Candlekeep Mysteries is the newest adventure for Dungeons and Dragons, bringing players to the most famous library in the Forgotten Realms. Candlekeep is a sanctuary for scholars and mages, as well as the most complete collection of books in all of Faerun, and Candlekeep Mysteries marks the first time the setting has been fully realized in an official Dungeons and Dragons adventure.

Since Dungeons and Dragons is a roleplaying game where everyone creates their own characters and stories, the game's settings and monsters are its most iconic elements. Wizards of the Coast has spent the past few years providing official versions of the most famous locales in the Forgotten Realms, including the cities of Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter, and Waterdeep, the ruins of Undermountain, and the island of Chult. It only makes sense that WotC would want to give players an official version of Candlekeep as well.

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Candlekeep in Other Games

Candlekeep is probably best known for its role in 1998's Baldur's Gate. The fortress serves as the game's tutorial, since the main character has been living there since childhood. Players are also able to return to the location later in the game, exploring parts there were previously blocked off. Interestingly enough, the version of Candlekeep depicted in Baldur's Gate looks nothing like the version DnD fans know today. Instead, the map looks like a fairly generic castle, complete with inner and outer walls, stables, a courtyard, and a small fortress in the middle. It wasn't until much later that Candlekeep was reimagined as the maddening tangle of impossibly high towers that now defines the setting.

Candlekeep has also appeared in a handful of published Dungeons and Dragons adventures. The library could be seen in 2019's Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus, serving as an area where players could learn more about the evil forces threatening the region. There's also a short blurb about the location in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide.

This hasn't been confirmed, but it's possible that players will be able to revisit Candlekeep at some point during Baldur's Gate 3. Though the location doesn't appear in the Early Access version of the game, Wizards of the Coast's recent commitment to brand integration implies that such an inclusion is somewhat likely.

The Lore of Candlekeep

Candekeep is best known as the citadel of the seer Alaundo, who first came to live there over 1,400 years before the events of fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons. After his death, the keep was reinforced to protect his prophecies and writings, the most famous of which foretold the events of the original Baldur's Gate PC game. Candlekeep is now nearly impenetrable, protected by layer upon layer of enchanted gates and magical wards. It exists to protect all of the written knowledge of the Forgotten Realms, and those who maintain it live by the rule that "Those who destroy knowledge, with ink, fire, or sword, are themselves destroyed."

Travelers hoping to enter Candlekeep are required to offer a book as payment, but it must be a title that's not in the library's collection. While this was originally interpreted to mean that the book had to be unusually lavish and expensive, one-of-a-kind rarities are also accepted. An original copy of a famed grimoire is sure to earn a traveler passage through the gates, but so is a family recipe book or a shabby journal of regional wives' tales. After all, Candlekeep's purpose is to protect all knowledge, from the mundane to the extraordinary.

Once inside Candlekeep, travelers are expected to confine their stay to the Court of Air, a simple courtyard that provides food and lodging for guests. They're also permitted to view individual tomes upon request, but only if accompanied and supervised by one of the monks. Guests of Candlekeep may only stay for ten days at a time, and must wait a full month before returning.

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Using Candlekeep in a Campaign

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Candlekeep Mysteries provides a lot of information about Candlekeep, but doesn't include much guidance for dungeon masters hoping to present its 17 adventures as a cohesive campaign. DMs might get more mileage out of dropping the location into existing campaign, running one or two of the included adventures, and then continuing on with content of their own. Even so, Candlekeep is such a unique location that it offers a bevy of potential plot hooks, some of which begin long before the players even reach the fortress.

The requirement for each entrant to donate a unique book can be the subject of several DnD adventures on its own. With the monks' definition of "unique" being as flexible as it is, this could take the form of a multi-session hunt for an infamous lich's spellbook, or an hour-long tour of nearby yard sales. Each party member needs to present their own book in order to gain entry, which could also lead to interesting complications. Forcing the players to decide between splitting the party and hunting down another unique tome could drastically affect the course of the campaign. Alternatively, sending a single character away to study at Candlekeep could be a clever way to write out a character whose player who needs to miss a few sessions.

Once players get to Candlekeep, they can purchase hand-crafted copies of the library's books and hunt down information about their enemies. As their enemies become more powerful and mysterious, this information will become progressively harder to find. Candlekeep contains a wealth of secrets, and the few monks who know them are unlikely to divulge that information to a party of random travelers. The sages of Candlekeep could become questgivers for a portion of a DnD campaign, sending the party out into the world to retrieve rare books and flush out existential threats. More chaotic parties might even opt to sneak out of the Court of Air and into the areas of Candlekeep that they're not meant to see. Countless priests and mages have made Candlekeep their home, providing nearly infinite fodder for adventures.

Though massive libraries are a fantasy staple, Candlekeep is one of the most unique. The release of Candlekeep Mysteries helps make the location feel slightly more tangible, while giving dungeon masters a lot of freedom to fill in the rest.

Candlekeep Mysteries is now available digitally and physically.

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