First Appearance: Dragon Quest (Enix, NES, 1986)
Distinguishing Feature: Looks remarkably similar to Dracula, including draconic secondary form
Strengths: Lives in a really deadly castle; Not afraid to appeal to your sense of greed; fire-based attacks
Weaknesses: Legendary artifacts

Profile by Nich Maragos? | February 27, 2011

The effectiveness of a villain can be best judged by looking at his plan. What is he trying to do, and how is he going about it? Dragon Warrior being one of the first console RPGs released in the West, it doesnít have a lot of chatter about the Dragonlordís schemes or dastardly deeds. You know heís evil, but apart from that, itís up to the player to look at the state of the world and deduce from there.

As a result, it can be hard to figure out exactly whatís so bad about the guy at first. Yes, heís kidnapped the Princess, which is literally the first thing you learn in the game. But other than that... he doesnít seem to have subjugated any towns or ruined any lives. When you travel to the more accessible towns of Brecconary, Garinham, or Kol, the people you talk to there donít have stories of woe from the Dragonlordís cruel campaign. They seem to be going about their lives as normal. What exactly is the Dragonlord trying to do?

Itís not until you reach the southern climes that you begin to see the effects of the Dragonlordís ravages. Hauksness is a ghost town, overrun by his terrible minions, and Cantlin and Rimuldar would probably share the same fate if they werenít so strongly defended. (Rimuldar is on an island in the center of a lake accessible only by a thin, easily-guarded strip of land, and Cantlin has a fearsome golem standing guard over the castle town.)

So the Dragonlordís plan to take over the world seems to be three-pronged:

  1. ) Kidnap the Princess. Check.
  2. ) Unleash monsters over the countryside. Check.

Part 1 and 2 are evil, to be sure, but theyíre really only there to ensure the success of Part 3: Neutralize the legendary hero whom he knows is waiting in the wings. Sitting back in Castle Charlock, biding his time for the playerís approach, isnít a failure of his scheme for world conquest -- itís a feature. If he took the offensive, leaving his stronghold to wage an active campaign against the northlands, heíd always be wondering in the back of his mind how close the mysterious hero would be to reaching his full strength and coming to take him down. But by indulging in some minor (by his standards) provocation, he can make the hero face him in his element, at the seat of his power.

Whatís more, by placing the worst of his foul army between the entrance of Castle Charlock and his throne, he can ensure that the hero, beaten and bloodied by struggles against Red Dragons and Starwyverns, will be weak enough to consider his offer, the linchpin of his plan. The Dragonlord suspects he canít win this fight, should it come to pass... but if he can convince the hero to join him, then thatís Part 3 checked and double-checked.

Thatís why the screen goes red should you accept the Dragonlordís offer of half the world. Not because the Dragonlord double-crosses you, or because it somehow results in your death. Itís because your combined might pitted against the rest of the worldís paltry resistance means the story is essentially over in that moment. Not a bad plan. And not a bad villain.

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