"Explorer's Guide to Wildemount Q&A and Fireside Chat with Matthew Mercer" (Sx53) is the 53rd special episode from Critical Role. Matthew Mercer answers questions about Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, our new campaign guide with Dungeons & Dragons, in this... special... fireside chat produced and hosted from home by Marisha Ray.
- Live from Matt and Marisha's living room - it's Fireside Chat: Quarantine Edition! With special guest Dagon!
- It's been a very weird couple of weeks. Normally Fireside Chats don't have real fires, but the silver lining of being at home is that they can do what they want. The fire is beautiful. Marisha hopes the chimney doesn't catch on fire.
- The Explorer's Guide to Wildemount is beautiful!
- It's a toasty fire. Marisha's sleeves come off. Matt realizes his bare feet might break Twitch TOS... but they're out of frame, so it's okay.
- Wizards of the Coast reached out to Matt almost two years ago about doing the book, and Matt's co-writers saved him from going absolutely insane. Many of the artists are from the Critter community.
- Q: Describe the balancing act of wanting to put in as much information as possible without spoilers and leaving wiggle room for unexpected events. The book came up early enough in the campaign that Matt was able to keep out main elements that he was planning for the campaign itself, but it was a challenge. There are things he put in assuming they'd come out by the book's release (like Essek) - there were some close calls!
- Q: Describe Aeor and its crash site. Aeor was one of the great Age of Arcanum floating city-states brought down in Eiselcross during the Calamity.
- A very calm and polite female voice announces "There is smoke in the hallway." Matt goes to take care of it: open the front door, it'll be fine, we're good now. "There is smoke in the kitchen." Matt'll be right back. This is going great. "There is smoke in the hallway." Hm. Check your smoke detectors!
- Matt briefly gives an overview of the "Heroic Chronicle" section of the book.
- Q: Give a brief overview of the new subclasses in the book. They're based around Dunamancy, manipulating gravity and time, including the Echo Knight which is able to create a shadow clone of itself. The wizard subclasses are gravity- and time-based.
- Marisha checks the fire and defeats Thordak again while moving the firescreen. Maybe the flue isn't open? There's lots of smoke. First Matt facepalm.
- So Graviturgists can use intense, crushing gravity. The Chronurgist can alter localized time.
- The calm female voice is becoming more intense, upset because vast amounts of smoke are coming from the fireplace but the hallway alarm has been silenced. Matt's bare foot is on-screen. They planned for every contingency but the fire!
- Q: Is Jamedi a Hollow One? Yes.
- Matt realizes his bare feet are in frame and goes to put on slippers. Marisha is trying to spread out the fire so it'll go out. The calm female voice is having none of it. Travis calls, apparently agreeing with the calm female voice, and they go to break to deal with the fire.
- Technical Difficulties - Please Stand By.
- Everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?
- Q: Races besides Drow for graviturgists? Just about anything, since the secrets of dunamancy have spread to the Empire by now.
- Q: Does the Echo Knight have endless use of its echo per turn? Yes, but just one at a time.
- Q: Was there pressure to get the true identity of the Traveler out by book release date? Not really, Matt was pretty sure it'd come out by TravelerCon.
- Q: How do you pick geographic shapes? Matt takes inspiration from real world maps to get a feel for how geography works, then just makes an interesting shape. Funny story - pre-publication, nobody noticed that the scale on the city maps is accidentally in miles instead of feet.
- Q: Chris Lockey wants them to talk about the Ember Thicket of Blightshore. Not that he's rubbing anything in or anything.
- Q: What about that river inferno in Eiselcross? Connected to the Fire Ashari or Elemental Plane of Fire? Matt left certain elements open in the book so you can do what you want with it in your own campaign.
- Q: Is there any lore that ended up getting cut for space or to keep mystery? No lore was cut. A couple of small locations, like the Whitedawn Lagoon, were cut for space, but the lore came out in the show. The information on the Luxon is intentionally vague and incomplete, though.
- Q: What was it like working with outside writers? Matt gave individuals their own sections to work on, and they had weekly meetings to compare notes and check in. But overall, it worked great.
- Q: Any suggested lore for how dunamancy spells can be used by non-dunamancers? There's a section in the book about that, and it's DM's choice. Matt suggests using them as found-spell rewards, or something that can be specifically discovered.
- Q: Orcs are presented as not inherently evil in the book. How was it reconciling game mechanics to that? There's been a push recently to make orcs more nuanced. This world intentionally tries to get away from the notion that certain peoples are good or bad. The first campaign was much more black and white. Here, Matt wanted to explore the idea that morality is relative, but evil is born of experience and intent, rather than lineage or bloodline.
- Matt and Marisha both feel very lucky to still be alive.
- Q: The Cobalt Soul seems different in the book than on-stream. The Soul is an archive that collects and maintains information which they want freely available, but they also need to protect it, and the organizations would be different between Tal'Dorei and Wildemount because the societies are different. The Cobalt Soul monk is designed to be knowledge and investigation-based, rather than a combat powerhouse.
- Q: What are the abilities and limitations of an Echo Knight's echo? The echo technically isn't a creature, but an object, so it's not considered an ally in combat. Echo Knights are focused on Constitution because it's physically taxing to maintain the echo's presence.
- Q: To what extent did the players' choices this campaign influence the book? A lot. The Volstrucker, Uk'otoa, and The Traveler were all inspired by their backstories. Xhorhas was fleshed out sooner than he'd expected.
- Q: Talk about the Divine Gate. Is the Prime Material Plane the only one on our side of it? The Gate isn't a physical barrier, but an esoteric, non-Euclidean structure between the Prime Material Plane and everything else to protect it. The Shadowfell and the Feywild are the closest to the Prime Material, but there's still a thin veil between them.
- Q: How much do the Augen Trust and the Volstrucker know about each other? Matt wants to stay vague in case it comes up in the campaign. But they're definitely aware of each other, and on paper work on the same team but act as checks and balances to each other.
- Q: Does the Cobalt Soul have its own magic research department? Yes. They're not all monks, and there are people of all classes and backgrounds. Necromancy would be a little tricky, though, since there's a soft ban on its practice.
- Q: Do the Volstrucker each have their own specialities of magic? Depends on the caster.
- Q: Lore details on Pallid Elves? They're from the Pallid Grove in the Menagerie Coast area, which was a lush forest destroyed by Torog during the Calamity, and the local elves have lived in fear ever since, worshiping The Moonweaver.
- Q: What about the Lotusden Halflings? They are the protectors of the Greenwood in the Charis area. They're the hippie druidic halflings.
- The Calm Female Voice is back. There's still smoke in the hallway. They KNOW!
- Q: Is there a color associated with the Cerberus Assembly? Nope. Powerful wizards don't want to give up their independence. There's a lot of inherent social arrogance.
- Q: How much trade is there between Wildemount and Tal'Dorei? Some, and to Marquet and Issylra as well. And of course the brave souls who never return from the Shattered Teeth... Don't worry about it. Stilben is still relatively podunk, though, because of internal poor management and infrastructure, and the presence of The Clasp and The Myriad. Fun fact: Stilben was the first place Matt created for Exandria, and the world was built around it. Vasselheim is the oldest city in universe, but Stilben is the origin city for Critical Role.
- Q: How do you create place names? Depends on the flavor of the locale. Sometimes it's just something that's unique and fun to say. The Dwendalian Empire is influenced by Eastern Europe, including Polish and German. For Xhorhas he tried to imagine the language and sounds the Drow would have. "Starosta" and "Marquis" are both real world terms.
- Q: Consecution. Discuss. Consecution doesn't cause insanity, but there are rumors that very old Umavi can be overwhelmed by too many lifetimes' memories. Essek is not consecuted - he lied. There's no way to "unconsecute" a soul, but a condemned person can be executed outside the range of the beacons, which is 100 miles. When a soul is reborn, it doesn't replace an existing soul, but becomes the original soul of the infant, who upon reaching adolescence will be strongly drawn toward Xhorhas and the source of its returning memories.
- Q: What's the most exciting thing about bringing your world into the D&D multiverse? Being able to contribute something of his own to a game that has had such a profound impact on who he is and wants to be.
- There are lots of remaining questions. Marisha suggests maybe they'll do a second stream - Matt's not so sure, and suggests maybe they'll cover more at the campaign wrap-up.
- Everybody's proud of Matt for this accomplishment, but there was a lot of hard work that went into this from a lot of different people.
- Calm Female Voice: Heads up. There is smoke in the hallway. The alarm is sounding.
- Calm Female Voice: Heads up. There is smoke in the kitchen. The alarm is sounding.
- Calm Female Voice: Emergency. The smoke alarm is silenced in the hallway.
- Calm Female Voice: Emergency. This alarm cannot be silenced.
Marisha: Oh, Travis is calling... (on phone) Yeah... Okay... (hangs up) We're going to come back in just a bit, once we get this handled. Stay tuned.
- ↑ Screenshot of the beginning of the live stream. "Explorer's Guide to Wildemount Q&A and Fireside Chat with Matthew Mercer" (Sx53) at 0:00:03
- ↑ Screenshot of the break. "Explorer's Guide to Wildemount Q&A and Fireside Chat with Matthew Mercer" (Sx53) at 0:28:00
- ↑ Screenshot of Part II. "Explorer's Guide to Wildemount Q&A and Fireside Chat with Matthew Mercer" (Sx53) at 0:28:22