Recently I played my usual once a month or so game, with my main co-player, my wife, who is mostly a casual player; doesn't have quite the adoration for all things Talisman. At any rate, we'd been discussing Dragon scales and whether or not to slow their accumulation down. Here's what we decided, partially based on another poster's experience.
First we decided that NO scales could be collected by any would be Dragon King - the game starts with no OverLord - until, the first Dragon is encountered through an Adventure (or Dungeons, Highlands) card. Once that happens, the first Dragon's presence makes the 3 Lordlings take notice of the Realm of Talisman.
From this point, scales are pulled each turn as in the normal game, but it now takes 5 scales to Crown the first Dragon (and all subsequent) Lord(s).
Because this delays the presence of Dragon scales, cards etc in the game, whatever player pulls the scale that crowns the first Lord, must pull and enoucnter that Dragon's deck.
** Our game has me as the Necromancer and her as the Dragon Rider. It took much longer, many turns, before one of us turned up a Dragon. It was from the Highland deck. Eventually a Lord was crowned, Grillipus. The game lasted a while and was mostly interesting. She strengthened easier than me but eventually we came closer in levels. She cast the Lycanthrope spell on me and I became empowered - something she hadn't thought out I guess.
But we ended up conceding the game as a tie, because we were pretty evenly matched, though more complementary to each other, she had more objects and things to help carry them, I had more Followers with strong abilities. I had Colossus and used him to destroy a place she wanted to land on and I later used a destroy all cards in the Region type spell, which further enraged her (thats whey she turned me hairy). But we couldn't get quite strong enough for either of us to try the Portal. One of us lacked a Talisman, too, at that time. So we agreed to quit.
Other elements in play; did not use Dragon realm board, but used scales and cards. Used Day/Night changes with Blood Moon, used a hidden alternate ending. Since we conceded I looked at it and it was the Demon Lord. I think this game had balance, but will probably use the Dragon Realm in the future *with* a hidden alt ending (seems odd having, say, Ice Queen, up on the Crown with all those Dragons, though)
** In the future we are considering a Blood Moon house rule; The Werewolf does NOT move unless it is Night, when a '1' is roled.