Dark Souls Unofficial RPG is a role-playing game conceived and developed by Emmanuel Galletto based on the From Software video game of the same name. Although many consider the idea of Dark Souls greedy, Emanuele was not discouraged and gave us a remarkable product!
The strength of the scheme
The Dark Souls Unofficial RPG manual is made up of 112 pages, of which a good part is linked to objects, weapons, spells, miracles, pyromancies. So there is no despair, the rules are simple and very quick to learn. This is due to the fact that the author explains only the main concepts of the game, leaving the definition of details to the individual tables. Once you understand the engine of the fights, explorations and characters, it will be easy to create worlds that follow Miyazaki's style.
Create your Age of Ruin
All Miyazaki's works have in common a bygone golden age, where civilizations thrived and evil, in one way or another, was defeated. Instead, the characters move in devastated, destroyed and forgotten lands. Ruin surrounds everything and offers itself miserable to their eyes. The characters are not knights with white armor but people who move with shades of gray, taking their sins on themselves in the constant risk of falling into damnation. Dark Souls Unofficial RPG helps you in creating this era of ruin, often reminding you of the concepts to keep in mind. The manual also provides some ideas for the names to be given to the land where the characters will move, in case you don't have particularly bright ideas.
Once your land has been baptized, the time has come to enter the Lords. As we all know, Dark Souls is based on the concept of four or more entities that derive their power directly from the First Flame. Also in this manual the Lords take on particular importance and the author guides us step by step in their creation. As all good designers know, we start from the concept / theme. Each of the bosses in this role-playing game has its own theme to develop and the Lords push this concept to the max. Once you get the name of the entity, the master's mind will already be running to create a thousand stories related to it. The important thing in this step is the participation of the players, who can tie their character to the Lord or put the knowledge of his character on the table on the table.
How to create maps in a similar game?
Quite simply maps are not really created. The master will be brought to have a scheme with all the interconnections between macro-areas (such as the Sanctuary of the Fire Bond) and the areas making up a single area (such as the Cathedral of Anor Londo). He will then place the bonfires and insert the enemies that the characters will encounter. The rest is left to the description, letting the minds of the players and the words of the master paint areas as beautiful as they are terrible and macabre. I dare say that this is one of the author's most brilliant ideas, since as we know aesthetics and interconnection are fundamental and highly appreciated elements of Miyazaki's works. Finding a solution that doesn't require you to build an extended bridge by bridge map was a boon.
The characters are truly damned souls
One cannot speak of a Souls without obviously speaking of statistics, weapons, builds and the whole goal that surrounds the imagination created by Miyazaki. Also in this case the Unofficial RPG performs very well, solving in a simple and easily understandable way the character creation, the feature bonuses and the inventory. Of particular interest is the mechanics of the souls absorbed by the enemies, which is based on their level (sum of the statistical bonuses) divided by their type. This type of system will greatly reward the defeat of the bosses and discourage the farming of small enemies.
Death and Memory
In Dark Souls the theme of emptiness is particularly accentuated in the first two games, becoming a constant danger for all the undead. The slow loss of purpose, of one's memories and of one's identity transforms anyone into beings without reason, sense and intelligence. This mechanic, unfortunately absent in video games in order not to make the game almost endless, was introduced in the role-playing board game through the use of Memory. The characters will start with fragments of past memory, which will give them a purpose, a mission and an identity. Whenever they defeat a boss or spend souls, they can create new ones, but each death will take away part of their memory and bring them closer to emptiness. What happens when the character loses the last fragment? The player will have to give the card to the master and create a new damned soul.
The clash against bosses and minions plays a fundamental role in the Miyazaki games and also in the Unofficial RPG manual, a lot of space is dedicated to combat, the construction of enemies and bossfights. Without avoiding to lengthen, each time you enter the fight you will divide the area of the fight into three rings that will identify the approach to the battle. We will have the characters who will go hand to hand to parry, parry massive blows and do as much damage as possible; followed by the characters who want to act more carefully and finally the fighters from a distance, who will exploit the presence of the first two rings to deliver deadly blows. All the mechanics so loved in Dark Souls' combat such as Parry, Dodge, Heavy Attack or Two-Handed Attack will come into play at this point.
The importance of not being limited by the name
Although this is the Dark Souls role-playing game, you are not forced to create a type of adventure that recalls Miyazaki's most famous work. By making small adjustments, you can create a Bloodborne and a Demon Souls with the same ease. In the same way, you can use this game to create your own setting, which has similar rules but not exactly the same as those of Dark Souls. Try not to let yourself be limited!
Some questions to the author
Given the ambitious work and availability of the author, we wanted to ask him some questions about his work with this title.
What made you want to do a role-playing game on Dark Souls?
The reason is partly discussed in the manual itself: to test myself by building a "technical" role-playing game that was not limited to being "D&D but with the monsters of dark souls" but rather a difficult fighting game in which the protagonists slowly lost their their memories and had to win battles to build new ones, avoiding the loss of their humanity. A sort of "demonstration" that the game system is important when you want to convey the essence of a gaming experience.
What was the gestation time of the manual?
The game was put online in May 2018, after about four months of work.
Did you take inspiration from something for the rules and mechanics?
The main inspirations were the Old School role-playing games for the exploratory part, Ryuutama for the shared creation of the setting, Nechronica for the mechanics of the memory shreds, 7th Sea for the throwing of the dice at the beginning of the round later used as a resource, and Meikyuu Kingdom for the structure of the maps.
We leave you with the link to Patreon of the Author!
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Very nice, but difficult to complete.
In what sense difficult to complete?
I have played it several times, but managed to finish
Ahhh, you mean the video game. The article talks about the paper role-playing game.
Oops sorry 😁