Friday, August 15, 2014

Dark Souls rpg OSR (1) – The Basics: Souls, Humanity and Death

Last time, I discussed what makes Dark Souls simliar to Old School rpg, and presente my idea of a Dark souls rpg project. So now, let's get started with it.

Adapting Dark Souls to a tabletop rpg is no easy endeavour, 'cause most of the game's experience comes from personal discovery and experimentation of each player, be it understanding the complex game mechanics, interpreting the game's story or dealing with bosses adn whatnots. Such individual experiences are not possible to be reproduced fully within a tabletop rpg, which is by design a social game. However, by the same token, there are experiences that the electronic game cannot simulate either, right?

With that said, I'd like to point first and foremost that the objective here is translating the 'feel' of Dark Souls to the tabletop, together with the idea of its mechanics, like the engaging combat and mistifying story. So, with that out of the way, let's dive into the very basics of Dark Souls -> Souls, Humanity and Death.

Em Dark Souls, as criaturas têm almas – que, no jogo, é uma substância concreta e coletável a qual seria realmente o 'âmago' de um ser. Existem muitos tipos de almas no jogo, e parece que elas se arrumam em grandes grupos (almas de gigantes, almas de heróis renomados, almas de heróis desconhecidos etc.). No jogo, as almas são, ao mesmo tempo, tanto o 'gold' quanto o 'xp' do jogador – você as usa para aumentar de nível (melhorar seus atributos) e para comprar e aprimorar itens.

In Dark Souls, every creature (and even some unliving things too) have souls - which in the game is not only the 'heart' of a beings existance, but also a collectable, something that can be contained and used. In fact, souls are the main source of power - used to level up the stats of a character - but also the main currency there! We could believe that people use other kinds of trading resources in the world of Dark Souls but, in the game, we may only use souls.

The curious with that mechanic of 'Gold as Xp' is very similar to the old D&D editions, where characters would gain 1xp for each gold piece they would hoard. Thus, that is completely appliable to the Dark Souls OSR I'm proposing - each XP a character gain may be used to level up or to 'buy' stuff. The character can store the souls inside him and just subtract them when needing to lvl up or buy an item. The thing is that the player will have to note on his sheet the 'XP total spent' in his character and the 'XP not used yet'. Also, the GM may accept other kinds of currencies in the game besides Souls - since the tabletop rpg may have some liberties beyond the electronic game.

Now, talking about Humanity, in Dark Souls there are a group of special souls: The Lord Souls, the souls which were taken by the Lords (or gods) to defeat the Ancient Dragons and create the Age of Fire. One of those Lords was, supposedly, the Pigmy - an ancestral of mankind - who would have shared his soul with all humanity. Therefore, the 'dark soul' would be the fragment the Pigmy gave to each human, and that is the Humanity score we see in Dark Souls.

In the tabletop rpg, Humanity would be a 7th atribute that the players would have to roll during character creation which would control a character's sanity and also the be amount of dark soul he has gathered. A Humanity score of 13-15 would give +5% XP by the end of the gaming session, 16-17 would give 10 and 18+ would give 15%. However, having high humanity is a risk, for many creatures lust to devour those souls. Therefore, the same bonus should be applied to the random encounter chance of the adventurer party, making it easir for monsters to attack them (e that percentage is cummulative with each and every member! The Dark Souls world is indeed a dangerous one!).

Humanity is crucial because of its connection with Death. In Dark Souls, all characters are Undead, people cursed with never dieing. When an Undead is killed, his body disintegrates, together with his items, and he will be reborn in 1d4 hours at the last bonfire that he've been. In the game it is said that, with each passing hour and with each extra death, an Undead has its humanity lost and, together with it, also its memmories, reason and emotions. Thus, every time a character is killed, he loses 1d6 Humanity. The lower his humanity goes, the more zombified and irrational he becomes. With 8 Humanity, his senses are blurring and he oft loses his train of though. With Humanity 3, he is ravening maniac, but still has a grasp with reality. If a character goes to Humanity 0, or dies without his soul ever being connected to any bonfire, he becomes a Hollow. He is reborn at the same place he died as a complete ferocious and animalike zombie. If he is killed at this state, his equipment may be stolen before disintegrated and will not go back to him.

In order for a character to gain Humanity, he may find it in soul fragments found in monsters, which is a very rare occurrence. With every encounter with monsters, the Gm may roll a 1d100. If it is 100, there was 1 humanity and the GM may roll again, and, for every 100 rolled, there was another 1 humanity. The best way to gain humanity is killing humans with high Humanity. Someone with 13 to 15 humanity gives 1 humanity, 16-17 gives 2 and 18+ gives 3 to their killer.

And thus we end the first part of this fan project for Dark Souls old school tabletop rpg. Next time I will talk about the character classes that can be used and I will introduce a new one with very special mechanics - The Chosen Undead class.

Until then,

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