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

Comments

Hussar

Legend
It constantly baffles me why people insist that WotC be the one to publish settings which restrict options. After all, WotC is the big dog here. Any WotC book, simply by the fact that it IS a WotC book, has to cater to a very broad range of people. Particularly in light of their comparatively slow publication schedule.

But, good grief, there are dozens of professional, well supported, and in some cases, gorgeously done 3rd party published 5e settings which will do EXACTLY what folks claim they want - limit options in order to foster a specific feel. There are just so many out there.

So, exactly why should WotC be doing what TONS of other people are already doing?
 
It constantly baffles me why people insist that WotC be the one to publish settings which restrict options.
People don't want "settings that restrict options". They want settings, that, to do properly, have to have restricted options (you can't be a cleric if all the gods are dead), and WotC own the rights to them. A 3PP cannot do Dark Sun because WotC own the rights.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It constantly baffles me why people insist that WotC be the one to publish settings which restrict options. After all, WotC is the big dog here. Any WotC book, simply by the fact that it IS a WotC book, has to cater to a very broad range of people. Particularly in light of their comparatively slow publication schedule.
All settings and all games restrict options. That's what makes them interesting. If it's a rule, it's restricting you. If it's setting specific, it's restricting you. To say that people don't want a setting that restricts options is wrong. They do.
 

Aebir-Toril

Creator of the Elfgrinder Mech
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.
I know, you quoted an older comment I made, before Parmandur informed me of Mearls's view on the subject. I am as hopeful as you are.
 

Parmandur

Legend
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".
WotC literally couldn't care less about that: if Dark Sun or Dragonlance would sell, they'll do it. They aren't precious about altering the Core for an expansion: the entire game is built on exceptions based design.
 

Parmandur

Legend
It constantly baffles me why people insist that WotC be the one to publish settings which restrict options. After all, WotC is the big dog here. Any WotC book, simply by the fact that it IS a WotC book, has to cater to a very broad range of people. Particularly in light of their comparatively slow publication schedule.

But, good grief, there are dozens of professional, well supported, and in some cases, gorgeously done 3rd party published 5e settings which will do EXACTLY what folks claim they want - limit options in order to foster a specific feel. There are just so many out there.

So, exactly why should WotC be doing what TONS of other people are already doing?
WotC has no problem releasing a product with restrictions?
 
L

lowkey13

Guest
It constantly baffles me why people insist that WotC be the one to publish settings which restrict options.
Some people like playing tennis without a net; some people prefer playing it with one.

shrug

It's really a matter of taste, isn't it? If you view every setting like an improv class, where the job of WoTC is to say, "Yes, AND ..." then it makes sense that a given setting is just an excuse to introduce even more options. Yes, it's a kitchen sink AND an oven!

Then, of course, if an individual table wants to limit options, it can.

On the other hand, some people prefer settings to have a strong point of view. And part of having a strong point of view is, on occasion, to limit things. Maybe the world doesn't have all the races, or all the classes, or all the magic, or all the ... something. Maybe it has something different. It's not just regular D&D plus other stuff. Maybe it's subverting tropes.

Then, of course, if an individual table wants to expand options, it can. "Sure, it's Dark Sun, but the gnome PC gates in from another world blah blah blah..."

It really shouldn't baffle you. Especially given that you've seen it, and had it explained to you.

Or is this more of the .... rhetorical bafflement? :)
 

Istbor

Dances with Gnolls
Pretty sure it was rhetorical.

Honestly I was excited by two reasons for this book.

One, I know nothing about the Critical Role worlds so, new stuff is always fun to me. Plus I can see how another, rather more impressive DM builds his worlds.

Two, I figured this would cause a stir here with some peeps, and I am not disappointed.


On those concerns. Shrug I don't live in the published adventure world. I mostly homebrew, as do any of my friends that DM. I can snip and steal anything cool for my purposes. The same as I would do with spelljammer or Dark Sun. Those settings don't move me to play in them one bit, but their ideas and bits and pieces interest me.

I am also pretty chill with letting the newest waves of D&D players and fans get something actually relevant to them. I had my times in the Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk. They were fun, but this is no longer then.

Sure, what I wanted was that Arabian nights type setting. Al-Qadim or what have you. I didn't get it, but I won't let that sour my outlook on D&D as it continues to grow in size, and appeal to a greater audience.
 

Stormonu

Hero
Is Taldore, Acquisitions Incorporated and Wildmonte all the same campaign world? I’m not familiar at all with Critical Role (not one for podcasts/live-streams), and wondering if this would be of any interest to me (And how it might be different from Greyhawk/Forgotten Realms/Mystra/Classic pseudo-medieval setting).
 

Parmandur

Legend
Is Taldore, Acquisitions Incorporated and Wildmonte all the same campaign world? I’m not familiar at all with Critical Role (not one for podcasts/live-streams), and wondering if this would be of any interest to me (And how it might be different from Greyhawk/Forgotten Realms/Mystra/Classic pseudo-medieval setting).
Acquisitions Incorporated is centered in Waterdeep on the Forgotten Realms, but is a plane-hopping campaign.

Tal'Doeri and Wildemount are continents in the same Setting, Exandria.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
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.
Okay
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.
Eh, the setting is better without the limitations.
 

jmucchiello

Adventurer
Is Taldore, Acquisitions Incorporated and Wildmonte all the same campaign world? I’m not familiar at all with Critical Role (not one for podcasts/live-streams), and wondering if this would be of any interest to me (And how it might be different from Greyhawk/Forgotten Realms/Mystra/Classic pseudo-medieval setting).
Acquisitions Inc is owned by the folks who make the Penny Arcade webcomic. They've been playing a semi-official D&D campaign that started when 4E was new. It was DM'd by Chris Perkins for 12+ years and Jeremy Crawford more recently. They were "streaming" before streaming was really a thing, playing the games at their PAX Conventions and then releasing them on Youtube.

Critical Role is a bunch of nerdy-ass voice actors playing D&D. The show streams on twitch, originally via Geek & Sundry, but now on their own channel. They are in their second campaign. The first campaign revolved around the continent of Tal'dori. Matt Mercer, et.al., wrote a campaign supplement for it published by Green Ronin in 2018. The second campaign takes place on Wildemont. Both of these are continents on Mercer's homebrew campaign world called Exandria. There are at least two more continents available for future campaigns. :)

tl;dr Are they the same world? No.

How are they different? Because they were created by different people. Acq. Inc takes place in the Forgotten Realms. The value of that book is the guidelines for creating a franchaise adventuring company modeled after the Acquisitions Inc. brand found in the games.

Exandria is a typical greyhawk/fr/mystra/demi-medieval setting. How useful that is to you, I have no idea.
 

Hussar

Legend
Some people like playing tennis without a net; some people prefer playing it with one.

shrug

It's really a matter of taste, isn't it? If you view every setting like an improv class, where the job of WoTC is to say, "Yes, AND ..." then it makes sense that a given setting is just an excuse to introduce even more options. Yes, it's a kitchen sink AND an oven!

Then, of course, if an individual table wants to limit options, it can.

On the other hand, some people prefer settings to have a strong point of view. And part of having a strong point of view is, on occasion, to limit things. Maybe the world doesn't have all the races, or all the classes, or all the magic, or all the ... something. Maybe it has something different. It's not just regular D&D plus other stuff. Maybe it's subverting tropes.

Then, of course, if an individual table wants to expand options, it can. "Sure, it's Dark Sun, but the gnome PC gates in from another world blah blah blah..."

It really shouldn't baffle you. Especially given that you've seen it, and had it explained to you.

Or is this more of the .... rhetorical bafflement? :)
No, no, I get it. I understand why someone would want a setting that restricts options. Totally understand.

What I don't understand is the insistence that WotC MUST be the one to do it.

There are literally dozens of professional quality 5e settings out there that fill just about every possible niche. Oh noes, you can't get an update to a thirty year old setting that's been more or less out of print for more than a decade. Ok, sure, you don't get a Dragonlance or Dark Sun update, but, good grief, how many settings do you need?

From WotC's point of view, it makes very little sense to bang out a setting that invalidates a bunch of other WotC books. Sure, here, let's have this big, pretty setting book but, you can't use Volo's, or most of Xanathar's or most of Mordenkainen's or SCAG. But, hey, buy this book and use this setting!!

Doesn't it make a lot more sense for WotC to use settings that actually use the other books that they have produced?
 
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L

lowkey13

Guest
What I don't understand is the insistence that WotC MUST be the one to do it.
A combination of a weird identification with a corporate identity and a belief that validation occurs through someone else?

That’s my best guess.
 

Hussar

Legend
A combination of a weird identification with a corporate identity and a belief that validation occurs through someone else?

That’s my best guess.
I guess. It must be incredibly frustrating for designers to be so easily dismissed just because they don't have a WotC logo on their product. A lot of those 3pp books are excellent. You can easily spot the works of love out there. Yet, just because they aren't official, they get completely ignored.

It's like the complaints that 5e doesn't have enough short modules. Good grief, DM's guild must have well over a thousand 5e modules. More modules that some entire editions had, but, again, because they don't have that WotC stamp on them, they're dismissed.

A quick google search turns up this thread from 2017


That's 24 settings right there and that list is two years old.

How many settings do folks want?
 

Essafah

Explorer
I guess. It must be incredibly frustrating for designers to be so easily dismissed just because they don't have a WotC logo on their product. A lot of those 3pp books are excellent. You can easily spot the works of love out there. Yet, just because they aren't official, they get completely ignored.

It's like the complaints that 5e doesn't have enough short modules. Good grief, DM's guild must have well over a thousand 5e modules. More modules that some entire editions had, but, again, because they don't have that WotC stamp on them, they're dismissed.

A quick google search turns up this thread from 2017


That's 24 settings right there and that list is two years old.

How many settings do folks want?
I have backed Kickstarters for some very interesting third-party 5E settings but the fact is people prefer official material including official settings myself included. There are numerous reasons for this: 1) official material in theory has been better playtested and this will be of better mechanical quality than third party material. This is not always the case but there is some validity to this reasoning. One of the reasons Third edition and the overall Open d20 license starting hurting the brand was because of the proliferation of third party publishers and many of them were of subpar quality. 2) Many games are and DMs are rules oriented and an official product does carry more weight. 3. Some third party content only exists as PDF formats and some people prefer shiny new books which is why people want new campaigns like Eberron, Greyhawk, etc. even though the old boxed sets still work just fine. Seems the new Eberron book sold pretty well even though the material in it is not really new. There are a host of other reasons why people like official products.

Returning to the Explorer's Guide to Wildemounte. I want to add that while I am truly disappointed they chose this setting versus a just as easily done and legacy setting like Ravenloft or Planescape my disappointment is in the world choice and not anything against Matt Mercer. I say that because, I don't watch Critical Role and have no interests in watching it but upon seeing his interviews on D&D Beyond Matt seems like a genuinely good person and a cool game master. I am happy that someone who loves and cares about D&D and also advocates for legacy settings like Planescape got to have their dream fulfilled of becoming a part of D&D legacy. So, while this book does not excite me perse I say congrats to Matt.

I will say, that despite what Matt says the WOTC productions schedule has been impacted by his release. This is not to say that WOTC will not be putting out another world this year but I find it hard to believe that once they okayed this release they didn't shuffle another release around to a later date. I think part of the gripe around the disappointed faction has around this release is the way it was advertised. WOTC employees had been dropping hints that (rightly or wrongly) lead many people to believe a legacy setting such as Spelljammer, Planescape, or Dark Sun was being released then they find out it a Critical Role book and..... I think if Jeremy C or the WOTC reps had said something along the lines of , "On X date we are unveiling our next big release. It is something that will have a huge crossover appeal and is something fans have not seen before" the expectations would have been different. They also could make the cover art a little less anime looking too. I hope that is placeholder art but then again maybe that is the look Critters like.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
How many settings do folks want?
There's too much 3rd party stuff and a lot of it isn't good. Even if a good portion is good and I believe a good portion is, I don't have the time or desire to slog through tons of material for things that I will like. And that's if I can even look through the entire product before purchase, like I can with official D&D products(I usually can't with 3rd party), AND it's available in good quality print, since I don't do poor quality print or PDF when playing.

That's why I want WotC to be the one to release the settings.
 

Essafah

Explorer
There's too much 3rd party stuff and a lot of it isn't good. Even if a good portion is good and I believe a good portion is, I don't have the time or desire to slog through tons of material for things that I will like. And that's if I can even look through the entire product before purchase, like I can with official D&D products(I usually can't with 3rd party), AND it's available in good quality print, since I don't do poor quality print or PDF when playing.

That's why I want WotC to be the one to release the settings.
This was one argument I made and what you say about this being the reason WOTC wants to be the one to release settings makes perfect sense. Again, the market saturation of D20 publishers in 3E eventually did have a negative impact which is one reason I recall WOTC saying they tightened the reins (perhaps too much) when 4E came around.
 
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