Critical Role started with a small group of friends playing DnD. This small venture has grown into so much popularity that there is set to be an animated series around it. It has also been recently announced that the YouTube channel is set to release its second DnD book, Explorer's Guide to Wildemount.
Running on Twitch from March 2015, a group of voice actors including DM Matthew Mercer began accumulating an ever-increasing fandom. Livestreams of them playing the table-top RPG run weekly. On the 90th episode of their second campaign was announced a new campaign -- Explorer's Guide to Wildemount. The game will be run by DnD 5e rules. This is not Critical Role's first venture into DnD book writing, as their first was Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting. Fans expect this time to be extra special though, as Wildemount will be published with the parent company of DnD, Wizards of the Coast.
The DM of Critical Role, Mercer, is leading the script writing team of Explorer's Guide. This is a homebrew world of Exandria, where all Critical Role stories are based on. The main setting of the second campaign is Wildemount, and it is but one of the many continents of Exandria. Wildemount is starkly different from Tal'Dorei.
According to canon, the continent of Wildemount is largely split into two kingdoms: the Kryn Dynasty and the Dwendalian Empire. The Dynasty is mostly run by traditionally evil races in the game. For instance, the Queen and most of her court are drow. The Dynasty is in the nation of Xhorhas. On the other hand, The Empire is a relatively young kingdom run by a human monarch. Aside from these two nations, there is the Menagerie Coast. A fourth realm exists of an amalgam of cursed cities, ungovernable by humanity. That lawless zone is who Caduceus Clay, one of the player characters, calls home.
Map of the Wildemount continent
The Dwendalian Empire
Much of the nicer sites of the continent lie in the Empire. Open regions of meadows and forests ensure more safety that the nation of Xhorhas. In addition, the soil is more fertile in the Empire, resulting in better farms. The current king is an old human, Bertrand Dwendal -- thus the name, Dwendelian Empire. Three of the player characters -- Beau, Nott, and Caleb -- reside there. There are other important factions as well, the likes of the Order of the Cobalt Soul and the Cerberus Assembly. The former worships the Knowing Mistress, Ioun. It also plays the role of the antagonist to the Assembly, which consists of eight immensely powerful mages. Most of these mages have significant government positions in the Empire. The dual power holders serve to keep a balance of power in the Empire, each one attempting to foil the others' handiwork. The Empire's rules on religion and magic are strict. For example, just a handful of gods of Exandrian lore are legal to be worshipped, and necromancy is a forbidden art.
The nation of Xhorhas
The country of Xhorhas lies on the western side of Wildemount. The Ashkeeper Peaks serves as the barrier in between it and the Empire. The terrain is rough here. Southern Xhorhas, covered in marshes, is the residence of the player character, Yasha. This part of the country is largely home to tribes while Norther Xhorhas contains the Kryn Dynasty. Empress Leylas Kryn is known as the Bright Queen of the Dynasty. Its capital is Rosohna, where time is fixed at twilight. This results in the accumulation of drow and other Underdark and nocturnal creatures. Uncharacteristic to most of the continent, the Dynasty is monotheistic, pledging its religiosity to the Luxon. The concept of the cycle of rebirth is believed, which according to them comes from the pieced of the Luxon's body -- Beacons. Reincarnation has allowed many in the Dynasty to have lived across several generations.
The Menagerie Coast
The third nation, the Menagerie Coast, houses various city-states and islands along most of the continent's coast. Two player characters, Fjord and Jester, reside there. Not only geographically, but also politically, the nation is more open, and is known for the freedom of its culture, or cultures. There are contractual obligations between the Menagerie Coast and the Empire. For example, the Empire's trade route has to cross the Coast and then travel by land to the Empire.
Mercer has come up with some new subclasses, and has also playtested them comprehensively. These are:
- Chronurgist and Graturgist, wizard subclasses
- Echo Knight, a fighter subclass
These subclasses have come about from the Dynasty and Dunamancy, their magic branch. Mercer has created this school of magic called Dunamancy. It deals with the manipulation of space, time, and gravity. Accordingly, there are new Dunamantic spells and of course a general guide to the new magic.
With tensions already high between the Empire and the Dynasty, there is virtually boundless scope for the player to navigate his way to however he wants to play the game. It is a role-play game after all, and it is in the hands of the player, and also the DM, as to how to frame the story. The book features though give a heads up on players by encouraging them to focus on the conflict between the two nations. And with player characters in separate nations, who knows how the narrative will be spun as to their backstories and alignments?
There are over 300 pages of content in the Explorer's Guide to Wildemount. Doubtless it is that endless hours of gameplay are assured, ensuring that players have a field day role-playing in Wildemount.
The book is set to be released on March 17th, and pre-orders are live now.
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