The Dark Souls RPG’s rulebook is a mess, and players aren’t happy
Fans criticise typos, rules mistakes and apparent oversights in adapting the video game.
The Dark Souls tabletop RPG has come under fire from players following its recent release, with criticism aimed at a number of mistakes, incoherent rules and other seemingly widespread errors throughout its physical rulebook.
A number of threads on the r/DarkSoulsTheRPG subreddit detail a variety of mistakes and inconsistencies within the game’s physical rulebook, which was released by publisher Steamforged Games in the UK last month and is due a US launch on May 16th. The standard version of the 500-page rulebook costs £50/$50, while its limited-edition Collector’s Edition is priced at £95/$95.
The errors reportedly range from the fairly small - such as spelling mistakes and typos - to those that potentially have an effect on gameplay, including apparent rules oversights and inconsistencies.
In one more glaring example spotted by players, the Knight class cannot begin the game with the 16 strength points required to use the Knight armour specified as its starting equipment. (The highest possible starting strength is 15, using the Brute origin.) In a similar case, the Caster origin - one of four backgrounds selected during character creation that influence starting stats and abilities - doesn’t have enough strength to wield the Cleric class’ starting weapon, despite being recommended as a suitable origin for the class.
Other rules appear to directly counteract the apparent benefit of spells and abilities. The Fall Control spell requires the player to make a dexterity saving throw against their own spell difficulty class, resulting in a situation where the spell becomes more difficult to successfully cast as the character becomes stronger. Meanwhile, the ability of the Firelink Greatsword weapon requires the player to spend two points of position - the game’s equivalent of hit points - to heal just one point of position, making its effect redundant.
Meanwhile, being reduced to zero position immediately results in a character’s death, but a Healer’s Kit item mentioned later in the book is described as stabilising a character on zero position.
Further examples include an incorrect description for the Crystal Soul Spear sorcery, which instead uses the text for the Combustion pyromancy spell, and inconsistencies in how position is calculated during initial character creation and at higher levels, leading to confusion among players as to how to correctly work out their total.
In other places, the game’s use of Dungeons & Dragons 5E’s gameplay system as its framework - which can be used to power other RPGs via Wizards of the Coast’s Open Game License - is still apparently visible in references to D&D classes such as paladin rather than their Dark Souls: The RPG replacements.
“I pre-ordered the Dark Souls special edition version and frankly I'm disgusted with it,” player Sam Day told Dicebreaker via email.
Day is among the players who have compiled lengthy lists of mistakes and corrections across multiple Reddit threads, with one post detailing more than two dozen such errors and the page numbers on which they were found.
“The only response from SFG to the subreddit I have seen has been to give a soft sorry and ask for a list of mistakes instead of finding them all themselves,” Day added.
Some players have offered their own house rules and corrections to the rules as written in the book, ranging from weapon damage to making temporary position - received at the beginning of combat encounters by rolling dice equal to the character’s level - easier to add up.
A number of commenters expressed their disappointment at the mistakes in the rulebook, ranging from calls for refunds to more subdued feelings that the mistakes had not fully diminished their overall enjoyment of playing the Dark Souls RPG.
“While I agree it's a shame there are errors like these, I don't think it really affects the main goals of the game,” said user Santuric.
“The book is so beautiful, and it’s honestly a huge shame it has such an extensive list of mechanical errors in it,” added user Tiberius501. “I love the intent behind the rules, honestly, making 5e rules a lot more threatening and tactical. But some of these errors are actually invasive.
“We’ve basically bought a set of rough beta rules for the cost of a finished product, which is unacceptable.”
“I’m in the US so I don’t have the book yet, but I’m already feeling cheated,” said user TheCopernicus. “I spent $100 on a collectors edition book, I expect it to not have glaring issues that basically make it unusable and instead I’ll have to use the PDF that (I hope) will be updated with all the fixes.”
Steamforged previously announced that a digital PDF of the game’s rules will be made available for free to those who purchase the physical rulebook directly from the publisher. A release date for the digital edition is yet to be announced, with no official confirmation as to whether any of the errors will be corrected in the PDF or future printings of the physical book.
"At Steamforged, our primary goal is always to create compelling tabletop experiences that capture the hearts and imaginations of our fans, immersing them in vivid worlds they can get lost in time and time again,” Steamforged Games said in a statement to Dicebreaker. “While we feel we’ve achieved that with Dark Souls: The Roleplaying Game in light of the overwhelming positive reviews, we acknowledge the concerns some have raised and take all feedback seriously.
“Although these concerns shouldn’t affect the playability of the game, we’re always striving to strengthen our processes to ensure our loyal fans continue to enjoy the games we release."