The Elden Ring RPG (module)

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Lowly Tarnished, the Erdtree has revived thine soul yet again, to gather the Great Runes and restore the Elden Ring. But many steps make a great journey, and the Shardbearer to whom thine fate leads remains indomitable, lest ye reclaim lost runes and turn them toward the ends of Grace.

The Elden Ring CRPG has about eight-thousand details that affect PCs and gameplay, which are great for a computer to track. Not so much for people. So, players of the CRPG, viewers of the live streams, and even ye fans of the Dark Souls RPG, which of those game aspects belong in a discursive-RPG that succinctly and faithfully conveys the soul of Elden Ring?
 

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Lowly Tarnished, the Erdtree has revived thine soul yet again, to gather the Great Runes and restore the Elden Ring. But many steps make a great journey, and the Shardbearer to whom thine fate leads remains indomitable, lest ye reclaim lost runes and turn them toward the ends of Grace.

The Elden Ring CRPG has about eight-thousand details that affect PCs and gameplay, which are great for a computer to track. Not so much for people. So, players of the CRPG, viewers of the live streams, and even ye fans of the Dark Souls RPG, which of those game aspects belong in a discursive-RPG that succinctly and faithfully conveys the soul of Elden Ring?
Ok that's a good question - what from Elden Ring actually matters and would be worth translating? Also which not.

1) Stamina - I think you have to ditch this entirely, or re-work it massively. You really don't want to track an elaborate numerical stat that goes up and down every round. You could re-work it into a number of actions, maybe, and like some attacks take up 2 actions, and parrying takes up 1. Or maybe you even call it Stamina, and say it has a default value of 5, and maybe actions are tagged with "Stamina" and if they are, you can only do three actions that cost Stamina per round, and armour/weapons which are tagged "Heavy" can subtract 1 from Stamina each so you can do less, and so on. But I think just dumping it entirely wouldn't be a crime.

2) Status Effects - Madness, Scarlet Rot, Death Blight, Blood Loss, Poison, etc. - I think you really want to keep these because they are very much part of what makes Elden Ring what it is, and they matter to the lore too. However, you probably drastically simplify how they're applied, which than the numerical count-up the game uses - maybe just use a check to see if a given attack or circumstance applies them, and have each have three levels? You definitely want to make them pretty nasty.

3) Parrying and Dodging - I think they need to be actual mechanics of some kind, maybe even ones that don't involve a roll/check normally, depending on the combat mechanic. If you do make them rolls, I think it's worth differentiating them, so that they're differently useful.

4) Chip damage - I can't actually remember if Elden Ring has this, but I think it does - if ditch it, except maybe for specific enemies.

5) Blocking and Shield types - I think any Elden Ring RPG is not a rules-light RPG in combat, so I think you making Blocking be a thing like Parrying and Dodging, and make there be at least a distinction between the "full block" and non-full-block.

6) Damage types - I feel like they're kind of a big part of the experience of Elden Ring, because using the wrong one, or not having access to one can be a huge deal, so I would look for a way to keep them.

7) Backstab - Could keep or dump depending on how the game was set up generally. It's probably pretty mechanically simple at least.

8) Poise - Some people would be mad if it was removed, but I'm not really sure how to handle it, and I don't think it's going to come up that much. Like with Status Effects, maybe just don't track it as a number, but as a check. I genuinely don't think it contributes to the vibe much though.

9) Armour - There need to be a reason to wear it, and if you wear a lot of it, it should change how you fight.

10) Equip Load - I feel like this does have an impact, and it makes a huge impact on how people load themselves out, like it's why you'll see a guy in just a robe or whatever but with a gigantic super-sword. I suspect you don't want to track it too closely but like, armour, shield and weapons should contribute to some kind of simple value.

11) Runes instead of XP - This is part of the vibe so stays. Also lets you reward non-combat stuff by having people find runes. I would probably make it so leveling up was either always X runes per level, or a very simple increase, like, your level x 2 or something.

12) Bonfires and dying/being reborn - I'd want to put it in, but I could see other people going either way.

13) The eight stats - I think they'd need to be drastically simplified. They don't actually directly contribute to the vibe at all, rather their derivatives do, so maybe just use the derivatives? Like there's no Endurance stat, only Stamina and Equip Load. Or even just Equip Load.

I could go on, but that's probably enough for now, is this the sort of thing you were looking for at all?
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
I could go on, but that's probably enough for now, is this the sort of thing you were looking for at all?
Yup, and I think you've only scratched the surface, which does make deciding what to leave out a big decision as well. Just a few thoughts:

  • Dark Souls RPG blends Stamina in with hit points, which replenish between fights, I hear. It's not a method I'd prefer, but it shows that stamina can figure in without too much trouble.
  • Backstab = keeper! Stealth-motivator.
  • Resurrection seems like a keeper, because it means: 1) PCs don't have to make new characters to continue the campaign, 2) it's thematic, for the Tarnished, anyway, and 3) it's a free quest generator: reclaiming the runes lost upon death.
 

lolsworth

Explorer
I love Elden Ring and Dark Souls 1&3, but I don't think they would make a good rpg. Their setting/s are perfect for ttrpgs especially dungeon delving ones. But dying repeatedly and often (and getting a little better every time) I think doesn't translate as well to a ttrpg

What would be good to port into a setting:

Open world with key locations, dungeons and bosses. And lots of little locations to find and explore

Runes as xp and currency

Variations in build and gear are largely equivalent to class selection in the ttrpgs we're familiar with. Manoeuvres tied to weapons, and new spells to model sorceries and faith stuff would probably suffice
 


lolsworth

Explorer
Probably same way Elden Ring does it. Peninsula as low level area. Limgrave, Liurnia and Caelid similar but ascending levels.
Altus, and Mountaintop still gated, so higher level etc. Maybe something like below. So if you go somewhere "early" it's not completely disastrous (and probably easy for the gm to adjust if needed)

1 Weeping Peninsula
2 Limgrave
3 Stormveil
3 Liurnia
4 Lucaria
4 Caelid
5 Redmane
5 Gelmir
6 Siofra
7 Altus Plateau
8 Leyndell
9 Ainsel
10 Mountaintops
11 Deeproot
12 Farum Azula
13 Leyndell 2
 

GrimCo

Adventurer
Personally, i would keep all the fluff and ditch all the crunch. Setting, lore, atmosphere. And then, run it using White Wolfs Storyteller system. Probably, oWoD Vampire the Dark Ages since it's most suited for medieval type of games. IMHO for all Soulsborne games i would use WoD ruleset. Combat is deadly in WoD, you use xp to get better. I think those two would mesh well.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
But dying repeatedly and often (and getting a little better every time) I think doesn't translate as well to a ttrpg
This might be a fun change to the typical DRPG experience. Instead of, "dang, my character's dead. Gotta roll up a new one," you have, "dang, I just lost all my runes. Gotta go back and get them." The "getting a little better" doesn't happen by dying; it happens with learning and rune-collection (gaining XP, and picking up lost XP).

Variations in build and gear are largely equivalent to class selection in the ttrpgs we're familiar with. Manoeuvres tied to weapons, and new spells to model sorceries and faith stuff would probably suffice
The weapon-maneuvers/ashes of war feature is a tricky one, because there's no conceit in DRPGs that a PC can't whirl her blades around or stab three times in a row. Some of the other ashes are closer to magic spells or special abilities, but the most initmidating part? There are 91 of them!

Personally, i would keep all the fluff and ditch all the crunch. Setting, lore, atmosphere. And then, run it using White Wolfs Storyteller system. Probably, oWoD Vampire the Dark Ages since it's most suited for medieval type of games. IMHO for all Soulsborne games i would use WoD ruleset. Combat is deadly in WoD, you use xp to get better. I think those two would mesh well.
The goal is to feel like you're playing Elden Ring, since changing settings is easy enough. Would this feel like Elden Ring, or World of Darkness in Elden Ring?
 
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GrimCo

Adventurer
Well, depends on what is your definition of feel of playing Elden Ring. To me it would, to you it wouldn't. I like Elden Ring for the landscape and overall atmosphere, not for the mechanics of "die until you git good". I think WoD can emulate lethality of soulsbourne games very well.
 

lolsworth

Explorer
If you truly want to preserve dying as a key mechanic, you need to ask yourself how long combat takes.

If it's like 5e or other similar games, combat can take a long time. To get killed an hour in and have to do that combat again might not be very fun.

And how many players would there be? Solo it would be fine, but if you die early in a fight but your party keeps going, how would the game handle it?
 

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