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Dungeons & Dragons' next book boasts all-POC writers and 13 new adventures
Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel, out June 21, is “something we have not seen in D&D before.”
Dungeons & Dragons’ next adventure book will take players and DMs to fantastic new lands that are brand-new to the roleplaying game. Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel, out June 21, is an anthology of adventures set in diverse new lands — and for the first time in the roleplaying game’s history, the book’s creators are diverse as well. All 16 of the book’s writers are people of color who drew upon their heritage and culture when crafting their adventures.
“I couldn’t shake the idea of a whole book written by Black and brown writers inspired by their own cultures and stories,” Ajit George, the co-leader of the book, told SYFY WIRE during a press preview. In addition to the writers, many other people involved in the book's creation, including artists, consultants, and developers, were minorities as well.
“50 POCs worked on the book or supported the book in some capacity,” George said. “I don’t think there is any other project in game history that has had that many POCs on it before.”
Viewed as part of the nearly 50-year-old game’s recent push towards inclusivity and representation, Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel is a natural and frankly overdue development (even if it will no doubt anger those who go off on tirades about “wokeness”). But Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel’s diverse cast of creators is far more than just a welcome statistic, as the adventures contained in the book's pages promise to be new and exciting in part because they’re drawing from experiences that are outside that of the historical D&D writer’s.
As with Candlekeep Mysteries, last March’s anthology release, Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel provides a hub world of sorts that can serve as a home base while players go off on 13 adventures geared towards characters from level 1 to level 11. (DMs can also pick specific adventures to run as one-shots or slot into their own campaign.)
The titular Radiant Citadel is a city that was established in the ethereal plane by 27 great civilizations ages ago before it was forgotten, and then, 250 years ago, descendants from 15 of those civilizations reestablished it. The city, which is carved from a massive fossil of a seemingly extinct creature that nobody in the multiverse has ever seen. Surrounding the city are 15 Concord Jewels that allow for travel between the city and the lands (and adventures!) they’re connected to. (The 12 missing civilizations from the founding 27 are therefore in-fiction opportunities for DMs to create new worlds or link the Radiant Citadel to a homebrew or published setting.)
Wizards of the Coast teased three of the adventures during the press preview. The first, “Salted Legacy,” an adventure for players at levels 1 and 2, takes place in the Siabsungkoh Valley and throws gamers “into a generational feud between two rival vendor families after a series of vandalisms and thefts begin to appear,” according to writer Surena Marie. The intentionally low-stakes adventure draws on Marie’s own experience as a first-generation Thai American, as one family at the Dyn Singh Night Market wants to expand while the other wants to hold on to tradition.
Players will have to win the vendors’ trust by playing market games, including a spicy pepper contest and timed cooking contest “where you defeat giant prawns to make prawn patties.” Marie said the games are a great icebreaker for new parties.
The second adventure, “Written in Blood,” is quite different in tone, as the name might suggest. Writer Erin Roberts called it “a personal homage to the Black experience in the southern United States.”
In "Blood," players will make their way to a Riverport city she likened to Biloxi or New Orleans for a festival where people gather for a celebration where they sing an oral history called “The Awakening Song,” but it’s disrupted when normally peaceful farmers attack while dripping with blood. The Level 3 adventure will force players to travel past the safe havens into the less-desirable, more monster-filled farming lands to find out what caused the madness. Roberts compared the story to Lovecraft Country or a Jordan Peele film in terms of vibe, though she added that her fantasy take on the Black diaspora intentionally doesn’t carry the same weight of real history as those titles, though it has “the essence of the community and joy.”
Finally, a Level 11 adventure, “Shadow of the Sun,” draws from Iranian culture. Written by Justice Ramin Arman, the adventure puts players in a city-state ruled by a powerful angel who has an ever-growing list of edicts, and there are rival factions that either support their benevolent celestial ruler or want to take down a tyrant. On the eve of a magical lunar festival, players “are going to quickly discover that there’s not a lot of room for neutral ground in this city-state.”
Every adventure has its own pronunciation guide for DMs whose tongues might not be as used to pronouncing names that don’t hail from the western tradition. (“Good luck getting comfortable with that “khe” sound you hear in the Persian language,” Arman joked.)
This being an adventure book, there aren’t any new subclasses or races, and they didn’t mention any magical items, but Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel will feature 11 new monsters. In addition, players can get “charms” — magical boons they can receive as a result of doing something incredible on several of the adventures, and it is implied these charms have mechanical benefits.
George called Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel “something we have not seen in D&D before,” and referring both to the make-up of the creative team and the sorts of adventures within. “It is very much D&D, but it’s D&D in a new flavor with a fresh take.”
Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel will be available on June 21.