Normally when I do these sorts of posts, I try to spotlight games that are slightly obscure, well crafted, or try to do something different from the rest of the pack. And while Legend of the Red Dragon may be rather obscure nowadays, it certainly wasn't back when it first released. Nor does LoRD do anything really special or exciting, and there is only so much you can gather from the sparse text descriptions and ANSI graphics. However, what makes LoRD important as a game is how the concepts found within it were worked into other games down the line.
Legend of the Red Dragon is a text based RPG and was played by dialing into a BBS. If you have no clue what a BBS is, then congratulations on being born in the 90's. Aside from offering chat, the latest in shareware downloads, and message boards-- which were all local for the most part, very few bulletin boards had the resources to go national -- there were also simple games that could be played by the users, called Door Games. It's like I'm really there!
Since BBSes were usually accessed using some sort of terminal software over a phone line, there was no way to display hi-res graphics, or have complex battle systems or anything we take for granted nowadays. LoRD was your typical RPG. You start a character with nothing but a stick and the clothes on your back, and head into town, hearing rumors that the Red Dragon has reappeared. Each day you were allowed a certain number of Forest Fights, which you would use to battle monsters, gain Exp and gold, and possibly run into special events. If this sounds familiar, it's most likely because you've played Kingdom of Loathing, which uses a very similar system with its Adventures.
When in combat, your options were to either attack, run, or use one of your special skills. Upon starting the game you are asked your preference, and can basically choose to become a Warrior, Mage, or Rogue, each with their own set of skills. After you gain a set amount of experience, you return to town, challenge your current master to a battle, and upon winning reach the next level. And so, as time went on, you would slowly continue on your way until reaching Level 12.
At level 12, a new option appears in the woods, to search for the Red Dragon itself. This was a difficult fight depending on how well prepared, and how lucky you ended up being, and upon defeating the dragon, your name would be announced in the news, and your character would be reverted to Lv 1 once again, albeit with a shiny new title. Thus the cycle would continue.
Aside from the normal game however, there was a barmaid or bard to seduce and possibly marry depending on your gender, a PvP system for fighting those who had gone to sleep in the fields, and possibly the best thing about LoRD, The Other Places. When LoRD was written, the author made it possible for people to write their own modules that could be added on, using the stats and information from a LoRD character in brand new adventures that could even tie in with the main game. Thus did my character end up visiting the Death Star and buying a lightsaber from a vending machine, adopting countless orphans from the Orphanage Across the Tracks, fight gladiators for gold and glory in The Arena, bet on horse races at the Racetrack along with countless other adventures.
Unfortunately, it has gotten difficult in recent years to find anyone with a decent copy of LoRD, much less one with a lot of the great extra modules. The original creator does not own the rights to the game anymore, and it is still sold as BBS software, despite the lack of popularity of bulletin boards in this day and age. Retrograde BBS is still running, although now as a telnet-accessible bbs at rgbbs.org. Aside from that, however, is a web-based fan project, based on the original game with countless additions and enhancements, Legend of the Green Dragon
. LoGD is even licensed under Creative Commons, and it is possible to get the source code for free in order to modify it and run your own version of the game if you'd like. So in theory, yes. You could create "Legend of the Green Robot" if you had the time and determination, along with a web server to run it.
In the end, LoRD was a game that had everything going for it back when technology was more limited, and is a great glimpse at how far we've come in online RPG territory in just the last 15 years.