[RPG] a Wyrm in D&D


So I keep seeing things like "The Great Wyrm", "Forest of the Wyrm", "Wyrm aged" and they seem to be all related to Dragons. Is Wyrm just another name for Dragons? Is this a general thing or does it change from setting to setting?

Best Answer

Originally, the term is an Old English word that means "serpent" or "snake". It was commonly found in old European poems, where it referred to a wingless dragon. The term was later used to refer to any dragon, as with Tolkien's usage in The Hobbit and other works (which heavily influenced D&D).

In D&D, "wyrm" refers to a large, presumably old, dragon. Third Edition classified True Dragons (but not Lesser Dragons) into age categories, with each category signifying a greater level of size & ability. The smallest category, "wyrmling", represented a young member of the True Dragon race, while the largest, "Great Wyrm", signified a terrible beast of great size and power. Further information about the True Dragon classifications and the size/age/power for each can be found on the D&D wiki at the link below:

D&D Wiki - SRD: True Dragons

Note: As @SevenSidedDie points out in the comments below, these classifications have existed in some form as early as the 1979 Monster Manual. I started with 2nd edition but I've slept a lot since then.

In 1994, TSR released a dragon-specific campaign set called "The Council of Wyrms". IIRC this was the set that released rules for playing dragon (and half-dragon) characters. It also introduced new rules for encountering or fighting dragons.

Nowadays, the term is often found in other fantasy sources as well, although sometimes the meaning is changed so that it refers to a smaller dragon variation (typically smaller than a "drake"). In some cases, a Wyrm is not a proper dragon at all, but rather a similar animal that is related to the dragon (aka "dragonkin"). In D&D, you can find this used for creatures like the "Landwyrm", which is not a proper dragon but is still classified as the dragon type as far as the rules are concerned.

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