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Other than watching a few random episodes of the first campaign years ago, I’m not very familiar with Critical Role. I enjoyed the episodes I watched, love all the people involved, and hugely appreciate what they represent for the D&D and streaming communities.
Watching their second campaign as been near the top of my “one of these days” lists. After flipping through the Roll20 adaptation for Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, the official D&D sourcebook based on Critical Role DM Mathew Mercer’s fantasy world, I have a very strong need to dive into the show and see how all this wonderful content plays out.
MAJOR SPOILERS – DM’s only!
The following content is included in the $49.95 Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount:
- Wildemount Compendium Expansion, and Character Art Pack, and Adventure modules.
- Four mini-adventures that take place in Wildemount.
- 11 non-gridded region maps.
- 1 hex-grid region map.
- 1 100-ft city map.
- 2 10-ft battle maps (with 5′ subdivisions) with dynamic lighting (Plus/Pro sub required).
- 8 5-ft battle maps with dynamic lighting (Plus/Pro sub required).
- Alphabetized token page.
- 12 Races and 10 subraces (with Charactermancer support).
- 3 Subclasses – 1 Fighter, 2 Wizard (with Charactermancer support).
- 2 Backgrounds (with Charactermancer support).
- 15 Spells from the new school of Dunamancy.
- Over 50 magic items, including over 40 new items unique to Wildemount.
- Nearly 200 monsters with drag-and-drop tokens, statblocks, and player handouts, including 30 new monsters introduced in Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount.
- Over 100 player art handouts, including over 40 original art pieces for Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount.
- Supplemental rules from the Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide, such as Madness, Disease, and Underwater Combat.
Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount is a geographical sourcebook along the some vein as Eberron: Rising from the Last War and Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica. Wildemount is a continent that’s less about manufacturing new races, classes, and backgrounds, and more about creating an interesting land embroiled in conflict, with well-formed factions including free-spirited pirate enclaves, imperialist human empires, and reincarnating dark elves.
The journal organizes the chapters from the book into different headings and subheadings, such as factions, deities, and history. The Wildemount Gazetteer is a massive section that details every single location on the continent, like the infamous chapter from Storm King’s Thunder, but ratcheted up even further.
Many of the locations also feature adventure hooks for low, mid, and high level adventuring parties. These were my favorite details of the book, showcasing all the interesting content a potential Wildemount DM could pull from – or to use in their own campaign setting.
Help pirates deal with their rogue dragon turtle. Track a series of gruesome chest-bursting deaths in a city to a death slaad brothel. Investigate the murder of a halfling comedy duo in a military outpost. Participate in a rowdy gnome drag show. Defend a dwarven city from an attack by purple worms and dark elves, and explore a snow globe-like ancient city frozen in time. Did I mention the gigantic Horizonback Tortoises that roam the eastern wastes and in which the tribes build their homes on?
Roll20 impressively included all the monster tokens and statblocks found in any of the encounters and adventures in the book – nearly 200 in total, rivaling that of the Monster Manual itself. All of them include player art handouts and an alphabetized token page for easy copying and pasting, or drag-and-drop directly from the journal.
Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount also includes four level one adventures, one for each major region of the continent. All four could probably be completed in a handful of sessions, bringing the PCs up to level three and serving as fun, thematic introductions to their various regions.
“Tides of Retribution” takes place along the Managerie Coast. A small island connected to a fishing village suddenly sinks during a sahuagin attack, making for one of the more exciting inciting incidents of the bunch. From there the party meets up with a tabaxi pirate captain, fends of enemy ships, and takes the fight to the mercreatures among the now sunken ruins.
“Dangerous Designs” may be my favorite Wildemount adventure. It opens with a jailbreak in the Gnome city of Hupperdook. Players are asked by the authorities to track down the escaped prisoner, leading them to a secret hideout behind a waterfall, and the James Bond-esque supervillain lair of a mad inventor.
Some folks in Palebank Village are dying of a mysterious freezing illness in “Frozen Sick.” The party tracks the illness to a criminal organization and their recent acquisition of vials of frigid woe, which ends with tracking down antidotes in an ancient undead-filled laboratory in the frozen wastes.
“Unwelcome Spirits” takes place in the Xorhas wastes, as the party searches for a missing local warlock in the nearby Brokenveil Marsh. It’s literally a hex-crawl in the swamp, ending with infiltrating a fort belonging to the Dwendalian Empire. The warlock has been captured and tortured, but a final twist transforms her into her powerful patron, prompting a big boss fight.
I particularly like “Dark Designs” and “Frozen Sick,” but all four are well-written, and feature full-color battle maps. Usually campaign sourcebooks offer a mixed bag with Roll20, as much of the most useful content is in the lore and history, but the four adventures, excellent region maps, and huge amount of monster tokens make Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount one of the best sourcebooks you can find.
- Huge list of Wildemount locations, rich with details and adventure hooks.
- Excellent foursome of introductory adventures for different regions, themes, and factions.
- Includes monster sheets and tokens found in any of the encounters: nearly 200!
- No pre-generated level 1 PCs.
- No new races, only 4 new subraces.
The Verdict: Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount features a land rich with history, laden with treasure, and brimming with adventure.
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