Imagine a world inspired by ancient myth; a world of powerful but petty gods that intervene in the fates of mortals, supernatural creatures and monsters borne from the underworld, and mythic heroes chosen by the gods to enact their will…or fall victim to their own hubris.
This is the world of the Mythic Odysseys of Theros, the new campaign setting book for Dungeons & Dragons. I’ve gotten to explore the world a fair bit, and there’s some surprisingly awesome things within.
Within this colourful 256 page mythic tome is everything a player or dungeon master needs to build a character or campaign set in the world of Theros. Theros is a setting from the Magic: The Gathering card game, introduced in 2013.
Straight up, it is Greek mythology with all the names and serial numbers filed off: City states (Poleis) of the coastal world of Theros, surrounded by smaller islands, populated by humans, centaurs, lion-people (leonin), satyrs, minotaur, and tritons. They worship a pantheon of fifteen deities that each have an analog in the Greek pantheon of Mount Olympus. This setting is all about larger than life heroes completing epic deeds done in the name of the gods, while they confront their mortal flaws and fates.
This is a flavour of D&D we haven’t seen in a few editions, and it’s an absolute blast. The setting itself has a bit of a learning curve to it, what with there being a lot of deities to remember and consider, but because it skews so close to the myths and legends of ancient Greece, it’s much more manigible than previous D&D and Magic: The Gathering cross overs.
The most interesting thing this book introduces is a new way to handle gods in D&D 5e. Every character has a Piety Score, which measures their favour with specific gods. Actions that please the gods earn Piety, while actions that shame them lose you Piety. The more Piety you have, the more powers and deity-specific benefits your character earns.
Each of the fifteen deities of Nyx and the Underworld (the realms of the gods) have a list of parts of the natural world that they influence, a table of their omens, what they favour, and their ideals, as well as a few myths associated with them. These myths are flavourful world building that can double as adventure hooks or quest motivations for players. This is hands down the best way I’ve ever seen gods or deities covered in a fantasy game before.
On the players’ side, MOoT introduces a bunch of supernatural gifts to flavour characters with, as well as a new background (The Athlete). In this game you can play a human shaped Anvilwrought, forged in the furnace of Purphoros the god of the forge, or an Oracle that’s able to directly communicate with the will of the gods. There’s a lot of cool options to give your characters a more mythic backstory.
One thing I adore about this setting is how different from traditional D&D fantasy it is. Gone are the elves, dwarves, and halflings of other settings. Instead the world is mostly humans, but with mythic creatures like centaurs, minotaurs, and bipedal lions walking around! My absolute favourites are the satyrs, who are very much straight out of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They’re a ton of fun to play. Here are some examples of characters I made and the specific things they get from the book.
One of the biggest strengths of MOoT is its art. A lot of the book has art taken directly from the card set that inspired it, but there’s a lot of original art as well. It’s all super colourful and filled with wonderful details. Stars and constellations are a recurring motif throughout the book, with many scenes or deities being depicted with a splash of star fields around them.
It gives the whole book a really rich, filled in feel. Every page has a gorgeous piece of art somewhere on it, and it’s wonderful to flip through.
If you’re looking for something new for a D&D game, Mythic Odysseys of Theros is a fantastic choice. It’s bright, colourful, and provides some of the most bombastic and epic set pieces and play I’ve seen from an official D&D release in a while. I’m really excited to dig into it with my players. Check it out!