This is a Souls-like hack of Ben Milton's lean Old School ruleset Knave. Bits of how Knave works are really suitable to emulating the digital games, such as stat-building and tight equipment management.
Conceptual Status: Warning - Unfinished, Untested, Ungrounded Notional Design
Feel free to comment on the doc with suggestions!
Note that, in service of emulating the digital games, this is much more of a mathfinder-style thing than my usual fare. While Knave is created for and suited to Old School Style gameplay, Knave Souls embraces aspects of its inspiration in ways that don't always align with that set of principles.
The most notable differences: Combat is the central focus and more Sport than War, with a crunchier action system to support rich decision-making in that context. Character stats are upgraded early and often, and building and optimizing stats and inventory loadout are major factors. The world, environments, and options for progress may be less open-ended, but also more dungeon-like. The Referee and group must decide the amount and nature of play outside of combat encounters.
I have no real intentions of making a big production out of this and no firm plans to proceed with developing it, so feel free to rip out and reuse bits as you see fit. It will likely return to the backburner while I get distracted by shinier things. But the next step might be to run some solo combat simulations to root out the most obviously broken parts in the stat/combat system.
Of course, if you're inspired to actually put it in play for some testing, I'd be delighted; please do report back.
This is yet another of a long line of Dark Souls-y RPGs and hacks thereof. A few that were influential to this instantiation:
- Exhumed by Jason Tocci (who is actively developing it and has much greater discipline to write about his design process than I do, and has his own thoughts on it intersecting with Knave)
- Steven Lumpkin's experimental 5E rules for the Actual Play stream Sunfall Cycle, (which is the only AP I know of that uses a Souls-like campaign framing, and is working out quite well; I highly recommend it if you have the luxury of time to watch).
- Brendan S's Dark Souls stuff at Necropraxis
There have also been many great pieces written about the intersections of RPGs and Souls-like gameplay that I'd love to assemble in one place, but my threshold for bloating this post has just been crossed.
I encourage you to comment below, rather than elsewhere.
Long live the Blogosphere!