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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!

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

Russ Morrissey

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Yep. And each of the settings can be sold to new fans, but I think the best way to do so for most of them is with a Campaign, not a gazetteer.

Yup, they did not sell Eberron on nostalgia, they sold it on the Setting being cool. Same would definitely work for the flavorful old favorites: they weren't nostalgia trips when TSR introduced them, no need to limit them.
 

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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Is Conan esque grimdark a thing the broader D&D fanbase is interested in?
Post apocalypse is almost always popular. Grimdark in general is basically the zeitgeist right now.
Conan is popular enough to drive an ongoing marvel book.

so, probably. The point is, though, that nostalgia isn’t needed. It has a very strong identity. It will either sell on that, or it won’t sell.
 

Reynard

Legend
Post apocalypse is almost always popular. Grimdark in general is basically the zeitgeist right now.
Conan is popular enough to drive an ongoing marvel book.

so, probably. The point is, though, that nostalgia isn’t needed. It has a very strong identity. It will either sell on that, or it won’t sell.

I don't see it. Which doesn't mean anything. What do I know? I just can't really think of any grimdark fantasy besides Abercrombie that is in the popular culture right now, especially in a swords and sandals kind of way. The Witcher has strong horror elements and is bloody, but it also has a wry, dark sense of humor. It's almost a Warhammer show in that way.

Maybe I am overthinking how hard it will be for the average nascent gamer to look at Brom's shirtless gladiators and think, "Yeah, I want to be that guy." When I look around in online spaces filled with millenials and zoomers, I see something cheerier with a more early modern/steampunk aesthetic. Even if not cheerier, I feel like something like Carnival Row fits the current trends more than Conan.

But, again, I am probably totally off base.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Believe it or not....some of the players in my area would say "Conan?"
Sure. But again, I’m not trading on nostalgia. Conan-esque doesn’t sell because you reference Conan. It sells because a strong bastard adventuring in a blasted landscape and fighting terrible monstrous sorcerers/tyrants/whatever just appeals to people.

Most of what separates Conan from Mad Max is accents and tech level.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I don't see it. Which doesn't mean anything. What do I know? I just can't really think of any grimdark fantasy besides Abercrombie that is in the popular culture right now, especially in a swords and sandals kind of way. The Witcher has strong horror elements and is bloody, but it also has a wry, dark sense of humor. It's almost a Warhammer show in that way.

Maybe I am overthinking how hard it will be for the average nascent gamer to look at Brom's shirtless gladiators and think, "Yeah, I want to be that guy." When I look around in online spaces filled with millenials and zoomers, I see something cheerier with a more early modern/steampunk aesthetic. Even if not cheerier, I feel like something like Carnival Row fits the current trends more than Conan.

But, again, I am probably totally off base.
Game of Thrones.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I don't see it. Which doesn't mean anything. What do I know? I just can't really think of any grimdark fantasy besides Abercrombie that is in the popular culture right now, especially in a swords and sandals kind of way. The Witcher has strong horror elements and is bloody, but it also has a wry, dark sense of humor. It's almost a Warhammer show in that way.

Maybe I am overthinking how hard it will be for the average nascent gamer to look at Brom's shirtless gladiators and think, "Yeah, I want to be that guy." When I look around in online spaces filled with millenials and zoomers, I see something cheerier with a more early modern/steampunk aesthetic. Even if not cheerier, I feel like something like Carnival Row fits the current trends more than Conan.

But, again, I am probably totally off base.

I can assure that the Acid Rock sensibility of Dark Sun is plenty represented out there in contemporary fantasy, particularly in video games. Fallout and Borderlands are more Gamma World than Dark Sun, but "it's like Dungeons & Dragons meets Fallout" will make sense to us yunggins.
 





Reynard

Legend
I didn’t say anything about the TTRPG scene. I spoke to the cultural zeitgeist wrt fantasy.
My apologies. I thought we were talking about that zeitgeist as it relates to RPGs and specifically why the otherwise uninitiated would be drawn to Dark Sun. I think it's entirely possible they will, I just have s hard time seeing any evidence leaning that way in the current fantasy landscape, gaming and otherwise. But maybe I am making too much of the Bromness (read: kind of dark and muddy Frazetta) of it all. I can't even say for sure what the 4e Dark Sun books looked like, style wise.

I should say that I don't mind if Dark Sun is the next setting and a big hit. I would just be surprised is all.
 

It’s post apocalyptic Conan-esque grimdark fantasy.

they could market it with no reference to the past, and people would eat it up.
I do think it would be easier to do something that incorporates those key elements of Dark Sun - environmental collapse - basic survival is tough - any sort of equipment is hard to come by - using magic is harmful - the gods won't come and bail you out - without actually trying to recreate 2nd edition Athas. Because that has so many problems for 5e: missing core races and classes, weird early psionics etc. It would be easier to throw the world out and build the themes within the 5e rules.

You might still use the name Dark Sun, but fluff it as another world that has suffered a similar environmental collapse.
 

I'm the one who bolded it.

And, I am very curious how you plan to consider the complexity of the game if you never compare it to any other RPG.

I mean, the entire point of the discussion has seemed to be that DnD 5e is complex compared to other simpler RPGs, which you denied because it is simpler than more complex RPGs.... which no one disagreed with, but that didn't negate the point that in terms of relative complexity, 5e is a complex game.

That has been the entire point. DnD 5e is relatively complex. Not the most complex, but certainly not simple either. And, if your argument stems from "players from 3.5 seem to find it simple) your argument is invalid, because they are coming from a far more complex game.




Which facts do you think deny it? I've seen maybe 2 dozen posters in this thread. There might be a few hundred people on the site at any one time.

DnD has sold tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of books.

We are a sliver.
I wasn't making an argument, I was staing the fact that that my experience shows newbies thought 5e was easy; veterans thought 5e was simpler; and some people thought 5e was too simple.

My experience is not 'invalid' - sorry, no one has the right to tell me that.
 

3catcircus

Adventurer
Nope, it is limiting because if you want 5e Dark Sun to be similar to 2e Dark Sun, you won't be able to use all the core rules.

And why is this a problem? Clerics can't use wizard spells and vice versa - so you're not using all the core rules if you don't have one PC of each class. Running adventurers in a forest with no underwater stuff isn't using all the core rules.

The campaign setting should inform the rules, not the other way around.

Bringing up areas in FR - the Anauroch desert for instance - isn't a good example because those desert environments are only part of FR. You have the option of desert related FR adventures but you can do so much more within FR due to the variety of terrain and climate. With Dark Sun you just have...blasted wilderness.

You completely missed the point - rules applicable to a wasteland can be used across any campaign setting that has a wasteland.
 

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