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Apocalypse by Candlelight: “Ten Candles” Review

by Kyle Harper

Photo by Cynthia Hornbeck for Shut Up & Sit Down.

When people think of a typical role-playing game (RPG), one of the most popular games that comes to mind is Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). While D&D’s world and lore are fantastic, the game often requires hours of time and dedication, as well as spending a hefty amount of money on miniatures, campaigns, or books. So, what’s a good alternative if you can’t dedicate weeks of your life or spend your whole paycheck?

Ten Candles” is a survival-horror RPG that was published in 2015 by Calvary Games. The game has previously been nominated for the ENnie award for Product of the Year, as well as the Golden Geek nomination for RPG of the year.

“Ten Candles” takes place in a post-apocalyptic modern setting where the sun has mysteriously gone away. Additionally, an unknown entity called “Them” has begun eradicating humans from the shadows. Civilization begins to collapse as resources are spent and humans begin to disappear.

The game consists of one game master (GM) and up to 3-5 players. The players can customize their characters by creating their backstories. Players also give the character development by writing their virtues, vices, hopes, and survival instincts down on a notecard.

The GM takes the role of creating where the story takes place and the general plot for the characters. The GM narrates the story as it progresses for the characters. Additionally, the GM also plays as “Them” and provides a challenge for the characters during the game.

All players need to begin the game are ten six-sided dice and, well, ten candles. Place the ten candles in a circle, light them, and turn off all other lights in your house. I recommend playing this game at night for more ambiance.

Players start with ten dice (one for each candle) and roll all of them at once to try and overcome a particular task or obstacle. If there is one six that was rolled, the characters succeed and have a chance to narrate how they solved the challenge.

If they fail and there are no sixes, the GM takes away a dice, extinguishes a candle, and a new round begins. Play continues until all the candles finally go out, as the players recite the game’s only truth: “And we are alive.”

I highly recommend this game for a couple reasons. First, this is horror at its pinnacle. The ambiance of the candles and the silence of the room adds a terrifying atmosphere to the game. Additionally, the game has a great general plot that can be altered for re-playability. 

The game only takes about two or three hours, which makes it a lighter commitment than other RPG games. It also gives players who are interested in RPG games a chance to test their skills before jumping into something more experienced.

If you are looking for a new game to add a spooky theme to your game night, then “Ten Candles” may be for you. Calvary Games sells an online copy for $10 or a physical copy for $28 on their website.

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