Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel is the latest in an extensive line of modules and anthologies intended for the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons. In this project, activist Ajit A. George was given a lead creative role in the making of this book… and the activism shows, surprise! Also worth note: as I did a little extra research on the book I saw praise for this book being the first anthology of D&D adventures to be written entirely by black and brown authors. Since when is skin color a determining factor in the quality of a product? Is this a quality product? Is it fun and engaging? These are the most important things. Let’s take a look.
The activism shows early in the book on page 5 (the second one that's not bibliography, titles or table of contents) as it's telling you how to behave, so as to not appropriate and offend, going as far as to tell us not to mock real-world accents in our roleplay. Pushing on, we get to the pages that detail the Radiant citadel itself and to its credit, it has some interesting lore and ideas, and some not so much. The Radiant Citadel is a civilization made up of refugees who decided to settle upon a massive fossil wrapped around a massive crystal known as the Auroral Diamond. The Diamond almost seems to be alive in that it changes colors sporadically, sometimes the same color for days, sometimes years, but rarely ever repeating the same color once changed. While seemingly indestructible, the Auroral Diamond is hollowed out and houses the Preserve of the Ancestors, home to the Incarnates and where the Speakers for the Ancestors gather to govern the Radiant Citadel.
The Incarnates are spirits of the ancestors of the founding civilizations that have taken the form of animals made of gemstones, the most prominent of which are known as the Dawn Incarnates. The Dawn Incarnates are said to know all that transpires within the preserve which is why the Speakers for the Ancestors gather here.
From here I could go on to discuss the actual laws and lifestyles of the Citadel, but there is so much to it (decent and bad alike) and so much more to say on it, that if i did, you dear reader(s) would be here all day and none of want that; so I’ll nutshell it. While yes, there are some interesting concepts to be found, there is also a LOT of content here that reflects on matters of controversy and arguments in the real world. That said, the Radiant Citadel isn’t all there is to see in this book, there are the journeys after all.
The adventures presented in this book are, as adventures in other anthologies are, written in a way that you could take the ones you like and plug them into another campaign or use any given one of them as a standalone one-shot. While I personally think that some of these adventures could be rather fun to play through, I will admit that none of them really feel like anything new (in fairness that’s a bit of a hard thing to accomplish in today’s setting). They all mostly feel like story concepts that have been rehashed and retold before, and while I personally don’t have a problem with that per se, I acknowledge that this is a problem for a lot of people. Still worth note are some creatures and concepts such as the adorable wynlings and more to minigames that are timed in-game by way of tracking initiative.
To wrap things up, this book has its ups and downs. I think there is a little bit of something in here for everyone. One could simply pick out the creatures presented to use elsewhere (who wouldn’t want to use a Giant Fire Elemental Axolotl after all?) or use the whole book for their setting, or use it as D&D anthologies are best known for by pulling out the small adventures to use as filler episodes in a long running campaign. Me personally, there is A TON of matter in the Radiant Citadel that reflects upon matters of real world controversy and I don’t think I’ll be quick to use the Citadel as a setting because of it. However, I can see myself using some of the adventures and content offered for one shots. I use Dungeons and Dragons as a means of escapism to go on adventures I could only ever dream of going on; not to be told how I need to behave in the real world.
I give it 5 out of 10.
Alio the DM