Critical Role [+] What does Wildemount do that Forgotten Realms doesn't?

Doc_Klueless

Doors and Corners
So, I'm a completionist who spends way more money on RPGs than he should. As such, I purchased Wildemount on DND Beyond.

However, I've already got SCAG. I already run adventures in it because I've gotten lazier as I've aged and I no longer want to spend the time and effort creating a homebrew world where the players will either ignore or not care about all the cool stuff I think I've created. As such, I already have an "adventure world."

As far as being a Critter, I'm conversant with Critical Role, but I'm not a follower. If that makes sense. I listen to it on the way to work and back, but it's not the only podcast I listen to.

So, looking at this from the perspective of the two sorta points above: What does Wildemount give that Forgotten Realms doesn't? Why would someone want to switch to it? What's so cool about it? and other such questions.

Please notice the [+] in the title. Try not to rag on either one of the settings.
 

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Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
Wildmount is a fairly generic D&D setting and in many respects I don't think it's radically different than FR. What makes Critical Role work is the excellent storytelling abilities of Mercer and his players, not so much the setting and certainly not Mercer's mechanics, which tend to be flawed. Having said that:

- I personally think a lot of FR lore is kinda bad, convoluted, overdeveloped, and has inevitable continuity issues. Wildemount by contrast is near-virgin territory which can feel like a relief depending on how much attention you want to pay to some of the dumber stuff that has happened in FR history.

- The pantheon of gods is better.

- I personally dislike most Ed Greenwood-style names (Jalantyr Mistgem, Sildar Hallwinter, Kelemvor Lyonsbane, etc.). If, like me, you feel these names are like nails on a chalkboard, then Wildemount is mercifully (mostly) free of them.

- The Realms can seem a little homogeneous to me. Are the Dales REALLY that different from the Sword Coast? I think Wildemount does a bit better with making different regions of the continent seem culturally and aesthetically distinctive.
 

Iry

Hero
Exandria takes some of the best parts of multiple settings. It uses the very cool Dawn War ideas from 4th Edition, including the Raven Queen and the Primordials. The Divine Gate is basically the Ring of Siberys from Eberron. The Age of Arcanum is the fallen Netheril Empire from Forgotten Realms. Floating Cities from several settings.

It's basically the Smash Brothers of D&D.
 

jgsugden

Legend
It is a modern take on a FR type setting.

I don't mean they use technology (the Realms and Exandria (the world in which Wildemount exists) are similar in that respect). I mean that Mercer toakes a bit more of a modern approach to looking at social connections in his world. There is less of an "ugly = evil" approach to humanoids (although some is still there), more complexity in the social interactions between 'civilized' nations and there are rules/setting elements to encourage people to try playing a character less like themselves.

Reasons I am happy I bought EGtW?

  • I'm a Critter and enjoy learning more of the lore of his world.
  • I like the new crunch and will use that in all of my homebrew game world. In my setting, the intellectual property relating to spells is a big thing. Groups of wizards that work together usually have a connecting theme. Dunamancy is going to be one of those things now. The Echo Knight mechanics and Hollow One mechanics also fit perfectly with story elements that have not been explored in 5E.
  • Coincidentally, I had recently pulled out all my old materials for a campaign setting I built in my teen years. Some of the elements were great. Others, like my homebrew Deities, were not well received. I had replaced them with the Dawn War and Greyhawk Pantheons (recombined) a month before the release of Wildemount and stole a lot of inspiration from the book as I tweaked the overlapping beings.
  • I also took some inspiration from the book and tweaked my concept of Demi-Gods to match the book's concept of Lesser Idols.

In short - I prefer homebrew to rying to run someone else's world - but I love stealing from quality source material. When it comes to that, I've got Expertise in Sleight of Hand and Gloves of Thievery on my little rogue fingers.
 

Doc_Klueless

Doors and Corners
Alright! Thanks everyone. Keep it coming if you think of anything else. This thread might help others who are wondering as well.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The chapter on making a backstory is really good, and contains a lot of information and inspiration for characters (PC and NPC), and built in hooks for characters, and really gives the player a feel for where they come from. You pick a favorite food. It’s a silly little thing but it helps the player, IME, know a little more about the sights and smells and tastes of home.

As a DM who really doesn’t care for PCs that aren’t really part of the world in any meaningful way, that’s the most valuable thing a setting book can do.
 

Longspeak

Adventurer
I became a fan of the world when I joined a game set in Tal'Dorei (the setting of Critical Role's first series). The GM used a lot of the history, and explained where he got it from. I started listening to the podcast (I know they're on Twitch, but it's easier to listen to a podcast at work and while driving).

Here is where we get the big difference for me between Forgotten Realms and Tal'Dorei: The forgotten realms was a lot of reading, often pretty dry, and often pulling my focus with some of the annoying names (I see upthread I am not the only one to notice this). I liked it, back in the day. But it was still a slog to read sometimes.

But Tal'Dorei... listening as Mercer and his players brought these characters and situations to life, invested me in the setting. It made it all more "real" for me. So much so that when the time came for me to move back into D&D, I went with Tal'Dorei for the setting.

So, when Wildemount was announced, I snapped it up. Now, there's a zillion episodes of the podcast and I haven't actually made it to Wildmount yet (second series). But if the podcast did that for Tal'Dorei, I expect it will for Wildmount as well.
 

There are a couple of other things as well:
  • Lack of explicitly high level characters avoids the “why doesn’t Elminster take care of it?” Issue;
  • I really like the layout of the book with a couple of adventure hooks after the description of each location: I find this super easy to use when the players arrive in a new location;
  • While the Realms does have lands that are inspired by non-Western cultures, these tend to be far away, in out of print books, and less easy to work into the campaign. I really like the flavour of the Kinue Islanders and how they are really present in the Clovis Concord section;
  • I like the “power up” aspect of the vestiges of divergence. It is usable for any magic item and provides a handy reason why the fighter travelling with his ancestral sword wouldn’t just trade up for a +2 sword as soon as he was able.
 

So, I'm a completionist who spends way more money on RPGs than he should. As such, I purchased Wildemount on DND Beyond.

However, I've already got SCAG. I already run adventures in it because I've gotten lazier as I've aged and I no longer want to spend the time and effort creating a homebrew world where the players will either ignore or not care about all the cool stuff I think I've created. As such, I already have an "adventure world."

As far as being a Critter, I'm conversant with Critical Role, but I'm not a follower. If that makes sense. I listen to it on the way to work and back, but it's not the only podcast I listen to.

So, looking at this from the perspective of the two sorta points above: What does Wildemount give that Forgotten Realms doesn't? Why would someone want to switch to it? What's so cool about it? and other such questions.

Please notice the [+] in the title. Try not to rag on either one of the settings.
This is the catch with campaign settings as content: you really only need a couple and any overlap in tone makes them less desirable.

Okay, what does the Wildemount have that the Realms doesn't?

First is the open war. The two big nations in the book are either on the verge of war or actively at war. There's no comparable war in the Realms, as there are no massive empires. And other WotC settings (like Eberron) tend to be set after war.

Most importantly, this war is not good versus evil. The Dwendalian Empire will SAY they're the good guys with their traditional fantasy races against the drow and monstrous races of Xhorhas who are spreading a magical darkness across the land.
But the drow are actually civilized, decent and just making a home for themselves and other traditionally subterranean races on the surface without being blinded. And they view the humans of the west as xenophobes who practice religious persecution and arrest those who don't follow their narrow list of prescribed gods.

There's other features. The continent is smaller and full of fewer nations and less real world analogues. Modern D&D races like goliaths, firbolgs, and kenku have a role in the world. There's a much smaller pantheon of gods. And the world is lower power and magic, so the PCs can be the big damn heroes and not overshadowed by an Elminster or Drizzt.
 


Elvish Lore

Explorer
Having read the through the Wildemount guide, I'm a huge fan and have started a campaign. To be clear, I'm not at all a Critter... I've listened to 10 minutes of one Crit Role ep.

I think Wildemount does a great job of feeling like a classic D&D setting but turns a lot of traditional tropes more into the realm of feeling modern and more socially progressive. It doesn't feel nearly as generic as Forgotten Realms which I have loathed for a long time now... so glad that WotC is increasingly leaving it behind and giving more worlds for their game.

And, to be sure, Wildemount having about 99% pre-written lore for FR is really freeing and curtails continuity-nazi players quoting lore from 35 years worth of material.
 

I'm not a critter, and for me Wildemount doesn't feel compelling enough to use instead of a Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk, if I'm looking for generic fantasy. That being said, I definitely agree with @Denys that it's more progressive than the older settings. And if I had to pick one thing it does better than FR, it's how so many of the various nations and city-states are at the edge of war with each other. If you're looking for large-scale conflicts, it'd be a better fit.
 

Oofta

Legend
As someone who hasn't purchased it yet and has only listed to a couple dozen CR podcasts, the biggest reason I would consider it is that it's a clean slate.

FR is ... crowded. A lot of history, a lot of lore. It's kind of overstuffed. I know I can just tell everyone that it's my version but if I then say that Elminister is dead, Drizzt was really evil all along or whatever wackiness I want to do I'll have a minor revolt on my hands.

I run my own home world campaign, but I may still buy it just to mine it for ideas.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Most importantly, this war is not good versus evil. The Dwendalian Empire will SAY they're the good guys with their traditional fantasy races against the drow and monstrous races of Xhorhas who are spreading a magical darkness across the land.
But the drow are actually civilized, decent and just making a home for themselves and other traditionally subterranean races on the surface without being blinded. And they view the humans of the west as xenophobes who practice religious persecution and arrest those who don't follow their narrow list of prescribed gods.

This part is very well drawn out: the Dwendalian Empire isn't Evil, either, nor is the Dynasty Good (I'd peg them as Lawful Neutral and True Neutral, respectively). It's actually a meaty, complex conflict...that the players don't need to be involved in directly at all!
 


This part is very well drawn out: the Dwendalian Empire isn't Evil, either, nor is the Dynasty Good (I'd peg them as Lawful. Eutral and True Neutral, respectively). It's actually a meaty, complex conflict...that the players don't need to be involved in directly at all!
Rewatching the campaign there's some neat foreshadowing. With the PCs learning about the Krynn Dynasty from Dwendalian sources and it really does sound evil and nasty. They do feel set-up to be the "bad guy".
And then the party gets there and finds its mostly propaganda.

Which was all purposely done by Matt (the DM for any readers who don't know the names) to subvert the idea of drow as this evil nation of evil people.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
It's very interesting in being a definite "next generation" Setting, made by a guy who grew up with old school D&D and played a lot of video games in the 80's on. Lots of low-key influences from Final Fantasy, Fire Emblem (which makes sense from Mercer), and other video game and anime sources, but still very grounded in old school D&D assumptions.

It's one of the only official Settings where the relationship between the gods and the world makes much sense.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Rewatching the campaign there's some neat foreshadowing. With the PCs learning about the Krynn Dynasty from Dwendalian sources and it really does sound evil and nasty. They do feel set-up to be the "bad guy".
And then the party gets there and finds its mostly propaganda.

Which was all purposely done by Matt (the DM for any readers who don't know the names) to subvert the idea of drow as this evil nation of evil people.

It's been really fun reading the book and getting answers to questions the players in the campaign weren't really interested in, that came up for me as a world building nerd.
 

jgsugden

Legend
...FR is ... crowded. A lot of history, a lot of lore. It's kind of overstuffed. I know I can just tell everyone that it's my version but if I then say that Elminister is dead, Drizzt was really evil all along or whatever wackiness I want to do I'll have a minor revolt on my hands...
I do not prefer to run FR, but I have many times. Every time I do, I start in the same place (Eveningstar) at the same time (the Time of the First Boxed Set). This eliminates a lot of the baggage and leaves me with a "clean" Realms to run.
 

jgsugden

Legend
All in all, while there are similarities between the Realms and Exandria, there are also similarities between the Realms, Greyhawk, Krynn, Middle Earth, and every other setting you can imagine.

If I'm playing a game with a bunch of 50 year old people that have played for 40 years and know the FR like the back of their hand and want to play there - I'm game to go deep into FR lore.

If I'm playing with a bunch of 20 year olds people that learned to game by listening to Critical Role - WIldemount may be the best experience for them.

If I have a mix of people that have expressed no preference, I'll run one of my campaign settings and steal, steal, steal, steal, steal and borrow from all the other campaign settings. My next campaign will feature a mystery (using Veronica Mars style mystery construction) for levels 1 to 4, a hexcrawl exploration for levels 5 to 10, overlapping dungeon delve and war storylines for levels 11 to 16, and then an extended trip to Hell for high levels followed by an aftermath story to take the PCs to Demi-God status and retirement. About 40% of that is my original work, and about 60% of it is stolen and slightly tweaked.
 

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