I love Magic: The Gathering. I also nurture an unhealthy Dungeons & Dragons habit. So, when Wizards of the Coast brings these two worlds together, who am I to say no?
While it seems like Wizards previous sourcebook, The Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, came out years ago, it’s mainly because there’s been an entire Pandemic between then and now. In reality it’s barely been just over 4 months. This latest release, Mythic Odysseys of Theros, is an expansion of the MTG universe within D&D that was originally kicked off with the 2018 release of Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica.
So, what’s new? [Summary/Synopsis]
The Character Creation chapter spotlights a unique twist on a handful of familiar races, including Humans, Centaurs, Minotaurs and Tritons. Leonin’s and Satyrs are added to the mix, as well as two new subclasses: College of Eloquence (Bard) and Oath of Glory (Paladin).
College of Eloquence seems so straightforward and characteristic of Bards that it’s honestly surprising it wasn’t rolled out before. Of particular note is “Infectious Inspiration” – the 14th level ability that allows you to essentially chain your bardic inspiration from one person to the next when they invoke said inspiration and are successful on a check.
The Paladin Oath of Glory is essentially Demigod 101, granted a handful of spells and instilled with the belief that glory can be achieved through acts of heroism and greatness. Their skills and auras revolve around helping their allies rise to the occasion of whatever challenge awaits.
Mythic Odysseys of Theros most notable addition, however, is the introduction of a brand-new Pantheon. Chapter 2, which makes up a good chunk of the book, is used to detail these 15 deities, their histories and relationships, their rivalries and betrayals. Their realms of influence are familiar: major elements of honor, justice and law contrasted with butchery, malice and survival. Gods that favor the natural world versus gods that delight in clockwork hearts.
What helps to set apart the introduction of this Pantheon, and indeed a system/mechanic that can be expanded further to include others, is the Piety system. When a player declares allegiance to one of the Gods, they have an assigned Piety level of 1. As they do great deeds for this God, or act in their interest, this level increases to grant a scaling boon. Piety levels don’t seem to have a cap, but the scaling boon maxes out at 50…nothing a little Homebrew can’t fix.
Chapter 3 is a brief chapter set aside to detail the mortal world of Theros itself, though compared to the broader world of Faerun and other universes that Dungeons & Dragons has brought to life, Theros is admittedly a small playground.
Yet, within this “small” playground is plenty to do. Chapter 4 lays out numerous plot hooks centered around the gods, and features extensive maps of various lairs and towers that have been erected in their honor. The depth of the various plot hooks and adventures can be overwhelming, but as a DM, digging into the machinations and schemes of the various Gods will give you plenty of inspiration for sprawling adventures of epic proportion – which is exactly what Mythic Odysseys aims to do!
Chapters 5 and 6 detail a handful of unique treasures, as well as a robust directory of unique enemies and monsters to battle – even monsters of mythic proportions.
Saving the best for last, you discover the Mythic element of the Mythic Odysseys of Theros as you read through the trio of threats at the conclusion of the sourcebook. These monsters are set apart by the inclusion of not only Legendary actions, but Mythic actions, which is typically triggered after their initial health pool is brought to 0. Reading through the details on these beasts, it’s easy to see how pitting your players against these challenges would surely make them feel like they were personally Chosen by the Gods!
The world of Magic: The Gathering is vast, and its lore is rich. While at times it may feel like a supernatural soap-opera, with Gods and heroes dying, coming back to life, being revealed to be secret siblings or reincarnated as a cyborg assassin (okay maybe not that last one…) the chance to realize this world in more detail is always a welcome one. Guildmasters of Ravnica was a bit more daunting in this respect, since it had to navigate the various factions and their respective motivations. I feel like overall accessibility was a bit higher for that sourcebook as a result.
Mythic Odysseys of Theros , on the other hand, is much more straightforward: roll a character and pick a God, and you can use your God’s motivations and enemies to spin your tale from there.
Mythic Odysseys does a great job of breathing life into the Theros pantheon, first in detailing the Gods themselves, and then in detailing the various plothooks and their domains. By the time you read through chapters 2 and 4 in conjunction, you will have a great grasp on how to use this system to invigorate your campaign.
Now, Wizards of the Coast employs some of the best fantasy artists in the business, so it’s no surprise that the art within Mythic Odysseys is stunning – but still…if you haven’t played Magic: The Gathering and are seeing some of these pieces for the first time, you’re likely to be blown away. The standard cover art for the book itself is spectacular (thanks Jason Rainville!), but the alternative cover art (brought to life by Kevin Tong) is out-of-this-world amazing.
As any DM will tell you, making good, challenging combat can be tough – the challenge rating system is still a bit borked, and a roll of the dice can either make your players lives a living hell, or allow them to essentially stun-lock and destroy your big bad within a few rounds.
The Mythic Monsters are a fantastic twist on building challenging combat – with mechanics that seem to be pulled straight from tales of epic fantasy. As the foe reaches 0 HP and victory is all but guaranteed, a fresh wave of health comes over them as well as a new technique or threat to harass the party with. I’m already plotting an epic campaign with some friends just to have them travel around Theros attempting to dispatch Mythic Monsters. While there are only a few in the book, the concept can allow for some fun homebrew ideas.
Overall, Mythic Odysseys of Theros is a great addition for any DM’s shelf, and will likely find its way to more than a few player shelves as well. With a rich new pantheon and devotion system, challenging mythic encounters and countless plot-hooks, there’s plenty to keep you and your party entertained as you navigate the world of Theros!