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Designed by: Wizards of the Coast
Like last year’s Candlekeep Mysteries, Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel is an anthology of D&D 5e mini-adventures, ranging from level 1 to level 13. The book is written primarily (if not entirely?) by BIPOC designers utilizing their real-world heritage to create fantastical lands, characters, and stories inspired by Asian, African, Middle Eastern, and South American regions and cultures.
But the most important question, as always: are these adventures any good, and how do they look in Roll20?
The following is included in the Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel Roll20 bundle ($49.95):
- 13 mini-adventures, ranging from level 1 to 14 (can be added as individual add-ons or an entire module)
- 20 grid maps
- 5 10-ft maps (sub-divided into 5-ft squares)
- 15 5-ft maps
- 13 non-gridded regional maps
- Over 120 monster sheets (over 50 named NPCs, also included in the Art Pack) with statblocks, token art, and handouts (about a dozen all-new monsters).
- Over 30 player art handouts (not including monster and NPC handouts).
- Over 50 magic item handouts.
- Journal notes on the Radiant Citadel’s brief history, politics, and notable locations.
The Radiant Citadel is a magical floating city in the Deep Ethereal that connects to specific other worlds and empires via teleportation crystals called Concord Jewels. Its name comes from a massive crystal called the Auroral Diamond thrust through the center of the floating landmass, which conveniently powers everything in the city, including water, light, and vegetation.
The Citadel is a socialist paradise, with universal basic income, no poverty, and properly representative government. Peoples from over a dozen unique cultures blend together in relative harmony. It sounds like a wonderful place to live, but it’s a rather boring setting for adventure.
There’s no real drama, danger, or corruption. In gaming terms, it’s more of a safe social lounge than a city bursting with potential quest hooks and interesting NPCs. It pales in comparison to Candlekeep’s rich history of magic, monsters, and forbidden knowledge.
Thankfully using the Citadel is entirely optional. While each adventure is set in a unique region that can be accessed from the Citadel, the Background section of each adventure lists several ways to incorporate the region into more established settings, such as Eberron or the Forgotten Realms.
The mountainous borderlands of San Citlan could easily be placed near the Graycloak Hills or Desertmouth Mountains near the Anauroch Desert in Faerun. The coastal city of Djaynai cold be found within the Nelanther islands, or simply on an all-new island in the Trackless Sea.
One of the biggest strengths of the anthology is the awesome variety of regional geography, bolstered by gorgeous artwork that appear as easy-to-share player handouts. Explore volcanic jungles, swampy riverlands, imperial cities, floating skybridges, underwater cities, and the husk of an insectoid alien-god floating in void space, just to name a few.
Each adventure is well-organized into a single sub-folder with several entries, punctuated by beautiful artwork. Anthologies work well with Roll20’s Journal headings, making it easy for the DM to read through and share the appropriate information.
Maps are a mixed bag, unfortunately. Each adventure includes a big regional map, and between one and three battle maps, most of which are properly sized at 5-ft squares.
The map art is well-detailed and beautifully illustrated by cartographer veterans Sean MacDonald and Mike Schley. But they all lack color, save for the single Radiant Citadel map. The lack of color is a big bummer on a virtual tabletop. Overall the map quality is better than Candlekeep Mysteries and Dungeon of the Mad Mage, but worse than Tomb of Annihilation and Rime of the Frostmaiden. C’mon, Wizards, quit giving us half-assed map art!
The most important part of the book are the adventures themselves, and they’re pretty darn good. Look for a secondary video where I rank all 13 adventures, but I’m confident that I really enjoyed reading through most of them.
The adventures lean a bit more toward exploration, politics, and role-playing than traditional monster-hunting and dungeon crawling (though there’s also plenty of that). Most make great use of their regions, NPCs, and history, though as expected, the party travels around more during higher-level adventures. In fact, the top-end level 13 adventure, “Orchids of the Invisible Mountain,” tasks the party with journeying to the Feywild and the Far Realm, in addition to its tropical forests.
Nearly every adventure throws at least one, if not several accompanying NPCs in your direction. Thankfully they all have role-playing notes and token art. All of the new character art and tokens can also be accessed in the Art Pack, and dropped into any Roll20 adventure.
Many adventures are dripping with political drama and include multiple factions, some directly opposed with one another. In the Celestial-ruled city of Akharin Sangar (“Shadow of the Sun”) the PCs can align themselves with the loyalist guards or the nonviolent revolutionaries, greatly altering how the adventure’s final act plays out.
Rival princes accompany the party into the Goldwarren mine in “Gold for Fools and Princes,”, as one of them sets up a masterplan betrayal, while the McGuffins acquired during the underwater adventure in “The Nightsea’s Succor,” could be turned into no fewer than four different factions across two different cities.
My favorite adventures all feature awesome little dungeon crawls alongside epic moments, interesting NPCs, and fun locations, whether it’s being betrayed by your own quest-giving NPC in the middle of a dungeon, or battling a corrupted dragon alongside (or against) a party of rival dragon hunters.
Each adventure includes a helpful pronunciation guide, adventure hooks, and story seeds for expanded side quests, as well as entire Gazetteer full of background information on that region’s culture, citizens, history, and notable locations. In this way Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel resembles the miniaturized world-building of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, making it an interesting combination of the 5e Ravenloft book and Candlekeep Mysteries, while still retaining its own unique identify.
If you enjoyed the mini-adventures of Candlekeep Mysteries, you’ll find a lot to love here. There are fewer adventures, but the quality remains top-notch, and I enjoy my favorites here more than my favorites from CM. The adventures feature a richer variety of themes, genres, and locations, though as a consequence, the adventures and regions may be a bit trickier to drop into an ongoing campaign.
- 13 mini-adventures infused with a wide range of themes, cultures, and settings.
- Each adventure features a unique region inspired by real-world cultures, and a gazetteer for world-building and further adventuring.
- Regional map and at least one battle map for each adventure.
- Over 50 named NPCs with unique art and tokens.
- Character hooks, pronunciation guides, and adventure settings for bringing each adventure into other realms.
- The Radiant Citadel itself isn’t a compelling adventure hub.
- Maps lack color (except for Radiant Citadel map).
The Verdict: Featuring an astonishing variety of settings, cultures, themes, and genres, Journeys to the Radiant Citadel is an excellent anthology of short (and not so short) adventures that can be incorporated into any fantasy world.
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