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Critical Role is branching out from D&D by publishing two new RPG systems

A new deckbuilding game was also announced

Queen By Midnight features a Black woman on the cover, which is bright purple, blue, and pink. The box is flanked by an elaborate cardboard clock, which appears to double as a dice tower. Image: Darrington Press

Critical Role’s Darrington Press imprint has two new role-playing games and a new board game in the pipeline, all of which will soon have playable public demos. The announcement marks a departure for the actual play troupe, which has largely spent its time performing and publishing works based on Dungeons & Dragons. The announcement was made Thursday in a video briefing published on YouTube.

Perhaps the most interesting of the three new products is called Illuminated Worlds, created by Stras Acimovic and Layla Adelman. Acimovic is an accomplished game developer and part of the team at Off Guard Games, whose titles include the well-regarded Band of Blades and Scum and Villainy. Both use the Forged in the Dark ruleset, a licensed version of the popular Blades in the Dark game by John Harper.

According to a news release, Illuminated Worlds uses “a d6 dice pool and is designed for much shorter, arc-driven campaigns and flexible enough to be used with any type of setting.”

Queen by Midnight is a new deckbuilding game by Kyle Shire, a producer on Critical Role, described as a battle royale game. From today’s news release:

You play as powerful princesses battling it out in a magical free for all! When the clock strikes midnight, the most powerful princess left standing will be crowned the next Midnight Queen. Each princess has their own unique vibe and playstyle, so there’s a little something for everyone, whether you’re familiar with deck building games or not.

An early pre-order page for the game lists a price of $69.99, and also adds more color to the description:

The Midnight Queen is dead. As her kingdom weeps, the Queen’s dying command was to invoke the Rule By Midnight: a 24 hour trial of combat and guile, where the Princesses of the Twelve Lands meet in secret to battle and scheme against one another. At the stroke of midnight, the most powerful Princess left standing will be crowned the new Midnight Queen.

Daggerheart, on the other hand, was given the least explanation, other than to say it’s a “fun and fresh update to the fantasy genre of RPGs” that has been built “for long-term campaign play and character progression.”

Darrington Press has had mixed success so far with its creations. We found Uk’toa, its first board game, to be a touch finicky when it arrived in 2021. Meanwhile, Till the Last Gasp, a novel hybrid of a role-playing game and a board game, has received rave reviews. Polygon called it “engrossing yet light, allowing for complex narratives or concise poetic duels shrouded in mystery.”

All three new games will be available to demo at this year’s Gen Con in Indianapolis, which begins Aug. 3.

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