The Odyssey, The Illiad, The shield of Hercules. Now you can journey into a work that draws on these marvels of antiquity.
Through their highly successful Kickstarter, Arcanam Worlds have taken Dungeons and Dragons on an Odyssey. James Ohlen (Neverwinter Night, Baldur’s Gate I & II) and Jesse Sky (Star Wars: The Old Republic) have brought us an ancient greek inspired campaign setting and adventure path. Far from simply being D&D in Greece this setting draws on modern fantasy also giving us something else entirely. The adventure can take a party from 1st to 15th level or even godhood.
Where is OTD set?
Odyssey of the Dragonlords is set in the world of Thylea just as the Oath of Peace between the New God and the Titans is coming to an end. City-states and wilderness make up the core of the mainland with a great archipelago to the south in the Forgotten Sea. Fey creatures such as centaurs and Satyr inhabit the wildness while the ‘traditional’ fantasy races control the civilised city-states. An Oath of Peace has existed for the last five hundred years. However, this time is now coming to an end and the Oracle has spoken. Doom is upon Thyrea. A free players guide and world primer is available here.
The Good, the Bad, and the Hephaestus.
Given the scale of this book I will cover a few thing that I like and some that I don’t as well and with an overview at the end.
Thylea is a rich world that borrows from Greek myth without just being a carbon copy. While it might read a little Greece lite for some if you have a good knowledge of the source material you can always add more greekosity (yes, this is now a word). At the same time, some more western ideas such as dragon riders, Elves and Dwarves keep the familiar feel of classic fantasy and classic D&D.
Thylean Medusa Race
While it is really cool that you can play as a Medusa it is in itself not right. The race is based on the story of the Gorgon sisters and focus is on the most famous, Medusa. While I appreciate that this will make the race appeal to a wider audience I can’t help thinking that there was a missed opportunity. A Medusa is an individual that has been cursed by the gods for one reason or another and this manifests as the curse of the medusa. Their abilities are similar to the Medusa of legend.
While this is not a bad race to play, the opportunity for subraces based on the other Gorgon sisters can’t be ignored.
A new mechanic, Epic paths are similar to backgrounds in that they concern about your character’s history but they also cover their destiny. Epic Paths are used to tie the character to the setting even if your players decide to play outsiders from other lands. They supply your characters with magical items and boons throughout the game, setting them apart from other heroes. The book contains 8 epic paths covering things like the demi-god and the cursed one as well as guidelines to create your own paths.
In Act I the players must complete three Herculean style labours. These tasks are to test them and to provide them with the tools they need to fulfill their destiny. The adventure only provided you with three labours and like the Medusa race I think this is a missed opportunity. By including the more potential labours and moving to Act II after three have been completed it would give the early campaign a more open, sandbox feel. With a little work, a GM could easily add this to their campaign if the wished to.
All the player options
This is the biggest plus in my opinion. This area is where the world really comes alive and really buys into the Greek myth feel. Player races made up of centaurs, medusae, minotaurs, nymphs, satyrs, and sirens. New spells that are all themed for the setting, and my personal favorites, the class archetypes. These are all available in the players guide available here but I will cover some of my favorites now;
Barbarians can take the Herculean path, becoming a master of strength and making their rages legendary!
Clerics can gain the prophecy domain allowing them to glimpse the future. They themselves will become Oracles.
Fighters become Hoplite Soldier, masters of the shield they can infer bonus to others with shields. Later, their understanding of defences can force an enemy’s shield from them or deal additional damage
Paladins can swear and Oath of the Dragonlord. You become a knight that is bonded with a dragon. With the help of a pseudodragon familiar, you must find a dragon egg and raise it.
Rogues can become an Odyssean, they become adept at taking every advantage possible. Eventually, they become so notorious that they can distract an enemy simply by being present.
Sorcerers can find their power from a Demigod Origin. They gain additional spells through their divine parentage as well as additional users of these spells. Increased combat abilities and divine resistances manifest from the divine blood.
Wizards can use their learning as Academy Philosophers. Using philosophical schools and mathematical principles to influence their magic.
I think that Odyssey of the Dragonlords is one of my favorite RPG books ever written. The world is deep and historically impactful yet is still malleable enough that you can run any type of adventure you wish. You could even use the core frame of the world to build your own ancient Greek-inspired setting. The adventure itself is a hero’s journey drawing on Homer’s classics and modern fantasy and as such it has twists and turns that fans of the classics may not expect but a flavor modern fans are not familiar with. I would recommend this book to anyone that is looking for something outside of standard medieval European tropes that are common in modern fantasy.