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Critical Role’s new D&D campaign book features a rival group of antagonistic adventurers

Team Rocket rolls for initiative

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Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Critical Role is teaming up with Wizards of the Coast to produce an all-new campaign book titled Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep. It will be co-designed by series co-creator and Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer. A new video details several important elements of the campaign, including a rival group of non-player adventurers that will compete against the player characters.

Call of the Netherdeep takes place in Exandria, the same world where all of Critical Role’s adventures have taken place so far. According to game design architect Chris Perkins, players will be questing for “an entity lost to the ages [and] lost to time.” The arc of the campaign will move from the familiar Wildemount region (detailed in Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount) across many fantastical locales.

But players won’t be alone during their journey. A rival group of adventurers will also be on the exact same quest. This band of non-player characters are competitive, and initially, they’ll be adversarial — but players’ actions could influence that.

“I like the idea of there being a ticking clock,” Mercer said in the video, “because you aren’t the only forces seeking these same goals. And it’s up to these interactions for you to decide how you build the relationships with this rival team.”

Perkins, while coy about the ultimate goal of the campaign, indicated that the adventure will offer plenty of opportunities for Dungeon Masters to test their improvisational skills at the table.

“Critical Role, as a setting, is a very layered, character-driven show,” said Chris Perkins. “To emulate that in the adventure, you needed rivals that have dimension. They have group goals, of course, but then the individual rivals are pursuing their own goals as well.”

Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep will be released on March 15, and it will have a cover price of $49.95.