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D&D 5E Arkadia vs Theros: Sell me on or off

Greg K

Adventurer
Which is more accurate to Greek legends/myth, Arkadia or Theros? What do you like about them? What do you dislike about them? Is there another 5e Greek supplement/setting you think is better than either?
 
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J.Quondam

90% grunts. 10% thews.
(caveat emptor! This is all impressions from read-throughs, not play experience, so take all this with a huge grain of salt...)

Arkadia is pretty light-weight. It's more of a "how to skin D&D in a Greek style" rather than a full-fledged setting or campaign. Its gods map fairly neatly into the regular Greek pantheon, and its few major cities reflect our stereotypical ancient Greece in a fairly straightforward way. The player options build on standard D&D characters; equipment lists are adjusted to reflect bronze age; and there's some new magic and monsters intended to emulate mythic Greece. It doesn't provide much in the way of new mechanics or anything. It also doesn't offer big plot line or anything, so the DM is on their own to build an actual campaign.

Theros is a much beefier book and a more complete setting derived from the Magic card game. It's definitely it's own thing: certainly influenced by Greek myth, but it's not actual mythic Greece. The pantheon and cultures are only loosely based on our "real" myths. It's got fewer new options for PCs, iirc, but also offers some new mechanics for the sort of heroic play the setting focuses on (namely things like omens and Piety). It also present quite a few hooks, small maps, and so forth to aid the DM in running a campaign. Like Arkadia, though, there isn't really any single over-arching story presented.

FWIW, there is a third setting called Odyssey of the Dragonlords. I haven't fully digested this one yet, but i'd say it's comparable to Theros in its "accuracy:" heavily inspired, but definitely its own thing. It's got it's own history and pantheon, and (spoiler!) dragons. The book does offer quite a few new player options, monsters, and so forth, as well as some new concepts like Fame and Epic Paths. Importantly, this one is an actual campaign to high-levels, played out in several Acts and modeled on the trope of "epic great labors."

None of these settings, iirc, mentions common mythic Greek tropes like "the loyal friend;" commanding crews or armies; or nautical rules; etc. The concepts of "fate" and "destiny" are addressed in Theros and Dragonlords, though not especially deeply or innovatively, imo.

TL;DR
  • Arkadia is probably closest to an "accurate" Greek setting, if only because you can easily swap out its fluff with actual mythic Greece; and because it explicitly offers some ways to stylize your D&D in a Greek fashion. But it doesn't have much story attached to it; the GM will have to build a campaign from scratch.
  • Theros has much more to it, but as a MTG setting, also less truly Greek. The setting itself is well fleshed out, and it's got a little more story to work with, but no single coherent campaign is offered. Perhaps nice for an on-the-fly sandbox?
  • Dragonlords is complete, providing a full setting and campaign to go with it. But it's not "truly" mythic Greece by any stretch. If having a prebuilt adventure path is important to you, though, this might be the one to go with?
 



wellis

Villager
There's also Hellenistika, Land of Myth, Odyssey of the Dragonlords, Ancient Adventures. Greek settings are probably the most common D&D setting type.
I thought Norse-inspired settings were? I remember seeing like 5 of them for 5e, for example.
 

Quartz

Adventurer
I have Theros and as a classicist it just rubs me the wrong way.

If you want a milieu based on mythical Greece then I urge you to find a copy of Hero Games Mythic Greece and adapt it for 5E.
 

teitan

Legend
I run a Theros campaign myself and it feels suitably epic with the way the gods play in the setting and how the Nyx and Underworld interact with the setting. The next adventure is a seafaring and undersea adventure inspired by Atlantis lore and the city of the Tritons and the sea god Thassa.
 


I suppose it's a bit of an 'uncanny valley' effect.
I think so, as a fellow classicist, as Theros also rubs me the wrong way, despite liking a lot of individual bits of it. It's just sort of too-similar and too-distant at the same time. Discordant.

Odyssey of the Dragonlords is the one that works best for me - it's Greek "enough" but not extreme. It also has some really interestingly designed subclass options which push the mythic Greece vibe pretty well (unlike Theros), one for each class too.
 


Greg K

Adventurer
I think so, as a fellow classicist, as Theros also rubs me the wrong way, despite liking a lot of individual bits of it. It's just sort of too-similar and too-distant at the same time. Discordant.

Odyssey of the Dragonlords is the one that works best for me - it's Greek "enough" but not extreme. It also has some really interestingly designed subclass options which push the mythic Greece vibe pretty well (unlike Theros), one for each class too.
Ruin Explorer, what do you mean by, "but not extreme"?
 

jgsugden

Legend
If you know enough Greek lore to care about what is accurate/authentic, then you don't need a setting. All the mythic monsters are in the core rules. As for weapons and armor, reskinning those is easy.

Dragonlords is a hybrid of Game of Thrones and Greek myth. While elements have a very Greek myth feel to me, others are absolutely not Greek. It feels to me like someone put their Krynn Dragonlance Chocolate in my Greek Mythos Peanut Butter. It works, but you would not make a PB&J with it.
 

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