Labyrinths and Leonin: 4 Reasons to Check Out Mythic Odysseys of Theros for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition.
Following in the footsteps of 2019’s GuildMaster's guide to Ravinica, 2020’s Mythic Odysseys of Theros by Wizards of the Coast is another D&D adaptation of a Magic the Gathering setting and while there are more interesting magic setting that I would personally be more interested seeing adapted( Kamigawa and Mirrodin...hey they are so different from any other setting currently represented and... c’mon...Mirrodin has metal goblins.... METAL GOBLINS!!!!), Theors certainly delivers a healthy dose of fresh air and options for D&D.
1) It’s all Greek to me
Theros is a setting that is very Greek inspired while retaining the fantasy roots of most D&D settings. Familiar trapping of high fantasy and mythology existing in a pleasing tandem, which even at the surface level, will provide a new feel to many gaming tables. Another way this setting separates itself from other D&D settings such as the Forgotten Realms and Eberron, is the mythical importance of heroes and their relationship to the world’s deity's driving both the PC’s and the world itself which puts a different kind of energy in the game.
This new direction is well represented in the new Heroic Drive, Supernatural Gifts and Piety mechanics that set up players to directly serve the Gods of Theros and reap the benefits of their patronage all while infusing player creation with more lore from Theros. You cannot escape from the setting in Theros, which is unique from most D&D settings and honestly a welcome addition. Your tales have a heavier weight to the setting itself as the PC’s take the form of pawns in the god’s chessboard, or rail against the gods themselves and fight for their own ideals and aspirations. The gravity of the Theros setting is much more reminiscent of White Wolf games where you cannot really escape the setting narrative without breaking away from it almost entirely.
Any DM who is wanting to run a game in Theros, should read this book cover to cover and have an intimate knowledge of the setting before they attempt to run it. That may be my greatest critique of this book and my highest compliment. It’s a unique world that when told well, will feel different from any other game of D&D with its epic tales of heroes and their struggles. If not properly prepared, the story may very well fall flat with the DM and PC’s not grasping the world and the settings deep need for storytelling and the implications of the shiny new mechanics in character creation set up. Come to Theros prepared.
2) Boons from the Gods
The book comes with 2 new playable races; the Leonin and Satyr. Hot Blooded and confident, the Leonin are humanoid lion-men with interesting new options highlighting intimidation, while the Satyr are reveling fey folk who’s love of life shape not only who they are as a people, but their own personal ethic. They are far from the classical D&D satyr, these fey have depth and are by far my favorite race option in the book. Human, Centaur, Minotaur and Triton are also listed as playable race options and I do feel like they could have had a few more races represented.
The Bard and Paladin both have new subclasses, the Bard’s College of Eloquence and the Paladin’s Oath of Glory. The College of Eloquence feel very inspired by Odysseus with features that make your Bard able to talk anyone into anything. You can charm the pants off almost any creature at high enough level and at level 14 you gain Infectious Inspiration which any party will want to utilize in almost any situation with its ability to spread multiple Bardic Inspirations to multiple members of your party AT THE SAME DAMN TIME!!!!
The Paladin’s Oath of Glory feels very inspired by the tales of Hercules, with its devotion toward personal improvement and growth as heroes. Their spell pool is unique from many other Paladin subclasses as are their features. Inspiring Smite is a personal favorite new feature of mine and will provide some much-needed protection for other players in the deadly quagmire of early level combat. At level 20, Living Legend allows your Paladin to gain advantage on all Charisma checks and auto hit or reroll a failed saving throw acting as the hero finally ascending to almost Demi-god. Overall, as a Paladin player myself, I'm not upset and see the benefits of this new class option and while it's not the most powerful option for the class, is no slouch ether.
The new items and artifacts are all flavorful and feel right for the setting. I can't wait to have multiple Flying Chariots for my party and many items and artifacts directly correspond to the many gods of Theros adding to the narrative and storytelling options. Your Cleric who follows Klothys the God of Destiny may have found or been rewarded with a Helm of the Gods blessed by Klothys' rival god Heliod. What your Cleric does with such a wonderous item will have consequences as they don’t want to spurn their patron god or Heliod, utilizing items in a way such as this makes them more important and makes them relative to the narrative and Theros has this kind of depth in spades.
3) Medusa’s menagerie
The monsters featured in Theros are incredibly impressive, spotlighting new monsters and new takes on existing ones. The Nyxborn is a boost that you can give any creature that gives them new abilities and enhances its origin as divine as the gods themselves. This boost can make an ally or enemy creature more important to your story, deserving more storytelling and development.
Among the impressive array of new options, Chimera’s can be customized in many different forms which are just begging to be used in your games, along with new lore that takes the Chimera in new directions. Many new Demons and Fey are featured and along with flavorful new backgrounds, they feature new and interesting abilities that will confound players.
4) A world full of promise
Theros as a setting is more daunting than most other D&D settings, with good reason. To tell tales in this world requires a level of respect to the game's lore that many D&D DM’s and Players won't be used to, but this shouldn’t be seen as a negative. The depth of storytelling options built into the setting character creation sets the correct tempo that can be built upon built upon by a good DM. The amount of tales that can be told in Theros are unlimited and unique among D&D and I believe that if you have the right party and DM, you should get together and build your legends in the world of the Theros.
Michael Jacobson is a freelance writer and an Active Duty US Sailor. His work has been featured in products like Snowhaven 2nd Ed, Night Horrors: Shunned by the Moon and more coming thru the pipes. When he isn’t running games, running in general and drinking Dr.Pepper he can be found fanboying out about Dinosaurs, Star Wars and turtle of both normal and the Ninja Mutant variety.
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