The Draconic Challenges by Jac Colvin
Warning! Review may contain spoilers!
I’m not sure I could ever look after a dragon. I have found two kittens are a massively destructive force, so I cannot imagine a dragon to be much better. Or, on the other hand, much worse. Dragon training is the in thing at the moment. We have Avatar, Game of Thrones, How to Train your Dragon – The Draconic Challenges is like that. It is a gamebook in which you possess a dragon, bonded in a way that only death can break.
The intro sets up the scenario nicely, with you as the hero questing for a dragon egg. The rules section deals a few spoilers, giving you the rules for rolling dragon skills and assuming you already have a dragon. There is a nice range of stats. The usual contenders are here: health, speed, agiliy, strength. There’s also a stat for reputation, which is nice because it is a double edge sword. A large reputation will gift you adoring fans, yet fame will also spur your enemies on. This is a nice touch.
Stats are determined by the roll of a dice. I roll a 1 for both speed and endurance, which makes Ari in my world really fat. I can’t imagine this being a very successful adventure, but let’s carry on regardless.
You hold out your hand. He takes it in a firm grip cementing the agreement. “Great. I’ll leave you
to pack up your things. Do you know where I live?”
You nod, everyone knows where he resides.
“Good, I’ll see you both soon.”
My dice rolls improve. By an amazing stroke of luck, I manage to get hold of a beautiful golden dragon, the rarest of all dragon kind. The gamebook is a bit linear, in which you gain your dragon, meet a trainer, train it up and enter a competition. There’s no real deviation from this, these things will always happen, but you can go about it slightly different ways. The gamebook is stat heavy, with your choices increasing or decreasing your dragon skills. This is all leading up to the finale where your dragon stats are tested.
The writing is above average, although uninspired and comes across as a Saturday morning cartoon. The whole text needs a good editing. There are far too many missing commas, too many dots in ellipses and unnecessary words in sentences. There are long paragraphs without a choice where the hero/dragon relationship develops in uncontrollable ways, the dragon is annoying, and at times it does feel like Pokemon. But I did find there is an odd curiosity to this gamebook. I wanted to train my dragon and see what it could do. Maybe we could win the dragon race competition. Would it be possible? Even though I am fat?
The gamebook is short and ends just as it gets going really, which is unfortunate. There’s no real antagonist or plotline to speak of, so what we have is very light on story and game. It isn’t horrendous but desperately needs a bit of conflict thrown into the mix to lift the whole experience.