Creating Characters for Candela Obscura: The Crimson Mirror

"Creating Characters for Candela Obscura: The Crimson Mirror"
Miscellaneous episode
"Creating Characters for Candela Obscura: The Crimson Mirror" (Mx33) thumbnail featuring Liam O'Brien.
Episode no.Episode 33
AirdateApril 30, 2024 10:00 PT
Running time1:39:52
Links and related articles
Episode chronology
"Critical Role Creates Characters in Daggerheart" (Mx32)
"Crafting a Mystery with Liam O'Brien" (Mx34)
List of miscellaneous content

"Creating Characters for Candela Obscura: The Crimson Mirror" (Mx33) is the character creation session for the Circle of the Crimson Mirror in the fourth chapter of Candela Obscura.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Expectations, mechanics, and setting[edit | edit source]

Liam introduces the mechanics of Candela Obscura and its horror genre, emphasizing that the game is rules-light, roleplay-heavy, and has a more serious and grounded tone. Liam states that while death will happen, he believes that marks and scars are very important to the game, and that when inflicted they are opportunities, not punishments. Liam expresses his love for the setting in Candela Obscura, particularly how Newfaire parallels the real world. He explains the history of the Last Great War and the current power structures in Newfaire, including the corruption within the Triumvirate. He emphasizes that magick is incredibly uncommon.

Character concepts[edit | edit source]

Alexander introduces his character: a Doctor and surgeon who is studying the effects of bleed on the human body to discover a way for human bodies to metabolize or adapt to bleed. In his late teens, his sister was exposed to high levels of bleed and vaporized next to him, which led to him wanting to prevent similar events from happening to others. Liam asks Alexander if anyone believed his character, and he answers that she is a missing person's case. Alexander describes the vaporization as if his character's sister and her shadow "reversed", and then the shadow faded.[1]

Aimee is interested in the spiritualism movement post-World War I and wonders if a similar event is happening in Newfaire. Her character is a young refugee from Otherwhere who was taken into a wealthy family as a maid after losing her parents. The wealthy family deals with artifacts and sells rare magick items on the black market, and her character realizes she can channel the spirits inhabiting magickal items. When her employers realize her abilities, around her late teens or early 20s, they use her spiritual abilities as a perk to potential buyers, which she greatly dislikes. She comes to Candela Obscura looking for a way to stop the suffering of the souls and help them rest. Liam offers a few ideas for where Aimee's character could be from, including Westwreck, outside of Newfaire but within Hale, or Otherwhere. Liam also explains the Shiver as a reason for people to be moving to Newfaire. He also offers the Red Hand as the organization the family could be involved in, and says a Candela agent could have found her by going through the Red Hand to gain artifacts.

Aimee asks about the relationship between Candela Obscura and the Red Hand, and Liam answers that while they are sometimes at odds, they also have different philosophies, with Candela focusing on containment within the Fourth Pharos rather than trading artifacts. Liam then explains how artifacts could be found in Oldfaire and how gear works mechanically. He adds that in this chapter he wants to explore real people dealing with real things, with the discovery of small bits of magick.

Aimee clarifies that her character likely deals with low-level artifacts, but that her character hates how spirits within items are being manipulated and monetized.

Liam returns to Alexander and asks if his character would have operated during the war as a surgeon. Alexander answers no, and that his character would be more comfortable with ideas rather than actions. Liam brings up the possibility of a draft in Newfaire, and the idea of Alexander's character dodging the draft, intentionally or otherwise. Alexander suggests that his character could have been injured by the bleed that affected his sister, causing him to not be eligible for the draft. Liam offers the table the possibility of starting with a scar and getting a bonus ability to balance it. Alexander says that he would be very willing to start with one.

Katy then introduces her character: a woman with a distant, Ascendancy-involved, father. Her character is "frazzled" and "clumsy", but wants her father's attention.[2] Her mother has gone missing or is out of the picture for unknown reasons. Her character is not initially talented at interpreting religion and instead falls into an obsession with the occult and magick. She finds an item or spell that has summoning abilities and tries to summon her mother. Inexperienced and without the proper materials, she instead awakens within her mind an Oldfairen past life of herself. This past life has some of the information that may have destroyed Oldfaire. Katy is interested in the conflict of a character who wants information or magick but knows the danger of that information. During the summoning attempt, Katy pitches that Candela may have had to stop or contain her, introducing her to them.

Alexander mentions the potential ties between her character and his, and Imari comments on the potential partnership between Aimee's and Katy's characters, as both are magically attuned. Liam pitches the possibility for Katy's character to have ended up in a Newfaire hospital after her summoning attempt, which would introduce her to Alexander's character, who could already be in Candela.

Imari's character is Malcolm Trills, a man from an upper-class Eaves family with a lineage of military service. Malcolm is a more artistic man and has different aspirations from his family. He is pressured to serve in the military to appease his family, is successful, and ends up in a special unit that contains and suppresses phenomena. Imari speculates that this unit could have ties to the Red Hand. On a mission, when sent out to contain a glowing artifact, the operation goes awry when a soldier touches it, and the entire unit is turned into energy and disappears. Malcolm attempts to save the soldier who made initial contact with the artifact but fails, and his hand is evaporated along with the soldier. Liam and Taliesin suggest that the unit could be connected to the Office of Unexplained Phenomena rather than the Red Hand, which Imari agrees with. After the failed mission, Malcolm wants to know more about what happened and why he survived when others didn't. He becomes focused on this event and bitter about the war and is cut off from his family as a result. After the war, he becomes a helper-for-hire in the Red Lamp, occasionally working as a bouncer. He obtains a prosthetic hand with a bleed detector built into it. He found Candela by trying to discover what happened to his crew in the war. Liam asks if Malcolm would have served loyally in the Last Great War, which Imari affirms: Both to protect his crew and please his family. Liam points out potential connections between Alexander's surgeon's interest in bleed and Malcolm's injury from bleed, or the disappearances of Malcolm's crew and the surgeon's sister. Liam offers the opportunity to include Malcolm's hand as either a gear option or as a scar. Katy asks if Malcolm still does art, to which Imari answers that Malcolm can try through it, but the disappeared hand is his drawing hand.

Taliesin's character is named Leonard "Leo" Amicus, with Amicus as his middle name and without a last name. Leo is a "socialite in exile" who came from a rich Eaves family, and once was an irresponsible person who spent money in extravagant and decadent ways, such as through costume and themed parties.[3] At one party, he decided to have a spiritualist and occult theme with a fake seance but did not know the object and people involved were real magick. This resulted in people, many directly related to an influential person, dying. His family covered it up and paid off bribes to keep people quiet, but in exchange, Leo was paid a sum of money to live alone and was exiled from his family, including losing his last name. Candela helps Leo keep his secret under wraps from other upper-class families who could ruin his life, and in return, he grants them access to his artifact collection and social connections. Liam asks him what keeps Leo coming back to Candela. Taliesin answers that it is primarily boredom, but also that Candela helps keep him off the radar.

Aimee mentions the potential for Leo to have met her character due to his artifact collection, which Taliesin affirms. Imari and Taliesin also agree that their characters likely knew each other well due to growing up in similar circles, and Imari offers that Malcolm has disdain for Leo for embracing the wealth Malcolm dislikes. Alexander asks if Leo would also return to Candela due to guilt, which Taliesin agrees with. Aimee adds that the circle would be a place where people are less concerned about his wealth and a more authentic sense of community is present.

Catalysts[edit | edit source]

Liam requests the cast repeat their catalysts in a few sentences, emphasizing it as the knowledge or goal they continue to return to Candela for.

  • Alexander: His character wants to find a way to understand the effects of bleed on humans and make bleed tolerable for people. He is obsessive about this.
  • Aimee: Her character wants to find a way to bring peace to the souls she's regularly interacting with, and give meaning to her life in that way.

Liam takes a moment to ask if Aimee's character's abilities would have manifested in Newfaire once she was interacting with artifacts, or if there would have been hints of it in her early childhood. He also asks if her parents would have sacrificed themselves to save her in Westwreck, before the Electric Event. Aimee agrees, and pitches that there was likely a movement for the wealthy to adopt orphaned kids post-war, but one that results in her character being exploited as a maid. Aimee says there were likely hints of her abilities when she was young. Aimee asks if her scar would be a Brain or Bleed scar, or if it could also be a Body scar due to surviving an atomic bomb.

Liam shares a family story about his aunt who briefly saw her deceased father talking to her young son. Everyone discusses that young children often have stories of seeing spirits. Imari shares his belief in reincarnation.

  • Katy: Her character is on a quest for knowledge, and obsessively wants to find her mother.
  • Imari: Malcolm wants to know if he can bring his crew back, and wants to know why he wasn't affected by the bleed that wiped out his crew. He wants to prevent what happened to him from happening to others. Imari offers that Malcolm might still be upset with the OUP, and how they threw him away. Liam wonders if working with Candela is Malcolm's way of dealing with his survivor's guilt by giving him focus, which Imari agrees with and says is another way to serve and help others.
  • Taliesin: Leo is searching for silence. In the quiet, Leo can hear the evening when the partygoers were killed and often attempts to drown it out with noise. Liam comments that it sounds like Leo has intense guilt and is trying to suppress it. Taliesin responds noncommittally and states that if Leo doesn't know, Taliesin doesn't know either.

Relationships[edit | edit source]

Alexander begins. Leo is a stranger to Alex's character, as he doesn't know who Leo truly is. Malcolm is a coworker, specifically in the sense of one of the core rulebook's prompts, as Alexander's character owes Malcolm an unexpected amount of loyalty. Synamynt, Katy's character (who is revealed to have been named Morbia in her "past life"), is Alexander's character's muse.[4] Synamynt's summoning event fascinates Alexander's character. Grimoria, Aimee's character (who is also revealed to be 18), is his ward.

Aimee and Liam agree that Leo is Grimoria's first friend, and the first person to know about her ability in Newfaire. They also share secrets. Edgar, Alexander's character, is Grimoria's muse, because she admires how he can openly and honestly perform his job, and seems to be trying to make peoples' lives better. He inspires Grimoria. Grimoria is infatuated and in awe of Synamynt, similar to a crush but not necessarily romantic. Grimoria perceives Synamynt as free and making her own choices, even if she doesn't see the actual cost behind those actions. Aimee debates between Malcolm being a stranger, coworker, or champion, but states that Grimoria knows Malcolm the least, and feels intimidated by his family background and military history. She does feel protected by his abilities, though.

For Synamynt, Edgar is a mentor because of his scientific knowledge, and he potentially saved Synamynt's life. Grimoria is Synamynt's muse, as she fuels her obsession with magick, and Grimoria naturally does what Synamynt failed to do, which is commune with spirits. Malcolm is her confidant because they both have similar, even if dangerous, goals. They've also both experienced consequences from magickal artifacts and have strained relationships with their families. Synamynt is uniquely fascinated by Leo. She used to know him briefly in high society social circles before his party. Liam also offers that Synamynt's father would have been a corrupt businessman, and Katy likes the idea that Synamynt's father would be a bad person.

Imari brings up two options for Edgar's relationship to Malcolm: a confidant or a champion. As a champion, Edgar helped Malcolm contain his bleed and the effect of the artifact. Grimoria is Malcolm's muse. Malcolm sees a strength in her that she might not notice for herself, is charmed by her, and admires her. Synamynt is his soulmate, and he is drawn to her authenticity. Leo is his rival, as they had similar social backgrounds but different goals, and both were exiled from their families. He is also envious of Leo's social skills.

Taliesin says that Edgar is Leo's coworker. When Edgar discusses his job, Leo has a hard time focusing or staying interested, but Leo finds the differences in their social circles valuable. He often tries to get a reaction out of him. Grimoria is Leo's confidant. Leo keeps many secrets, and Grimoria is one of the few people he discusses things with and invites over. Synamynt is a muse to Leo, and he has a hard time charming her. Synamynt's work is fascinating to him, and he often encourages her work. Katy and Taliesin discuss whether they would have met when both were younger, and they agree that they would have briefly met at regular parties where family members are shown off. They also agree that Leo would have known Synamynt's mother to some extent. Malcolm is family to Leo because of their shared bond of losing their family.

Alexander emphasizes that Edgar needs to compartmentalize to deal with his Candela work, and does not think about or keep information on magick or bleed at home.

Circle name and session zero discussion[edit | edit source]

Liam says that he will likely have one-on-one conversations with the cast, and asks about the circle name. Aimee likes how many of their characters have two lives: one they're living, one they're going through the motions of, which others relate to mirrors and reflections. Everyone offers ideas and the group agrees on the Circle of the Crimson Mirror, which Taliesin pitches.

The group also discusses their off-camera session zero, which included Pyre agents using dogs to scare people by making it appear as though phenomena were present. The players briefly discuss what they learned about their abilities and action ratings through playing.

Circle ability and final concepts[edit | edit source]

Before wrapping up, Liam asks the group to decide on a circle ability. After discussion, they decide on In This Together. Then, they go around the table again:

  • Taliesin is playing Leo Amicus, Face (Journalist).
  • Imari is playing Malcolm Trills, Muscle (Soldier).
  • Katy is playing Synamynt Valverdine, Weird (Occultist).
  • Aimee is playing Grimoria, Weird (Medium/Magician).
  • Alexander is playing Edgar Lycoris, Scholar (Doctor).

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

Katy O'Brian ultimately could not play in the chapter due to scheduling conflicts that arose when Twisters resumed filming following the end of the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike.[5]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Creating Characters for Candela Obscura: The Crimson Mirror" (Mx33) at 15:35.
  2. "Creating Characters for Candela Obscura: The Crimson Mirror" (Mx33) at 27:34.
  3. "Creating Characters for Candela Obscura: The Crimson Mirror" (Mx33) at 41:34.
  4. "Creating Characters for Candela Obscura: The Crimson Mirror" (Mx33) at 1:04:10.
  5. Kylie Chi (@TheKylieChi) on Twitter: "THIS WAS SO SAD. @thekatyo was so pumped for her character and to play with everyone, but the strike ended and Twisters resumed shooting. Hopefully one day in the future it’ll work out and she’ll join the CR family, but in the meantime, at least we have this 😭" (April 29, 2024).