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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Candlekeep Mysteries: What We Know so Far

There's a new D&D product coming out on March 16th: Candlekeep Mysteries. I'll update this article as we learn more.

You can pre-order Candlekeep Mysteries right here.

You can pre-order the D&D Beyond version here.

Quick Summary

Here's a quick rundown of what's in this book:

  • 17 adventures, all one-shots.
  • Levels 1-16.
  • Poster Map of Candlekeep.
  • Full write-up of Candlekeep.
  • New monsters and magic items.

Official Information

Let's check out what we know so far. Here's the text from the press email:

While there’s a lot to love about long D&D campaigns full of twists, drama and character development, sometimes Dungeon Masters and players are looking for quick one-shots, a light-hearted palate-cleanser, or … a little mystery.

Introducing Candlekeep Mysteries, an anthology of seventeen mystery-themed adventures each centered around a single book found in the iconic library fortress. All of these adventures--many written by new authors—are intended to be played as one-shots in-person or online or simply dropped into any existing campaign. Candlekeep Mysteries is perfect for Dungeon Masters who are looking to inject new characters, story hooks, magic items, and monsters into their game without tons of prep.

Available everywhere on March 16 with a cover by Clint Cearley, and in game stores with an alternate cover by Simen Meyer, Candlekeep Mysteries presents each adventure as a tome on its infinite shelves, plus background information about the library fortress that’s enchanted fans of the Forgotten Realms for decades.

“I got my start in the gaming industry by writing short D&D adventures,” said Chris Perkins, Principal Story Designer for Dungeons & Dragons. “I'm grateful to be able to work on a product that gives other authors the same opportunity. The adventures in this anthology reflect the incredible creativity of the D&D community."

Candlekeep Mysteries features adventures written by authors, including:

    Graeme Barber (@POCGamer)
    Kelly Lynne D’Angelo (@kellylynnedang)
    Alison Huang (@Drazillion)
    Mark Hulmes (@sherlock_hulmes)
    Jennifer Kretchmer (@dreamwisp)
    Daniel Kwan (@danielhkwan)
    Adam Lee (@adamofadventure)
    Ari Levitch (@AriLevitch)
    Sarah Madsen (@UnfetteredMuse)
    Christopher Perkins (@ChrisPerkinsDnD)
    Michael Polkinghorn (@MiketheGoalie)
    Taymoor Rehman (@DarkestCrows)
    Derek Ruiz (@ElvenTower)
    Kienna Shaw (@kiennas)
    Brandes Stoddard (@BrandesStoddard)
    Amy Vorpahl (@vorpahlsword)
    Toni Winslow-Brill (@vorgryth)

Here's what we learn from the Amazon listing:

Candlekeep attracts scholars like a flame attracts moths. Historians, sages, and others who crave knowledge flock to this library fortress to peruse its vast collection of books, scribbled into which are the answers to the mysteries that bedevil them. Many of these books contain their own mysteries ̶—each one a doorway to adventure. Dare you cross that threshold?

·  17 mystery-themed D&D adventures, each tied to a book discovered in the famed library fortress of Candlekeep
·  Easy to run as stand-alone mini adventures or to drop into your home campaign
·  Adventures span play from levels 1 to 16
·  Includes a full poster map of Candlekeep, plus detailed descriptions of the various locations, characters, and creatures that reside within it
·  Introduces a variety of Dungeons & Dragons monsters, items, and non-player characters (NPCs)

Candlekeep Mysteries is a collection of seventeen short, stand-alone D&D adventures designed for characters of levels 1–16. Each adventure begins with the discovery of a book, and each book is the key to a door behind which danger and glory await. These adventures can be run as one-shot games, plugged into an existing Forgotten Realms campaign, or adapted for other campaign settings. This book also includes a poster map of the library fortress and detailed descriptions of Candlekeep and its inhabitants.

Thoughts & Further Details

Initial Thoughts: I really like that they've made a book that is not a conversion of old adventures, but rather, something new linked to official lore.

I am only passingly familiar with Candlekeep. Most of what I know about it comes from Baldur's Gate, which opens in Candlekeep. It is an awesome location.

5e Candlekeep: Candlekeep also recently appeared in Baldur's Gate: Descent Into Avernus. The heroes go there very briefly in the adventure. At the time, I felt like they didn't detail the location enough, but now we see why! It's getting its own book.

We get a good look at the 5e version of Candlekeep (pg 45 of Descent)

"Candlekeep is a fortress perched on a spur of rock overlooking the Sea of Swords. It is reached by a single road, the Way of the Lion, which branches west off the Coast Way."

"Candlekeep is always open to visitors and boasts one of the finest libraries in Faerun. The monks of Candlekeep also preserve the predictions of Alaundo the Seer, a singular sage whose prophecies have proved correct over long years. Upon the seer's death, Candlekeep became a haven for both the veneration of his prophecies and the accumulation of all knowledge. If there's a secret to be learned, the clues to finding it can probably be found in Candlekeep."

Spelljammer Stuff: I am a big Spelljammer guy, so I was excited to read this tweet:

I think there is a spelljammer ship called Quentin's Libram? Or Libraria? Here it is.

The ship is powered by devouring spellbooks, so yeah that might be cool.

Adventure Details: This post on gives out some extra details on the actual adventures.

"Each adventure in Candlekeep Mysteries is named after the book at the center of the adventure. During a press event, Dungeons & Dragons revealed details about three of the adventures that will appear in Candlekeep Adventures."

Jennifer Kretchmer's "The Canopic Being": Focuses on several puzzling organ transplants and takes the players to Tashluta, a city on the Chult Peninsula that hasn't appeared in a 5E adventure. 

D&D Beyond provides further details:

  • Tashluta is built into the caldera of a great volcano (like Cauldron from the Shackled City path!)
  • "As an ambulatory wheelchair user, Kretchmer says that is was important to her that her dungeon was a place that she could explore. As such, it’s filled with fantasy elevators (whether they functioned by pulley or by magic, she didn’t say), and ledges are accessible by ramps rather than by stairs."

Taymoor Rehman's "Zikran Zephyrian Tome": Focuses on djinni trapped inside a book that offers a wish spell to the adventurers who can release him. 

We learn a bit more about this adventure in a D&D Beyond article:

  • The djinni will reward the group with a wish - or the djinni's assistance in further adventures.
    The adventure is 10-12 pages long, meant to be completed in a single session.

Amy Vorphal's "Kandlekeep Dekonstruktion": Sends players to a tower in Candlekeep itself to stop a threat to the iconic library. Vorphal teased a new type of monster - the mechanical Skitterwidgets - for her adventure and hinted at ties to the iconic Spelljammer campaign setting.

D&D Beyond has more:

  • Mid-level adventure
  • "...a zany caper involving creatures called Skitterwidgets and Kiddywidgets, and a mysterious figure called Dog Nuts."
  • "Vorpahl mysteriously asserted that there would be some involvement of the renowned and oft-memetically requested Spelljammer campaign setting in her adventure. "

I'll update this post as we learn more. I imagine that Dragon+ will have a bunch of new information on this product prior to its release.

History of Candlekeep

This is a D&D Beyond youtube video that digs in to Candlekeep and gives us a nice little overview of the location. The participants:

Justice made a book called Elminster's Candlekeep Companion, which was written after Descent into Avernus. This discussion talks about the companion quite a bit, and it seems like a more or less "official" version of Candlekeep.

Candlekeep Appearance: Candlekeep looks like a city of towers - jumbled, mixed architecture, a ship, and a tower called Exaltation that sparkles in the distance. There is a magic shield around Candlekeep that lets birds in, but little else.

Origin: It all started with one tower. Oghma sent two priests a vision, encouraging them to begin writing to preserve history. Priests from other gods of knowledge came to do the same, each building their own towers. At this point, nobody knows exactly how many towers there are at Candlekeep.

Gaining Entrance: To get in, you must give an entrance gift (a book, usually) - something Candlekeep doesn't already have. People have been turned away before handing in something of low quality.
Three Monks are stationed at the entrance:

  • One who receives guests.
  • One who watches the door.
  • One who casts detect thoughts/zone of truth, making sure the person isn't coming there to do harm.

Prophecies of Alaundo: There is an open air courtyard, you hear an echoing constant chant. Four monks recite Alaundo's prophecies. In the first Baldur's Gate game, they deal with one of the prophecies - events involving the evil god Bhaal.

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