Candela Obscura Is A New Horror TTRPG & Show Coming From Critical Role

Candela-Obscura-Cast-Photo.jpg

On May 25th, Critical Role will be launching a new actual-play series called Candela Obscura. Using their upcoming Illuminated Worlds game system, it follows "an esoteric order of investigators as they use centuries of knowledge to fight back a mysterious source of corruption and bleed."

Critical Role's publishing arm, Darrington Press, announced two new RPGs, including Illuminated Worlds, in April. Illuminated Worlds is "optimized for short story arcs and adaptable to myriad settings".


We're thrilled to announce Candela Obscura, a brand new game, in a brand new world, using a brand new system! Candela Obscura is an ongoing horror drama that follows an esoteric order of investigators as they use centuries of knowledge to fight back a mysterious source of corruption and bleed. Leveraging improv and gaming as story mechanics, the series features the Candela Obscura game, which is run on the Illuminated Worlds System, both created by Critical Role’s publishing company, Darrington Press. The first chapter of Candela Obscura stars veteran voice actors Robbie Daymond, Laura Bailey, Anjali Bhimani, and Ashley Johnson and the story is led by Matthew Mercer. The show will premiere on May 25th at 7pm Pacific on Twitch & YouTube and continues on the last Thursday of each month. Podcast and VOD will be available two weeks after its initial broadcast. Learn more here. Lightkeeper: Taliesin Jaffe Music by Colm McGuinness


You can watch the trailer below:


 

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This is my thought as well, but you know what? When we all started out, odds are good we gamed 'wrong' -- but we had fun.

Critical Role, I feel, has done a decent job of representing other, non-d20 games over the years, such as Deadlands/Savage Worlds. Monsterheart, the Honey Heists, etc. Undeadwood was probably my particular favorite mini-series they ran.

Undeadwood was excellent!
 

aramis erak

Legend
Looks like a Call of Cthulhu retro-clone. How is it different from the classic horror TTRPG?
The rules are almost nothing like it.
No traditional attributes, per se; drives are similar in use to Attributes in Cypher - a pool of metacurrency.
The "actions" are comparable to superbroad skills or slightly narrow attributes
The intended play mode is somewhere between traditional and AWE/PBTA. Rolls are only to be made if consequences are not interesting.
It's a d6 dicepool, count best die, 4 outcome levels:
Highest die ≤3failure, with consequences
Highest die 4 or 5success at cost
one die shows a 6success, no major consequences
multiple 6'ssuccess with bonus gain.
special abilites in feat-like mode of use. They are gained via advancement.
Characters come in "roles" - 5 of them, each with two specialities. So, essentially, class based advancement.
the circle (investigative group) has mechanical teeth¹.
A hostility to the CoC mode of insanity (QSM p8) "Due to the legacy of harmful mental health representation in the horror genre, we would like to clarify: Brain marks represent mental and emotional stress." The following page presents a very different approach, one of choosing one's own mental scars, no permanent mental scars

Settingwise,
  • the result of excess exposure to magic isn't insanity, but possession. (Rules of Magic 3rd point)
  • The setting includes an orgaization that issues assignments as a default mode of play
  • Magic is not evenly available geographically. (CoC, last I checked, simply assumed magic worked the same everywhere.)
  • Intentionally explicitly ahistorical. (QSM p 6) "When crafting your character, it is crucial toavoid the harmful stereotypes often present in the historical and horror genres."
  • The setting appears to not be any recognizable place from our earth.
  • The illustrations look late victorian to WW II era, but the NPCs have modern pronoun choices. (QSM p18 "Olu Adjei (they/them):[...]" - I can't find any description of their appearance.)
(I've not read the current CoC, but I've been assured it's not that different from older ones.)

The QSM has one interesting element¹): a history section showing the real world elements inspiring the adventure, including some rather interesting observations.

I'd hazard a guess that it's less focused upon the Mythos of HPL or the Clark Ashton Smith variation.... and more on the wider array of the specific subgenre of esoteric horror and its crossovers into the shared border with modern urban horror.

I am finding the mechanics interesting, even if the setting leaves me cold.¹



¹: Pun intentional
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
The rules are almost nothing like it.
No traditional attributes, per se; drives are similar in use to Attributes in Cypher - a pool of metacurrency.
The "actions" are comparable to superbroad skills or slightly narrow attributes
The intended play mode is somewhere between traditional and AWE/PBTA. Rolls are only to be made if consequences are not interesting.
It's a d6 dicepool, count best die, 4 outcome levels:
Highest die ≤3failure, with consequences
Highest die 4 or 5success at cost
one die shows a 6success, no major consequences
multiple 6'ssuccess with bonus gain.
special abilites in feat-like mode of use. They are gained via advancement.
Characters come in "roles" - 5 of them, each with two specialities. So, essentially, class based advancement.
the circle (investigative group) has mechanical teeth¹.
A hostility to the CoC mode of insanity (QSM p8) "Due to the legacy of harmful mental health representation in the horror genre, we would like to clarify: Brain marks represent mental and emotional stress." The following page presents a very different approach, one of choosing one's own mental scars, no permanent mental scars

Settingwise,
  • the result of excess exposure to magic isn't insanity, but possession. (Rules of Magic 3rd point)
  • The setting includes an orgaization that issues assignments as a default mode of play
  • Magic is not evenly available geographically. (CoC, last I checked, simply assumed magic worked the same everywhere.)
  • Intentionally explicitly ahistorical. (QSM p 6) "When crafting your character, it is crucial toavoid the harmful stereotypes often present in the historical and horror genres."
  • The setting appears to not be any recognizable place from our earth.
  • The illustrations look late victorian to WW II era, but the NPCs have modern pronoun choices. (QSM p18 "Olu Adjei (they/them):[...]" - I can't find any description of their appearance.)
(I've not read the current CoC, but I've been assured it's not that different from older ones.)

The QSM has one interesting element¹): a history section showing the real world elements inspiring the adventure, including some rather interesting observations.

I'd hazard a guess that it's less focused upon the Mythos of HPL or the Clark Ashton Smith variation.... and more on the wider array of the specific subgenre of esoteric horror and its crossovers into the shared border with modern urban horror.

I am finding the mechanics interesting, even if the setting leaves me cold.¹



¹: Pun intentional
I agree with the Alexandrian on most of the mental health issues raised in the Quickstart. The text finger wags at Call of Cthulhu (and others games) for giving mechanical depiction of mental health issues…then on the next page gives mechanical depiction of mental health issues. Like others, I’m more interested in Illuminated Worlds than I am in Candela Obscura per se.
 

aramis erak

Legend
I agree with the Alexandrian on most of the mental health issues raised in the Quickstart. The text finger wags at Call of Cthulhu (and others games) for giving mechanical depiction of mental health issues…then on the next page gives mechanical depiction of mental health issues. Like others, I’m more interested in Illuminated Worlds than I am in Candela Obscura per se.
I strongly their big issue with CoC is that it's too random.

That's been a big complaint of many about WFRP (and the FFG 40k RPG's), Palladium, and several others. The result of triggering the insanity gain is a radomized insanity, rather than one tied to character and trigger.

They're building short term traumatic behaviors based upon the inciting trigger.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I strongly their big issue with CoC is that it's too random.

That's been a big complaint of many about WFRP (and the FFG 40k RPG's), Palladium, and several others. The result of triggering the insanity gain is a radomized insanity, rather than one tied to character and trigger.

They're building short term traumatic behaviors based upon the inciting trigger.
Not according to the text. It’s all about CR wanting to take a “more ethical” stance.

“In our experience, roleplaying “insanity” is neither ethical nor mechanically viable. Scars—especially Brain scars—should be understood as a change, never a lessening.”

Okay, so it’s unethical according to CR and mechanically unviable. Cool.

So it’s a bit weird that further down that same page they list mental health conditions as mechanical representations of “brain scars” and list physical disabilities as mechanical representations of “body scars”. It’s more than a bit hypocritical to say it’s bad, then do it themselves on the same page.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Not according to the text. It’s all about CR wanting to take a “more ethical” stance.

“In our experience, roleplaying “insanity” is neither ethical nor mechanically viable. Scars—especially Brain scars—should be understood as a change, never a lessening.”

Okay, so it’s unethical according to CR and mechanically unviable. Cool.

So it’s a bit weird that further down that same page they list mental health conditions as mechanical representations of “brain scars” and list physical disabilities as mechanical representations of “body scars”. It’s more than a bit hypocritical to say it’s bad, then do it themselves on the same page.
It does sorta feel like they are trying to have their cake and eat it too here.
 

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