Critical Role Teases a Spooky New Game--and a New System, Too

Critical Role Teases a Spooky New Game--and a New System, Too
May 2023

Critical Role has announced that Candela Obscura, a horror tabletop roleplaying game actual play series, will premiere May 25. A group of actors will be improvising stories and characters in the new monthly drama, which follows an esoteric order of investigators in the fictional town of Newfaire in a near-universe 1907. They will play using Darrington Press's Illuminated Worlds System, which has not yet been released to the public.

The game will follow a group of detectives in a kind of Edwardian/Newsies vein, with the actors putting on waistcoats and bustles to evoke the spirit of 1907. The vibe is giving off the end of the gaslamp era, as the fictional town of Newfaire attempts to adjust to new technology and corrupted magick that is bleeding out. The show will lean into gothic horror and supernatural evil, but will not be "overly scary" according to the Critical Role announcement.


Unlike previous APs by the team at Critical Role, Candela Obscura appears to be a much more structured, episodic series that is framed like a monster-of-the-week show, giving audiences the ability to pick up at any episode. With a recurring cast of characters and actors, this won't be an anthology series (although that is a good idea, to be honest... Critical Role hit me up), but it will retain some narrative threads between episodes in an effort to make Candela Obscura more accessible to new fans.

Not much is known about the game itself; in addition to a Game Master there is also a "Lightkeeper" which is, as described in the video, "an enlightened veteran" who will help guide the detectives through the darkness. According to the press release, "at the beginning of each episode, an inciting incident occurs, prompting a team, or circle, of investigators to uncover and solve the mystery."

The press release also says that Candela Obscura's quickstart guide--a first look with all the basic rules needed to play the game--will be available the morning of May 25, ahead of the show's premiere that evening. The Candela Obscura core rulebook will be officially released by Darrington Press at the end of 2023. Candela Obscura was originally created by Taliesin Jaffe and Chris Lockey, with Spenser Starke and Rowan Hall serving as lead designers and writers.

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The cast for Candela Obscura includes a lot of the usual suspects for Critical Role, including Matt Mercer, Laura Bailey, and Ashley Johnson; Critical Role guests Robbie Daymond and Anjali Bhimani are also part of the cast. The press release states that Mercer will be the first chapter's game master, implying that we might see this role shift to different game masters throughout the season. Steve Failows and Maxwell James are producing the show.

The first chapter of Candela Obscura premieres May 25 at 7:00 pm PT on Critical Role's Twitch and YouTube channels, with new episodes airing the last Thursday of the month. The VOD and podcast will be available two weeks after premiere. The first story arc contains three standalone episodes.

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