Lesser Gods of Theros Block
So since Mark Rosewater confirmed my suspicion that we’ll be seeing a cycle of ten two-color, minor gods in Theros block, I wanted to do some further expansion upon my original speculation. My source material:
I’m going to start with the 5 gods whose Temples are in in Theros.
Temple of Triumph
The main references to Iroas thus far have been in terms of the “Iroan Games”. The flavor text from Arena Athlete: “The Iroan Games award no medals. Athletes vie for a visit from Iroas, god of victory.” Iroas also inspires loyalty to one’s comrades, to the point of self-sacrifice. The flavor text from Priest of Iroas: "Even my last breath with be a blow struck for Iroas." The people of Akros embrace Iroas, resulting in a very martial culture.
An army that worships Iroas should be quite organized. It would have a clear chain of command and well-planned supply lines.
Since Iroas is one of the “Twins of War”, the other being Mogis, I have a suspicion that Mogis is driving the conflict in this block, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a confrontation between the two, or their champions, by the end of the block.
Temple of Silence
Athreos is referenced on two cards so far, Sentry of the Underworld and Scholar of Athreos. The Scholar’s flavor text reads: “She asks pointed questions of the dead who wait for Athreos, learning of life from those who are about to leave it.” The Sentry’s flavor text reads: “When Athreos gathers the newly dead to be ferried across the Five Rivers that Ring the World, he sends skeletal griffins to fetch those who stray.” Athreos is Theros’s Charon-analogue, serving as the ferryman to Nyx. Athreos is clearly associated with “orderly death”, or at least customs surrounding death and funerals. Reference from PW Guide 3: “When a human dies on Theros, a funerary mask of dark clay is customary, used to “frame” the identity of the deceased for Athreos.”
The Returned are probably a huge thorn in Athreos’s side, since they’re not behaving in their proper, ordered fashion.
Temple of Deceit
Phenax is thus far only referenced on a single card, Disciple of Phenax. Sadly the card has too many words to fit any flavor text. Mechanically, I expect Phenax to be associated with hand disruption and mill (see Ashiok).
Phenax probably spends most of his time right at the boundary of Theros and Nyx, slipping into the minds of dreamers. Therans probably know that not all dreams are safe — with a god like Phenax around, a nightmare could become real.
The Returned denizens of the Necropolis of Asphodel are very aligned with Phenax — these undead beings have embraced deception so thoroughly that they spend their entire existence trying to deceive themselves that they yet have “lives”.
Temple of Mystery
Kruphix is mentioned on two cards, Prophet of Kruphix and Agent of Horizons, which has the flavor text “The light in the woods just before dawn reveals a glimmering network of branches, roots, and spiderwebs. The acolytes of Kruphix walk this lattice unseen.” Kruphix is associated with change, as well as the boundaries between two disparate things (dawn, horizons). A river changing course would be Kruphix’s doing.
I expect that Kruphix, as well as Keranos, strikes mortals with divine inspiration. However, a mortal struck with a compunction from Kruphix is likely to spend the rest of their life working on a massive undertaking that will bring radical change to some aspect of life. Kruphix may also take a role in dreams (see Phenax), as sleep is a sort of transition-state between life and death.
I would love to see Kruphix represented as neither male nor female, but in a constant state of flux between these states. I had the thought that perhaps centaurs are of Kruphix, but I think that a centaur would be insulted at the idea that they are “half human, half horse”, and would instead clarify that they are fully centaur and nothing else. Chimaeras, on the other hand, are truly of Kruphix.
Temple of Abandon
I don’t believe we have seen a name for this god yet. As it’s fairly clear to me that this god is a Dionysus/Bacchus analogue, I will use one of his epithets for this god: Agrios, meaning wild.
Agrios is the god of revelry, of impulse, of doing whatever feels good, and of “damn the consequences!” Agrios and his followers are truly selfish and without foresight. They are violent, but not due to malice — they commit violence because it felt good/right to them at the time (see the card Destructive Revelry). In a way, followers of Agrios are childlike — an undisciplined child will hit another child because they have no concept of consequences, or interest in considering the other child’s pain.
The satyrs of Theros have completely embraced Agrios’s way of life. They build no settlements and form no lasting relationships, since either of those would require planning and consideration. As the flavor text on Satyr Rambler says: “A satyr is bound by nothing—not home, not family, not loyalty.”
Xenagos, as he stands right now, is a devotee of Agrios.
For these other 5, the temple names are speculation.
Temple of (Brutality, Malice, Wrath)
Four cards in this set reference Mogis, and he was also mentioned a number of times in the Planeswalker’s Guide Part 2. The cards are: Mogis’s Marauder, Fanatic of Mogis, Borderland Minotaur, and Deathbellow Raider. I think Deathbellow Raider is the perfect representation of a devotee of Mogis — must attack each turn if able, can pay a price to keep going beyond when he should have died. His flavor text: “The temple has been rededicated. It belongs to Mogis now.”—Rastos, disciple of Mogis Mogis is not one for wanton destruction — he and his followers will make use of anything they can wrest away from others.
Mogis represents a dedication to violence to the point of self-sacrifice. Bloodlust and cannibalism are associated with him. It’s no mistake that two of the Mogis-mentioning cards are “Berserker” creatures. Many of Mogis’s followers are minotaurs. The Returned that dwell in the Necropolis of Odunos also serve Mogis.
Mogis seems to like starting trouble with his brother, Iroas. There are multiple mentions of conflicts between these two in the Planeswalker’s Guide, Part 2, and from the tone of these interactions, it sounds like a standard “younger brother jealous of elder brother” interaction.
My most out-on-a-limb prediction for this block is that Xenagos has fallen under the influence of Mogis. Xenagos appears briefly at the end of the Theros trailer, as Heliod has been talking about a dark influence on the plane. I believe the worldbuilding panel also mentioned that he, having Planeswalked elsewhere, has discovered that his ambitions are not satisfied by being a hedonist — and that level of power-hunger and planning do not fit with Agrios. Xenagos wants to upset the order of Theros — but I think he desires to be a tyrant, not send the plane into anarchy. It would be pretty amazing to see this planeswalker change within the block (Sarkhan-style!).
Temple of (Inspiration, Insight)
Keranos, god of storms, is referenced on two cards: Lightning Strike and Steam Augury. Steam Augury’s flavor text speaks to Keranos’s volatile nature: “Keranos is a fickle god, delivering punishment as readily as prophecy.” The flavor text on Lightning Strike also speaks to the impulsiveness and violence that his red side lends him: “‘The hand of Keranos can be seen in every rumbling storm cloud. Best not to stand where he points.’ —Rakleia of Shrine Peak”
Keranos also apparently has a temper — after being scolded by Karametra for damaging her chosen city with a storm, he sent an even more destructive storm, with the intent of destroying the city’s food supply. He also made an attempt to kill Anthousa, a mortal favored by Karametra.
Keranos is not all destruction, though. He is responsible for the visions of many seers — including the queen of Akros, Cymede.
(Mechanics note: “Flip a coin” seems like it would be fitting on a Keranos-associated card. You might get brilliant inspiration! Or, you might take a lightning bolt to the face, who knows!)
Temple of (Order, Truth, Balance)
Ephara is mentioned on a single card thus far, Ephara’s Warden. Her flavor text reads: “When you threaten the sanctity of the polis, you insult Ephara herself. If she doesn’t smite you, I will.” This speaks to Ephara’s association with order — and by extension, her association with civilization itself. Ephara is the god that granted magic to the humans, in order to give them the power to overthrow the tyrannical archon which had them enslaved.
Philosophy, universities, the search for knowledge in general, should be pleasing to Ephara. Meletis is associated with this god, but Meletians are also known as being devout and praying to many gods. I do not think this should bother Ephara — each god has a domain and reasons to be worshipped, and that is right and orderly. (Interestingly, the artwork on Scholar of Atheros suggests that the scholar herself is Meletian).
Temple of (Harmony, Fellowship, Community)
Karametra, patron god of Setessa and Theros’s Demeter/Hestia analogue, is referenced on three cards: Setessan Battle-Priest, Karametra’s Acolyte, and Bronze Sable. The flavor text of the Setessan Battle-Priest encompasses a lot of this god’s flavor: "Your god teaches you only how to kill. Karametra teaches me to defend what I hold dear. That is why I will prevail." Karametra is a god of community and growth.
The Planeswalker’s Guide Part 2 references Karametra as god of orphans: “Karametra, the polis’s patron, is the god of orphans, and abandoned children are brought from outside to be raised by the polis.” This confused me initially, as orphans represent a complete lack of community and thus should be anathema to Karametra — but this lack is what makes them irresistible to Karametra. She gives them a home.
Karametra is also associated with agriculture, which is referenced in the flavor text of Karametra’s Acolyte: "The wilds are a garden tended by divine hands."
From what we know of the gods so far, it seems like Karametra may be one of the gods who takes the most interest in mortals (another being Iroas). From Planeswalker’s Guide Part 2: “Their leader is Anthousa, who also leads Karametra’s Council of Warriors. She is considered the god’s closest advisor and de facto ruler of the city when the god is not present, which is much of the time.” Anthousa is also referred to as Karametra’s favorite.
Temple of (Transmutation, Transformation, Renewal?)
Pharika, patron god of gorgons, is mentioned on three cards in Theros: Pharika’s Cure, Viper’s Kiss, and Pharika’s Mender. Pharika is another god that is associated with the boundary between life and death. She is credited with “hiding many secrets in basilisk blood”, and poisons, venoms, and venomous creatures in general are definitely of Pharika.
Despite how deadly a god of venoms sounds, she serves as the healer-god. The flavor text of Pharika’s Mender reads: “The direst venom becomes a panacea under Pharika’s guidance. I bring it to the worthy, clinging at the edge of the abyss.” Pharika’s Cure has the flavor text: "’The venom cleanses the sickness from your body, but it will not be pleasant, and you may not survive. Pharika’s blessings are fickle.’ —Solon, acolyte of Pharika”
Athreos (and even Erebos himself?) may resent Pharika’s healing interventions as meddling with those he should be ferrying to Nyx. Additionally, gorgons are reputed to be immortal (thus evading Erebos), and I’m not sure whether someone petrified by a gorgon is actually truly dead, adding yet more reasons for conflict.