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You'll be able to play Critical Role's D&D rival Daggerheart soon, as the fantasy RPG gets a public playtest

Ahead of its full release in 2025.

Image credit: Darrington Press/Nikki Dawes

You’ll soon be able to get your first taste of Daggerheart, the fantasy tabletop RPG from Critical Role studio Darrington Press and Alice is Missing creator Spenser Starke, as the upcoming RPG launches a public playtest this March ahead of its release next year.

Daggerheart was first teased last spring as an original spin on fantasy roleplaying compared to the traditional likes of Dungeons & Dragons - notably played by Matthew Mercer and the Critical Role cast throughout the long-running actual play series.

Over the summer, further details on the RPG were revealed during US convention Gen Con, with lead designer Spenser Starke - known for text-message mystery Alice is Missing and Critical Role’s horror RPG Candela Obscura, among others - shedding light on its original system’s use of two 12-sided dice, representing Hope and Fear, modified by character traits to resolve tests in place of the classic d20.

Daggerheart lead designer Spenser Starke tells us more about the new RPGWatch on YouTube

On top of the dice-rolling is a card-driven system designed to be easy for roleplaying newcomers to pick up, with characters created from a combination of cards representing their domain, subclass, community (their backstory and culture) and ancestry, equivalent to species in other fantasy RPGs. Those cards will offer abilities specific to each facet of a character, combining into unique creations. Characters’ available spells will also be represented by a separate set of cards, describing what they do and how to perform them with dice rolls.

Daggerheart has more parallels with the likes of the Powered by the Apocalypse system seen in games including Monster of the Week and Avatar Legends than D&D 5E, offering a more rules-light experience designed to minimise searching through the rulebook by listing each class’ starting moves, levelling options and other key gameplay information across a series of modular character sheets combined to form a complete playable character.

After more than a year in development, according to Starke, and limited playtest sessions at conventions such as Gen Con, Daggerheart will become available for anyone to try next month, with the release of an ‘Open Beta Playtest’ set of rules on March 12th - Critical Role’s ninth anniversary. The Critical Role cast will livestream a session of Daggerheart on the day to mark the occasion.

“By opening this project up to the community while it’s still in progress, we have the opportunity to build this game together,” Starke said. “The Open Beta will give us insight into what people like, what they don't, and how to best support the players.”

Artwork for Daggerheart RPG.
Image credit: Darrington Press

Feedback collected from the public playtest via surveys - similar to the One D&D playtests for this year’s 2024 evolution of the fantasy stalwart - will feed back into Daggerheart’s final form, planned to release sometime in 2025.

“Throughout the development process, we’ll make changes and release new versions of the game based on the feedback we receive, which means you'll see the game take shape in real-time with us,” Starke confirmed.

As well as the playtest rules being available to download from the Daggerheart website, Daggerheart’s character creation system will be available to try via digital RPG platform Demiplane, with select local game stores also due to run playtest sessions in person.

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Matt Jarvis

Editor-in-chief

After starting his career writing about music, films and video games for various places, Matt spent many years as a technology, PC and video game journalist before writing about tabletop games as the editor of Tabletop Gaming magazine. He joined Dicebreaker as editor-in-chief in 2019, and has been trying to convince the rest of the team to play Diplomacy since.
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