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Early Game (Levels 1-8)

The game of Dragon Warrior looks on the surface to be a very simple game, but actually there is quite a lot about this game that isn't apparent if you don't know anything about the game. Hence, I've decided to take you step by step through the process of playing this game.

General Hints

As you play through the game, you may want to follow these general guidelines:

  • Don't feel obligated to talk to everyone. This is a bit of sacrilege since the #1 rule in RPGs is to gather as much information as possible, but in this game you'll find that some people like to hide behind locked doors and damaging barriers. Besides, there are really only two things in this game that most players probably couldn't discover on their own: the locations of Erdrick's Armor and Erdrick's Token. The rest is pretty self-explanatory.
  • If you die, you lose half your Gold upon revival. If you reset the game instead, you lose whatever Gold AND Experience you racked up since your last save. Your best bet is to save before trying anything dangerous (going after Princess Gwaelin, heading for Cantlin for the first time, etc.), so that you can simply reset the game if you die, which drastically lessens the penalty for doing so. (Of course, once you've got the most powerful weapon and armor, there's little need for Gold anyway.)
  • The random number generators which this game operates on seem to be generating fixed random numbers without actual randomization. That means that if you performed the same action at the same time every time, you'll get the same result. This is primarily important when you're walking around; the more slowly you walk, the less likely you'll hit upon the number when an attack is triggered. So if you're hurting on HP and are a ways away from a town, your best bet is to slowly make your way to your destination.
  • You don't necessarily have to buy everything in the order of price, even though it might seem more convenient to do so. I've always put a premium on weapons first, since the more damage you dish out, the fewer attacks you'll have to fend off. For that reason, you'll want to hold off buying the Small Shield until you've got the Copper Sword, and you can choose not to spend the 1000 Gold on a Half Plate, since its added defense is somewhat paltry and you can get a Full Plate in Kol.

Having said all that, let's get started.

Levels 1 & 2

This is where you'll start your quest, here in the second floor of Tantegel Castle. You start off with absolutely nothing: no weapons, no armor, no items, no gold, and no experience. It's now up to you to raise your strength up to a point that you can storm Castle Charlock and slay the Dragonlord. This will take some time, but there's no time limit, so you have all the time in the world to make yourself strong enough to take on the big guy.
Obviously, before you go anywhere, you'll want to open the three treasure chests in the throne room. One chest gives you 120 Gold, another chest gives you a torch for later on, and a third chest gives you the most important item of all: a key to open the door to the first floor. Because without it, you'll be wandering around the throne room a loooooong time.
If you wander around the first floor of the castle, you'll notice that a couple doors are locked. They will remain that way for quite a while, so don't worry about them. You'll also run into this guy. Notice that after he speaks, the screen flashes momentarily. Get used to seeing this person, as he will help trim the amount of Gold you spend on Inns considerably.

Now that you're done in the castle for now, it's time to take a quick trip to Brecconary. (And if a Slime or Red Slime happens to catch you right now, run.)

You'll notice a building with a locked door near the north side of town. Again, you won't have keys to open these doors for a long time, but all that's sold in the building is Fairy Water anyway.

When you're at the weapons shop, you'll be confronted with a decision. Since you only have 120 gold, your purchases are limited to 3 options: Club and Clothes, Bamboo Pole and Leather Armor, or Bamboo Pole, Clothes, and Small Shield. The third combination will give you quite the headstart on your armor, but the limited attacking power of the Bamboo Pole means you'll have to spend more time on each enemy. Remember: the sooner you defeat a monster, the fewer attacks you'll have to defend. For this reason, the Club and Clothes is the best choice.

You'll be left with 40 Gold at this point, and while you may be tempted to buy an Herb with that money, doing so would be a tremendous waste of money. (Since Herbs restore at least 20 HP and you have only 15, that's at least 5 HP that don't get used.) Instead, hang on to the Gold for now and save it for the Leather Armor.

Now you're ready to go outside. For the time being, you'll want to just hang around the general area, defeating the Slimes and Red Slimes near the vicinity of the castle. If you move further north, you may run into some Drakees, but since they're much more powerful than Red Slimes and only give 1 more Experience point, they're more trouble than they're worth. When you have 70 Gold, head back to Brecconary and buy that Leather Armor. You'll get 10 Gold back for your Clothes, which will help on your way to the Copper Sword, which is your next purchase. (Remember, the Small Shield can wait until you upgrade your weapon.) Continue building experience until you reach Level 3.

Levels 3 & 4

Once you get to Level 3, you'll get the HEAL spell. (Unfortunately, it costs 4 MP to cast, and the level up only gives you enough MP to cast HEAL once before having to refill your MP.) This will be a huge turning point in the quest, because not only do you have the ability to restore HP while out and about, you've effectively put the Inns of the first three towns out of business. Why? Well, remember that old guy in the castle? That flashing screen that appears after he speaks means that he's been refilling your MP to its maximum. Only at that time, you had no spells, and hence no MP. Because of him, you can use the HEAL spell to replenish your HP entirely without having to stay at an Inn!
Reaching Level 3 will also expand your territory quite a bit. You can now take on Drakees without too much trouble, and maybe even go after a Ghost or two. (I'd keep my distance from the Magicians, though - the HURT spell can decimate you in a hurry.) This new area gives you enough space to reach the cave that's to the northwest of the castle. (Actually, it's in an area where Magicians can attack, but it's close enough to the border to be worth the risk.)
Go inside the cave, using the Torch given to you in the castle. This is a fairly straightforward cave with not a whole lot of dead ends, so you should be able to find your way through. Moreover, there are no enemies in this cave, so even if you get lost, you don't have to worry about monsters catching you off guard. In the second basement of the cave, you'll come across a treasure chest. Open it, and you'll find a tablet written by Erdrick himself regarding your prophetic quest. It seems that he's entrusted three items to three different wise men. Later you'll find that these items are the Staff of Rain, the Stones of Sunlight, and the Rainbow Drop. These items will be important to find, as they'll make the bridge that leads to Charlock Castle. That's all there is in this cave, so head back out and do some more leveling up.

Level 5

Once you reach level 5, you should be able to survive in the northwest corner of the kingdom. This means that you will have the strength to make it to Garinham, and with the more powerful enemies you'll find that your bank account should be growing at a faster rate than before. 180 Gold will be enough to buy you a Copper Sword, which will help speed up those battles in the early going. Once again, a door blocks your progress, and what it's hiding is the Grave of Garin, the minstrel who founded this town. Again, you're still a ways off from getting your first key, so don't lose sleep over this just yet.

Level 6

300 Gold is enough to get you the Chain Mail, which will boost your longevity out in the field. At this point, you should be strong enough to make the trek to Kol, the last of the towns in the northern half of the kingdom. While you're heading there, make sure you run away from any Skeletons you may encounter - they're the strongest enemy in the northern mainland, and until you get the SLEEP spell, they're out of your league.
Kol is a fairly small village, but does have its share of interests. For instance, here you'll be able to purchase the Full Plate armor, which will add considerably to your defenses. The most important item of interest, though, is the Fairy Flute. You won't need it for a while, but it doesn't hurt to pick it up right now and hang on to it. To retrieve the flute, head over to the bathhouse, and take four steps south. Select SEARCH, and the Fairy Flute should be at your feet. This item will prove crucial in mid-game.
Now it's time to do some more leveling up. I've found that the best place in this stage of the game to build experience and gold is this strip of mountains south of Tantegel castle. A enemy plotting bug means that you'll come across Ghosts, Magicians, Magidrakees and Scorpions very close to the castle. The great thing is, you can use the HEAL spell when your HP runs low, and head back to the castle when you need to refill your MP.

Levels 7 & 8

You'll be able to do quite a bit more exploring once you make it to Level 7. You'll pick up the SLEEP spell at this point, but sadly it isn't as useful to you as it is to the enemies you'll be facing later on. You will, however, have decent statistics in the HP and MP categories, and hopefully by now you'll have acquired the Hand Axe (at 560 GP), enough to do a little more exploring. If you go north at the castle, head west to the coastline, south across the bridge and then back east, you'll come across this cave opening. The Nintendo Power strategy guide called this the Fighter's Cave, but I have a more suitable name for it: the Treasure Trove.

Why do I call it that? Well, because inside there's a bounty of treasure waiting for you to glean it. Once you get the routine down for how to move around in the cave, you can pick up a large sum of Gold in a hurry. Make sure you bring a full compliment of 6 Herbs and one Torch, and you'll be set for a while. Inside the cave is another herb and another torch, so if you're strong enough and lucky enough to avoid taking too many major hits, this cave will prove quite the renewable resource.

There are two other treasure chests of note: one chest holds the Fighter's Ring. When used in battle, it sometimes persuades enemies to run away from you. I didn't use it that much, though, and it's hardly valuable - it only sells for 15 Gold. The other important chest is deep inside the second basement, and it adds at least 100 Gold to your stash with each visit. Moreover, there is a small chance that you'll find the Death Necklace. As the name implies, this isn't something you want to equip on yourself, but take it to the shop in Brecconary and you'll be well rewarded - it sells for a whopping 1200 Gold!

Feel free to make as many trips to the Treasure Trove as you deem necessary. Your next major leap won't be for a couple more levels.

Up next: The Mid-Game...

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