Critical Role casts dishes on “So many dark secrets” in Candela Obscura Chapter 3
Tide and Bone promises to be a Candela Obscura series from Critical Role like no other, where Ashly Birch and Sam Riegel promise “the call is coming from inside the house.”
Critical Role’s Candela Obscura series has been a wildly successful experiment for the superstar tabletop team. Each of Critical Role’s three main campaigns thus far has its own style and flavor, but remains a high-fantasy narrative first and foremost.
With Candela Obscura, Critical Role has left the trappings of Tal’Dorei far behind, venturing into a brand new genre, setting, and even game system. Horror plays host here, with unknowable beasts stalking the Fairelands, and mysterious organizations doing what they can to cast a small light into the dark.
Candela Obscura’s first two chapters told stories of war and loss, shadows and secrets. Investigators survived their experiences forever changed if they managed to survive at all. Now, as viewers ready to meet a new circle of investigators, we had the chance to chat with Candela Obscura Chapter 3 players Ashly Burch and Sam Riegel as we learned what horrors await on the horizon.
Candela Obscura Chapter 3: The Circle of Tide and Bone
Ashly Burch rejoins the Critical Role table
Each chapter of Candela Obscura so far has featured two members of Critical Role core cast, playing in each of the three main campaigns. This time around, it’s Riegel and fellow cast member Liam O’Brien’s turn.
While the Circle of Tide and Bone does feature relative CR newcomers Gina Darling and Noshir Dalal, Burch is much less of a stranger to this space, appearing in a multitude of Critical Role projects over the years. Long-time fans will remember Burch’s work in Critical Role’s Shadows of the Crystal Palace oneshot and understand that she makes an excellent fit for the genre.
Speaking on what draws her to this type of Lovecraft-adjacent storytelling, Burch said “I kind of like chaos in a roleplaying setting. I like feeling kind of disempowered or at risk, I think it’s more narratively interesting, that tension. …It gives players more incentive to take large narrative swings. I like how squishy characters are in these more gothic and cosmic horror settings.”
While this certainly bodes well for Candela Obscura’s chapter 3’s storytelling, viewers may be in for a bumpy ride if they attach themselves too quickly to the Circle of Tide and Bone and their wellbeing.
When asked what their characters would be bringing to the table, Burch told us “There’s so many dark secrets for everyone. I play Doctor Elsie Roberts…she used to be part of the more elite contingent of society and has since fallen from grace. She’s getting work where she can get it and she’s pretty salty about that.” Burch was fascinated by the class differences in Candela and looked forward to exploring them through her character.
As for Riegel, his Candela Obscura character is an intentional departure from the norm, a “tough-guy character, and I don’t really play a lot of those. …A security guard muscle-for-hire.” Oscar Grim is the name of Riegel’s PC, and while he stated that “his friends call him Cary”, Burch was quick to interject that “Nobody calls him Cary.”
In an attempt to stay locked into Grim’s headspace, Riegel told us he gave his character a habit of eating hard candy, just so he’d have an excuse to keep from grinning widely throughout the game.
A new GM for a new chapter: Sam Riegel hypes up Aabria Iyengar
With Critical Role’s Matt Mercer and Candela Obscura designer Spenser Starke running chapters 1 and 2 respectively, chapter 3’s Game Master has a lot to live up to. Thankfully, Aabria Iyengar is more than up to the task. Having been at the same table as Iyengar before as a player in Exandria Unlimited: Calamity, Riegel told us how Iyengar’s work as GM helped propel this Chapter of Candela Obscura forward.
“She’s a force to be reckoned with with on either side of the table. It was really cool to watch her work, in addition to being a really great storyteller and bringing all these great ideas…I think the difference this time is she wasn’t afraid to use her authority as Game Master for us. …It was cool for me to watch her say no to some things.”
Riegel went on to state that Iyengar helped pare down the multitude of options each player brought to the table to strong, core ideas, cutting down on the chaos and driving the story forward.
Starting Candela Obscura with Chapter 3
For new viewers looking to dive into Candela Obscura, each chapter of the series has been designed to serve as a potential entry point. Even so, Riegel told us that there would be some additional payoff for viewers who have stuck close to the series so far.
“You’ll get a little glimpse in this chapter of Candela into some of the history of Newfaire and there’s a little more lore that gets explored, that I think folks that watched chapters one and two will particularly enjoy.”
Where is the danger?
When plied for details as to the threats looming in Candela Obscura chapter 3, Riegel and Burch played it coy but were still willing to divulge some interesting info. According to Burch, “the call is coming from inside the house, a little bit”, potentially hinting at threats looming from within Candela or even the Circle itself, rather than just from beyond the Flare.
Riegel backed this up with his own assertion that “the greatest danger is looking back in the mirror… the characters themselves might be their own worst enemy this time around.”
While the two were clearly having fun with these plot teases, what they revealed speaks to a Candela Obscura chapter that may be more willing to dive into internal horror and inter-party conflict, which is sure to excite many actual play fans hungry for drama.
Candela Obscura: Tide and Bone airdate
Candela Obscura Chapter 3: The Circle of Tide and Bone will premiere November 30 2023 on the Critical Role Twitch and Youtube channels. Subsequent episodes will arrive on the last Thursday of December and January. Be sure to tune in for this final chapter, but know that the world and work of Candela Obscura will live on, no matter what fate befalls this intrepid circle.
For players who wish to explore the Fairelands for themselves, the Candela Obscura core rulebook is available for purchase now.