Dungeons & Dragons’ Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel features adventures that are inspired by the lives and stories of people of color throughout our real world. With so many possible stories to take from though, it can be difficult to discern exactly what inspired each of these tales.
Thankfully, Wizards of the Coast ran writer interviews with each author of these adventures in order to better understand how they came up with their stories and what backgrounds they were pulled from. If you haven’t already given these interviews a peak, we highly recommend it. That being said, today we’ll take a closer look at each of these adventures in order to see how the stories that inspired them were transformed into fantasy works of D&D.
13 Salted Legacy
Salted Legacy is an adventure for first and second level characters that sees them travel through the Dyn Singh Night Market as they investigate the reason behind a feud between two market families. This night market is inspired by similar night markets in Bangkok where food, goods, and other strange wares are sold.
The adventure features a cute new creature known as a wynling, which is a playful and mischievous beast that looks similar to winged squirrels with incredibly long fingers. These wynlings take inspiration from monkeys that roam the night markets of Bangkok, stealing what they can and convincing tourists to feed them with displays of playful behavior.
12 Written In Blood
Written in Blood is an adventure for third level characters that have them attempt to discover the reason behind a sudden magical sickness as well as the death of some parts of the land. This adventure takes place in the land of Godsbreath, which is run by a great bayou and takes inspiration from the black experience in the southern United States.
The land of Godsbreath avoids typical depictions of oppression, instead focusing on the joy and community life shared here specifically with a celebration known as the Awakening Festival. The Festival’s raucous fun takes a page from the actual city of New Orleans. Furthermore, the villains in this adventure ultimately lean into the genre of southern gothic horror.
11 The Fiend Of Hollow Mine
The Fiend of Hollow Mine is an adventure for fourth level characters where the PCs (player characters) search for the cause behind a magical curse that’s killing rural residents on the borderlands of the fabulous city of San Citlan. The borderlands themselves are inspired by the country of Mexico and do a great job of depicting the difficult trials of those who till the land outside the city against the debaucherous revelry of those who live inside it.
The adventure also features a festival called the Night of the Remembered, which is a clear mirror of the well-celebrated Mexican holiday known as the Day of the Dead. Festival participants construct “ofrendas,” which are altar offerings to loved ones who have passed. These ofrendas allow people who knew the honored individuals in life to commune with them via the effects of the speak with dead spell.
10 Wages Of Vice
Wages of Vice is an adventure for fifth level characters where the PCs struggle to understand the motives of a vengeful killer during the prosperous city of Zinda’s March of Vice celebration. Zinda is a fictional recreation of the modern-day city of New Orleans and the NPCs (non-playable characters) involved in this story are inspired by the writer’s relationships with their family and friends who live in Louisiana.
The story itself features a baleful curse, betrayal, and witch magic that are all originally sourced from stories brought up from the Caribbean that are often told in Louisiana homes. This adventure also contains a healthy blurring of the lines between good and evil that is common among the frightening Appalachians and New Orleans lore.
9 Sins Of Our Elders
Sins of Our Elders is a roleplay-heavy adventure for PCs of the sixth level that takes inspiration from aspects of the writer’s Korean culture. One of the adventure’s core elements is the sense of honor and respect family members feel for their elders, as well as the duty that guides their actions ever towards the greatness of their own houses.
It’s this exact sense of duty that leads the city of Yeonido into trouble as a former folk hero of the town haunts a local shrine due to her name fading into obscurity. This happens after a friend and noble convinced the commonwealth that the benefits of the folk hero’s actions should actually be attributed to the noble’s sister Queen Young-Soo. Also, this adventure features dragonborn in beautiful kimonos, which is just plain awesome on its own.
8 Gold For Fools And Princes
Gold for Fools and Princes is an adventure for seventh level characters that puts the characters between the political squabbles of two young princes. However, as the story progresses, the PCs may uncover that one of the princes is less than fit to become the Sensa empire’s next ruler. This story is inspired by the Mali empire of pre-colonial Africa.
The writer noted that a lot of popular media focuses on the pain and exploitation that has occurred in Africa’s history, ignoring the fact that prior to European influence Africa held its own prosperous empires. Thus, the adventure seeks to portray Africa’s pre-colonial prosperity by featuring a game of political intrigue you would normally think would take place in the courts of England.
7 Trail Of Destruction
Trail of Destruction is an adventure for eigth level PCs where they will be tasked with looking into recent earthquakes and volcanic activity in the region of Tletepec. This story is inspired by Aztec culture as well as the writer’s experience living in Mexico City, where natural disasters such as earthquakes are commonplace.
At the climax of the adventure, the PCs must encounter an ancient volcanic spirit that has woken from its slumber. They need to cool its unrest lest the region be taken in the throws of environmental calamity. The volcano spirit known as a Tlexolotl causes destruction only as an unknown byproduct of its personal mission to wake its sleeping family members found in other volcanoes across the region. This misunderstood and potentially tragic villain is a perfect representation of the Aztec tribes that once called Mexico home.
6 In The Mists Of Manivarsha
In the Mists of Manivarsha is an adventure for ninth level characters in which the PCs will enjoy the city of Sagorpur’s local competition. This is known as the Shankha trials, and the story begins before witnessing a massive wave whelm the competitors and bring down devastation on the city. After the PCs help with the destruction the city endured, the trial judges implore them to venture into the jungles of Manivarsha and find the trials’ trophy and champion that were washed away — as well as discover the source of the river’s sudden rage.
This adventure draws inspiration from the geography of Bengal where rivers cross and turn throughout the heavily forested land. The adventure also features NPCs that struggle to cope with their historic connection to the land and modern desire to live in developed cities that pollute their waterways. Bengal citizens today struggle with the same problems, though they do not have to contend with troubled river spirits.
5 Between Tangled Roots
Between Tangled Roots is an adventure for tenth level characters that will see the PCs race to uncover the reason behind a revered dragon suddenly attacking the town of Kalapang among the Dayawlongon archipelago, where it has long been considered a community ally. During the PCs investigation, they must contend with foreign dragon hunters who seek to kill the animal for profit.
This adventure is inspired by the cultures, traditions, and geography of the Philippines, which has been colonized throughout history many times over. As a result, the Philippines’ identity is as tangled as the motives of the players in this adventure. While the dragon hunters are foreigners, they do still come from another island of the archipelago: one where their clan was abandoned by the dragon that the town of Kalapang reveres. Ultimately, it is up to the PCs to decide what is right as they uncover the dragon’s recent behavior might not be entirely of its own doing.
4 Shadow Of The Sun
Shadow of the Sun is an adventure for eleventh level characters where they are tasked by an angel and the ruler of the city-state Akharin Sangar to bring recent rebel resistance to justice. However, the PCs soon discover that there’s more to the rebel’s rebellion than meets the eye. PCs must decide between continuing on with the quest the angelic ruler Atash assigned them or betraying his confidence to aid the plight of the rebels instead.
Shadow of the Sun is inspired by Iranian culture, specifically a piece of Iranian literature called the Shahnameh which translates as The Book of Kings. This is an epic story on par with The Odyssey of European culture. The adventure serves as a reminder that “heavy is the head that where the crowns” and that there are always two sides to a story. Consequently, it’s especially fitting that the adventure comes from a Middle Eastern culture such as Iran’s, whose culture is so commonly misunderstood by the West.
3 The Nightsea’s Succor
The Nightsea’s Succor is an adventure for twelveth level characters where they will explore the misty coasts of Djaynai, as they decide who to help and what to do with the lost ancient martial techniques of the Blackmist Way and the Blackthrone Arts. This adventure is inspired by the relationships between specific African locales and the dispersion of African peoples across the world, sometimes against their own will. The varied groups that the PCs will encounter over the course of this adventure all desire to use the knowledge of their ancient techniques to achieve different ends.
Some wish to access their full power once more in order to restore Djaynai to its ancient glory. Others wish to use these arts to develop new techniques, then do away with them. Still, others want to see the ancient techniques destroyed so that Djaynai can finally put its tragic past of abduction and slavery forever behind it. The ancient techniques in this adventure serve as a representation of the Black community’s struggle with their own tragic ancestry, and the differing wishes of the separate parties the PCs meet represent some of the ways that Africa’s many descendants across the globe deal with their ancestral heritage. All things considered, the Nightsea’s Succor is a very culturally personal story that provides perspective on the ways we deal with tragedy.
2 Buried Dynasty
Buried Dynasty is an adventure for thirteenth level characters. In this one, the PCs will visit the land of Great Xing, where a millennia-old dynasty secretly fights for its own survival. The adventure takes place in the land’s capital of Yongjing, which was inspired by the Forbidden City in China’s Dongcheng District in Beijing. Over the course of the adventure, the PCs will delve into the city’s ancient ruins and ultimately encounter the skeletons kept in the closet of a place so old.
This adventure also revolves around political intrigue and personal betrayal of the few for the wealth of the many: a common theme in Chinese folklore. Duty to the country exceeds all else for some NPCs in this adventure.
1 Orchids Of The Invisible Mountain
The final adventure we find in Journeys is Orchids of the Invisible Mountain. This is a quest for forteenth level characters that will see the PCs explore the Feywild touched land of Atagua as they uncover the land’s recent corruption by forces from the Far Realm. The jungles of Atagua themselves are inspired by the country of Venezuela, which is lush with hot and sweaty jungles filled with blooming orchids and pools that might just house pirhanas – or quippers as D&D calls them.
The sites that adventurers will explore throughout Atagua all come from Venezuelan geographical features that are unique to the country. Beyond the jungles inspired by the Amazon, there is also “The Llanos,” which draw inspiration from the tropical grassland planes of Venezuela by the same name, in which anacondas, capybaras, and flamingos make their home. Naturally, the D&D version of The Llanos features giant termite mounds, cloakers, and griffons instead. Lastly, there is the adventure’s aspect of Far Realm contamination.
While the adventure’s writer doesn’t go into detail about exactly what modern-day parallels might have inspired this part of the story, it’s fair to say that we can all probably guess the worldwide current problems threatening all of nature that are being hinted at here. We’ll simply leave you with this question: after journeying through the mystifying and beautiful, yet dangerous, natural environments of Atagua, how could you not want to protect them from the corruption of outside influence?
NEXT: Dungeons & Dragons: Best Magic Items For Melee