Dark Souls

SoulBond: A SoulsBourne-like tabletop RPG?

I love the Dark Souls series, finished all three of them on PC and also Demon’s Souls, which is the predecessor on the PS3. I didn’t yet have the pleasure of trying Bloodborne or Sekiro yet, but I’ll get there sometime too. These games invented a lot of great gameplay mechanics and I was wondering if some of these could be applied to tabletop RPGs.

This post and the possible follow-ups are thought experiments. I hope this will lead somewhere and I’ll be able to host a great game someday. I’m not trying to make “The Dark Souls Game”, other will most likely try and do a much better job. I’d like to make something that will be fun for me and my friends. Let’s just call it SoulBond for now…

First of all, let us think about what made Dark Souls a unique game and let’s set up the rules of the framework. The first rule will be:

Death is part of the experience

  • When a player dies, he/she loses all experience points and returns to the last checkpoint.
  • All enemies except bosses and mini-bosses reset, you have to fight them again.
  • Players can retrieve the lost experience if they can return to the spot where they died.
  • If the players die again while trying to retrieve experience, the lost experience will vanish forever and only the experience they had at the time at their latest death will be retrievable.
  • Players can level up from experience points at the checkpoints.
  • There is no safe experience storage. If you don’t use it, you might lose it.
  • Experience is also used as currency.

A problem arises when not all players die at an encounter. What happens? Those who die go back to the checkpoint and the others have to track back to reunite the party? Do the dead get resurrected only when the survivors touch the checkpoint?

Separating the party is usually not a good experience for the players, so I think a new game mechanic is needed to link them together and to force them to work as a team.

The idea for this mechanic came from the ancient computer game Curse of the Azure Bonds in which the characters wake from a magical slumber finding magical tattoos on their bodies that represent evil factions that can control them through said tattoos.

In this setting, the player characters will have tattoos representing the bosses of the world. If any player dies, the tattoos emit a blinding flash and all the players will find themselves back at the checkpoint with the world around them reseted. If they succeed in killing a boss, the tattoo representing the boss will fade or vanish.

To be continued…

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