Scaled Up: Choice Of The Dragon

By Alec Meer on December 6th, 2010 at 8:29 pm.

I was 'at death's door' almost immediately. Sigh.

It’s hot text time, you. Choice Of The Dragon collided with my consciousness the other day, and after initially sneering at the concept of a multiple choice question-based game about pretending to be a fantasy stereotype, I quickly discovered that the only thing a narrow mind brings me is a lesser gaming life.

Hidden under this free browser game’s superficially shallow, box-ticking presentation is a smart roleplayer-lite. The thing about being a dragon, see, is that it gives you free license to be a bit of prick. So the the titular choice in this game is about what kind of prick you want to be.

The kind of big lizard that goes and razes towns and snacks on anything even slightly alive, or a scheming snake invisibly pulling kingdoms’ strings, with a goblin army at your behest? Different stats (including brutality, honour and, brilliantly, disdain) mean different strengths, and the wrong choice means mounting wounds and, eventually, death.

There’s more than conquering and looting too – my dragon singularly failed to woo a mate, and thus wound up rich but oh-so-lonely and grumpy.

It’s essentially a fighting fantasy book, but with a sensibly smart chunk of the raw luck element replaced by common sense strategising. It’s rather endearingly pithy, too.

I realise saying this about any text-based game is the height of heresy, but a low-key visualiser, depicting a simple, static image of your dragon and his lair that alters slightly depending on key events, would probably elevate it from Rather Interesting to Massively Charming. Never mind, that’s what our imaginations are for.

Now, go play, and share your drag-o-stats below.

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73 Comments »

  1. Handsome Dead says:

    I like the ones that aren’t even half finished.

  2. Fumarole says:

    [...]failed to woo a mate, and thus wound up rich but oh-so-lonely and grumpy

    So, the opposite of my life then.

  3. terry says:

    I got up to a temple which I could either rob or ignore, and then my browser froze. Disdain seems super overpowered.

    • President Weasel says:

      same thing happened to me

    • Wilson says:

      @terry – Ah, interesting, I had the same thing. I clicked through the next couple of choices even though the text wasn’t rendering properly, and then it seemed to sort itself out after that. It saves your progress even if you exit the browser, so you might still be able to finish the game if you want.

  4. Bret says:

    Well, finished a go.

    Lots of loot, a country of reasonably loyal minions, and minimal injuries.

    I’d call that a win.

  5. Alikchi says:

    I was going to make a joke about this game promoting heteronormative fictional dragon relationships, but I actually had the option to find a male mate.

    This is actually pretty good. I’m permanently wounded (one eye blinded) but very cunning.

  6. Alex Bakke says:

    50/50 Disdain/Vigilance
    94/6 Finesse/Cunning
    60/40 Honour/Brutality.

    10,000-odd gold

    3 wounds.

    1 Blasphemy.

  7. mrpier says:

    12% Brutality vs. 88% Finesse

    33% Cunning vs. 67% Honor

    69% Disdain vs. 31% Vigilance

    Infamy: 49%

    Wealth: 13900 gold coins

    Wounds: 1

    Blasphemy: 0

  8. Carmelite says:

    there’s this whole renaissance in text games going on. Have you seen King of Dragon Pass is coming out on iPhone? Have you seen Echo Bazaar? (which OMG Em “Galatea” Short is writing for!!)

    • Hippo says:

      King of Dragon Pass… the one game I’ve always wanted to play but could never get hold of.

      I checked their official twitter, and they’re saying that the reason they can’t release the original via digital distribution is that it requires a CD in the drive. They’ve apparently tried to remove this, but can’t.

      So let me get this straight… they’re making a whole new version of the game, for a completely different platform, but they can’t manage to remove the CD check from the original? And isn’t this exactly what GOG specializes in, by the way?

      There has to be something else to this. They can’t be that incompetent.

    • dadioflex says:

      Choice of the Dragon is also on iTunes, right now. I spent an hour or so with it a few months back.

      http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/choice-of-the-dragon/id348940932?mt=8 (UK link)

      It’s free on there too.

      Echo Bazaar? Twitter? Facebook? No ta.

    • Malbogio says:

      Wait wait wait. Em Short is writing for Echo Bazaar? If I’d known I would have checked it out when I first heard of it. Now I need to start playing it before I’m even done with this sen

  9. Tauers says:

    I commited suicide after years of torture by a crazy evil mage :(

  10. Mike says:

    Nice! 9,000 wealth in the end, -1 Blasphemy. What a cute little click-through.

  11. Wulf says:

    I’ve encountered this before and absolutely adored it, but then I have a passing romantic obsession with dragons; what with them being giant, ethereal doomlizards. The whole towering intellect thing is a draw, too. Can’t really go wrong with a dragon.

    Right. I’ll go poke this again and report back with my results, which will probably be the same pacifist-hippie dragon that I ended up with last time. Ah, if I was a dragon, I’d be that one from D&D that could stone people with its breath.

    • Wulf says:

      Wait, what? Gay dragons? Bahahahahaha! They’ve expanded on this quite a bit since I played it last, there are many new questions, it was only about 20% of the size when I last had a go.

    • Wulf says:

      My choices:

      19% Brutality vs. 81% Finesse
      10% Cunning vs. 90% Honor
      46% Disdain vs. 54% Vigilance
      Infamy: 34%
      Wealth: 10500 gold coins
      Wounds: 3
      Blasphemy: 1

      I gave away a lot, and I was exceedingly kind, so I didn’t end up with a lot of treasure or infamy, but my dragon was exceedingly happy. By the end of it, he was the unchallenged God of a Kingdom, loved, praised, and revered by all he surveyed.

  12. spinks says:

    They do a few other text games too. The napoleonic warship/ hornblower one is fun, and there’s a fantasy romance and a vampire one (the weakest, I think) also.

    • Plopsworth says:

      Yup. I second the recommendation of the naval game, Choice of Broadsides.

      Anyone who has read and enjoyed their share of C.S. Forester’s Hornblower and/or O’Brien’s Aubrey/Maturin series should definitely give it a try. It has plenty of in-crowd references (certain names) and provides an interesting thinly veiled alternate-history game.

      You experience naval warfare, swordplay, a fair share of subterfuge and scheming, possible mutinies, rank rivalry, naval discipline, ethical choices, attempts at wooing and courting a suitable partner (either heterosexual or not) and can even take a revisionist choice of realm where the navies of Albion and the world are crewed by women (“I’m a young lady. The idea of gentlemen going to sea and being exposed to the horrors of combat–it’s a frankly revolting idea.”)

    • TeraTelnet says:

      I stumbled across Choice of Broadsides first, a few months ago, and must admit it’s my favourite so far.

    • Redd says:

      Broadsides is fucking excellent and has me digging out Pirates! and Sea Dogs even though I know they won’t meet expectations.

      Here’s wishing for an Age of Sail (Royal) navy game with at least as much detail as Silent Hunter III… crew and all. Crew is so often misrepresented as just another number. I love the idea of being thrown in with a bunch of randoms and getting to know all the names and faces, strengths and weaknesses, and seeing them improve their skills and rise through the ranks. Seeing who fits where is part of the fun. And of course the flipside is sense of loss when they are blown up or drowned or run through while boarding other ships. Or flogged to death under my command. Whatever.

  13. Lambchops says:

    I started a game of this ages ago and never finished. I’m now going to finish it off despite not having a clue what I’ve done before. This netted me:

    6 Brutality vs 94 Finesse
    94 Cunning vs 6 Honour
    44 Disdain vs 56 Vigilance
    Infamy 56%
    Wealth 18,750 Gold coins
    0 Wounds
    1 Blasphemy

    Basically I was a tricksy bastard and became rather rich for it. Oh and failed to get a mate because I cheated at chess!

  14. Poe says:

    That was hugely entertaining and charming.

  15. Xercies says:

    “my dragon singularly failed to woo a mate, and thus wound up rich but oh-so-lonely and grumpy.”

    And In The Game!

  16. PlayOm says:

    That was a pleasant diversion from panicking over the snow

  17. DrPepper8 says:

    I successfully found a mate, and ended up honourably battle scarred. Didn’t do so well at the Infamy though, I humiliated myself against a band of adventurers halfway through and my reputation never really recovered from it. Fun game.

    25 Brutality vs 75 Finesse
    8 Cunning vs 92 Honour
    24 Disdain vs 76 Vigilance
    Infamy 44%
    Wealth 14250
    3 Wounds
    1 Blasphemy

  18. Sagan says:

    Played this a while ago. I don’t remember my stats but I remember that I was slain by an avatar of the gods for my blasphemy.

    • Wulf says:

      Were you especially evil? I was parading around as a God, talking up my divinity, I even had shrines and beautiful gold statues built in my name. I became a religion so powerful that it challenged any other, and my benevolence was known the lands over.

      The attitude of the Gods to me was: “Meh, we don’t mind so much. He’s okay that dragon. Yeah, he’s alright. He’s good to the people, so what if he has a superiority complex? What dragon doesn’t?”

      It actually said something pretty much to that effect. >_>

    • Lilliput King says:

      I reckon they only get angry with you if you destroy their temples.

      Or maybe if you take yourself seriously as a God, I dunno. I didn’t do either. My dragon was pretty apathetic.

    • Wulf says:

      I took myself seriously as a God. My dragon was fairly delusional (in entertaining ways) and even encouraged worship and temples built in his name. So… it’s probably not that, since the Gods just shrugged it off and figured that I was an okay sort of guy/dragon. And they just let my transgressions slip past. Maybe it’s if you do things that are favourable to the notion of ‘Gods’, they’re cool with it, but if you act like a sadistic git at any point and then try to parade as a God, they get all upppity about it.

  19. kyynis says:

    Damn, didn’t remember to check stats but I’m pretty sure it went something like this:
    More finesse than brutality
    Lotsa more cunning than honour
    More vigilance than disdain
    Shitload of infamy
    Pretty good wealth
    No wounds, or perhaps minor ones
    No blasphemy

    My subjects worship me as a god, I have a wizard sidekick, didn’t look for a mate, damn rogues stole my good stuff while hibernating, but life is good.

  20. alm says:

    Firefox crashed half way through :[

  21. Phydaux says:

    This was excellent. I really want to play a fully fledged game where I’m a dragon and I’m eating people, and ruling kingdoms.

    I wooed a mate, and went into hibernation after destroying my enemy with a wizard on my back. :D
    65% Brutality vs. 35% Finesse
    19% Cunning vs. 81% Honor
    32% Disdain vs. 68% Vigilance
    Infamy: 68%
    Wealth: 15650 gold coins
    Wounds: 0
    Blasphemy: 2

    • Wulf says:

      You wielded an Callax at an Vermias too, eh?

      He’s certainly a helpful little wizard, I’m glad I was audience to his wisdom.

  22. Tom Camfield says:

    I liked it, but I like IF, so…

  23. Mut says:

    I was a snooty, princess-stealing, adventurer-smiting prick of a dragon. Shame I ended up single, though.

    62% Brutality vs. 38% Finesse
    44% Cunning vs. 56% Honor
    64% Disdain vs. 36% Vigilance
    Infamy: 73%
    Wealth: 9750
    Wounds: 1
    Blasphemy: 0

  24. Novotny says:

    55% Brutality vs 45% Finesse
    83% Cunning vs 17% Homour
    43% Disdain vs 57% Vigilance
    Infamy 89%
    Wealth 16150 Gold coins
    3 Wounds
    1 Blasphemy

  25. RadioactiveMan says:

    The first time I cultivated worship from the humans, and was killed by a god. :(

    The second time I ended up extremely brutal, cunning, vigilant, and infamous… and I have five limbs (?) I felt I chose the best options most of the time, but in the chapter with the magicians towards the end it was hard to know what to do. I ended up talking with the first magician, and then trying to assault the tower of the second magician. Somehow I lit a demon on fire and everything turned out alright.

  26. SpakAttack says:

    27% Brutality vs. 73% Finesse
    77% Cunning vs. 23% Honor
    60% Disdain vs. 40% Vigilance

    Infamy: 67%
    Wealth: 17000 gold coins
    Wounds: 3
    Blasphemy: 1

    Magic traps for the hibernation win…. it’s amazing how much cunning gets you out of a scrape.
    …and i bedded a sexy lady dragon!

  27. Adi says:

    A very nice game! I ended up resisting urge to find a partner (I wouldn’t need to share my treasures!) and getting two wounds (one from adventurers, other from evil mage).

    5% Brutality vs. 95% Finesse
    45% Cunning vs. 55% Honor
    88% Disdain vs. 12% Vigilance
    Infamy: 42%
    Wealth 12500 gold coins
    Wounds: 2
    Blasphemy: 0

    Any more similar games?

  28. RCGT says:

    Is this updated in any way from when it first came out? I don’t recall the pretty graphs. Then again I play it on my iPhone.

  29. Tei says:

    Ha… great game. Nice adventures, fun, delicious loot, war, victory and vengeance.

  30. Peter says:

    18% Brutality / 82% Finesse
    67% Cunning / 33% Honor
    54% Disdain / 46% Vigilance
    Infamy: 61%
    Wealth: 14400 gold coins
    Wounds: 4
    Blasphemy: 0

    Good game! Would play again!

  31. kablam says:

    23% Brutality vs. 77% Finesse

    86% Cunning vs. 14% Honor

    77% Disdain vs. 23% Vigilance

    Infamy: 68%

    Wealth: 20000 gold coins

    Wounds: 1

    Blasphemy: 1

    took me 3 attempts

  32. Zwebbie says:

    Played this a good while ago.

    I think that if they had pictures, music, a neat voice-over and swooshy sound effects, they could sell a couple of these games bundled together on Steam and make a neat bit of profit. I certainly thought it was a lot better, for as long as it lasted, than most mainstream RPGs.

    • Wulf says:

      This I have to concur with, on every point. Especially the wonderfully intricate traps it lays out for the player, which you have to be very careful not to fall into. In fact, with what you’d said there, with some more scenarios and some more branches, I’d actually be willing to toss them a few squids for Choice of the Dragon alone.

      The Internet is a better place for it existing.

  33. Pijama says:

    Any tips to make it NOT lock up so much?

    • Wulf says:

      Huh, it didn’t lock up once for me.

      What browser are you using with it? I’m running Firefox 4, meself.

    • Pijama says:

      Firefox, too!

    • Wulf says:

      Bizarre!

      3 or 4? Maybe an extension causing problems? Or a plugin? Try renaming your plugin folder temporarily, and disabling extensions in bunches, see if anything makes it more stable? Of course, if you’re using 3 then it could be that 4 is just more stable (and it is, from my experiences with it thus far, and it does HTML 5 so very nicely, too).

  34. mlaskus says:

    5% Brutality 95% Finesse
    54% Cunning 46% Honour
    87% Disdain 13% Vigilance
    Infamy 50%
    Wealth 20250
    Blasphemy 1

  35. espy says:

    Did rather well, but the chess game led to a life of loneliness:

    6% Brutality vs. 94% Finesse
    54% Cunning vs. 46% Honor
    36% Disdain vs. 64% Vigilance
    Infamy: 54%
    Wealth: 19500 gold coins
    Wounds: 1
    Blasphemy: 2

  36. Flatfingers says:

    6% Brutality vs. 94% Finesse
    60% Cunning vs. 40% Honor
    66% Disdain vs. 34% Vigilance
    Infamy: 57%
    Wealth: 12900 gold coins
    Wounds: 1
    Blasphemy: -1

    Servile minions, a kingdom to nibble on, a mate and enough treasure to rest comfortably on — what more is needed?

  37. Gnarl says:

    Meh. Doing fine suddenly killed by a God. Maybe I was slightly unlucky, but most Fighting Fantasy books gave me more warning.

    Overall, could have read Guards! Guards! a few more times and maybe tried to come up with something vaguely suprising?

    • Wulf says:

      Wait, you want it to warn you and you want it to be surprising?

      Logic error. Does not compute.

      This sounds more like sour grapes to me than cogent criticism, since that’s usually more coherent. :p

  38. Napalm Sushi says:

    41% Brutality vs. 59% Finesse
    81% Cunning vs. 19% Honour
    30% Disdain vs. 70% Vigilance
    Infamy: 66%
    Wealth: 21650 gold coins
    Wounds: 4
    Blasphemy: 2

    To be fair on those pitiable human subjects/meals, I too would probably worship a golden dragon-centaur (which is what I imagined as the result of choosing “6″ as my number of limbs) if it landed in my front yard.

    • Wulf says:

      Ha. I went with iridescent. Rainbow dragon! How could I resist?

      My dragon’s theme song would probably be that Erasure song. You all know which one.

  39. Zacqary Adam Green says:

    You should try Choice of Games’ other games. Each one they release gets progressively more awesome. Choice of the Vampire has BioWare-quality writing, if I do say so myself.

  40. a says:

    8% Brutality vs. 92% Finesse
    93% Cunning vs. 7% Honor
    64% Disdain vs. 36% Vigialance
    Infamy 64%
    21400 gold
    1 wound
    1 Blasphemy

    Fucked up some wizard and his demons and took a nice nap. Never got a boyfriend though. Fuck bitches, get money.

  41. Fhoenix says:

    I was killed by an avatar of the goddes of war…

  42. Matt W says:

    I strongly recommend a high-brutality playthrough. It’s hilarious.

  43. Bran says:

    77% Finesse, 96% Cunning, 62% Vigilance
    1 Wound, 2 Blasphemy
    80% Infamy
    20150 Gold

  44. Acosta says:

    Fantastic game, I love these kind of games, especially because I find that making decisions is what I most enjoy of gaming.

    I played a benevolent and sneaky dragon, the game is very well written to make sure you don’t feel any “wise” decision leads to a better result. Passed on the mate and made some wrong decisions (elite goblin guards, what I was thinking? :P). Loved it (and made me wish King of the Dragon Pass for Iphone comes faster, I’m dying to play it.)

    21% Brutality, 79% Finesse
    30% Cunning 70% Honor
    63% Desdain 37% Vigilance
    Infamy 49%
    Wealth 15000
    Blasphemy 1

  45. HeavyStorm says:

    40% Brutality vs. 60% Finesse

    24% Cunning vs. 76% Honor

    40% Disdain vs. 60% Vigilance

    Infamy: 52%

    Wealth: 8750 gold coins

    Wounds: 4

    Blasphemy: 1

  46. Max says:

    Played a very intellectual, scheming dragon:

    Brutality 15/Finesse 85
    Cunning 76/Honour 24
    Disdain 62/Vigilence 38
    Infamy 75
    Wealth 21050
    Wounds 1
    Blasphemy 1

    Female dragon, with a male black dragon mate.

  47. d32 says:

    There’s an Android version (plus several more ‘Choice of…’ games) for those interested.

  48. Skusey says:

    There’s a danger in giving me too much freedom, and that danger is that I’ll end up playing Cuntface the gay dragon.

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