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Inject some Elden Ring into your D&D 5E campaigns with Kobold Press’ Soulslike Roleplaying

Souls, bonfires, and rude invaders - this book does exactly what it says on the tin.

Cover art for Soulslike Roleplaying supplement from Kobold Press
Image credit: Kobold Press

Given the disastrous rollout of the official Dark Souls RPG, I can’t blame you for walking a different path towards recreating the look and feel of FromSoftware’s beloved video games on the tabletop. A new release from D20 5th Edition publisher Kobold Press (maker of Tales of the Valiant) will have you collecting - and losing - Souls in no time.

Titled Soulslike Roleplaying (in what editor Matt Jarvis called a “Ronseal approach”), the new supplement contains mechanics, worldbuilding and items that will convert your Dungeons & Dragons and other 5E-compatible RPGs from crunchy high fantasy to the white-knuckle mediaeval decay of Dark Souls, Bloodborne and Elden Ring.

The digital version will set you back a reasonable four American bucks for access to NPCs, rules for resting and teleporting between bonfires and an introductory adventure that leads a group of Chosen Undead/Tarnished/Ashen Ones “to reclaim their true soul from Ebonwrath the Blackdrake”, which is certainly signposting a boss fight if ever I heard it.

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Two sample pages from the digital supplement provide some key insights into how author Sebastian Rombach translated a solo action RPG where death and rebirth is a central mechanic into 5E’s power levelling fantasy. An easy win is converting XP from foes into Souls that player-controlled characters lose upon death. There’s also the ubiquitous Soul Items that can be cracked open or pilfered away for safekeeping. These have fun names such as Soul of a Benighted Monk and Soul of a Scaleless Dragon.

Bosses will always drop both souls and soul items, while Sparkhunter NPCs will drop Sparks of Life - if the party can manage to overcome these particularly threatening foes. Like invaders in the video games, Sparkhunters will restrict access to resting and teleporting at bonfires until they have been defeated. They expressly target any player who is currently Sparked in order to kill and consume their life essence.

Never fear: hollowed PCs can purchase and find Sparks of Life in limited quantities, or they can muster their courage and seek out Sparkhunters in the wild. Some of the sampled names include Graveslayer Baldorf, Engeadni, Careless Prime of Grief and Twin Lordlings, Eanod and Doneae - all of whom are Dark Souls-ass characters. Each is a souped-up version of a monster from one of Kobold Press’ many Tome of Beasts or Creature Codex releases with some fun extra mechanics and behaviours.

While we all wait for Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree to drop later this year, why not grab your dice and a fistful of ashes for a roleplaying turn in a world locked in a cycle of death and rebirth? More information about Soulslike Roleplaying is available on Kobold Press’ website. Need more Elden Ring on the tabletop? Steamforged Games is developing a very ambitious series of board games set in the Erdtree’s realms - read our early impressions here.

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