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Literature / Golden Dragon Fantasy Gamebooks

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The Golden Dragon Fantasy Gamebooks are a series of Gamebooks written by Dave Morris and Jamie Thomson (who would later go on to create The Fabled Lands series), set in the same world as the tabletop RPG Dragon Warriors and Blood Sword (also by Morris). 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:

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  • 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


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Golden Dragon Fantasy Gamebooks provide examples of:

  • All for Nothing: Subverted at the end of The Temple of Flame: even though you have slain Damontir, you relize that you cannot take the Idol you were looking for with you and decide to leave it there... only for the Idol to teleport you back to your ship with a generous amount of treasure.
  • Already Undone for You: In The Temple of Flame certain guardians or traps have already been destroyed or deactivated by Damontir and his Nightmare Guards.
  • Ancient Egypt: The fifth book has you adventuring inside an Egyptian-like pyramid.
  • And I Must Scream: Downplayed example in The Lord of Shadow Keep in the Inn outside of the Keep: a knight who previously braved the perils of the fortress but was forced to flee is stuck inside, his armor rusted to the point that he cannot move and he's forced to endure the taunting and the mockery of the local ruffians. If you're willing to help him, he'll quickly avenge himself.
  • Androcles' Lion:
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    • 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.
  • Attack Backfire: In The Lord of the Shadow Keep, Werewolf Wine will usually knock out anyone who drinks it, no matter the size, but for the Weretiger is just a refreshing drink which buys you some time to leave her room.
  • Awesome Mccoolname: Arkayne Darkrobe, The Lord of Shadow Keep.
  • Beast in the Maze: Shadow Keep has a Maze where a Minotaur lives. He's actually harmless if you throw him a bone, while his young master is more dangerous.
  • 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.
  • Came Back Wrong: Sulsa Doom was resurrected by Damontir's necromantic arts. After defeating him, you resist the temptation to look under his mask.
  • Captain Ersatz: In The Temple of Flame, you face a boss who is called... "Sulsa Doom"?
    • The Malagash demon from the same book is a barely disguised Balrog.
  • Cat Girl: You find a cute werecat girl in Temple of Flame. And a seductive tiger lady in Lord of Shadow Keep.
  • Chased by Angry Natives: It may happen to you in The Temple of Flame if you run afoul of them, but you can avert this by helping the caged Werecat or by forcing them to get motherless drunk before leaving.
  • Cool Sword: Book 2 and Book 4 have you starting from the very beginning with an enchanted sword of sorts: in the former is a magical broadsword with a blue aura, in the latter a cool, black sword.
  • 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.
  • Door to Before: Upon successfully surviving the Curse of the Pharaoh, part of the outer wall of the room will crumble to reveal that you're in the tip of the Pyramid and that the "hill" you saw was actually the sand-covered Pyramid, allowing you to leave unharmed.
  • 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.
  • Elite Mooks: The phantoms known as Nightmare Guards are this to Damontir the Mad.
  • Everything Is Better With Monkeys: You get a monkey companion in The Temple of Flame. He is more helpful than you might think...
  • 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.
  • Eye Scream: In Eye of the Dragon, you can blind the Kappa Leader (whose eyes, like the rest of his kin, are made of pearls) by throwing vinegar at him.
  • 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.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: The Kappa employ giant, ravenous crabs as hunting dogs.
  • 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.
  • Graceful Loser: When you master the Eye of the Dragon and force the Kappa to leave, before departing the Kappa Leader will bow to you and admit that "you were a worthy opponent".
  • 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.
  • I Am A Humanitarian: A surreal bad ending in The Lord of Shadow Keep has you joining a Ghoul dinner and become one of them upon gorging yourself on maiden's meat.
  • Implausible Deniability: In Eye of the Dragon, the odd wizard Chu won't believe that you parted peacefully with Lord Mantis if you're wearing his Silver Gauntlet, which can only mean that you killed him.
  • 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.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Killing the old witch doctor you took as hostage in Temple of Flame? It will NOT end well for you.
  • 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.
  • Ms Fan Service: Quite a few of the illustrated female characters.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: The vaguely humanoid Blood Fiend is a monstrous crocodile monster who enjoys butchering people and gorge on their blood and flesh.
  • Nonstandard 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 dismisses 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.
  • Permanently Missable Content: In Curse of the Pharaohs, if you fail to find the other piece of the cartouche, any paths you take at the end will cause your death.
  • Puzzle Boss: It is possible to fight and defeat Lord Tenebron the Vampire with a Magic Sword, but if you have a Crucifix you can just run away from him, which leads you in the chamber containing his coffin. At this point, the character will automatically throw his lantern at the coffin to set it ablaze and destroy the Vampire behind them.
    • Slank, Lord of the Castle of the Lost Souls, can be fought normally, but if you have all the required items and know how to use them you can make short work of him without even using your sword.
  • 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, who are traditionally turtle-like creatures in Japanese mythology. In this book, they are humanoids made out of coral with pearls for eyes. The only similarity is the aquatic theme.
  • Schmuck Bait: In The Lord of Shadow Keep, right before the Final Boss, a ghostly woman appears and offers you a gauntlet of armor in order to face Darkrobe. It actually weakens you if you fall for it.
  • Sinister Scythe: Arkayn's weapon of choice is a scythe that can cause extra damage if it strikes you in a vulnerable spot.
  • 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 defeat 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:
    • When you stay at an oasis, a monster comes out of the water to attack you. The oasis is isolated at a desert. The illustration shows the monster crushing several statues and pieces of architecture despite those not being mentioned in the text.
    • 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!
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Both in The Temple of Flame and The Eye of the Dragon if you missed the "required" MacGuffin to reach the final confrontation, you can still use a shapeshifting item to turn into a bird and just fly to said location.
  • We Have Reserves: Damontir's solution to the temple's deadly traps is to send first his men and Nightmare Guards. By the time you reach him, he's left alone.
  • 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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