Download Critical Role’s New RPG Quickstart

Free guide to Candela Obscura, powered by the new Illuminated Worlds system

The QuickStart rules for Critical Role’s upcoming game, Candela Obscura, powered by their new Illuminated Worlds system, is available as a free download in advance of the livestream of the game which starts this week.

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Candela Obscura (bestowed the hashtag #CandelaObscura) is a new tabletop roleplaying game that places you in the roles of investigators working for an esoteric order. In this game of gothic horror, individuals of varied talents are brought together under the organization Candela Obscura. You’ll pursue strange occurrences and encounter dangerous magicks, fighting back against a mysterious source of corruption and bleed. Candela Obscura is the first to use the Illuminated Worlds System, a newly designed system that uses 6-sided dice and lends itself to narrative, arc-driven play.
 

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overgeeked

B/X Known World
I am an avid player of CoC, Chill, CoD, WoD as well as games like Vaesen and Rippers so I am quite familiar with the horror genre and horror RPGs. In a game where you are encouraged to not just have one shots but to have a series of one shots the concept that you can only heal once maybe twice in-between games over the course of 4 gaming sessions means that by the time you gain enough xp to level up you will have taken a permanent scare of which you can only ever have three and they can never be healed or recovered from. It means that long term okay is going to be difficult if not impossible. With how the rules are written (from what we have seen so far) I doubt that you will survive more than a dozen games. In CoC or Chill this is fine but this game in premise is closer to Vaesen.
The arcs are 1-3 sessions long. You can only heal a limited amount between sessions while playing the same arc. It sounds like you mostly get how it works but are thinking of a different setup. Adjust that assumption and you’re good. It’s more Call of Cthulhu than Vaesen. And then, as you say, it’s fine.
 

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WanderingMystic

Adventurer
The arcs are 1-3 sessions long. You can only heal a limited amount between sessions while playing the same arc. It sounds like you mostly get how it works but are thinking of a different setup. Adjust that assumption and you’re good. It’s more Call of Cthulhu than Vaesen. And then, as you say, it’s fine.
So what I saw (and I might just be mis interpreting what I have read) it felt like it was meant to be a serial type game where each mission was only 1-3 sessions long and that the next game was just another mission which is what made me think it would be more like Vaesen. It was looking at the XP and how your circle gain XP that I saw that your healing and recovery between missions was tied to XP and that without spending one of your 5 recoveries per level.

Now they also have the milestones which are every 7xp or about ever session, but nothing in the qs uses them. If everyone recovered like 1 wound and got back one or two of their luck mechanic every milestone then I could see how you could just continue to have this sprawling episodic story about your circle and how they worked to stop the bleed.

Now I will more than likely still be buying the book or at least the pdf when it comes out so I can see more, if only because I want a different horror game to run. While I love CoC it is best at one shots and can be a little more complex than my players prefer. I am tired of world of darkness, and Vaesen is too rooted in really fairy tales where I prefer more gothic literature feeling for my games. I am still waiting on Old Gods of Appalachia but most other Cypher games your characters are to powerful for what I like so I am not quite sure if it will be low power enough for what I want in a horror game.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
So what I saw (and I might just be mis interpreting what I have read) it felt like it was meant to be a serial type game where each mission was only 1-3 sessions long and that the next game was just another mission which is what made me think it would be more like Vaesen. It was looking at the XP and how your circle gain XP that I saw that your healing and recovery between missions was tied to XP and that without spending one of your 5 recoveries per level.

Now they also have the milestones which are every 7xp or about ever session, but nothing in the qs uses them. If everyone recovered like 1 wound and got back one or two of their luck mechanic every milestone then I could see how you could just continue to have this sprawling episodic story about your circle and how they worked to stop the bleed.

Now I will more than likely still be buying the book or at least the pdf when it comes out so I can see more, if only because I want a different horror game to run. While I love CoC it is best at one shots and can be a little more complex than my players prefer. I am tired of world of darkness, and Vaesen is too rooted in really fairy tales where I prefer more gothic literature feeling for my games. I am still waiting on Old Gods of Appalachia but most other Cypher games your characters are to powerful for what I like so I am not quite sure if it will be low power enough for what I want in a horror game.
The impression I get from this is that it's explicitly a horror / old-school game where the story is about the group (or circle) rather than the individual characters. I know more about Call of Cthulhu than Vaesen, so that's my touchstone. The circle works as the investigator organization, which allows the group to continue despite regular replacement of characters. To me that really drives the horror home. Having characters simply survive through the worst horrors session after session takes the bite out of the horror. Having characters deplete resources, gain scars, have to consider risk vs reward, etc adds to the horror. Which is exactly what I'm looking for in a horror game. Mechanics that actively reinforce the horror. I don't like "horror" as a lightly applied theme. I want horror that's actually horrific. Players having to sweat healing vs scars and becoming too damaged to continue is exactly the kind of thing I want in a horror game.
 

bedir than

Full Moon Storyteller
The impression I get from this is that it's explicitly a horror / old-school game where the story is about the group (or circle) rather than the individual characters. I know more about Call of Cthulhu than Vaesen, so that's my touchstone. The circle works as the investigator organization, which allows the group to continue despite regular replacement of characters. To me that really drives the horror home. Having characters simply survive through the worst horrors session after session takes the bite out of the horror. Having characters deplete resources, gain scars, have to consider risk vs reward, etc adds to the horror. Which is exactly what I'm looking for in a horror game. Mechanics that actively reinforce the horror. I don't like "horror" as a lightly applied theme. I want horror that's actually horrific. Players having to sweat healing vs scars and becoming too damaged to continue is exactly the kind of thing I want in a horror game.
Oh, this makes it seem a bit like the streaming show "Another Life." In that sci-fi horror every episode at least one character dies. The group keeps going and changing, but of the original main characters I think only 20% survive the whole thing.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Oh, this makes it seem a bit like the streaming show "Another Life." In that sci-fi horror every episode at least one character dies. The group keeps going and changing, but of the original main characters I think only 20% survive the whole thing.
Sounds awesome. Sign me up!
 

WanderingMystic

Adventurer
So in Vaesen (a great game btw) you are an individual who can see the supernatural for what it truly is. You band togeather into groups and slowly build up your chapter house as you take on individual missions to help others who are exposed to the supernatural.

If the goal is to focus on the Circle and just bring investigators in and out then I can understand that and see how it would work with the system as presented.

So every game I run has elements of horror in them regardless of the over aching genre. I want my players to get scars both mental, physical and spiritual, and it is the reason I won't run DND type games (give me Warhammer fantasy where a rat might kill you).

I think the thing that was jarring to me was the three scars and your character is dead/unplayable more than how easy it is to gain the scars in the first place. Yeah I've lost an eye, now have a bad drinking habit to calm my nerves, have a phobia of anything with tentacles and my shadow moves on its own accord, that is no reason for me to stop playing my character, that's when it is getting interesting.
 

Now they also have the milestones which are every 7xp or about ever session, but nothing in the qs uses them. If everyone recovered like 1 wound and got back one or two of their luck mechanic every milestone then I could see how you could just continue to have this sprawling episodic story about your circle and how they worked to stop the bleed.
I'm not sure, but I had thought the Illuminated Worlds series wasn't intended to be for longest-term play, that it was for shorter form arcs.

From the State of the Role piece on Darrington:
Further, the video announces two new RPG systems we’ll be releasing: Illuminated Worlds, optimized for short story arcs and adaptable to myriad settings, and Daggerheart, a fresh take on fantasy RPGs with emphasis on longer campaigns and rich character options.

So, I have the feeling the characters are really supposed to take a long of gritty wear and tear and abuse. Not quite disposable, but maybe also meant to be replaced in later arcs. (Side note: I recommend the Crystal Palace one-shot of CoC that Taliesin ran... not too shabby)
 

A thoughtful review about the game, the actual play, and the reactions to both by Cannibal Halfling Gaming


At the end of the day, we have a Forged in the Dark game, distilled for Actual Play use. Many of the setting principles of Blades in the Dark and Vaesen are there but dulled down, lightening up the darkness and removing any allusions to actual capitalist exploitation or actual commentary on Christian expansion and hegemony as existed in Vaesen. “We just want to have fun, guys, not worry about all that stuff. But you can explore that all at home, as long as you write characters with integrity!” As I mentioned in the intro, I firmly believe that mechanically, this game was exactly the right move for what is simply a business, trying to sell subscriptions and sourcebooks. Setting-wise, though, what started out as perhaps a bit derivative ended up being a clear indication of a mind virus, though whether it’s a D&D mind virus or a Los Angeles/Hollywood mind virus I’m not entirely sure. Darrington Press desperately wants to have it both ways, to be seen as progressive and ‘with it’ but not actually engage with any politics or the implications of their setting. To be honest, I can’t think of a scenario where they wouldn’t have done this; way too much money is on the table. That said, they probably could have done it a lot better.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
A thoughtful review about the game, the actual play, and the reactions to both by Cannibal Halfling Gaming

Considering it's session one of an ongoing series, and considering those themes are explicitly present in the Quickstart, I think it's far too early to make those kinds of proclamations.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Considering it's session one of an ongoing series, and considering those themes are explicitly present in the Quickstart, I think it's far too early to make those kinds of proclamations.
My own issue has less to do with dulling down the themes, but, rather, how CO seems to dull down and/or strips out the player-driven agency found in Blades in the Dark in favor of giving the GM authority to provide more on-the-rails GM storytelling. I talked about this in my initial reaction here. This change to BitD even gets mentioned in the Gizmodo review that is linked in the aforementioned review.

Blades in the Dark gets mentioned as inspiration, but I would hate if GMs decided to try BitD and then run BitD as if it were a more traditional or mainstream game.
 

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