In anticipation of their new live play series “Candela Obscura”, the renowned Critical Role troupe and the Darrington Press team have released a quickstart guide for their original tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) system. This guide offers a comprehensive introduction to the game’s unique setting, intricate mechanics, and character development, providing fans with a sneak peek into the world of Candela Obscura ahead of the series premiere. Now, let’s delve deeper into this highly anticipated TTRPG in our extensive first look.

“When was the last time you felt real fear?”

Candela Obscura

In Candela Obscura, players are thrust into a world teetering on the brink of supernatural chaos. The game is set in the city of Newfaire, a sprawling metropolis built atop the ruins of an ancient civilization. This civilization was once teeming with powerful magick, remnants of which still linger, infusing the city with a sense of mystery and danger.

Players become members of Candela Obscura, a secret society dedicated to protecting the city from dangerous supernatural forces seeping into their world through weakened barriers known as ‘thinnings’. These thinnings are places where the barrier between the mundane world and the realm of magick, known as the Flare, is weak, allowing magick to seep through and manifest in various ways.

The game encourages exploration and investigation, with players tasked with unraveling the mysteries of the supernatural phenomena threatening their world. The city of Newfaire, with its rich history and lore, provides a fertile ground for storytelling and adventure. From the crowded downtown streets of the Varnish to the cornfields of Tottergrass and the writhing underground ruins of Oldfaire, players will have a vast and diverse landscape to explore.

The Role of Magick in Candela Obscura

In Candela Obscura, magick is not just a tool for players to wield, but a force that shapes the world around them. It is a remnant of an ancient civilization that once thrived in the city of Newfaire, and its influence can still be felt in the city’s architecture, culture, and the supernatural phenomena that plague it.

The game’s mechanics for dealing with magick and its effects, such as the concept of ‘bleed’, add a layer of complexity and danger to the game. ‘Bleed’ is a term used to describe the effects of magick on the mundane world. When magick bleeds into the world, it can cause all sorts of strange and terrifying phenomena, from ghostly apparitions to time distortions and even physical transformations.

Players, as members of Candela Obscura, must learn to navigate these effects and use their own magick to protect the city. However, using magick is not without its risks. The more a player uses magick, the more they risk causing a ‘flare’, a powerful and often uncontrollable burst of magick that can have devastating consequences.

The Importance of Character Development

Candela Obscura places a strong emphasis on character development, with players encouraged to explore their characters’ motivations, fears, and personal mysteries. Each character in the game is a member of Candela Obscura, a secret society dedicated to protecting the city of Newfaire from supernatural threats. However, each character also has their own personal history, motivations, and secrets that can add depth to the game’s narrative.

The game’s mechanics for dealing with harm and injury, such as the concept of ‘scars’, provide opportunities for players to explore the lasting impacts of their adventures on their characters. In Candela Obscura, ‘scars’ are not just physical injuries but can also be psychological or emotional wounds. When a character takes a scar, it signifies a significant event in their story, and can have a profound impact on their development and the way they interact with the world.

For example, a character who takes a physical scar might become more cautious, while a character who takes an emotional scar might become more withdrawn or develop a new fear or phobia. These scars can also affect a character’s relationships with other characters, adding another layer of depth to the game’s narrative.

The Intricacies of the Game Mechanics

Candela Obscura employs the Illuminated Worlds d6 dice pool system, which adds an element of unpredictability and tension to the game. The outcomes of player actions are determined by dice rolls, with the possibility of failure, mixed success, full success, and even critical success. This system creates a dynamic and engaging gameplay experience, where the outcome of each action is uncertain and can dramatically impact the narrative. More to come on the Illuminated Worlds d6 dice pool system…

The game also includes mechanics for resisting consequences, using unique character abilities, and managing resources like ‘drive’ and ‘resistance’. ‘Drive’ represents a character’s motivation and determination, and can be used to push through challenges and resist the effects of magick. ‘Resistance’, on the other hand, represents a character’s physical and mental resilience, and can be used to mitigate the effects of harm and injury.

In addition, Candela Obscura includes mechanics for dealing with magick, such as the concept of ‘bleed’ and ‘flare’. These mechanics add a layer of complexity and danger to the game, making the use of magick a risky but potentially rewarding strategy.

The Role of the Gamemaster

In Candela Obscura, the Gamemaster (GM) plays a critical role in guiding the narrative, controlling non-player characters (NPCs), and describing the world. The GM sets the stakes of each roll, indicating how dangerous the consequences might be. This role requires a balance of creativity, adaptability, and a deep understanding of the game’s rules and mechanics.

The GM is also responsible for creating the assignments that the players will undertake. These assignments are the main narrative arcs of the game, and can involve anything from investigating supernatural phenomena to dealing with threats from rival factions within the city. The GM must craft these assignments in a way that engages the players, challenges their characters, and advances the overall narrative of the campaign.

In addition, the GM has the important task of managing the game’s horror elements. Candela Obscura is a horror TTRPG, and the GM must balance the need for tension and fear with the players’ comfort levels. The game includes safety tools to help regulate these horror elements, ensuring that all players have a fun and enjoyable experience.

The Significance of the Circle

In Candela Obscura, players form a group known as a ‘circle’. The circle is more than just a team; it represents the bonds and relationships between the characters. The game includes mechanics for building and developing these relationships, as well as for managing the circle’s resources and abilities.

Each circle has a shared pool of resources, known as the ‘circle pool’, which can be used to aid in investigations, resist the effects of magick, and overcome challenges. The circle pool is replenished by the characters’ individual ‘drive’, representing the collective determination and willpower of the circle.

The circle also has a shared ‘base of operations’, a safe haven where the characters can rest, recover, and plan their next moves. This base can be customized and upgraded over the course of the campaign, providing another layer of depth and customization to the game.

The relationships between the characters in the circle can also evolve and change over the course of the campaign. Characters can form bonds, rivalries, and even romantic relationships, adding a layer of interpersonal drama to the game’s narrative.

Final Thoughts

Candela Obscura is a promising new addition to the TTRPG genre. With its unique setting, intricate game mechanics, and emphasis on character development and group dynamics, it offers a fresh and engaging take on horror role-playing.

The game’s setting, the city of Newfaire, sounds to be a rich and diverse landscape teeming with mystery and danger. From the crowded streets of the Varnish to the underground ruins of Oldfaire, players will have a vast world to explore and protect.

The game’s mechanics, from the Illuminated Worlds d6 dice pool system to the concepts of ‘bleed’, ‘flare’, and ‘scars’, provide a deep and engaging gameplay experience. The game’s emphasis on investigation over combat, and the importance of character development and group dynamics, make it a unique and refreshing take on the TTRPG genre.

Whether you’re a seasoned TTRPG player looking for a new challenge, or just a Critical Role fan looking take your first dip in the TTRPG pool, Candela Obscura is definitely worth checking out.