How the Radiant Citadel Reimagines Spirits in Dungeons & Dragons

Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel explores rich cultures new to Dungeons & Dragons through 13 standalone adventures. These cultures intermingle in the Radiant Citadel, a mysterious city on the Ethereal Plane. While the Radiant Citadel is a place for those seeking respite or adventure on the Ethereal Plane, numerous founding civilizations have strong ties between the city and where their people originated on the Material Plane. The most mysterious and powerful of these connections are the Dawn Incarnates, which serve as keepers of knowledge and history.

In this article, we'll explore what the Dawn Incarnates are and how they can be used in your campaign.

From June 21st to June 28th, all D&D Beyond users can claim the first chapter of Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel at no cost! All you need to do is head to the redemption page by clicking the link below. From there, you can unlock the chapter for use in the D&D Beyond toolset.

What Are the Dawn Incarnates?

The Ruby Pangolin, Obsidian Eagle, Moonstone Water Lily, and Amber Scorpion Dawn Incarnates

Incarnates are sentient collections of gemstones that reside in the dome-shaped Preserve of the Ancestors, a sprawling wilderness within the Radiant Citadel. While traversing the Ethereal Plane, spirits are often drawn toward the beckoning warmth of the Auroral Diamond that the Radiant Citadel is built around. Once they arrive at the Preserve of the Ancestors, they coalesce into gemstones and form Incarnates with spirits of a similar origin.

The most powerful Incarnates, referred to as Dawn Incarnates, are made up of thousands of spirits and originate from the Radiant Citadel’s founding cultures. Other Incarnates that form in the Preserve contain only a handful of gemstones and thus have less knowledge and power than the Dawn Incarnates.

Each Dawn Incarnate has a primary personality reflected by the sum of all the spirits it represents. If it were to lose or add spirits, its personality might shift slightly due to a new spirit’s influence or the lack of a spirit that left. Each Dawn Incarnate has manifested into a symbol that represents their particular culture.

These are the Dawn Incarnates of the 15 founding cultures that rediscovered the Radiant Citadel:


Dawn Incarnate

Akharin Sangar

Turquoise Lion


Yellow Quartz Kapok Tree


Serpentine Banyan Tree


Water Opal Saltwater Salamander


Jasper Pecan Tree

San Citlán

Fire Opal Xoloitzcuintle


Amber Scorpion


Moonstone Water Lily


Ruby Pangolin


Sard Elephant


Obsidian Eagle


Pearl Carp


Amethyst Tiger


White Jade Flowering Pear Tree


Bastite Caiman

What Role Do the Dawn Incarnates Play in the Radiant Citadel?

Dawn Incarnates are vessels of knowledge and wisdom. When the Radiant Citadel was rediscovered by its current inhabitants, the city was completely abandoned by all but the Incarnates. While Dawn Incarnates provide information regarding their culture’s history, questions about the creation of the Radiant Citadel and why it was abandoned have gone unanswered.

The Dawn Incarnate’s primary responsibilities are to hold accountable the Speakers for the Ancestors—elected officials that govern the Radiant Citadel. Each Speaker is elected by the civilization they represent and must undergo trials determined by the Dawn Incarnates to be accepted into the position. 

Apart from their roles as an overseeing body to the government of the Radiant Citadel, the Dawn Incarnates are a font of historical knowledge that citizens can use to learn more about their culture’s past.

Including the Dawn Incarnates in Your Game

A visitor to the Preserve of the Ancestors presents the Amethyst Tiger a gift

The Dawn Incarnates are unique compared to spirits we’ve been introduced to in previous fifth edition materials. In D&D, there is a notion that spirits are dangerous undead creatures that have some unfulfilled purpose. The Dawn Incarnates turn this notion on its head. Instead of some restless spirit trying to sap the life force of creatures in a haunted house, the Dawn Incarnates are peaceful and intelligent beings primarily focused on passing knowledge down through generations.

Players won’t need a speak with dead or see invisibility spell to interact with the Dawn Incarnates. Because the Radiant Citadel is on the Ethereal Plane, the spirits that compose the Incarnates can manifest into gemstones, giving them a physical form. This results in powerful adventurers and everyday citizens alike being able to consult with these wise beings to learn more about the cultures they represent.

Adventurers or citizens interested in speaking with the Dawn Incarnates are welcome to. However, before asking one of the Dawn Incarnates for advice or knowledge, one should be aware that the Dawn Incarnates are curious beings. Though they are not deceiving or malicious, they do not necessarily give knowledge away without a price. Some require the completion of a quest to ensure the recipient of the knowledge is worthy. Others might pose a riddle or puzzle that will help seekers of knowledge to find their own answers. Sometimes, especially when asking about the history of the Radiant Citadel before its rediscovery, the Dawn Incarnates refuse to speak at all.

Using the Dawn Incarnates as Plot Hooks for a Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel campaign

Available at no cost until June 28th, the first chapter of Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel allows DMs to use the Radiant Citadel as a home base for their party while they strike out on adventures across the multiverse. If the Radiant Citadel is used as a central hub for adventuring to the multitude of locations featured in the adventure anthology, the Dawn Incarnates can serve as the drivers behind the adventures.

Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel suggests that Dawn Incarnates are not immortal beings and that the founding civilizations of the Radiant Citadel have mysteries hidden in their past:

"A grim anomaly, a dead Dawn Incarnate known as the Sapphire Wyvern, disturbs the tranquility of the Preserve of the Ancestors. It lies inert, its gemstones blackened and cracked. Scholars believe it was the Dawn Incarnate of one of the Radiant Citadel’s twelve lost civilizations, but all efforts to awaken it have failed. What happened to it and the eleven absent Dawn Incarnates of the other founding civilizations, none know."

Source: Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel

If you’re looking for a way to tie the 13 standalone adventures in Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel together, you could have the Dawn Incarnates at risk of succumbing to a similar fate as the Sapphire Wyvern. Only by completing the adventures set out in the book can the party save the repositories of the Dawn Incarnates’ historical knowledge. Alternatively, the adventures in the book could be used to determine if the characters are worthy of learning the secrets of the Radiant Citadel’s initial abandonment and the fate of the other 12 civilizations. 

Using the Dawn Incarnates in a Standalone Adventure

The Dawn Incarnates are a fantastic plot hook for DMs looking to run a single adventure from Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel as part of a more extensive campaign. These beings of vast knowledge could be the party’s motivation for journeying to the Radiant Citadel in the first place. Not only will the party have to navigate the Ethereal Plane, but once they get to the Radiant Citadel, they will be able to explore the city and get introduced to the factions that reside there.

Once they have developed a relationship with the correct faction, they can seek counsel from one of the Dawn Incarnates. From there, the Dawn Incarnates can send them on one of the adventures featured in the book before answering their questions. Once the task is complete, the party could continue exploring the Radiant Citadel and the adventures it provides, or they could head back to their campaign’s location on the Material Plane to continue the story there.

Expand Your Horizons at the Radiant Citadel

The Dawn Incarnates are repositories of knowledge for the diverse cultures that make up the Radiant Citadel. Through these mysterious beings, the characters can discover new lands during exciting and unique adventures featured in Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel. So whether your party is heading to the Radiant Citadel for knowledge or adventure, it’s guaranteed they will find plenty of both!


Unlock the First Chapter of Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel Today!
by D&D Beyond Staff
New D&D Book Alert: Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel Releases July 19
by Michael Galvis
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by Michael J Karr

Mike Bernier (@arcane_eye) is the founder of Arcane Eye, a site focused on providing useful tips and tricks to all those involved in the world of D&D. Outside of writing for Arcane Eye, Mike spends most of his time playing games, hiking with his girlfriend, and tending the veritable jungle of houseplants that have invaded his house.


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