"Mythic Odysseys of Theros" is an expansion manual for the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons, which sees Schneider and Wyatt as the lead designer of the project, which takes us into world of Theros. Although the manual focuses on a few aspects, treating with laziness what does not concern them, the reading is recommended for anyone who wants to create a small Odyssey campaign.
The role of the Gods
“Mythic Odysseys of Theros” revolves around the Gods. It is good to make this point clear immediately because most of the interesting things in this manual refer to the Gods, to the relationship with them or their servants. Everything else is lazily taken from Greek mythology, adding a few more flashes of imagination.
In the world of Theros, the Gods need the veneration of mortals to have power, an idea that is highly reminiscent of both myth and American Gods, and although locked up in the parallel plane Nyx, they can send signs and emissaries to their followers.
The description of each individual deity is well done, offering a point of view that explores both the bright side of a god and its dark side. Readers will learn about a deity's ideals and purposes before reading how to make her a possible antagonist in a campaign but, in any case, the ideas presented are thorough and well constructed.
The attention shown to the Gods, their objectives and their weapons, is such as to eclipse the rest of the manual, which in comparison is done with laziness and superficiality.
Sore point of all this great attention shown towards the divine are precisely the weapons of the gods. The worst flaw in this section of the manual is the fact that the weapon list is not complete. To this serious lack is added the banality with which these objects are described. Some powers are incredible but a slight "random magic effect" can only destroy the epic mood created up to that point.
A "smoky" map
The map of “Mythic Odysseys of Theros” is deliberately descriptive but imprecise on the distances, in order to make every trip an adventure. Some characters may embark on a journey of weeks while others take a few days, ignoring the real distance between two points on the map.
This "smokiness", however, becomes a lack when we speak of the parallel planes to that of mortals. The underworld is very well described but there are important gaps and, on the contrary, Nyx is left completely in the hands of the masters. It would have been wise to balance the content a little better, thus avoiding dedicating too much work to the gods and too little to the rest.
The role of the underworld
Although its description in the manual is approximate, the role played by the underworld is very important in both Greek mythology and "Mythic Odysseys of Theros". The characters will have numerous opportunities to interface with the afterlife and its unfriendly deities. Unfortunately, unlike the myth, this supplement tends to remove complexity from the underworld deities by relegating them to the role of evil.
The theme of death, how you can escape it and what the price is will be key points of many campaigns. In the world of Theros the grasp of Thanatos is not eternal and infallible, different beings have discovered ways to return in ways more or less invisible to the Gods.
Some interesting rules
Based largely on the gods, the manual introduces both the concept of Gift and that of Piety. The characters will be able to start with a gift from the Gods, something that makes it even more special, and through a counter they will be able to keep track of their devotion to a specific deity. Both of these ideas serve to reinforce the concept of the Hero, understood as being above the crowd able to perform deeds worthy of the name.
Another found not to be underestimated is the "mythic" mode of some particular monsters, which effectively represents a "phase two" of a bossfight in which the monster gets new HP, new legendary actions and new attacks. The amount of life points resulting in the two phases and the new moveset gives an additional challenge that will force the party to prepare properly.
Maybe more for a single player than for a party
Every now and then "Mythic Odysseys of Theros" focuses a lot on the role of the individual with respect to divinity, ending up arousing the classic emotion "But the rest of the party?". Although it depends on the style of play of each table, which cannot be syndicated, some rules specifically require that the character take a step forward and detach himself, albeit momentarily, from the rest of the party. A striking example is the ordeal, a test that must be requested of one's divinity after having reached it on the plane of Nyx. The other characters are not expected to participate in this test, but only the applicant.