Two new official Dungeons and Dragons 5E supplements go straight to the DM’s Guild
In the midst of an aggressive fall release schedule — an adventure in the Feywild last month, Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons this month, and the Magic the Gathering setting of Strixhaven in early December — Wizards of the Coast quietly released two new official 5th edition supplements to the DM’s Guild, their official PDF and print-on-demand website. Domains of Delight is a companion piece to The Wild Beyond the Witchlight, providing information for DMs on how to create their own realm in the Feywild, and Minsc and Boo’s Journal of Villainy is a compendium of locations, patrons, and villains along the Sword Coast in the Forgotten Realms setting for fans of the titular heroes as well as DMs looking to flesh out their campaign.
While new content is always good — particularly considering the bonus that all proceeds go to the Extra Life charity — there have been some concerns raised about the release of these supplements exclusively on DM’s Guild, especially in light of the announcement at D&D Celebration that forthcoming works will be released in a ‘previously unforeseen’ format. But until we know for sure, DMs will still find much to incorporate in their own campaigns from these sourcebooks.
Domains of Delight lets you create a fey world of your own
Domains of Delight is a DM sourcebook that provides just what it advertises: a tool to create custom domains of the feywild as well as Archfey leaders that populate it. It’s extremely similar to the chapter 2 in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft which details how to create your own domain of dread in that setting, and is of similar length. You’re also provided with copies of the roleplaying cards and story tracker pages from The Wild Beyond the Witchlight in a more easier format to print than attempting to photocopy from a hardcover.
DMs who want to create their own feywild domain will find this book valuable; in addition if a player’s warlock patron is an Archfey, the information contained here will help you to flesh them out should you want an appearance to drive your story in a certain fey direction even if not leaving the prime material plane. That said, if your campaign is avoiding the feywild entirely, you can avoid this supplement as well.
What’s odd about this supplement is that it really could’ve (should’ve?) been a chapter in Wild Beyond the Witchlight. Doing so would’ve pushed the page count beyond that of the last few books, but not egregiously so. Perhaps WotC thought it didn’t make sense to include in a sourcebook that is essentially only player options and an adventure, so providing it as optional may have been seen as the most DM-friendly way of making the material available, as neither Domains of Delight nor Wild Beyond the Witchlight require the other to really use (although just purchasing the former will leave you with 12 pages of unused appendix material).
Minsc and Boo offers places to go and people to kill on the Sword Coast
The ranger Minsc and his pet space hamster Boo are popular characters from the Baldur’s Gate series of games and comics, so they make sense as the narrators for updating information pertaining that setting for the 5th Edition. Given an assist by Volo, Minsc and Boo’s Journal of Villainy take the reader up and down the Sword Coast to cast light on the latest factions and villains so that DMs can expand their existing Forgotten Realms campaign or, if not playing in Faerûn, provide inspiration for DMs to devise their own opponents.
Unlike the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, there are no player options in the Journal of Villainy. Instead, significant details are provided for four hometowns (two predominantly human, one elf city with ties to the Shadowfell, and a Drow city that’s actually not Menzoberranzan), 10 group patrons of various goals and alignment that can either assist or impede your players, and a whole slew of villains, henchmen, and related monsters to insert in any campaign. Forgotten Realms DMs will get a lot out of this, but even if your players are not on the Sword Coast there’s a lot of great info here for a DM — especially inexperienced ones — to draw upon.
It is odd that the Journal of Villainy has gone to the DM’s Guild instead of being published as a hardcover sourcebook. While not as lengthy as more recent works, it is the same length as the Adventurer’s Guide for the same setting — and that was released to stores. Perhaps its narrow focus and the fact that it’s made exclusively for DMs compelled WotC to go straight-to-PDF/POD with it, or perhaps they’re testing the waters for more DM’s Guild products.
Is this the new direction for 5th edition content publishing?
While these aren’t the first official supplements to be published on the DM’s Guild, their inclusion there is raising questions. The Journal of Villainy has just a narrow focus as the Magic the Gathering settings, but those are still getting the hardcover treatment (at least up to Strixhaven). It’s hard to know what this foretells, as it could be a move by WotC to provide more optional works like this via the DMs Guild to help players flesh out their established campaign worlds beyond the limitations of five hardcovers a year — or it could simply be a failing project that was salvaged and we may never see one like this again.
The Domains of Delight bring up more concerns, as the fact that it even existed was revealed within The Wild Beyond the Witchlight as a de facto advertisement for the DM’s Guild on page 130. Synergy between the online and hardcover marketing arms has probably been a long time coming, but this feels like a DLC tactic due to its similarity to the chapter in VRG. A la carte supplements that let you spend $10 per section rather than $50 for the whole work appear to be the natural progression, although what impact that might have on your local gaming store, independent creators, or D&D Beyond is hard to say. It portends an interesting 2022 for the D&D community, but hopefully the new format will be one that helps grow the community rather than fracture it.
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