The titular main antagonist and final enemy of the Fighting Fantasy gamebook Night Dragon, the monumental Night Dragon is notable for being the most powerful villain of the series. It is an awesome ancient monster of unfathomable might, who must be destroyed before it awakes, or else the entire world of Titan would be reduced to a wasteland.
About the Night Dragon
The Night Dragon appeared even before Time itself, during the very beginning of the world of Titan, and was one of the very first dragons ever created. Whether it was one of the dragons created by the Dragon God Kilanirax, later corrupted by the forces of Evil; or was created directly by the Demon Gods in retaliation for the creation of the dragon kind, remains unknown. It and Voivod number among the very few beings who dwarf the Demon Princes themselves, being second only to the Demon Gods.
The Night Dragon is an abomination over 40 meters long, with black scales glimmering in bluish-silvery threading, spiky protrusions all over, a terrifying face covered in horns and spikes, eyes that glow an icy-blue light, and black fangs as big as a human arm. While characters refer to the Ancient as "he", the narration mostly use "it", emphasizing his eldritch, hideously warped nature.
Due to emerging from slumber, the Night Dragon is never heard speaking and most of its personality is unknown, but it very likely masters every existing language and has high intelligence, befitting Ancient Dragons. It is more akin to a cosmic force of destruction in dragon shape, violent and bloodthirsty, but it also displays tactics, trying to disable your assets and to protect himself, while its sheer power alone would be enough to crush most enemies.
The Night Dragon does not fit any of the regular draconic species of Titan, (Gold, Silver, Black, White, Green, Red and Blue) and is much more powerful than the Great Dragons (the mightiest beings ever seen in Titan, who stand between 14 and 18 skill points: 2 to 6 points over the usual maximum of 12). It is mostly seen breathing fire, (like the Gold, Green and Red Dragons) but it has also proven able to breathe cold flame and acidic fumes (like the Silver Dragons and the Black Dragons respectively). It might very well be able to use the breathes of the other dragon kinds as well, (namely the ice breath of the White Dragons and the lightning breath of the Blue Dragons), the control over the forces of nature and the frightful gaze of the Great Dragons (who can easily shatter a strong spirit by merely staring at someone).
The Night Dragon also displays incredible strength and magic powers, far superior to that of any other Ancient Dragon; as well as formidable mastery of shadows and darkness. Moreover, it can enter and influence the Dreamtime (an oneiric dimensional plane made from the dreams of all living creatures), plaguing it with nightmares. Finally, being an Ancient Dragon, it is protected by the Unbreakable Oath, that prevents any dragon to act against the first ones of their kind (even indirectly) without dying.
Before time itself came to the word, bringing with it the mortal creatures, the forces of Good led by the Gods of Titan, and the forces of Evil led by the Demon Gods: the High Lords of Evil and Chaos Death, Disease and Decay (named after what mortals regard as the worst disasters) fought in a long and cataclysmic war, remembered as the First Battle, during which the Night Dragon fought as one of the most formidable champions of the forces of Evil. The Gods eventually won and threw the Demon Gods along with most of their followers into the Void.
It is said that the Night Dragon was once defeated, (likely during the First Battle or its aftermath) with three mystical weapons crafted by the Gods themselves: a sword, a shield and a chainmail. Yet, the immortal beast survived the battle and was put in slumber, which was to last for all of eternity. Since then, most of the present-day living beings no longer remember anything about the formidable monster, contrary to many worshippers of Chaos.
Now, many eons have passed. The Night Dragon is about to emerge from the Dreamtime, and all its worshippers are working towards this goal. If the antediluvian abomination were to resurface, everything alive would be blown away like dust under the icy northern winds, and the entire world of Titan would be reduced to a chaotic wasteland
Role in the Gamebook
While the Night Dragon is the final enemy faced in the gamebook and the primary threat, it remains in slumber during most of the story. Because of this, the game's actual antagonist is the Cult of the Night Dragon, a doomsday cult formed by many worshippers of Chaos, who seek to awake of their demonic idol.
The story begins in the infamous Port Blacksand, the awful City of Thieves populated by the vilest kind of scoundrel ever seen in Titan. There you meet a Dark Elf, who warns you against the upcoming threat of the Night Dragon and tells you that the legendary Conclave of Dragons is looking for a warrior brave and skilled enough to rise against the fearsome beast, a warrior that is none other than you.
There are three special rules in the game. The first one is Honour, which measures your good deeds, the second one is Time Track (the more time you waste, the mightier the Night Dragon will be during the final battle), and the third one is called Nemesis and measures the Cult's wariness towards you. The higher it is, the more determined the cultists will be to kill you and the more dangerous the game will become.Unfortunately, the Cult has agents everywhere, who regularly kill your contacts and try to get rid of you. The most dangerous of these agents being the horrid Stalkers: powerful mutants created from dragons' eggs through the use of Dark Magic, who fight with poisoned weapons and claws that inflict additional damage.
Thanks to the help of the Dark Elves (who might be an evil race but do not want life to be wiped out), you reach the Conclave of Dragons, a meeting of the elders of the six major dragon races, who admit that they are powerless before the Ancient (who in spite of his evil nature is protected by the Unbreakable Oath). They tell you about the Divine Sword, Shield and Chainmail that you must find in order to stand a chance against the Ancient, and about the Lore Master, the immortal mage who watches over the Dreamtime whom you must meet. You search for the three divine relics in any order you please, and you can also visit the two nearby towns of Ismater and Carnex.
Carnex is a very dangerous town which the Cult has taken over; controlling the townsfolk through a potion they put in their food. If you venture in Carnex and manage to slay Scalmagzaprin the Cult’s High Priest, the Nemesis score will decrease significantly and you will gain an extremely valuable Grimoire.
- The High Priest is powerful and dangerous. He has 11 in skill (level of power) and 15 in stamina (life-points), and wields a bewitched scimitar and a magic wand. During the first four turns, he can use his wand to blast you with a magical bolt that cost 4 stamina points, and his blade costs 3 stamina points instead of the regular 2.
You have to visit a tribe of Mountain Giants and buy the Shield (or gain him after a difficult battle against the mighty son of the tribe's chief); to explore an ancient crypt, in which dwell both a powerful but noble and honourable Undead Lord and a dangerous Wraith Wizard, to gain the Sword; and an ancient dwarven mine haunted by a Basilisk, who turned its entire population into stone, something only reflecting the Basilisk' petrifying gaze with the Magic Mirror can undo, to gain the Chainmail. (It is strongly implied that the Basilisk was sent when the dwarves dug too close to the Night Dragon's resting place.) Having the three divine weapons is not compulsory but it still proves highly useful against the many powerful monsters encountered.
Then, you meet the Lore Master, who sends you into the Dreamtime where you might face an oneiric image of the Night Dragon himself, far weaker than the original one but still a fearsome foe to fight.
- The Dream Dragon has 12 in skill (the regular maximum) and 16 in stamina, and breathes cold flame that costs 6 stamina points before fighting. It must be noted that if you use the Divine Shield to deflect the Dream Dragon's breath, it will not be able to withstand the breath of the real dragon, so it is better to try to dodge it.
If you succeed in destroying his oneiric avatar, the Ancient will lose 1 skill point and 2 stamina points for the final battle. You can also gain powerful magical artifacts that will prove extremely useful; the Magic Mirror, the Light Sphere and the Winged Boots being the most important ones. However, gaining those items is not without risk, as the Night Dragon swarmed the Dreamtime with monsters and obstacles.
After exiting the Dreamtime, you must head to the Dragon Reaches in the Icefinger Mountains, and sneak into the Dragon Caves, the lair of the Cult where the fearsome Ancient is resting. You must face many traps and vile high-ranking members of the Cult, including a powerful and treacherous Red Wizard who can provide precious information if you spare his life but must not be allowed to flee; and above all its supreme leader, the Bone Stalker Mage (a fanatic wizard who relinquished his humanity and turned himself into a horrendous half-human half-dragon chimera, and who guards the door leading to the Night Dragon's cave).
- The Red Wizard has 11 in skill and 15 in stamina and first tries to unleash a swarm of winged skulls, then fights with energy balls that cost 4 stamina points and a poisoned dagger that inflicts additional damage.
Three magic devices used to restore the Ancient's power are located into the gloomy caves. There is a magical, sentient Pyramidal Cell surrouded by Chill Shadows, which replenishes the Night Dragon's magic. There is also the Furnace which strengthens the beast and an animated Dragon Statue which restores its energy. The more devices you destroy the easier the final battle will be, but they are protected by mighty guards.
- The Pyramidal Cell is a bizarre yet powerful and dangerous enemy surrounded by many ghostly Chill Shadows that must be destroyed before reaching it. (They cannot be destroyed without a magic weapon.) It has 10 in skill and 11 in stamina and when it wins an attack-round, it can either raise its skill total or blast you with magic.
- The Bone Stalker Champion who guards the Furnace is a powerful enemy with 11 in skill and 14 in stamina, who fights with a poisoned blade that costs 4 stamina points.
- The Dragon Statue itself is a powerful and dangerous Stone Juggernaut with 11 in skill and 18 in stamina, whose blows cost 3 (and might even cost 6) stamina points.
Destroying the Pyramid with the Light Sphere prevents the Night Dragon from using magic; destroying the Furnace with the Magic Mirror costs it 1 skill point; and destroying the Dragon Statue costs it 3 stamina points.
Fighting the Bone Stalker MageThe Bone Stalker Mage is protected by an invisible magical barrier that you must destroy to reach him. The safest way to overcome this is to throw the Magic Mirror at the Mage. Attacking at long range leaves you open for a dangerous spell of fire threads that cost 4 stamina points and 1 skill point for the battle against the Mage, should you get hit. If you charge at your enemy without caution, the collision will cost you 3 stamina points and the Mage's spell will strike without fail.
The Bone Stalker Mage is a very powerful enemy with 13 in skill and 16 in stamina. As if it was not enough, his awful stench costs you 1 skill point for the battle and his attacks are dangerous: He attacks for the first two turns by summoning snakes of red energy that cost 4 stamina points, before fighting with a poisoned blade that cost 4 stamina points for three turns, then 2 stamina points after the poison vanishes. Fortunately, if you wield the Divine Weapons, even the wretched Cult Leader will not even be a match for you. As for the Night Dragon itself, this is another story.
Fighting the Night DragonWhen you finally face the Night Dragon, the monumental beast is resting in its disgusting cocoon of acid, not fully awake, and has yet to regain its full power. Despite this, he remains far mightier that all enemies ever fought in a Fighting Fantasy gamebook.
Shooting the Night Dragon with a bow invariably misses, and the abomination retaliates by magically rusting the Divine Chainmail and reducing the power boost it grants. If you climb down the stairs towards the Ancient, it conjures shadowy threads which might cost you 4 stamina points and 1 skill point. Then, it surrounds itself in shadows and gains an advantage in the upcoming battle.
If you can grow a magic plant to climb down the abyss, you will avoid the shadowy threads, and if you wear winged boots, you will be able to fly into the abyss faster than the half-asleep Dragon can react and fight it directly. If you have destroyed the Pyramidal Cell, the Ancient will not be able to use any magic no matter what, nullifying the risks.
The divine Shield is the only thing that can withstand the Night Dragon’s fearsome flaming breath. Without it, you lose 6 stamina points no matter what weapon you use, and you cannot dodge. The Night Dragon has 17 in skill (5 points over the regular maximum) and 32 in stamina no less. Its stamina is also increased depending on how much time you spent to reach it. You need the three Divine Weapons to face this formidable and immensely powerful enemy. Without any Divine Weapon, you are as good as dead. Only one weapon is far from enough, but with the three the battle will be much easier. If you wield the three weapons and managed to weaken the Ancient during the course of the game, you can win without major trouble.
Be careful though, as the dragon's claws cost 3 stamina points instead of the regular 2. Moreover, if the dragon hid itself in shadows, your blows will miss it 1 in 6 times, unless you have a Sphere of Light or destroyed the Pyramidal Cell. Should you run short of stamina, you can sacrifice the Divine Shield to regain 10 points, but at the cost of the power boost it grants.When the Night Dragon is finally slain, its severed head animates itself and attacks you one last time, shrouded in corrosive mist. You can flee in terror, knowing that the Ancient will take years to heal, but the game ends here. The Night Dragon Skull has 11 in skill and 12 in stamina, but despite its high level of power, it is hardly a match for someone who could fell the nightmarish, antediluvian abomination, and you should win quite handily.
However, after slaying the beast for good, you will have to exit the Dragon's Caves safely before they collapse to fully finish the game. As you escape, you realise that the abomination’s final death caused a volcanic eruption that threatens to kill you, but a gigantic Gold Dragon, heavily implied to be the Dragon God Kilanirax himself, appears to take you to safety, to celebrate your awesome triumph and earn the dragons' gratitude. As Kilanirax said it himself, "when dragons owe favours, a wise man knows their value."
- There are two enemies in the Fighting Fantasy universe who rival the Night Dragon's power. However, you cannot defeat them in a direct fight, leaving the Ancient as the mightiest enemy ever fought: The first is Titanium Cyborg, the final enemy of the super-hero themed gamebook Appointment with F.E.A.R., who has 18 in skill and 20 in stamina, but cannot be defeated without a special device to halve his stats. The second is the God-Headed Hydra, fought in the final book of the Sorcery spin-off. It has 17 in skill and 24 in stamina, but is only an illusion that promptly vanishes.
- The way the Night Dragon's skull grows spider-like legs to attack you after the beast is defeated is a reference to the creature from the movie The Thing.