Opinions on the Wildemount Book?

Discuss Tal'dorei, Wildermount and other lands in Matthew Mercer's Exandria world, as it relates to pen & paper RPGs, here.
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Havard
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Opinions on the Wildemount Book?

Post by Havard »

I just ordered a copy of the Wildemount book. I am mainly getting it for the few pages of info on Tortles, but will be curious to see if there are other things in there I can make use of.

Does anyone here have the book yet? What are your thoughts? I've seen some youtube reviews, but would love to hear from fellow Piazzans as well! :)

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Re: Opinions on the Wildemount Book?

Post by Tim Baker »

I have the book on D&D Beyond. I think if you're already a fan of the setting, it does a good job of presenting enough detail that you could comfortably run a campaign (or several, even), without diving into every nook and crevice. As someone who isn't already a fan, it didn't grab me in such a way that I felt like I needed to start a campaign or run an adventure in the setting. That kind of feeling is a rarity to be sure, so I wouldn't say a setting book is good or bad based on that lack of "wow" factor.

I like the Heroic Chronicle system. Other games have done something similar before, but you don't often see it in D&D. I believe that if players all went through that process together, their characters would feel more closely tied to each other and the setting than the standard D&D group when they start out. Again, there are optional rules and house rules that already address this, but I don't recall something like this being a core part of a D&D setting in the past.

I don't run D&D 5e, so the mechanical parts of the book are only interesting if they inspire me to find a way to do something similar in the systems I play/run. I've always found time manipulation to be a flavorful power source, but hard to pull off. Just reading through the sub-classes in the book, the ideas are very cool, and I can see how they'd work in 5e. They might give me ideas for how to translate something into another system, or at least reskin a character from another system to use these dunamancy abilities as fun trappings.

The notion of artifacts that power up with their wielders isn't new either. But it isn't something I see emphasized in other D&D settings. I like how these items are tied to the deities.

The part of the setting I was looking forward to the most – the pantheon – didn't get as much coverage as I'd expected, considering the book's announcement said it contains "[a]n extensive breakdown of the Wildemount pantheon." Combined with the way deities seem to be highlighted in the bits of Critical Role that I've picked up on over the years, and I'd anticipated more page count for this topic. Since Nentir Vale is one of my favorite settings, and these deities are largely the same as those in Nentir Vale's Dawn War pantheon, it was something I was excited to see expanded in this book. But the information is roughly the same as what you could already glean from the 4e material. On the one hand, I'm thankful that the deities are largely the same as the way they're presented in the Dawn War pantheon, so if they're fleshed out more in the future, it's likely to be compatible with the Nentir Vale versions. But on the other hand, I'd hoped "extensive breakdown" would go further.

In summary, if you like the setting and would already consider running adventures in it, it's a solid setting book. If you play 5e and are excited by the new mechanical parts (new races, sub-classes), these make up a relatively small part of the book, but are flavorful. It would likely be a matter of where you draw the frugality line. As a GM, looking at the Heroic Chronicle system might give you ideas for how to create such a thing for any setting. The new monsters and magic items for 5e could work in nearly any setting. So it's not a "must buy" for the typical 5e DM or player, but a "you'll need to evaluate if the value is worth the price." The exception would be for Wildemount fans who are already itching to get official support for a beloved setting – for them, this would be a "must buy."

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Re: Opinions on the Wildemount Book?

Post by agathokles »

Tim Baker wrote:
Mon Apr 20, 2020 2:58 am
I like the Heroic Chronicle system. Other games have done something similar before, but you don't often see it in D&D.
What is this system about? Any example of similar systems in other games (or in other D&D settings)?

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Re: Opinions on the Wildemount Book?

Post by Big Mac »

agathokles wrote:
Mon Apr 20, 2020 2:38 pm
Tim Baker wrote:
Mon Apr 20, 2020 2:58 am
I like the Heroic Chronicle system. Other games have done something similar before, but you don't often see it in D&D.
What is this system about? Any example of similar systems in other games (or in other D&D settings)?
Tim Baker already made a topic about the Heroic Chronicle.

You might want to watch the video he linked to in the top post.

(I thought it sounded similar to the system from Hero Builder's Guidebookk (from 3e D&D) but I'd love to hear Tim's opinion on it, as he has read it.
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Re: Opinions on the Wildemount Book?

Post by agathokles »

Big Mac wrote:
Mon Apr 20, 2020 8:40 pm
Tim Baker already made a topic about the Heroic Chronicle.
Thanks!
(I thought it sounded similar to the system from Hero Builder's Guidebookk (from 3e D&D) but I'd love to hear Tim's opinion on it, as he has read it.
I'm more interested in Tim's opinion, too.

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Re: Opinions on the Wildemount Book?

Post by Tim Baker »

Big Mac wrote:
Mon Apr 20, 2020 8:40 pm
I thought it sounded similar to the system from Hero Builder's Guidebookk (from 3e D&D) but I'd love to hear Tim's opinion on it, as he has read it.
Unfortunately, I haven't read the Hero Builder's Guidebook, so I can't provide a direct comparison. Regarding the Heroic Chronicle, it's a detailed background-generating system that ties characters to the setting and to each other. I like that there are random numbers to roll on the tables, if you like to be surprised by a background and then make it your own. Yet the rules also explicitly states that you can choose from the options if you already have a strong idea for your character's background.

Keeping in mind that each of these options is tied to the setting, the system fleshes out the following elements:
  • Homeland
  • Background (some are tailored for the setting, others are the 5e standard backgrounds)
  • Social Status
  • Social Status Relationships (tying you to an NPC)
  • Settlement (homeland-specific tables)
  • Race
  • Family (size is based on settlement size)
  • Family Relationships (some part of your backstory that ties you to one family member in particular – this isn't always a good thing)
  • Allies
  • Rivals
  • Fateful Moments (sort of like a 13th Age "one unique thing" – this was a turning point in the character's past and leads to a mechanical boon)
  • Favorite Food (based on homeland)
  • Mysterious Secret
  • Prophesy
There's some advice about using favorite food, mysterious secret, and homeland as means to tie characters to one another.

As a book that's likely to appeal to players who have watched Critical Role but never played D&D, I like this character-building tool. It's not original, and some players are quite capable of coming up with these types of details without tables, but I suspect many new players will find this useful. The entries in these tables consistently refer to monsters, races, locations, and objects in the setting. Your character will have several ties to the setting after going through this process, which is a nice aid to roleplaying.

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Re: Opinions on the Wildemount Book?

Post by agathokles »

Thanks for the rundown. I'd say that similar concepts in D&D can be found in The Northern Reach and Karameikos gazetteers, and outside D&D in Lifepath-style mechanics found in several Interlock (and Fuzion) games, as well as the character generation system of Traveller.

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Re: Opinions on the Wildemount Book?

Post by Tim Baker »

agathokles wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 3:01 pm
Thanks for the rundown. I'd say that similar concepts in D&D can be found in The Northern Reach and Karameikos gazetteers, and outside D&D in Lifepath-style mechanics found in several Interlock (and Fuzion) games, as well as the character generation system of Traveller.
I've never read the books that you mentioned, so I can't draw direct comparisons, but I'm familiar with Traveller. It's similar, in that you spend time rolling (or choosing) all of these elements that took place in the past. The differences, based on my limited knowledge of Traveller, is that this system isn't deadly, and it doesn't randomly tell longer and longer background stories as your character essentially ages before you get the chance to start playing. Each character will have a short list of transformative moments in their backstory, regardless of their current age. The group won't come to the table with one character having just left the farm, and another having survived decades of experiences with the banes and boons to prove it.

I share that to help those who might be familiar with Traveller understand the Heroic Chornicle a bit better, not to say your comparison isn't correct. :)

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Re: Opinions on the Wildemount Book?

Post by agathokles »

Indeed, Traveller is rather extreme in that approach :-D

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Re: Opinions on the Wildemount Book?

Post by Havard »

Great reports so far!

My copy arrived today. I've just flipped through it so far, but will be reading it over the next days. I will post more on this as I read more!

This background system does sound interesting.

Keep your thoughts coming! :)

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Re: Opinions on the Wildemount Book?

Post by Tim Baker »

If you're interested to see Wildemount's Heroic Chronicle system in use for another setting, D&D Beyond has created the Heroic Chronicle for the Sword Coast.

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