As I look forward to being fully vaccinated — two shots down and waiting for those antibodies to spool up, baby! — I’ve been itching to play more tabletop role playing games than just my current three hours a week, twice a month or so local game. It’s a fun D&D game, a homebrew fantasy with light steampunk elements, and nothing beats the convenience of everyone living in a five-minute-drive radius from one another (even tho we’re all playing over Zoom still and for the foreseeable future.) Scheduling, however, is a constant pain. Plus, as someone who used to game regularly twice a week, twice a month feels like the bare minimum of nourishment.
So when an old friend asked if I was interested in joining an Odyssey Of The Dragonlords game, I nearly fell over myself to say yes. To be frank, D&D is not my favorite system, but no one plays my favorite flexible d10 roll and keep systems any more, so I’ll take what I can get. Since I was already familiar with the basics of D&D, I was told that I only needed to read this player’s guide, downloadable as a free pdf (at least for now) from Modiphius Entertainment. I was also told that the setting was vaguely Ancient Greek, but in more of a Clash Of The Titans style than actual historical mythology.
And, y’know, I didn’t know what to expect honestly, but it certainly wasn’t this beautiful, professional package full of meaty plot hooks and flavor! The three-page character sheet in the back alone is a gorgeous meld of function and art, and I’m itching to print it out on some of the antiqued paper I’ve been hoarding. As for the supplement’s text, while there are parallels to the established Greek history and pantheon, the deities are entirely original, and the story and world-building tension uniquely first class. As a testament to how absorbing the new playable races are, for this campaign I’m stifling the whimpering protests of my inner minmaxer and building a Siren Barbarian who has All The Feelings. After I told the Discord chat my character concept, they suggested I eventually take the Barbarian Path Of The Storm Herald, the Sea aspect of which is just going to be the best flavor for making the most of my bipolar girl’s background and abilities. Her journey going forward will be loosely based on finding a way to positively manage and channel her emotions, given the unfortunate lack of pharmaceutical mood stabilizers and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in fantasy settings. I’m just so pleased that a predisposition to mental illness is presented here as inherently non-villainous, and just as much a part of a hero’s makeup as her wings or religious leanings.
I can’t say anything yet about how this setting and the new rules work as a play experience, but as a reading experience, it’s incredibly rich, absorbing material for flexing one’s imagination. Supplements like this make me so glad Wizards Of The Coast decided to go back to using an Open Gaming License in 2016, as it really allows for more people to get into the game while encouraging a community of creatives to give players a reason to buy more of the source material. While I’d ideally prefer to play something non-D&D eventually, books like this leave me content with the system and willing to overlook some of its most egregious failings (I mean, no merchant skill, wtf is up with that?!) in order to enjoy a great collaborative storytelling time with friends.
Odyssey Of The Dragonlords — Players Guide by James Ohlen, Jesse Sky & Drew Karpyshyn was published March 3 2020 by Modiphius Entertainment and is available from all good booksellers, including