Odyssey of the Dragonlords
|This article contains spoilers! You have been warned.|
Odyssey of the Dragonlords is a 3rd-party campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition with a "D&D meets Classical Mythology" motif, similar to fellow 3rd party setting Arkadia and the official 5e product "Mythic Odysseys of Theros". The big difference is that Odyssey of the Dragonlords was written by Arcanum Worlds, who are mostly known to /v/ for writing Baldur's Gate 1 & 2, Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and others besides. The result is that Odyssey is much larger than Arkadia, and much more mechanically complex.
Currently, the setting has two splatbooks available to it; the free Player's Guide, which is a drastically cut-down PDF that provides a very basic, player-focused guide to the setting's lore with two new PC races and a basic understanding of the new "Epic Paths" mechanic, and the full-fledged campaign splatbook, marketed on DriveThruRPG as the "Odyssey of the Dragonlords Adventure Book".
The Realm of Thylea
The basic conceit behind Odyssey of the Dragonlords is that, whilst it's a full campaign setting, it's not a complete world. Basically, the realm in which this setting takes place, a continent called Thylea, is a Greco-Roman flavored continent that lies across the "Forgotten Ocean" somewhere in a generic D&D setting - in fact, with its distinct "Mythic Heroism" flavor, Thylea actually integrates very well into the Nentir Vale overworld. Thylea was originally ruled over by a set of four powerful and cruel deities, known as the Titans, who peopled their land with monstrous races out of Classical Mythology; nymphs and satyrs, minotaurs, centaurs, medusae, sirens and cyclopses. The "mortal races", the standard PHB races, are descended from long-lost settlers and refugees who stumbled upon Thylea or were cast up here by storms and found themselves stranded in a harsh realm where foreign deities and magic didn't work.
Five centuries ago, the Dragonlords - an order of mighty heroes who rode upon the backs of bronze dragons - invaded Thylea and sought to champion the mortal races, defeating the armies of the titans, but being mostly slain in battle with the godly rulers of the land. But their sacrifice allowed the Five Gods to arrive on Thylea, who fought the Titans to a stand-still and forced them to accept terms of peace.
...But that peace cannot last forever, and the bindings on the Titans are growing weak...
As such, the corebook is as much about running the obvious "The Oath of Peace is dying; your party are chosen by the gods to stop the rise of the titans!" as it is about fleshing out the realm of Thylea as a whole.
Gods & Titans
There are a total of 11 deities in the realm of Thylea; 4 Titans (Thylea, Great Mother of All; Kentimane, the Hundred Handed; Sydon, the Lord of Storms; Lutheria, the Lady of Dreams) the Five Gods (Mytros, Goddess of Dawn; Volkan, God of Forges; Pythor, God of Battle; Kyra, Goddess of Music; Vallus, Goddess of Wisdom), and the 2 "Forgotten Gods" of Narsus (God of Beauty) and Helios (God of the Sun).
The Five Gods are actually dragons who gained immortality, the ability to assume humanoid forms, and divine powers by stealing shards of power from the titans Sydon and Lutheria. Mytros is a silver dragon, and the only "true" god of the quintet, having been elevated to that power level by sacrificing herself to attain the Oath of Peace. The other four gods are transformed bronze dragons who only have the power of lesser deities, and mostly channel divine magic from Vallus to their worshippers.
Most of the "mortals" of Thylea consist of Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes and Halflings. Half-Elves exist, for obvious reasons, but Half-Orcs are rare and originate exclusively from a small community descended from a fairly prolific set of stranded half-orcs that settled in Mytros; orcs haven't made it to this land. Tieflings and Dragonborn also make up part of the mortal races array, although they're rare; tieflings are descended from mortal/fiend unions and usually considered to be aligned with Lutheria; they're known as Stygians locally. Dragonborn are said in the "Playable Races" appendix to be descended from the Dragonlords of old, with their heritage resulting in the manifestation of unusual draconic physical features - weirdly, the run-down of the "settler races" at the start of the Adventure Book states that they are "exceedingly rare", probably dwell in isolation, and most Thyleans would be shocked to see them.
- Centaurs are one of the major sapient races native to Thylea, dwelling in great nomadic tribes in the plains.
- Medusae are mortals cursed with serpentine hair and petrifying gazes by divine wrath.
- Minotaurs are the descendants of a tribe of stranded humans who angered Sydon by their giving praise to a divine bull that saved their fledgling nation from annihilation, cursing them to assume the form of cattle and man-cattle hybrids.
- Nymphs are lesser fey of the various elemental aspects of nature. Unlike on other realms, nymphs in Thylea can come in masculine or intermediate forms as well as female form.
- Satyrs are another major sapient race of Thylea, a strange race of fey who resemble hybrids of elf and goat. Unlike most D&D satyrs, female satyrs are as common as their male counterparts on Thylea.
- Sirens are a coastal race of harpy-like beings whose civilization fell due to their acquiescence to the cruelty and arrogance of Sydon.
Each of the core PHB classes has a new subrace in this setting:
- Barbarian: Herculean Path, a barbarian whose rage allows them to tap into almost godly levels of physical might.
- Bard: College of Epic Poetry, a bard who uses recitations of the great poems of old to inspire heroes, whilst seeking to write the next great epic.
- Cleric: Prophecy Domain, a Cleric Domain focused on foretelling and preventing danger.
- Druid: Circle of Sacrifice, a druid who uses ritualistic sacrifice of life energy to empower the magical energies of the wild.
- Fighter: Hoplite Soldier, a fighter specialized in the use of spear and shield.
- Monk: Way of the Shield, a monk who also focuses on the use of spear and shield.
- Paladin: Oath of the Dragonlord, a paladin who seeks to forge a spiritual bond with first a pseudodragon, and then a Metallic Dragon wyrmling that will become their steed.
- Ranger: Amazonian Conclave, a practitioner of the fighting arts of the Amazons of Thylea, which includes the use of exotic weapons and a construct falcon companion.
- Rogue: The Odyssean, a martially inclined rogue who specializes in deceit and determination.
- Sorcerer: Demigod, a sorcerer whose power stems from divine ancestry. Tries to be a Gish with a side of Favored Soul, but it doesn't really do it well enough to work with anything but a sorcadin build.
- Warlock: The Fates, a warlock empowered by the mysterious spirits who govern destiny and oath-making in the lands of Thylea.
- Wizard: Academy Philosopher, a wizard-sage who devotes themselves to a specific philosophical concept and uses the illumination this brings to achieve greater flexibility with their magic.
Central to the concept of Odyssey of the Dragonlords is an attempt to mimic the "feel" of Mythic Fantasy and Classical Mythological heroes' tales. As a result, it relies on two new mechanics; Fame and Epic Paths.
Fame something your character can accumulate based on performing mighty deeds and epic feats; as it builds, you gain increasing social benefits, up to and including being worshipped as a demigod - or ascending to godhood yourself.
Epic Paths are secondary backstories that provide a divine narrative your character is bound up in, which manifests as a single mechanical benefit and a set of established deeds you should seek to accomplish as part of the campaign. The following Epic Paths are included in the Adventure Book:
- The Cursed One
- The Demigod
- The Doomed One
- The Dragonslayer
- The Gifted One
- The Haunted One
- The Lost One
- The Vanished One