Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Journeys Through The Radiant Citadel Review Part One: Uncut Gems

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Welcome, welcome, welcome everyone to Journeys Through The Radiant Citadel, the newest book released for Dungeons & Dragons and the third adventure anthology to be released (After Tales From The Yawning Portal and Candlekeep Mysteries). This one comes with an interesting twist that sets it apart from other releases: it’s entirely driven by creators of color. Each story within is influenced by the cultural heritage of its author, from the monsters and aesthetics down to the names. It’s still identifiable as D&D, but a departure from the standard influences. It’s all wrapped up in the titular Radiant Citadel, our first experience with a multiverse that seems to be an important part of stories going forward.

So, since this is an anthology of many stories, this will be a multi-parter looking at each adventure individually as we go. But before we get into the component stories, let’s look at the shining gem at the middle of things: The Radiant Citadel.

Adventures In The Sky With Diamonds

Radiant Citadel art
No, your eyes are working fine. The Citadel is just like that

The Radiant Citadel itself is being built up by Wizards as a new hub for DM’s and adventurers to use in future stories, similar to other featured locations like Baldur’s Gate or Sharn. And while you’d think the multiversal setting would let the writers get a little weird with their worldbuilding…it’s not as weird as you’d think. It centers around the big gem in the picture above, The Auroral Diamond, which changes colors at random and gives off a unique magical energy. Thanks to that energy, the city’s healing house (The House of Covalescence) allows for spells like raise dead or true resurrection to not need their material components. It’s partnered with the Palace of Exile, a sort of big hotel for adventurers. There’s the Court of Whispers, where information from around the multiverse is traded, and the Trade Discal, a massive marketplace aimed not at individual shoppers but trade companies or even entire nations. The coolest thing on the main citadel is probably the Preserve of the Ancestors, a nature preserved contained within the Aural Diamond that protects rare animals from many different worlds as well as “Incarnates,” spirits from different worlds that coalesce as a floating collection of gems in the shape of an animal.

A Tiger Incarnate is given an offering in the Preserve of the Ancestors

The Citadel is a diasporic community, connected to different universes and host to representatives from many civilizations. The whole city is essentially socialist, with all resources shared and with progressive taxes aimed to even the wealth gap out. The fourteen groups that founded the citadel are connected to it by the Concord Jewels (the main connecting points to the adventure settings). Each of the jewels is basically its own spaceship that can also plane shift, which is pretty neat conceptually. There are, however, missing jewels. These are the method by which you can connect the citadel to ANY setting you want, whether it exists in D&D, another game, or is totally homebrew. While there’s a small limitation that it must be on the material plane, it’s otherwise a brilliant piece of welding that opens up the future of D&D releases. And while some people are mad that it’s essentially replacing Planescape’s Sigil, I think it’s a much more pleasant alternative to Sigil. Though there’s nothing stopping you from changing it around (it even has enough factions to roughly approximate.

Salted Legacy

1st Level

Author: Surena Marie

Radiant Citadel art "Salted Legacy" Prawn Attack
The Jagged Koi Prawns attack!

The first adventure in the book is an incredibly fun story set in the Dyn Singh Night Market of Siabsungkoh. It’s a setting that draws heavily on the food and culture of Thailand. As a first level adventure, it’s not the highest stakes story. Thefts and vandalism have been happening around the market and its up to the PC’s to figure out who the culprit is. Since it’s very much oriented around mystery, most of the adventure uses roleplaying and skill checks rather than combat to move things forward. There’s lots of challenges to do that help you get to know different aspects of Siabsungkoh culture, including the eating of spicy peppers. It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s a great way to ease into something new without having to get too caught up in things.

Written In Blood

3rd Level

Author: Erin Roberts

Radiant Citadel art "Written In Blood" shaker fight
The Soul Shaker takes control

A rapid tone shift occurs in the next adventure, which takes place in Godsbreath, a land influenced by the African Diaspora and the author’s childhood in the Southern United States. “Written In Blood” is a tale steeped in horror and especially a beautifully southern farm horror. There’s creepy farmhouses, a sinister sinkholes, and festivals darkened by unholy evil. I love the character work in this story, as it introduces a great “protagonist” in Kianna and ties so much of the pain and fear of the story to her personally. Godsbreath itself feels like a missing Domain of Dread thanks to an ominous atmosphere and every southern gothic horror trope you can think of. Definitely a big standout for me.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more Journeys Through The Radiant Citadel!

You can pick up your copy of Journeys Through The Radiant Citadel starting July 19th from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your FLGS (the only place to get the Sija Hong alternate cover. Digital copies will be available on Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, and D&D Beyond. Hard copies are priced at $49.95 while digital ones will run you $29.99.

Images via Wizards of the Coast

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