[DMsGuild] [WotC] Confrontation at Candlekeep

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Havard
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[DMsGuild] [WotC] Confrontation at Candlekeep

Post by Havard » Mon Mar 04, 2019 5:34 pm

Confrontation at Candlekeep
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Candlekeep is under siege, and it needs adventurers to help protect it! Heed the call to defend the legendary monastery and stand against the tide of evil.

Product History

"Confrontation at Candlekeep" (2013), by Teos Abadia, Greg Bilsland, and Shawn Merwin, is an RPGA Dungeon Delve that was used as a playtest for D&D 5e (2014). It was released to RPGA Dungeon Masters in August 2013, but only made available to the general public in October 2015.

Introducing D&D Next. D&D 5e had a long, public history as D&D Next before its official publication. Playtest packets were released beginning in May 2012, then D&D Encounters started offering 5e options with "Against the Cult of Chaos" (2013) in February 2013. However, the 5e playtest really hit the mainstream during the summer of 2013: on June 15 the 5e adventure "Vault of the Dracolich" was run at D&D Game Day (2013). An even bigger preview of 5e followed at Gen Con Indy 2013 with the release of the adventure "Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle" (2013) exactly a month later, on August 15.

Because "Dragonspear Castle" was a big public release that included playtest rules, it got the most attention. However, two other 5e playtest adventures also appeared at that Gen Con. The second was the fifteenth Encounters adventure, "Murder in Baldur's Gate" (2013), which went on sale on August 20th following its August 17th launch weekend. The third is now the least-known. That's because it was only released to Dungeon Masters at the time and has been mostly unavailable since.

That isn't to say that "Confrontation at Candlekeep" wasn't a big deal. It was the other half of Wizards of the Coast's Gen Con 2013 plan, intended to draw players into D&D 5e without the benefit of a traditional booth. On the one hand Gale Force Nine was selling "Dragonspear Castle" to long lines of fan. On the other hand, Wizards reserved much of Hall D at the Indiana Convention Center so that the RPGA could run "Confrontation at Candlekeep".

And, run they did! The two-hour adventure was scheduled for 28 separate sessions, the first running from 8am to 10am on Thursday, August 15th and the last running from 2pm to 4pm on Sunday, August 18th. Each session could seat up to 176 players, which meant that Wizards had the capability to run almost 5,000 players through the D&D 5e adventure — enough to generate a great seed of interest when those players brought word of the new edition home to their own gaming groups.

"Confrontation at Candlekeep" was run again at Pax Prime (2013), from August 30th to September 2nd. It then was run in some game stores as an event over the next couple of months.

Components of Note. Players of the Gen Con "Confrontation at Candlekeep" also got a freebie for spending their $4 and two hours: a set of beige dice with elegant blue ink.

Adventure Tropes. As the preliminary adventures for D&D 5e trickled out, they started to answer the question, "What does a D&D 5e adventure look like?" And the answer for "Confrontation at Candlekeep" is … unclear. That's because it's very much a convention adventure. An event coordinator (called a First Reader) manages the overall game, which includes 4 or more groups of players. Groups then split up to play through different sections of the adventure.

As a result of this split, each group got just two pages of adventure, meant to be played over 45 minutes. This means that clues as to what 5e adventure design would look like were pretty scant. However one thing was obvious: Wizards was moving away from the tightly crafted tactical encounters of the 4e era. Most of these two-page spreads included a couple of different encounters; they were focused on fighting, but also featured some locales to explore and perhaps even some roleplaying.

All of the "Candlekeep" groups come back together for a final fight against a very dangerous blue dragon. Rather than powering down the dragon (as you might have seen in 4e), the Event Coordinator of "Confrontation at Candleekeep" allows all the players to fight it simultaneously!. It's a rather elegant end to a convention adventure that makes the best use of its many players.

"Vault of the Dracolich" had previously used an Event Coordinator to similarly good effect. However beyond that "Confrontation at Candlekeep" is the odd man out among the early D&D 5e adventure. Though its focus on combat matched the other early 5e adventures, its general adventure style didn't. "Vault of the Dracolich" was a dragon crawl in the classic style, while the longer campaign of "Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle" contained no less than four major dungeon crawls — with GM-directed encounters adding just a tiny bit of variety. "Confrontation at Candlekeep" is overall more focused on encounters than either of its predecessors.

Expanding the Realms. "Confrontation at Candlekeep" was the first D&D adventure to bill itself as being part of "The Sundering", a time of upheaval in the Forgotten Realms that was intended to move the setting into its next major era.

Beyond that, it's most notable for its (somewhat scattered) details on the library at Candlekeep. This locale was frequently mentioned in the core Forgotten Realms books, starting with the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (1987) and including Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast (1994). However, it had never previously been a locale for tabletop adventure, though it had gotten quite a bit of attention thanks to computers.

That started with Baldur's Gate (1998), the classic Bioware computer game, which begins in Candlekeep. This resulted in a "Candlekeep" article in Dragon #255 (January 1999), which detailed the locale by leaning heavily on the video game. Meanwhile January 1999 also saw the creation of another computer-based Candlekeep: the candlekeep.com website, which went on line a few months later, on March 9th. Candlekeep.com is an online repository of Forgotten Realms lore that's only expanded and improved over time. 16 years later, it remains the first online stop for many Forgotten Realms fans.

Future History. "Confrontation at Candlekeep" is a prequel to The Herald (2014), Ed Greenwood's sixth novel of the Sundering, which was published about a year later. Meanwhile, the Sundering also ran through the last four Encounters adventures, from "Murder in Baldur's Gate" (2013) through "Dreams of the Red Wizards: Dead in Thay" (2014).

About the Creators. Abadia had previously worked on "Vault of the Dracolich", the other early D&D 5e adventure that featured cooperation between tables. Bilsland meanwhile was one of the contributors to "Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle", which was released simultaneously with the "Confrontation at Candlekeep" tournaments. Finally, this was Shawn Merwin's first work on D&D 5e, though not his first D&D work, which included a couple of adventures in 2012.
Still browsing through the more official sounding products at the DMsGuild. This one is not yet available as PoD, but still as a WotC release I assume it is an official Forgotten Realms product. Has anyone checked it out?

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Re: [DMsGuild] [WotC] Confrontation at Candlekeep

Post by Zeromaru X » Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:07 pm

I've read it, but never played it. Is a Pre-Sundering adventure, were players had to protect Candlekeep from the attack of a Chosen of Asmodeus.

Is an interesting adventure in the fact that is designed to be played by a lot of groups of PCs. A single group cannot deal with all the stuff happening. I guess, a DM should allow the players to have more than one PC to play this adventure as intended. Otherwise, it would take a lot of work to modify it to work with a single group of PCs.

Compared to Murder at Baldur's Gate is a short adventure, tho. But its outcome did influenced the last of the Sundering novels, Ed Greenwood's "The Herald".

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Re: [DMsGuild] [WotC] Confrontation at Candlekeep

Post by Havard » Mon Mar 04, 2019 8:35 pm

Zeromaru X wrote:
Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:07 pm
I've read it, but never played it. Is a Pre-Sundering adventure, were players had to protect Candlekeep from the attack of a Chosen of Asmodeus.
What are Chosen of Asmodeus exactly? I've heard of Chosen of Mystra, so I'm assuming something similar?
Is an interesting adventure in the fact that is designed to be played by a lot of groups of PCs. A single group cannot deal with all the stuff happening. I guess, a DM should allow the players to have more than one PC to play this adventure as intended. Otherwise, it would take a lot of work to modify it to work with a single group of PCs.
That is fascinating. They did something similar with certain segments of the Blackmoor MMRPG with differnet groups leading different attacks on a castle etc. But I don't know if such a thing would actually be worth attempting. Maybe come resolve the other "groups" with a few simple dice rolls and let those affect the group the PCs belong to? I could see this working in a campaign where other adventuring groups have already been established. Perhaps linking it to the different factions of the FR?
Compared to Murder at Baldur's Gate is a short adventure, tho. But its outcome did influenced the last of the Sundering novels, Ed Greenwood's "The Herald".
Indeed, it is interesting to see how Ed works so closely to incorporate such things into his works.

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Re: [DMsGuild] [WotC] Confrontation at Candlekeep

Post by Zeromaru X » Mon Mar 04, 2019 9:30 pm

Havard wrote:
Mon Mar 04, 2019 8:35 pm
What are Chosen of Asmodeus exactly? I've heard of Chosen of Mystra, so I'm assuming something similar?
Yeah, something like that. By the time of the Sundering, all gods had Chosens. Was part of their campaigns to gain as much power as possible before the Sundering came to an end, and Lord Ao had set their roles in stone again.
But I don't know if such a thing would actually be worth attempting. Maybe come resolve the other "groups" with a few simple dice rolls and let those affect the group the PCs belong to? I could see this working in a campaign where other adventuring groups have already been established. Perhaps linking it to the different factions of the FR?
Well, this adventure was clearly designed for conventions, so yes, it will requiere that the DM twist it a bit to work in a home campaign. Personally, I would never run it. The sheer number of NPCs that I would have to handle is a huge deterrent lol

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Re: [DMsGuild] [WotC] Confrontation at Candlekeep

Post by Dread Delgath » Tue Mar 05, 2019 5:16 pm

This sounds like a multi-player/multi-group setting scenario like what they did with the World of Greyhawk in the RPGA in the 1990's. Their 'teams' would be organized online or in person when you showed up for events depending on where the players were physically living in, or where the events were held.

[Off-topic a bit: When I looked into it (25 years ago, or so), the only place I could register to play was the Free City of Dyvers, because of where I physically lived (USA - Midwest). There was no way I could get to play online in the City of Greyhawk, or Verbobonc, or Stoink, because I physically didn't live in the correct place in the Real World, unless I could get to those events located in the Real World where those places were being hosted.]
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Re: [DMsGuild] [WotC] Confrontation at Candlekeep

Post by zontoxira » Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:58 pm

I could see such an adventure being ran by a single group of PCs as some sort of tactical battle between the forces of Asmodeus and the forces of Candlekeep. The characters would be able to command small units of NPCs using a simplified combat system (like 5e's Handling Mobs rules). I once ran a game where the PCs defended a rural mansion against bandits like this, so I guess this adventure plays similarly.
Or, you could run it as in Legacy of the Crystal Shard: the characters are presented with three threats, but only have time to deal with one or two. That'd surely make for an intense game, where each enemy victory has dire consequences for the rest of the game.
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Re: [DMsGuild] [WotC] Confrontation at Candlekeep

Post by apotheot » Fri Mar 08, 2019 9:03 am

I got shanghaied into running it at Gen Con when it was released. My friends and I were in line to play it, but were told they were full for that hour... so we had to wait. 5 minutes later someone from the group came up to us and said if one of us wanted to run it we could play as they where short of DM's. Of course my friends volunteered me. We sat and I spent 10 minutes quickly reading the adventure (utilizing a rules set I had only glanced at when it was free online) and then we started. Now about 20 minutes behind the rest of the curve, for the interactive. We were subsequently ignored by the wotc people who were running it for the rest of the few hours. This allowed me to go off script a bit, since some of the interactions were contingent on the roving DM shouting out universal events which we had missed and we had no inter-connectivity with other tables like we were supposed to. But I got a free print out of the adventure out of the deal. And my friends had fun for what it was.

The next day, I came and played it for real on my own. I ended up going from one table to another when they needed help after we had beaten the enemies at ours, then (as a monk) I jumped on the dragon's head and survived the fall when he shook me off putting me at a 3rd table to help with in the slot. It was a blast, but overall am still disappointed that my friends and I got screwed a bit by not being able to just all PLAY on that first day.
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