D&D 5E Radiant Citadel is a new kind of Adventure Path.

darjr

I crit!
I like the idea that these are anthologies with built in connections.

Also the insight about the timeframe is a great behind the scenes peek at how long these take and what it takes to make them.

I'd like to share some thoughts I had on storytelling in Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel and how it might differ a little from other books. This thread should also give some insights into the process of how we made the book.

#RadiantCitadel #DesiDnD
On one side, we have great adventure paths that take you through an entire storyline to a final culmination and Big Bad. There are a lot of great ones and a favorite of mine for 5E is Curse of Strahd. These usually have a tight throughline—they’re like a movie or novel.
On the flip side are adventure anthologies that may share some thematic elements, but aren’t really linked or connected. They may even have been developed at totally different times, like the adventures in Tales of the Yawning Portal. They're a tv series like the Twilight Zone.
Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel occupies an interesting middle-ground that I think of as something closer to a life path (I know this term is used in gaming in different ways). While adventure paths are great, they don’t resemble how we usually go through life.

There is never that much consistency, at least not for me, that would fit in an adventure path. Where I lived, the people in my life, what I want, what I cherish, etc have all changed so much from age 5 to 15 to 25, and so on. Our paths are messy, and sometimes incoherent.
We may have some key touchstones—a home or place, family or some lifelong friends, and some other key elements of our background—but much of the rest changes as we move through our lives and grow into ourselves. I think that’s part of the story of the Radiant Citadel.
Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel had a long pipeline for the writers. We onboarded them in September ’20 and the last drafts came in July ’21. I wanted this time for several reasons, but in part, it was to ensure we were building something larger than our individual pieces.
There were two rounds of pitches; @FWesSchneider @the_strix & I reviewed each of them with many things in mind, including levels, themes, etc, but even things like geography/terrain. We wanted each adventure to build off of each other, hitting different notes and key points.
Additionally, at every stage, the writers got to see each other’s work on a shared platform: they saw each other’s pitches, locations, adventures, monsters, Pinterest boards for art that inspired them, etc. There were coworking video sessions and plenty of conversations.
We also had a dedicated peer-review period, where the writers were not only reading each other’s work but commenting and advising each other. All of this provided an opportunity to pull elements from one another, and riff off of each other.
Some of this is subtle, very subtle, in the final product. But some of this is very obvious and overt, including in the Radiant Citadel itself. And I believe what you end up with is a book that gives players a real life path that takes them from Level 1 and ends at Level 15.
There is no one story-ending Big Bad to fight (though the last one in the book IS epic). There is no one story being told. You will change over time, radically, in different ways. And embark on new paths. And I think all of that mimics our own lives, and how we go through them.
Yet, you will have your touchstones: The Radiant Citadel is very deeply and organically tied to each place and adventure and vice versa. You’ll have your family (your party) and your home (the Citadel), and more! And the themes of the book will resonate throughout.
As an aside, the “more” refers to the Dawn Incarnates who could be wise elders or mentors to your “family”, as well as other factions, NPCs, etc that can play different roles in the life of your character.

I'll talk about them more down the road.
I hope this helps give people an understanding of how one can approach Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel. Yes, absolutely, it’s modular and each piece can be taken individually and separately for your homebrew world or established D&D world campaigns.
But you can also play it straight from beginning to end & you’ll get a very fulfilling arc for your characters as their lives take twists & turns, discover new places & learn new things about themselves.

Whichever way you play the book, I hope you’ll find it deeply fulfilling.

 
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Parmandur

Book-Friend
Ajit is a very cool and inspiring writer. It sounds like they had a lot of fun making thi, and that alrt of thing tends to come through in a game product.

I'm thinking that putting Yawning Portal and Candlekeep Adventure in the Radiant Citadel would make for a heck of a sandbox.
 



TwiceBorn2

Adventurer
I'm not yet convinced that Radiant Citadel is something I'll pick up (I don't care as much for extra-planar campaigns/themes, and the cartoony cover art has really turned me off), but I applaud Ajit and crew for their creative process, which I think should be a standard in campaign/anthology design.
 


Voadam

Legend
I like the idea that these are anthologies with built in connections.
It can be a great way to do it.

Eden Studios did this with a couple adventure anthologies in d20 3.0 where small adventures of a theme but for different nonconsecutive levels could be woven amongst other adventures in a campaign to have a recurring theme that was not drop everything all the time to save the world so there was room for other adventures and themes in a campaign.

Sometimes the six part Paizo adventure paths could be the reverse, intended to be a full on focus single big plot from 1-15 or so, but in practice six individual adventures sometimes barely connected and the PCs might not even really see the plot until adventure three or so.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I'm not yet convinced that Radiant Citadel is something I'll pick up (I don't care as much for extra-planar campaigns/themes, and the cartoony cover art has really turned me off), but I applaud Ajit and crew for their creative process, which I think should be a standard in campaign/anthology design.
I’m not sure this book really involves that much extraplanar travel. From what I understood, the citadel has portals to the material planes of various worlds, not to the different planes of a single world.
 




Scribe

Hero
I'm sorry but I am not really seeing anything new here. Isn't this just how a normal campaign is run?

Not really the same, to me.

Normal campaign is intended to fully and completely be Point A, to B, to C, with maybe some optional paths in there.

This is however many distinct adventures, that also have some potential themes, or easter eggs, to link between them.

Fine idea, and makes total sense to me for an anthology.

Is this collaboration the 'never before done' thing ?
 

Staffan

Legend
I'm sorry but I am not really seeing anything new here. Isn't this just how a normal campaign is run?
It's kind of rare to see with pre-made campaigns, which tend to have a pretty strong focus from day one (even if that focus might not be apparent to the PCs). Tyranny of Dragons is all about fighting the Cult of the Dragon, Princes of the Apocalypse is all about fighting the Cults of Elemental Evil, and Curse of Strahd is all about, well, Strahd. Some may have side quests, but they are diversions from the main path.

This seems more like stand-alone adventures with common themes and things that show up in multiple adventures, without being a strict progression.
 

Hussar

Legend
There was an old 2e module "A Hero's Tale" which kinda worked like this. It was 10 modules, meant to be dropped in as, more or less, side quests throughout an ongoing campaign, culminating in a final module where everything is revealed. The ten modules were not terribly closely linked except through a consistent bell ringing sound that is heard in each module. It's explained why in the module.

Expanding that concept out to a full campaign would work pretty well. It's a much looser concept than the "Adventure Path" but much tighter than, say, something like Candlekeep Mysteries where the adventures are all more or less self contained and do not reference each other at all, or Tales of the Yawning Portal where there is nothing connecting any of the adventures really.
 


For me this was a far better way to describe the book and what it may entail than the previous write-up.

Additionally, at every stage, the writers got to see each other’s work on a shared platform: they saw each other’s pitches, locations, adventures, monsters, Pinterest boards for art that inspired them, etc. There were coworking video sessions and plenty of conversations.
We also had a dedicated peer-review period, where the writers were not only reading each other’s work but commenting and advising each other. All of this provided an opportunity to pull elements from one another, and riff off of each other.


The above part was cool - the semi-collaboration as well as reviewing each others work providing an effort for I'm assuming improvement is the real + of the article.

EDIT: The creative challenge perhaps for DMs who like to put in work, would be to tie these adventures together. I loved doing it with ToD, SKT, MiBG, LotFS, DH and DotMM and the relevant adventure league material.
 
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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
They've done these kinds of things in the past. The main set of nine modules for 4E all had a throughline and connective tissue, although no one would claim them to be one long storyline. They were nine separate adventures, but all had bits and bobs that premised the idea of an Orcus big bad, leading to eventually taking him on.

And I want to say Paizo did things similarly for 3E back when they were publishing Dragon Magazine and came up with their original ideas for "adventure paths". Things like the town of Cauldron and the modules that all centered around that... they were all individual stories but did "connect" together in minor ways.

I mean heck... you could also say the original Slave Lords and Giants series' of adventures for AD&D were the same kind of thing-- separate adventures that were meant to link into a longer campaign.

If you can accomplish a linking storyline between disparate adventures to give an idea of campaign flow, I think many DMs appreciate it. If it is there to use if you want but can easily ignored if you don't... it just makes a product (or series of products) have more tools in the box to be used.
 

TwiceBorn2

Adventurer
I’m not sure this book really involves that much extraplanar travel. From what I understood, the citadel has portals to the material planes of various worlds, not to the different planes of a single world.
Fair. But I'm no more a fan of world-hopping than I am of extra-planar travel, generally speaking (some exceptions apply). Anyway, I'm not knocking the product, I'm just not sold on it yet. I'm not the target audience for every D&D product, and that's fine. I can still appreciate good design and groundbreaking ideas/collaborative processes, whether I end up buying the book or not.
 

Undrave

Hero
Fair. But I'm no more a fan of world-hopping than I am of extra-planar travel, generally speaking (some exceptions apply). Anyway, I'm not knocking the product, I'm just not sold on it yet. I'm not the target audience for every D&D product, and that's fine. I can still appreciate good design and groundbreaking ideas/collaborative processes, whether I end up buying the book or not.
I bet you can just take the destination of the adventure and just plop it down into your world and it won't affect the adventure. the Radiant Citadel is a way to get there.
 

TwiceBorn2

Adventurer
I bet you can just take the destination of the adventure and just plop it down into your world and it won't affect the adventure. the Radiant Citadel is a way to get there.
Possibly. In which case I'll judge the final product based on how well the individual adventures fit into my campaigns. So I'll keep an open mind.
 

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