5E D&D Worldbuilding Insights from New Mythic Odysseys of Theros Subclasses
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted share their thoughts on the two new fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons subclasses inside Mythic Odysseys of Theros. College of Eloquence bards and Oath of Glory paladins bring new options for players tied to the themes and concepts of the new 5E D&D campaign setting. If I’m honest it was surprising there aren’t more new subclasses included with MOoT. Circle of Stars felt like a surefire piece of the Theros puzzle! On the other hand if it shows up in a future product more closely tied to the stars (like Spelljammer?!) or a Feywild campaign adventure you won’t find me grousing about it. In the meantime, since I enjoyed thinking about how curating the playable races for characters can become a resource for campaign creation and worldbuilding why not apply the same principles to subclass options?
Subclasses shape Theros in 5E D&D
Each of the official setting source books for 5E D&D — Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica, Eberron: Rising from the Last War and Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount — includes new subclass options for characters adventuring in these settings. Unlike these books’ section on playable races there’s no discussion about particular subclasses particularly appropriate or befitting characters in these new campaign worlds, which is kind of weird frankly. There’s unexplored space between hard line restrictions and wide open character creation. Does a Beast Master ranger line up more thematically in Wildemount than a Hunter ranger? (This is a totally arbitrary example.)
“In Theros, player characters and heroes are synonymous, being rare individuals whose deeds aren’t bound by fate, who willfully stray from the paths laid before them and chart their own courses.”
Along with race, background and Supernatural Gift an important part of character creation involves your character’s Heroic Drive. According to MOoT this is the force that impels your character to live a life worthy of great epics. The concept builds on ideals,bonds and flaws — including tragic flaws. Players are free to choose from among any of the subclasses found in the 5E D&D Player’s Handbook in addition to the two new ones presented in MOoT. Surely plenty of players will undoubtedly bring their artificers, Echo Knight fighters, Circle of Spores druids and more to campaigns set in Theros but technically the content in MOoT assumes options from outside the PHB aren’t found there unless characters arrive from other worlds.
With all that in mind let’s break down all the official 5E D&D subclass options and see if any stand out as particularly ideal for Theros characters. At the end we’ll dip a toe into third party subclasses too.
This one is unique among all the other classes since it’s not in the Basic Rules, System Reference Document or PHB. Found inside Eberron: Rising from the Last War this extremely popular class fits perfectly there but with gods like Purphoros and Supernatural Gifts like Anvilwrought you can definitely make a case for these magical inventors in Theros.
- Battle Smith. Forging a magical construct feels perfect for a Theros campaign!
- Ancestral Guardian. The ancestors you revere may be living in the Underworld, a place you could potentially visit in person.
- Storm Herald. These barbarians might find exultation under Keranos, god of storms and wisdom and be considered divine representations of their mercilessness and impatience.
- Path of the Zealot. Do I need to explain this one? It’s got Theros written all over it.
- College of Eloquence. It’s printed in the book so of course this one fits Theros perfectly.
- College of Glamour. Sort of adjacent to College of Eloquence, this bard’s telling of epic tales enthrall all who witness the performance.
- College of Valor. Keeping alive memories of great heroes in the past and inspiring new generations of heroes fits the Theros bill.
- All of ‘Em! Okay maybe not Arcana or Order but every other Divine Domain finds representation in one of the gods of Theros. The setting is all about those deities — is there a more fitting class?
- Circle of Stars. So on brand I’m mentioning it twice.
- Circle of the Land. Theros is small, with a lot of coastline, mountains and arid regions so those land types fit most closely.
- Champion. Let it roll off the tongue. Sounds heroic right?
- Way of Shadow. A strong connection to the Underworld gives these monks powers related to darkness.
- Way of the Drunken Master. Wine flows freely in Theros and this monk is all about that life.
- Way of the Long Death. Another tie to the Underworld gives these monks access to death and dying unheard of in other worlds.
- Way of the Open Hand. A pankration themed monk ready to throw down in the Iroan Games or against mythical monsters works great.
- Oath of Glory. It’s printed in the book so of course this one fits Theros perfectly.
- Oath of Devotion. The heavy influence of Piety and devotion in Theros lines up nicely.
- Beast Master. Your beast companion might have been sent to you by the gods themselves. (As Dungeon Master I might make the beast Nyxborn too.)
- Gloom Stalker. Another place where the Underworld can exert influence.
- Hunter. Battling mythical beasts is right up this ranger’s alley.
- Monster Slayer. See Hunter.
- Inquisitive. Sure, there’s lots of mythical monsters and machinations of the gods but people on any world prey upon ordinary folk too, and you excel at rooting them out.
- Mastermind. This pairs up well with the Lifelong Companion Supernatural Gift for the ultimate right hand person.
- Swashbuckler. Set aside your image of feathered cap wearing pirates and the like to consider a mobile performance fighter at sea or on land.
- Divine Soul. I mean…
- Shadow Magic. I see dark or shadow themes I think Underworld in Theros.
- Storm Sorcery. Like Storm Herald barbarians these sorcerers embody the destructive power of the gods like Keranos.
- Celestial. A patron from the heavenly host gets pretty close to gods in Theros.
- The Undying. Here’s another Underworld related one except standing in opposition!
- Divination. Seeking knowledge of part, present and future through supernatural means sounds thematically appropriate for Theros.
- Necromancy. Another link to the Underworld and in this case I feel like there’s be some very interesting character development opportunities because of the nature of death and afterlife in Theros.