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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).

9780786966912_p0_v2_s600x595.jpg
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Aporopos of no particular post, I want to say that I love Acquisitions Inc. It's not at all that my normal game has something in common with it, but rather that the idea is genius - it's funny, it does fit the material, and it hits a funny spot that a lot of people currently find funny. For me, it was that the whole notion seemed like a great way to mine an idea like the Trygalle Trade Guild from the Malazan books. Anyway, I get why its popular and don't have an issue with WotC deciding to support the idea.
 

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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.

A core rule (more accurately a design paradigm) in 5e is "a player can choose any race and class in the core rules". A DM is free to overrule that with a houserule, but WotC will never contradict it in official rules. Thus it would be against WotC's own rules to release a setting book that said "you cannot choose to play as a tiefling life domain cleric in this setting".
 

3catcircus

Adventurer
A core rule (more accurately a design paradigm) in 5e is "a player can choose any race and class in the core rules". A DM is free to overrule that with a houserule, but WotC will never contradict it in official rules. Thus it would be against WotC's own rules to release a setting book that said "you cannot choose to play as a tiefling life domain cleric in this setting".
It's the "DM is free to override" that drives campaign setting specifics, regardless of if it is homebrew or published. Which gods are PCs free to worship? If that paradigm was intended to be hard and fast, those gods would be forced to be the same regardless of campaign setting. Likewise feats. Likewise skills instead of attributes.

The 5e paradigm is actually intended or consistency in how the rules are rather than which ones are used. So - limiting a spell list is fine. Having Dark Sun defilers use living plants as their arcane focus is fine. Giving them a different spell progression would be a problem.
 


Aebir-Toril

100100101010
It's the "DM is free to override" that drives campaign setting specifics, regardless of if it is homebrew or published. Which gods are PCs free to worship? If that paradigm was intended to be hard and fast, those gods would be forced to be the same regardless of campaign setting. Likewise feats. Likewise skills instead of attributes.

The 5e paradigm is actually intended or consistency in how the rules are rather than which ones are used. So - limiting a spell list is fine. Having Dark Sun defilers use living plants as their arcane focus is fine. Giving them a different spell progression would be a problem.
That's not what @Paul Farquhar is saying, I believe, feel free to correct me Paul.

He's saying that no official WotC campaign setting release will restrict player choice or violate core design principles. So, if Dark Sun was released, get ready for Tabaxi, rampant spellcasting, and true Dwarves galore. This is another reason why Eberron was chosen, likely, I suspect, because that setting does not violate any element of player choice.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
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.
A core rule (more accurately a design paradigm) in 5e is "a player can choose any race and class in the core rules". A DM is free to overrule that with a houserule, but WotC will never contradict it in official rules. Thus it would be against WotC's own rules to release a setting book that said "you cannot choose to play as a tiefling life domain cleric in this setting".
That's not what @Paul Farquhar is saying, I believe, feel free to correct me Paul.

He's saying that no official WotC campaign setting release will restrict player choice or violate core design principles. So, if Dark Sun was released, get ready for Tabaxi, rampant spellcasting, and true Dwarves galore. This is another reason why Eberron was chosen, likely, I suspect, because that setting does not violate any element of player choice.


That is not how WotC views the situation. Mearls has talked about how they'd approach Dark Sun, and it involves introducing early Psionics (perhaps via Subraces similar to the Dragonmarks), a few new Archetypes, and explicitly limiting the options available (with a sidebar saying "maybe you are the world's only Gnome Paladin, if you must").

Ravnica introduced limitations of the Core, in terms of Race and Class choice. There is precedent for limitations, and "everything is always available" is not a core assumption of the game, which is based on exceptions.
 

Aebir-Toril

100100101010
That is not how WotC views the situation. Mearls has talked about how they'd approach Dark Sun, and it involves introducing early Psionics (perhaps via Subraces similar to the Dragonmarks), a few new Archetypes, and explicitly limiting the options available (with a sidebar saying "maybe you are the world's only Gnome Paladin, if you must").

Ravnica introduced limitations of the Core, in terms of Race and Class choice. There is precedent for limitations, and "everything is always available" is not a core assumption of the game, which is based on exceptions.
I hope I'm proven wrong.
 


Aebir-Toril

100100101010
It was during one of the Happy Fun Hour episodes, but Mearls was quite clear on how they are approaching Dark Sun player options (and he is still the guy in charge of planning that out).
I'm glad that they've chosen that direction, especially because settings like Dark Sun, which can, of course, be introduced to new players, thrive on the limitations that old players know so well.
 



Essafah

Explorer
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.

I don't think WOTC should release Dark Sun unless psionics rules are official, preferably as a separate system of magic versus being a subsystem as they are in the UA rules. 5E is the longest any edition of D&D has been out without official psionics rules. The overly slow production schedule is another reason why I would like to see Wizards outsource licensing but on this point I will digress and return to the overarching point of campaign world releases particular of classic settings many if which would be new to the current generation of D&D gamers just like Eberron is.

Besides Dark Sun the D&D brand has plenty of campaign worlds that are distinctive enough from generic fantasy yet incorporate the entirety of D&D rules two that I would look at are:

Ravenloft:. Gothic horror is appealing across generations and is a very distinct feel from standard FR style high fantasy D&D. Wotc could easily update the Domains of Dread and include new rules for horror in D&D if needed (the DMG already has some options). They could also include new races like Vistani as a variant human, etc.

Planescape:. The DMG goes into some detail on the planes. So an updated Planescape setting detailing Sigil and adding few planar related feats plus a race or two would be easy enough to do. The setting is very distinct yet all the rules and classes in the PHB and classes from other sources like the artificer and Bloodhunter fit right it. It also makes sense from any race of any source from FR to Wildemounte to Eberron and Ravnica to be present in the setting.

I would include Spelljammer as prime for release also but I think WOTC needs to releases a few more worlds to give people the option to travel to. Also if WOTC intends to keep FR as their flagship or default world that is fine but I think if that is the case the world deserves better than the SCAG and should get the same treatment other worlds got and that should not be too hard for WOTC to do.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Ravnica introduced limitations of the Core, in terms of Race and Class choice. There is precedent for limitations, and "everything is always available" is not a core assumption of the game, which is based on exceptions.

Ravnica is a lot more open that it first looks.

First off, there is no class restrictions. All the PHB classes are accounted for, and Eberron shouts out to Ravnica for artificer. Further, every PHB subclass is given mention, and many (but not all) Xanathar subs are as well. Class-wise, Ravnica is on par with every other setting WotC has produced.

Racially, however, there is a difference. Officially, there are no dwarves, halflings, gnomes, half-orcs, dragonborn or tieflings. However, they do say "... the races from the Player's Handbook are unknown on Ravnica, unless they're visiting from other worlds." so it doesn't outright slam the door on them, as much as point out that a dragonborn isn't native to the world, meaning you have to come from some other corner of the multiverse. Further, they literally give you as many new races as they removed, so while the options are not 1:1, you have as many choices on Ravnica as you would in a PHB-only game.

So Ravnica has some exceptions, but they are very soft exceptions. All the classes work, you have a large selection of races, and if you're heart is absolutely set on being a dwarf, you can be a visitor from another realm. Compare that to a Dark Sun game, which is a closed world (no importing from another world) and has removed huge swaths of the PHB classes AND races* ,and doesn't always bother to replace them with new options.

So while Ravnica looks on the surface to support "exception based" world design, its far more generous than some prior 2nd edition-era TSR settings.

*It depends on what version of DS you are aiming for. 4e's is fairly inclusive and opened the world to many newer races and classes. Paizo's 3.5 Dragon version did similar, finding spots for all classes and the Expanded Psionic races. But if you are a stickler for 2e era DS, more than half the PHB is off-limits.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Ravnica is a lot more open that it first looks.

First off, there is no class restrictions. All the PHB classes are accounted for, and Eberron shouts out to Ravnica for artificer. Further, every PHB subclass is given mention, and many (but not all) Xanathar subs are as well. Class-wise, Ravnica is on par with every other setting WotC has produced.

Racially, however, there is a difference. Officially, there are no dwarves, halflings, gnomes, half-orcs, dragonborn or tieflings. However, they do say "... the races from the Player's Handbook are unknown on Ravnica, unless they're visiting from other worlds." so it doesn't outright slam the door on them, as much as point out that a dragonborn isn't native to the world, meaning you have to come from some other corner of the multiverse. Further, they literally give you as many new races as they removed, so while the options are not 1:1, you have as many choices on Ravnica as you would in a PHB-only game.

So Ravnica has some exceptions, but they are very soft exceptions. All the classes work, you have a large selection of races, and if you're heart is absolutely set on being a dwarf, you can be a visitor from another realm. Compare that to a Dark Sun game, which is a closed world (no importing from another world) and has removed huge swaths of the PHB classes AND races* ,and doesn't always bother to replace them with new options.

So while Ravnica looks on the surface to support "exception based" world design, its far more generous than some prior 2nd edition-era TSR settings.

*It depends on what version of DS you are aiming for. 4e's is fairly inclusive and opened the world to many newer races and classes. Paizo's 3.5 Dragon version did similar, finding spots for all classes and the Expanded Psionic races. But if you are a stickler for 2e era DS, more than half the PHB is off-limits.

Right, it isn't all that limited, and it has an escape clause (Crawford has a Gnome Artificer from Eberron in the Ravnica Acquisitions Incorporated games, which also goes against the normal assumptions of Eberron, and the traditional default D&D and Magic cosmologies). However, it does have the limits as the default assumption. Mearls said his plan also would include an escape clause in a sidebar, so individual tables could be more inclusive than the base assumptions of the theoretical Dark Sun book (which it must be said he outlined in suspicious levels for detail for speaking off the cuff). WotC doesn't operate from a "no restrictions, ever" policy.
 

That's not what @Paul Farquhar is saying, I believe, feel free to correct me Paul.

He's saying that no official WotC campaign setting release will restrict player choice or violate core design principles. So, if Dark Sun was released, get ready for Tabaxi, rampant spellcasting, and true Dwarves galore. This is another reason why Eberron was chosen, likely, I suspect, because that setting does not violate any element of player choice.
This.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
A core rule (more accurately a design paradigm) in 5e is "a player can choose any race and class in the core rules". A DM is free to overrule that with a houserule, but WotC will never contradict it in official rules. Thus it would be against WotC's own rules to release a setting book that said "you cannot choose to play as a tiefling life domain cleric in this setting".
There is no such core rule. The core rules include all of those races and classes, but the core rules do not assume that all will be available. In fact, the core rules assume that different settings will be in use, so some of those races and classes might not be available.

PHB Page: 6

"All these worlds share characteristics, but each world is set apart by its own history and cultures, distinctive monsters and races, fantastic geography, ancient dungeons, and scheming villains. Some races have unusual
traits in different worlds. The halflings o f the Dark Sun setting, for example, are jungle-dwelling cannibals, and the elves are desert nomads. Some worlds feature races unknown in other settings, such as Eberron’s warforged, soldiers created and imbued with life to fight in the Last War."

And yes, it does call such changed House Rules, but that's because it alters what is in the PHB, not because the DM did something the core rules do not expect. Nor would it be against WotC's own rules to release a setting such as Ebberon with Warforged when the other settings don't have them, which is probably why the did release Warforged for Ebberon when they aren't in other campaign settings.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
That's not what @Paul Farquhar is saying, I believe, feel free to correct me Paul.

He's saying that no official WotC campaign setting release will restrict player choice or violate core design principles. So, if Dark Sun was released, get ready for Tabaxi, rampant spellcasting, and true Dwarves galore. This is another reason why Eberron was chosen, likely, I suspect, because that setting does not violate any element of player choice.
Other than Warforged not being in any other setting.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Key word: "Restrict", not expand upon.
If Darksun comes out, the normal races will be restricted unless the DM says otherwise. It can't be Darksun and have races as normal. Even the ideas that Mearls is tossing out will have a PC of a normal PHB race be an individual exception to the restrictive rule.
 

The thing is, if you do a "classic" setting that doesn't use core D&D rules, like Dark Sun or Dragonlance, it will be different in 5e, and so you will attract a huge amount of criticism and internet hate from the very people you where trying to please. See the complaints about tieflings in Greyhawk - and that is a core rules setting!

It's much easier to do an original setting, because then no one can complain WotC are doing Wildemont "wrong".
 

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