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"2e AD&D's Council of Wyrms: an oldie, but a goodie!" Topic

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©1994-2022 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2020 10:28 a.m. PST

So I found this book (originally printed as a boxed set) on an ad on the inside cover of one of my numerous 2e AD&D rulebooks. I was intrigued: I remember it, from back in the day (started playing 2e AD&D when it first came out, in 1989), but it never caught my interest, until now. I visited, to read about its history, and I was hooked!

I went to Amazon, to see what hardcopies were selling for (too much!), then I visited e-Bay, and I found a new copy, unused, for $50. USD Got it yesterday, and I've read quite a bit of it, already. I've been talking with my two sons about our gaming: I introduced them to 2e AD&D when they turned 13, allowing them to play in our family games. My three sons (eventually, after they all turned 13), and my wife, gamed together for several years; my sons are now 31, 32, and 34. Those wonderful days were amazing. We all had such a great time adventuring together. Two of my sons are still in town, and they game with me regularly. My oldest has moved away, so he is unable to game with us anymore. My wife stopped playing years ago, but she still has an interest in it. Usually, however, she is on babysitter duty with our local grandson, while his Daddy games with my regular group.

Enter the "Council of Wyrms" book… It is a unique setup. Players take on the role of a hatchling dragon -- yes, they literally hatch out of their eggs, in the first adventure, of four, listed in the book! They emerge to find their hatchery being raided by a band of Ogres! They must decide if they will fight, or be taken prisoner, fresh out of their egg shells. The other three adventures build upon the first adventure, climaxing with a raid on a Frost Giant lair, after the youngsters have matured a bit (spoiler alert: Drow are involved…).

The book comes complete with an island chain campaign setting, ruled by Dragons. It has a society constructed, which is designed to prevent all out wars between the various types of dragons. There is a map of the setting, which includes numerous islands, situated between two coastlines, on either side, one listed as Frost Giants' country, and the other listed as Fire Giants' country. It is really a full book: information on Dragon culture; Dragon types, and classes [PC (normal, classless Dragons), Priests, Mages, and Psionicists], combat, and so very much more!

I have always known that the 2e era of AD&D was the era of various, divergent, game settings -- too many for me, to be honest! But this one is like nothing else I've ever seen. I am hooked, I tell you.

While I have always included the Metallic, and the Chromatic Dragons in my games, since I started playing 1e AD&D, in 1980, I never cared for the Gem Dragons, which are variations of Neutral aligned Dragons. I just never saw a need for them, nor did I have a desire for them. If I am going to play Council of Wyrms, however, I need more player choices than Lawful Good/Evil, and Chaotic Good/Evil, to choose from. So, the Gem Dragons will be included in my game, for the very first time, ever.

I plan on running this Dragon PC game as a family-only game: I will DM, my wife, and two sons, will play Dragons. For Council of Wyrms, you do not need more than three to six players: Hatchlings emerge from their egg shells with 4-10 HD. This is 2e-based, so there are combat proficiencies, as well as non-weapon proficiencies.

Wizard Spell casting Dragons can get as many as two, Ninth Level spells, if they have an 18 Intelligence, and they survive to age category 12 (Ancient Huge Wyrm). For Priest Spell casting Dragons, they can gain up to 6th Level Spells.

The book is comprehensive. It covers everything you need to run a Dragon PC campaign, however, you will still need the core rulebooks: DMG, PHB, and the MM. It has a decent Table of Contents, however, there is no Index (Drat!… And… Double-Drat!), which is sorely needed. There are numerous tables which would be nice to have copies of, outside of the book. There are PC Record Sheets, in the back, specifically designed for Dragon PC's. You can also role play the races which serve the Dragons, as well as Half-Dragons, if you wish.

It has blown me away, as to what this book offers. The idea of playing a Dragon, with a class, no less, is phenomenally intriguing to me. I have a collection of Dragon figures, which rarely get table time. Now, I find myself needing more Dragon models, of various types, and various sizes, to represent the Dragon PC's at different age categories! I am going to need to find a friend with a 3D printer to help me print out a dozen, or more, Dragon models. I may have justification to buy a 3D printer, now. Hmmm…

Anyway, I just wanted to share with you how exciting the Council of Wyrms book is. It came out as a boxed set, but the hardback book has expanded the contents of the boxed set. I would recommend the book, over the box, for that reason.

The hardback book is available as a printable PDF, for $9.99 USD; the boxed set is also available as a PDF, for $9.99 USD. I found a new copy of the hardback book on e-Bay, for $50 USD+ shipping. I honestly believe it was worth every penny for the book! We are going to have sooo much fun with this! I will incorporate the setting of islands, into my existing campaign world, likely on the opposite hemisphere from where my regular campaign is taking place. This will assist me in keeping the two campaigns separate, as I really don't care to have the two cross over.

I will grant you that this is heavy power-gaming, but frankly, I don't care! The idea of playing a Dragon PC, is extremely exciting. I do not use Dragons in my regular campaign, very often. Per the 2e rules, they are incredibly powerful, and incredibly dangerous, for regular humans/humanoids to mess with, after they become adults, or older! This will give us a chance to play something very different, very exciting, and very new, for all of us, especially me, the DM. Cheers!

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian16 May 2020 1:38 p.m. PST

Sounds fascinating.

jamemurp18 May 2020 5:27 a.m. PST

Council of Wyrms is peak AD&D. We ran a campaign back when I was in high school in the 90s. It went about as well as you would expect (which is to say we spent waaay too much time rolling dice and eventually moved on). The dragons are all over the map in terms of abilities and power level, so good luck balancing anything (IIRC gold dragons are just flat out better than the rest, which is why the first adventure tells you to randomly roll your dragon type- balance through RNG!). Advancement is also pretty unwieldy (LOL at fractional increases in "non combat and combat proficiency" because "skills" and "whole numbers" are "too simple"). It's also a pain because different types can have wildly different numbers needed to advance (more "balance"). Their are also a lot of situations that can take the dragons out for months or years at a time, which is an odd mechanic when the gimmick is playing dragons.

It's a cool idea, but it is just such a *lovely* system that it would probably be better done with a different ruleset. As you point out, the only real appeal of keeping it in 2nd is the power level, which fades pretty quick compared to the tediousness of the system. But it could be good to shake things up a bit for a group that really loves their 2nd ed., I guess.

USAFpilot18 May 2020 9:52 a.m. PST

"Council of Wyrms", I wonder if that is a play on words from the council which took place in Worms Germany in 1521.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2020 1:55 p.m. PST

LOL! Wonder if TSR staff had a historian familiar with Dr. Martin Luther's plight, in Germany?… Cheers!

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2020 10:00 a.m. PST

I've done some additional reading of the book. I understand the issues making leveling up, complicated: earn enough XP, advance enough years to grow into the next age level, amass enough GP equal to the number of XP for you to advance… As written, it does seem a rules nightmare to track.

I learned, decades ago, to keep track of time, within the campaigns I run. Tracking the passage of time, is very important -- at least, within my games. I do not see a reason to not just track time, ignoring Dragon PC's XP's, to level up.

With regards to their demi-human alter ego's, I don't see a problem with them dying from old age, as their dragon masters advance in age categories. I see that as a role playing opportunity: they pass the torch to their offspring, raising their young to take their place when they expire.

I do see limiting the three support races to Elves, Dwarves, and Gnomes, objectionable, in my campaign. I long ago established that a Great Wyrm Black was worshiped by a tribe of Lizardmen, in his chosen swamp. That, to me, makes more sense. I will employ different humanoid races for the Chromatic Dragons than three Good-aligned races (which, to me, make zero sense…).

I really do not see where this system is too complex to be tweaked to work in a simpler manner. Been tweaking rules since I began playing 1e rules in 1980. If there are other issues, beyond those already discussed, please share. Thank you for your input, thus far. Cheers!

Albus Malum22 May 2020 7:43 p.m. PST

I hope you keep us informed on how this goes. Playing a dragon in a dragon based game sounds fun. Hope the actual playing of the game is as fun as it sounds. My experience is from playing occasional games of different systems, Teenage Ninja Mutant turtles, Ghost busters, StarWars, Traveler, Champions, James Bond, ShadowRun and on and on, they all sound fun, and they were for a very short period of time, ie very short, but I found, they just dont work.

Why? Because thy put to great of a workload upon the DM/GM. I would love to play it as a character, but, PLEASE… DO NOT ASK ME TO HAVE TO BE THE DM ( Guess I should Say GM) for any of those games.

But Really, I would love to be a Player Character in this game, ( or any of the above).

Please Return to this post and give us some updates.

PS.. I have a copy of Dangerous Journey's ( the RPG Gary Gygax wrote after they kicked him out of TSR.. It looks fun too!!!

Albus Malum22 May 2020 7:51 p.m. PST

Oh.. about that 3d printer… You really need one… No.. Two.. a FMD and a Resin, Hopefully I can fix my FDM printer this weekend, and figure out how to use the resin printer in the next week or so.. got to clean the garage first.

Sgt Slag, you really need to take the leap. FDM for dungeon tiles, Resin for mini's. but then, you won't have time to DM Council of Wyrms.

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