D&D 5E Odyssey of the Dragonlords - things I’d do differently. (Spoilers)

TheSword

Legend
So I ran Odyssey of the Dragonlords all last year and the first half of this one and thoroughly enjoyed it. Was it perfect - no - but it was one of the most inspiring things I’ve read in a long long time! However in hindsight there are a few things I’d do differently.

Campaign Structure

The first thing was levelling. I can’t stress this enough. Do not over level the PCs. In fact if anything - under level them. I would keep the party at least one level below the recommended if they are good players, more if they are optimized. I was a bit generous with the levelling allowed them to get a level ahead of the recommended and they ended up curb stomping stuff in such a way as to chip into a bit of the fun - particularly towards the end. There is a lot of magic in this book, the subclasses are good and the nature of the game means they get some epic stuff. Over levelling just makes that stuff unnecessary. For me, it should be a level 1-11 campaign with the opportunity to extend to 15th.

Second thing. I’d remove the doomsday clock. As soon as the party complete the oracle’s initial prophesies a 30 day doomsday clock begins. This meant that the PCs were in a rush to get through things and I think we rushed the Islands… don’t get me wrong they were brilliant but we could have done more of that. This ties into a different change I’d make too.

Third big thing - I’d finish each session with the PCs declaring where they would like to go next. I would then put a lot more effort into fleshing out the area before hand. The book is great but a few areas are a bit sparse and could do with a bit more meat on the bones. Particularly around NPC motivations, background, character. I’d name every NPC - and fill in the gaps. There is so much in this book I don’t blame it for not having these bits - and to many more combat orientated groups it might not have mattered - but I really needed to bring it to life a bit more.

The Islands

The Islands are an amazing part of the campaign with so many cool locations and interesting challenges. It really has the potential to recreate the feel of Homer as the PCs defy the storm god to sail the Archepelago.

The first issue I would say is the Ultros itself. The whole piece just felt a bit pointless. The PCs effectively gain a ghost ship that sails itself. That made the living crew pretty much superfluous. The ship also couldn’t sink so it made charting the sea far less exciting in my opinion. Maybe it comes down to a challenge thing.

Firstly I wouldn’t give the PCs the Ultros. I’d have them find the ship wrecked and then let them explore it as the ghost ship it is - which was a cool part - however they would get to recover key relics of the ship that would imbue the PCs own ship with some of its powers.

Instead I would have the ship built by the people of Estonia. Firstly it gives the city something relevant to do - supervised by Volkan. I’d even give the PCs some choices in its construction and elements. What would I would do is let the PCs recover the dragon figure head from the Ultros - that would allow the ship to sail the acid waters of the Nether Sea. The pipes of the Ultros that would allow the player to summon the ghostly crew but only during the hours of darkness. Lastly the log of Eator Arkalander which would protect the ship from being sunk by Sydon’s storms. The new ship would have to have a stern carved in the shape of Vallus too, which she can animate 3 times to give them advice!

The antithykera created a very strange randomness effect where it doesn’t matter where the PCs are on the map, they teach the island they want in 3 days. The islands don’t also really correspond to the constellations in many cases and why would there even be a constellation per island. It just doesn’t make sense to me. So I would instead make the anthykera a divination device that the party can set by activating constellations. Those can be combined as the PCs choose to make their reading - kind of how Tarrot cards combine to make a reading.

So if the party wanted to find a powerful magic weapon they might combine the spear and the blacksmith. To find a knowledge about the titans - the titan, the bard. The antithykera then points the way to that location. Importantly they still has to pass by the intervening islands. I’d certainly have food stocks and water be an important element to make the PCs land, and have better hooks to get the PCs exploring the islands - this would of course depend on the party. The missing gear would be simple - it would have constellation for the twins - which would allow the party to use the Antithykera to find Lutheria and Sydon - cloaked up to that point by their power.

There are beautiful maps in the game - but they felt almost totally redundant. Now I would use them to plot the Party’s course and determine which Islands they came across!

More to come later. What would you folks do differently? Or what would you definitely not change?
 
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GuyBoy

Hero
Will be interesting to read replies to this thread. I was a player in this game and it was awesome; even if we did some curb-stomping, there were some wonderfully close battles, and we got our butts kicked by the pyrohydra, with one PC death and a narrow escape for the rest of us.
 

TheSword

Legend
Will be interesting to read replies to this thread. I was a player in this game and it was awesome; even if we did some curb-stomping, there were some wonderfully close battles, and we got our butts kicked by the pyrohydra, with one PC death and a narrow escape for the rest of us.
Yeah… I might have embellished the hydra on Themis a little bit … maybe a lot.

It went from being a Hydra, to a legendary Pyro-hydra. Kinda felt bad about that one. Considering it killed a player. Though that’s always a challenge when the response to player power is to make the monsters tougher - kills are more likely.

I do think there is good grounds to add a legendary template to most of the stand alone - themed monsters in the game. But maybe telegraph them more, and build up the lead in more.

  • Who does the monster affect?
  • What is it’s lair like?
  • Does it have vulnerabilities or does the lair pose an opportunity
  • What is it’s story
  • Can it be defeated through something other than combat.
 

pukunui

Legend
We made it as far as Lutheria’s pleasure barge before giving up. This was during covid and there were a lot of disruptions and players coming and going, and I ended up finding it to be too much work and also not really what I wanted out of a pseudo-Greek campaign.

I wish WotC had published the Theros book sooner and had included a longer adventure, as I feel that one captures what I want better.

That being said, I agree with a lot of the OP’s suggestions on how to improve this campaign.
 

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