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Critical Role's 'Daggerheart' Open Playtest Starts In March

System plays on 'the dualities of hope and fear'.


On March 12th, Critical Role's Darrington Press will be launching the open playtest for Daggerheart, their new fantasy TTRPG/

Using cards and two d12s, the system plays on 'the dualities of hope and fear'. The game is slated for a 2025 release.

Almost a year ago, we announced that we’ve been working hard behind-the-scenes on Daggerheart, our contribution to the world of high-fantasy tabletop roleplaying games.

Daggerheart is a game of brave heroics and vibrant worlds that are built together with your gaming group. Create a shared story with your adventuring party, and shape your world through rich, long-term campaign play.

When it’s time for the game mechanics to control fate, players roll one HOPE die and one FEAR die (both 12-sided dice), which will ultimately impact the outcome for your characters. This duality between the forces of hope and fear on every hero drives the unique character-focused narratives in Daggerheart.

In addition to dice, Daggerheart’s card system makes it easy to get started and satisfying to grow your abilities by bringing your characters’ background and capabilities to your fingertips. Ancestry and Community cards describe where you come from and how your experience shapes your customs and values. Meanwhile, your Subclass and Domain cards grant your character plenty of tantalizing abilities to choose from as your character evolves.

And now, dear reader, we’re excited to let you know that our Daggerheart Open Beta Playtest will launch globally on our 9th anniversary, Tuesday, March 12th!

We want anyone and everyone (over the age of 18, please) to help us make Daggerheart as wonderful as possible, which means…helping us break the game. Seriously! The game is not finished or polished yet, which is why it’s critical (ha!) to gather all of your feedback ahead of Daggerheart’s public release in 2025.

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Relaxed Intensity
I feel like this is driving a lot of lashback against the concerns people are voicing. The worry is "you have to toss out freeform initiative to address this problem!"

You don't...there are mechanical ways to address the issue of a player going too often in a combat. I've mentioned a couple of simple ones...it could be a stress, a hope, or an extra action token. If the system's default is every player should go the vast majority of the time, then you can offer the flexible options but create disincentives to use that. If a group wants to take the penalty and let one player go multiple times, than fine that's their choice that fits the particular narrative.... but the mechanics have clearly told the players "this is the odd exception not the rule

My biggest concern personally is losing the spirit of the game as constituted. What I like about the game I'm seeing is that it appears to be gloriously unafraid of its players. From the unstructured nature to combat, to spells/abilities with minimal caveats and not a lot of strong rationing, to a core mechanic where success means you emphatically accomplish what you set out to it seems to be a game that gives individual players the ability to have a dramatic impact without jumping through the sort of hoops you have to in a lot of games.

I don't want to lose the spirit of game that includes the following sorts of example DCs:

5 = Detect an obvious ambush. Notice an obvious deception.
10 = Detect a looming threat. Notice an average person’s lies.
15 = Detect hostile intent from an average foe. See through a merchants’ lies.
20 = Detect veiled hostility from a courtier. Detect an assassin’s approach.
25 = Identify a spymaster’s plot. Read the true intentions of a master courtier.
30 = Sense a shred of doubt within a God’s pronouncement.

I also am someone who thinks that process of play is a design lever that can resolve a lot of these sorts of issues because I have seen it work in other games.

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Relaxed Intensity
This might just be a result of the play priorities of the groups I have run and played with in the past, but my experience with games where characters can degrade as a result of loss conditions (Vampire - The Requiem, Legend of the Five Rings Fifth Edition, The Doomed Playbook in Masks, Apocalypse Keys and The Between) I have never seen players abandon characters with unfinished business to have a clean, more effective slate.

Thomas Shey

That doesn't mean they just ignore potential risks. They carry out risk assessments and take reasonable precautions to minimise them. Just because it's impossible to eliminate all risk it doesn't mean you just turn a blind eye to it.

Actually when the risk is low enough, and fixing it has enough knock-on effects, we do it all the time. That's my suggestion here; this seems likely a pretty ruddy low risk event.

This game is kind of designed for thespians. There is only one thing thespians love more than playing a character with physical and emotional traumas, and that is playing a heroic death scene!

But for the mere mortals, questions about wining and losing, and not screwing things up for other players, lest we make ourselves unpopular, enter into the equation.
And them playing Daggerheaet beats them joining your D&D game and spending half an hour making a dramatic monolog about their tortured past.

Unless you don't mind accommodating them??


Jedi Master
Okay, longtime D&D player here who's only occasionally dabbled in other systems (most recently Call of Cthulu and the Star Wars RPG, things like Rifts and TMNT way back in the day) and also a huge CR fan. I've only read thru thru the rules (no playtest yet) and overall it seems fine.

The one thing I can't wrap my head around is how the system provides more narrative control for the PCs than 5e (and honestly, why Mercer, who likes to run strong threads of fate in his games would be attracted to that as a system, but that's a separate questions). Hope/Fear seems to take away control from the PCs and the DM, putting much more of the narrative on Chance than Fate (DM) or Choice (PCs).

As my experience with TTRPGs doesn't have a lot of breadth, can someone help explain what the conceit here is. I run 5e as a narrative that evolves out of the intersection of Fate, Choice and Chance allowing the story to emerge for all at the table.


I crit!
FYI it looks like a revised version is coming out Tuesday.

From the Dagger Heart Discord.

We asked for feedback and boy did you answer!

We are so excited to say next Tuesday, 4/09, our #DaggerheartDrop will be version 1.3 of the Daggerheart playtest ❤️‍🔥

To celebrate we will be hosting a livestream where Spenser Starke and Matthew Mercer go over the changes and answer your questions in chat!

Read more at: Daggerheart Playtest

Already have a game planned for this weekend? Don’t roll with Fear!

All feedback is enormously valuable. The survey will now ask which version of the materials you used, so all submitted information can still help improve the game.

Thank you for all your feedback so far, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts in this next round!


I absolutely do want that in my D&D games!
Indeed. And there’s the rub. If you already have players who play that way, then they can play that way using 5e, or pretty much any other loose ruleset. They don’t need Daggerheart.

And if the players don’t play that way, then does Daggerheart do enough to promote and teach that style of play? I don’t think so. It has lots of aspirational words, but the rules don’t do enough to support the aspirations. It could do, but it needs more work.
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