Legend of the Red Dragon (LORD) is a text-based role-playing door game, released in 1989 by Robinson Technologies. LORD is one of the best known door games. The player's goal is to improve his or her skills in order to defeat the Red Dragon which has been attacking the village. The software is compatible with DOS, Microsoft Windows, and OS/2.
LORD was created by Seth Robinson of Robinson Technologies and is currently maintained by Michael Preslar. Robinson began to write LORD in Pascal to run on his BBS. As he did not have access to other door games such as Trade Wars, he needed something that would occasionally bring people back to the BBS. The first version of LORD only featured the chatting and flirting systems. Over time, Robinson incorporated features that he had seen work well in other games: for example, the restricted number of turns per day, and the concept of random events, came from a futuristic casino game. Eventually LORD became a mixture of action and romance.
Initially only intended to run on his own BBS, Robinson eventually received offers from users who wanted to run it on other systems. After the first sale, word-of-mouth advertising increased its popularity.
LORD was a successful game, and by 1993 many BBSs had active communities of players. The game was played around the world in places like the Philippines. Over the next few years, MUDs began to overtake BBS door games as the multiplayer online format of choice, and in 1998 Robinson sold the game and its sequel to Metropolis Gameport. He went on to write other small games for PC and mobile platforms. His final release of LORD was version 4.00a.
Metropolis Gameport contracted Michael Preslar on January 8, 2001, to continue the game's development. The most recent version of LORD (4.08) was released in 2009 (via the DOSEMU patch archive). According to Preslar, further updates to the LORD software are planned, including a web application and versions for ELF-compatible Linux and Unix systems (completed but available only to beta testers).
The premise of LORD is that a red dragon is wreaking havoc in a town where the player has recently arrived. Multiple players compete over a period of weeks to advance their skills and to kill the dragon. In order to achieve this goal, players must face combat to gain experience. Once they have gained enough experience, they must face their master at Turgon's Warrior Training and advance in skill level. Advancement presents stronger enemies and masters; a player must reach level 12, the final level, before challenging Turgon himself and attacking the dragon.
Players select a character class, choosing from among Death Knight Skills, Mystical Skills, and Thieving Skills. While a player is training in a particular skill, s/he is subject to random events in the woods for that particular skill, which provide opportunities for advancement. Eventually, players may master all three skills.
Players can take a certain number of actions every day. Actions could be to fight monsters in the forest, attack other players or to attempt to slay the Red Dragon itself. In addition, every day a player can send a "flirt" to another player character which may range from a shy wink, to sex, to a marriage proposal. Sex may result in contracting sexually transmitted diseases, and female characters might become pregnant.
There are three NPCs located at the inn: Seth Able the bard, Violet the barmaid, and an unnamed bartender. Seth Able the bard will sing a song for a player. Once a day, players can listen to Seth's song and receive a bonus, such as the doubling of one's bank account, or additional forest or player vs. player fight opportunities. The bartender provides services and information to any warrior who can pay him in gold or gems, but provides nothing for free.
Male players can flirt with Violet, and female players with Seth Able (named after Robinson), in a fashion similar to flirting with other players.  Success is based on the player's charm points. A marriage to Violet or Seth may last one day or two months or more; unlike player-player marriages, the software may terminate these bonds at any time. During marriage, offspring are possible, and these bring sometimes surprising benefits to warriors.
LORD allows many players to play simultaneously on multi-node BBSes. This allows real-time player-versus-player battles.
LORD features several in-game public message boards, as well as a limited electronic mail system, which players can use to communicate. Players also may use the mail system to send flirtations to other players of the opposite sex, propose trysts, or propose marriage.
In unregistered games of LORD, players cannot advance beyond level 6. Crippling this feature encouraged users to ask sysops to register the program. Sometimes users would even send donations to the sysop for that purpose.
In-game modules (IGMs) are small software extensions written by third-party developers that add functionality to LORD. A number of these were created and widely distributed. IGM software was first developed on the Amiga, and then ported to MS-DOS.
Some IGMs were written to allow a "cheating" style of game play, and others have presented bugs or loopholes to be exploited by players.
The current maintainer of the LORD software, has introduced a scripting language called Lady in order to allow smoother development of game extensions.
In Gamasutra's essay on the history of computer role-playing video games, LORD was considered to be a highly playable and memorable game, with colorful text and humor. The Escapist magazine highlighted the way LORD handled sexuality, which became more mature as Robinson developed the game over the years.
Ports and sequels
Robinson developed an official sequel, Legend of the Red Dragon II: New World, in 1992. It featured real-time multiplayer gameplay, with ANSI art graphics, in a Rogue-like top-down view. LORD II's final release came in 1998, before its sale to Metropolis Gameport.
The first LORD spin-off, Tournament LORD, was written by Robinson. It was a multiplayer version designed for the MBBS/Worldgroup BBS systems.
The second port was Wildcat Tournament Legend of the Red Dragon (WT-LORD), a multi-player version created for Wildcat! BBS systems, written by Joe Marcelletti and Allan Benjamin. Robinson was impressed with this port and used some of its features in later releases of LORD. It was maintained by IceRage Technologies but is now freeware and no longer developed or supported.
Legend of the Green Dragon
Legend of the Green Dragon is a web-based variation. Legend of the Green Dragon (also referred to as LotGD) is an open source game that allows any aspiring web developer to customize and create their own version of the game using the PHP language.
- Barton, Matt. "The History of Computer Role-Playing Games Part 2: The Golden Age (1985-1993)". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 2012-01-04. http://web.archive.org/web/20120104000250/http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20070223b/barton_09.shtml. Retrieved 2009-07-17.
- Marks, Robert B. (29 Jul 2008). "Sex and Dragon Slaying". The Escapist. http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_160/5093-Sex-and-Dragon-Slaying. Retrieved 2009-07-17.
- Lasay, Fátima (2004). "No Carrier and Other Stories from Philippine BBS Culture". Read_Me: Software Art & Cultures: 49. ISBN 8798844040. http://art.runme.org/1107809605-10625-0/lasay.pdf. "However, what made 'Digiteer' quite popular was the door game. ... We also made images and absurd stories based on the door game 'Legend of the Red Dragon' ..."
- Joe, DeRouen (May 1996). ""Online BBS Gaming: Still alive and kicking"". Computer Currents (Computer Currents Publishing Corp). ISSN 1090-7572. Archived from the original on 1996-05-17. http://web.archive.org/web/19960517170439/http://currents.net/magazine/backiss/archart.html?onlc0807. Retrieved 2013-08-27.