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Literature / Night Dragon

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Night Dragon is the 52nd entry of the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks, written by Keith Martin.

You are an adventurer, contacted by a mysterious person in Hemlock Inn in Port Blacksand. Said person, revealed to be a Dark Elf, informs you that an eldritch terror from an unfathomable past is growing stronger with each passing day somewhere in the frozen wasteland of the Dragon Reaches: the legendary and feared Night Dragon, an Ancient Dragon who scares even the Dragons themselves, is recovering its power and preparing to unleash it on the world of Titan, and the Conclave of Dragons is unable to offer help against the terrible creature. Only a chosen hero, wielding the legendary Sword, Shield and Armor can hope to descend into the infernal lair of evil and slay this fearsome opponent. And so, believing the words of this dying Elf, you head northwards to start a long and perilous journey, facing the forces of Chaos who allied themselves with this ancient horror and put an end to the Night Dragon and its army of Stalkers before it's too late for Allansia and Titan.

Night Dragon plays overall like Martin's previous adventure but on a much bigger scale, as you explore mountains, dungeons and cities alike in your quest to find the required items to help you infiltrate the final Dungeon and destroy the Night Dragon, often featuring a lot of combat, much more than in Martin's previous titles. It also adds many additional scores to keep note of, namely Honour (gained from acting selflessly and helping people), Nemesis (gained by being spotted too much by the enemy, causes more enemies to find you) and Time, which influences the difficulty of the final battle. It also has notes about Poison-using enemies, several items that come with a special code to be used, making it overall more difficult compared to previous titles from Martin.

Night Dragon provides examples of:

  • Apocalypse How: You are trying to prevent it. Should the Night Dragon awake, everything and everyone in Titan would be reduced to dust.
  • Antagonist Title: Night Dragon is the name of the Eldritch Abomination the cult seeks to release.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: If you enter the Dreamtime, you can end up facing part of the Night Dragon's essence as a dream. Destroying the Dream Dragon nets you some Luck and weakens the real Night Dragon.
  • Big Bad: The Night Dragon, who's about to break free from its slumber, and its hordes of minions.
  • Big Good: Both the Conclave of Dragons who kick-started the plot and direct you in your quest, and the Lore Master, the immortal mage who advises you and guides you through the Dreamtime, share this role.
  • Breath Weapon: Being a Dragon, the Big Bad has this in its arsenal. It breathes devastating blue fire that costs 6 points of stamina. Its Dream Double breathes Cold Flame dealing the same amount of damage but that can be dodged. Averted with the Night Dragon Skull; it exhales acidic fumes, but does not attacks you with it.
  • Casting a Shadow: The Night Dragon can conjure dark threads to attack you and surround itself with a shadowy fog.
  • Clipped-Wing Angel: After defeating the Night Dragon, its skull will sprout spider legs and eyestalks and become the very final (but thankfully a lot more manageable) boss.
  • Cognizant Limbs: The Night Dragon is so evil its own Skull will turn into a spider-like horror upon its death.
  • Continuity Nod: Once again, you're pitted against a Demon Mirror like the one from Deathtrap Dungeon, though this one is male.
  • Cool Sword: Other than the dragon-slaying Sword of Plot Advancement (so cool the Night Dragon is afraid of it) you can also find a cursed Dwarven sword which is magical and raises your Attack score, but lowers it against human opponents.
  • Covered in Gunge: In its lair, the Night Dragon is partially covered in disgusting slime-like webbing, to further emphasize how alien it is.
  • Dark Is Evil: The Night Dragon, servant of Death, is covered by a dark fog you can dispel to weaken him. Dark creatures known as the Chillshadows are also in its service.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: The goal of your quest in a nutshell. See below.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: You end up fighting and destroying a monster older than Titan itself, a creature that not even the other Dragons can even hope to harm, much less destroy. That being said, your only hope is to find the artefacts specifically made to kill this behemoth.
  • Draconic Abomination: The Night Dragon is a Cosmic Entity older than Titan itself, described as being as uncanny and unnatural as possible, alien to all dragon kinds. Its mere presence twists its lair into something similar to him and plagues the Dreamtime with awful nightmares. Even its severed head turns into a scuttling nightmare of eyestalks, tentacles and spider legs when severed.
  • Draconic Humanoid: The various Stalkers serving the Night Dragon, which all comes in various colors and sizes.
  • The Dragon:
    • Pun intended. It is implied that the Bone Stalker Mage, the Supreme Ruler of the Religion of Evil worshipping the Dragon, who works to awake his eldritch idol is this to the Night Dragon. He even serves as the last line of defence for the Final Boss and the second mightiest foe of the gamebook.
    • The Bone Stalker Mage has his own Dragon: Scamalgzaprin, the High Priest of Carnex.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Since the Night Dragon is a Sealed Evil in a Can who spends most of the story slumbering, the Bone Stalker Mage and his cult are the direct antagonistic force opposing you throughout the story.
  • Dragons Are Demonic: Played straight as an arrow with the Night Dragon. Averted with the Conclave who plays the opposite trope.
  • Dragons Are Divine: The Conclave of Dragons are servants of the gods.
  • Dream Walker: The Night Dragon can roam the Dreamtime. You become one as well thanks to the Loremaster.
  • Dream Weaver: The Night Dragon is plaguing the Dreamtime with nightmares of all sorts.
  • Drop-In Nemesis: If your Nemesis score is too high, you will be attacked by (usually) Stalkers sent by the Night Dragon's Cult.
  • Elemental Dragon: The Conclave of Dragons is an alliance of dragons from all around Titan, each representing a natural element in correspondence to their colour, for instance the Blue Dragons representing water and Green Dragons representing nature. With the most powerful Big Good of the lot being (unsurprisingly) the Gold Dragon.
  • Enemy of My Enemy: You have a stat in this book called "Nemesis" that goes up as you draw the attention of the Night Dragon's minions to yourself. On the one hand, this going up means the villains see you as more of a threat and will try harder to kill you. On the other, it means their enemies will recognize you as being on their side and be more willing to help you.
  • Eviler than Thou: The Dark Elf in the beginning tells you that all the various Evil Sorcerer and Tin Tyrant lords of Titan are nothing but a minor inconvenience when compared to the threat of the Night Dragon.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: The Dark Elves might be Always Chaotic Evil, but even they do not want to be obliterated by the Night Dragon, and do everything they can to help you destroy it.
  • Final Boss: The Night Dragon, predictably enough, is fought in its own nest in the depths of Earth. It is far and away the most powerful enemy faced in the franchise, and possesses incredibly high stats (17 points of SKILL and 32 of Stamina while still being half-asleep). Its blows cost 3 points of stamina instead of 2, and unless you can use a magic source of light, the shadowy fog around it might make you miss your strikes. It is even implied that it would be even mightier if fully awake. Fortunately, you can lower its stays and gain an advantage with the Plot Coupon you can obtain.
  • Giant Flyer: Each Dragon of the Conclave is about twenty-five meters long. The Night Dragon takes the cake, being about twice bigger.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: The Dragon Conclave cannot act directly against the Night Dragon and its minions, as their God forbade them from doing so. Possibly in order to not give the evil Gods an excuse to help their followers directly.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: You need at the very least two of the three arms to deal with the Night Dragon. If you fail to obtain two of them, the narration states that you lack the means of killing your opponent and thus your adventure ends there.
  • Guile Hero: In your quest for the Shield, you can duel the Frost Giant leader who currently owns the thing, but you can also cheat your way in with the right items.
  • Heroic Second Wind: If you lose too much Stamina in the battle against the Night Dragon, you can invoke the powers of the Sword, Armour and Shield to increase your strength.
  • In the Hood: The cultists who worships the Night Dragon are often depicted in this attire.
  • Kaizo Trap: Even after destroying the Dragon, you may be crushed under the falling debris while running away from the dungeon.
  • Karma Meter: Honour points are supposed to be this, but they don't influence the game too much in the end.
  • Living Relic: The Night Dragon fought the War of the Gods on Death's side long before the creation of Titan.
  • MacGuffin Guardian: The Sword is protected by an undead champion and a Wizard Wraith, a Mountain Basilisk must be killed to obtain the Armour, and the Shield must be taken by his current owner, a Frost Giant.
  • Meat Moss: The deepest part of the Night Dragon's lair are almost organic in shape.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: The Dark Elf you encounter in the introduction is actually a good person, if mainly because the titular Eldritch Abomination will be just as bad for them.
  • Nintendo Hard: A long, arduous adventure with limited time, plenty of places to explore, items to collect and codes to remember, as well as plenty of combats with opponents who, more often than not, have special characteristics for their combat. It's not something like Creature of Havoc or Crypt of the Sorcerer but still ain't a walk in the park.
  • No Fair Cheating: Sometimes, to check out if you really have the item needed to proceed or bypass an obstacle, you must find out the right paragraph using a code based on said item. For example, to trick the Frost Giants, you need to remember the name of the person who told you about their chief's weakness to see if you really have the needed item.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The Dragon Conclave is made of six Dragons, one for each alignment (Gold, Silver, Green, Red, Black and White), but the Night Dragon is an Eldritch Abomination compared to any regular Dragon.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: The Frost Giants are stated to be even bigger and stronger that the normal ones. The chief is about sixteen-foot-tall and his son and champion utterly dwarfs him!
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: One dungeon hosts a festering Ghoul so rotten its stench overpowers you, giving you a big malus for that combat.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: You can fight a man-sized, pyramid-shaped structure which constantly emits an aura that can either harm you or heal itself.
  • Plot Coupon: The magical Sword, Armour and Shield required to defeat the Night Dragon must be recovered.
  • Poisoned Weapon: Many of the enemies you'll face have poisoned arms which deals extra damage with each strike. However, if you possess an herbal antidote you can nullify this extra damage.
  • Race Against the Clock: Your mission is timed, and some actions may lead you to waste time in vain. The sooner you find the Night Dragon, the easier the battle will be.
  • Religion of Evil: The Cult of the Night Dragon is a Doomsday Cult seeking to awake the titular Big Bad and help it destroy Titan.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Night Dragon, though its seal is weakening, the lid is sliding open and you have to destroy it for good rather than seal him back.
  • Shout-Out: To the Norris Monster from The Thing by Director John Carpenter; The Night Dragon's head also rips itself from its body upon death and grows Spider Limbs, albeit to continue attacking the hero rather than running way.
  • Sinister Scimitar: The High Priest of Carnex wields an ensorcered scimitar as his weapon of choice, and is more than willing to help the Night Dragon in his schemes of destruction.
  • Spider Limbs: Upon being decapitated, the Night Dragon's Skull will grow these, along with other disgusting features, and turn to fight you one last time.
  • Spirit World: The Dream time is this. The way it is described can evoke a Continuity Nod to the Empire of Illusions in Keith Martin's first game book Stealer of Souls.
  • The Undead: A good third of your enemies in this book (the other two being acolytes and Stalkers) are undead of some kind.
  • Time Abyss: The Night Dragon is older than Time itself.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Averted with the Mountain Basilisk: while in previous titles you could always use mirrors or polished shields to kill such horrors, this one is too old and crafty to fall for such a trick.
  • Weapon of X-Slaying: The Sword you must recover is one for the Night Dragon, who's actually paralyzed with fear in front of the weapon, allowing you to automatically win the first round of combat.