Friday, December 11, 2015

Council of Wyrms: Aging, Treasure Hoards, and Feats

In this entry, I'll cover a miscellany of conversion material for dragon player characters. Firstly, a few bits of errata based on feedback from comments and messages across social media.

I have rethought my stance on the draconic bloodline dragon sorcerer. While I initially thought it redundant, some great points were raised about how it could be a fun roleplaying hook. As such, the sorcerer entry is revised as follows:

Dragons may select any sorcerer archetype they desire. However, special roleplaying considerations may need to be made for dragons who choose the Draconic bloodline option. Are they the scion of a particularly legendary wyrm? Are they somehow imbued with the power of another breed? Great concern and comment may shadow the dragon sorcerer if the latter is true.

Yes, a chromatic dragon with a metallic ancestor could cause more than a little bit of a stink in their clan circles, but what's a roleplaying game without non-combat conflict?

As it relates to warlocks, I neglected to put in a caveat to Pact of the Blade. I think you *might* be able to make it work with some modifications, but by and large a path that gives you a discreet weapon with attacks that utilize it doesn't really work with dragon physiology. The AD&D Council of Wyrms had wing spurs and tail maces as "weapons", but they were of questionable usefulness and required special proficiencies to take.

So while I would probably disallow a Pact of the Blade warlock in my own games, you could easily make it function by having a dragon warlock who selects Pact of the Blade use some other form of the pact weapon and adjudicate accordingly.

I've also moved the acquired immunity to energy types away from the fighting styles and into a racial feat, which I'll describe below. That way, any dragon can pick it up if they want to spend the feat. That was my bad.

Finally, I had some confused terms in my earlier entries as it relates to "kindred" and the proper term of "vassal". Kindred are specific references to bonded allies, whereas vassals are what dragons refer to lesser beings as in regular conversation. The term kindred has a particular connotation that was in error, so the final copy of my conversion will reflect this change.

Okay, that's it for errata. Next, I'd like to dive into what aging does for dragons.

Dragons tend to be stronger, tougher, and smarter than most mortal races starting out. Their racial ability score bonuses are wildly beyond the scope of standard player characters and their ceilings are much higher as well.

A standard Player’s Handbook character has a natural upper limit of 20 for an ability score. For dragons, this limit increases as the dragon’s age category improves. A starting dragon character is considered a wyrmling, and their ability score maximum is the standard 20. When a dragon achieves the young age category, their limit increases to 22. Adult dragons increase this yet further to 25. Finally, the mighty ancient wyrms have an ability score limit of 30.


Newborn dragons are still powerful creatures. Wyrmlings emerge from their shells with impressive physical prowess and knowledge imparted to them both through their innate magical nature and through the murmurings of their egg caretakers. A wyrmling dragon can be anywhere from the size of an average dog (such as in the case of crystal dragons, the smallest breed) to that of a full grown half-orc (red dragons are born the largest of all wyrms, even outpacing golds for a time).

All wyrmling dragons are Medium sized creatures, except for crystal dragons, who begin play as Small creatures. Their exact dimensions are up to the player to determine within this boundary, though dragon tails are rarely longer than their body length and wingspan is usually as broad as the dragon’s whole length (body and tail).

Wyrmlings have practically no influence in dragon society. They are rarely accorded the status due to them save by vassal races, and parentage is almost never taken into account. The duty of a wyrmling is to watch and learn from its betters, performing small tasks as clan or Council mandates, and prepare for advancement through society as the years pass.

The dragon’s physiology and limitations prevent it from advancing beyond 5th level throughout its wyrmling stage. Experience may continue to accrue as it is earned (at the Dungeon Master’s indulgence), but no wyrmling may advance to 6th level or beyond.

A wyrmling remains such until its thirtieth year of life, at which time it enters a dragon sleep within its lair. During this dragon sleep, the dragon bonds with its hoard and its territory, drawing supernatural strength from the land and the ambient magic of its treasures. At the end of this dragon sleep, which lasts no less than six months, the wyrmling emerges as a young dragon.


At this point, the young dragon grows to Large size (or Medium, for crystal dragons) and its physical attacks become more formidable. All ability scores increase by one point, up to their new maximums. The dragon gains 30 maximum hit points as well as one additional point of AC. Young dragons are accorded only slightly more respect than wyrmlings, but have begun to learn and perform at a level where they can be of better assistance to clan and Council.

When dragons muster to war, most of those who fight are young dragons, under the command of adults. They are strong enough to do battle with the dragons’ usual enemies, but are never spent frivolously (save in the chromatic clans, who know that the weak are expendable). Young dragons are most easily compared to an “adventurer” caste among vassal races, and frequently interact with them as they go about their duties.

All dragons of this age are expected to leave the nests and aeries of their birth and found a lair of their own, usually within their clan’s territory -- though stewards and aides of the Council are often given a lair within the Council Aerie itself while they conduct their duties.

A young dragon cannot advance beyond 10th level in their chosen class. Experience may continue to accrue as above with wyrmlings (and pending Dungeon Master approval), but no young dragon may advance to 11th level or beyond.

Young dragons that reach their two hundredth year once again sink into dragon sleep, bonding with hoard and land to grow stronger. At the end of one year’s sleep, the dragon emerges as an adult.


Dragons of adult status truly come into their own, gaining status and power as befits the mightiest creatures in the world. Adult dragons grow to Huge size (Large for crystal dragons) and their ability scores increase yet again by one point, up to their new maximums. The dragon gains an additional 30 maximum hit points as well as one additional point of AC.

The Council employs adult dragons to conduct special missions, act as envoys for important diplomatic endeavors, and battle dangerous threats to dragon society -- even going so far as to pit them against the feared dragonslayers. Vassals begin to settle around the territory of an adult dragon, should their presence be tolerated, and consider that dragon their lord -- subordinate to the clan leadership, of course.

Adult dragons often control large swaths of territory and negotiate treaties (or subjugate, in the case of the chromatics) with local tribes of vassal or monster races. In this way, the dragon’s influence grows.

An adult dragon cannot advance beyond 15th level in their chosen class. Experience may continue to accrue as above (and pending Dungeon Master approval), but no adult dragon may advance to 16th level or beyond.

Adult dragons remain so a very long time and are not called to dragon sleep again until their seven hundredth year. The dragon will once again enter dragon sleep and emerge one year later as an ancient dragon.


Unfathomably powerful compared to most creatures, the ancient wyrms are the greatest of dragonkind, for whom the passing centuries brings only greater might. Ancient dragons -- and only ancient dragons -- qualify for seats on the Council of Wyrms itself, helping shape policy and peace for the generations ahead.

Ancient dragons increase in size to Gargantuan (or Huge, for crystal dragons) and gain one final point in all ability scores, up to their new maximums. Finally, they gain an additional 50 maximum hit points as well as two additional points of AC.

When ancient dragons are dispatched by the Council, it is for a truly monumental purpose, such as the summoning of clan heads for a moot or to vanquish a truly terrible opponent, such as a giant king and his army. Even ancient dragons have been taught caution when facing a force of human dragonslayers, however. History remembers all too well how the dragons’ arrogance was their downfall.

Ancient dragons may advance up to maximum level in their chosen class. There is no category beyond ancient.

Why the Level Caps?

Some might ask about the level limitations of age categories and why they should wait literal centuries before being able to advance to the height of their power. Unlike vassal races. dragons really do have all the time in the world. They may be strong, intelligent, or charming, but there's a limit to what they can do when they are immature representatives of their species.

Dragons experience time differently than most races. For them, a short holiday might be a year or two on a dwarf's calendar, while a long quest to achieve a goal could take decades. Draconic memories are sharp and they won't easily forget people they dealt with years ago, though as the dragon matures they might be less surprised when they find their contacts old and gray the next time they see them.

As such, most campaigns for the Council of Wyrms game take place on a larger, more stretched-out time scale. That is not to say that dragons ignore imminent threats and can have circles run around them by those who live day to day, but when considering a danger, dragons take the long view. Immediate action may not be prudent or even necessary. This certain degree of aloofness (or the sense that a dragon is ignoring a situation entirely) might chafe vassal races and especially irritates humans and goblinoids who deal with dragons.

Treasure Hoards and Dragons

Dragons hoard treasure not simply because it pleases them to look at it, to collect it, and to feel it trickle between their claws and scales as they rest atop its glimmering beauty. To a dragon, a hoard is an integral part of its supernatural physiology, if such a term can be called accurate, and a dragon that fails to accrue sufficient treasure for its hoard (or has its treasures stolen by thieves) finds itself stunted and weak compared to its peers.

In game terms, a dragon must have at least as many gold pieces worth of treasure in its hoard as it requires for experience points to reach its current level. This value is known as its bonded hoard. A hoard can only be counted if it is treasure kept within the dragon’s current lair, wherever that lair lies from the dragon’s current location -- a dragon cannot keep its bonded hoard distributed throughout multiple lairs. Any additional treasure is referred to as the dragon’s accumulating hoard.

Treasure can be converted from accumulated to bonded when the dragon completes a long rest within the confines of its lair while the respective values of treasure are present. For that reason, most dragons will return to their lairs after gaining a level or large sum of treasure in order to rest and bond with their hoard once more. The bonded hoard can never be larger than the minimum value required for the dragon to be its level.

If a dragon loses any amount from its bonded hoard, it begins to weaken and may eventually die if the hoard is not replaced or recovered. Dragons are ferociously protective of their hoards not only because it is a theft of their property, but because it can kill them if left unanswered.

For as long as the dragon’s bonded hoard is depleted, it gains ever increasing exhaustion that cannot be removed by a long rest or any magical effect. The magnitude and rate of this exhaustion is contingent on how much of the hoard is missing.

% Bonded Hoard Missing
Time Period Per Exhaustion Level
One Year
25% to 50%
One Month
50% to 75%
One Week
75% or more
One Day

For example, Agkaras the silver dragon paladin is level three. Her bonded hoard must always contain 900 gold pieces worth of treasure, or she begins to suffer exhaustion. One day, a pack of ogres slaughters her vassal guards and makes off with 500 gold pieces worth of treasure before they are chased out. Each week, Agkaras suffers one level of exhaustion until she can replenish the lost value. After six weeks, if Agkaras has not staved off the loss somehow, she will die.


Finally, I've created a small selection of feats that require being a dragon to take. This is not to preclude dragons from taking feats from the Player's Handbook, but many are of suspect or no use at all (such as all the weapon and armor feats).

Assume Vassal Form

Prerequisite: You must be a gold, silver, or bronze dragon of adult or ancient age.

As an action, you may transform into a dwarf, elf, or gnome and remain in that form for up to one hour. You may return to dragon form as a bonus action on your turn. While transformed, you do not benefit from your natural armor class and cannot use your natural attacks or your breath weapon, but you may cast any spells you have prepared or use class powers, within their usual restrictions. You retain your ability scores in this form and may wield weapons or wear armor, but are not proficient in either.

The exact features of your vassal form are yours to determine and remain the same between uses of this ability, but many have a shock of hair color, skin tone, or iris hue that betrays their true nature. With Dungeon Master permission, you may be able to adopt other forms so long as they are humanoid and of Small or Medium size.

You may not use this ability again until you complete a short rest.

Special: Traditionally, only gold, silver, and bronze dragons are known for adopting these forms and are the typical parentage for half-dragons. With Dungeon Master permission, any dragon may take this feat.

Deep Breath

The dragon may use their breath weapon an additional time before requiring a short rest.

Draconic Senses

You have learned to harness your keen dragon senses at their full potential. You gain blindslight out to 20 feet.

Improved Resilience

Your Constitution score increases by 1 and you become immune to the effects to which your breed is resistant. For example, red dragons become immune to fire, while sapphire dragons become immune to fear and the paralyzed or restrained conditions.

Iron Scales

Your dragon scales racial trait improves, granting you an AC of 15. You cannot benefit from more than two points of Dexterity modifier to your AC.


The dragon adopts a kindredbond, which is a member of one of the three vassal races (dwarf, elf, and gnome). This character is created as one would create a standard member of the respective race and class the player desires. The alignment of the kindredbond is always the same as its dragon, and the level of the kindredbond is always three less than the level of the dragon to which it is bonded.

A kindredbond is tied to their dragon, usually acclimated to the dragon’s presence around the time of its hatching until it is ready for be accepted by the dragon when it takes this feat. The dragon and the kindredbond participate in a special ceremony overseen by a representative of the Council of Wyrms or its clan, and at the end of the ceremony the two are bonded.

This bond is metaphysical and carries no connotations other than servitude of the kindredbond to its dragon master. The dragon knows where its kindredbond is at all times, and can detect thoughts as per the spell on their kindredbond whenever it desires and from any distance. The two share a telepathic communication link while within 120 feet of one another.

The kindredbond cannot knowingly commit an action that endangers its master, though the dragon feels no such compunction in turn. While the kindredbond can debate and communicate with the dragon, it will generally acquiesce to any command that does not subject it to grievous bodily harm.

In certain situations, the Dungeon Master may allow the player to take direct command of their kindredbond in order to go into locations where the dragon might not fit. The kindredbond will follow the dragon into combat if so ordered, but the death of a kindredbond carries some risk for the dragon. Should a kindredbond die, even if it is later raised from death, the dragon suffers an immediate level of exhaustion that lasts for a period of one month and cannot be removed by any means.

Allowing a kindredbond to be slain will often result in a loss of status among other dragons, even chromatic ones. After all, if a dragon cannot protect their possessions, do they deserve to have them?

Should your kindredbond die due to old age or because you forsake or release them from this bond, you do not suffer this penalty. Instead, you may petition a dragon of authority (be it a Council of Wyrms representative or a figurehead from your clan) to grant you leave to adopt another kindredbond. This kindred may be a relative of your previous one (there are dynastic families of kindredbond raised for just that purpose) or any other suitable kindred you select.

Only dwarves, elves, and gnomes may typically be selected for kindredbond. With special Dungeon Master dispensation, you may consider other races as your kindred, but it must be a humanoid creature of Small or Medium size. Attempting to adopt a human as your kindredbond will invite scorn from the Council and your clan, due to the enmity between humans and dragons.

Steel Scales

Your dragon scales racial trait improves, granting you an AC of 17. You cannot benefit from a Dexterity modifier to your AC.


And there we have it with the converted material! Everything else is specific setting flavor that I don't want to accidentally plagiarize, or is part of a completely new system that I'm working on. Next time I'll go into one of those two systems, which are Aerial Combat and Lair Building. Till then!

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