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Critical Role The New D&D Book Is 'The Explorer's Guide to [Critical Role's] Wildemount!' By Matt Mercer

It looks like Amazon has leaked the title and description of the new D&D book a day early (unless it's all a fake-out by WotC) -- and it's a new D&D setting book called The Explorer's Guide to Wildemount; it's the Critical Role campaign setting, penned by Matt Mercer!


image from Critical Role wiki

There's no cover image yet, so we're stuck with the "Coming Soon" image.

This book appeared without a title on Amazon last week, and a 'reveal' date of January 9th, which was then later delayed until January 13th. Amazon appears to have jumped the gun a day early.

Here's some information about Wildemount, which is a continent in the same world as Critical Role's other setting, Tal'Dorei. It is described by the official wiki has having "real-world Eastern European influence.... The Dwendalian Empire takes inspiration from 15th century Russia as well as Germanic nations in Central Europe (e.g., Prussia). Xhorhas has a more 13th-century Romanian flair. Outside of Wynandir, on the edges of the Dwendalian Empire, the cultures and peoples of those regions display a distinctly 14th-century Spanish flavor."


A war brews on a continent that has withstood more than its fair share of conflict. The Dwendalian Empire and the Kryn Dynasty are carving up the lands around them, and only the greatest heroes would dare stand between them. Somewhere in the far corners of this war-torn landscape are secrets that could end this conflict and usher in a new age of peace—or burn the world to a cinder.

Create a band of heroes and embark on a journey across the continent of Wildemount, the setting for Campaign 2 of the hit Dungeons & Dragons series Critical Role. Within this book, you’ll find new character options, a heroic chronicle to help you craft your character’s backstory, four different starting adventures, and everything a Dungeon Master needs to breathe life into a Wildemount-based D&D campaign…
  • Delve through the first Dungeons & Dragons book to let players experience the game as played within the world of Critical Role, the world’s most popular livestreaming D&D show.
  • Uncover a trove of options usable in any D&D game, featuring subclasses, spells, magic items, monsters, and more, rooted in the adventures of Exandria—such as Vestiges of Divergence and the possibility manipulating magic of Dunamancy.
  • Start a Dungeons & Dragons campaign in any of Wildemount’s regions using a variety of introductory adventures, dozens of regional plot seeds, and the heroic chronicle system—a way to create character backstories rooted in Wildemount.
Explore every corner of Wildemount and discover mysteries revealed for the first time by Critical Role Dungeon Master, Matthew Mercer.

Critical Role's other setting, Tal'Dorei, was published a couple of years ago by Green Ronin. This brings the list of settings in official D&D books to five: Forgotten Realms, Ravnica, Ravenloft, Eberron, and Wildemount.

UPDATE! Barnes & Noble has the cover (but not the title or description).

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


It's not some kind of perceived entitlement that I demand anyone to make products catering specifically for me. No, it's just that D&D used to have products I was interested in and now, not much. If WotC makes more money by targeting audiences I'm not a part of, well, good for them, but I won't buy their products. That's all.
What products are you looking for?

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They produced a couple of boxed sets for AD&D 2nd edition and changed a few things e.g. the Grand Duke started calling himself King. (Of course, changes, contradictions and ret-cons are business-as-usual for Mystara.)

That was set after 1000 AC, during or post Wrath of the Immortals. It wasn't changes, contradictions or ret-cons - but advancing the timeline.

@Chaosmancer, regarding all the complaints about Mercer and Critical Role, I appreciate what you wrote earlier. I've been known to criticize them as a sort of knee jerk reaction against "celebrity nerd culture," and it's easy for me to forget that Mercer (et al) are people that like the hobby who just happened to find some degree of mainstream success. I shouldn't hate on it for that reason.
I've watched a few episodes. It's not my thing. (That being said, I haven't enjoyed any of the game streams I've watched, regardless of the players, the DM, or the rules system.)

Yeah, I think it is important to remember this. Especially since the parts that annoy you (below) have little to nothing to do with the people and the game they are playing. You might have some issues with the fandom, and that's completely different than issues with them.

Heck, it happens to everyone about something or other. I've had some really toxic interactions with Eberron fans on DnD forums. But, reading the setting material and playing with some actual people, it is a really fun setting. Despite how the "fans" left an impression on me.

Strangely, I've noticed that most of the players I've met who have come in on the wave of CR popularity are anathema to my style of gaming: five pages of irrelevant backstory with no effort to tie it into the campaign world, delight about causing inner-party conflict ("hehe my rogue stole your weapon and tied together your shoelaces and poisoned your ale"), and enjoy debating the cost of mundane supplies for extended periods of time trying to save a few copper coins.
It seems to move the focus of the game away from the adventure and action and onto some grand story. It's less a Conan swords and sorcery short story - and more like Wheel of Time. It's just not for me.

Yeah, inter-party conflict just isn't as much fun unless you are exactly what CR is, a really close group of friends who can handle it.

One thing I've noticed about backstories, most DnD settings like FR or homebrew games are really hard to get detailed lore on. So, tying into the campaign world is difficult for that player to do. Especially if they are newer to the game. And sometimes, you'll find a good hook, and follow it, and everyone disagrees with that version of the lore (might have happened to me, might have left me a little salty in that particular game.)


I have mixed feelings about the apparent lack of interest WOTC has in lines like Dark Sun or Birthright. Would I like to see some updates on the old settings like Dark Sun or Birthright? Sure. But at the same time I'd like to see new material. Something like Acquisitions Inc. is really interesting.

Taking a popular third party setting and making it official has been in D&D's blood since the start. That's how we got both Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms, so any time something makes that jump from "Fan's game" to "Official" it should be celebrated to join those few.

I love my Dark Sun and Spelljammer, but honestly, this is a smart move.


Ravnica is a nothing-setting, frankly. I have yet to hear of a single person running a long-term game set there. Eberron is definitely a move in the right direction, but it's far more "generic fantasy" than, say, Dark Sun or Spelljammer, or, I would argue Planescape.

Note I didn't say medieval for a reason - generic fantasy hasn't been purely medieval since the early 1990s.

You aren't paying attention to the M:tG social media, then.

Eberron is not generic: that's the appeal.


Taking a popular third party setting and making it official has been in D&D's blood since the start. That's how we got both Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms, so any time something makes that jump from "Fan's game" to "Official" it should be celebrated to join those few.

I love my Dark Sun and Spelljammer, but honestly, this is a smart move.
Dragonlance was developed in house. Where does the belief otherwise come from?


Unserious gamer
Given there are some similarities, is the Eberron book helpful for your Ravnica game? I wondering about the time of these two settings and if they are supposed to be somewhat complementary.
Not particularly, although that's not an aspersion on either book (Eberron is my favorite setting, and the new book is great.)

The group patron system in Eberron can work in Ravnica if everyone is in the same guild, but a lot of the fun in Ravnica is the interplay between PCs of different guilds. The artificer would definitely work in Ravnica, but I have my own homebrew artificer I use and prefer to the WotC version. A lot of the Eberron book is devoted to Sharn, which could be used in Ravnica, but the feel between the two is different enough I don't think it's a great fit. Ravnica needs to revolve around the guilds; if you add in factions from other settings it dilutes the appeal, I think.


Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
I don't know. I don't know why this isn't being celebrated a bit more

I bet it has a lot to do with jealousy deep down. They had/have created a platform that catapults their ability to turn their homebrew setting into a saleable, money printing thing and they get to play D&D for a living.

For me, I just don't care for it because I don't care about CR or their setting. For me, because I don't care about the setting, it feels like a diversion on the WotC side to keep someone else from grabbing market share (or to get a cut of that steal at least) for RPG books, and for CR to have that WotC legitimacy for their product/setting.

Then again, CR fans are storming Amazon's doors to throw their money at WotC and CR for this book so it's probably a good move from a business perspective. It'll probably make them more money than any of the settings that I actually want.

We have this weird dichotomy in Tabletop RPG;

It's not in TTRPG's. It's just life. There are always people on both sides of any fence or argument or thought.

Ravnica is a nothing-setting, frankly.

Honestly, Ravnica just feels to me like a re-skinning of Planescape.
  • Plane that is a city
  • Factions that run different parts of the city/functions
  • Guildpact which reigns in the factions and ultimately kind of rules the plane, a la the Lady of Pain
shrug YMMV on this one.

The don't buy them. But don't come on the internet and moan about it like it matters. They don't care.

But... but... if we don't come on the internet to moan and whine about things then what is the point of the internet?

But also, of course, they care. For one, it's a personal project and people always care about how their creative endeavors are received. Maybe not about individual complaints, but if there is enough of a level of complaint that it affects sales (this won't happen) or an outcry about the quality of the product when it comes back.

According to some on these forums, you need to have started with 1e or the Moldvay red box to be elevated into such prestigious category. Those who cut their teeth on 2e are thus excluded from the G-club.
I have a friend who I'm DMing 5E for, who talked about how he and his best buddy started playing back in the 1E era.

I told him about Goodman Games' Original Adventures Reincarnated modules. B1, B2, X1, S4, B4 meant nothing to him.

"Oh, I started after that, when Dragonlance brought me in."

I caught myself thinking of him as a "newbie" as a result and gave myself a mental Batman slap across the cheek. I've been playing since 1979 and still think of the color cover B/X and 1E modules as "the new ones."

I'm not sure anyone should revel in their unwillingness to change or to embrace new ideas, though.
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WotC would like to turn your attention to the 42,000 Forgotten Realms novels they've published, along with comics, audiobooks and a system-less coffee table book of lore and history.

Yeah, that is kind of what I mean.

It is similar to why I can't get into Marvel or DC comics, I'd have to go back and read so much, making sure to skip this event because it was retconned and definitely should start with that one because it was really influential, but to understand why I have to go back and...

It is a commitment, one that is fairly sizable.

And for some players, even reading a 12 page history is far more work than they really want, but as they were building their character they were inspired and made a lengthy backstory.


Golden Procrastinator
According to some on these forums, you need to have started with 1e or the Moldvay red box to be elevated into such prestigious category. Those who cut their teeth on 2e are thus excluded from the G-club.
Damn right! Using Unearthed Arcana is questionable, Wilderness and Dungeoneer's Survivav Guides are right out!


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