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Tabletop Game / Dragon Strike

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"Feeling brave tonight?"
Dragon Strike was an Adventure Board Game published in 1993 by TSR, Inc. to serve as an introduction for players new to Role Playing Games. The game featured a large number of pre-made adventures, simplified rules, pre-made characters and other features to help new players get accustomed to the genre. One of the most notable mechanics of the game was that it used cards to randomize traps and loot meaning that even when replaying old adventures the traps and treasure would always change. Despite how simplified the game was, it was actually rather fun to play.

That being said, that is not what this game is known for.

The game also included a VHS containing a thirty-minute So Bad, It's Good short film made to be a visual representation on how to play the game. The plot of the video is about a group of unseen players sitting down to play DragonStrike with an overly-enthusiastic (and Hammy) DM who is represented by a floating head in the darkness. In the game, the players are a group of adventurers who are sent on a quest to stop an evil wizard who has put a curse of eternal night onto the land. Ironically, the VHS is actually better known than the game that it came with. You can watch the movie on YouTube here. A sequel to the storyline, the book Forest of Darkness, was released as part of a revival of the Endless Quest series, and the characters from the tutorial vid showed up in a few other books in the new series besides.

A sequel based on Spelljammer was partially developed and the video for it shot, but was never released, though it was at least used as the basis for the Gamebook A Wild Ride. You can see the trailer for the sequel here.

The Game Itself Contains Examples Of:

  • Dungeon Crawling: What the Player Characters spend most of their time doing in the VHS, and by extenuation this applies to the actual game too.
  • Forced Transformation: In one of the adventures, there is an Orc NPC that is actually a human who was turned into an Orc.
  • Healing Potion: One of the possible (and very useful) treasures that a player can get.
  • Nintendo Hard: Ironically, for a game meant to be played by novice players it can be rather easy to die due to some adventures having outright malicious trap and enemy placement.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Out of all of the playable characters, only one of them is female. It's incidentally also the only class with two characters, just in case somebody wants to play a male thief.
  • Troll Bridge: In one adventure there is a Giant who refuses to let the Player Characters pass over his bridge unless they give him an item.

The Movie On The Accompanying VHS Contains Examples Of:

  • Cutting the Knot: The Thief climbs the outer castle wall, stopping below the parapet to ask The Elf what the guard at the top (arguing with an owl) is. He identifies the guard as an Owl Bear, suggesting she should flatter him. The Thief shouts "Hey, handsome!" before throwing up her whip to wrap it around the guard's neck and pull him over the edge. The guard plummets to his death, and she climbs the rest of the way unmolested.
    • She later smashes a locked door open with The Warrior's head after he insults her lock picking skills.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Thief.
  • Dirty Coward: King Halvor II makes a big show of standing up to Lord Fear when he crashes his banquet, but once it becomes clear that Lord Fear isn't backing down he reveals his throne slides back through a secret door and takes him (and, presumably, his queen) out of harm's way.
    King Halvor II: Fight valiantly! I shall return...
  • Dynamic Entry: The Elf isn't invited to the human banquet, showing up only after Lord Fear crashes the party. He gets his first kill before even appearing on camera, spearing several arrows into the back of a Death Knight making a lunge for the King after he emerges from his refuge.
    The Elf: You do not host this banquet. Death hosts this banquet!
  • Eternally Pearly-White Teeth: Everyone in the kingdom that shows them seems to have good teeth, even the undead (though The Wizard seems to have the uncanny ability to hide most of his in close-ups). The Warrior and The Manscorpion tie for the pearliest of whites.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep" / Race-Name Basis: Teraptus, Lord Fear, Green Thorn, and King Halvor II are the only named characters. Everyone else is addressed by their occupation or race (Wizard, Thief, Warrior, Cleric, Jester, Guard, Death Knight, and Dwarf). We don't learn Green Thorn the Elf's name until near the end, so until then his companions simply call him "Elf." For what it's worth the heroes were given names when they were featured prominently in books in the 90's version of the Endless Quest series; Forest of Darkness is a direct sequel to the story on the tape.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Teraptus, the Big Bad of the game determined to plunge the kingdom (if not the world) into The Night That Never Ends.
    Teraptus: Let darkness reign, and in the darkness let evil grow!
  • Friend to All Living Things: Green Thorn.
  • Hint Dropping: The Dragon Master gives a major clue to the wolf in sheep's clothing when the jester returns the wand the Wizard left behind in Teraptus' castle. Afterwards, when he needs to use it to cast magic missile, it boomerangs back in his direction. The player still doesn't catch on that the jester probably tampered with it, complaining he has a "defective wand."
  • In Name Only: The Death Knights are just generic skeleton mooks and the Owlbear is a weird bipedal creature that talks to his pet owl.
  • No Entrance: The heroes come across a dwarf imprisoned in Terraptus's fortress. Agreeing to release the fellow, the Wizard asks where the door to the cell is, prompting this delicious response:
    The Dwarf: There is no door ya half-wit! You only make a door if you plan on releasing somebody. [Teraptus] never planned on letting me go! I'm WALLED in here!
  • Meaningful Background Event: As the Wizard is fleeing Teraptus' castle, a bolt of lightning reveals the Elf watching from cover behind a nearby tree.
  • Large Ham: The Dragon Master and the evil wizard Teraptus.
    Teraptus: Rise up flames... rise up fire elemental... use your rage to engulf my enemies!
    • In the Dragon Masters Only afterward, the DM explains how it's integral to the role.
    Dragon Master: Now don't forget a great Dragon Master isn't afraid to ham it up. Sure, the monsters just want to beat the heroes up but it's a lot more fun... when they do it with style.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: Shortly after the party infiltrates Teraptus' castle.
    The Thief: OK, I got us in here, now you take us to Teraptus.
    The Wizard: There are many twists and turns in this castle, I'm only familiar with some of them!
    The Thief: I thought you infiltrated this place [before]!
    The Wizard: Teraptus uses his magic to constantly shift the walls.
    The Thief: Then how will you know where we'll find him?
    The Wizard: I don't. In fact I'm not sure I'll know him if I see him; I've only seen him once and that was in a shadow!
    The Thief: Great...we have a guide who doesn't know where he's going leading us to a man he won't know on guys are on your own! <leaves>
    The Warrior: That's fine, we're better alone anyways. <leaves>
    <The Elf silently wanders off>
    The Wizard: <snaps his fingers> If we split-up, we'll be able to cover more territory! <looks around to see everyone else is already gone> Mmmmnnn...
    • In the previous scene The Thief's player suggests it to the Dragon Master, who heavily implies you should Never Split the Party.
    The Thief's player: If I didn't want to be with the rest of these guys, could I go off on my own?
    Dragon Master: Of your own risk!
  • The Night That Never Ends: The Sunstone absorbs all daylight, plunging the kingdom into eternal darkness.
    The Thief: Are we gonna stand here talking all night, or are we gonna nail Teraptus?
    The Elf: They are not mutually exclusive options.
    The Wizard: If we don't "nail" Teraptus, the night...will never end.
  • Our Liches Are Different: Teraptus; the Cleric's healing magic kills him, revealing that he was undead.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: And apparently "mentally retarded, harmless Manchild" is their race's Hat, if the VHS is to be believed.
  • Red Shirt Army: King Halvor II's guards are absolutely useless when it comes to fighting Death Knights; every single one is slaughtered in a matter of minutes.
  • The Power of Friendship: How the Player Characters ultimately defeat the Wizard.
  • Revive Kills Zombie: The Cleric (not a playable character in the actual game) uses his magical healing abilities on a death knight and Big Bad Teraptus to defeat both.
  • A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: The jester is the Big Bad in disguise.