Announced last week (but spoiled as usual by an advanced update in a vendor’s website, in this case Penguin Random House), the “Mythic Odysseys of Theros” sourcebook is the second crossover between Magic the Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons.
Designed to be the “greek mythology world” for the 2013 expansion set, Theros is a plane watched over by a pantheon of 15 powerful gods, which are not only able to take on many forms, but take advantage of that in order to walk among mortals frequently. These enormously powerful beings make up the central pillars of the Therosian belief system. Its main storyline involves two main characters: Elspeth and Xenagos.
After planeswalking away from New Phyrexia, Elspeth finds herself on a vaguely familiar plane, Theros. While she had visited once years ago when she acquired her sword, she remains relatively unaware of the nature of the plane, namely the theology. The snake priests in a temple devoted to Pharika help her back to full strength while she reflects on her experiences with Koth, Venser, Tezzeret, Karn, and Melira back on New Phyrexia. More than anything Elspeth just wants a peaceful life like the one she had on Bant before the Conflux. However on Theros the gods have different plans. Walking around the forests of Theros, Elspeth comes face to face with a deadly hydra having already killed many Therosian heroes. After a bitter battle she emerges the victor. Heliod, taking notice of her feat, now strives to make Elspeth his champion.
A satyr born to the plane of Theros, Xenagos spent much of his life romping around with his clan of fellow satyrs. His favorite activities included partying and drinking until his planeswalker spark ignited and he was able to travel away from Theros. After visiting many planes and seeing the expanse of the Multiverse his return to his native plane did not come with a feeling of home. He could now see how insignificant his life was before his awakening and even still after. Driven by a desire for power, his mission now is to enter the Therosian pantheon as a god.
And this is how the greek tragedy (pun intended) is set into motion.
No longer content to walk the planes of the Multiverse seeking pleasure, the planeswalker Xenagos returns to Theros to become the god of revels. The boundaries that separate everyday existence from Nyx are growing dangerously thin. Strange creatures of enchantment, called Nyxborn (or Born of the Gods), are pouring into the mortal world as Xenagos threatens to disrupt the very nature of the plane. Mogis, the god of slaughter sends hordes of mortal and Nyxborn minotaurs against the human cities Akros (inspired in Sparta), Meletis (Athens) and Setessa (Themyscira). Elspeth Tirel leads an army of heroes to break the minotaur siege at Akros. The humans were victorious, but the victory celebration after the battle becomes the ultimate ritual to launch Xenagos into Nyx as a god. Elspeth is blamed for his ascension and driven away in disgrace.
After such an event, the plane is torn into chaos. Gods and mortals are pitted against each other, and terrifying monsters stalk the land. Heroes strive for glory while new and terrifying constellations take shape in the night sky. Supported by Ajani, Elspeth travels to Nyx and kills Xenagos. And just right after that, Heliod kills Elspeth, as he has become afraid of her power. Of course, our hero won’t stay dead for long. Well, not that long, since a more recent expansion set for Magic has her as a protagonist. Theros Beyond Death was released this year.
Gods, Monsters and Mortals
So if you want to play Dungeons & Dragons in the Magic: The Gathering world of Theros, you can pick up this new book and take the described realm as it is shaped by the wrath of gods and the deeds of heroes, make it real for your players and have their characters turn into champions vying for immortal favor and a place among legends. According to the description in Wizards’ website, its contents will include:
- Satyr and leonin as new playable races.
- The College of Eloquence for the Bard and the Oath of Herosim for Paladins as new sub-classes, presumably among some more.
- New monsters, described as mythic, although we don’t know yet if mythic is just a flavorful adjective, or because it will give additional powers to them, just as legendary ones. Can this be related to the monstrosity mechanic?
- The five godly weapons wielded by the gods: the Spear of Heliod, the Bident of Thassa, the Whip of Erebos, the Hammer of Purphoros and the Bow of Nylea.
- Supernatural gifts for characters, which will give them remarkable powers to set them on the “path to legend”. I guess this will be some sort of adaptation for the bestow mechanic.
There are, of course, many more things we would like to see appearing in this sourcebook, but the two most relevant ones would be: some special rules to play in Nyx, the paranormal realm associated with dreams and the subconscious, and some way to reward players who show devotion to their characters deities. Would it be too much to ask fore a way to keep concentration on a constellation of spells? Only one way to know for sure: buying the book when it releases.
An alternative cover with a distinctive design and soft-touch finish will be available exclusively in game stores at the same price and date as the regular version, $49.99 on June 2nd. And, I might add that on that day, Theros will also be unlocked for DM’s Guild creators!
Are you planning to show your devotion to the gods? Are you more into creating adventures for this exciting world? Leave your legend in the comments below!