Review: Arcanum Worlds – Odyssey of the Dragonlords (Dungeons & Dragons)

Odyssey of the Dragonlords
Odyssey of the Dragonlords is a Greek epic fantasy campaign for Dungeons & Dragons, written by James Ohlen, Jesse Sky, and Drew Karpyshyn and published by Arcanum Worlds and distributed by Modiphius Entertainment.
By Dave Pierson

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The Homebrew DM’s Perception

For thousands of years, the Titans were the lords of this land.
The Dragonlords drove back their armies; then fell to Sydon’s hand.
Five Gods from the heavens came, as the Oracle had foreseen.
And a sacred oath was sealed with the blood of the Silver Queen.
Five hundred years have passed, but the peace has been in vain.
The time has come for war in Thylea once again.

Odyssey of the Dragonlords, 2019

One of the best moves Wizards of the Coast did when releasing 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons was to allow their community of content creators to have the freedom to create and publish their own content for 5th edition under the OGL (Open Game License) rules. Under the previous edition, third-parties could apply for a GSL (Game System License), but this was less generous than the OGL and led to much less support. Now that Wizards has opened D&D to the OGL once again, more and more third-party publishing is available for Dungeon Masters and their players to review and support. The DMs Guild is one place where creators can publish their own ideas, from character backgrounds and classes to full campaigns (Note: DMs Guild was created in partnership with Wizards of the Coast). As more and more content creators wanted to get their D&D ideas out to the masses, many independent publishers have also gotten into the game. I personally own a few hardcover books from Kickstarter that have provided additional foes and rules for my players in our homebrew setting. So it’s only fair that we also take a look at these independent creators and bring forth their ideas and how they can fit into your own homebrew campaign.

Odyssey of the Dragonlords is a 5th Edition supplement published by Arcanum Worlds with the assistance and support of Modiphius Entertainment. Created by James Ohlen and Jesse Sky, Odyssey is a full campaign, set to take your players from level 1 to 15. Heavily influenced by Geek Mythology and the stories of ancient times, your players take on the role of Mythic Heroes in the land of Thylea. Mythic heroes are mortals who have been the subjects of a dire prophecy and have dealings with gods on an almost daily basis. The Five Gods of Thylea are celebrated beings that are familiar faces who walk among their people, but a prophecy is now hinting at the destruction of Thylea and your players have been called upon to save the land. As your players complete milestones in the story, new parts of the world become available for them to explore. According to Odyssey, “The goal of this adventure is to explore what it means to be a hero in a land where gods and Titans still walk the earth—where the forces of civilization are only just beginning to prevail against the monsters that haunt the seas and the forests.” The core book is intended for Dungeon Masters only since it contains major spoilers throughout, but there is a Player’s Guide available for your players that includes everything about the world of Thylea a player could want to know to get started.

Upon my initial read through, my thoughts were same old trope with a new twist; mortals versus gods inspired by Greek Mythology. However, as I dug more into the world and the campaign itself, I found myself a little more intrigued. The concept of the Five Gods walking among the folk in mortal guise and the role they played in shaping Thylea lends to some interesting interactions that play out during the campaign. In addition, the surprises the writers have woven into the narrative are enough to keep your players on their toes and if the DM plays their cards close to their sleeves, the twists and turns can make play at the table very rewarding. The players will face off with multiple villains throughout the story and will need to stay ahead of them if they can. Their choices will impact the world.

Being that it is a full campaign, I will refrain from saying more about the adventure as typically I try to look at what can I incorporate into my own homebrew world. Certainly, you could use the campaign in its full in your own setting, change some of the tropes to align with the world building you have created, but you could be tying your PCs to one track for quite a time. I do feel it would be difficult to just drop your players into the world (Planar hoping), so you will have to commit to the story. But there are standalone concepts you can certainly fold in, the first being Epic Paths. Epic Paths were designed to give players mythic archetypes for their heroes, so they feel like divinely touched figures. Specific to the setting, these differ from backgrounds as they directly influence how one interacts with gods and their followers. The Epic Path is meant more as the enhancement to the background and provides a set of goals for the player as well as blessings and magic items to seek out. If you wanted to run a campaign that had direct involvement with gods, this would be an interesting twist for, not only interactions with gods, but also among the players.

The Odyssey source material also includes new playable races and descriptions to assist in how the standard races interact; class archetypes; magical items; and new NPCs and foes to throw in your players’ way. All are good assets for your own campaign. However, keep in mind that they are inspired by Greek Mythology, therefore, you may need to put in some time and effort to adjust the flavor to meet your setting if it does not align.

Overall, for the right campaign, DM, and players, this is a solid setting. It is well thought out, has interesting concepts to build upon, and the story is intriguing. However, it is best to be enjoyed as a whole, and not easily incorporated into your own homebrew setting.

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