Candlekeep Mysteries, the next campaign book for Dungeons & Dragons, arrives later this month. Inside, Dungeon Masters (DMs) will find 17 new one-shot adventures, designed for players level 1-10. The book will also introduce more than a dozen new voices and their unique contributions to the lore of the Forgotten Realms.
Polygon spoke with designer Kelly Lynne D’Angelo about her Candlekeep Mysteries adventure, titled “Lore of Lurue.” Here are the exclusive first details on what you can expect when you crack the binding.
Among the oldest and largest libraries in all of the Forgotten Realms, the fortress known as Candlekeep sits overlooking the Sea of Swords. Each of the adventures in Candlekeep Mysteries begins with a long-forgotten text from that collection, and by reading Lore of Lurue — the in-fiction book, that is — players are transported back in time and across the planet to the depths of an enchanted forest. It’s a place very similar to where D’Angelo’s own journey began with the 5th edition of D&D.
“I have deep reverence and love for the Forgotten Realms,” D’Angelo said. “I love so much about its history. [...] When I was approached to take on a story in this space, the place that excited me the most was the High Forest. [...] When I first started playing with Girls Guts Glory, [that’s] where I began my adventure with them.”
D’Angelo first entered the performative RPG space with Girls Guts Glory, an actual play group now sponsored by Wizards of the Coast. She stepped in for Dungeon Master Kimberly Daugherty, who went on to become a player, and ran seasons 2 and 3 of that show. D’Angelo is still with the group as a player.
“It’s just an amazing collective of women to rise through the ranks with,” D’Angelo said, “and become storytellers alongside.”
D’Angelo also writes for television. Her credits include series on Cartoon Network (Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart, Tig n’ Seek), Netflix (the upcoming Spirit Rangers), and TBS series Miracle Workers. But, it was her time as a DM that led her to lean into the fey aspects of her chosen setting.
So much of the history of Faerûn, where modern D&D is set, is marked by war and its aftermath. D’Angelo’s adventure strips that away, traveling back to a more primordial time and place.
“My instincts were [to] make it an enchanted storybook,” she said. “Somebody from thousands of years ago wrote a story into this book that you now enter and have to literally experience, almost a movie-like, cinematic, high fantasy world placed in the Forgotten Realms past with your adventuring party.”
D’Angelo says that “Lore of Lurue” is perfect for D&D players around level eight. As a one-shot, it can help mix things up between campaigns or spice up the action during a long one. One of the first locations players visit is the City of Dewlight, which she describes as a more whimsical section of the High Forest. Players will meet sprites, to be sure, but they will also encounter Lurue herself, the unicorn queen of Faerûn. The presence of Lurue opens the door for her mother Selûne and the ranger god Mielikki to enter the narrative as well, D’Angelo said.
“I wanted it to feel like these characters in this space are protecting the forest and the land,” D’Angelo said. “These are the original keepers of the High Forest. These characters, they’re working from different agendas. I’m not going to say that they’re all good and sparkly and glittery and always have the best interests of the forest in mind.”
While the conceit of Candlekeep Mysteries makes “Lore of Lurue” an excellent diversion for adult players of all types, the description also makes it sound like an excellent onramp for kids interested in playing D&D with their friends — or even with their parents.
“As a young girl, I would want to play this,” D’Angelo said. “That’s what I was thinking while I was writing this: How do I include and make it exciting for people of all genders and all races, but truly opening up this space of sort of this divine feminine and allowing myself to fit into it?”
As a DM to several pre-teen kids in my own home games, I’m always on the lookout for different mechanics and storytelling strategies to cater to that audience. It’s not always about defeating monsters, grabbing loot, and leveling up with kids. I asked D’Angelo if her adventure might have any guidance for DMs like me.
“The hope for the story is, how do your players potentially approach every character along the way in a very delicate place,” D’Angelo said. “What does it mean to rid something of darkness? What does that question truly look like? Is it that you’re the hero of the story, or is it about doing something greater than yourself?
“I think that’s the question of D&D sometimes. We get so caught up in the individual, we don’t think about the party, or sometimes we don’t think about the greater story going on. So, I feel like this story is a really exciting reflection on perspective, and sort of approach in what a ‘Big Bad’ is or what pain and evil can look like. I really wanted to turn that on its head the best way I could and make it a question.”
With “Lore of Lurue,” there’s another layer to D’Angelo’s personal experience. D’Angelo is Haudenosaunee Tuscarora, with Kanien’kehá:ka, Niitsitapi, and Anishinaabe ancestry. As a Native American, she sees this opportunity to write for Wizards of the Coast as opening up opportunities for more people like her.
“Stepping into this position,” D’Angelo said, “I am literally writing us into the story, and hopefully just picking up the pen of a much larger narrative that’s just beginning. I see my contributions as a path for others; for generations, hopefully, that are going to be coming after me. But also, the current generations that exist, to know that they have a space at the table too.
“Our people are oral storytellers. That’s how our history is echoed through time. This is how we share this history together, we share this knowledge together. To have a space — which is one of the most well-known styles of oral storytelling in the world right now — is such a beautiful web to be woven.”
Candlekeep Mysteries will be available on March 16.
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