Critical Role promises a "fresh update" to fantasy RPGs with its new system

Artwork for Queen by Midnight that shows off the playable princesses
(Image credit: Darrington Press)

A new board game and two tabletop RPG systems have just been announced by the publishing arm of Critical Role, Darrington Press. A game based on a design used in the wedding of Critical Role's own Matt Mercer and Marisha Ray was also teased.

As revealed through the company's first 'State of the Press' video hosted by Mercer and Mica Burton (who you may recognise from the latest season of Star Trek: Picard), most of these games will be launching at some point in 2023. That lineup includes a deck-building board game where you play as princesses battling to become queen before the clock strikes midnight, a quick roleplaying system using d6 dice and designed for shorter campaigns, and a more expansive RPG for long-term play that will be a "fun and fresh update to the fantasy genre of RPGs". 

It's unclear whether any of these are connected to the world of Critical Role like Darrington Press' first game, Uk'otoa. However, we should be able to find out soon - they're all appearing at this year's Gen Con. That event takes place in early August, so mark your calendars for then.

Queen by Midnight board, components, cards, and clock on a table with a purple tablesheet

(Image credit: Darrington Press)

First up is 'Queen by Midnight', designed by Critical Role producer Kyle Shire. Described as a battle royale in the press release, players fight each other as princesses in a "magical free for all." The most powerful princess left standing at midnight will be crowned queen, winning the game. From what was shown during the State of the Press video, it has an ornate, baroque style reminiscent of board games for adults like Mysterium.

Next comes 'Illuminated Worlds', a quick-fire roleplaying system that uses a pool of d6 dice (much like Free League's Mutant: Year Zero) for much shorter story arcs. Little else was revealed, but we did find out from Mercer that it's designed to be used with "pretty much any type of setting you can think of." In other words, it can be used in conjunction with worlds from some of the best tabletop RPGs. It was created by Stras Ascimovic and Layla Alderman.

Finally, 'Daggerheart' was also teased. Although it's still in development and hasn't been fully shown off, we do know that it'll be a fantasy RPG geared toward long-term adventures and character progression. Darrington Press has apparently been working on it for quite some time, too.

A 2024 project was unveiled as well, but that took a back seat because it's a bit further off. Called 'Guardians of Matrimonia', this is a game about "fantastical wedding planning originally designed for Matthew Mercer and Marisha Ray’s wedding." Mercer noted that they'd handed over the original idea to designers Banana Chan and Yeonsoo Julian Kim to see if they could "make something cool for everybody." While it's been hinted at before, this is the first we've heard of it in some time.

It was also added that previously-announced projects such as Syndicult (a modern roleplaying game of underground syndicates vying for magical power) are still on the way, while Critical Role Adventures (which sounded like a dungeon-crawling campaign game based on the exploits of Vox Machina) is on hold indefinitely for now while the team focuses on other projects. However, there was some good news for Vox Machina fans. Both Vox Machina art books from The Chronicles of Exandria series are getting reprints too.

For more tabletop shenanigans, don't miss the best board games, these excellent board games for 2 players, and must-have cooperative board games.

Benjamin Abbott
Tabletop & Merch Editor

As the site's Tabletop & Merch Editor, you'll find my grubby paws on everything from board game reviews to lists of the very best Lego. I've also been writing about games in one form or another since 2012, and can normally be found cackling over some evil plan I've cooked up for my group's next Dungeons & Dragons campaign.