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Designed by: Wizards of the Coast
I’m the only one in my family who likes seafood, so on the rare occasion that we get seafood (like my birthday), I tend to order the big sampler with a bit of everything. Candlekeep Mysteries is the sampler of the Sword Coast, bringing over a dozen mini-adventures thematically tied to different books, all of which could be found in the legendary library of the Sword Coast.
The following is included in the Candlekeep Mysteries Roll20 bundle ($49.95):
- 17 mini-adventures, ranging from level 1 to 16.
- 27 grid maps
- 1 100-ft map
- 1 40-ft map (sub-divided into 20-ft squares)
- 7 10-ft maps (sub-divided into 5-ft squares)
- 18 5-ft maps
- 1 isometric map of Candlekeep
- 2 non-gridded maps
- Over 150 NPCs (47 named NPCs) with statblocks, token art, and handouts.
- Over 40 player art handouts (including 18 books).
- Over 50 magic item handouts.
- Journal notes on Candlekeep’s geography, history, and people, as well as relevant supplemental handouts such as Madness, Treasure Tables, and the Shadowfell from the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
As an anthology book, Candlekeep Mysteries features a hefty seventeen modules, each designed for a single player level, similar to the length you’d find in a typical DMs Guild adventure. Every adventure can either begin in the library itself, or by utilizing a powerful book that would clearly belong there.
As befitting a book with Candlekeep in the title, the library is detailed with multiple entries and sections, including magical wards and security, the role of the Avowed, and the strict entrance fee.
There’s also a humongous, gorgeous isometric map of Candlekeep. And I mean HUGE, even zooming out to 50% fills less than half the map on the screen. It’s accompanied by a detailed breakdown of each location, from the magical Emerald Door separating the Court of Air from the inner library walls, to the talkative spectral dragon haunting the catacombs beneath.
For even more on Candlekeep, I would heartily recommend Elminster’s Candlekeep Companion, which was also one of my top ten DMs Guild products of last year. If you plan on running some adventures in Candlekeep, I can also recommend Encounters in Candlekeep.
The adventures range from level 1 to 16 (with two for level 4), with each written by a different designer. It’s obvious that each adventure had to include a book as the starting adventure hook. Sometimes the book is a monster, or contains a curse, or a portal to another realm. One of them is even home to a djinni. Beyond the book conceit, the designers were given some freedom over which areas and locations to use – most of the adventures don’t even take place in Candlekeep at all.
The treasure map found in “Book of the Raven,” could point the party anywhere in the world, ending at a seemingly haunted chalet with a sinister portal to the Shadowfell. “Mazfroth’s Mighty Digressions” takes place entirely within Baldur’s Gate, as the party tracks down the source of mysterious books that are transforming into little monsters, while the party will need to travel to the coast near Cloakwood forest, possibly by sea, to reach the village of frogfolk in “Book of Cylinders.”
Using over a dozen different designers brings a rich variety of adventure themes, from social and role-paying heavy narratives to hack and slash dungeon crawls. Survive a cursed children’s book’s that traps everyone in quarantine beneath Candlekeep; defeat a coven of hags – or bargain for their magical youth-granting paintings; explore a ruined cloud giant keep haunted by ghosts, and thwart a cult planning to launch one of Candlekeep’s towers into space.
If you’re looking for a deeper dive into each adventure, including my personal rankings, keep your eyes peeled for a separate video coming soon. For now, suffice to say that this an incredible collection of adventures with the perfect length and pacing for drop-in side quests.
They also translate well to Roll20, with a few egregious caveats. Every single adventure includes at least one grid map. That’s great! Some of them even include two or three maps, if needed.
Unfortunately none of the maps include color. Art style ranges from beautiful but black and white, to more abstracted and lacking in detail. Several veteran cartographers were used, including Mike Schley and Dyson Logos.
I love having this many maps, but the lack of color always looks bad on a VTT like Roll20. Thankfully there are already color maps being made that overlay directly onto the existing Dynamic Lighting lines, which Roll20 provides on all of their maps (Dynamics Lighting available for subscribers only). Maps also feature all the relevant tokens, as well as annotations on the hidden GM layer.
All of the written content and maps are included in their own Journal entries, while all the monsters, magic items, and handouts can be found in their own sections. Monster tokens are also organized on their own token page to copy/paste, but can also be dragged directly from the Journal. Most monsters are from existing books like the Monster Manual and feature the same art, while the few new creatures, like the skitterwidgets, as well as important named NPCs and bosses like Zikran the evil water genasi mage, have new art handouts and tokens.
While the lack of color maps is disappointing, the adventures are not. This a fantastic collection of mini-adventures that take parties throughout the Sword Coast, and a great resource for DMs looking to drop in memorable side stories into their campaigns.
- 17 well-designed modules that could drop into any campaign.
- Wonderful variety of adventure styles and level ranges.
- Important NPCs have art, player handouts, and useful descriptions.
- Over two dozen grid battle maps (most with proper 5-ft scale).
- All or nothing; if you want to use a single module, you’ll need to purchase the entire bundle
and create a game that automatically adds all of the book’s content.Update: You can now add individual modules via Add-ons (still sold as a bundle)
- No color on any of the maps.
The Verdict: Candlekeep Mysteries is a delightful anthology of well-designed mini-adventures, providing a delicious sampler pack of the Sword Coast.
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