Candlekeep Mysteries (D&d Adventure Book - Dungeons & Dragons) Hardcover – 16 March 2021
Standing atop a rocky crag overlooking the Sea of Swords, the massive citadel of Candlekeep has endured the elements for centuries and defied the degradation of time. Visible for miles around, Candlekeep has an eye-catching silhouette: a high wall interspersed with towers. This wall encloses a large space from which more towers rise. Those who behold the edifice say it looks nothing so much as a cake decorated with an overabundance of candles.
A Book of Books
Candlekeep Mysteriesis an anthology of short, mystery-themed adventures written by members of the Dungeons & Dragons community. Each tale begins with a book found in Candlekeep—an enormous library located on the Sword Coast in the Forgotten Realms setting—but who knows where they may lead.
This book includes at least one adventure for characters of every D&D level from one to sixteen. Easy to run and playable in one to two sessions, they can be enjoyed individually or used as intriguing additions to a longer campaign.
From the fabled Emerald Door to the deepest catacombs, Candlekeep contains wonders for those with the patience to find them.
Great Books Hide Their Secrets Well
Secret staircases, forgotten doorways, soaring shelves—this book provides Dungeon Masters with detailed descriptions of everything there is to explore and discover in the massive library fortress.
Familiarize yourself with every spire and cloistered corner with the included poster map. This foldout map provides full, isometric view of Candlekeep's Inner Ward—from the Great Library to the high-walled citadel known as Exaltation.
It seems silent and still, here in the heart of the forest. But to anyone who knows the forest well, that silence can be misleading. When you are ready to proceed, turn the page.
Seventeen Flavors of Mystery
Investigate mysterious murders, discover a hidden treasure map, or track down the secret behind an eerie rhyme. Every adventure in this book contains its own, unique flavor of mystery—quirky, classic, or even creepy.
While solving a mystery is at the heart of each adventure, they also contain opportunities for exploration, roleplaying, and combat, to appeal to players of all persuasions.
Mystery, Monsters & Magic Items
Candlekeep Mysteries contains a wealth of information about Candlekeep's residents. Meet key members of the Avowed—a legion of scholars and sages who care for the library and the knowledge it holds. Uncover dazzling treasures and powerful magic items. And discover monsters that have never been seen before.
Become an Adventurer
Adventurers come in all shapes and sizes. Find one that’s fun for you.
An elvish cleric, driven from society for trespassing on tradition. A dwarven paladin, atoning for an ignominious past. The Player’s Handbook provides the skeleton for your characters. Flesh them out however you choose.
Join the Party
D&D brings people together and forges new friendships. Silly moments spawn inside jokes and moving battles leave treasured memories. Whether in the heat of battle, embroiled in social intrigue, or solving clever puzzles, your party has your back.
Choose Your Own Path
The woods are growing dark. Behind a mass of ivy, you see the stones of a crumbling castle. What do you do?
In D&D, your options are limitless. The Dungeon Master, as narrator of your tale, can improvise in reaction to any choice you make, so what happens next is entirely flexible. Do you dare go on?
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TLDR: Far too woke to be immersive. Even if none of the woke elements were present, the adventures are subpar to average.
- The best that can be said about the top few of the adventures is that they are solid and creative (though many of the rest are enormous duds).
- Adventures span a range of levels, from 1-16, offering a wealth of adventuring opportunity.
- One of the core issues throughout the vast majority of adventures is adventure and encounter design. Often, there is a kernel of a great idea which is then basically left to wither on the vine. Far too often, you simply feel as if you are along for the ride on the story the author is telling, with player agency having been all but forgotten. Most concernedly, despite interesting themes, the vast majority of the adventures are simply boring and bland. Yes, even the ones concerned with what passes for "horror" in D&D these days. Every adventures gives the sense of existing within a Disney-esque safe space, where nobody will be made uncomfortable about anything. Nevermind that for growth to occur, discomfort must be allowed to exist. Instead, regardless of the theme of the adventure, the tone and tenor of all of them is as if they were written for children or teenage girls.
- No index makes finding monsters and items exceedingly difficult. Not including one was a huge miss.
- Inconsistent use of adventure summaries makes recalling details more difficult as well as initially deciding whether you want to read or run an adventure.
- There is a lot of pure silliness in this book - a wheelchair accessible dungeon, PCs working out at a spa, etc. Nothing says "Dungeons & Dragons" like making squatting and skipping exercise checks at a spa, eh?
- Disgraceful ignorance/contradiction of established Forgotten Realms lore in places.
- There's no theme or cohesive whole to the anthology, making the group of adventures seem scattershot. Nothing brings them all together.
- It's clear that there is a political narrative being pitched throughout these adventures, which can be very divisive. That just potentially puts more work on the DM's shoulders, and also breaks immersion, taking the reader out of Faerun and embroiling him/her back into the murky depths of our real-world political swamp.
- It's obvious that WOTC has taken sides, politically, instead of staying neutral. They are clearly advocating on behalf of the far-left would-be Bolsheviks - the illiberal, totalitarian, fascist, censorious radical left. Equally as clearly, WOTC now stands in stark opposition to mainstream American values. This is NOT your father's TSR.
- When everything, everywhere must conform to an ever-changing standard of wokeness, you get a product where everyone and every place feels the same. There is a regression to a mean of blandness. Everyone, everywhere has the same values and the same world-views. It makes Faerun seem like a woke computer-simulation instead of a living, breathing fantasy world with a true diversity of opinions and lifestyles.
- While diversity of authorship is ostensibly a strength, it's also a weakness, as it's clear that WOTC interpreted the concept of diversity to include talent. After reading through these adventures, it's obvious that some of these authors have no business having an adventure professionally published. This demonstrates the core issue with rewarding someone based on identity or appearance instead of based on merit and skill. Much of these adventures seems like fan fiction. WOTC would have been better served to recruit professional adventure writers, give them structure, and them let them have at it.
Be wary before you spend your dollars on this leftist propaganda masquerading as D&D. As with all things Marxist, WOTC is leeching off of greatness that someone else created (Gygax, Greenwood, Et Al.) and subverting it to their own nefarious political ends.
Even if you aren't at all concerned about the woke narrative, as far as actual D&D content, there are a few gems to mine for here, but most everything requires quite a bit of work on the part of the DM, and you'll have to wade through the muck to find them.
In sum, Candlekeep Mysteries seems more concerned with giving certain authors a platform to tell their stories and further their woke agendas than in crafting exciting, interesting, fun adventures for players. Cannot recommend, unless you don't care about the cons I've outlined above.
From a DM's perspective for adventure seeds, this book does a pretty good job of providing adventuring seeds/hooks for characters from level 1 - 15. I'm not so keen on the overall layout (the departure from previous WoTC books that have monster and magic item references stored handily at the end of the book in appendices), but I can see how some DMs might appreciate not having to flip back and forth to find their information.
Ugh, the "woke culture" is alive and well in this book. From this reviewer's perspective, removing nearly all references to NPC's assumed genders is just another thing for DMs to define and track. Should I have to write in the margins of the book so-and-so's gender for every NPC that the players encounter? This follows in the wake of WoTC's decision to make all gaming races essentially equal with the character race options from Tasha's. We are talking about a *fantasy* gaming world, and people are losing their minds over culturally derived race differences between Dwarves, Elves, and Troglodytes. That and the warning to DMs to check with their players before running an adventure/campaign to understand their trigger points is really over the top, IMO.
However, if you can dismiss the "woke" culture elements from Candlekeep, I believe as a DM you will find this anthology of adventures to serve as great starting points from which to run stand-alone adventures, or integrating them into your own custom-made world. Personally I run everything in the world of Faerûn, because it's very large and very well described in multiple WoTC sourcebooks. Enjoy