D&D 5E The Next D&D Book is JOURNEYS THROUGH THE RADIANT CITADEL

We peered, poked, squinted, flipped, and enhanced the teaser image that WotC put out last week, and it turns out we got it right -- the next book is, indeed, Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel.

journey_citadel.jpg

Wraparound cover art by Evyn Fong

Through the mists of the Ethereal Plane shines the Radiant Citadel. Travelers from across the multiverse flock to this mysterious bastion to share their traditions, stories, and calls for heroes. A crossroads of wonders and adventures, the Radiant Citadel is the first step on the path to legend. Where will your journeys take you?

Journeys through the Radiant Citadel is a collection of thirteen short, stand-alone D&D adventures featuring challenges for character levels 1–14. Each adventure has ties to the Radiant Citadel, a magical city with connections to lands rich with excitement and danger, and each can be run by itself or as part of an ongoing campaign. Explore this rich and varied collection of adventures in magical lands.
  • Thirteen new stand-alone adventures spanning levels 1 to 14, each with its own set of maps
  • Introduces the Radiant Citadel, a new location on the Ethereal Plane that connects adventurers to richly detailed and distinct corners of the D&D multiverse
  • Each adventure can be set in any existing D&D campaign setting or on worlds of your own design
  • Introduces eleven new D&D monsters
  • There’s a story for every adventuring party, from whimsical and light to dark and foreboding and everything in between


Slated for June 21st (update - I just got a press release which says it's June 21st "in North American stores"; I'm not sure what that means for the rest of us!), it's a 224-page adventure anthology featuring a floating city called the Radiant Citadel. The book is written entirely by people of colour, including Ajit George, who was the first person of Indian heritage to write Indian-inspired material for D&D (in Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft). Around 50 POC writers were involved in total in various ways.

The Radiant Citadel is on the ethereal plane and is carved from the giant fossil of an unknown monster. A massive gemstone called the Royal Diamond sits at the core, surrounded by a bunch of smaller Concord Jewels, which are gateways to the Citadel's founding civilizations. DMs can link any world to the citadel by placing a Concord Jewel there.

The Citadel, unlike many D&D locations, is more of a sanctuary than a place of danger. The book's alternate cover features a Dawn Incarnate, a creature which is the embodiment of stories and cultures.


The adventures are as follows:
  • Salted Legacy
  • Written In Blood
  • The Fiend of Hollow Mine
  • Wages of Vice
  • Sins of Our Elders
  • Gold for Fools and Princes
  • Trail of Destruction
  • In the Mists of Manivarsha
  • Between Tangled Roots
  • Shadow of the Sun
  • The Nightsea’s Succor
  • Buried Dynasty
  • Orchids of the Invisible Mountain
UPDATE -- the press release contains a list of some of the contributors: "Justice Ramin Arman, Dominique Dickey, Ajit A. George, Basheer Ghouse, Alastor Guzman, D. Fox Harrell, T.K. Johnson, Felice Tzehuei Kuan, Surena Marie, Mimi Mondal, Mario Ortegón, Miyuki Jane Pinckard, Pam Punzalan, Erin Roberts, Terry H. Romero, Stephanie Yoon, and many more."

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Regular cover by Even Fong

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Alternate Cover by Sija Hong
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

On the topic of the book itself, I found the adventures to be a mix of good, bad, and meh (just like with Candlekeep Mysteries). A lot of the art is really great. Some pieces depict people in clothing that just feels a bit too modern for my D&D preferences, though (e.g. denim overalls and pumps).

I also feel like a good chunk of the adventures follow the same formula: go to this place, there's a festival going on, find out there's a problem, do some investigating, face off against the monster causing the problem. In many cases, it's going to end up being a group of PCs vs one monster, which means it's going to be a somewhat anticlimactic fight.

I also feel like the connective tissue of the Radiant Citadel itself is very weak. The adventures were very clearly written to be used as standalone adventures and if you want to tie them into the Citadel, once again, you have to do the work. (Yes, I know, it's par for the course for the DIY Edition but still ...)

I haven't looked at the add-on stuff on DMs Guild yet, but I've heard it helps.

While the connective tissue is weak, and it's obviously set for each chapter to be easily pulled out and played on its own, your second point actually feeds into the third - given that the first story concerns a dispute over dueling food businesses at a festival, the first few stories could simply have the party be bodyguards and assistants for one of the food vendors (or both, if the party patched over the differences between the two and the DM decides to have them start up a partnership) from the first story, who is setting up a mobile food cart that travels to these various festivals, leading the party to get involved with the various adventures. It does break down a bit when you get to the sixth adventure (and some of the later ones as well), which doesn't have a corresponding festival, but it wouldn't be hard to just create one if necessary...
 
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Parmandur

Book-Friend
While the connective tissue is weak, and it's obviously set for each chapter to be easily pulled out and played on its own, your second point actually feeds into the third - given that the first story concerns a dispute over dueling food businesses at a festival, the first few stories could simply have the party be bodyguards and assistants for one of the food vendors (or both, if the party patched over the differences between the two and the DM decides to have them start up a partnership) from the first story, who is setting up a mobile food cart that travels to these various festivals, leading the party to get involved with the various adventures. It does break down a bit when you get to the sixth adventure (and some of the later ones as well), which doesn't have a corresponding festival, but it wouldn't be hard to just create one if necessary...
I like that the connective tissue is a weak suggestion. Makes the adjustable modular nature of the individual adventures stronger.
 

pukunui

Legend
I like that the connective tissue is a weak suggestion. Makes the adjustable modular nature of the individual adventures stronger.
I think they could have provided stronger connections while retaining the modularity.

As written, there’s some really cool stuff in the Radiant Citadel write-up, but there’s not a great sense of how to use it.

Even just a sidebar here and there pointing back to the citadel chapter with some tips on how to incorporate the setting (like maybe directing the PCs to return to the citadel to seek an audience with the relevant speaker and/or incarnate to gain more info about their civilization or whatever) would’ve been nice.

All we get is “if the PCs are coming from the citadel, start near here.”
 
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Whoever wrote the Radiant Citadel setting chapter clearly thought that the players would be Shieldbearers, which would make the PCs a perfect "away team" (red tabards optional) to go on all the subsequent adventures.

Unfortunately, the first adventure (which spans two levels, when it doesn't provide enough XP to get to level 3, irritatingly) doesn't provide any situation where players might be asked to join or have already joined.

I intend to run a Radiant Citadel campaign later this year, and the first adventure I'll be using will actually be from this Kickstarter, with the players being citadel peacekeepers who are eventually recognized as particularly capable and being asked to be part of just such an away team.

It'll also give me an opportunity to feature more play in the citadel itself, which I think is strangely underutilized in the book.
 


I don't think there is any need for an adventure to make the PCs Shieldbearers. It's either the initial campaign setup, or the PCs stumble across the Radiant Citadel over the course of an ongoing campaign, make a name for themselves, and are invited to join. Which could happen at any level.
 

Hussar

Legend
Disclaimer - I have not read Radiant Citadel, so, I'm basing this on what's being said here.

It sounds an awful lot like the Candlekeep Mysteries. Outside of two adventures, Candlekeep doesn't actually figure into any of the other adventures. It's actually one of the things I don't like about Ckeep is that you have this fantastically interesting home base - Candlekeep - and it's pretty much completely unused. None of the NPC's from the initial Candlekeep setting chapter are actually used in any of the adventures, that I can think of anyway. Most of the locations have a paragraph or so, and that's about it, and then they are completely forgotten.

It is a weakness of the module IMO.

Come to think about it, Ghosts of Saltmarsh largely suffers the same issues as well. There are no actual adventures IN Saltmarsh proper and none of the modules that come with GoS actually connect directly to Saltmarsh in any meaningful way. Even the three Saltmarsh adventures don't actually have much to do with Saltmarsh at all. It's a cool setting but, the modules really don't connect to it.
 


It's intentional. WotC are aware of the issues with adventure paths (discussed in another thread). The Radiant Citadel adventures are intentionally stand-alone. They can be linked together, but that's not the main intended use.

Generally, they are better than the adventures in Candlekeep Mysteries, especially if you are interested in the mythology of other cultures.
 

I don't think there is any need for an adventure to make the PCs Shieldbearers. It's either the initial campaign setup, or the PCs stumble across the Radiant Citadel over the course of an ongoing campaign, make a name for themselves, and are invited to join. Which could happen at any level.
Fair, but I stand by my belief that having the first adventure span two levels is a weird oversight, since all the rest of the adventures seem more or less tuned to advance characters a level each time (I'll be doing milestone leveling to begin with). The first adventure not doing that to me looks like something got cut, but they should have put it back in, IMO. And having one adventure on the citadel before venturing out into the connected worlds also feels like an obvious choice.

In any case, I love the book overall, love the PDF expanding it (San Citlan in particular really shines in the expanded version -- I could easily see setting whole campaigns based in the city) and am picking up supplemental books like Latin American Monsters to flesh out my Radiant Citadel campaign.
 

Generally, they are better than the adventures in Candlekeep Mysteries, especially if you are interested in the mythology of other cultures.
Yeah, I picked up Candlekeep on D&D Beyond when I had a player cancel at the last minute and needed a decent adventure on the spot. While we liked the first adventure in the book, I was dismayed at how many of the subsequent adventures I have zero interest in running. (A bunch of drama with lamias, basically a mediocre Dungeon magazine adventure centered on wereravens, etc.)

In contrast, everything in Radiant Citadel seems to either work right out of the box and be compelling or need minimal elbow grease to get it there. (Some of the logic behind the first adventure is a bit shaky, but that's fixable.)
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Fair, but I stand by my belief that having the first adventure span two levels is a weird oversight, since all the rest of the adventures seem more or less tuned to advance characters a level each time (I'll be doing milestone leveling to begin with). The first adventure not doing that to me looks like something got cut, but they should have put it back in, IMO.
Is the first level just so quick (and the 2nd pretty quick) that any adventure that just did one of them couldn't go very far?
 


Michael Linke

Adventurer
Well that’s daft.

1. Maztica exists
2. It is of a Mesomerican culture

The rest is irrelevant. No ones asking you to bust out the Maztica boxes set and reenact the glorious adventures of Cordell’s legion, merely recognise that there’s a part of Toril where thematically this adventure really fits.

If it wasn’t done well in the past the first step to a better depiction is tying it up this material rather than pretending it doesn’t exist.
Yeah, I have to wonder whether Maztica, if rebuilt from the ground up with an eye toward sensitivity, would still be somehow bad just because it kept the name. But, it could just be that they don't have time to clean up or rehab the Maztica setting, and they don't want new players to read a reference to Maztica in this book, and get the wrong idea that all of Maztica's baggage is hanging in the background of the setting they've just learned about in what was supposed to be a culturally sensitive book written by a diverse set of authors.
 

Yeah, I have to wonder whether Maztica, if rebuilt from the ground up with an eye toward sensitivity, would still be somehow bad just because it kept the name. But, it could just be that they don't have time to clean up or rehab the Maztica setting, and they don't want new players to read a reference to Maztica in this book, and get the wrong idea that all of Maztica's baggage is hanging in the background of the setting they've just learned about in what was supposed to be a culturally sensitive book written by a diverse set of authors.
I don't see the case for Maztica, myself.

Other than satisfying completists or folks with serious nostalgia for 2E, what would Maztica offer that the two Meso-American settings in Radiant Citadel do not, other than a colonialist storyline?

If WotC wanted to explore more of the Forgotten Realms, there's a huge chunk of the core setting waiting for that treatment, and if they want to visit new areas on the world, there's apparently an Australian-themed continent and -- ahem -- AN ISLAND OF FLYING MONKEYS.
 


I love the citadel and the mini settings—what we get, anyway. I don’t care if it’s woke, or insufficiently woke, or woke executed in a way that is itself problematic.

The adventures are ass. That may be unkind, but I think the blame can be widely distributed at least. In any case, ass. As D&D adventures, worst of the 5e era. Worse than Candlekeep.

We still need writers, designers and developers who know how to create good adventures. Coach them up, sure, but maybe some time proving it on DM’s Guild before you turn them loose on a book?

I don’t know. They’re bad in ways that were mostly fixable.
 




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