Council of Wyrms
AD&D® Campaign Setting
[sterling]17.99 - Box Set
For those of you whose gaming ego has got the better of them, TSR
proudly presents a campaign setting where you get to play Dragons. No, I'm
quite serious. You actually get to play a Dragon - including the big teeth,
wings, claws and awesome Listermint-proof breath! Set on the rather
inanely titled Io's Blood Isles the PCs take the role of fledgling
Dragons (from the crystal, and metallic ranges - sorry no Chromatic types,
these are only available as NPCs, and rightly so) or Dragon kindred and
Half-Dragons(!). But why any self respecting AD&D player would want
to choose to play kindred or a half-Dragon over one of the mighty beasts is
beyond me, but then I guess it takes all kinds.
For eighteen pounds you get three books, 12 heavy stock table and picture
(backed with character sheet) cards, and three large fold out sheets. The
sheets contain a map of the campaign area, a detailed clan structure of the
island dwellers and a Dragon size scale, something that brought home to me the
sheer size of these creatures and the stupidity of finding them down a dungeon.
Which, by way of coincidence, brings the whole idea of a Dragon campaign into
perspective. These creatures are huge, and although I don't usually dwell too
much on ecology in a fantasy world, looking at some of the diets of these
creatures they should have died of starvation several millennia ago. Each of
the Dragon kin live on several islands - how long do you think it would take to
strip the area of available food sources by a sizeable creature? Not long, I
can tell you.
Book One deals with the rulings of playing the mighty creatures. Dragon PCs are
created the same way one would create a normal AD&D player character
and thus become just another 'class' for the AD&D game with a few
extra limbs and special powers. All the tables necessary for character creation
are muttered in the right direction and background is aplenty to give guidance
to the fledgling Dragon player fresh from the egg. The rest of the book is just
a grouping and expansion of material found in various Monstrous Compendium
entries that have appeared over the years.
The campaign booklet is a little on the thin side. I'm not sure what plans
TSR have for this campaign setting, but if it's anything like the
current trend (Masque of the Red Death for example), this box set will
be a one off. Which is a shame - Io's Blood Isles are so poorly detailed
that you never get a real feel for the atmosphere of the place and it's though
they have been used as a coat hook to just hang the Dragon campaign on.
Most of this volume consists of the Dragon clans and the society - which could
be placed in any campaign setting and so makes this the most valuable book in
the set. As with any other character class kits are provided for Dragons - now
this attracted my attention and notes were quickly made. But then I thought,
"Dragon-Priests and Dragon-Mages, aren't they just like Human-Priests and
Human-Mages but a little bigger with crucial breath?" well, yes - and if you
want to include these creatures in your campaign, get a Dragon and just add
spells, no need to lash out [sterling]18.00. The other demi-human and human
kits, Dragon Slayer, ward, exile, and Dragon Rider, are all sufficiently
limp-wristed to be of interest as player characters.
Adventures is the Grande finale - it better be good. The first adventure sees
the new Dragon PCs still wobbling about in the egg. Entitled "Not the Draca"
it's basically a raid on the egg store by humanoids with a taste of the
best things in life and Dragon meat. The whole thing occurs as the PC Dragons
begin to hatch and the plot does not do justice to the television series from
which its title is taken (the wonderful "Dinosaurs") and if the PCs don't act
fast it could be a "well, is that it?" type of campaign.
There are three more adventures in the booklet and each takes the young Dragons
further on in their careers as adventurers and the DMTM is
advised to expand on each of them to flesh out the adventure and make it more
enjoyable. I'm sorry, but if I'd just paid the best part of [sterling]20.00 I'd
expect a little more than that, especially when you consider that the
adventures could be undertaken by any party of humans or demi-humans.
The only thing that really peaked my interest in this box (apart from the
Dragon size chart) was the material on Dragon Clan structure. Now this, I
thought, I can actually use in my campaign. Dragons have been with AD&D
since the beginning (what did you think the second "D" stood for) and nothing
has really been done to bring the creature out of the primeval ooze - with this
statement I am totally dismissing the whole of the Dragonlance campaign
setting which was purely a marketing exercise implemented at a time when people
thought Dragons were cute.
Overall: I'll definitely be putting a fair bit information found in Council
of Wyrms to use in my own campaign. I won't, however, be making use of the
Io's Blood setting, and I will certainly not be letting my players take
the roll of Dragons - what will they want next? Tarrasque Thief Acrobat PCs?
I feel that this boxed set is going to work best in an already established
AD&D campaign setting (such as the Forgotten Realms), and
the various Dragon clans should be given their own hidden niches for PCs to
discover and interact with. If you've ever considered running a campaign based
on the Anne McAfferey Pern series of books, then this could be a major
help (along with the Atlas of Pern, illustrated by the talented Karen
Wynn-Fostead), but, as an overall campaign setting, Council of Wyrms
is certainly not worth the [sterling]18.00 asking price.
Review by Stig
Product supplied by TSR UK Ltd.