All images from this review were either taken from the supplement itself or from Mythic Oddyseys of Theros
From the creators of previous products like Waterdeep City Encounters, Saltmarsh Encounters (our review), and Encounters in Avernus (and some new ones who are pretty well known in the DM’s Guild), comes this new one filled with encounters for your Mythic Oddyseys of Theros campaign. If you have at least heard or seen one of the previous encounter products I have already mentioned you will understand that without a doubt this is very possibly going to be a must-have supplement. But how good is it in comparison to the others? Let’s do an in-depth review to find out!
Let’s begin with the core content of the book: the encounters. These are separated in 4 categories: City Encounters, Wilderness Encounters (which encompass forest, plains and desert regions), Mountain Encounters, and Watery Encounters. Once your party gets into a random encounter you check on the specific section of the product and roll what they find. Each category has you roll in a d20 table to see the result. Mind that not all of them include 20 different encounters, but there are between 17-20 encounters in each of them, which is more than enough. What’s more, some of these encounters have their own chart you can roll in (usually a 1d4 table) to create variations for the encounter. This makes some of them perfectly reusable, while most of the ones who don’t have this option can be reused or even reskinned as well. Let’s be honest, it’s not weird in D&D to run into the same (or a second) doomsayer while in a city for example.
I took the time to give a read to all the encounters and I was greatly surprised with some aspects. They all are extremely varied while tied beautifully to the Greek Mythology Theros comes from. Nothing felt out of place and gods have (as they should in this setting) the spotlight most of the time in these encounters. Some great examples I’ve never seen before include the players having to philosophize with a professional philosopher. That one specifically caught me off guard. Some players might adore the chance of roleplaying something like this, but others could get instantly bored. What’s more, it could be extremely hard for a DM to roleplay a professional philosopher. The writers thought this through, however, creating an easy way out of the encounter to use when needed, as well as some phrases and questions to use when roleplaying this NPC.
Something that surprised me while reading these encounters was that about 90% of them give great roleplaying opportunities and offer a way to avoid combat when that is a possibility. This teaches the players in a way that most problems can be fought with words, while also providing better results. If your players are more fond of the combat pillar of D&D, there’s plenty of interesting things to be found or ways to stir the encounter to a fight scene. Is the combat way too difficult for the players? All combats include a section indicating how to scale it up or down. As this was not enough, most of the encounters give out rewards making running random encounters less of a waste of time as some DMs and players consider them. Last but not least, some of this encounters take advantage of the maps that appear in Mythic Oddyseys of Theros, making your encounters even easier to prepare as the map is already created for you.
As I stated before, most of these encounters are incredibly creative. One that must receive an honorable mention from my part is the named “Komast’s Cup“. In it, the voyage the player characters are taking is suddenly interrupted by something they don’t recall very well, and they wake up in a fashion similar to the movie Hangover. Now players are asked by the DM to describe what little thing the characters recall about the party they joined the night before with a satyr. I don’t want to spoil everything about it, but that’s definitely something I will be stealing for my non-Theros game sometime soon.
It was incredibly hard to find something to nitpick about this product, but I did find something. There was a problem I found with some encounters, that can be easily solved by rolling for another one in the chart. This lies in the Wilderness section. When reading it I noticed that the Wilderness chapter was to be used for forest, plains and desert sections. However, about half of the ones in that section state specifically that they occur in a forest, with some of them such as the Night Runners encounter that can’t be done in any other location without heavily modifying it. If you are one of those DMs who like rolling for an encounter during the game you will be forced to choose another one or improvise on the spot, which is not ideal. The other half don’t include any sort of location and can be done in pretty much any open area, suiting the category perfectly.
Layout and Art
As with the previous encounters products, this is a Guilds’ Adepts one meaning they get to use the official art from D&D books. I can see how the writers took inspiration from the art that was in the Mythic Oddyseys of Theros book. There are some encounters that were clearly born from looking at one of the art pieces and thinking “Which cool encounter could I create out of this?”. I am not saying this as a negative statement. All the contrary! When art is shown in this book (which is pretty often, making it look beautiful), you know there is some encounter that is based on it. This not only helps DMs have a visual depiction of how the encounter can look like, but also can be shown to the players when it comes out.
There’s really not much else to say about the art from this book. It is gorgeous just like previous D&D books’ art. However, that credit goes mostly to the artists, and it is not what this product is about. On the other hand, the layout of this book is excellently made as well. Everything is properly placed in an easy to read format, with no text over images nor things that could create a problem for visually impaired people.
If there was something that I would add to this product it would be two things. They don’t alter my opinion on the product in any way, but they would be a nice addition to it nonetheless. Firstly, there is one encounter that includes a handout. This one can be found near the end of the PDF. While printing a page from the PDF is no difficult task, it could be handier to have this only handout added as a separate image in the purchase. Lastly, many DMs like to roll for encounters on the table while playing, or having the players roll for them. A printer-friendly version of this product to print and have at the table would be awesome as another thing to add to the purchase. If these things could be taken into account for future Encounters lists products it would be awesome, but I don’t necessarily consider them fundamental.
Encounters in Theros is not the first nor will be the last Encounter book these Guild Adepts will be creating. Why? Because they are great at it. If you are planning to run a game in the Mythic Oddyseys of Theros Setting, getting this supplement is a no-brainer which will greatly enhance your game.