Council of Wyrms (1994)

Council of Wyrms (1994) is a D&D campaign setting that ponders the question, “What if dungeons WITH dragons?”

This is a unique campaign setting, a string of islands where dragons of all kinds (metallic, chromatic and gemstone) live apart from the world. In the past, they warred ceaselessly on each other, but recently they have founded a sort of democracy (the titular council, which I can’t help but read as making fun of the 1521 Diet of Worms in some inscrutable way). They did this in order to deal with the incursion of pesky human dragonslayers who were systematically eradicating them (there is also maybe some unintentional metaphor regarding the idea of external enemies being necessary for social stability, but maybe I am reading in too much).

Players take the role of dragons! They can also be half-dragons, or the servitors of dragons, but why would you do that when you can play a dragon? This arrangement reminds me of a sort of summer blockbuster version of Ars Magica for some reason.

Dragons! It really is a mind-boggling thing to realize it took two decades before someone came up with the idea of actually playing the dragons (that someone was Bill Slavicsek, who previously work on the West End Games Star Wars RPG, a fact that brings a lot of context to this project, I think). I have to say, the rules for playing dragons are suitably muscular. I suspect this flavor of D&D is extremely cathartic and freeing. At least for a while. Staying power aside, this is a richly realized box set, which was a surprise when I actually sat down to sift through it — I always thought on some level that it was an elaborate practical joke.

Perhaps realizing this sort of high-powered play would rapidly loose its charm, this was the only Council of Wyrms product, one of very few stand-alone products in the 2e era. It was released later as a hardcover “campaign option,” but that is essentially the same material.

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