ^ Simerly 1986. p. 3.
  10. ^ Simerly 1986. p. 7.
  11. ^ Simerly 1986. p. 7–8.
  12. ^ Simerly 1986. p. 9–10.
  13. ^ Simerly 1986. p. 13.
  14. ^ a b Simerly 1986. p. 15.
  15. ^ a b c Simerly 1986. p. 14.
  16. ^ a b Guerra 1987. pp. 18–24.
  17. ^ Scorpia 1987. pp. 22–25.
  18. ^ Scorpia (October 1991). "C*R*P*G*S / Computer Role-Playing Game Survey". Computer Gaming World. p. 16. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  19. ^ Ardai, Charles (May 1987). "Titans of the Computer Gaming World / Part II of V: Ardai on Electronic Arts". Computer Gaming World. p. 28. 
  20. ^ Trunzo, James V. (October 1987). "The Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight". Compute!. p. 31. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  21. ^ Lesser, Hartley, and Patricia 1987. pp. 79–82.
  22. ^ Cranford, Michael (1998). "The Bard's Tale Compendium". E-mail correspondence. Retrieved 2009-07-22. 


  • Bagnall, Michael R. (1988). Addams, Shay, ed. Quest for Clues. New Hampshire: Origin Systems. ISBN 0-929373-00-6. 
  • Guerra, Bob (April 1987). "The Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight Review". RUN (Peterborough, NH: CW Communications/Peterborough) 4 (4): 18–24. ISSN 0741-4285. OCLC 10151803. 
  • Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia (April 1987). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (120). 
  • Scorpia (June–July 1987). "The Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight Review". Computer Gaming World. 
  • Simerly, David K. (1986). The Bard's Tale II: The Manual. San Mateo: Electronic Arts. 

External links[edit]