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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

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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.
3e had the same issues, yes. I bought maybe a half dozen 3rd party items during 3e, and all of them were printed products that I could look through at my local game store. Those half dozen items were maybe 5-10% of all the 3rd party books I looked through.
 

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Istbor

Dances with Gnolls
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.

Okay, understandable. It is pretty restrictive though. Especially if the settings and content being put out by WotC does not meet your personal tastes. When that happens, I can totally understand some others not getting why it is so grievous. There are options out there, and some would like to ignore that because it is too much work, but then complain because what is 'official' is not what they asked for. It's like some are putting themselves in a lose-lose situation.

Though to me, it's all French. I don't use any published settings. I may use a town, or the flavor of a region or dungeon, but otherwise, everything is taking place in my own game world.
 

Remathilis

Legend
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.
If you look at it, WotC has alternated between new and old settings.

Forgotten Realms (old)
Ravnica (new)
Eberron (old)
Wildemount (new)

So I wager the next setting will be old.

Further, two settings (Ravenloft and Greyhawk) got micro-coverage in modules; not enough to run a full campaign but enough to run the adventure and extrapolate from. It's possible Planescape (Sigil) and Spelljammer get similar treatment as hubs to larger adventures.

I think the biggest problem is that people expect that there will be 300 page books for every setting ever made, even the ones that hasn't seen publication since the 90s. I get being impatient and wanting a new book (I am eternally grateful for RftLW) but I think WotC is in no hurry to flood the game with 10 different settings, esp ones that didn't have high sales or large popularity in the last surveys. I think expectations need to be tempered a bit when Spelljammer gets mentioned by a WotC worker.
 

Essafah

Explorer
If you look at it, WotC has alternated between new and old settings.

Forgotten Realms (old)
Ravnica (new)
Eberron (old)
Wildemount (new)

So I wager the next setting will be old.

Further, two settings (Ravenloft and Greyhawk) got micro-coverage in modules; not enough to run a full campaign but enough to run the adventure and extrapolate from. It's possible Planescape (Sigil) and Spelljammer get similar treatment as hubs to larger adventures.

I think the biggest problem is that people expect that there will be 300 page books for every setting ever made, even the ones that hasn't seen publication since the 90s. I get being impatient and wanting a new book (I am eternally grateful for RftLW) but I think WotC is in no hurry to flood the game with 10 different settings, esp ones that didn't have high sales or large popularity in the last surveys. I think expectations need to be tempered a bit when Spelljammer gets mentioned by a WotC worker.
Valid point on the alternation of settings. I have no problem with them alternating between new and legacy settings. I also stated that I personally don’t want to see a setting like Dark Sun released until WOTC has developed an official psionic system as psionics was an integral part of Dark Sun, and again I am happy for Mercer to have his dream fulfilled.
The problem in my view is that WOTC has traditionally dropped hints about something to come such as before Eberron you there were hints that a classic world was being released if not exactly Eberron but this time WOTC gaves hints that again rightly or wrongly lead some to believe the big release was a classic setting like Spelljammer then we get Exandria which for the most part is a standard world no different than Forgotten Realms (which does not even have a full book yet on the same level as other officially released worlds for 5E) or Greyhawk. I can understand why some people were upset.

Not sure where you are getting your data from saying that people expect 300+ pages of setting from especially on settings that didn’t sell well back in the day. I think people have wanted 300+ pages for settings that have sold well, and I think some settings such as Al-Qadim and Oriental Adventures/Kara-Tur that didn’t sell that well deserve a shot as much as new generic worlds. Now, what that shot looks like whether it be the old material simply put in a new package and released as Print on Demand on whatever. Heck, if the bean counters at Hasbro that now control the D&D Brand wanted they could do something like crowdfund legacy worlds and not release the print until they hit what they felt was a certain profit margin level. I would be willing to wager that even legacy worlds like Greyhawk that on the surface don’t differ that much from FR (though the feel of the world actually does) would not have problem reaching a successful crowdfunded goal and in relatively short order. This way Hasbro doesn’t actually have to spend money on the setting and fans those worlds could get a release yet WOTC would still have control of the settings brand and release. This is an unconventional route for major corporations to use but it is not illogical and we live in times in which conventions are going by the wayside even in major business. Also, I am aware of no laws preventing major corporations of using CF services the same as small entrepreneurs or at least not in the U.S.

Regardless, I think it ultimately comes down to if Jeremy had said, “Hey on Monday we are announcing the big release for the First quarter. It will be something new that D&D has not seen before in any edition and will have a strong crossover appeal but something in it for everyone” the reactions would have been far different. I am not one of these people who thinks D&D is abandoning its core audience any more than I think Coke is abandoning its core audience when it announces a different flavor. I just think the hype versus what was released coupled with WOTC’s sluggish production scheduled coupled with the cartoonish cover art of the book got a reaction from some. Also, to be clear when I say sluggish production schedule I am referring to official content release not third-party.
 
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gyor

Legend
Valid point on the alternation of settings. I have no problem with them alternating between new and legacy settings. I also stated that I personally don’t want to see a setting like Dark Sun released until WOTC has developed an official psionic system as psionics was an integral part of Dark Sun, and again I am happy for Mercer to have his dream fulfilled.
The problem in my view is that WOTC has traditionally dropped hints about something to come such as before Eberron you there were hints that a classic world was being released if not exactly Eberron but this time WOTC gaves hints that again rightly or wrongly lead some to believe the big release was a classic setting like Spelljammer then we get Exandria which for the most part is a standard world no different than Forgotten Realms (which does not even have a full book yet on the same level as other officially released worlds for 5E) or Greyhawk. I can understand why some people were upset.

Not sure where you are getting your data from saying that people expect 300+ pages of setting from especially on settings that didn’t sell well back in the day. I think people have wanted 300+ pages for settings that have sold well, and I think some settings such as Al-Qadim and Oriental Adventures/Kara-Tur that didn’t sell that well deserve a shot as much as new generic worlds. Now, what that shot looks like whether it be the old material simply put in a new package and released as Print on Demand on whatever. Heck, if the bean counters at Hasbro that now control the D&D Brand wanted they could do something like crowdfund legacy worlds and not release the print until they hit what they felt was a certain profit margin level. I would be willing to wager that even legacy worlds like Greyhawk that on the surface don’t differ that much from FR (though the feel of the world actually does) would not have problem reaching a successful crowdfunded goal and in relatively short order. This way Hasbro doesn’t actually have to spend money on the setting and fans those worlds could get a release yet WOTC would still have control of the settings brand and release. This is an unconventional route for major corporations to use but it is not illogical and we live in times in which conventions are going by the wayside even in major business. Also, I am aware of no laws preventing major corporations of using CF services the same as small entrepreneurs or at least not in the U.S.

Regardless, I think it ultimately comes down to if Jeremy had said, “Hey on Monday we are announcing the big release for the First quarter. It will be something new that D&D has not seen before in any edition and will have a strong crossover appeal but something in it for everyone” the reactions would have been far different. I am not one of these people who thinks D&D is abandoning its core audience any more than I think Coke is abandoning its core audience when it announces a different flavor. I just think the hype versus what was released coupled with WOTC’s sluggish production scheduled coupled with the cartoonish cover art of the book got a reaction from some. Also, to be clear when I say sluggish production schedule I am referring to official content release not third-party.

Where did you get the idea that Al Qadim and Oriental Adventures didn't sell well? They both did very well. OA did so well they added it to the Forgotten Realms, and Al Qadim was always apart of the realms, but originally planned as a limited run, which got extended repeatedly to new books beyond what was originally planned for the setting (the only time I've seen a limited run RPG be extended beyond the original intended books outside of a kickstarter was Changeling: The Lost 1e). So yeah they are probably more popular then many seperate traditional settings.
 

If you look at it, WotC has alternated between new and old settings.

Forgotten Realms (old)
Ravnica (new)
Eberron (old)
Wildemount (new)

So I wager the next setting will be old.

Further, two settings (Ravenloft and Greyhawk) got micro-coverage in modules; not enough to run a full campaign but enough to run the adventure and extrapolate from. It's possible Planescape (Sigil) and Spelljammer get similar treatment as hubs to larger adventures.

I think the biggest problem is that people expect that there will be 300 page books for every setting ever made, even the ones that hasn't seen publication since the 90s. I get being impatient and wanting a new book (I am eternally grateful for RftLW) but I think WotC is in no hurry to flood the game with 10 different settings, esp ones that didn't have high sales or large popularity in the last surveys. I think expectations need to be tempered a bit when Spelljammer gets mentioned by a WotC worker.

My theory on Spelljammer (totally based off of fairly minimal evidence) is that we'll get book that is a combo adventure/setting book. The adventure will start on Lantan (as has been hinted at), visit some or all the planets of Realmspace, go through the crystal sphere into the phlogiston to at least one other crystal sphere, and visit the Rock of Bral somewhere along the way. The second part of the book would cover Spelljammer in general - ship rules, locations, mini-bestiary, etc. The second part will be useful for running the adventure, but also to expand upon it if the DM wishes as well as allow a DM to run full-fledged Spelljammer campaigns as well. This would follow the format of Dragon Heist and Descent into Avernus, where there's a full adventure, but also 30 - 50 pages of setting info included within the book that can be used both in and outside of the adventure. Heck, Avernus even has the Infernal War Machine section which would parallel a Spelljammer ship section...
 

vpuigdoller

Adventurer
If you look at it, WotC has alternated between new and old settings.

Forgotten Realms (old)
Ravnica (new)
Eberron (old)
Wildemount (new)

So I wager the next setting will be old.

Further, two settings (Ravenloft and Greyhawk) got micro-coverage in modules; not enough to run a full campaign but enough to run the adventure and extrapolate from. It's possible Planescape (Sigil) and Spelljammer get similar treatment as hubs to larger adventures.

I think the biggest problem is that people expect that there will be 300 page books for every setting ever made, even the ones that hasn't seen publication since the 90s. I get being impatient and wanting a new book (I am eternally grateful for RftLW) but I think WotC is in no hurry to flood the game with 10 different settings, esp ones that didn't have high sales or large popularity in the last surveys. I think expectations need to be tempered a bit when Spelljammer gets mentioned by a WotC worker.
Plus Known World Mystara Gazeteer got reprinted with OAR 2: Isle of Dread which is officially licensed.
 
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Essafah

Explorer
Where did you get the idea that Al Qadim and Oriental Adventures didn't sell well? They both did very well. OA did so well they added it to the Forgotten Realms, and Al Qadim was always apart of the realms, but originally planned as a limited run, which got extended repeatedly to new books beyond what was originally planned for the setting (the only time I've seen a limited run RPG be extended beyond the original intended books outside of a kickstarter was Changeling: The Lost 1e). So yeah they are probably more popular then many seperate traditional settings.

Fair enough. I know first edition OA did well. I was basing it off the fact that the Kara-Tur boxed set which was when OA was incorporated in the realms never really got reprinted and also the fact that when they did OA in 3E they never updated it for 3.5 like they did other books. Now, granted they had lost the Rokugan license by then but if OA which I really liked had sold very well I think they would have done a 3.5 OA book. I always loved Al-Qadim. I am glad it sold well it just always seemed really limited even in the 2E heyday or myriad worlds so I will take your word for it.

The greater point is if WOTC (Hasbro) wanted to retain control of world releases but is reluctant to spend money on campaign worlds (whatever those world are) that they don’t feel is profitable there are ways like crowdfunding to still release world sand have creative control and minimize expenditures to nigh zero as well. This would be a great way for whatever worlds Hasbro feels are very niche to get released.
 

teitan

Legend
Fair enough. I know first edition OA did well. I was basing it off the fact that the Kara-Tur boxed set which was when OA was incorporated in the realms never really got reprinted and also the fact that when they did OA in 3E they never updated it for 3.5 like they did other books. Now, granted they had lost the Rokugan license by then but if OA which I really liked had sold very well I think they would have done a 3.5 OA book. I always loved Al-Qadim. I am glad it sold well it just always seemed really limited even in the 2E heyday or myriad worlds so I will take your word for it.

The greater point is if WOTC (Hasbro) wanted to retain control of world releases but is reluctant to spend money on campaign worlds (whatever those world are) that they don’t feel is profitable there are ways like crowdfunding to still release world sand have creative control and minimize expenditures to nigh zero as well. This would be a great way for whatever worlds Hasbro feels are very niche to get released.

Old thread but the OA3e classes were updated in the Complete books by class for the most part.
 

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