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Critical Role’s new gothic horror series Candela Obscura uses first tabletop RPG built with Illuminated Worlds

Voices speaking from the other side... of the screen.

Screenshot from the reveal trailer for Critical Role's Candela Obscura actual play series
Image credit: Critical Role/Darrington Press

If you’ve wanted to see Matt Mercer do his best kitchen table seance, newly announced actual play series Candela Obscura will see the pre-eminent dungeon master lead a crew of faces both new and familiar through a monthly story of hauntings and spiritualism. The show will use a new tabletop RPG of the same name based on Darrington Press’ Illuminated Worlds system.

Joining Mercer in the fictional early 1900s setting are Laura Bailey, Ashley Johnson, Robbie Daymond and Anjali Bhimani. Taliesin Jaffe will serve as a narrator character called the Lightkeeper, framing each episode and fleshing out the world of mysticism and occult magic recovering from the Great War.

The official announcement on Critical Role’s site mentions that the tone of the show, at least in the first three-episode arc, will lean more spooky vibes than outright horror. The Candela Obscura are an order of investigators who use their combined knowledge and expertise to protect The Fairelands from a new threat every episode. This new series will exist in a wholly extant world from Exandria and the core fantasy series that boosted Critical Role to its current mega-popularity.

Watch on YouTube

Candela Obscura won’t use Dungeons & Dragons to power its storytelling but will instead adopt a tabletop RPG bearing the same name as the show and built on top of Darrington Press’ previously announced system, Illuminated Worlds. Using a pool of six-sided dice and an explicit bent towards smaller campaign arcs, Candela Obscura was designed by Stras Acimovic of Blades in the Dark fame and Ennie Award-winner Layla Adelman and was recently announced as part of a large spate of upcoming projects published by Darrington Press.

Players will be able to pick up an official core rulebook for Candela Obscura sometime near the end of 2023 but can whet their appetite on a quickstart guide available as a free download starting May 25th, the same day as the first episode’s premiere. Darrington press will facilitate short play sessions with the system at Gen Con 2023, alongside the other titles in the publisher’s future portfolio.

Viewers will be able to watch Candela Obscura episodes as a livestream on May 25th at 7 p.m. Pacific via Critical Role’s Twitch and YouTube channels, with VODs made available two weeks after. Taliesin Jaffe and Chris Lockey created the show and brought Spenser Starke and Rowan Hall on as lead designers and writers. Starke is the designer of Alice is Missing, which is due for a major screen adaptation by Paramount.

Reveal trailer for Candela Obscura, from Critical Role.Watch on YouTube

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