Feel mighty muscles ripple beneath your armored flesh. Hear the wind rush by with each powerful flap of your scaled wings. Smell the fear-soaked sweat of your prey as it wafts up from the ground below. You are a dragon - majestic, invincible, supreme!
IMAGINE player characters of such fierce countenance and unstoppable power that only one setting can hold them!
IMAGINE having abilities of sweeping scope, breath weapons of deadly power, claws like long swords, teeth like daggers!
Council of Wyrms provides everything you need to create a campaign for dragon player characters. In addition, there are rules for creating elf, dwarf, and gnome "kindred" for your dragon, and details on two new character types: half-dragons and dragon slayers.
Inside you'll find:
- A 64-page Rules book packed full of rules for creating and playing dragon, kindred, and half-dragon player characters
- A 64-page Campaign book detailing a dragons' campaign and the legendary Council of Wyrms, revealing the secrets of dragonkind and outlining new player-character kits
- A 64-page Adventures book to challenge the strongest dragon characters
- 12 full-color reference cards
- 3 full-color posters, including a dragons' size-comparison chart, a map of the dragons' island homes, and a guide to the dragon clans.
Council of Wyrms (1994), by Bill Slavicsek, was a different sort of setting for AD&D Second Edition.
Origins. After finishing PHBR10: The Complete Book of Humanoids (1993), Bill Slavicsek was asked to design another monstrous supplement with the simple statement: "write something about dragons as PCs". Slavicsek wanted to design something that would fit into any campaign setting and that wouldn't unbalance those settings, so he came up with a "mini-campaign-world" centered on Io's Blood Isles and the dragons that lived there.
A Different Sort of Setting. In the first four years of AD&D 2e (1989-2000), TSR pushed hard on settings, releasing one every year, with the first four being Spelljammer (1989), Ravenloft: Realm of Terror (1990), Dark Sun (1991), and Al-Qadim (1992).
The designers took a break in 1993, but in 1994, they returned with more (and more varied) settings than ever before. A total of three different settings appeared in April and May that year, including: the fantasy-punk Planescape Campaign Setting (1994), a revamped Ravenloft Campaign Setting (1994), … and Council of Wyrms (1994).
Council of Wyrms was different than the many other D&D settings of 1994 because it was done-in-one: the entire setting was covered in one (large) boxed set, with no intention to ever expand it — something that the 2e era probably could have used more of. It's obvious that TSR didn't entirely know what to do with a one-off campaign supplement because they actually labeled it an "adventure". Later TSR would release a revamped version of the setting that was more aptly named a "campaign option".
Council of Wyrms was also different because TSR marketed it as something that could be used in any other setting, an idea that was subtly proclaimed by the "AD&D 2nd edition" boxed logo on the cover. Theoretically, a GM could drop Io's Blood Isles off the coast of his setting and have an instant council of wyrms. Of course the characters that were at the heart of Council were so different from run-of-the-mill D&D characters that a crossover would be somewhat more troublesome …
It's All About the Dragons. Dragons are, of course, half of the name of D&D, so they should be central to the game. Despite that, they were rarely featured in adventures in the hobby's earliest days — until Tracy Hickman came up with the Dragonlance epic (1984-1986) to spotlight the critters.
In the AD&D 2e era, things were a little better because dragons became more dangerous and because they got their first-ever sourcebook from TSR, FOR1: Draconomicon (1990). Then, Council of Wyrms actually let players take on the roles of dragons, in a setting all their own. It was a good time to be a dragon fan.
Besides the traditional chromatic and metallic dragons, Council of Wyrms also featured five gems dragons: amethyst, crystal, emerald, sapphire, and topaz. These neutral dragons had first appeared in The Dragon #37 (May 1980), but they'd only become an official part of AD&D with MC14: "Monstrous Compendium Fiend Folio Appendix" (1992). Now, just two years later, players could take on the roles of gem dragons as well.
Council of Wyrms also introduced the half-dragons, a race that became more important in the 3e era (2000-2008).
Ever Higher! In his review of Council of Wyrms, Rick Swan suggested that the setting was part of D&D players's ascent toward higher levels of power. And, he sort of has a point. Council of Wyrms fits right in between the high-level play of Dragon Kings (1992) and the empire-building play of Birthright Campaign Setting (1995) as a different sort of power gaming.
Expanding AD&D. Council of Wyrms may be most remarkable for how totally it reinvents D&D's basic mechanics. Fifteen different draconic races (plus three half-dragon races) create a bevy of new racial options, while kits like dragon-mage, dragon-priest, and dragon-psionicist help complete the characters.
Whoops! The "Sage Advice" in Dragon #208 (August 1994) addresses the problem of the eponymous draconic Councils. Though dragons must appear at the Councils within 15 days, their typical flying rate of 30 doesn't give them enough time to cross the Isles. The solution? Dragons are allowed to fly 20 hours a day without stops, rather than typical movement limit of 10 hours a day with stops. This lets them cross six hex on the Council of Wyrms map each day, rather than a bit more than 1 hex/day, as their movement rate would suggest.
Future History. Though Council of Wyrms was unsupplemented, several articles were written about it, including: "Dragon Slayers" in Dragon #205 (May 1994) by Bill Slavicsek; "Part Dragon, All Hero" in Dragon #206 (June 1994) by Roger E. Moore; "The Dragon Sage" in Dragon #207 (July 1994) again by Bill Slavicsek; and most of the "Sage Advice" in Dragon #211 (November 1994). A 6th-level adventure called "Sleeping Dragon" also appeared in Dungeon #48 (July/August 1994).
There was one other product related to the original Council. Somewhere around 1995, Ral Partha produced a set of 14 minutes labeled "Council of Wyrms". They were: a gold dragon, a red dragon, a bronze dragon, an amethyst dragon, a black dragon, a topaz dragon, a dracolich(!), a silver dragon, a blue dragon, an emerald dragon, a green dragon, a copper dragon, a brass dragon, and a sapphire dragon.
Five years later, the setting was slightly revamped and rereleased as Campaign Option: Council of Wyrms Setting (1999). This new edition appeared as a single hardcover in the black trade dress of the AD&D 2.5e revision. This positioned it in the same line as the "Player's Options" (1995-1996) like Player's Option: Combat & Tactics (1995) and the single "Dungeon Master Option", High-Level Campaigns (1995). Council of Wyrms was similarly the only "Campaign Option".
After the reprint, a few more Dragon articles appeared: "The Western Wyrms" in Dragon #263 (September 1999) by Charlie Martin and "Dragon Psionics" in Dragon #272 (June 2000) by Ed Bonny. Of all the Council articles, "The Western Wyrms" was probably the most notable because it provided rules for playing several additional AD&D 2e dragons: cloud dragons, deep dragons, mercury dragons, mist dragons, shadow dragons, steel dragons, and yellow dragons.
About the Creators. By 1994, Slavicsek had been writing for TSR for a few years, with his primary focus being the Dark Sun Line.. That year he also began work on Planescape with The Deva Spark (1994).
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.