Download Critical Role’s New RPG Quickstart

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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pemerton

Legend
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.
there’s no doubt that this game and stream will serve as an intro to FitD for many, so seeing some of the more meaningful elements changed just rubs me the wrong way.
I think there's a fairly large contingent of players that like both the rules-lightness and the concepts of narrative play in principle, but aren't comfortable with moving the engine of the narrative from the DM to the players.
On this issue, I think I align with @TwoSix.

From John Harper's point of view, it seems that this new CR game will promote sales of BitD, so he'll probably enjoy that!

And from the point of view of RPGing culture, I don't feel that this project will "set back" the development and uptake of "story now"-type RPGs. Some players who haven't yet encountered them may discover them as a result of it; but as TwoSix says, I think many RPGers really don't want "story now". They want a type of "security" or "certainty" (the scare quotes are not to mock these notions, but rather because I'm looking for the right word that will sit in the same space as TwoSix's "comfort") that GM-authored RPGing provides.

The upshot that seems likely to me is that, just as a lot of DW play (including play discussed on these boards) seems to be basically trad or neo-trad, so in the future more and more BitD play (fostered by Candela Obscura) will by trad or neo-trad. (Eg flashbacks will come to serve a similar sort of purpose to the role played by clues in GUMSHOE.)

I won't be rushing out to try and join in those games (!), but that's just my preferences.
 

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pemerton

Legend
Fair enough. Maybe to appeal to both styles of gamer then?
Some of Spenser Starke’s tweets on the game make it seems like it was a design goal of his to both introduce a primarily D&D playing audience to FitD and also to bridge the gap between them to soften the transition some.
Speaking just for myself, this doesn't make a lot of sense. For exactly the reasons that @TwoSix has given.

There's no real halfway house that I can see between GM-authored and player-driven. Adopting BitD dice conventions, but using D&D authority and authorship conventions, seems to me like D&D with a new coat of paint.

Maybe there's stuff about Candela Obscura that I'm being unfair to in that description of it?
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
On this issue, I think I align with @TwoSix.

From John Harper's point of view, it seems that this new CR game will promote sales of BitD, so he'll probably enjoy that!

And from the point of view of RPGing culture, I don't feel that this project will "set back" the development and uptake of "story now"-type RPGs. Some players who haven't yet encountered them may discover them as a result of it; but as TwoSix says, I think many RPGers really don't want "story now". They want a type of "security" or "certainty" (the scare quotes are not to mock these notions, but rather because I'm looking for the right word that will sit in the same space as TwoSix's "comfort") that GM-authored RPGing provides.

The upshot that seems likely to me is that, just as a lot of DW play (including play discussed on these boards) seems to be basically trad or neo-trad, so in the future more and more BitD play (fostered by Candela Obscura) will by trad or neo-trad. (Eg flashbacks will come to serve a similar sort of purpose to the role played by clues in GUMSHOE.)

I won't be rushing out to try and join in those games (!), but that's just my preferences.

Yeah, I'm sure Harper won't mind even more eyes on his game! He's even involved in the project in some way, from what I've read, so if he has any similar concerns, it'd seem they don't outweigh the possible benefits of involvement.

It's possible that exposure to the game will lead to more people trying Blades and similar games... that Candela Obscura bridges the gap between the kind of neo-trad game it seems to be and a more story now type game like Blades. But as you say, what seems more likely is that more folks will play such games in a different way than intended. And while that may be perfectly fine, I'd rather see more playing the way it's intended to be played. So I wish they'd hewed more closely to the FitD design.

But, given it's a quickstart, perhaps there is more to the game than what appears. We'll see!
 

pemerton

Legend
It's possible that exposure to the game will lead to more people trying Blades and similar games... that Candela Obscura bridges the gap between the kind of neo-trad game it seems to be and a more story now type game like Blades. But as you say, what seems more likely is that more folks will play such games in a different way than intended. And while that may be perfectly fine, I'd rather see more playing the way it's intended to be played. So I wish they'd hewed more closely to the FitD design.
This is one of the great imponderables of RPG design and RPG culture: would more people enjoy "story now" play if only they got to experience it in action?

My artistic inclinations, and love of human passion and creativity, make me want the answer to be "yes". On the other hand, the reality of the RPG market seems to suggest that the answer is "no", or at best "mostly no but for a few". Edwards use to say that it was the publishing model - which required pumping out supplements which becomes vehicles for GM (or supplement author)-driven play - that led to the preponderance of that sort of RPGing. But changes in publishing models, that Edwards himself helped to pioneer and that have benefitted tremendously from 20 years of internet developments, don't seem to have changed the RPG culture much beyond the margins.

So I think Edwards may have been wrong.
 

TwoSix

Uncomfortably diegetic
There's no real halfway house that I can see between GM-authored and player-driven. Adopting BitD dice conventions, but using D&D authority and authorship conventions, seems to me like D&D with a new coat of paint.
I feel like the possible transition is away from exploration and challenge-based play and towards scene and character-focused play, which plenty of D&D-only players may not have experienced.
 


hawkeyefan

Legend
This is one of the great imponderables of RPG design and RPG culture: would more people enjoy "story now" play if only they got to experience it in action?

My artistic inclinations, and love of human passion and creativity, make me want the answer to be "yes". On the other hand, the reality of the RPG market seems to suggest that the answer is "no", or at best "mostly no but for a few". Edwards use to say that it was the publishing model - which required pumping out supplements which becomes vehicles for GM (or supplement author)-driven play - that led to the preponderance of that sort of RPGing. But changes in publishing models, that Edwards himself helped to pioneer and that have benefitted tremendously from 20 years of internet developments, don't seem to have changed the RPG culture much beyond the margins.

So I think Edwards may have been wrong.

I can only go off my personal experience, and in that admittedly small sample, the answer is a pretty resounding yes. None of the players in my home group were familiar with Apocalypse World or Blades in the Dark prior to me introducing them a few years ago.... and all of them have come to really enjoy them. There's only one person in my extended group who seems averse to the, and he actually hasn't played any yet, so we'll see if that ever happens.

So I think my optimistic side takes that anecdotal evidence, combines it with the pretty clear fact that CR has introduced people to D&D and other games, and thinks that it's possible! And that's kind of why I wish they'd just gone all in!

But it's a minimal concern. Any shift in focus away from D&D and to other games and types of games is good for the hobby.
 

TwoSix

Uncomfortably diegetic
This is one of the great imponderables of RPG design and RPG culture: would more people enjoy "story now" play if only they got to experience it in action?

My artistic inclinations, and love of human passion and creativity, make me want the answer to be "yes". On the other hand, the reality of the RPG market seems to suggest that the answer is "no", or at best "mostly no but for a few". Edwards use to say that it was the publishing model - which required pumping out supplements which becomes vehicles for GM (or supplement author)-driven play - that led to the preponderance of that sort of RPGing. But changes in publishing models, that Edwards himself helped to pioneer and that have benefitted tremendously from 20 years of internet developments, don't seem to have changed the RPG culture much beyond the margins.

So I think Edwards may have been wrong.
My personal opinion is that without the weight of history and precedent, and we had a scenario where all of these playstyles were introduced simultaneously, we'd see greater adoption of "story now" play, but it wouldn't be a majority. I think the demands of player-driven story are greater than we often expect, and it only takes 1 or 2 participants to not be engaged to drag down a game. We can contrast this with trad play, where a game can continue indefinitely as long as it's driven by an engaged DM and somewhat participatory players.
 

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