Journeys through the Radiant Citadel, the new manual to be released on June 21 for D&D 5E, promises to be the usual collection of adventures that can be used as fillers in larger campaigns: too bad some details have caused some negative comments to explode.
The following article contains some spoilers about what Journeys through the Radiant Citadel (abbreviated JTTRD from now on for the sake of synthesis) will be. If you want to keep the surprise high without anticipating anything, stop your greedy eyes immediately and go back!
Once upon a time there was a lost city
Wanting to quote the presentation on official site of Dungeons & Dragons:
LIGHT YOUR PATH TO ADVENTUREThe official presentation
An anthology of thirteen stand-alone adventures set in wondrous lands for the world's greatest roleplaying game.
Through the mists of the Ethereal Plane shines the Radiant Citadel. Travelers from across the multiverse flock to this mysterious bastion to share their traditions, stories, and calls for heroes. A crossroads of wonders and adventures, the Radiant Citadel is the first step on the path to legend. Where will your journeys take you?
Journeys through the Radiant Citadel is a collection of thirteen short, stand-alone D&D adventures featuring challenges for character levels 1–14. Each adventure has ties to the Radiant Citadel, a magical city with connections to lands rich with excitement and danger, and each can be run by itself or as part of an ongoing campaign. Explore this rich and varied collection of adventures in magical lands.
The presentation, not different from that of many other manuals, seems to introduce and further push the pedal of the Multiverse: as I had already said during The WIld Beyond the Witchlight review, the enrichment of possibilities in the recent Adventure Paths (AP) and the possibility of inserting each of these in any setting is becoming a cornerstone of the D&D manuals, increasingly moving away from the spectrum of useless localized adventures.
What's on Journeys through the Radiant Citadel menu?
Wanting to summarize and synthesize as much as possible, we find in our hands a set of one-shot adventures even less temporally and spatially localized than previous releases of similar material. Candlekeep Mysteries (CM) allocated all his adventures to Candlekeep, city / bookshop of Faerùn. Saltmarsh (GOS), also in Faerun, was slightly less linked to a specific place. Tales of the Yawning Portal (TOTYP extension) was a mixture of adventures located in the various D&D settings. Last but not least, Rime of the frostmaiden (ROTF) was located at Icewind Dale, therefore Faerùn again.
The Radiant Citadel therefore acts as a catalyst for different worlds: being on the ethereal plane, it accepts components from all the settings present and even homemade. A bit like it happened at the circus of The Wild Beyond the Witchlight (TWBTW) we have a single, large central element capable of bringing together the efforts of the most creative and the busiest storytellers.
Despite this, it seems that some (for now few) people have disliked the presence of the Radiant Citadel; since we do not have a single, single platform where to go to gather information, we will limit ourselves to exposing the doubts that have emerged on Enworld, Dragon's Lair, The Fifth Clone, D&D Beyond Forum, which are literally the first four results that emerged from the D&D Forum research. Let's see which are the major doubts and if, currently, they are correct doubts.
Isn't there enough negativity in the air?
One of the purely aesthetic criticisms I've read about moving through the forums is about the increase of the content “Soft” or “childish”, infantile on D&D. Guilty of these accusations, according to few, is being a city devoid of "criminals, demons or mind flayers"; the Radiant Citadel is a mixture of different cultures linked together by peace and not conflict, a safe oasis according to an interview with Ajit George, co-director of design of the AP. It would therefore be a unique model quite out of the chorus of adventures we usually see, pervaded by evil or danger.
The change of tone (or its progressive lightening) compared to the old adventures seems to be a real thing and, therefore, a valid criticism. TWBTW itself, set in a fairy half-plane, uses “fairly” light tones for part of its course. On the other hand, Curse of Stradh (COS) is one of the most dismal APs of the fifth D&D strand, followed only by ROTF in tones and hidden dangers; in essence, therefore, it is true that lately lighter APs have come out, but ultimately D&D 5E remains fairly neutral in its adventures. We don't have too much humor and lightness nor too much heaviness and gloom.
Regarding the change of tone from edition to edition (someone asserts that at the time of 3.5 we were more serious, changing into a more light-hearted game as we approach 5E) I cannot answer: the change of target audience, together with a substantial a decrease in rules and history has certainly helped to make the game "technically" lighter: on the topics covered, however, it seems to me that (also in terms of appreciation) we have remained gloomy: COS is the most appreciated manual of 5e, The Ruins of Myth Drannor is the most popular of the 2e.
Tokenism and do-gooders at the Wizard of the Coast?
Another criticism that seems to flock, in relation to the previous criticism, is the excess of do-gooders within the Wizard of The Coast. The idea of a planar city built on peace and on the coexistence of many different populations seems in fact to out of tune the palates of someone, who would see boredom in the absence of conflicts. Adding to these criticisms (which are mostly personal) would be a criticism of tokenism from the Wizard of the Coast: the presence of only black and brown authors (translating literally Article in question, in turn taken from an interview with Ajit George).
Although Journeys through the Radiant Citadel it was not launched as a product that sees in its strength being written by authors X and Y, it seems that the presence of this feature has moved some dust. Ajit Geroge, however, specified that he had taken with both hands, for the creation of the Radiant Citadel, from the Indian culture of carving / excavating in the rock. The Radiant Citadel is in fact a city excavated in the skeletal remains of a huge unknown planar monster; Ajit George thought it was original to create a place that could transpose the cultural background of his fellow authors. Hence the choice of the authors.
We know that publishing and videogame houses (as well as all the corporations) are not unrelated to similar episodes: on the other hand we have, again on the part of the WOTC, the Vistani question. In fact, many will remember the slight adjustment by this culture, present in COS, carried out by the WOTC itself with the aim of appearing as less stereotyped as possible. We talk about it better Wed. Is this a mere commercial operation disguised as a real interest, or vice versa?
So we won't see Planescape?
The entry of the Radiant Citadel discouraged those who saw in the opening to the multiverse the return of the city of doors, Sigil. “Here, now that we have the Radiant Citadel, what do we do with Sigil? What about all the stuff written in 2nd and 3rd? Where did the Lady of Pain go? "
In the meantime, let me make a note: the presence of a manual (Mordekainen presents: Monsters of the Multiverse) indicates that, if the sales of these products are full-bodied, WOTC will probably continue to produce material focused on the multiverse. The second point that I allow myself to make is that the Radiant Citadel and Sigil are two very different things (in addition to the general tone with which they are presented).
While the second is the city where infinite floors come together, with infinite realities crossing under the mysterious, cruel and vigilant gaze of the Lady of Pain, the Radiant City unites 15 floors with a single, large central crystal. Fifteen crystals are, according to the various cosmologies of Faerun, insufficient to contain all the planes, whether we are talking about the Great Wheel (current cosmology), or whether we are talking about the World Tree (4th cosmology). It is probable, since there are 13 adventures contained in the manual, that a good part of these portals serve to provide the narrative hook rather than serve as a simple starting point; more likely they are TWBTW Tethyr-like half-planes, circumscribed and functional to the chosen story. In essence, The Radiant Citadel and Sigil, although they are two extra-planar cities, do not overwrite each other even from a distance.
What do you think about it? Do you agree with the criticisms leveled at the Journeys through the Radiant City preview?