FORMAT: HARDCOVER (REVIEWED), DIGITAL | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Candlekeep Mysteries is the latest adventure book for the world’s most popular roleplaying game, Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. Set in the Forgotten Realms (the core setting for D&D) it is a collection of 17 mystery themed adventures. These are fairly short adventures, designed for an evening or two’s worth of play each and though you could play each adventure (taking your heroes all the way to 16th level), it’s more intended as a set of one-shots, ideal for busy gaming groups.
The conceit behind the book is that each adventure is sparked by book discovered in the Forgotten Realm’s infamous library citadel, Candlekeep. The place is meant to be a vast library, attended by The Avowed, a priest-hood who value knowledge. Entry to Candlekeep costs a book the library doesn’t have, so over the centuries the collection has become vast. The supplement describes the whole thing in some detail with a pile of story hooks just for good measure.
The adventures themselves are a showcase of sorts for current and up and coming D&D talent. They also feel like Wizards of the Coast are testing the water’s some what for future releases. Kienna Shaw’s The Curious Tale of Wisteria Vale for example, brings back some old favourites from the Forgotten Realms in a plot that feels like it’s come straight out a 80’s fantasy pulp novel, it’s tremendous fun.
Daniel Kwan’s adventure The Book of Inner Alchemy is very much about magical martial arts and shows off D&D’s Monk class somewhat, something that’s not had a lot of love in recent years. Derek Ruiz’s Sarah of Yellowcrest Manor is a haunted murder mystery set in Waterdeep and looks like a perfect way to shift the tone of a Waterdeep campaign. Similarly Brandes Stoddard’s contribution, a story of knowledge gone wrong called The Scrivener’s Tale, slides perfectly into a Baldur's Gate game.
One particular highlight that we found fun to run at Starburst Towers was Mark Hulme’s The Price of Beauty. It’s a gloriously over-the-top story of deception and self-reflection and a blast to play. Though you could easily adapt any of these adventures for your another fantasy setting (such as Wildemount or Eberron), there is a strong Forgotten Realms flavour here. Regardless, it’s a great resource, especially for pick-up games.
All the information for each adventure is included in the adventure entry, they are no appendices full of monsters and magic items; instead it’s all in the relevant adventure entry. This makes plundering the book for information a little messy, but it’s really handy when you’re running the actual adventures, so it balances out. The table of contents is sensibly laid out so it’s easy to navigate. The art is of the incredible high standard we’ve come to expect from Wizards of The Coast and yet again there’s a pull-out map in the back. It’s sizeable and pretty, but only covers Candlekeep itself so it’s only really useful if you’re campaign is set in the citadel.
Mostly, this is a book aimed at the modern gamer; even in an age where most people play D&D via DnDBeyond and Zoom, games get cancelled due to a lack of preparation and this book is ideal for busy gaming groups that just want a short blast of adventure every once in a while.