This month begins one of the busiest periods in the history of Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition. We’re getting three months of back to back to back releases, starting with The Wild Beyond The Witchlight, an adventure path that takes players to the Feywild and back via the spooky Witchlight Carnival. I got my hands on an advanced copy of the book and here are the five things I liked most about it.
Fresh IdeasWe’re in the seventh year of this edition and we’re only starting to look forward to what this edition can be. There’s a definite sense of whimsy and weirdness in this adventure that makes it unique. And it’s also supported by encounters that can be handled through cleverness instead of combat. The Feywild setting also feels fresh and open. Even though exploration has been one of the pillars of this edition, it hasn’t gotten a ton of support. Prismeer feels like a strange place to discover. The Domains of Delight that mirror the Domains of Dread offer something new in an edition that’s been playing it safe for years.
The DM SupportThe campaign is sandwiched in between two excellent examples of practical support for Dungeon Masters. There’s a DM advice section with a lot of helpful ideas in the front and the last appendix is 20 pages of NPC summaries, character quotes and a place for Dungeon Masters to take campaign notes. I appreciate the fact that this book isn’t wall to wall facts. This rockets to the top of my list recommending what campaign for first time Dungeon Masters because of those elements. Even if you’re an old hat, it might also not hurt to read those sections. You might learn a new trick or two.
The Displacer Beast KittenThere are a lot of notable NPCs in the game, but players are suckers for a pet. Star is a baby displacer beast that can be reunited with its mom or can accompany the players on their adventures through the Feywild. It reminds me of the displacer beast plushie I got from GameHole Con, which I completely plan to use as a prop when I run this adventure. The unusual NPCs give this adventure more of a Jim Henson feel. I can see it being a good choice for parents looking to run D&D for their kids for the first time.
The ClocksThe included map has two sections where you can track important elements of the Witchlight Carnival using beads or tokens. (I can only imagine what wild things the Beadle and Grimm’s edition will have.) One is a countdown of the events that happen outside of player action. They will be going on rides and playing arrival games as day slips into night and the adventure moves forward. The other is the mood of the carnival which is directly affected by player actions. Do good things and the carnival gets lighter and more exciting. Fail too often, and the carnival gets darker and more menacing. Player facing countdowns and clocks are a great thing for D&D to import from games like Blades In The Dark.
The PortabilityThe reason that most adventure books are set in the Forgotten Realms is because it’s supposedly D&D’s most popular setting. It’s also fairly easy for most Dungeon Masters to import into their homebrewed worlds. The carnival and Feywild realm beyond is built to exist on the edge of any setting making this one of the easiest campaigns to integrate with any of the worlds people use. For example, I’m entertaining the idea of running Strixhaven after my current Curse of Strahd game wraps up and I think dropping the Witchlight Carnival on the school grounds halfway through the players educational term sounds like a fun diversion from term papers and scroll lessons.
The Wild Beyond The Witchlight comes out on September 21st.