Rome Total War encountered an unspecified error and will now exit

The other day I sat down to relieve some stress by playing Rome: Total War on my Windows Vista Home Premium machine, and I go this error message. After a bit of experimentation I found the cause.

Apparently, if you don’t have anything plugged into your sound card’s audio-out jack, Vista disables the sound device in order to save on system resources. It’s not an entirely bad idea, to be honest. But if you try to run Rome, the game concludes that there’s no sound device present, and closes down in short order.

So if you’re using a Vista machine and you get this error message, one of two things is happening:

1.) You don’t have your headphones or speakers plugged into the audio-out jack.

2.) Your sound card is either disabled or damaged.

The first one is easy to fix. The second one, less so.


Those of you who have been playing computer games long enough probably remember Sierra’s Quest for Glory series. Quest for Glory was a hybrid RPG/adventure game, and Shadows of Darkness was the best game of the series. It had it all: adventure, combat, magic, Lovecraftian horror, gloomy Gothic shadows, fearsome and sympathetic villains, and the series’ trademark humor. Unfortunately, the game was written for DOS, way back in 1993. Fortunately, the excellent DOSBox emulator provides a way to play the game on a modern Vista system with a bit of work. Here’s how to do it:

1.) Download and install DOSBox.

(Note that if you’re running Vista, you will want to set DOSBox to run as an administrator.)

2.) Next, create a directory to serve as a virtual C drive during your DOSBox session. I usually just create a directory named ‘dos’ and stick it in the root folder of my hard drive. You can stash the folder in your user profile, of course, but typing C:\Documents and Settings\Owner\Desktop\Dos every time you want to play Quest for Glory IV gets old real fast.

3.) Put your Quest for Glory IV CD-ROM in your drive, and start DOSBox.

4.) Use the following command to mount your dos directory (assuming you followed the example above) as your hard drive:

mount c c:\dos

5.) Mount your computer’s CD/DVD drive in DOSBox with this command:

mount d D:\ -t cdrom

Obviously, if your CD/DVD drive has a different letter than D:\, you’ll need to change it (mount d E:\ -t cdrom, for instance). It’s possible to use an ISO image in lieu of the actual cdrom, but I’ve had the best luck with the actual disc.

6.) To install Quest for Glory IV, first change to the D drive:


And then type:


This will bring you to the installation program.

7.) Follow the prompts to install Quest for Glory IV. The default options for sound and hardware should work correctly, but if you have problems after installation you’ll need to change them later.

8.) When the game asks if you want the full installation, select the full installation. This will speed the game up quite a bit, and since the full installation only takes 20 megabytes (a lot of space in 1993, but not in 2009), there’s no reason not to.

9.) Once the installation is finished, use this command to change to the C:\sierra directory:

cd c:\sierra

10.) Use this command to launch Quest for Glory IV:


Enjoy the game!


Get it at Amazon.

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17 Responses to Rome Total War encountered an unspecified error and will now exit

  1. po says:

    hey i have the same problem but a little different circumstances i installed rome total war on my mac after installing windows xp and when using leapord the speakers work when using xp it does not seem to realize my speakers are plugged in and wont play the game any tips?

  2. Jonathan Moeller says:


    It would depend on if you’re using Boot Camp or Parallels. If you’re using Boot Camp, the program is supposed to make a driver disc to use after Windows boots up for the first time. I’d suggest running that, or trying the game with headphones.

  3. anon says:

    when I play rome, after a few turns it shuts down. I am also using vista. And after reading your post regarding the sound card, I don’t think that’s the problem. There must be something else. When I play I have the sound on, and it still shuts down after a few rounds. I have tried going back a few rounds from a saved file and sometime it won’t shut down and keep going but at other time it will close anyways, even if I have my headphones plugged in. Thanks.

  4. Jonathan Moeller says:


    I would check the Applications log in Vista’s event viewer, and see if it gives you any specific error messages there, since that might help pin down the cause. It sounds like it might be a video driver thing, but it could be something else.

  5. Nicholas Gartland says:

    hay im having the damnsame problem. I have windows xp to and i think it could be the sound card because on my computer the sounds not working. Dose anyone know how to fix the sound card in a computer?????

  6. Bram says:

    i’ve got the same problem, and there’s nothing wrong with my pc ( windows xp)

  7. Josh says:

    Yeah i have the same problem on my old pc, and im trying to convince my dad to try it on his but he wont let me, so is it deffinetly the sound card??? cos ive been playing the game for a while and the sound cards never worked sooo i dont really know what to do. By the way im having problems with my Shogun/Medieval:Total War as well, its says
    FIRST: Sound Check Failed
    then the screen goes black and this happens
    it says:
    Debugger Detected – Please close it down and restart!
    Windows NT users:Please note that the WinIce/SoftIce service installed means that you are running a debugger!
    Then it goes to the desktop and back to square one. Ive unistalled and installed Medieval twice and Shougun wont let me uninstall it.
    Please Help

  8. piers says:

    Hi man
    tkanks so much! you have just saved my life! all i needed to do was plug in my headphones
    thanks again!

  9. Neomas says:

    How do you fix a sound card? I have windows xp and had to buy a new hard drive, well, my new hard drive didn’t come with the sound drivers or something…. I don’t know, thats my guess. Any ideas?

  10. Hippie says:

    ok i have the same problem and my speakers dont work. how can i fix them?? or do i need to in order to play the game??

  11. ed says:

    thank you so much i am really happy its fixed you are a saint

  12. rebbelz says:

    yepp i got the samne problem….-_- vista is the worse windows ever…i tried the 1st option …i did like u said so but i rlly dont think thats the problem :( any ideeas ?

  13. romello says:

    try updating all drivers. graphics card and sound

  14. Charlie says:

    right i have a dell studio laptop and theres nothing wrong with the sound but the battles wont play and my system requirements are at theyre best who can suggest help?

  15. Jon says:

    Hey, I had the same problem and I fixed it by going to uninstall, modify, and added something called RTW_04 or something like that. First time it worked and if it doesnt, then do it again because thats what mine does. Hope this hlpes everyone =D

  16. sam says:

    thank you!!!!

  17. Ryan says:

    Thank you so much!