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!

Wildemount%2C_Version_20%2C1.png

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."

HOW DO YOU WANT TO DO THIS?

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

Comments

MarkB

Hero
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.
Yeah, this is why I could never get into FR back in the 3e/3.5e days. There just seemed to be such a mountain of information about the setting to absorb in order to portray a character within it - let alone actually DM a game for experienced players - that I just bounced right off that wall, repeatedly.
 
Damn right! Using Unearthed Arcana is questionable, Wilderness and Dungeoneer's Survivav Guides are right out!
When WotC did the 1E reissues in the months before 4E came out, I gave Unearthed Arcana a good re-read for the first time in decades. It's way more problematic than I remembered, although even as a middle schooler, I could tell a lot of it was flat-out broken.
 
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Chaosmancer

Adventurer
Out of curiosity, what feels different about it than, say, Forgotten Realms material?
For me it is the highly specific plot.

Part of this is because I only read a few of the early novels, but so much of Dragonlance for me is tied up in a specific story with specific characters within the War of the Lance, its aftermath, side stories focusing on what else those same characters did. It feels cohesive to me.

Forgotten Realms meanwhile is sprawling. They have characters, plots, stories and such that are insular and not connected. Sure, they make cameos in each others stories, but I remember picking up Forgotten Realms novels and them being completely removed from each other, without even sharing a similiar geography or villain.

To maybe put it more succinctly, I feel like Dragonlance is a single storyline with a few branches. Forgotten Realms is a massive sprawling web that you can't see the other side of.
 
For me it is the highly specific plot.

Part of this is because I only read a few of the early novels, but so much of Dragonlance for me is tied up in a specific story with specific characters within the War of the Lance, its aftermath, side stories focusing on what else those same characters did. It feels cohesive to me.

Forgotten Realms meanwhile is sprawling. They have characters, plots, stories and such that are insular and not connected. Sure, they make cameos in each others stories, but I remember picking up Forgotten Realms novels and them being completely removed from each other, without even sharing a similiar geography or villain.

To maybe put it more succinctly, I feel like Dragonlance is a single storyline with a few branches. Forgotten Realms is a massive sprawling web that you can't see the other side of.
I think everything you said is true, but it was also intentional. Dragonlance came out at the dawn of what I call the "middle school" era of D&D where story and metaplot were taking over.
 

JeffB

Hero
IDK if anyone else mentioned this-(and I don't feel like dredging through 500+ posts) but the D&D Beyond yootoob channel has a bunch of videos discussing things in the book including the crunch.

From what Matt talks about the setting doesn't really capture my imagination - he speaks specifically about 4 regions and an adventure tied to each one

Countries at war/on brink of war
Great northern wilderness/savage frontier with a crashed flying city full of lost tech/magic that everyone wants
Coastal seafaring/pirate-y section
Another part of continent for all those into politics

Pretty standard stuff.

Oddly enough, I am super interested in the new magic systems, and the artifacts after watching the vids.
 
You aren't paying attention to the M:tG social media, then.
That's a bizarre thing to say. I very much doubt the official WotC MtG account is outputting figures on people actually playing Ravnica and obviously as someone who isn't a deeply hardcore MtG fan (are you?) I'm not following individual MtG pros Twitters or Instas or MtG Facebook (is that a thing?) or whatever. Also, let's be real - the number of people actually running Ravnica is going to be a tiny fraction of those who bought it and claimed they were going to run it.

The guy upthread who said he is running it means more to me than a hundred randos on Facebook claiming they'll run something. Hence my like on his post.
 
To my knowledge, D&D has never been "purely medieval" ever. I know of no RPG tales where the heroes flee the lands of their liege lord for a year and a day so they may become free men. The realities of serfdom are never really addressed in D&D.
There's always one pointless pedant. Usually it's me! So thanks for being "that guy" so I can see it from the other side! Yes, thanks I did nearly become an archaeologist and have played D&D for 30 years, I am aware that D&D is not a middle ages Europe simulator! ;)

My point is that generic fantasy in 2020 is not the same as generic fantasy in 1985 or 1975 or whenever. It's broader in that there's more renaissance or even modern era stuff and it includes some steam-age-style or magitech elements, particularly (which were seen as non-generic way back when).

Eberron is a good example. In 1990, say, it would have seemed very modern and forward-looking. In 2004, it was quite zeitgeisty, maybe a couple of years late but not many, and still didn't seem generic. In 2020? Hmmm. Its not quite generic but even just looking at the ideas and presentation it's a lot closer to what you'd expect from some random middle of the road homebrew or the like. And of course it is partly responsible for that, it was influential.

Whereas stuff like PS and DS are still a bit more outside the generic, despite being older.
 

Helldritch

Explorer
You're absolutely right. Most people forget to look at things from the perspective of that era. Old grognards like me seems to be stuck on Mystara or Greyhawk not out of nostalgia, but simply because most of today's settings are a bit too "modern, steampunk, magitech" or whatever else might come to mind.

I personally prefer a setting where magic is not that common (nor are the magic using classes). The 5ed has way too many magic classes (don't get me wrong here, I really love 5ed, just too many magic using classes in a setting supposed to be magic starved...). Worlds like Mystara and Greyhawk had a lot less magic available to them than say... FR? FR was great at the start but as more and more product were thrown at us, it began to look like an orange juice extractor where I was the orange, my money the juice. Too much of a thing can be bad sometimes. I felt like the quality of FR products went down the drain after the Bloodstone lands. Karatur was great for the Oriental setting, the Horde land was great (mainly because I really liked the novels) but Maztica was a bit meh... Dragonlance was a great read, I own every modules and we played them to our heart's content but the setting is a bit stale outside the War of the lance. Darksun had psionics. So this was a turn off for me. Birthright I did not even read. So I can't comment on that one. Ravenloft was a good read, but just like Dragon Lance, it was mostly one shot campaign/games/adventures. (But the Curse of Strahd of 5ed was really great. My two groups loved it.)

I did like Ebberon at the time because it was a fresh approach. I completely and totaly loved Planescape and Spelljammer, but they were more of a one shot campaign/games/adventure just like Dragon Lance and Ravenloft then we went back to our prefered setting. The Nentir vale was good, but left out under developped by Wizards and I rarely buy 3PP. 4ed could have done something really good with it. But the lore on it was too scattered.

So this leaves us this new setting. I will buy it. Just to see what comes out of it. Who knows, maybe I'll like enough to buy a 3PP talking about its other continent...
 

Parmandur

Legend
That's a bizarre thing to say. I very much doubt the official WotC MtG account is outputting figures on people actually playing Ravnica and obviously as someone who isn't a deeply hardcore MtG fan (are you?) I'm not following individual MtG pros Twitters or Instas or MtG Facebook (is that a thing?) or whatever. Also, let's be real - the number of people actually running Ravnica is going to be a tiny fraction of those who bought it and claimed they were going to run it.

The guy upthread who said he is running it means more to me than a hundred randos on Facebook claiming they'll run something. Hence my like on his post.
I mean like Reddit: people are out there talking about their active Ravnica campaigns. The Magic community has embraced that book hard.

I'm not saying that you should be plugged in there, mind you: I'm observing that if you think people are not playing the Magic D&D setting, it is because you are not looking at the places where Magic fans are discussing D&D. I'm not a Magic superfan myself, but I trawl the major Reddit subs and can confirm that @TwoSix is not alone.
 
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Out of curiosity, what feels different about it than, say, Forgotten Realms material?
I've just abandoned FR for Eberron, so I'm not hugely enthusiastic about another campaign setting, and even less so about FR.

Having said that, Dark Sun, Spelljammer or Planescape might have had me reaching for my wallet...
 
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JeffB

Hero
IDK if anyone else mentioned this-(and I don't feel like dredging through 500+ posts) but the D&D Beyond yootoob channel has a bunch of videos discussing things in the book including the crunch.

From what Matt talks about the setting doesn't really capture my imagination - he speaks specifically about 4 regions and an adventure tied to each one

Countries at war/on brink of war
Great northern wilderness/savage frontier with a crashed flying city full of lost tech/magic that everyone wants
Coastal seafaring/pirate-y section
Another part of continent for all those into politics

Pretty standard stuff.

Oddly enough, I am super interested in the new magic systems, and the artifacts after watching the vids.
I'm not usually into posting masturbation/self quoting but something came to mind :D

The magic items Matt speaks about, and one of the new magic types draws heavily on past ages- The artifacts were the weapons/items of ancients of great power. One of the magic systems allows you to draw upon the power of these ancient heroes. It's kind of Exalted in a way (the game by White Wolf). He also talks about the history of the setting-the gods, a divergence, a calamity (big realm shaking event), etc and how the magic/artifacts relate, etc.

Frankly all the stuff that he talks about from the past sounds FAR more interesting than what is going on in the present. I was enjoying him talking about the world's history. But when he started talking about the actual adventures and what is going on in the setting right now :yawn: When more effort goes into a backstory, and not into "what is good to use at my table, tonight" in a setting/adventure- I completely tune out as a DM.

I'm hoping Wizards puts up some previews-I'm interested in the book after watching the vids, but I'll take more convincing of utility in order to purchase.
 
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.
Well, virtually all of those Forgotten Realms novels are now out of print unless they are Dragonlance or written by R.A. Salvatore. So, yep they don't count as easily accessible sources of lore. There are some good FR wikis though and plenty of FR info generally online.
 

Haffrung

Explorer
To my knowledge, D&D has never been "purely medieval" ever. I know of no RPG tales where the heroes flee the lands of their liege lord for a year and a day so they may become free men. The realities of serfdom are never really addressed in D&D.
The historical medieval world was much more influential on early D&D (and fantasy fiction of the era) than it is today. You just have to read the 1E AD&D DMG to see Gygax was building the assumptions of the game on a foundation of 14th-15th century Europe and the Near East. The presumed tech level, the cultural norms, the language of the game circa 1981 were all much closer to the medieval world than the tech level, cultural norms, and language used in today's D&D.

This parallels a shift in fantasy fiction in general towards a much more modern sensibility. Settings in the genre today often look a lot more like 17th or even 18th century Europe than they do the middle ages. Asylums, operas, fencing, horses and carriages, street lamps, clockworks, muskets, monocles, tricorn hats - the culture and texture of fantasy worlds in recent years have become much more modern. It's part of the zeitgeist of the times.

There's nothing wrong with that. Tastes and influences change. But it's fair comment that someone who prefers a more technologically and socially primitive fantasy world may find the default norms of fantasy settings today unappealing.
 
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