Looking for a fantasy fix? Wizards of the Coast, the publisher behind the massive Dungeons & Dragons (or D&D) phenomenon, has answered your calls, with a new D&D sourcebook designed for one-off quests that won’t take months of gradual world building to complete.
Candlekeep Mysteries takes the action back to its namesake, the fortress of Candlekeep, one of the oldest pieces of lore in the D&D canon. It’s largely known for its library, a place where centuries worth of knowledge is stored, but in this sourcebook it acts as a hub or jumping-off point for a number of quests in the bookish-yet-fantastical location.
It packs in 17 so-called one shots, and the ‘mystery’ name suggests you’ll be doing as much Sherlock Holmes-ing as you will fighting, ideal for those keener on role play and investigating rather than simply hitting things with hammers (a great pleasure, still).
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It’s a change from most D&D sourcebooks like Curse of Strahd or Icewind Dale, which are designed as campaigns to be played over numerous sessions. The shorter and more bite-sized nature of these adventures should mean it’s a good starting point for those dipping their toes into the game for the first time, or more seasoned players simply looking for a quick fix with friends who can’t commit to meeting weekly – or have a kooky character build they want to test out on a one-off basis.
D&D’s principal story designer, Chris Perkins, oversaw creation of the adventures, and also gave some insight into the book’s concept in a press briefing (via Polygon):
“It originated out of the need to provide Dungeon Masters with short adventures that they can easily integrate into their Forgotten Realms campaign — or into any campaign, really — that has in it a library. Each adventure is built on the premise of the characters finding a book. That book is what propels a mystery, a mystery that the characters feel compelled to solve, which then leads them on a grand adventure.”
No gatekeeping here
What’s most notable about Candlekeep Mysteries, though, is that its 17 adventures are penned by new talent in the tabletop RPG scene. D&D has been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism around its lack of inclusivity – both in terms of problematic tropes from earlier iterations of the game, as well as the representation of more diverse voices at its official publisher – so a new sourcebook with accessible adventures penned by a host of up-and-coming designers is certainly welcome.
The book will feature the first officially wheelchair accessible adventure too – great for fans of the Combat Wheelchair, created by designer and inclusivity advocate Sara Thompson (@mustangsart), and featured in the Critical Role TTRPG web series and podcast.
Candlekeep Mysteries will be published on March 16, 2021, and retail for $49.95 RRP (around $37 / AU$65). Players in the US can order now at your local game store, bookstores such as Barnes & Noble, or online at retailers like Amazon. Also available for preorder at D&D Beyond, Fantasy Grounds, and Roll20. UK and Australian listings are yet to go live at the time of writing.