Review by C.J. Bunce

The next collection of Dungeons & Dragons adventures is on its way to bookstores tomorrow.  The 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons has already introduced players to anthologies including last year’s Candlekeep Mysteries (reviewed here) and Tales from the Yawning Portal (reviewed here).  Get ready for 13 new adventures in Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel, available with the standard cover here at Amazon or with the game shop variant cover here.  Players will find a variety of shorter adventures that can be merged with ongoing games, streamed as one-shot sessions, or used as the basis for entire campaigns.  Each adventure is connected to the Radiant Citadel, a fascinating and fantastical floating city at the heart of the Ethereal Plane–an incredibly cool visual creation designed by frequent D&D cartographer Mike Schley.  The first D&D journey created entirely by writers of color challenged new writers to incorporate connections with real-world cultures and mythologies, all in the context of a new locale filled with the kinds of characters and monsters you’d expect from Wizards of the Coast.

With only 15 pages per adventure, DMs are going to want to supplement each game with their own research and materials.  The cultural influence behind each adventure isn’t always readily apparent–the good part of that is the fantasy isn’t tied to required tenets, good or bad, and the bad part is not knowing which components are merely derivative: whether language, characters, monsters, and story elements are part of some larger tradition or only mildly influenced the writer of the adventure.  We tracked down the influences for each writer’s tale, in the event players want to specifically explore stories from particular parts of the world:

  • Salted Legacy (Thailand, Southeast Asia, Studio Ghibli, Gravity Falls)
  • Written In Blood (mid-20th century rural Mississippi African American, Gothic horror, Lovecraft Country, Jordan Peele)
  • The Fiend of Hollow Mine (Mexican, Day of the Dead influences)
  • Wages of Vice (Haitian, Louisiana, Caribbean isles influence, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Mata Hari)
  • Sins of Our Elders (Korean culture)
  • Gold for Fools and Princes (pre-colonial north and west Africa)
  • Trail of Destruction (Mexico City, natural disasters, 2017 earthquake, Aztec, Meso-American influences)
  • In the Mists of Manivarsha (“Bengali Gothic,” South Asian, Himalayas, Hindi)
  • Between Tangled Roots (Philippines folklore and mythology)
  • Shadow of the Sun (ancient and modern Persia, poem Shahnameh and the works of contemporary Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi)
  • The Nightsea’s Succor (Sudano-Sahelian, West African storytelling, medieval Moorish, and the Gnawa)
  • Buried Dynasty (Thailand, China)
  • Orchids of the Invisible Mountain (Venezuelan culture, the Amazon).  Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist hooks along with inspiration from ancient Japan were also infused throughout the realm of the Radiant Citadel.

The concise nature of each adventure means well edited text, concentrated information, Wizard of the Coast artists’ typical high-quality maps in each section, as well as exciting artwork reflecting settings, and vivid character costumes and props for every story.

The plots of the adventures actually sound like episodes of any supernatural TV series–think The X-Files, Haven, Grimm, or Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: “A conflict between rival night market vendors draws characters into a hunt for a mysterious saboteur and a series of whimsical contests,” “A community is terrorized by a horror lurking in a distant farm house,” “The cure for a spreading curse leads from an abandoned mine to a city celebrating the departed,” or “A murderer stalks the streets during a raucous festival,” to name a few.

These are familiar tropes with a twist, with new monsters.  So an experienced DM should have no problem tucking one or more into her next adventure.  Of course the 5th Edition Monster Manual is composed of hundreds of creatures either directly pulled from or inspired by nations and cultures throughout Earth’s history, but this is the first attempt to call out influences in a single D&D anthology adventure book.

Pre-order today here at Amazon to get the current discounted price.  A variety of styles, a variety of influences, Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel arrives tomorrow, July 19, 2022.