Theros (plane)

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First seen Theros
Last seen Theros Beyond Death
Planeswalkers Xenagos, Gideon Jura, Calix
Rabiah Scale 3[1]
Status Stable

Theros is a plane where the Theros block and other Theros sets take place. It is similar to Hellenic Greece. The name may be from the Ancient Greek word θέρος (théros), meaning summer. The name may also be a portmanteau of the words "the" and "heroes", considering the heavy emphasis of Heroes on the plane.

Description[edit | edit source]

Theros is a plane governed by the gods of Nyx, where heroes face monsters, the sea rages, people offer burnt offerings and adventures take place. It is defined by mankind's struggle against the primal forces of the world, and mankind's conflict with the many other sapient races that populate the world.

Theros has a unique metaphysical property: things believed and dreamed here eventually become true.[2] The collective unconscious of millions of people has the literal power of creation, though the process unfolds over the course of countless centuries. Thus the gods of Theros and their servants were believed, dreamed, and narrated into existence, materializing, and becoming fully real as a result of mortal belief in their power.

Two closely related concepts loom large in the way mortals think about their place in the world: fate and destiny.[2] Fate is that which you cannot change, it is spun out in a tapestry woven by a trio of semi-divine women, The Fates. Destiny is that in which you’re meant to do. While fate is what happens when you don’t take responsibility for your life, destiny is what happens when you commit to growing, learning, and taking chances. Being “destined for greatness” only comes through active and conscious decisions. But fate is what happens when you let other people and external circumstances dictate your life. The strands of destiny are spun of the hair of the ancient god Klothys.

More than just for their deeds, heroes fill an important role among the inhabitants of Theros.[2] Legendary heroes form a vast collection of archetypes (the Hunter, the General, the Philosopher, etc.) who embody the qualities to strive for and the potential of mortals to be more than mere drops in the raging river of fate.

History[edit | edit source]

The sealing of the titans[edit | edit source]

Thousands of years ago, Before the current gods of Theros rose to power, the titans — horrific primal urges made flesh — roamed the mortal realm, sowing death and destruction in their wake.[3] The mortals, powerless to defend themselves, turned to prayer in their hour of need. From this prayer, this concentrated devotion sprang forth the gods themselves.

The oldest of the currents gods, often considered siblings and some sort of offshoot from the Titans, are Klothys and Kruphix.[2] Perhaps the former arose from a sense of inevitability, and the latter of a sense of mystery. From them, the third generation of deities were born: sun-crowned Heliod, deep-dwelling Thassa, bleak-hearted Erebos, bronze-blooded Purphoros and keen-sighted Nylea. The other eight gods, the fourth generation, are their offspring.

Imbued with incredible power by the faith of mortals, the gods sealed the titans away in the Underworld. Klothys, the god of fate, volunteered to act as jailer and sequestered herself in the Underworld for eternity. While Erebos rules this realm beyond death, it was Klothys who acted as an eternal seal, ensuring the titans remained trapped.

The age of Trax[edit | edit source]

In ancient times, the archons of Trax held a massive empire, tyrannizing the world in the belief that they were imposing a strict justice.[4][2] The most notable of these Archon tyrants was Agnomakhos, who used the leonin as an army. Giants, demons and medusas are said to have reigned kingdoms of their own in those days. Dragons, Kraken and Hydras used to be even larger than they are in the present time.

Eventually, the Archon empire fell, being instead replaced by the poleis, and the remaining Archons now lash at these, slighting the "honor" they feel was stripped from them.

Birth of the poleis[edit | edit source]

The end of the age of Trax corresponds roughly with the rise of the fourth and latest generation of the gods.[2] Ephara inspired and equipped the human heroes Kynaios and Tiro to overthrow Agnomakhos. They founded the polis Meletis, established its legal code, and defended it for decades. After the fall of the archons, humans and minotaurs waged a bloody war in the highlands. The poleis of Akros and Skophos were born from that bloodshed, inspired by the martial doctrines of Iroas and Mogis.

The age of heroes[edit | edit source]

The uncounted centuries since the fall of the archons have been marked by the exploits of great heroes, many of which have been recorded in epic works of epic prose and poetry. The tale of The Akroan War, is only nominally a history of the long siege of Akros, precipitated by the queen of Olantin abandoning her husband and going to live with the Akroan king. The Theriad tells the epic story of various unidentified adventurers who would each rise to become The Champion of the Sun God. The Callapheia recounts the adventures of Callaphe the Mariner.

The rise and fall of Xenagos[edit | edit source]

When the satyr planeswalker Xenagos returned to his birthplane, he found his old hedonistic lifestyle exceedingly dull and the gods to be a farce in which he was no longer willing to participate.[5] His ambitions had evolved into a desire for outright godhood, to join or replace the pantheon of Theros, and so he began gathering his forces of eldritch, otherworldly monsters to attack the poleis of Meletis, Akros, and Setessa. These attacks became so severe that the gods themselves began to go blind, cut off from their oracles. This drove them into a panic which escalated as they blamed the others of their kind for the transgression. Only Nylea seemed to be aware of the threat he played, but with his otherworldly magic, none of the gods could truly stop him.

In circumstances largely under mystery, Xenagos managed to ascend to godhood. This occurred during a minotaur siege at Akros, battled off by armies led by Elspeth. The victory celebration was the final ingredient to Xenagos' divine ascension, and in the ensuing turmoil, the Sun god's champion was ironically scapegoated for this, resulting in her exile to the wilderness. Xenagos now held the position of the God of the revels, furthering the chaos and distrust of the established pantheon.[6] Heliod was particularly offended by his ascension and sought to destroy the satyr, whom he referred to as "the usurper". He planned to punish all of mortal-kind for the actions of the new god.

Xenagos had accomplished what he had desired: obtaining a place in the pantheon. However, he could not sustain his godly form by himself; he gathered a large array of Nyxborn creatures, using them to keep his position. Capturing the Nyxborn caused Theros's sky to darken, as chaos spread across the plane. His time in Nyx would not be long though. Only a couple days after his rise, the planeswalkers Elspeth Tirel and Ajani Goldmane arrived in Nyx to set Theros right again. After a difficult battle, Xenagos managed to knock Elspeth down, planning on taking her weapon, Godsend, to keep his position firm. However, Elspeth managed to throw the spear into Xenagos's chest, causing the arrowhead, which Nylea had shot into Xenagos before his ascension, to explode, tearing Xenagos's organs into shreds. As Xenagos died in Nyx, he is not even in the Underworld and as such, he is truly gone.[7]

As Xenagos's body fell back to Theros, Elspeth offered her life in trade for her lover Daxos, a deal Heliod took gladly. Using her own weapon, he fatally wounded Elspeth.

War of the gods[edit | edit source]

Heliod contemplated the fragility of his immortality. He would not allow anyone to take his place in the pantheon — not even the other existing gods. To that end, he pulled the soul of the oracle Daxos and transformed him into his champion in the mortal realm.[8] Now a demigod, Daxos was instructed to remove all trace of the other gods from the great city of Meletis. The other gods, refusing to stand for such an affront, called upon their own champions from the Underworld; with this, the gods were at war. Their strife led to unintended consequences, one of which began the opening of rifts between the Underworld and the mortal realm. This allowed Erebos's monsters and the titans to pour forth and sow chaos. Also in the Underworld, Elspeth became empowered by Ashiok, who equipped her with a weapon created from her past traumas. She also managed to escape the Underworld and planned to assassinate Heliod. The god Klothys sent the nyxborn Calix to bring her back.

Elspeth claimed that the Shadowspear was the true Khrusor and that Heliod's spear was a fake. Due to the nature of belief on Theros, when mortals started to acknowledge Shadowspear as the true Khrusor, Heliod's spear weakened to the point of shattering when clashing against Elspeth's weapon. The God of the Sun was forced to yield and Erebos imprisoned him in the Underworld forever. For defeating his most hated enemy, Elspeth won the God of the Dead's eternal gratitude and the permission to return to the world of the living. After meeting with Daxos one last time, Elspeth planeswalked away, with Calix, whose spark ignited in the meantime, following her.

Locations[edit | edit source]

The realms[edit | edit source]

Theros is divided into three main realms:

  • The normal, sunlit world of the living, also known as the mortal realm. The mainland of Theros is somewhere around 40,000 square miles, and the known world is only a small part of a much much larger continent, mostly unexplored.[9] The known world is bounded to the west by the Siren Sea, and to the east by the very vast Nistos Forest.[10]
  • Nyx: A paranormal realm associated with dreams and the subconscious, a literal and proverbial nightsky where the gods dwell. Nyx is so closely tied to the plane's deities that, whenever they manifest, where they should be shadowed they instead display the glorious starlight of the nightsky. Dreams are seen as gifts from the gods, and so are enchantments, due to their connection with this realm; whenever mortals sleep, they are said to be "visiting Nyx". Tales of the gods can be seen played out in the constellations[11]
  • The Underworld: A subterranean realm beneath the "Rivers That Ring The World", where the dead eventually ends up and dwell. It is governed by the god Erebos, cast into the place by a frightened and paranoid Heliod after his birth. Although the Underworld is dark, it is ironically not connected to Nyx, as it lacks the night as much as it lacks the Sun. The dead in Theros dwell in Underworld regions based on the lives they lead; known regions are Phylias, a wretched and tedious realm of the uninspired; Ilysia, a protected realm, tranquil and vibrant; and Tizerus, outside the palace of Erebos.

The Rivers That Ring the World are five rivers that form a boundary between Theros and its Underworld. Together they are also known as the Tartyx.

Poleis[edit | edit source]

As a plane where mankind is carving out a place for civilization in the wild, Theros has three main cities, or "poleis" (singular polis [12]), born from relevant areas of the now-defunct Archon empire, with fewer, smaller settlements here and there:

Meletis[edit | edit source]

Meletis, inspired by Athens,[13] is the polis of learning, magic, and progress. It is a city-state of progressive thinkers, pious thaumaturges, and wise oracles on the Coast of the Siren Sea. Meletis was born from the defeat of tyranny, and to this day it retains a spirit of the triumph of free thought over brutish force. Meletians pride themselves on their great temples to the gods, their thaumaturgical academy, their great works of architecture, and for their Reverent Army. The Twelve, a council of philosophers headed by Perisophia, serves as the ruling body of Meletis.

  • The Dekatia, the legendary academy at Meletis, is the most elite academy for philosophers and mages on Theros.[14]
  • Branches of the river Kheir splay out across the landscape, bringing fresh water and trade from distant villages.
  • The Four Winds Plateau sits just inland of the mouth of Meletis Harbor, before one reaches the city itself.[15]

Akros[edit | edit source]

Akros, inspired by Sparta,[13] is a polis high in the Katachton Mountains, which serve as a shield between its holdings and the rest of Theros. The Akroans are half-mythical even within their own time. They are known to be the most feared warriors of Theros. They have lived and died by the spear in the name of countless kings, hardening their armies generation after generation by fostering a culture that revolves around perfecting the body and the mind for combat. The current king and queen of Akros are Anax and Cymede. Gideon Jura, originally known as Kytheon Iora among his people, was also an Akroan.

  • Pharagax Bridge. A huge stone bridge that is the gateway to Akros
  • The Kolophon. A huge, many-tiered structure perched on a cliff. The central fortress and seat of Akroan power.
  • The One-Eyed Pass. Akroan pass known for its abundance of cyclopes, leading to the Ashlands.
  • The Titan's Stairs. A natural access through the granite cliffs to the lowlands.
  • Deathbellow Canyon.[16]
  • Phoberos. The badlands in the west of the Akroan realm. Occupied by marauding leonin, flesh-eating minotaurs, and firebreathing dragons.
    • Odunos, a necropolis on the coast. Housing Returned who are driven by violence, towards themselves and the nearby living.
  • Mount Velus where the forge of Purphoros burns.[17]
  • The Deyda River. The river next to which Akros is built. It has very cliffs for banks and rough waters. It takes less than an hour to sail from the mouth of the Deyda to the Harbor of Meleltis. [15]
  • The Great River Road. A Road that runs along the Deyda out to sea. It is situated such that when heading towards the sea, the river is on one's left. [18] It takes under two days to walk between the sea and Akros along the road. [15]

Setessa[edit | edit source]

Setessa, inspired by Themyscira (DC Comics/Pontus),[13] has a layout resembling the rings of a tree, which radiate outward from the Temple of Karametra at its heart. Swaths of forest alternate with family dwellings and other civic structures. Roads are winding and narrow and usually not wide enough to accommodate a cart. Rope bridges provide easy foot travel through wild spaces. Setessa is located in the Nessian Forest[18] and encompasses a sprawling area on the border between the Nistos Forest and the open chaparral. Anthousa leads Karametra's Council of Warriors. She is considered the god's closest advisor and de facto ruler of the city.

  • The Amatrophon is a menagerie at the edge of the polis.
  • Setessa has a nexus honoring each of Nylea's seasons and the accompanying Karametran planting rituals. As conduits to the various gods, the nexuses are a source of enchantment magic in this region. This phenomenon is called the Kelema Veil. It has been described as a misty starfield that flows across the land. Inside the starfield are images that tell stories of the gods and can be used to predict the future.
  • The Summer Nexus, a holy grove.
  • There are four watchtowers in Setessa. Each is named for an animal, and each has a regiment of Setessan warriors attached to it: Leina Tower (lion), Hyrax Tower (falcon), Bassara Tower (fox) and Ophis Tower (serpent).
  • Abora Market is a giant, open-air market just inside the main gate.

Other poleis[edit | edit source]

  • Obscure legends say that another major polis once existed, a coastal city that was known as Arixmethes, which Heliod smote with Khrusor and cast into the sea.
  • The same tale is told about Olantin, whose inhabitants' hubris enraged the gods.[19]
  • Smaller poleis exist, either human or belonging to other races.
  • Iretis, a small polis near Meletis, bordering the wilds. Destroyed by leonin thanks to Ashiok, destined to become the third city for the Returned of Phenax.
  • Skophos, the minotaur polis in the far north, for centuries unknown to humans and remaining unexplored.[20] It boasts grand temples to the god of slaughter.[21]

Siren Sea[edit | edit source]

The Siren Sea is the sea that borders Meletis and is home to the tritons.

  • The Dakra Isles, or "Isles of Enchantment", is a host of small islands near the coast of Meletis. The Dakra have rarely been settled by humans, as they harbor strange nymphs and fierce monsters, and are enchanted with the magic of the gods.
    • Arixmethes, thought to be an island but really a titanic kraken. Generations of unaware humans had constructed a city on Arixmethes, though when the kraken woke, the city was demolished and the residents were killed. Arixmethes has since returned to its slumber.
    • Cronemouth Cove, a tiny island with a gate to the Underworld. A coven of sea hags who share a sentient tongue guard the gate.
    • Ketaphos, a mysterious island that exists in Nyx during the night and the mortal realm during the day.
    • Skathos, the island that is home to the gorgon queen Hythonia.

Oreskos[edit | edit source]

Oreskos is the central domain of the leonin. It lies in a rocky river valley in a remote eastern[10] region of Theros, beyond Akros but still bordering the Nessian Forest.[22] It is ruled by Brimaz, the Leonin King.

  • The Oreskos Road is a dirt road connecting Oreskos with the Nessian Forest, and is part of the road between Oreskos and the sea. It takes a day and a half to walk it at a rapid pace. [23]
  • Tethmos is the primary leonin den, high in the mountains.

The Nessian Wilds[edit | edit source]

The Nessian Wilds (also called the Nessian Forest or the Nessian Wood) is home to beasts, hydras, snakes and centaur coursers.

  • The Cyprus Gate is a natural limestone formation at the point where the Oreskos Road enters the forest. It is located in a valley of the Sperche River between two mountain ranges.[23]
  • Pheres and Lagonna, the centaur lowland domains west of Setessa.

The Chaparral[edit | edit source]

The chaparral is a dense growth of shrubs and small trees, bordering Setessa and the Nessian Wilds.

  • Skola Valley, a verdant, highly enchanted valley dotted with copses of trees and occupied by satyrs.

Despair Lands[edit | edit source]

On a peninsula south of the Nessian Wood, the Despair Lands leeches life from the surrounding areas.

  • The bleak mire of Hetos.[24] More dangerous for mortals than undead, mostly thanks to the crimson cypress known as the Blood Tree, which attracts vicious beasts.
  • The necropolises of Asphodel, housing Returned that only leave when bursts of emotion or old memories come to pass.

Temples[edit | edit source]

Nykthos[edit | edit source]

The shrine of Nykthos is the gateway to and of Nyx. On this sacred ground in the Oraniad Mountains east of Oreskos, the worshipers can see their gods most clearly.[25]

Temple of Mystery[edit | edit source]

At the end of the world, the sea drains off a sharp edge and formes an epic waterfall. At the top of the waterfall, there is a massive olive tree growing up out of the water. This tree is the shrine to Kruphix, the enigmatic god of horizons.[26]

Uncertain locations[edit | edit source]

Races[edit | edit source]

  • Humans
  • Cats: After the fall of the Archon tyrant Agnomakhos, who used them for his army, the Leonins rejected human civilization and culture.
  • Centaurs: Divided into the somewhat civilized Lagonna band and the more primal Pheres band.
  • Gorgons: Mysterious, rare beings with ancient knowledge.
  • Merfolk: Occur in Theros' seas, some living in Meletis, and exalt Thassa above the other gods.
  • Minotaurs: Barbaric, barely sapient brutes.
  • Satyrs: Hedonistic goatmen with a duplicitous nature.
  • Spirit: Eidolons, the remnants of the identities and souls of the Returned who've escaped Underworld.
  • Zombies: The Returned or Noston, Underworld escapees with an utter loss of identity.[29]
  • Archons: On Theros, they are explicitly malevolent, frequently attacking Meletis and providing one historical oppressor, Agnomakhos. They were once the main civilized race, forming a tyrannical empire over the lesser ones.
  • Basilisks: Primal monsters, associated with the minor god Pharika. (Although a basilisk is on the art of Time to feed, there are no creatures with the type in the block)
  • Chimeras: Magical creatures made from occult mixtures of life essences.
  • Cyclopes: Dimwitted one-eyed monsters.
  • Demons: Souls of the dead corrupted by hatred.
  • Dragons: Flying reptilian monsters.
  • Dogs: Represented primarily by dire, infernal cerberi.
  • Giants: Primal forces of nature given life.
  • Hags: The Fates of Theros are ancient, monstrous crones.
  • Harpies: Malevolent birdwomen with a penchant for stealing.
  • Hydras: Ancient primal beasts of the land.
  • Krakens: Sea monsters.
  • Lamias: Female monsters with scaly, bestial bodies and humanoid faces.
  • Manticores: Spirits of brave soldiers made by the gods into powerful beasts, according to the Akroans.
  • Pegasi: Flying wild horses.
  • Phoenixes: Firebirds associated with the god Purphoros.
  • Sphinxes: Mysterious beings dispelling vague and dire prophecies.
  • Sirens: Another kind of malevolent bird-women.

Languages spoken[edit | edit source]

  • The citizens of the three human poleis speak their own dialects of the Common language.
  • Leonin and minotaurs have their own languages, and tritons speak the Aquan dialect of Primordial.
  • Centaurs and satyrs speak distinct dialects of Sylvan.
  • Giants and cyclopses share one language.
  • Dragons and sphinxes have distinct languages rarely spoken among mortals.
  • The gods themselves speak the unique language of Nyx, that few beyond mortal oracles can understand.[30]

Planeswalker visitors[edit | edit source]

In-game references[edit | edit source]

Associated cards:

Referred to:

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Mark Rosewater (November 29, 2016). "The Rabiah Scale". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  2. a b c d e f Wizards RPG Team (2020), D&D Mythic Odysseys of Theros, Wizards of the Coast
  3. Wizards of the Coast (January 10, 2020). "Theros Beyond Death Story Summary". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. The Magic Creative Team (September 04, 2013). "Planeswalker's Guide to Theros, Part 3". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Xenagos. Planeswalker Biography. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on October 02, 2013.
  6. The Magic Creative Team (January 08, 2014). "Planeswalker's Guide to Born of the Gods". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Mark Rosewater (March 11, 2019). "Where It's At". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Wizards of the Coast (January 10, 2020). "Theros Beyond Death Story Summary". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. D&D: Massive New Mythic Odysseys Of Theros Rules author=J.R. Zambrano. (May 28, 2020).
  10. a b Journey into Nyx: Godsend, Part II, Chapter 3
  11. Wizards of the Coast. (4 Sep 2013.) "PAX Prime 2013 - Theros World Building Panel", Magic: the Gathering account on Youtube
  12. Trick Jarrett (November 19, 2013). "Symbols of the Poleis". Wizards of the Coast.
  13. a b c Mark Rosewater (7 August 2015). "Here is the inspirations for the three main cities (aka poleis).". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  14. Mike McArtor (February 20, 2014). "That's the Spirits!". Wizards of the Coast.
  15. a b c Theros: Godsend, Part I, Chapter 10
  16. Flavor text of Deathbellow War Cry
  17. Flavor text of Terror of Mount Velus
  18. a b Theros: Godsend, Part I, Chapter 8
  19. Gavin Verhey (August 11, 2014). "A Look Inside From the Vault: Annihilation". Wizards of the Coast.
  20. Flavor text for Labyrinth of Skophos
  21. Flavor text for Skophos Warleader
  22. Journey into Nyx: Godsend, Part II, Chapter 10
  23. a b Journey into Nyx: Godsend, Part II, Chapter 11
  24. Flavor text of Nyxborn Marauder
  25. Trick Jarrett (September 24, 2013). "Checking Out Nykthos". Wizards of the Coast.
  26. Trick Jarrett (October 01, 2013). "Temple of Mystery". Wizards of the Coast.
  27. Flavor text of Nyxborn Seaguard
  28. Flavor text of Pinnacle of Rage
  29. Mike McArtor (March 26, 2015). "Forlorn Merchant of Melancholy". Wizards of the Coast.
  30. Theros: Godsend, Part I, Prologue
  31. a b c d e f g h Greg Weisman (November 2019). "War of the Spark: Forsaken". Del Rey.

External links[edit | edit source]