Dragon Adventure


This file is intended for teachers and parents wanting to find out more details of the game.

It also contains information explaining the game locations and puzzles which may spoil the game if you are intending to try playing it through. The information is provided so that a teacher or parent can help a child who is stuck in the game. The game can be played through in a minimum of about 100 moves (though about 400 is more usual), and generally takes a group 2-3 hours or so to finish.

Dragon Adventure is a text-based adventure with pictures and a few optional sound effects for players aged 9 and above, and should be suitable both for children and perhaps foreign English students, as well as beginners in these types of text adventure games. Its aim is to stimulate memory, language work and discussion within small groups, and to help foster a logical approach to problem solving. Within the UK National Curriculum for English, the program helps to develop oracy (both the speaking and listening), spelling and reading comprehension skills.

The adventure is set in a make-believe world, where the players are set the challenge of trying to get rid of the dragon. This can be done in either of two ways: by killing it with the enchanted sword, or by releasing the dragon from the bewitchment that has been put on it (by playing the magic pipe). Non-violent solutions earn a higher game score, encouraging players to use non-violent means. The players must then discover the dragon's hidden treasure hoard to complete the game.

Players must find either the sword or the flute, and discover the way to safely enter the dragon's tunnels and neutralise the dragon. To do this they must solve a series of simple problems involving gathering and using the objects that can be found in the various game locations. There are clues to this scattered throughout the game, and the game characters met can also be asked for information (this is often well worth doing). You can also type HINT to get specific clues at different points in the game.

The program works by describing locations on the screen, together with any objects that can be seen. Commands are typed in the form of two words, eg. GET SWORD or RING BELL, or by more complex sentences. Movements can be made by typing the direction (GO NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST, UP, DOWN, IN, OUT), and most can be abbreviated to a single letter. Commands such as ENTER COTTAGE or JUMP can also be used.

Characters met in the game can be spoken to and can engage in rudimentary conversation. Phrases such as HELLO or ASK MAN ABOUT DRAGON will often get a reaction.

With children, ideally the game should be played by small groups of 2 to 4 people. The current position can be saved and restored at a later date. It is advisable to save the position at regular intervals so that if anything disastrous happens in the adventure, the game does not have to be restarted from the beginning. There is also an UNDO feature in most game interpreters which will try to undo the consequences of the last move made. In some systems this can be used repeatedly several times to backtrack until the mistake is undone.

The command RESCUE is provided as a last resort to attempt to recover otherwise irretrievably lost items (that may have been eaten, broken or given away), and will attempt to recover from unwinnable game situations (such as being trapped). There is also the command RUN or ESCAPE which takes you away from immediate danger, but you will drop whatever you happen to be carrying.

Older children should be encouraged to make up their own map as they go along, though it may be found that a sketch-map of the main locations is best provided. The picture version of the game displays a map of the places visited so far, by entering the command MAP.

Game Vocabulary:
Disc commands:
SAVE     saves current game position
RESTORE     load and run a previously saved game position

Other commands:
UNDOwill attempt to undo the last move made -
can sometimes be used successively
MAPshows a map of places visited so far
(picture version only)
INVENTORY or I   to list what you are carrying
EXAMINE or X   to examine something
LOOK or Lto see the description of the location again

To see in the dark of the tunnels and to move around safely the candle must be found and lit. The candle can be extinguished, but it will not run out and there is no limit to the number of moves that can be made once it is lit.
Up to 6 items can be carried at once, though if the sack is carried objects can be put into it, enabling many more things to be carried at once. The program takes care of this automatically. The sack is found in the reeds by the lake.
The program counts the number of moves taken and keeps a score based on the puzzles solved.
The current score and move count are shown at the top of the game window.
Typing the commands SOUND OFF and SOUND ON will switch the sound off and on, in pictures/sound versions of the game (the sound is on by default).
Some of the actions recognised:

Some of the main game objects:

Object names can usually be abbreviated to just the first three letters.


= 25 points maximum total
(minus 2 points for each RESCUE or 'dead' recovery)

By entering the command HELP some special help hints are available at certain points in the game:
  • With the magic lamp in the cottage:
    "Remember Alladin..."
  • In the dark tunnels without the lit candle:
    "You really need some light..."
  • At the castle door:
    "You need a key..."
  • At the bird bath:
    "Perhaps you should be kind to the birds..."
  • In the closed cottage (if you haven't found the key yet):
    "Have you examined everything closely ..."
    "You'll need some magic to get out of here! - try RESCUE"
  • At the top of the tower:
    "You need to get from the tower to the ground somehow..."
  • Otherwise the standard response is:
    "Look round and examine things."
Typing INFO will give a little help on playing the game (such as the actions of HELP, RESCUE, SAVE, RESTORE, UNDO etc).

GAMES or INSTRUCTIONS will give advice on playing adventure games generally, as well as places to find other help or free games on the internet (this was produced by Emily Short as a general game extension).

A note on game versions:
Dragon Adventure is written in a computer language called Inform, which produces a compiled game file in one of two forms - the z5 type, and the newer Glulx type. Both need a special program called an 'interpreter' to make them run as games on the computer.

The z5 type, being an older system, has free interpreters (downloadable from the internet) that have been written for a huge variety of past and present computer types, but the format doesn't really handle pictures and sound properly. The z5 version of the game is text only, but should work on a very wide range of past and current computers, including some handhelds and organisers.

The newer Glulx type file can contain both pictures and sound as well as text, but games will so far only run on PC, Mac and Linux systems, where game interpreters have already been written. However, there may currently be some sound problems with Mac systems (to do with AIFF bit signing, or something).

The PC version of Glulxe seems to work on Windows versions from 95 onwards, though the sound doesn't seem to work with Windows 95. The picture version of the game hasn't yet been tested on systems other than the PC.

The Glulx file type (which contains both the game and the pictures and sounds all packaged together) is called a Blorb file. As Blorb files contain pictures and sound as well as text, they tend to be considerably larger than the equivalent z5 type and so take longer to download.

Dragon Adventure was originally written on Acorn/RiscOS computers. Versions of the game exist which will run natively (with pictures) on later RiscOS machines (A5000 onwards); all RiscOS 3-onwards machines will also run the z5 text version using the excellent freeware Zip2000 game interpreter.

So to sum up - if using a PC, Mac or Linux, use the Glulx Blorb game version with pictures and sound, if possible.
If using RiscOS, use the original RiscOS-coded version of the game (in the absence of any Glulx interpreter for the platform as yet).
For any other machine, use the z5 text-only game.
If you have the VirtualA5000 or SE emulator on a Windows PC (www.virtualacorn.co.uk), you can play the original RiscOS version, as well as many other programs available for schools.

For Windows, possibly the best z5 interpreter is called Windows Frotz, and the best Glulx Blorb interpreter so far is called, rather confusingly, Glulxe (note the 'e' on the end).
Both interpreters can be downloaded free from the Interpreters section of the Interactive Fiction website at www.ifarchive.org which is the Alexandrian Library of all things to do with adventure games. The site includes a huge range of other free adventure games to download of varying quality, complexity and suitability.

Most game interpreters allow you to choose and set your own preferences for things such as font size, style and colour, background colour, and window size, and they keep these choices for the future. It's well worth taking a few minutes to set these up as you like them, as it seems to make a huge difference to the playability of any game.

The Glulx picture version was designed to work with screen resolutions of 640 x 480 up to 1024 x 768 (with higher resolutions the pictures start to look a little small), with at least 256 colours - the ideal display seems to be 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768 with 32K plus colours.

Dragon Adventure started life on the BBC micro around 1982. The basic framework of game locations and puzzles (including any violence directed towards dragons and trolls!) was produced by a group of Year 5 children on a wet Friday afternoon (thanks to Tracey, Tracy, Julia, Joanne, Amanda and the others). I put this into a finished game so the children could try out their own work, and also wrote a version for the Commodore PET (the other Y5 class had loan of one - my class had the use of the only BBC in the school that term). The game was eventually distributed free to schools in the London Borough of Hillingdon, and was available from the MUSE (Microcomputer Users in Secondary Education) software library until its closure a few years later.

It was converted to run on the Acorn Archimedes around 1990, and was further updated in the late 90s for the more modern RiscPC with the addition of sound samples and pictures of the items carried.

It has been available in RiscOS format as a free internet download since 1999. Over the years it has been occasionally used in various classes I have taught. Various minor changes have been made in response to the sort of things children tend to type in and try to do in the game.

In 2003 I taught for a while at Shellingford Primary and used a similar game, Goblin Adventure, with the children using the VirtualAcorn emulator on a PC laptop. Several of them asked if the games were available to play at home, and I rewrote slightly extended versions of Dragon, Goblin and Fairytale Adventures for z5 and Glulx (with pictures). These newer versions make it easier to recover from unwinnable game situations without having to restart (demanding less teacher attention!). I put these on the school website, along with the original RiscOS versions. The new versions should now work directly on Windows and (in theory) on the Mac.

The program is copyright but may be freely copied and distributed, as long as no charge is made.

William Stott, February 2004 (wstott@bigfoot.com)

Game Solution:
Go S, E, D, take the coin, examine the barrels and take the mug. Go U, W, W and give the coin to buy the box. Take the box (the hang-glider kit), examine it, open it and read the instruction leaflet (you need a screwdriver). Go W, read the sign, go S, read the sign, go W, N to the forge and take the magic lamp. Go S, E, N, E, S, S, E into the cottage. Take the key, examine the table and take the bananas then rub the lamp to be transported back outside (the lamp flies off and returns back to the forge). Go S, W, N, W, S, S into the lighthouse, tip the boot and take the screwdriver. Go N, N, N, N, N and get the silver bell, unlock the castle door, drop the key and go N, U to the top of the tower. Give the bananas to the monkey, build the glider, drop the broken screwdriver and take the sword and the instruction booklet. You can throw items down from the tower if you can't carry everything. Take the hang-glider and jump to float down to the wasteland, or you can rub the magic lamp if carried (earning fewer points). Go E and ring the bell to summon the wandering Troll, who will appear somewhere along the road or by the lake. Once you find him, you can either kill him with the sword, or say HELLO to make friends with him (which earns more points). Greet him, ask him any questions you want to, then give him the bell and take the hunting horn. Next, go to the lake and examine the reeds and take the sack containing the flute. Once opened, the sack can be used to greatly extend the number of items you can carry. Fill the mug with water and go S, E and fill the bird bath. Take the candle dropped by the bird and go W, examine the tree stump and light the candle with the matches. The number of moves that can be made with the lit candle is unlimited. Read the instruction booklet to learn how to play the flute then drop the booklet (no longer needed) and go W, N, N, E into the cave. Make sure you are holding the flute (it isn't in the sack) and go S, S and play the flute to break the dragon's spell. Ask him any questions you want to. It is also possible to kill the dragon with the sword, but this approach again earns fewer points. Examine the bones and take the bottle, examine it then break it and read the clue on the parchment. Go N, N, E, U to the inn then in turn examine the chair, the carvings than the goblin to find the next clue. Go D, W, S, S back to the dragon's lair and blow the horn. Go E to the treasure.
Trying to ride the magic bicycle will deliver you to the dragon's lair, and can be used as a shortcut.
(Total about 100 moves)
Typing RESCUE will restore any lost objects:

If your game character dies you will lose points, but you will be restored back to life again. You will only die if:
  • you try to use the parachute to get down from the tower
  • you try to move in the dark
  • you try to kill the Troll or dragon without having the sword
  • you attack or try to kill the little man in the swamp
  • you spend too long with the suspicious Troll without speaking to him
  • you wake the dragon by going into its lair without then quickly killing it or playing the flute
  • you try to kill the dragon after playing the flute
  • you try to kill the Troll after befriending him

Game Locations and Puzzles:
(numbers refer to the map)
In some rocky mountains (14)
This is your starting-point in the adventure. You need to go south to get to the inn.

Outside an inn (15)

Inside the deserted inn (21)
There is a clue here to the way to find the dragon's treasure hoard. If you examine the chair, you will find some carvings. If you then examine the carvings, then examine the goblin, you see a goblin blowing a horn next to the dragon.

In a cellar under the inn (22)
Here there is an old coin that you need to give the little man in the swamp to buy the box with the hang-glider kit. If you examine the barrels you will find the pewter mug that you need to carry water for the bird-bath. There is also a short-cut here to the dragon's tunnels, but you need the lit candle to move safely. If you step into the dark, you can recover if you immediately return back the way you have come, otherwise you either fall in the dark or get killed by the dragon.

In a swamp (10)
There is a little man in the swamp who won't let you go past. You need to give him the coin from the cellar under the inn to buy the cardboard box containing the hang-glider kit. You need this to get down from the castle tower after you have the sword. Once you have bought the box you can get past the swamp. If you try to kill the man, he will just kill you instead. If you open the box and read the instruction sheet, it says 'Acme Hang-Glider Kit - all you need is a screwdriver'. If you build the hang-glider anywhere else but the top of the tower, it becomes too awkward to carry. The screwdriver breaks as you tighten the last screw, so you can't dismantle it.

Outside a cave (11)
This leads to the cave system where the dragon's lair can be found. You need the lit candle to go into the caves safely. If you go in without light, you can recover if you immediately return back the way you have come, though if you try to go in any other direction you will get lost in the caves and killed by the dragon, or else fall in the dark.

Beside a thatched cottage (12)

Inside the thatched cottage (24)
This is the Troll's cottage, which he has modified to trap any burglars and thieves (he is very security-conscious, as you will find if you talk to him). There is no way out of here without the magic lamp. The key to get into the castle door is hanging on a nail behind the door, where the Troll has placed it for safekeeping. If you examine the table, you will find a bunch of bananas (left by the Troll's mother) that are needed for the monkey in the castle tower. Rubbing the magic lamp will take you outside the cottage with whatever you are carrying, and return the lamp to the castle forge (where it can be re-used if needed). If you get stuck in the cottage without the lamp, RESCUE will return you back outside but replace the bananas and key in the cottage.

On a path in the forest (13)
There is an empty bird bath here. You need to fill the pewter mug with water from the lake and fill the bird bath. A bird comes down and drops a candle that you can use to move in the dark of the tunnels.

On a forest path by a tree stump (9)
If you examine the tree stump, you will find the matches you need to light the candle.

By a lake (8)
You need to collect water here in the old pewter mug from the inn cellar. The water is needed to fill the bird-bath. The water in the swamp is too dirty, and the sea-water is too salty. Amongst the reeds here you will find a sack containing a snake-charming flute, which you need to break the spell on the dragon. The flute cannot be played properly without first reading the instruction booklet, found at the top of the tower. This tells you how to use the flute to 'charm serpents and other dangerous reptiles, and to break enchantments'. Objects can be put into the sack, enabling more items to be carried at once. The program takes care of this automatically if the sack is carried.

At the south end of a road (7)
There is a signpost you can read to find the way to the castle.

At the north end of a road (6)
There is a signpost you can read to find the way to the castle.

In some wasteland near a castle (3)
There is a magic delivery bicycle here. If you try to ride it, it takes you to the dragon's lair, delivering you to the dragon, whizzing through the various locations on the way. The bicycle lamp comes on for a while so you can see your surroundings, but goes out shortly after the bicycle has entered the dragon's lair.

By a pebbled beach (4)
There is a parachute here. This has no use in the game, but if you try to use it to get down from the castle tower, it will not open in time and you will be killed.

By a forbidding castle (1)
To get into the castle you need the key from the little cottage. There is a silver bell here. You need to ring this to summon the Troll. He then appears somewhere on the road and wanders at random along the road and by the lake. If you meet him he will soon attack you and try to kill you, unless you either talk to him or kill him first with the sword. If you try to move away, he will follow wherever you go. You can run away to a location 2 places removed from where you are by typing RUN or ESCAPE, but you drop everything you are carrying as you go. The Troll will then continue to roam around, but he will not follow you unless you meet him again. If you talk to him, you may get extra information using phrases such as 'HELLO' and 'ASK TROLL ABOUT DRAGON' (or CASTLE, COTTAGE, BANANAS, INN, TREASURE, SELF, MAGIC, HORN, GIFTS etc), and you will find that he is looking for his silver bell. He will follow you around until you give it to him, then he will lend you his hunting horn in exchange. This is needed to open the secret door to the Dragon's treasure hoard. It is also possible to get the horn by killing the Troll with the sword, though this approach earns far fewer game points. If you try to kill the Troll after talking to him and befriending him, he will kill you with the club.

In the old castle forge (2)
There is a magic lamp here, with some writing on it, 'Merlin's Lamp Company - Alladin model'. If you rub the lamp, you will be transported to the outside of the little cottage, and the lamp returns to the forge, where it was found. You need the lamp to get out of the Troll's cottage. If you try to light the lamp with the matches, it will return to the forge.

In the castle hallway (23)
If you go up the stairs to the top of the tower, they collapse behind you and you can't get back down.

At the top of the castle tower (25)
As you go up to the top of the tower, the stairs collapse. There is a monkey here waving a sword. You need to get him to drop the sword by giving him the bananas or dropping them here. You also find the instruction booklet for the dragon-charming flute here, but the monkey will keep snatching it away from you until you give him the bananas. If the silver bell has been rung, the Troll can be glimpsed far away on the road looking for something (his bell). To get down from the tower, you need to make the hang-glider from the kit using the screwdriver, and then use it to get down to the wasteland near the castle. If you try to use the parachute, it will not open in time and you will be killed. You can also use the magic lamp to transport to the path by the cottage (earning fewer points). If you cannot carry everything you need when you go down from the tower, it is possible to THROW DOWN objects to the ground below. RESCUE will take you down to ground level, but without the sword and booklet.

Outside the ruins of a lighthouse (5)

In a room in the old lighthouse (19)
There is an old boot here. You need to tip or empty the boot to find the screwdriver. You need this to make the hang glider at the top of the tower.

In a secret passage (20)
This leads from the room in the lighthouse to the dragon's lair. The passage collapses behind you as you go, so the only way is forwards to the lair.

Deep in a damp cave (16)
You can get here either by entering the cave, or by going from the cellar under the inn.

In a great chamber in the rock (17)
This leads to the dragon's lair to the south.

The dragon's lair (18)
You get here from the great chamber in the cave system, by riding the magic delivery bicycle, or by going through the secret passage from the lighthouse. Here the dragon is asleep, and you wake it when you enter. It will soon attack you unless you do something to stop this happening - either by playing the pipe or by killing it first. It will spend a little time watching you while pretending to be asleep, giving you the opportunity to play the dragon-charming pipe. Once the spell on the dragon has been broken by the music, you can speak to the dragon and find out more of his story with phrases such as 'HELLO' and 'ASK DRAGON ABOUT TREASURE' (or SPELL, WIZARDS, GOBLINS, MEN, TROLL, GIFTS, WINGS, BELL etc). The spell broken, the dragon now has its freedom and will leave the land, and in return it gives you its gold, which you will have to find. It is also possible to kill the dragon with the enchanted sword, but, as with the Troll, this approach earns far fewer game points. If you try to kill it after playing the music and befriending it, it will quickly kill you instead - enchanted swords only work on enchanted dragons here. To find the treasure, you need to blow the Troll's ancient hunting horn to open the door to the hoard. There are some clues to help with this - amongst the bones in the lair is a glass bottle containing a parchment scroll. You have to break the bottle (which happens if you DROP it) to get the scroll and read it. The clue given is: 'Search the mountain inn with care, to find an answer lying there'. You need to go to the inn and examine the chair and its carvings to find the next clue, a carving of a goblin blowing the horn next to the dragon.

In the dragon's store (26)
The dragon's treasure hoard is here. You need to go in here to end the game.