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Candlekeep (a city on the Sword Coast in Forgotten Realms) is described as a fortress / library / castle on high cliffs. Does it have some form of a dock? If not, what is the nearest port for a ship on the Sword Coast?

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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov pointed out that, in current material, there is no dock at Candlekeep. But as far as I remember, in the first Baldur's Gate videogame there was a secrete entrance in the catacombs of the library, used by the main character to escape. That entrance led to the forest in the videogame, but you may decide that actually lead somewhere on the shores under Candlekeep. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 11:05

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Candlekeep can only be accessed via the front gate.

In the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, chapter 2, The Sword Coast and the North, we have a description of Candlekeep:

The only gate into Candlekeep stands at the end of the Way of the Lion, which is the only road that provides access to and from the outside world. The route extends from Beregost, leagues away, and winds a lonely path out on the peninsula where Candlekeep stands.

This image and statement from Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus gives a better idea of the local topography and the impracticality of a dock:

Although some visitors travel to Candlekeep by air, most arrive on foot or on horseback.

enter image description here

The nearest proper port is the harbor at Baldur’s Gate, which by my calculation is about 170 miles by road. See here:

enter image description here

The SCAG goes on to describe the exclusivity and security of Candlekeep. If there is a back entrance, it is almost certainly a well guarded secret.

There may be a way in from below.

Stepping outside of 5th Edition, 3e's Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting has some additional information:

Something guards the catacombs and storage caverns beneath Candlekeep so well that few succesful intrusions from below have ever reached Candlekeep proper.

This section goes on to describe an Ancient Silver Dragon named Miirym guarding the caves beneath Candlekeep. This source is unclear about this way in from below, whether it be through the Underdark, or some external entrance near or below the sea level. It is also important to note that 3e is set some 100-200 years before 5e.

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    \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, the geography depicted in the image doesn't, by itself, rule out the possibility of a back entrance, possibly involving stairs carved into the cliffside, that could allow access at least by small boats. Indeed, I'd almost expect such a backdoor, if only because of how useful one would be if the land entrance was ever besieged (which is something one generally tries to plan for when building fortifications). And the literal text doesn't quite seem to rule one out either, since stairs and a dock are not a road, and a small doorway, even if fortified, might not count as a proper gate. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 1:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @IlmariKaronen A fair point. The section from the SCAG is, to my knowledge, the most extensive description of Candlekeep in 5e material and mentions no such back entrances. So they’re probably a secret if they exist. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 1:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Though not a classic pen&paper game, The first Baldur's gate video game also shows only one main gate, so this corroborate this description. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 12:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Eddymage I actually didn't know there was a secret entrance too, haven't gone far into the game x_x. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 14:02
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There is at least one secret way into Candlekeep from the ocean, which would explicitly allow access by ship (if covertly)

As part of the D&D Next1 playtesting, a module was released to a group of RPGA DMs at Gencon 2013 called Confrontation at Canadlekeep. This module is now available for purchase at the DMs Guild. It contains details of a secret entrance to Candlekeep as part of the module.

As part of the description of the module we have this summary of one of the sections, "The Bluffs of Candlekeep":

“One of the acolytes has spotted boats sheltered in a cove down on the sea, along the bluffs. We think that might be how the attackers approached unnoticed. Please, follow this scribe here. The acolyte claims to have read about a secret path leading down the cliff to the shore below. Let us hope it’s true. We need to sabotage the boats so they can’t escape with whatever it is they’re searching for.”

In the section "The Bluffs of Candlekeep", this information is fleshed out:

Into the Garbage Chute

A hundred feet down below, you spot several boats bobbing in the rough waters, obscured among the rocks.

The acolyte reaches under a protruding stone in the wall, and you hear a pop. One of the larger stones in the wall slams to the ground, revealing a hole, about three feet wide. Emanating from the hole is the sound of water and the faint smell of excrement.

“This chute leads down to the ocean. A stream carries waste there. I apologize for the manner of your descent; these chutes are used to pass waste out of the keep. They should take you near where those boats are. The chutes are kept secret so I doubt the attackers used them. More likely they somehow managed to climb the bluff, though I wouldn’t recommend it.”

But is this module canon?

Aside from Wizards of The Coast selling this item directly on the dmsguild website, they include some telling text which indicates that it is actually canon:

[...]

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.

[...]

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.

The first quote, explicitly bills this adventure as taking place during the transition from 4th Edition to 5th Edition ("The Sundering").

In particular the second text bills it as being canon, from the perspective of the Forgotten Realms, as it is billed as a prequel to a novel written by Ed Greenwood, the creator of the Forgotten Realms.

This follows, what Ed Greenwood has stated on twitter, as forming the basis of canon for the Forgotten Realms

  1. Certainly. Anything I write about the Realms, by definition, is canon, unless or until contradicted/rendered out-of-date by Wizards-published writing. That's in the original Realms agreement, that Wizards inherited from TSR; Wizards can't change the agreement... #Realmslore

  2. ...without negotiating with me (so I'd know about any change). So it's canon, by definition. (Folks on the FR wiki should know this; it was all explained years back.) The BK book is also canon because Alex Kammer made sure it was okay with Wizards to call it so. #Realmslore

  3. I know some fans like to decide for themselves what's canon or not, in any IP, but no one but players in my home Realms campaign would have seen more than DRAGON-glimpses of the Realms without the agreement, so it's the baseline for FR canon. #Realmslore

Source: This twitter thread from Ed Greenwood


1: D&D Next is what D&D 5e was called before it was released

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