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What Only Hardcore Dungeons & Dragons Fans Know About Candlekeep

Candlekeep is every wizard's high fantasy: a vast library full of nearly endless knowledge. There's everything from ancient magical texts to funky recipes to stray song lyrics stored in the massive fortress situated on the edge of the sea. It's the setting of Dungeons & Dragons' next book, a tome of 17 one-shot adventures that all begin with a strange book found in Candlekeep.

Since adventurers are likely going to be heading there soon for the enticing new quests, including D&D's first wheelchair accessible dungeon, it might be helpful to get to know the place a little beforehand. First off, Candlekeep is in the campaign setting the Forgotten Realms, not far from the city of Baldur's Gate. In fact, anyone who's played the original Baldur's Gate video game will know it as the home of the orphaned protagonist, where the story begins.

The library is run by a group of monks called the Avowed, some of which have been continuously chanting the as-yet-unfulfilled prophecies of the late famous Candlekeep resident Alaundo for hundreds of years (via YouTube). Many of his predictions have come true, turning him into a regular Agnes Nutter with an even more dedicated fanbase. In fact, everyone at Candlekeep takes the job of preserving knowledge very seriously. They live by the words: "Those who destroy knowledge with ink, fire, or sword are themselves destroyed." They might need to tighten up their terms and conditions, though, because it says nothing about destroying knowledge with, say, acid. Still, anyone with a chaotic alignment and itchy fingers will have some trouble actually getting into the place.

Candlekeep is heavily guarded and difficult to get into (oh, and there's a dragon)

Make no mistake, Candlekeep is no public library where any evil wizard can waltz right in (looking at you, Vecna). The trickiest thing about the place is actually getting into it: The fortress has a giant metal gate at the front that's immune to divination magic — so no one can scry on the library — and also repels lightning, for some reason. Maybe just because it's cool; maybe because lighting plus books equals bad.

Anyone who wants to get inside must be sponsored by a well-known mage who will take responsibility for their bad behavior. On top of that, they must also donate a book that the library doesn't own. The monks are so stingy about this rule that they don't even let the orphans of Baldur's Gate, who literally grew up there, come back in without a donation. The only way to get around it is if a character is an official "friend of Candlekeep" — so, uh, good luck. Maybe a copy of a sloppily scrawled adventuring journal would be decent enough. However, once inside, players take on the title of "Seeker" and can stay there for ten days looking at the contents of the library, but will have to pay extra for any copies to go.

The coolest thing about Candlekeep, though, is that the ghost of the silver dragon Miirym haunts the catacombs beneath it, bound to defend the fortress. So if the bureaucracy and fancy gate fail, the ghost dragon will do her best to eviscerate anyone threatening the books. Really, the Library of Alexandria should have employed a ghost dragon.