Ari toils as a writer for D&D, which he will continue to do without complaint until the terms of the curse have been fulfilled. His adventure is dedicated to his dad Elliott, to whom libraries were hallowed ground.
“I think by default I enjoy playing through mysteries the most. I gravitate toward detective characters in D&D. Even those characters I intend to be hulking fighting machines end up falling into this inspector role that I just love,” says Ari Levitch, who has created narrative elements such as world building and story design during his three years with the D&D Team.
“While I contributed to Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus alongside Adam Lee, Candlekeep Mysteries was my first opportunity to write an adventure for an official D&D product. Adam explained that what separates writing an adventure from writing a narrative story is the idea that you create all the setups but you don’t ever get to spike the ball. It was a new challenge because I’m not telling the story, I’m writing a how-to manual that allows other people to tell this story.”
Ari’s adventure, Shemshime’s Bedtime Rhyme, takes place in Candlekeep itself, in a forgotten area called the Firefly Cellar. He admits that while it was exciting to get to play in such a storied place as Candlekeep, it was also a little intimidating.
“Each of these stories is a book and some of them take you far away from Candlekeep. My adventure, Shemshime’s Bedtime Rhyme, is strictly based in a small section of Candlekeep itself, in a place called the Firefly Cellar, which houses a neglected collection of books,” he tells Dragon+, adding that Chris Lindsay’s work on the Gazetteer elements of Candlekeep laid a lot of the necessary groundwork.
“So many elements in D&D have a legacy going back decades. But within that space, there is still a lot that is unknown which can be explored and built upon. Chris Perkins also has an encyclopedic knowledge of everything Dungeons & Dragons and he gave us the tools we needed to play with. As I wrote my adventure it was a great help to be able to ping him about anything.
“Once I had the maps, the most enjoyable part for me was filling out the details of the rooms. Creating even a tiny part of something as iconic as Candlekeep and getting to have my own little corner of the place was incredible.”
Ari's Favorite Fictional Detective
My favorite fictional sleuth is detective Josephus “Joe” Aloisus Miller from The Expanse, played by Thomas Jane. I know some people say his voiceover takes them out of that story but I like how self-aware he is. And I love it that Miller still pops up in cameos in the show.