Rivers, swamps, Bengal: Why does a new D&D adventure feel so familiar?

Fans call Dungeons & Dragons the world’s greatest table-top role playing game. The fantasy game has been published since 1974, with fans embarking on ever-more-elaborate imaginary adventures, guided by a Dungeon Master (or the referee / storyteller) and a set of many-sided dice. New adventures keep getting added, players have fleshed out their characters and rally with others on fantasy quests and campaigns.

Comedian Stephen Colbert and actor Vin Diesel are fans. And regardless of how famous you are or how many D&D campaigns you’ve been on, it’s possible to be bested by the gameplay. As fans like to put it: When the Dungeon Master smiles, it’s already too late.

The game delivered a welcome surprise this week. Journeys through the Radiant Citadel, an anthology of 13 D&D adventures (essentially, a playable book), marks the first time that all stories are written by creators who are people of colour.

The 224-page anthology features challenges for character levels 1 to 14. There’s an entry-level comedic mystery set in a night market, a slightly more advanced investigation is set on a sinister farm. There are 11 new monsters, an angel-ruled city. The Level 9 adventure will seem somewhat familiar. It’s inspired by 5th and 6th century Bengal and written by award-winning sci-fi and fantasy writer Mimi Mondal, 35, a Kolkatan who now lives in New York City.

In the Mists of Manivarsha is Mondal’s first D&D creation. Players follow the tale of a local Champion who goes missing in Shankhabhumi after a deadly flood. They traverse a landscape of sentient rivers that change course, creepy trees and a swamp forest.

Building new locations, with unique geographies, histories, inhabitants and conflicts, is key to D&D adventures, Mondal says. In this adventure, despite the rich gameplay set in cities such as Sagorpur, Ashwadhatu

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