Souls-like Knave Hack Alpha

Here's a thing I've been working on recently; side project sixty three of eleventy seven. Yeah yeah, too much design, not enough play, I know. Get used to it.

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

It deserves a more interesting name, but this certainly gets the idea across.
Feel free to comment on the doc with suggestions!

Gameplay Assumptions
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.

Development Progress
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:

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!


  1. I really appreciate that my compulsive need to think aloud, and at ludicrous word counts, has been interpreted as "discipline to write."

    This draft is great, by the way. I only get to run RPGs very infrequently and am tied up playtesting mine for the time being, but I'm very curious to hear how this runs and/or get it to the table myself sometime. I deliberately left out certain clear connections to the Souls games (like bonfires), and I'd love to hear how they translate to the tabletop experience.

    1. Hah, yeah... I find I'd rather write rules than write about rules, for better and mostly worse.

      And yeah, I'm torn between reserving the DS terminology for shorthand and less translation for anyone who actually wants to use them, and substituting more evocative names and concepts. An obvious replacement would actually to have the characters be liches, and the bonfires phylacteries, etc.

  2. I like the piecemeal armor rule. It's a nice touch to make heavier armor more customizable.


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