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Candlekeep Mysteries Review Round-Up – What the Critics Say

Candlekeep Mysteries is out and so are a lot of reviews. Let's take a look at what other critics think of D&D's literary adventure anthology and how it compares to my E.N. World review.

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The Positive​

Just like I did, Polygon praised Candlekeep Mysteries as being a resource for DMs with tools, tricks, and maps that can be repurposed as well as adventures that can be expanded or placed wherever you want. Polygon also points out that each book is its own character with a history and a look that is just waiting for someone to sell replicas on Etsy. The adventures themselves are called “tremendous” with its diverse team praised for producing some of the best writing in this edition of D&D.

Mush like the other reviews, Tribality praises CM's flexibility in addition to offering good mystery adventures. It also likes the advice for how DMs can set soft and hard limits to ensure everyone at the table is comfortable, which is necessary since some story aspects could be disturbing. The anthology aspect with Candlekeep as its hub is praised, along with requests for similar anthologies with five-room dungeons, short wilderness adventures, and more. Tribality breaks down each adventure and then calls CM a “must have.”

Geeks of Doom likes that each adventure could be worked into an existing campaign, with or without the link to Candlekeep. It also emphasizes how wide the net is that this book casts with its many locations and range of adventure styles and tones.

Nerdvana thinks that Candlekeep Mysteries has enough material to keep DMs “busy for ages.” As a brand, D&D is praised for trying new things. The review also reflects that the individual adventures in CM are about the same size as the slim modules of the old days but get a fresh perspective from the diverse creative team. Nerdvana also agrees that Candlekeep is a compelling location around which to set adventures.

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The Not So Positive But Still Positive​

Strange Assembly also praised Candlekeep Mysteries, especially for being different than the typical dungeon crawl and focusing on mystery and investigation adventures instead of combat-heavy ones. It notes that the book doesn't offer new rules, and the adventures require less mechanical skill from the DM, but that DMs who can set a tone, especially for the creepy stories, will do well with CM. SA thought the level 2-3 adventures were the weakest while singling out Canopic Being as particularly good.

The Gamer considers Candlekeep Mysteries both a fun book and a big step toward making the game more inclusive. The Gamer's only real complaint is that it doesn't have a connecting plot between the stories.

Bell of Lost Souls also praises both The Book of Inner Alchemy and Canopic Being as well as the overall variety of adventures. In fact, it labeled CM as a “much-needed break from your typical D&D adventure” and not the standard adventure with the standard reward. BOLS would like to see what these writers can do with a full adventure, not just short, self-contained ones.

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Overall Grade: A+​

None of these reviewers provide an official grade but with the extensive praise each one lavishes on the book it's reasonable to assign A grades to the reviews except for Polygon and Geeks of Doom, both of which praise the book without any hesitations or reservations, so they would be A+ grades. I would also give Candlekeep Mysteries an A+ grade because it's so solid and imaginative in all categories. That means D&D's newest book averages between A and A+.
 
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Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels





Tiles

Explorer
I can see first time DM’s really benefiting from the digestible chapters. Really focus on one chapter and get comfortable, then run a game. I often wonder how many games blow up because beginning DMs get overwhelmed by the bigger offerings. Back in the day a kid could obsess on one module and run a game. Now most books are 250ish pages full campaigns that experienced DMs need help sorting out on forums and Reddit pages.
 




J.M

Villager
I haven't read the book so can't comment on the quality of adventures, but I love the format, short stand-alone adventures are always useful for dropping into campaigns or using as one-offs or just looting for ideas, NPCs, monsters etc. It seems like the book would be even easier for folks to pick up and play if they included tailored pregens as a separate digital add-on. Hmm...maybe a good idea for someone to do on DM's Guild...?
 

I’m surprised that no reviewer mentioned that alignments are left out of stat blocks. I personally don’t like alignments anyway, so that’s a good one.

Plus, I like that the Stats now include the proficiency bonus!
Technically, only the important named characters of the modules, like Bak Mei, have an Alignment specified for em.
 

I like the PB scores being listed too in stat blocks now. It allows me to "gauge" what level said character/monster should be/available class features to give em.

Also one of the modules gives ya permission to have Medium Armor use your full DEX modifier now since one of the modules gives you a Medium Armor that allows you to do that. Bring on the Heavy Dex armors!! DM Fiat/providence not withstanding.
 

embee

Lawyer by day. Rules lawyer by night.
I've seen good reviews. I've seen mediocre reviews. But the only reviews I've seen that lambasted the book are generally from sites that are the RPG version of Parler, so I take those with a huge grain of salt.
The RPG version of Parler gave rave reviews to Myfarog.
 



The Glen

Hero
My players enjoyed most of them. A few of them they thought weren't very creative. The only ones they didn't like from start to finish was the inner Alchemy and the 16th level one at the end. They love the gnome rocket scientist
 

G

Guest 6948803

Guest
I've read thorough and very critical review of Candlekeep from someone who isn't politically affiliated at all (can't really link, because its not in english). He mentioned, that while publishing standard is high as usually, adventures are weak, bland, and definitely are NOT mystery-driven (unless you call "we don't know what monster is waiting behind those doors" a mystery).
All in all, politically-charged reviews are problematic, because usually I really want to know if book will be useful for me, and not if it meets someone's ethical/political standards, whatever they are.
Well, I guess I will need to wait for my most trusted reviewer, my son, who is getting this book for his Easter present. Although this means also, that I am not allowed to even take a peek inside before him (which is a little frustrating, because collector edition came on Friday and is laying on the high shelf, waiting, like proper Candlekeep book:)
 

JEB

Adventurer
Technically, only the important named characters of the modules, like Bak Mei, have an Alignment specified for em.
Interesting. So paging through the book, alignment is gone from the stat blocks... but they do provide alignments separately from the statblock, when specific NPCs are described, often earlier in the adventure. (Other creatures still lack alignment, however.)

I'm kind of fuzzy as to what the advantage of this arrangement is, compared to how it was before. If you disliked alignment, it's still there. But if you did like alignment, it's become more inconvenient to find.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
Interesting. So paging through the book, alignment is gone from the stat blocks... but they do provide alignments separately from the statblock, when specific NPCs are described, often earlier in the adventure. (Other creatures still lack alignment, however.)

I'm kind of fuzzy as to what the advantage of this arrangement is, compared to how it was before. If you disliked alignment, it's still there. But if you did like alignment, it's become more inconvenient to find.
Individuals have alignment, ancestries do not. Seems pretty clear they are saying alignment is specific to Individuals, not every member of a race/ancestry.
 

ibenny

Explorer
Individuals have alignment, ancestries do not. Seems pretty clear they are saying alignment is specific to Individuals, not every member of a race/ancestry.
It certainly seems like it, though I still definitely don't agree with that. There's nothing, nothing wrong at all with being inherently evil/chaotic/good/whatever, really. This is another step to make themselves seen as more and more politically correct while there would be no need for that, at all. Races, alignments, and all the more things changed recently were good just the way they were.
 
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