I am playing without the patch and I have never seen any runtime errors. I have Riva TNT2 Ultra video card, so the riva isn't the source of problems. Check your hardware settings for the game. Another possible source of problems: Riva cards work good with PIII but they do not work well with K6. If you have K6 in your computer then you could experience problems with ANY intensive 3D accelerated applications. Another possible source of the problems is the patch.
Note: I have W98, PIII 550, Caviar ATA66 UDMA HD, 128 MB RAM, Asus V3800 video, hardware settings: computer - above average, video - top.