Literature / Golden Dragon Fantasy Gamebooks

The Golden Dragon Fantasy Gamebooks are a series of Choose Your Own Adventure-style books written by Dave Morris and Jamie Thomson (who would later go on to create The Fabled Lands series). It was released in the '80s, but was slightly more intricate than many similar series of the time. The player was required to manage statistics like health and agility as well as the items they found on their adventure. Notable in that one score the player didn't keep track of was their warrior prowess, as the difficulty of battles hinged more on the relative strength of the player's opponent. Combat was resolved by rolling two dice and consulting a chart. For instance:
  • 2: The giant scorpion stabs you with its stinger. Its venom races through your system and you die within seconds.
  • 3-5: The giant scorpion stabs you with both claws. Lose 6 VIGOR.
  • 6-9: The giant scorpion stabs you with one claw. Lose 3 VIGOR.
  • 10-12: You hit the giant scorpion. It loses 3 VIGOR.

Only six books were produced for the series.
  • Crypt of the Vampire
  • The Temple of Flame
  • The Lord of Shadow Keep
  • The Eye of the Dragon
  • Curse of the Pharaohs
  • Castle of Lost Souls


Golden Dragon Fantasy Gamebooks provide examples of the following tropes:

  • Ancient Egypt: The fifth book has you adventuring inside an Egyptian-like pyramid.
  • Androcles' Lion:
    • In Castle of Lost Souls, you meet an actual lion who has a thorn in its paw. The lion actually talks (in a well-mannered way, even) and will ask you to take it off. If you do, it will give you important information.
    • In The Temple of Flame, right at the beginning, you will meet a monkey being threatened by a snake. Help it, you will NOT regret it.
  • Awesome Mccoolname: Arkayne Darkrobe, The Lord of Shadow Keep.
  • Belly Dancer: One shows up in Curse of the Pharaohs and gives you something to shake off your new friend, somehow knowing he's not to be trusted.
  • Black Swords Are Better: The Eye of the Dragon describes your sword as being black, although the significance or origin thereof is never delved into.
  • Captain Ersatz: In The Temple of Flame, you face a boss who is called... "Sulsa Doom"?
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: The opening of the sixth book has you proving your worth to a wealthy benefactor by demonstrating superhuman perception and effortlessly flooring his hulking bodyguard. Given how characters are rolled up in this game (even the most formidable possible character has a 25% chance of whiffing skill rolls, and unless you're facing an extremely weak enemy your chance to hit in combat is usually only a little higher), chances are good you'll find yourself doing nowhere near that well during the actual adventure.
  • Deal with the Devil: In Castle of Lost Souls, all who made a deal with the demon have their souls trapped inside his castle.
  • Dem Bones: What, were you NOT expecting to meet several of them to fight? There is at least one exception, though: a gold-plated skeleton who will let you cross a river in exchange of a Black Pearl.
  • Dual Wielding: Done by Sulsa Doom in The Temple of Flame.
  • Durable Deathtrap: The traps inside the temple (2nd book) and pyramid (5th book) are still functioning after many years unattended.
  • Everything Is Better With Monkeys: You get a monkey companion in The Temple of Flame.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Heck, the very first enemy fought in the series is an iron GATE!
  • Evil Sorcerer: Damontir in The Temple of Flame.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: In Crypt of the Vampire, there's a part where you start to sink on the floor. Any attempt to flee will result in death, while standing still will safely bring you to another level.
  • Feathered Fiend: A Zombie Falcon in The Lord of Shadow Keep. And a Phoenix in The Temple of Flame.
  • Featureless Protagonist: The series is unique for encouraging the reader to imagine themselves as a specific character they come up with themselves, even though this has no real effect on gameplay. The American versions went a step further with kids wearing armor and wielding swords on the covers. Subverted in a few of the books, sadly, which decide your character's background for you.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: Castle of Lost Souls has you hunting for a collection of magic items right off the bat, though subverted a little as each has a practical use rather than them being the parts of a mystic doohickey or some such.
  • Guide Dang It!: Finding items can be tough and failure to do so often results in instant death at key points.
  • Heel–Face Turn: You can do that to The Zombie Falcon with Shamboll's staff in The Lord of Shadow Keep.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: In Crypt of the Vampire, you can find a blue glowing magic sword. Defeat the vampire lord with it and he'll not rise again. Otherwise, you must find other means to kill him for good. Has no actual combat bonus, though.
  • Kick the Dog: Damontir, the Big Bad of The Temple of Flame is one nasty piece of work. And to prove it, he isn't above shooting to death your pet monkey with his magical ring just to annoy you.
  • Knight Errant: In Castle of Lost Souls, you must find a piece of armor from a noble knight. You can steal the piece from an armor collector or pry it from the cold dead fingers of a brave knight you've just slain. Of course, the easiest and most honest way was to simply ask the noble knight, who gladly handed over a piece of his armor.
  • Living with the Villain: In Crypt of the Vampire, there's a benevolent monk in one of the bedchambers. Using his knowledge of vampirism, he safely lived in the manor for years and repel any of the vampire's attacks. He helped many adventurers who passed to his place and hoped that you can finally defeat the lord of the manor.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: You can find a shield in The Eye of the Dragon and use it. Should you roll a 6, damage done to you is blocked.
  • Magic Knight: Your character in The Eye of the Dragon is a warrior-mage, and the game includes a simple magic system.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: In Castle of Lost Souls, the demon will wear a mask to protect his remaining eye.
  • Mayincatec: You venture inside this kind of temple in The Temple of Flame. * Mind-Control Music: In Crypt of the Vampire, there's a band of skeletons playing an orchestra. If you didn't took precautions, you'll be listening to their music until you die of thirst and starvation.
  • Mirror Match: In Temple of Flame you will fight a doppleganger created after you have had several events take down your Hit Points. Word of God says the correct way to beat this is to wait for the doppleganger to be created, and then use a Ring of Healing to completely heal yourself.
  • Money for Nothing: A lot of the earlier books don't bother at all, but almost all of them spend the majority of their space in locations where money is of no use. Curse of the Pharaoh literally begins with you interacting with a curio dealer with a selection of magic items to sell, and there's no reason not to buy him out, or to go into the local gambling den to try to win more money because there's really nothing else to spend it on. Castle of Lost Souls, the final book in the series, is a little better about this as the first part of the quest takes place at a town and fair.
  • Moral Dissonance: Different treatment in different books. The Eye of the Dragon rewards the player for double dealing at one point, but Castle of Lost Souls makes you fight for a vital item if you go around killing people who've done you no wrong.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: In Castle of Lost Souls, you can spot one of your items floating in the air. If you decide to check your backpack for the rest of the items, you'll notice they are gone. You then report back to your employer who unhappily dismisse you for failure. You then leave town in shame. The correct path was to ignore the floating item and continue onward on your journey, as it was just an illusion.
  • Nintendo Hard: As success in combat relies more on luck than your character's skill in battle, and the relative scarcity of healing, Golden Dragon is generally remembered as being harder than similar books in the Fighting Fantasy or Lone Wolf books.
  • No-Sell: In The Eye of the Dragon, trying to destroy the animated bronze statue will not end well for your sword.
  • One-Winged Angel: Inverted in Castle of Lost Souls: if you manage to kill the Big Bad and don't have the Holy Man Ashes to spread on his body, he will rise up again... except his second form is much weaker than the original.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The vampire lord is the last opponent to defeat in the first book.
  • Our Were Beasts Are Different: Two of them!
    • You meet a wild girl in The Temple of Flame who is locked in a cage. If you free her, she will reveal herself to be a werecat and help you as you are Chased by Angry Natives.
    • A seductive werecat in The Lord of Shadow Keep. She is not as friendly.
  • Quicksand Sucks: Right in the beginning of The Temple of Flame, you will die sinking in quicksand if you don't help (and follow) the monkey.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Oh come ON... whether they are made of stones, giant, half-human or just regular slitherers, reptiles are not part of your fanclub.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: In The Eye of the Dragon, your enemies are Kappas. You know, those turtle-like creatures from Japanese mythology... oops, sorry, we meant humanoids made out of coral with pearls for eyes. Our bad.
  • Supernatural Repellent: The demon in the 6th book can be repelled with belladonna.
  • Witch Doctor: The shaman in the second book. You can even take him hostage after you defeated him.
  • Swiss Army Tears: In Castle of Lost Souls, you have to throw the tear of your quest-giver's sister at the (remaining good) eye of the Big Bad. It will burn it and make him completely blind.
  • Thematic Rogues Gallery: Unsurprisingly, the strongest guardians of the Temple of Flame are all fire-themed: phoenix, salamander, dragon, demon.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
  • Unreliable Illustrator: In Curse of the Pharaohs, you meet the demon known as the Heart-Devourer. If you have a crystal eye on your back, you can see him coming towards you. The text describes him as holding a dagger in one hand and a human heart in the other. The illustration shows him just holding a dagger. Maybe they didn't think they could get that kind of imagery past parent groups.
  • Violation of Common Sense: The best path to be taken in The Temple of Flame is, when fighting Sulsa Doom, to take a Leap of Faith in the shaft below you. Just hope you took a cape of feathers with you. Haven't? Enjoy your hot, HOT bath!
  • Wrecked Weapon: You probably don't need anyone to tell it to you, but trying to smash open a man-sized block of ice with a sword doesn't work.
  • Zerg Rush: Used in The Temple of Flame, where you can send a group of zombies after a stone golem. They all die, but they do a lot of damage before going down.


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