The Wooddrake (sometimes spelled Woodrake) is one of several species of dragon unique to the Dungeons & Dragons setting of Mystara. Taking the form of a wyvern-like creature, wooddrakes are shapeshifters who can adopt the form of an elf or a halfling, which they use to infiltrate the societies of these races and of allied races, such as humans.
This Mystaran analogue to the Faerie Dragon first appeared in the Master's DM Book, alongside its cousins the Mandrake (which can assume human form), the Colddrake (which can assume dwarf and gnome forms), and the Elemental Drake (which can assume the form of a young fire, stone, cloud or water giant, depending on its element alignment to fire, earth, air or water). Described as a race of thieves and natural anarchists, the race was fleshed out in "Tall Tales of the Wee Folk", which even presented them as a playable race.
According to this later tome, the drakes have their origin in a group of fey during the age of the Great Rain of Fire. Prior to this, the preceding age was not one of particularly good will between fairies and mortals, as human civilization had seriously encroached on sylvan woodland. The fey loathed the empire of Thonia for its vastness, excess and debauchery, whilst Blackmoor, originally favored by the fey, came under suspicion when they grew nervous over the potency of Blackmoor's magitek... which was proved warranted when Blackmoor blew itself up so hard it shifted the planet's axis and threw Mystara into an ice age.
As the ice age clutched the world, a group of fairies banded together, forming a cult dedicated to keeping humans and demihumans alike from ever becoming capable of repeating a cataclysm on the level of the Great Rain of Fire. As their symbol, they chose the Red Dragon, a symbol of wildness, chaos and fire; the perfect embodiment of their desire to be the flame that would oppose the ice age and, through controlled burning of civilization, would prevent the catastrophic flames of another Great Rain.
This, incidentally, was one of those moments where the seeds of Gygaxian Alignment was laid, as Tall Tales had to specifically call out how the proto-Drakes dedication to Chaos was based around benevolent anarchy and a belief in the ultimately evil of Law as a promotor of stagnation and self-destruction, as opposed to the "Chaos is Evil" that alignment was normally used for. In the proto-drakes' eyes, chaos was necessary to promote actual progress and permit the proliferation of life.
So, the drakes used their powers to infilitrate the societies of the non-fey, promoting their philosophy and putting it into action. Whilst they retained a friendly attitude towards other fey, they grew distant from them, evolving and changing, ultimately mutating into their present form as shapeshifting dragon-kin with distant fey ancestry.
Incidentally, most drakes no longer consciously pursue their ancester's idology, they've just integrated it into their psychology; they act as they wish, and don't give enough of a shit to justify their actions. Larceny runs in their veins; abilities originally honed to act as spies, thieves and saboteurs in the name of battling corrupt order have become effective a kleptomaniacal impulse, although drakes care about the challenge of stealing, not the monetary value. Some drakes have even gone rogue and embraced the evil aspects of Chaos.
Those few drakes who remember their ancestral creed often become adventurers, or at least good-intentioned rebels. They believe that all order is inherently corrupt, and only anarchy allows precious nature to properly assert itself, but the task of destroying all order is far too vast. As such, they concentrate on places where law has obviously already gone "bad" - tyrannies and the like.
Although stats for other drakes as PCs isn't presented in Tall Tales of the Wee Folk, the stats for Mandrakes and Colddrakes in the DM Master Book are all but identical, so one just needs to change out their shapeshifting options and bam, they'll run just fine.
Like any exotic PC race in BECMI, Wooddrakes are handled as their own unique class, with the following table for level advancement and hit dice. However, they have a number of unique traits as well:
- Wooddrakes make Saving Throws as Magic-Users of twice their Hit Dice.
- They may shapechange at will between their true form, the form of an elf, and the form of a halfling.
- Wooddrakes have the special skills of a thief; a 1st level thief at -6,000 XP, a 2nd level thief at -5,000 XP, a 3rd level thief at -4,000 XP, a 4th level thief at -2000, and a 5th level thief at Level 0. From 1st through 10th level, they have thieve skills at the level of their hit dice. Thereafter, they gain one level of thief ability per 2 wooddrake levels, maxing out at the skills of a 23rd-level thief at level 36.
- In elf or halfling form, a wooddrake can use any weapon, armor or magic item permitted to a thief.
- In drake form, a wooddrake can make 2 claw attacks and a bite attack per round. These deal 1d2/1d3 damage at -8,000 XP, 1d2/1d4 at -6,000 XP, 1d2/1d6 at -4,000 XP, and finally 1d2/1d8 damage from level 0 onwards. Strength bonuses apply to these natural attacks.
Wooddrake Level Advancement & Hit Dice
|Level||Experience Points||Hit Dice|
Further levels cost +250,000 XP per level, and the wooddrake gains +1 hit point per level.
Item Use is a trait shared by some BECMI fey classes, and it basically works like this; when the character tries to use a magic item, they need to roll a percent die (d100) and compare the result to the Item Use Table for their race; depending on their level, they will get either a Success (S), a Failure (F), a Backfire (B), or an Unexpected Result (U). On a success, it works. On a failure, it doesn't. On a backfire, the item works but affects the wrong target - a wand blasting its user with a fireball, for example. On an Unexpected Result, the DM gets to decide what happens; basically the magic goes temporarily screwy. If they can't decide, they get to a roll a D3; the result is Helpful on a 1, Harmful on a 2, and Indifferent on a 3.
A wooddrake's item use table is as follows - and they cannot use any magical items until they have reached 1st level. They can attempt to use magic items restricted to spellcasting fairies, elves, and magic users.
|Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition Races|
|Basic Set:||Dwarf - Elf - Hobbit - Human|
|Creature Crucible 1:||Brownie - Centaur - Dryad - Faun - Hsiao |
Leprechaun - Pixie - Pooka - Redcap - Sidhe
Sprite - Treant - Wood Imp - Wooddrake
|Creature Crucible 2:||Faenare - Gnome - Gremlin - Harpy |
Nagpa - Pegataur - Sphinx - Tabi
|Creature Crucible 3:||Kna - Kopru - Merrow - Nixie |
Sea Giant - Shark-kin - Triton
|Dragon Magazine:||Cayma - Gatorman - Lupin - N'djatwa |
Phanaton - Rakasta - Shazak - Wallara
|Hollow World:||Beastman - Brute-Man - Hutaakan |
Krugel Orc - Kubitt - Malpheggi Lizard Man
|Known World:||Bugbear - Goblin - Gnoll |
Hobgoblin - Kobold - Ogre - Troll