DMs Guild Review – Encounters in Candlekeep

Twenty encounters set in the legendary library-fortress of Candlekeep.

This review has been sponsored by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Kayla BayensChristian ZeuchKai Linder

Known for its powerful protective wards and neutral  source of knowledge, Candlekeep tends to be relatively free of drama and excitement. But where’s the fun in that? Encounters in Candlekeep provides 20 different events to spice up your party’s next journey to the legendary library.

The 80-page supplement is absolutely gorgeous, featuring a professional layout and design, with beautiful artwork, full color grid maps, and appendices full of NPC statblocks and items.

An introduction provides a brief overview of the magically fortified library, though if you want a truly detailed breakdown, you’ll want to check out last year’s Elminster’s Candlekeep Companion (which this supplement freely suggests), which was also one of my Top Ten DMs Guild Products I Reviewed in 2020. I also appreciated seeing a page dedicated to running skill challenges, escape encounters, and disaster encounters, all of which are featured here.

The encounters take up anywhere from half a page to two pages. Each encounter includes the level range (tier 1, tier 2, etc), encounter type (social, puzzle, etc), as well as the location within Candlekeep and a one-sentence overview.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from encounters centered on a magic library. The results are a bit mixed. While I don’t doubt this product nails the theme of scholars and magical artifacts, too many of the encounters revolve around similar concepts, such as researching a book or a prophecy (Calling of the Minds and Calling of the Prophets), or someone with a magic item that’s warping or altering the books around them (intentionally with Case of the Disappearing Words and accidentally with Changing Words, Twisted Pages).

There’s also too much emphasis on exploration and skill challenges. I realize a heavily warded library isn’t brimming with hostile creatures, but I would’ve liked to see a few more combat encounters. By my count, out of 20 encounters only about three of them involve combat, and two of those are epic tier 4 battles.

That being said, there are still lots of neat ideas and fun-looking scenarios. My favorites include None Shall Pass, when the party can step up to an entitled prince indigent at being barred from entering; Passing of the Keeper, which tasks the PCs with investigating the sudden murder of the Keeper by a trusted resident, and False Prophets, wherein a changeling shows up claiming to be the reincarnation of the original founder, Alaundo.

I also enjoyed both tier 4 combat encounters. When the Ghost Dragon Howls features the normally docile ghost dragon sentinel Miirym transformed into an aggressive monster by a leaking necromantic book, while Attack at Dawn is a full-scale naval attack by pirate ships while a demonic force infiltrates the besieged library.

The appendices detail the NPCs, magic items, spells, and maps used in each encounter. The NPC appendix is especially impressive, with every single NPC mentioned in an encounter given the full breadth of traits, flaws, ideals, and bonds, as well as their history and role-playing notes. It’s far above and beyond what I expect from an encounter book, but also a reminder that many of the encounters are heavily geared toward socializing with NPCs. Plus, they all take place in a populated library full of humanoid, and it’s helpful to know more about them.

As a final bonus, each of the encounters is given a detailed grid map – even though very few of the encounters involve any combat! Maps of the courtyard and beach, the Neccesarium, the keeper’s room, the catacombs, and several library rooms help bring Candlekeep to life.

If you’re planning on a substantial stay, or even just a quick visit to Candlekeep, Encounters in Candlekeep is an easy recommendation.

Pros:

  • 20 encounters within all four tiers of play, with a heavy emphasis toward exploration, socializing, and skill challenges.
  • Full color grid battle maps for every single encounter.
  • Professional layout and design.
  • Over 20 new NPCs and statblocks, including traits, ideals, flaws, and role-playing notes.
  • Over 15 magic items featured in the encounters

Cons:

  • Some encounters overlap with similar concepts and situations, such as tainted magic items, and researching books or prophecies.
  • Too many skill challenges and research projects.

The Verdict: A magical library doesn’t lend itself to a wide array of exciting events, but Encounters in Candlekeep provides a worthy selection of encounters, NPCs, and magic items while staying true to its erudite theme.

This review has been sponsored by the publisher Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

2 thoughts on “DMs Guild Review – Encounters in Candlekeep”

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