Skip to main content
If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Ashes is basically an indie Dark Souls tabletop RPG for a single Chosen Undead

Rise, Fall, Rekindle, all with a deck of playing cards.

Artowrk for Ashes solo RPG
Image credit: Cross Paths Press

Dark Souls-meets-tabletop is an already rich vein of experiences, from the official board game and troubled RPG adaptation to its inspiration on a plethora of indie creations. Well, chalk one more intriguing experiment on the board because Ashes is approaching the acclaimed video game series as a solo RPG as a dungeon delve.

Ashes comes from Crossed Paths Press, the designer of Brambletrek and Covens of Midnight, and will be funding on Backerkit in June. It bills itself as a “Souls-like GM-less RPG”, both wearing its inspirations on its sleeves but also drawing on the designer’s strength of empowering players to tell their own self-guided stories.

Maddie runs through a list of more great solo RPGs.Watch on YouTube

Players will portray The One who Returns and travel the lonely, dangerous depths of Mayfalls in their attempt to defeat the Archons keeping the land from reclaiming its lost glory. Sounds pretty Dark Souls, so far. The old world’s ruins are contained within walls forged by the corpses of “The 4 Phoenixes” in order to hide Mayfalls…shame? Weakness? Some flaw from the rest of the world.

Much like a phoenix, the player will die and revive in a ceaseless circle as they explore 13 different dungeons that change with every return. Four different Scion classes - the Embolden, Pioneer, Ordained and Hallowed, offer varying play styles and combat abilities, and you’ll use a deck of standard cards to construct the rooms, hallways, caverns and other features of each dungeons as it is explored - that includes the beasts and monstrosities that haunt it, and the treasures they guard.

Combat isn’t fully explained in the short preview Crossed Paths Press has made public leading up to the campaign, but both skirmishes against haunted remnants and drag-out fights with literal gods will use a dice system that is described as easy to manage alongside everything else Ashes has going on.

Artowrk for Ashes solo RPG
Image credit: Cross Paths Press

Standard playing cards are a common and popular oracle tool used by solo RPGs to help add a random element to play with only one person, and that seems to be true with Ashes. The designer touts 15 billion potential dungeon layouts, though how interesting and challenging those are depends on the random tables and other human-made elements in the engine. Combat scenarios will also vary beyond simply running at foes and swinging at face - here’s hoping the game incorporates FromSoftware’s knack for dropping skeletons down ladders, surprising players between massive weapons and sudden cliffs and generally using the environment and placement to the game’s advantage.

Ashen will launch a Backerkit campaign on June 3rd, which you can follow now for future updates. The artwork depicts the grand scale and romantic, tragic fantasy aesthetic of Demons’ Souls and the original Dark Souls trilogy - massive, ornate armour, overgrown ruins choked with monstrous creatures and a fallen civilisation huddling amongst the shadowed remains of its former glory. It don’t get more Souls-like than that.

Read this next