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Candlekeep was the famous library-fortress that stood proud as a bastion of enlightenment and knowledge on the Sword Coast for many centuries. It housed a magnificent collection of books and scrolls of lore, considered the greatest collection of the writings in all of Faerûn. The keep was the home of the Avowed, a group of renowned scholars and people of learning, that revered great seer Alaundo and his collection of prophecies that foresaw many great events that passed throughout the ongoing history of the Realms.[2][7]

Those who destroy knowledge, with ink, fire, or sword, are themselves destroyed.
— Candlekeep's one absolute rule.[7][8]

Description[]

A follower of Oghma on a giant eagle, flying over Candlekeep.

Candlekeep was a spectacular sight from the surrounding lands, a formidable fortress that comprised scores of towers, of varying heights and styles.[9] The keep's skyline rose high above the coast, set within formidable, 50 ft (15 m) tall walls of stone and iron.[10] Its numerous towers ascended into the skies above, creating a unique silhouette against the skies over the coastal sea.[11]

The keep's enormous double gates, which stood three times as tall as a man, formed its main entrance facing east. Its doors were forged from a strange black metal, each of which featured the sigil of Candlekeep,[3] the image of castle with flames set atop each of its towers.[12][13]

Immediately beyond the imposing front gates was the Court of Air, a vast cobblestone courtyard around which were Candlekeep's establishments and amenities that catered to visitors and "Seekers",[14] those who arrived with the purpose of finding knowledge and wisdom.[8][15]

To venture beyond the Court of Air into the sheltered Inner Ward of Candlekeep, Seekers had to pass through the magnificent, and magically-protected Emerald Door.[16] The Inner Ward housed the Great Library of Candlekeep,[11] the great repository of knowledge known far and wide across the Realms, along with the personal living quarters of the keep's Avowed.[17]

Beneath the keep were a series of secured chambers used for spellcasting,[18] catacombs, sewers,[19] and subterranean passageways inhabited by unusual creatures. Deepest of these was the Chamber of Lost Lore, an continually-illuminated room that allowed those with permission to commune with long-deceased scholars and sages.[20]

Geography[]

"Those who have seen (Candlekeep from an aerial view) have said that it looks like...a cake decorated with too many candles."
— Aedyn Graymantle an excerpt from Far from the Misty Hills[11]

Candlekeep was situated upon a rocky outcropping on a narrow peninsula, about 100 ft (30 m) from the cliffside along the Sea of Swords.[11][21] The path leading to its entrance was called the Way of the Lion,[22] which extended from the Coast Way that ran along the Sword Coast.[7][23]

The keep was located 120 mi (190 km) south of Baldur's Gate.[24]

Geographical Features[]

The library-fortress rested atop a volcanic crag that jutted out from the side of the Sea of Swords.[11] Set within this volcanic rock was a series of tombs and sepulchers that served as the resting place for a number of Candlekeep's sages.[25]

The western side of Candlekeep was bombarded with mist and waters from the Sea of Swords, and iced over during winter. During these cold months, several of these towers had to be abandoned as they became too hazardous to live within.[11]

Government[]

A depiction of the crest of Candlekeep.

While Candlekeep did not possess a true government as a village of similarly-sized settlement might, the monks of the Avowed were led by a group of their order who ascended the ranks on a meritocratic basis.[2] While all of the Avowed swore themselves to protect the keep and the contents of its halls,[15] their leadership made allowances for them to fulfill their duties with structure and order.[6]

The Keeper of Tomes was the highest-ranked member of the order, an individual who appointed those believed well-suited to take on leadership roles within.[6] In all practical applications, their word was considered law in Candlekeep.

The Keeper was served by the First Reader, who tirelessly worked to obtain new books, scrolls, and other pieces to add to the libraries' collections; along with the Great Readers, eight learned sages that were each considered to be the premier authority in their selected field of study and research.[26][2][27]

Laws[]

In addition to Candlekeep's absolute rule, forbidding the destruction of knowledge,[7][8] Seekers and other visitors were asked to abide by the Orders of Accordance, a set of rules was were enforced by banishment.[10] Violence, theft, and the damage or copying of any documents the library's collection was not tolerated under any circumstances.[6]

Defenses[]

The Emerald Door of the Inner Ward, watched over by its Keeper

Candlekeep was guarded by layers of magical wards that protected the keep itself, the people within, along with its collection of writings. Among the protections provided by these wards included the restriction of entry by means of teleportation, the preservation of writing from degradation by mold or insect, an inhibition of flames that were larger than those provided by a candle, and prevention of theft of entire, whole books, among others.[10]

The keep was even protected by a singular mythal, referred to as the Great Shield,[28] a barrier of elven magic that could be activated by the Keeper of Tomes in the need ever arose.[10]

The physical defense of Candlekeep's exterior was led by member of the Avowed known as the Gatewarden. They coordinated the protection of front gate through which all petitioners and visitors passed.[16] They were aided by our monks known as Watchers, the Keeper of the Emerald Door, previously known as the Keeper of the Portal, who served as the protector of the Inner Ward.[8][15][16]

Nearly all of the Avowed whose efforts contributed to the safety of the keep were powerful archmages, like those other individuals that took on leadership roles.[27] Each of Gatewarden, Watchers, and the Keeper were served by a dozen well-armed monks, armed with a myriad of magical implements.[8]

Activities[]

...so sayeth the wise Alaundo.
— Ending of many lines of the Endless Chant.[25]

The interior of the Great Library of Candlekeep.

One of the primary goals of the keep's avowed was to catalog and maintain the prophecies of the famed, 1st century seer Alaundo.[9][13][24] Recitations of the prophecies were magically recorded within a series of prismatic gemstones, referred to as the Echoes of Alaundo.[29][20]

Candlekeep's Chanter and the three Voices were often found carrying out procession throughout the Court of Air, reciting the lines of the Endless Chant. During these processions, the prophecies of Alaundo continually echoed through the grounds of Candlekeep for all to hear.[2][26]

Among the faithful of Oghma, Candlekeep was considered one of the most holy sites in all the Realms.[30]

Gaining Entrance[]

To gain entry into the halls of wisdom, a petitioner had to present the seal of a renowned wizard,[2][31] as well as an "entrance-gift" to the library, a tome of immense value, great rarity or significant historical importance to add to their collection.[2][12] While the shrewd gatekeepers typically accepted books worth no less than 1,000 gp,[7][31][32][note 1] books containing particularly insightful annotations or journals of important persons have been accepted before.[12] As of 1494 DR, requirements for entry seem to have relaxed, and visitors to the library were only required to donate a book, scroll, or similar piece of writing not contained within the library.[33]

The "friends of Candlekeep" were allowed entrance in to Candlekeep without offering an entrance-gift. Among these select individuals were certain archmages, priests of the deities Oghma, Deneir, Gond and Milil, along with both local and High Heralds alike.[12]

Anyone entering the Inner Ward was required to possess special permission from leaders of the Avowed, in the form of a signed letter that could only be verified by the portal's Keeper.[16]

Services[]

Visitors granted entry into the keep were known as "Seekers", and referred to as "goodsir" or "goodlady" by the library's monks, if their name was unknown.[note 2][8][15] These individuals were allowed to stay for one tenday, after which they were asked to leave and wait a full month before returning for another stay.[26]

During their time in Candlekeep, Seekers could read specific books within the necessariums, but were not permitted to copy their contents. Inscription service was specifically provided by the Avowed, with copying and binding costs that ranged anywhere from 100 to over 10,000 gp and took upwards of several weeks to complete.[26]

Seekers could solicit the wizened advice of Candlekeep's scholars for the substantial fee 2000 gp, double the standard rate for sages in the Realms beyond.[31]

History[]

Although some sources stated that Candlekeep was originally the citadel of Alaundo,[34] having grown around his small and humble tower,[35] the keep actually predated the seer by some hundred years, having been founded c. the Year of Stonerising, -200 DR.[36][37]

Alaundo arrived in Candlekeep in the Year of Clinging Death, 75 DR, to study the writings kept there and got a reputation for his visions into the future.[36][38] Following his death the keep became a sanctuary of knowledge, revering his prophecies and dedicating itself to the preservation of all available knowledge.[31]

The sage Gorion and his ward Abdel leave Candlekeep for the Way of the Lion in 1368 DR

During the Iron crisis in the Year of Shadows, 1358 DR, Sarevok Anchev infiltrated the Great Library during his quest for power and immortality. He filled Candlekeep's catacombs with doppelgangers that masqueraded as citizens of the fortress, along with those who were significant to his sibling and fellow Bhaalspawn Abdel Adrian, including his foster father Gorion.[25]

As the calamitous Second Sundering wracked the Sword Coast, the keep was beleaguered by wealthy citizens attempting to purchase shelter within its walls or foreign envoys who demanded arcane knowledge to shield themselves from the growing threats of the Realms. Numerous monks of the Avowed began to disappear,[28] as a result of a years-long campaign of infiltration perpetrated by agents of the Shadovar.[39]

In the Year of the Nether Mountain Scrolls, 1486 DR, Candlekeep was literally besieged by a host of devils from the Nine Hells, led by a mage devoted to the archdevil Asmodeus.[28]

The following year Candlekeep suffered an aerial assault carried out by a woman riding atop a black dragon, mysteriously attempting to go after one of the long-abandoned towers[28]

Just a few days later, the continued efforts of several parties seeking gain control the magical Weave energy stored in Candlekeep's wards came to a violent conclusion. While the sage Elminster strived to personally guard over the wards of Candlekeep, Laeral and Alustriel Silverhand of the Moonstars sought to destroy them, in order to prevent them from being used by Shar and the Princes of Shade.[40] Just as Maerandor the Shadovar began their attack, they were met by the Great Readers of the Avowed,[41] and rebuffed in a great spell battle.[42] After the spell battle broke out, the lich Larloch revealed himself to the monks of the keep,[43] and deceived Elminster into essentially hading over control of the ward's power.[44]

Notable Locations[]

An isometric-view map of Candlekeep

Service Shops & Temples
  • Erudite Outfitters & Clothiers, a tailor's and workshop that specialized in maintaining the robes and clothing of the keep's Avowed.[16]
  • House of the Binder, a scholarly workhouse provided various scribing services and even released an annual publication.[15][45]
  • Pillars of Pedagogy, the grouping of towers in which the Avowed researched the requests brought to them by Seekers.[45]
  • Smithy & Stables, an establishment run by Khe'ril Hammerbind, that offered smithy and stabling services, even for more exotic flying mounts.[16]
  • Temple of Oghma, the keep's holy house of the Lord of Knowledge.[45][16]
Inns & Meeting Halls
  • The Hearth, the keep's grand eating hall that allowed its guests to mingle with one another. It contained shrines to Deneir, Gond and Milil.[15] The warm and cozy establishment was the successor of the former Candlekeep Inn.[25]
  • House of Rest, a three-story simple bunk room that provided lodging for the keep's seekers.[15][27]
Landmarks
  • Court of Air, a cobblestone courtyard of Candlekeep was kept rather simple and kept unadorned. While it was once decorated by a small grove and a terraced rock garden,[8] it later became a meeting place set between buildings that catered to the visiting Seekers.[15]
  • Exaltation, the tallest tower of the keep that housed the personal residences of the Avowed.[17]
  • Great Library, what was considered to be the largest and most comprehensive collection of scholarly writings, lore and knowledge in all of Faerûn. It addition to the great works and rare tome found within, the Great Library held a seemingly endless amount of paltry and insignificant documents such as recipes, inscribed song lyrics, journals of fairly unremarkable individuals and other such trivial writings. [11] It held a dozen towers, known as "necessariums", that offered seekers ample place to study and read in peace.[15]
  • Vaults, the subterranean chambers that were said to contain such hidden knowledge that anyone who was able to discover and wield them, would gain power that was incomparable to anything known on Toril.[11] They also housed stores of essentials for daily life, enough for the population of the keep to withstand a months-long siege.[citation needed]

In addition to these buildings the keep housed a warehouse, several granaries, and an infirmary.[8]

Inhabitants[]

Researchers at Candlekeep.

Scholars of all races and backgrounds, even those from other planes of existence, were granted a place in Candlekeep, so long as they abided by the Orders of Accordance.[6] The Avowed counted Humans, tieflings, dragonborn, and even githzerai among its members,[27] and at least one ogre scholar was granted residence within the keep's walls.[45] There were even a small number of modrons granted safe harbor in Candlekeep, far away from their home plane of Mechanus.[17]

The subterranean vaults guarded by the ghost of the silver dragon Miirym the Sentinel Wyrm, who was bound to defend Candlekeep and the Avowed by the great sorcerer Torth.[7][29]

Notable Inhabitants[]

14th Century
  • Eltrivyn, the sage who aided those who exhibited innate magical powers and did not inflict harm upon others.[46]
  • Ulraunt, the haughty Keeper of the Tomes.[25][47]
  • Tethtoril, a learned and wise man who served as the First Reader.[25][48]
15th Century

Appendix[]

See Also[]

Notes[]

  1. some reported the value as much as 10,000 gp or even more.
  2. VGtSC refers to "seekers" as a rank within the Avowed.

Appearances[]

Adventures
Anauroch: The Empire of ShadeBaldur's Gate: Descent into AvernusCandlekeep Mysteries
Novels
The Lost Library of CormanthyrCrucible: The Trial of Cyric the MadThe Herald
Video Games
Baldur's Gate

Gallery[]

External Links[]

References[]

  1. Troy Denning (February 1998). Crucible: The Trial of Cyric the Mad. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 16. ISBN 0-7869-0724-X.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Ed Greenwood (1994). Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast. (TSR, Inc), pp. 32–33. ISBN 1-5607-6940-1.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Christopher Perkins, et al. (March 2021). Candlekeep Mysteries. Edited by Michele Carter, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 6. ISBN 978-0-7869-6722-3.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Steve Kenson, et al. (November 2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. Edited by Kim Mohan. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 74–77. ISBN 978-0-7869-6580-9.
  5. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins, James Wyatt (2014). Dungeon Master's Guide 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 18. ISBN 978-0786965622.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Christopher Perkins, et al. (March 2021). Candlekeep Mysteries. Edited by Michele Carter, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 8. ISBN 978-0-7869-6722-3.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 226. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 Ed Greenwood (1994). Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast. (TSR, Inc), p. 33. ISBN 1-5607-6940-1.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Greg A. Vaughan, Skip Williams, Thomas M. Reid (November 2007). Anauroch: The Empire of Shade. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 86. ISBN 0-7869-4362-9.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Christopher Perkins, et al. (March 2021). Candlekeep Mysteries. Edited by Michele Carter, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 7. ISBN 978-0-7869-6722-3.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 Steve Kenson, et al. (November 2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. Edited by Kim Mohan. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 74. ISBN 978-0-7869-6580-9.
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  13. 13.0 13.1 Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), A Grand Tour of the Realms. (TSR, Inc), p. 89. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
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  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 16.6 Christopher Perkins, et al. (March 2021). Candlekeep Mysteries. Edited by Michele Carter, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 13. ISBN 978-0-7869-6722-3.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Christopher Perkins, et al. (March 2021). Candlekeep Mysteries. Edited by Michele Carter, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 14. ISBN 978-0-7869-6722-3.
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