Candlekeep Mysteries Informs, Enlightens, and DelightsMarch 30, 2021
Candlekeep Mysteries is campaign book that includes 17 short adventures. They aren’t necessarily going to take a lot of time to complete (a few sessions, perhaps) but they’re a lot of fun.
Candlekeep is different than previous releases because D&D tapped a group of amazing and diverse writers from the tabletop space to fill the book with magic: and it really worked! The unique voices and creative stories make this one a great one to include on your shelf.
With some work, and the right party, you could make Candlekeep Mysteries an ongoing campaign, but it isn’t specifically written that way. It’s closer in spirit to a book like Ghosts of Saltmarsh than Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus.
Should you buy it?
Probably, yes, but it depends on how you D&D.
Are you a DM? Or maybe somebody who’s thinking they’ll DM in the future? Then absolutely, Candlekeep is a book you want to have on your shelf. If you’re bored you can run a quick adventure for your friends that doesn’t take a lot of prep time, or if you want to dip your toe into DMing you can start small with one of these compact 8 to 15 page adventures.
They give you everything you need AND they can be fit into a broader campaign as needed. Maybe the game will spark a narrative path you really enjoy?
The alternate cover is beautiful (and only available in friendly local game shops). It’s by far my favourite of the one’s I’ve seen so far. You won’t be sad having this beauty on your shelf.
But if you’re a player, the book may not provide the most utility for you. Ultimately, it’s full of adventures. If you don’t plan to DM in the near future the adventures won’t be of much use to you.
There are some really neat items in it though, so if you’re a powergamer like me you may want to bug your DM until they give you a Watchful Helm or Gloves of Soul Catching.
Both are really fun. The gloves are particularly enjoyable if you’re playing a monk. Like. Really enjoyable. They’re legendary rarity though so you probably won’t get them ’til higher level, but still, a monk can dream.
Can I use it?
Okay, first, the book is set in The Forgotten Realms. Candlekeep is the great library near Baldur’s Gate that has been featured prominently in many works (including the first Baldur’s Gate PC game.) Each adventure has some flavour related to the realms, but they can easily be reskinned for any world you’re using.
Any of these adventures would fit in Greyhawk or Exandria, or even your own homebrew world.
It wouldn’t take a ton of work to retheme any or all of these.
The book includes 17 adventures, but I wanted to highlight a couple of my favourites.
I read through the book twice for various work that I’ve done over the past couple weeks and my current favourite adventure didn’t actually catch my notice in my first read through. In my second, more in-depth read through, however, it definitely stuck out. Sarah of Yellowcrest Manor by Derek Ruiz is simple and wonderful.
First, it has a unique hook: your players encounter a ghost. How or why is up to the DM’s purview. They find a book and seems a diary of some kind. It starts simply, with pages and pages of repetitive writing of a single name: “Sarah.” The writing becomes surer and the sentences become increasingly complex.
Over time the book becomes a journal about her life. Over time, though, the entries get darker and more fearful. Then, the entries stop abruptly.
Can the heroes unravel the tale of this mournful spirit and uncover the mystery of why she remains restless?
Sarah of Yellowcrest Manor is a wonderful adventure that includes roleplaying, exploration, and combat encounters. Industrious characters will be able to find the answers…and may serve as seeds for a future adventure. The imagery and writing is just lovely and it’s absolutely my favourite adventure in Candlekeep Mysteries.
Another standout adventure is Zikran’s Zephyrean Tome by Taymoor Rehman. ZZT is fun because it offers a weighty moral question straight out of the gate: would you kill to save another?
The players will find the tome and come to realize that it’s actually a prison binding a Djinn named Gazre-Azam. The Djinn is hopeless trapped and can only be freed if the spellcaster releases the enchantment, or is slain. Therein lies the moral dilemma.
The beautiful thing about this adventure are some of the opportunities for roleplaying. Some, don’t even affect the story, they just exist to be experienced.
It’s a great read in addition to being a great adventure.
There are 15 other adventures waiting to be explored too. They all start in a similar fashion: with an incredible book.
Images courtesy of Wizards of the Coast and used with permission
A review copy of Candlekeep Mysteries was provided…