Are you a budding GM looking to explore the ruinous DARK SOULS universe with your party?
It’s dangerous to go alone… Take these 5 handy tips from Steamforged Games Senior Game Designer, Gabe Hicks, to maximise fun for you and your players!
Gabe Hicks’ 5 GM Tips for DARK SOULS: The Roleplaying Game
Hi, I’m Gabe Hicks!
I’m a Senior Games Designer at Steamforged Games. And, as an experienced GM and TTRPGer myself, I’m here to share my hard-won wisdom with all you GMs out there.
Now, if you’ve roamed a DARK SOULS world before, you’ll have come to expect weird twists. Strange creatures. Fresh obstacles hiding around every corner!
And when it comes to tabletop roleplaying games, you have even more control over what you can add to this world to make it fun, exciting, and unforgettable.
Watch the video here or to find out more about some of my tips, read on!
So, here’s tip number one:
1. Create patterns
Patterns are a key part of the DARK SOULS video game experience. Monsters have attack patterns, and learning those is key to survival.
With tabletop roleplaying games, it doesn’t always work like that. But with DARK SOULS: The Roleplaying Game, I recommend implementing patterns into your campaign. That way, even if a challenge decimates your players the first time, they learn something useful. Something they can bring to bear when they face that challenge again.
Letting players lean into this quintessentially DARK SOULS experience, learning and strategizing as they go, will definitely make for a proud GM moment.
2. Figure out the right level of challenge for your players
In the DARK SOULS community, you often see players running around in-game wearing just a loin cloth. The reason they’re going into battle deliberately ill-equipped is to give themselves a greater challenge.
Now, I’m not saying you should force all your players to strip their armour and charge around Lothric half-naked.
But – if your players want it – you could make encounters even more challenging by adding an extra monster. Or increasing a boss’ health. Or doubling an encounter. Or giving foes increased health, more damage, and new effects. The possibilities are endless!
With the DARK SOULS RPG, you’ve got so many different effects, weapons, abilities, spells, and other stuff to add in – definitely take advantage of that.
The party will never see it coming. And if they tell you they want more of a challenging experience – if they’re really buying into the idea of death, resurrection, and entering that cycle – lean into that and give them a brutal campaign they’ll never forget.
3. Embrace YOUR style
Lean into your own unique style of storytelling.
The DARK SOULS video games do their storytelling through the environment. But this is your story – you don’t have to do it that way. (Although if you do, the hardcore DARK SOULS fans in your party will probably love it!)
I’d suggest planning ahead. Build a handful of notes that’ll lead you down a particular path. Perhaps you encourage your players to come across an NPC who references a line written in a journal three hours back.
And that makes for a great experience for your players!
But you might want to tell your story in a less oblique way. Maybe your characters will have their own rich backstories which are clearly explained to your players when you meet them.
Ultimately, it’s up to you.
4. Make this world your own
When you’re playing the video game, there’s only so much of the DARK SOULS world you can affect. But this world is just as much yours as it is ours.
We’re giving you the tools to play in this universe. But you get to decide how it all works!
Show us and – more importantly – your party how weird and wild the DARK SOULS universe potentially can be.
If you want to use the tools we give you – that’s fine! They’re there to make sure you have fun.
But don’t forget: this is a chance to let your imagination run wild in your very own corner of the DARK SOULS universe!
It’s meant to be challenging. It’s meant to be strange - it is meant to be dark - it is meant to be confusing - it is meant to be ominous and it is meant to be an incredible storytelling experience. We’ve gotten to experience that through multiple games over the years and now, we get to experience it through your eyes.
So don’t be afraid to lean into your own creativity and see what your ideas can bring to the table.
5. Keep your corebook handy!
People are going to die, and if you're really harsh they're going tp die a lot. So having access to important pages is invaluable. Whether it's being able to quickly turn to the resurrection chart, or significant spells, or class abilities, being able to quickly flick to what you need is a great way of keeping up the game's flow and tension.
Anyway, that about wraps up my 5 GM tips! Thank you for checking out DARK SOULS: The Roleplaying Game.
We can’t wait to hear more about how much you’ve enjoyed it, what journeys you’ve been on, and – last but not least – what killed you the most!
So, has that got your imagination fired up? Let us know if you found that useful – or if you’ve got any GM tips of your own – by getting in touch on our socials!
Don’t forget – you can seize your very own copy of DARK SOULS: The Roleplaying Game now from the Steamforged Games webstore or at your Friendly Local Gaming Store.