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How Critical Role's Matt Mercer Helped Flesh Out Spenser And Hall's New Game - Exclusive

The team at "Critical Role" has brought "Dungeons & Dragons" gameplay to the masses. People who may have never given the game a shot before can see how it's done and — hopefully — get a group of friends together to play themselves. The team is also influencing the next generation of games for friends to play by developing their own: Kyle Shire made a big splash with "Queen by Midnight" earlier this year, and now, Spenser Starke and Rowan Hall have a new tabletop role-playing game on the horizon — "Candela Obscura."

The horror-based TTRPG sees players assume the roles of characters investigating paranormal activities, stumbling upon great terrors in the process. The "Critical Role" team has already done some playthroughs on their YouTube channel, and those early games really helped Starke and Hall in the development process. In an exclusive interview with Looper, the duo discussed how advantageous it was to have people they trusted try out the game, especially when it came to "Critical Role" mainstay Matthew Mercer. 

Hall explained the pivotal role Mercer assumed: "Hats off to Matt Mercer, who went on even earlier when the book was even more in development and was asking questions that we didn't necessarily have answers to until he asked, and what a fearless act to go on. He was so kind to come in, and he put us at ease, because he believed that we could all do it together." Everyone being so excited about the game helped push them further and get the game to where it is today.

The entire Critical Role team was excited to explore the world of Candela Obscura

Spenser Starke and Rowan Hall made an intricately fleshed-out world for players to explore. There's obviously a supernatural element, but the game takes place in a world similar to the turn-of-the-century United States. Certain technologies and political stratifications resemble our own world, even though it's entirely fictional. And Starke and Hall were just so happy to watch people want to see what they could do within this new realm. This included an examination of the Last Great War, which is basically the game's analog for World War I. Starke explained, "Everybody dove into the Last Great War. It was starting with Brennan [Lee Mulligan], who chose to be a soldier, and then from there, it cascaded that everybody else was related to the war in some way as well."

Such gameplays truly influenced the finished product, as they were in the middle of filling out the lore as the games transpired. They'd consult with what they had just witnessed, and Starke continued, "We'd take what we learned from the show that night and make sure that we're continually integrating. There's pieces from the show in the book that are there simply because I was in the middle of it as we were writing it."

The "Critical Role" games are a good starting point for anyone interested in playing "Candela Obscura" — not everything that's in the rulebook is there, but the basic pieces exist. The gameplays not only show a roadmap for how to get started with your own group, but you may also gain a greater appreciation of the finer notes of the book.

"Candela Obscura" is available from Darrington Press starting November 14 with standard and limited edition hardcovers.