I don’t have a physical copy yet, but I got a digital copy from D&D beyond and starting to read through it. And it looks exciting. The fact that the book acronyms out to MOOT is also pleasing.
Character creation stuff
One of the fun things in new books is being able to have new character options, and this book has that.
Divine gifts seem to be starting feats and can be replaced with a starting feat. These aren’t super powerful, but they really do set the stage for the game. With the divine gifts, I feel a lot better about limiting racial options. I am a lot more likely to say “Let me build a new divine gift” than I would be to say “Sure, I’ll let you play X”
Race wise, humans are the only race from the Player’s Handbook in this new world, which is the first time for that. Everything so far has said things like “Here’s how we’ve contorted our world to allow halflings”
Minotaurs and Centaurs got a reprint from Ravnica, and AFAICT, they look the same stat wise. We also got a Trition, but it looks more powerful? I’ll have to check.
Leonins are a lot simpler than I was expecting. Being able to choose from 4 skills is probably very powerful. And a Con based fear attack is cool, one as a bonus action is excellent.
Satyrs are different than I expected. I was kinda expecting Minotaur Halflings, but that’s not what we got. Their jumping ability is kinda cool and I can see their parties having something like the limbo but as a high jump.
Class wise, there’s changes to the Eloquence bard and it’s already the bard I wish I was playing instead of the UA Eloquence bard. That first ability to give Reliable Talent to Persuasion and Deception checks at level 3? Me want. I have so many horrible persuades just from poor rolls. A minimum roll of 17 would have been very very tasty. The rest of the build feels good, a very inspiring bard.
The new paladin is the oath of Glory instead of heroism, and I don’t know how it tracks to the UA, but it feels like it fits the theme. The aura of alacrity feels weird, but that’s just due to how turns work in D&D. Any DM with a level 7 Glory Pally should let the party run together with the movement boost. It feels very Phalanx-y.
A new background of Athlete give options that are like gladiator, but without being gladiator, which is nice.
The Gods and Myths
It’s interesting, because you can see that things are a common myth with a different name, but then they’ve added things to make it fit Theros instead of Greece. The flavor of why gods and myth work the way they do in Theros is interesting. Questions about “Can the god be killed?” are answered with a resounding “No.” but there are options sprinkled in for the clever dungeon master.
The piety system is interesting and it reminds me of the faction stuff from Ravnica that I never did anything with. It was cool tho, and if they don’t offer increased spell lists for worshiping different gods, might have to add that in. They do have some really cool rewards for piety, from free spells to stat increases.
I think the Piety System looks good. I’d probably keep the tally hidden from the players and when they cross threshholds, do dramatic things. The gods being characters with personalities would be a big part of theros, I think, and I’d love for the party to choose to make a detour so they can visit a certain temple, just in case of things. That’d be the goal. If Piety is a mechanical reward, then players will reflect that in the story.
This is my first look at the Theros map and that’s not as inspiring as I was hoping. It looks so drab. And look at all that space that’s just empty! I guess the brown is wasteland? so why are all the islands brown?
Holy heck this is a small map! maybe 300 miles across? I’ll make a grided map when I get home. That’s always a useful endeavor. But apparently, it’s a 2 day trip between Akros and Meletis, 2 of the big cities.
idk, all the location stuff just blurred together and I might want to make a thing to make parsing that easier. But unless we’re headed off-map, there’s not going to be long travel tales.
I’m already looking at spinning up a Theros and I’m thinking about how to change my session 0 strategies to make things work quite right. As the MOOT points out, the party is likely working for different gods. I don’t know how many factions there are in Theros, but there’s 17 different belief systems that give mechanical rewards, and players would be fools to not be looting that system for rewards. Planning for that, then will be crucial.
This section give guidance on supernatural gifts, including adding more to the list from the DMG.
I’m thinking about divine intervention as a reliable party mechanic. Being able to suddenly teleported to safety by not-Charon the Ferryman, whatever his name is. And as payment, the party has a penance. idk exactly, but allowing for instant escape is a thing I’ve wanted in games. Also, making it so any god can be called on for a quick trade of favors is yeah, tempting.
Okay, the Gods have a list of monsters, fair enough, but the AMAZING thing is that they’re listed by CR! Man, that is a useful twist on what is normally just a list of ideas.
For each of the gods, it has a bunch of ideas about how to use them as villains, and then it lists a location that is slightly related, how it can be used as a villain, and a map of said area. Which is a step up from Rav’s similar chapter.
Also a chapter on magical islands and the underwold, and a starting adventure. neato.
Items and stuff
Are we just now getting chariot rules? How have we lived without all of those?
I don’t like that the artifacts have randomly determined properties. Sure, that’s been in the game a while, but it means instead of having an item consistent across all tables, I have to write my version in the book once I get it.
I like how the artifacts include destruction instructions. I can’t imagine any of these things happening, as a player mission, but they do make good DM fodder.
The item and artefact lists feel short. That’s always a complaint, though. Nothing is ever long enough,.
All of these anvilwrights being immune to fire is really going to shift the elemental damage balance. The Gold Sentinal has a better written version of spell turning that I might give a version of to my Archmage Feat.
Archon Mounts look cool. I might would give it as a Paladin’s greater steed with enough piety.
These cerberus make me wonder why we haven’t a seen a druid of monstrosities. That’d be interesting. It’s also interesting that a Cerberus doesn’t get pack tactics from itself.
Customizable Chimeras is a cool idea (and a decent band name)
Mythic monsters seem cool. I wonder how they’ll work out.
One problem with my digital copy is I don’t get to see all the pictures. That’s going to be the big thing, how inspiring the pictures are.
This feels like its in the same set of books as Ravnica (no duh) and Eberron. A world setting, with a small adventure and some class features. Fair enough. I think it’s the low point of the three though. Maybe Ravnica was just more evocative, but when I got to the end of it, I was excited, but I feel drained at the end of this
It might be that the story/adventure is really dependant on a bunch of hard to predict factors of races, classes, and faiths. Ravnica just had 10 factions. Eberron was also rather simple in interactions
I guess I don’t feel guided as to what the campaign should be. I have all the options in front of me, but no idea what to do exactly.
I really want my phsyical book and I might run a thing in Theros. We’ll see.