Today (well, yesterday technically, since there were leaks) marks the announcement of a new Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook: Candlekeep Mysteries. Due out on March 6, This is both a very exciting announcement and a disappointing one. Let’s dig into why, and then we want to know your thoughts on the upcoming D&D supplement.
But first, what exactly is Candlekeep Mysteries? According to the Penguin Random House website…
An anthology of seventeen mystery-themed adventures for the world’s greatest roleplaying game.
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.
Why Candlekeep Mysteries is Awesome
First, it’s a new, official D&D book. That’s always awesome. DMs Guild is a truly fantastic resource, and I spend time pretty much every day poking around on there, the fact of the matter is that it’s still Wizards of the Coast who controls the IP and sets the foundational rules and structure for the game.
Second, it’s got seventeen (17!) new adventures in it. The scientific term for that many TTRPG adventures in a single book is bunches, I think. Depending on how they’re done, these are a content gold mine for Dungeon Masters. Even if we don’t run the entire book or even an entire adventure, there are nuggets of things that can be adapted from any adventure and dropped into another.
Additionally, this is the first time we see Candlekeep itself in D&D 5e in all its glory. In Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus, we have 5 pages of the first chapter dedicated to the wizard-fortress. That’s not a lot. There are a few community-created titles over at DMs Guild, and some of them are quite awesome like Elminster’s Candlekeep Companion, but nothing has yet brought Candlekeep into 5e like it deserves. Until now.
Why Candlekeep Mysteries is Swing and a Miss
Candlekeep Mysteries is a let-down in one major, major way. It is still set in the friggin’ Forgotten Realms. Yes, it’s the most popular and well-known setting in D&D. That’s exactly why we don’t need Candlekeep Mysteries. We don’t need another book fleshing out a place that has been fleshed out elsewhere.
What we need is a campaign setting for Planescape or Dark Sun or even Greyhawk. (Personally, I was hoping for a Dragonlance setting because I am a fan boy.) We could totally use a book of adventures like this for Eberron.
Even expanding a different part of the world of Faerûn (where the Forgotten Realms is located) would have been great. Basically, we need to be done with the Sword Coast for a while and get some meaty content for something else.
Dungeons & Dragons has 40 years of content to dive into. But WotC is only doling out stuff we’ve seen, very refined stuff we’ve seen, but stuff we’ve seen nonetheless.
Also, it’s an anthology, and many people don’t respond well to anthologies. Short story anthologies never sell as well as novels, and the same is true of D&D adventures. Players and DMs want (speaking in general, here) engaging campaigns that they can invest themselves in with their own characters, established NPC personalities, and a serial narrative that makes them feel as though they’ve accomplished something.
Often, one-shots and anthology adventures don’t (and can’t because of the constraints of the form) do that. Without having seen Candlekeep Mysteries and read through it, it’s impossible to tell if these can be run in succession to give a sense of moving through a narrative (or at least a series of episodes using the same setting and characters, both player and non).
What Do You Think About Candlekeep Mysteries?
Personally, I’m excited. As soon as the pre-order went live today, I snagged my copy. I may be cancelling it, though, and getting the game-store exclusive cover. Because it’s mighty pretty.
That said, where do you stand on Candlekeep Mysteries? Is it something you’re looking forward to cracking the spine, or are you holding off for a while to see what others have to say about it?