[Critical Role] Matthew Mercer about Explorer's Guide to Wildemount on Reddit

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[Critical Role] Matthew Mercer about Explorer's Guide to Wildemount on Reddit

Post by Big Mac »

Matthew Mercer posted this on Twitter:
@matthewmercer on Twitter wrote:As the info seemed to leak a liiiiiiittle early yesterday, I just wanted to write something to reach out to the greater, non-critter DnD crowd regarding this book, what it means to me, and what I hope it means to you:
...and this on Reddit:
u/MatthewMercer on Reddit wrote:With the Explorer's Guide to Wildemount announcement...

Hey there! Longtime lurker, situational commenter!
Well now, it certainly looks like the cat’s out of the bag (and seemed to sneak out a LITTLE early, hehe)! I can’t express just how excited and honored I am to have been given the opportunity to bring my world to you all via the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount. D&D has been such an influential element of my life, of who I am, and to have contributed to it in this way is beyond words.

I’ve spent the better part of 1.5 years working on this project, along with some incredible contributors, to make this something we could all be extremely proud of. I set out to create this book not as a tome specifically for fans of Critical Role, but as a love letter to the D&D community as a whole. Those who follow our adventures will find many familiar and enjoyable elements that tie into what they’ve experienced within our campaign. However, I want this book to not only be a vibrant, unique setting for non-critter players and Dungeon Masters young and old, experienced or new, but also a resource of inspiration for DMs to pull from regardless of what setting they are running their game in. I’ve done my very best to make it a dynamic, breathing world full of deep lore, detailed factions and societies, a sprawling gazetteer, heaps of plot hooks, and numerous mechanical options/items/monsters to perhaps introduce into your own sessions, or draw inspiration from to cobble together your own variations. I wanted this to be a book for any D&D player, regardless of their knowledge of (or appreciation of, for that matter) Critical Role. I made this for ALL of you.

I am also well-aware of how much negativity can permeate these spaces regarding myself and the games we play, and that’s ok! One could never expect our form of storytelling and gaming to be everyone’s cup of tea, and it could very well be that this just isn’t the book for you. I don’t begrudge you that, and I only hope one day we get a chance to roll some dice at a convention and swap stories about our love of the game. I know for some folks this isn't necessarily what they were hoping for the announcement to be, and for that I'm sorry.

As a person excited and clamoring for new settings to be brought into the D&D multiverse, I also understand the frustrations from some that this isn’t one of the “classics”. Believe you me, I’m one of the those who is ever-shouting “I want my Planescape/Dark Sun”, and said so loudly… multiple times while in the WotC offices. Know that my setting doesn’t eliminate, delay, or consume any such plans they may have for any future-such projects! I’m not stepping on such wonderful legacy properties, these same ones that inspired me growing up. This is just the new-kid stepping into that area and hoping one of the older kids will sit and have lunch with them. ;) If Wizards has any plans to release any of their much-demanded settings, they’ll come whether or not Wildemount showed up.

I also wanted to comment on the occasionally-invoked negative opinions on my homebrew designs I’ve seen here… and they aren’t wrong! I don’t have the lengthy design history and experience that many of you within this community do have. Outside of small, home-game stuff I messed with through the 2000’s, my journey on the path of public homebrew began as a reaction to online community demand and throwing out my inexperienced ideas in a very public space. Much of my early homebrew was myself learning as I went (as all of us begin), only with a large portion of the internet screaming at me for my mistakes and lack of knowledge. Even my Tal’Dorei Guide homebrew was rushed due to demands being made of me, and I continue to learn so many lessons since. The occasional unwarranted intensity aside, there is much appreciated constructive criticism I’ve received over the years (from reddit included) that has helped me grow and improve. Anyway, what I mention all this for is to express my thanks for all the wonderful feedback, the chances to learn from all of you as time has gone on, and the many elements of this book reflect that improvement as I took those lessons and collaborated with the official WotC team to make this as good as it could be.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling from an insecure nerd. I’m extremely proud of what we’ve done with this book. I hope you give it a shot and enjoy it. I really do. If you choose to pass on it, that’s totally cool and am just happy we find joy in the same pastime. Either way, be kind to each other, and keep on forging amazing stories together. <3

-Mercer
It's interesting that Matthew Mercer says he is a Planescape and Dark Sun fan.

It was more interesting that he is aware that people will be out there complaining about his book (and he was probably aware that the complaining would happen months before us) and that he doesn't have any ill-will towards anyone.

If you think about the vibe that we try to have at The Piazza (of everyone talking about what they like and trying to get on) that's sort of what Matthew Mercer is trying to do. I'm not sure how well he can ever succeed. I'm sure if he was standing in front of you and chatting to you about D&D, and listening to you, he would engage you well, but he is one person trying to send out messages to thousands of fans that he couldn't possibly talk back to on a normal level. But that's not really his fault, is it. :)

Anyhoo, Matthew says that his book is not holding up WotC from bringing back a classic setting, or doing something else. I guess we can compare the 2020 catalogue of D&D products to the 2019 catalogue of D&D products to see if there is one extra in 2020. ;)

But, given that Green Ronin put out the last Critical Role book, they could quite easily have put out this one too. And the Critters could (and probably would) have funded it on Kickstarter. So he is right there.

I'm not so sure about the other thing he said. His hopes that people who are not into Critical Role can get stuff out of the book. And that's not so much based on Critical Role or Matthew Mercer, but the fact that I've seen a ton of people saying that they want people to "buy their book and make it their own". And as someone who likes settings to have their own unique selling point, I'm not sure how well anyone Matthew Mercer or not can make a unique product...but make it super-raidable. (But I'll be very happy to see someone writing a "I'm raiding X from Critical Role to use in my game" topic.)
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Re: [Critical Role] Matthew Mercer about Explorer's Guide to Wildemount on Reddit

Post by Tim Baker »

That was very well said. I don't watch Critical Role—it's just too large a time commitment in my busy life—but I don't have anything against it, either. While I'm unlikely to run a game in the setting, I'm always interested to see what new ideas I can pilfer. These might be new player options, but they could also be interesting factions, NPCs, terrain, and so on. I frequently snag material from unique settings and stuff them into my games that don't take place in that setting (e.g., I've grabbed everything from Midgard races to Dawn War deities to Forgotten Realms Albier-style planes for my own 13th Age games set in its Dragon Empire).

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Re: [Critical Role] Matthew Mercer about Explorer's Guide to Wildemount on Reddit

Post by Tim Baker »

Big Mac wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:57 pm
Matthew says that his book is not holding up WotC from bringing back a classic setting, or doing something else. I guess we can compare the 2020 catalogue of D&D products to the 2019 catalogue of D&D products to see if there is one extra in 2020. ;)

But, given that Green Ronin put out the last Critical Role book, they could quite easily have put out this one too. And the Critters could (and probably would) have funded it on Kickstarter. So he is right there.
Matthew Mercer, James Haeck, James Introcaso, Chris Lockey, Hannah Rose, and Scott Fitzgerald Gray are credited with the creation of this book. Matt Mercer and James Haeck were the designers for the Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting. James Introcaso is a DM's Guild Adept and has done work for the recent Waterdeep adventures. Chris Lockey is a content producer for Critical Role. Hannah Rose is a DM's Guild Adept. Scott Fitzgerald Gray worked on numerous 3rd and 4th Edition D&D books. So it appears unlikely that this book took away significant resources from other books in the WotC pipeline.

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Re: [Critical Role] Matthew Mercer about Explorer's Guide to Wildemount on Reddit

Post by Tim Baker »

Tim Baker wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 4:06 am
Matthew Mercer, James Haeck, James Introcaso, Chris Lockey, Hannah Rose, and Scott Fitzgerald Gray are credited with the creation of this book. Matt Mercer and James Haeck were the designers for the Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting. James Introcaso is a DM's Guild Adept and has done work for the recent Waterdeep adventures. Chris Lockey is a content producer for Critical Role. Hannah Rose is a DM's Guild Adept. Scott Fitzgerald Gray worked on numerous 3rd and 4th Edition D&D books. So it appears unlikely that this book took away significant resources from other books in the WotC pipeline.
Half the art was from Critical Role fans, rather than experienced D&D artists, too.

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Re: [Critical Role] Matthew Mercer about Explorer's Guide to Wildemount on Reddit

Post by MagusZeal »

If I had to guess this is probably an official Wizards D&D book partially as thanks for the extra attention they've brought to the hobby at this point and partially due to the Acquisitions Inc stuff being official products. There are fans of both, or one so adding to the lore of the game doesn't hurt and as the front of the books always state if you don't like it don't use it. Also having seen CR fan art, they can easily rival the experienced D&D artists.

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Re: [Critical Role] Matthew Mercer about Explorer's Guide to Wildemount on Reddit

Post by Dread Delgath »

I'm like Tim on this one. I don't have anything against Matthew Mercer or his show or campaign, or his book. But I'm not a Critter, and it is too much of a time commitment for me to watch as well. Some of my players have watched bits & pieces of his CR, and there are humorous animated shorts snipped from their show of varying quality done by Critter fans on youtube.

But life is taking me in a direction away from gaming starting this year, so ultimately, this release is a let-down on the level that I won't be interested in it, and a relief that it is something that I won't miss in the fast approaching future.

Yeah, it would be interesting to see the book, just to see what kind of formula that the CR people used, because my own campaign world needs a book like this that I can eventually emulate.
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Re: [Critical Role] Matthew Mercer about Explorer's Guide to Wildemount on Reddit

Post by Tim Baker »

MagusZeal wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 12:09 pm
Also having seen CR fan art, they can easily rival the experienced D&D artists.
Agreed. I'm blown away by the quality of some of the CR fan art. And they produce it so quickly, too.

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Re: [Critical Role] Matthew Mercer about Explorer's Guide to Wildemount on Reddit

Post by Tim Baker »

Dread Delgath wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 1:40 pm
it would be interesting to see the book, just to see what kind of formula that the CR people used, because my own campaign world needs a book like this that I can eventually emulate.
After having read the description of this book, do you believe other settings should emulate this combination of content when introducing their own worlds? What stood out for you?

I like that it has both player and GM content, and that it offers several adventures (hopefully spread across multiple tiers of play).

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Re: [Critical Role] Matthew Mercer about Explorer's Guide to Wildemount on Reddit

Post by Dread Delgath »

Tim Baker wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:24 am
Dread Delgath wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 1:40 pm
it would be interesting to see the book, just to see what kind of formula that the CR people used, because my own campaign world needs a book like this that I can eventually emulate.
After having read the description of this book, do you believe other settings should emulate this combination of content when introducing their own worlds? What stood out for you?
Do I believe other settings should emulate this...?
I have no idea!

What stood out for me?
The Critical Role brand.
I haven't seen the book, I don't know what's in the book, I don't know squat about Mercer's campaign or world, and I only have seen snippets of his game on youtube. I just know he's done a great job with CR, and everyone loves him. Because of that, I want to eventually see how he arranged things in his book.

You say there is a mix of DM and player info in it. Good. That's the approach I want to take for my campaign world.

Is is going to be like the 2e Forgotten Realms Adventures hardback? I thought that was an excellent way to present campaign information to DMs & players. Will Mercer do the same?

Is there a more modern format of presentation? Does Mercer follow the guidelines set forth in the DM's Guild? Is there some other formatting that we should be aware of? I won't be able to copy the format 100% exact, nor would I want to. I want to make my campaign world as unique as possible, but I need some examples to draw inspiration from.
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Re: [Critical Role] Matthew Mercer about Explorer's Guide to Wildemount on Reddit

Post by agathokles »

MagusZeal wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 12:09 pm
If I had to guess this is probably an official Wizards D&D book partially as thanks for the extra attention they've brought to the hobby at this point and partially due to the Acquisitions Inc stuff being official products. There are fans of both, or one so adding to the lore of the game doesn't hurt and as the front of the books always state if you don't like it don't use it. Also having seen CR fan art, they can easily rival the experienced D&D artists.
Well, books are not zero-cost to design, produce and fit into a publishing schedule (you have to avoid competing with your own products, after all), so for WotC to publish such books it means they see the visibility of these shows as sufficient to provide a boost to sales compared with a standard product based on their own IP, while on the other hand being inexpensive compared to typical licensed products.

GP

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Re: [Critical Role] Matthew Mercer about Explorer's Guide to Wildemount on Reddit

Post by Tim Baker »

Dread Delgath wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:49 am
Is is going to be like the 2e Forgotten Realms Adventures hardback? I thought that was an excellent way to present campaign information to DMs & players. Will Mercer do the same?
We don't know too many specifics about the book, yet. There will be three subclasses; spells; magic items; 23 monsters; details about the continent, its history, and its pantheon; and four adventures.

I'm not sure how this lines up with Forgotten Realms Adventures. I can't remember what information is presented in that book.

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Re: [Critical Role] Matthew Mercer about Explorer's Guide to Wildemount on Reddit

Post by MagusZeal »

agathokles wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 3:14 pm
MagusZeal wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 12:09 pm
If I had to guess this is probably an official Wizards D&D book partially as thanks for the extra attention they've brought to the hobby at this point and partially due to the Acquisitions Inc stuff being official products. There are fans of both, or one so adding to the lore of the game doesn't hurt and as the front of the books always state if you don't like it don't use it. Also having seen CR fan art, they can easily rival the experienced D&D artists.
Well, books are not zero-cost to design, produce and fit into a publishing schedule (you have to avoid competing with your own products, after all), so for WotC to publish such books it means they see the visibility of these shows as sufficient to provide a boost to sales compared with a standard product based on their own IP, while on the other hand being inexpensive compared to typical licensed products.

GP
Oh very much that yes, but this book likely started two years ago as an idea since Mercer and some of the other folks working on it have referenced it being in the works for the last year and a half. So I doubt this book really impacted anything they'd already been planning to work on, this stuff is generally planned out quite a bit in advance, as for it competing against their own product, it is a WoC product and sales are sales for anything your publishing. Unless WoC went with a percentage, I'd expect they did what happens most of the time they hire people to work on books a one time fee or deadline based payments.

What I really don't understand is why so many people seem to think this is negatively impacting their favorite older setting from getting a new setting guide. Most settings don't have any special rules so it's not like you can't just use the setting as is with it's lore and locations. More importantly, as a Dragonlance, & Spelljammer fan I understand those aren't getting updated likely ever. Dragonlance doesn't really have the pull it did when the novels came out, and Spelljammer is something that generates some really weird reactions from people. Also Dragonlance has that whole 5th age problem, so it's effectively just not worth working on.

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