What Do I Know About First Impressions? Mythic Odysseys of Theros (D&D 5e)
I had a chance to look through Mythic Odesseys of Theros the last couple of days. This isn’t a full review (and I’ve got away from doing a lot of official WOTC reviews, because they are ubiquitous, and from more talented people), but there is a lot I wanted to mention.
This first impression is based on the material released in the D&D Beyond version of the product, and doesn’t represent a full-read through of the book, cover to cover. The following will highlight the sections where I spent the most time.
I really like the idea of the Supernatural Gift as part of character creation. It synergizes nicely with getting a new one in the Wildemount book, and it adds something to distinguish heroes that are going on “big time” adventures.
I kind of like the implementation of an Epic Background from Heroes of Baldur’s Gate a wee bit more, for making Backgrounds more widely useful, but I still really like this idea. I also like the concept that it’s intended to be roughly equal to a feat as well.
Being roughly equal to a feat informs design space. I also like that between the Iconoclast feature and the ability to ditch the supernatural gift for something that resembles a feat, you can play with the dials without going fully into “chosen one” territory.
Also, I risk drawing some fire here, but if I had to pick one cat humanoid, and just one, I’m pretty sure I like the Leonin more than the Tabaxi. I blame the subliminal conditioning from Ajani and my white decks.
I really like the College of Eloquence, and I specifically like the Living Legend feature of the Oath of Glory paladin, if only for the bit about how your legend empowers you even if the deeds are exaggerated. It reminded me of Dwayne Johnson’s Hercules movie.
I really like the concept of Piety, and the consistent threshold points. I like anything that moves away from “I’m LG, and so is my god, so I must be making them happy,” because that cuts out a lot of interesting story.
It would be easy to adapt piety for other deities by looking at the examples given, and port this over to other settings. It even works for other aspirational concepts as well, like if an organization has set goals.
In fact, if you look at alignment as aspirational for player characters (as I have been recently) instead of proscriptive or descriptive, you could even make a piety scale based on how well someone does certain things, rather than as a hammer to punish them for “infractions.”
Friends and Foes
The thing I am most excited about, however, are the mythic monsters. This is a great evolution from the rules surrounding Legendary creatures, and also taps into the “boss monster” zeitgeist that has evolved in the time since D&D’s birth.
If you don’t have the book, Mythic monsters have an ability that they get once per rest, to trigger their mythic trait. This usually means when they hit 0 hit points, they get back a bunch of hit points, and they get new actions they can use as Legendary actions.
The bits that change vary depending on the monster. For example, some of them get X number of hit points, others have a thematically explained number of hit points that are temporary (for example, temp hit points = swarms acting as ablative armor).
This is great D&D game tech, and it may be incorporated into the end of my current Midgard campaign in a few weeks. I would love to see this used beyond Theros.
I’m a lot more excited about this book than I was with Ravnica. I still feel like I’m not really sure what to do with Ravnica, as a campaign, and the extra tools it provides for other games don’t feel especially keyed to Ravnica’s theme, other than the guild backgrounds.
On the other hand, it’s hard not to see how to use this book. A lot of modern fantasy adventuring tropes are influenced by Greek myth, so it’s not hard to envision adventures.
The concepts of superheroic player characters, piety, and really special boss monsters crosses into being useful for multiple campaigns, but also tie very closely to the themes of Theros.
For a gamebook that felt like a reflexive purchase when I first put in my order, I’m really invested in seeing what I can do with the tools within.