Journeys through the Radiant Citadel ADVENTURE ANTHOLOGY REVIEW

Journeys through the Radiant Citadel is a collection of adventures written entirely by black and brown writers, the first of its kind for Dungeons and Dragons books published by Wizards of the Coast. They each carry unique and diverse themes, voices, and experiences which serve to create this beautiful anthology. Adventures are each accompanied by tools such as suggestions on how to incorporate each into various settings, pronunciation tables, character hooks, and more. They are all excellent tools for both players and Dungeon Masters in representing and exploring other cultures and settings thoughtfully and respectfully. 

Cover art for Journeys through the Radiant Citadel by Evyn Fong.

The adventures are all connected by a single location, the Radiant Citadel, a bright shining city set adrift in the Ethereal Plane. Whether as simply the launching off point for an adventure or the place where players choose to explore during downtime between adventures, the information provided just for the Radiant Citadel allows it to be a fully actualized location. Whether its geographic locations and descriptions, the powerful and enigmatic Dawn Incarnates, the Speakers, or the legacy of the city and its rediscovery 250 years ago, just reading through the text brought so many ideas and images to life.

Journeys through the Radiant Citadel is an anthology of 13 adventures, each written by a person of color. They are each unique and diverse, and as such, here are brief glimpses of what they each offer. This information is drawn both from the published anthology and from a series of interviews published on the D&D website.

Salted Legacy

An adventure for characters of levels 1-2, written by Surena Marie. It combines the renown system into the adventure to add another layer for the players beyond one dimension encounters. Marie spoke in her interview about the inspiration for the Dyn Singh Market coming from the urban hustle and bustle of Thailand, particularly the night markets of Bangkok.

Written in Blood

An adventure for characters of 3rd level, written by Erin Roberts. Someone who grew up in the American South, Roberts shared that the African diaspora-inspired setting is close to home for her. From the traditions of ongoing oral history to the southern gothic horror themes, the regions of Godsbreath are all wielded by the writer extremely well as she tells a “focused creepy tale.”

The Fiend of Hollow Mine

An adventure for characters of 4th level, written by Mario Ortegón. Leading up to the release of Journeys through the Radiant Citadel, The Fiend of the Hollow Mine was showcased in a D&D Beyond stream with DM Eugenio Vargas and players Matthew Mercer, Angali Bhimani, Robbie Daymond, Michael Galvis, and Amy Dallen (video available on D&D Beyond’s YouTube channel). 

This adventure is structured around the Night of the Remembered, a fantasy version of the Dia de los Muertos, a Mexican celebration honoring departed loved ones. 

Wages of Vice

An adventure for 5th level characters, written by T.K. Johnson. This adventure sees players enter a world with a stark economic divide where workers are demanding greater rights, though that is not the focus of the adventure. Johnson said it was important to them that the strangers don’t just step into the world and solve its largest problem. Because its biggest problem is that the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer, and that’s not easily resolved. Inspired by festivals such as Carnevale and MArdis Gras, Johnson wove pieces of African and Caribbean spirituality and folk tales, while giving it all a fresh twist without falling back into tropes. 

Sins of the Elders

An adventure for 6th level characters, written by Stephanie Yoon. This adventure pays homage to Korean tradition and the sense of honor that thrives in Asian families, but also brings a taste of Korean folktale horror. Yoon also noted that there is a shared origin myth with other Journeys through the Radiant Citadel locations that was able to be crafted along with other writers who had Chinese and Japanese inspirations. 

Gold for Fools and Princes

An adventure for characters of 7th level, written by Dominique Dickey. This adventure is inspired by a certain era of North and West Africa, but was written in a way that could be unrooted from colonialism. Dickey created a brilliant world around the Sensa Empire and its three city-states, emphasizing the world is a powerful setting just waiting for DMs to build their own adventures into. Between setting tools and location details, Dickey is excited to see what people create with their world. 

Trial of Destruction

An adventure for 8th level characters, written by Alastor Guzman. The writer took inspiration from Aztec culture as well as their own lived experience of being in Mexico City to create this adventure. From the fallout of natural disasters and peoples’ reactions to it, the potential of factions that could arise from commonplace disasters, much of what inspired Trial of Destruction can be specifically traced to the 2017 earthquake that struck Mexico City. Guzman also described their intent to move their stories away from American pop culture depictions of Mesoamerican cultures that focus on things like brutality and human sacrifice, and instead chose to shift to food, cuisine, and the cultures in the adventure leaning into those as a means to connect to and appease their gods. 

The Mists of Manivarsha

An adventure for characters of 9th level, written by Mimi Mondal. Leaning into her award-winning experience as a writer to craft a story, Mondal also drew inspiration for the riverine geography of the Manivarsha region, and all the implications of a culture set along the banks of a great river from real world sources. Many of the names used in the adventure have roots in Bengali pronunciation, and the setting is inspired by the Bengal region by the Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal. Inspired by both horror and realism, both themes are prevalent throughout this adventure. 

Between Tangled Roots

An adventure for 10th level characters, written by Pam Punzalan. Drawing inspiration from her lived experience in the Philippines, both living in Manila and frequently visiting a province to the south, Punzalan wanted to tell a story that was inspired by what she knows. A capstone of the adventure is the part of a folkloric dragon called bakunawa, a creature specific to Filipino folklore. It offers a complex problem for Dungeon Masters to present to their players that doesn’t beget a simple solution and forces them to think about how to best find a resolution.

Shadow of the Sun

An adventure for 11th level characters, written by Justice Ramin Arman. Arman shared that this adventure is inspired directly by Iranian mythology, and heartened by western culture’s increasing willingness to embrace varied cultures and their stories. He draws from Iranian literature, language, and mythology as well as from his own family, weaving linguistic and homages throughout the adventure. 

The Nightsea’s Succor

An adventure for characters of 12th level, written by D. Fox Harrell. In their writing of this adventure, Harrel researched multiple aspects of African locales and the African diaspora. It contains strong references to the blues and how it transforms sorrow into beauty, allowing that theme to permeate the story. Additionally, the incorporation of the ghost-like haint and its direct cultural inspiration from our world create a unique hue that paints the adventure in a different light.

Buried Dynasty

An adventure for 13th level characters, written by Felice Tzehuei Kuan. An adventure that deals with high levels of government, it allowed Kuan to dive into history and decide how best she wanted aspects of what she knew and learned to intersect with the fantasy parts of the adventure. Tying together a land with thousands of years of history and multiple dynasties offers layers of complexity and struggles, creating a really interesting backdrop for this adventure and others for Dungeon Masters to create. 

Orchids of the Invisible Mountain

An adventure for characters of 14th level, written by Terry H. Romero. This adventure brings elements of the uncanny and unnerving. Romero created a creature of Lovecraftian inspiration that thrives off war and discord, and built a setting that evokes rich images of the Amazon with hot jungles and lush, tropical grasslands. 

An Auspicious Anthology

Journeys through the Radiant Citadel is a fantastic collection of one shots and short adventures, perfect for the scattered and infrequent games I have seen dominate groups today, especially with the rising prevalence of remote and online play. Each chapter has an accompanying gazetteer that describes the setting and the cultural details that help make each setting come to life. In Beyond the Radiant Citadel, the final entry in the anthology, two additional lands are described along with details about how they came to be connected to the Radiant Citadel. These additions offer not only two new locations to develop and explore, but also give permission to create other worlds and lands that might also be connected to the Radiant Citadel and offer new adventures. 

Art for the Alt-Cover of Journeys through the Radiant Citadel by Sija Hong.

This book is a beauty to behold, and the art in particular is spectacular. Each piece feels distinct and it is clear that they were created to match the feel and style of each particular adventure. Art evokes emotion and art directors Kate Irwin and Emi Tanji should be applauded along with all the brilliant artists who worked on this project.

Journeys through the Radiant Citadel is a beautiful and long overdue step for Wizards of the Coast in bringing in voices and perspectives that offer diverse and rich stories to explore in fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons. Not only are these stories and adventures masterfully crafted, they celebrate and recognize cultures and aspects of fantasy that serve to broaden everyone’s horizons and bring more stories into the fold of what published D&D adventures can be. 

Wizards of the Coast has a series of interviews conducted with the writers of Journeys through the Radiant Citadel, read them here.

Additional content to supplement Journeys through the Radiant Citadel can be found in Journeys beyond the Radiant Citadel on DMs Guild here. Many of the original writers of Journeys through the Radiant Citadel contributed to this product. 

Journeys through the Radiant Citadel is published by Wizards of the Coast. 

Want to pick up a copy of Journeys through the Radiant Citadel for yourself or someone you know? Purchase a copy through this link, and you will help support the Writer in White with your purchase.

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