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Elden Ring-inspired Apotheosis: The Dark Lord provides an indie alternative to the Dark Souls RPG

Dodge roll for initiative.

An indie designer has created a tabletop RPG inspired by Elden Ring and the Soulsborne series as an alternative to the official Dark Souls RPG.

Adrian Lumm’s Apotheosis: The Dark Lord is described as a Soulslike TRPG inspired by the designer’s numerous hours spent playing Dark Souls and this year’s Elden Ring.

Lumm said the RPG was “made in direct response to the Dark Souls 5e game”, following the release of the official Dark Souls RPG - which is powered by the Dungeons & Dragons 5E system - earlier this year.

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Apotheosis: The Dark Lord’s premise will be familiar to anyone who’s touched a Soulsborne game before. The players are Undying, tasked with venturing out into a corrupted and fallen world in search of Great Lords to defeat, pieces of Great Power to collect and the title of Dark Lord to obtain.

Nine possible character classes include the spell-casting witch, sorcery-summoning devout, melee-fighting duelist and bow-wielding hunter, built out of stats that follow the flexible Dark Souls formula of vitality, dexterity, strength, focus, mind and faith. The classes serve as readymade templates for characters’ starting traits, weapons and spells, with players optionally able to distribute points as they prefer - or start as a derelict, the RPG’s answer to Elden Ring’s barebones wretch class and Dark Souls’ deprived.

Stamina spent on special combat abilities - such as blocking, dodge-rolling, using dual weapons or performing stronger attacks to break enemies’ poise - and MP used to cast spells are combined into a single pool of mental points, recovered by drinking from a flask separate to their Estus-like healing flask. Weapons can be imbued with an affinity, such as magic or poison, to increase their power.

Combat in Apotheosis aims to make calculating risk and managing MP the focus. Each round, characters choose between four possible actions: attacking, defending, using an item or spell from the dozens detailed in the rulebook, or aiding another character. In response to each action, the GM rolls for enemies on a d6 table, providing the chance for enemies to counter player attacks with damage or status effects. Attacks hit automatically; players roll only to determine damage and whether the enemies react.

Dungeons and other environments are designed to be created on the fly by rolling a d6, populating them with items, equipment, monsters, NPCs and shrines - the RPG’s equivalent to Dark Souls’ bonfires or Elden Ring’s sites of grace. At the end of a dungeon, players encounter a boss or Great Lord; the rulebook includes over 40 enemies, from undead giants to skeletal giants, with guidance on creating custom foes.

Apotheosis: The Dark Lord is available now for $20 via Adrian Lumm’s page.

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