Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel Review
Published on July 19, 2022
D&D’s newest adventure anthology takes players and DMs on unique and diverse journeys across the multiverse.
Evyn Fong - Wizards of the Coast - Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel Cover
Table of Contents
Quick Review (No Spoilers)
What does Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel contain?
Pages: 224 pages
Published: July 19th, 2022
Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel is an adventure anthology containing 13 adventures that take players from levels 1–14. Each adventure establishes a detailed and unique cultural setting that serves as a backdrop to the story. They are built to be standalone adventures but can also be dropped into any campaign. Alternatively, a DM can weave the adventures into a complete campaign, using the Radiant Citadel as a hub for the party to return to during their downtime.
DMs will find everything they need to run the adventures in Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel, including:
- 13 pages of setting information for the Radiant Citadel
- 13 adventures, each including battlemaps and a gazetteer to aid in running homebrewed adventures in each location
- 11 new monsters
- The adventures include a diverse mix of settings and revolve around visiting different cities and regions, allowing you to more easily include them in a prewritten campaign than the previous adventure anthology, Candlekeep Mysteries.
- The gazetteers included at the end of each adventure help DMs continue their own story arch in locations that players enjoy.
- Most adventures, particularly the low-level and high-level ones, tell interesting stories and provide players with unique gameplay and meaningful choices.
- Some of the shorter adventures in the middle of the book suffer from weak stories and/or a lack of meaningful choices.
- There is no direction on how to tie the adventures together, meaning DMs looking to write a Radiant Citadel campaign will have to write their own story.
- In my opinion, the Radiant Citadel setting information chapter contains too many mysteries to which there are no answers. This puts unnecessary pressure on DMs who want to use the Radiant Citadel in their game. Also, most adventures don’t mention the Radiant Citadel beyond using it as a starting location.
In-depth Review (Spoilers Ahead!)
The adventures in this book span a variety of themes, allowing DMs to pick and choose the ones that fit their campaign best. The themes range from low-conflict mysteries to slasher film-style horror and do a great job providing players with various goals to accomplish so they don’t feel “samey.”
The adventures work as standalone stories and can fit into any campaign that visits a human settlement. In addition, they each provide some adventure hooks to get players interested and tips for where to include the adventure in established D&D settings like the Forgotten Realms, Eberron, and Greyhawk.
Though there aren’t a ton of new monsters included in this book, there are certainly a couple that I’m excited to use in my campaigns, even if I won’t be running the adventures they’re from. My favorite new mechanic can be found on the Aurumvorax Den Leader from Gold for Fools and Princes, which grants them a buff when they attack a character wearing metal armor. The Den Leader can choose which buff they want from a short list of options, making them feel like a dynamic and intelligent enemy.
One of the monsters, the tlacatecolo from The Fiend of Hollow Mine, imposes a dastardly curse that can’t be easily healed with a spell like lesser restoration. The curse forces the recipient to succeed on a Constitution saving throw every hour or gain a level of exhaustion, which are incurable unless the cursed creature is standing in sunlight. The deadly scenario this creates could result in a midnight dash to a cleric’s temple in order to find some way to create sunlight or at least hold off the curse’s effects until the sun rises.
The monsters in Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel are all on the low side of CR, with the highest going up to CR 12. While this may be a bit of a disappointment for DMs who want a new tarrasque-level threat, it’s to be expected in a book that only takes players up to 14th level. Only two monsters are included in the book with legendary actions, one of which also comes with lair actions.
Each adventure is capped off with a gazetteer that provides setting information for the location used in the adventure. Sometimes this gazetteer covers an entire region. Other times, it is limited to the city where the adventure takes place.
Each section provides tons of actionable information for DMs looking to continue their adventures in the setting. Along with a map of the area, the gazetteers also include descriptions of important locations and NPCs, histories, legends, random encounters, and suggestions for creating characters that hail from the region.
Unfortunately, the book is structured so it is sometimes necessary to jump between the gazetteer and the adventure to get the whole story. Situations that call for this always direct the DM towards the gazetteer, so it’s simply annoying rather than confusing.
I like that most of the adventures have a ‘peaceful’ social option that can be achieved by accomplishing particular prerequisites and making a Persuasion check. This allows for situations where players who paid attention throughout the story and were able to pick up on certain clues are given the option of avoiding combat.
The wide range of themes, rich cultures, and modular adventures make this book a joy to read and will make them easy to incorporate into campaigns. Combined with the gazetteers, Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel gives DMs all the tools they need to immerse players in distinct, new cultures that fall outside of traditional fantasy settings while reducing the time required to prepare a session.
In my opinion, the strongest adventures in this book are The Fiend of Hollow Mine, Trail of Destruction, and Shadow of the Sun.
A couple of the adventures, specifically those with a shorter page count, struggle to produce a satisfying story. Several of the adventures follow the lazy and predictable trend of giving players a brief introduction to the adventure and then immediately throwing them into a combat scenario. In my opinion, this is hugely detrimental to establishing a good flow in the session, as combat typically takes a significant chunk of time.
The other trend I noticed among the weaker adventures is the assumption that players will help inconspicuous NPCs when presented with a chance to do so. For example, if players ignore the seemingly random, slumped-over dwarf in Wages of Vice, it would throw off the entire adventure. Unfortunately, this is also the case with a seemingly insignificant argument at the beginning of Gold for Fools and Princes.
It is also worth noting how little the Radiant Citadel plays a role in any of these adventures. It is rarely mentioned beyond acting as a starting point for the adventures and isn’t the primary location for any of them. DMs will have to work extra hard to find a way to include it in their games. While the idea behind the Radiant Citadel is fantastic, this book doesn’t provide many resources to use it.
In my opinion, the weaker of the adventures were Wages of Vice, Gold for Fools and Princes, and Sins of Our Elders.
What’s the verdict on Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel?
I think Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel is a wonderful resource for most DMs to keep in their toolbox.
If you’re able to incorporate some of these adventures and settings into your campaigns, the book will save you plenty of time in prep while also providing a number of unique and culturally rich settings to choose from.
You will love this book if:
- You want to save prep time as a DM
- You run homebrew campaigns or at least add your own spin to prewritten campaigns
- You want to explore various interesting societies inspired by real-life cultures
- You play D&D infrequently and enjoy a variety of short adventures to choose from
You won’t love this book if:
- You want new player options or monsters
- You want to run a full-length campaign that requires little creative input
What are your thoughts about Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel? Are you excited to get it, or is this one a pass for you? Let us know in the comments below!