PUBLISHER: WIZARDS OF THE COAST / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
It’s safe to say that Critical Role is a cultural phenomenon and one that has helped make Dungeons & Dragons cool again. Or if not cool, at least something that seemingly everyone wants to play these days. In case you’ve missed it, Critical Role is an online show that has very talented actors/improv experts playing a game of D&D. The Explorers Guide to Wildemont is a new official Dungeons & Dragons book that details the world where the bulk of these stories are set.
It’s safe to say that this world has been given the full Wizards of The Coast treatment. The illustrations are lush and inspirational. We have roughly 300 pages of charts, maps, family crests, location information, character creation variants and so on. It’s very, very detailed and there’s pretty much something here for every type of play-style. There are actual adventures to be ran, but also lots of other information so storytellers can weave their own tales to delight their players.
It’s partially a gazetteer, partially a campaign guide and mostly a toolkit filled with fresh ideas and rules. The whole thing still feels very D&D and that’s actually part of the charm. This is an extensively play-tested and very well thought out campaign setting that exceeds the usual expectations. For example, the gods from standard D&D are here, but their stories and mythologies are different and filled with things to hang whole campaign from. There’s a whole new type of magic here, one shrouded in mystery, and again the magic comes with such a depth of story that there are plenty of things even the most inexperienced gamer can do with it. However, the supplement doesn’t try to re-invent the basics, most of this will slot neatly into your campaign.
Previous Dungeons & Dragons campaign settings for the game’s fifth edition have been very slick and a huge boon to a busy Dungeon Master. The Explorers Guide to Wildemont takes this to another level by simply adding more cool ideas onto what’s already there. It’s easy to understate just how much and how useful this book can be. The setting is also the books biggest flaw; Wildemont isn’t a massively different setting from vanilla D&D. It’s just that sort of D&D done very, very well.
Unlike previous settings such as Ravnica or Eberron we aren’t looking at a sharp departure from philosophy or design. If you’re after something radical, this isn’t it. However, if you’re looking to enhance your game with some smashing ideas and some lovely plot notes, this is ideal. Wildemont won’t turn your DM into Matt Mercer overnight, but it will fill their head with some delicious ideas for the next adventure.