Dungeons & Dragons has a reputation for taking over people's lives. 5-year campaigns with 6 friends, meeting for hours upon hours, living and breathing by the rules of the game. It doesn't have to be that though. What if it just needed to be one or two sessions, a small mystery or quest to take on, and then a conclusion to your story? Journeys Through The Radiant Citadel is an anthology of adventures that provides just this, so how does this collection of adventures fair?
What is the Radiant Citadel?
The previous hub for anthological adventures in Dungeons & Dragons was Candlekeep, a library filled with magical tomes. In Journeys Through The Radiant Citadel, the titular Radiant Citadel is the new hub location. Floating through the Etherial Plane The Radiant Citadel is the ideal representation of a melting pot of cultures. Established by twenty-seven different civilizations (many lost to time) this Citadel was rediscovered and repopulated with denizens of each of these worlds. The location is rich in culture and features a diverse range of races, making it the perfect place for any bumbling party to fit in.
This setting is peak magical fiction. A bustling city of high fantasy hidden away from the material world, yet connected through floating crystals to a wide variety of other settings. The scale of the world created, down to their system of government, is so specifically detailed yet accessible to anyone who wants to use this world to set off on their own adventures. The nature of its setting in the Etherial Plane not only makes it new and exciting for adventurers but the in-universe way to travel to and from this location makes it readily accessible to drop into any campaign you might already be running.
Adventures in Journeys Through The Radiant Citadel
Connected to the Radiant Citadel is over a dozen different pre-made worlds, and each is based on a different culture or history that the author resonates with. The pacing, tone, style of setting, and everything shifts as you move from realm to realm each carrying a unique style. One moment you might be exploring Godsbreath, a rural country area framed after the American South, and the next you'll be stepping into a palace in the land of Great Xing. It's all a refreshing change from the medieval design that many might be used to while playing Dungeons & Dragons.
The adventures themselves are just as varied as the settings that they take place in. There are thirteen different adventures in Journeys Through The Radiant Citadel scaling from Level 1 all the way up to Level 14.
At the start the adventures begin extremely quaint. The Level 1-2 adventure, Salted Legacy, has players sorting out a scuffle between two rival family markets on the Radiant Citadel itself. Moving away from traditional combat this adventure features deceit, investigation, and a series of tests that will push the players to compete using their stats to gain renown in the market. This might just be the perfect introduction to Dungeons & Dragons that someone might be able to experience. The vivid environment meshed with a healthy dose of roleplay and stat checks gives a new player a full D&D experience without any of the risks of a low-level TPK.
Continued adventures also lean heavily into the investigation and roleplay aspect of Dungeons & Dragons. Small town mysteries, rivalries between competing nations, and ghost stories to get to the bottom of. While the adventures certainly start small scale they grow to become matters of life and death, and are filled with danger.
Journeys Through The Radiant Citadel Creates Epic Encounters
One later encounter that is of note is the combat against the Bakunawa in Between Tangled Roots. In this adventure, the party is racing against Dragon Hunters to find the Bakunawa. The Party is aiming to see what's wrong with it, while the Hunters are only thinking about death. Depending on how the party plays they can arrive before or after the Dragon Hunters, and within the combat itself it's not as much against the Bakunawa (unless you get swallowed by it) instead you need to locate and destroy what's controlling the Bakunawa. For each hit, you deal to the source of the corruption you now become the new target of the Bakunawa. The combat becomes complicated as you can choose to focus on each source, bait away the Bakunawa, or just tank it all. You can also juggle this tense combat with roleplay against the Monster Hunters, trying to convince them to help you save the dragon.
The authors haven't just stopped at the creation of their adventure when it comes to the scope of the world. The end of each adventure has a Gazetteer filled to the brim with information about the land. Important locations, customs, citizens, and legends of the world are explored in depth. This is all information on the side that you can choose to fill your adventure with to build out the scope of the setting, or it can be used if you want to continue exploring that land with your players.
Final Thoughts of Journeys Through The Radiant Citadel
This book is an absolute delight to read. From the beginning, establishing a setting and context for the world of the Radiant Citadel it gets its hooks in. Each anthology along the way does a fantastic job of drawing in the reader like a collection of short stories. Just when you feel you've had your fill of one location you're already ready to move on to the next one.
This might have some of the best adventures I've read for D&D and elevates the structure of a short from adventure by adding in so many opportunities for non-linear progression or investigation into issues.
Should I buy Journeys Through The Radiant Citadel?
Journeys Through The Radiant Citadel succeeds in so many ways it would be difficult to not recommend this. As an anthology of adventures, it's a great introduction to D&D, a good expansion to your own world and campaign, and a good way for anyone to get back into D&D without the stress of long-time management. Each adventure is filled with charm in a robust and fully fleshed-out world so your players will love jumping into. This book is for all D&D tables and it would be a shame to not purchase it.
The copy of Journeys Through The Radiant Citadel used in the creation of this review was provided by the publisher.