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Critical Role launches new tabletop RPG with a free quickstart guide

Candela Obscura breaks cover ahead of the actual play premiere on Thursday

The cast of Candela Obscura, a new actual play podcast from Critical Role, stands in a turn of the century parlor. They wear typical fashion of the period, including long coats and tails, knickers, and floor-length dresses. Image: Critical Role
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Candela Obscura, the next livestreaming series from Critical Role, premieres Thursday night. Ahead of the highly-anticipated new series, the troupe’s Darrington Press imprint has released a quickstart guide that includes a preview of the Illuminated Worlds ruleset that the action will be based on. It is accompanied by a how-to-play video guide by lead game designer Spenser Starke (Alice Is Missing).

In the video, Starke details how the mechanics in the horror-themed adaptation will work. Illuminated Worlds is built for narrative, cinematic play and uses a d6-based dice pool system that rewards high rolls while also leaving plenty of wiggle room for game masters to throw complications in players’ way. The game includes five classes each with two very different subclasses. They are face (journalist and magician), muscle (soldier and explorer), scholar (professor and doctor), slink (criminal and detective), and weird (medium and occultist). Each has a custom character sheet that provides additional details on how to run the character at the table, as well as serving as a jumping-off point for character generation.

Illuminated Worlds won’t use traditional stats common in other games like Dungeons & Dragons, such as strength and wisdom. Instead it lists three drives — nerve, cunning, and intuition — and ranks aspects of those drives across multiple categories from one to three. Those ranks will help add dice to player’s dice pools, rather than providing bonuses to the numerical value of the dice themselves. There’s also a “gilded” die that players will roll, and players can use it replenish their stats in the hopes of improving later rolls. The result is a new strategic layer of character management, one that should feed back into the narrative itself as players make tough decisions over which dice to pick.

Candela Obscura premieres on Twitch and YouTube on Thursday at 7 p.m. PT, with a video-on-demand release scheduled for June 8. A podcast version will also be available that day. You can download the Candela Obscura Quickstart Guide at the Darrington Press website.

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