Candlekeep Mysteries review: “The makings of a modern classic”

Essential info

Candlekeep Mysteries

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Candlekeep Mysteries is a collection of 17 standalone adventures for Dungeons and Dragons.

 $50 / £35 / AU$60
Game system: 
D&D 5e
Recommended levels: 1 – 16
Recommended party size:
 4 – 6
Time to play: 4hrs per adventure

If time is the enemy of Dungeon Masters, Candlekeep Mysteries is a godsend. An anthology of bite-sized adventures that can be completed in a single session, they’re designed to be plugged into any campaign or used as quirky one-offs. And it works; this is likely to go down as one of the best Dungeons and Dragons books.

There’s more to it than filling a niche for time-strapped DMs or groups that can’t meet all that often, though. It contains some of the most inventive D&D stories in years. To put it plainly, Candlekeep Mysteries has the makings of a modern classic.

Armchair detective

Containing 17 one-shots that are designed by a diverse cast of writers, each quest revolves around a case that the party must solve. However, this doesn’t mean they’re repetitive. A surprising variety of genres and tones are represented here, ranging from dark fairytales with entire worlds trapped inside a book to a fungal plague, not unlike the one seen in The Last of Us franchise. Fancy yourself as an armchair detective? Candlekeep Mysteries will be the perfect fit.

Candlekeep Mysteries

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

These quests also jettison the starting point in many of the best tabletop RPGs – the humble tavern. Instead, every adventure begins at one of D&D’s oldest locations: the library fortress of Candlekeep. It’s a place with plenty of real-world and in-universe history. Besides having appeared for decades across the lore of the Forgotten Realms (which is the same universe as Dark Alliance and the Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set, by the way), it’s known for its role in the first Baldur’s Gate video game. That gives these stories a unique feel you won’t find anywhere else, all while offering a long-term home for players should they want it. Because of this framing device, Candlekeep Mysteries is reminiscent of the similarly-themed Tales from the Yawning Portal or Ghosts of Saltmarsh.

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