D&D 5E DARK SOULS' New 5E Mechanics

Steamforged Games released their first look at the 5E mechanics which will be powering their upcoming Dark Souls tabletop RPG, based on the video game. The game will be available for preorder next week with a release date in March.


Steamforge say they "cut 5E to ribbons before reanimating it", which implies some fairly extensive changes to the system. Here's what they highlighted:
  • Position. Position combines 'health' and 'stamina' (two things in the video game). It measure health, but it's also a resource you can spend to boost die rolls or use special abilities. Presumably, this means that hit points have gone by the wayside.
  • Bloodied. A mechanic from D&D 4E, a creature is bloodied when it hits half Position. This can trigger bonuses and new abilities.
  • Magic. Vancian magic is gone entirely. Instead is a flexible system drawn from the video game. You have attunement slots, and spells take up a number of slots. Some require Position to cast or boost.
  • Death. At 0 Position you die. No saves. However you then respawn. But each time you die you lose part of yourself; it's not specified what that means exactly.

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It sounds more and more like this will be D&D hardcore mode. I think this really could be excellent! Very interested to see what could be ported across to regular D&D
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That would be such a simple but impactful tweak. Especially if the bosses deal out damage like they do in the games.

Also: in the boss blog, it seems like Gundyr, is capable of always acting first in the Initiative order. This could potentially mean that ALL Bosses in Dark Souls TTRPG always go first at the start of each combat round.


Mildly Ascorbic
It looks like, from the rules previews, that you roll your position at the start of every battle. That's fantastic. You don't know how rested and healthy you are until the fight starts. That's amazing. So easy to port that into 5E.
I encountered this in The Nightmares Beneath OSR game a few years ago - it was called Disposition in that game. Good to see something similar pop up in another product.

Played the intro adventure at Gary Con, run by one of the creators. It was really, really good. To the point that my brother, who always kinda scoffed at my love of Dark Souls, immediately preordered the book and bought Dark Souls 1 for the Switch. The DM had crafted an adventure that perfectly distilled the Dark Souls experience and atmosphere into two hours.

I played as a Deprived and was so excited to come across a broken half-sword.

Initiative was simple - each monster has an initiative DC - if you make the check, you go before them; if not, after.

With position, you start out at a base level, then roll your specific position die at the start of each fight. If you go below your base level, you stay there at the end. If you're still over, it resets to where you were at the beginning.


B/X Known World
The more I read on this, the more I think it would fit perfectly in Ravenloft. The reincarnation element when a PC dies fits like a glove. Boss monsters will truly be scary. Had to pre-order it. Can’t wait.
That's my read on Dark Souls as well. It's like someone took the horror elements of Ravenloft seriously, instead of playing them as camp, and made a game about it.

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