DnD: how to launch a Soulslike campaign

Dungeons & Dragons isn’t particularly known for its difficulty, at least not in the current edition. Older editions, and especially the original edition, were much more difficult, but Fifth edition tends to eschew intense difficulty, outside of boss encounters, in favor of making the game more accessible to a wider audience. However, some gaming groups may want a more challenging and unforgiving gaming experience – and what better game to draw inspiration from for that than dark souls?

There are many parallels to be drawn between J&D and Hidetaka Miyazaki’s masterpieces of dungeon crawling, intricate stories, interesting characters, intense boss battles, and, of course, the occasional dragon. However, 5ththe gameplay of is not particularly similar to any souls game. While the storytelling belongs to the dungeon master and the world of a J&D campaign are infinitely modifiable, there are several mechanics that can be translated from the dark souls series and Ring of Elden it can make a campaign feel a bit more Soulslike.


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How to Handle Death in a D&D Soulslike Campaign


One of the greatest constants of souls the series is death. Players are expected, even encouraged, to die over and over again. However, death is not just a punishment. One wrong move can put the player on the path to a trap that kills them, but then they know for the future that the trap is there. Every death should come with a lesson learned, whether it’s new information about enemies, the environment, or how best to fight something. In J&Dthis is much less possible with the written rules.

If a DM wanted to run a souls-inspired by the campaign, they should address death in their game first. Death may be more likely and it may be easier to die more frequently, but players should also be able to essentially respawn instead of having to use spells like Resurrection or expensive tools to raise their party member. The living dead of dark souls are a prime example, coming back to life again and again no matter how they might fall.


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How to Add Hub World and Safe Zones to D&D


Other constants in Miyazaki’s games are hub worlds and safe zones, which are places where the player can rest or resurrect when they die. Here the player can come back and know he is safe. Having something that looks like a house the party can return to, whether it’s a ruin that offers them shelter or a small town magically protected from monsters, is important when creating a souls-like setting.

Have safe places in a J&D world gives players time to relax where they don’t have to watch out for a potential monster around every corner. Safe zones in dungeons or other areas the party explores also provide places where they can resurrect, acting as checkpoints so they don’t have to backtrack to the start of the game. game when they die.


The hub should also provide services to the player. The best example of this is in the Firelink Shrine of Dark Souls III. The most efficient way to manage a hub world in J&D would follow the sanctuary method of making a number of services available to players within the hub at all times, such as upgrading their abilities and gear, leveling up and providing streaks of quests they can embark on. The hub is the DM’s best tool in a setting like this, providing a gathering place for NPCs once they’ve been found during exploration and giving players more options as they progress. ‘adventure.

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How to Manage Progress in a Soulslike Campaign


A pair of adventurers walking through a dungeon in Dungeons & Dragons

Another big change that should be made is how character progression works. In J&D, characters gain experience points or level up as they reach story milestones. In the souls series, players collect souls as if they were currency and can spend them on items or levels.

While DMs could just replace souls with J&D, they could also implement a new currency that replicates the experience of collecting Souls, Blood Echoes, or Runes. This resource can also drop where the player dies and must be collected on the next run to that area. In a game like J&Dthis can be a bit harsh, but individual DMs can find their own ways to balance progression currency.


Having things like soul items in dark soulsor purses Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a great way to completely counter the loss of progression on death. These items would remain bound to the character even after death, and could be consumed by players to earn money without having to go back and collect their dropped items.

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How to Bring Dark Souls Storytelling into D&D


The Candlekeep Mysteries Dungeons & Dragons campaign book cover

The final change a DM should consider is how they deliver the story. In the souls series, players learn the story by talking to NPCs and reading item descriptions. While the former is already an important part of J&Dwith DMs able to perform interactions with NPCs as they wish, incorporating item descriptions can be more of a hassle.

In J&D, there’s not really a way to read up on an item unless the DM deals out item cards for each piece of gear players find. One way to handle this might be to have an NPC in the hub world who can let players know what they find. A historian or antiquarian might identify magic items for players and tell them about other items they find along the way.

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