The Wild Beyond the Witchlight shows how D&D downtime can be as interesting as any dungeon tour

It is difficult not to get distracted in most role-playing games, but it will be impossible for you to stay focused on a task for Nature beyond the light of the witches. You can blame his carnival for that. A toy box of unusual distractions, this fairground is the star of Dungeons & Dragons’ latest adventure.

Offering a ‘wicked fantasy’ story with undertones of Alice in Wonderland for good measure, The Wild Beyond the Witchlight begins with your visit to a Disneyland-esque carnival that only lands on player’s world. times every eight years. Even if this is just the start of your journey (the bulk of this campaign is outside the fair’s borders), you’ll probably be happy enough to explore its attractions, and if you’re like me, you’ll forget also why your character is there in the first place.

Roll, roll

That’s because the Witchlight Carnival brings your D&D world to life in a way that no dungeon exploration can. Rather than slapping you in the head with an end of the world threat or a rare monster going on a rampage, her stories are a refreshing slice of life. It might sound boring, but it’s a chance to explore the depths of your character that you normally don’t get the chance to fathom. How does your adventurer react when performing in front of a crowd or working to be crowned Witch Monarch of the Day? Are they willing to help when a proposal goes awry? Role-playing opportunities abound, and it’s always a good sign when it comes to best Dungeons and Dragons books.

Nature beyond the light of the witches

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

You are also free to browse the fair at your own pace; Unless players are determined to cause trouble, combat is completely absent from this section. Meanwhile, the stakes are much more relaxed – they’re tied to a mood tracker that goes up or down depending on what the party is doing while there. This influences what happens next, leading to a domino effect which leads to a different experience each time you perform the carnival. Such freedom is a hallmark of the best tabletop RPGs, so that’s a big thumbs up right away.

The reason you are exploring the fairground also has a sense of fairy tale magic; A plot hook weaves the character stories into the tale of The Wild Beyond the Witchlight with minimal effort but with maximum effect. Namely, he sees you trying to retrieve something that was stolen from you by the carnival when you were a child. However, it is not a precious commodity or a valuable item. Instead, it’s something valuable like your fashion sense or your ability to smile. It’s a wacky and memorable idea that shapes your adventurer’s personality from the get-go.

Break time

The impact of this sandbox gameplay only intensifies after you leave. The next leg of the holiday’s journey – to a dream realm known as Hither – is not so free, and despite things opening up again in subsequent chapters, this section is guilty of some paths of iron which seem restrictive in comparison. To be precise, the book recommends that players arrive at places in a certain order no matter what they do, and many choices made during those encounters leave them in a similar place regardless of their actions.

No one other than the Dungeon Master will be aware of this illusion of choice, of course, and these scenarios. to do present the essential information you will need somewhere on the road. Nonetheless, it’s still shocking after players are released from the leash in such a big way early in the story.

Nature beyond the light of the witches

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

It makes me realize how rich the downtime activities are in Dungeons & Dragons, not to mention the power they have to create a unique and personal story. While there is plenty of inspiration in the Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master Guide for your character’s life between missions, I’m ready for more D&D books that focus on the little things. They bring fantasy to life, feel like a bigger world, and allow you to define your adventurer’s personality through action rather than something written on your character sheet. In all fairness, I’d be happy if a few hundred pages of light distractions like the Witchlight Carnival were scattered across a larger campaign.

I’m still making my way through the final chapters of The Wild Beyond the Witchlight and will update this ongoing review as I go, but from what I’ve seen so far , he is happy to think outside the box – and that’s all the better for that.


For a better idea of ​​what to expect in the latest D&D adventure, check out our Preview of The Wild Beyond the Witchlight. As for other recommendations for playing at the table, do not forget to consult our guide on the best board games.

About Johanna Gooding

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