The success of Elden Ring continues to inspire new indie RPGs
The success of Elden Ring popularized the “Soulslike” genre and inspired independent RPG designers to create Elden Ring-inspired tabletop games.
The dazzling success of Ring of Elden, the new dark fantasy action-RPG from FromSoftware, introduced new players to the “Soulslike” video game genre, challenged open-world video game design conventions, and even inspired tabletop game developers to create their own indie Soulslike tabletop RPGs. This begs the question: what about Ring of Elden inspired tabletop game designers to create soulsstyle gaming systems, and what exactly makes a good Ring of Elden-inspired by the tabletop RPG?
Ring of Elden drew much of its inspiration from FromSoftware’s range of dark fantasy RPGs, starting with Demon’s Soulscontinuing with the dark souls trilogy and transmitted by bloodthen culminating in the gameplay of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Combat characteristics distinct from Ring of Elden like parrying enemy attacks, using special weapon skills, or combining attacks with jumps are refined versions of gameplay mechanics introduced in Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls 3and sekirorespectively, while the original game mechanics such as riding and summoning Spirit Ash were innovations designed to make traversing the game’s open world easier for players.
The main story of Ring of Elden is a blend of FromSoftware President Hidetaka Miyazaki’s favorite storytelling method and the creation myths/world-building details provided by fantasy author George RR Martin (of A song of ice and fire celebrity). The result is a fantasy world both rich in detail and steeped in mystery – a story with gaps that players must fill through speculation and investigation. Indeed, it’s this combination of challenging gameplay and engaging storytelling that has inspired so many game designers to rise to the challenge and create a tabletop RPG system inspired by Ring of Elden and old-fashioned role-playing games Ring of Elden was inspired by it.
Soul-like RPGs such as Elden Ring mesh well with OSR tabletop RPG systems
Ring of Elden and other FromSoftware RPGs are similar in many ways to tabletop RPGs of the Old School Revival genre. The fantasy adventurer characters of FromSoftware Soulslikes and OSR tabletop RPGs are extremely deadly and frequently encounter dungeons filled with deadly traps and enemies capable of destroying them with just a few hits. To overcome these challenges, players of these RPGs must be careful and observant, spot their enemies’ weaknesses and use lateral thinking to circumvent certain obstacles. In a Soulslike FromSoftware, characters resurrect when they die, giving players a chance to learn from their mistakes, while participants in OSR game sessions are encouraged to bring backup character sheets just in case their main character would bite the dust.
Due to the similarities between Soulslikes and OSR RPGs, many game designers of the “Better Soulslike Tabletop Jam” hosted by itch.io have hacked the rules of Old School Renaissance systems such as Cairn Where In the odd to create their own Ring of the Ancients/Dark Souls Themed tabletop RPG. Unlike the official dark souls RPG based on J&D 5th Edition, the rules for these indie RPGs are minimal, unforgiving, and designed to encourage both careful exploration and desperate combat.
Worldbuilding of Elden Ring inspires RPG designers to create their own lore
The stories of Ring of Elden and earlier FromSoftware RPGs are designed to be compelling yet ambiguous, gleaned by players from cryptic cutscenes, character-biased point-of-view dialogue, and scholarly descriptions attached to objects found in the open world. Moreover, the story of Ring of Elden leaves many important details up to the player’s interpretation, especially when it comes to who the “good guys” and “bad guys” in the game are.
Was the Golden Order of Queen Marika and Lord Godfrey a golden age of prosperity for all, or a brutal military regime that crushed dissenters under its golden boots? Is the “Age Of Stars” ending storyline the best possible ending to Elden Ring, or did it leave the Lands Between open to invasion by alien monsters from outer space? Questions like these have inspired creative works of fan fiction, feverish debates on YouTube commentary channels, and even emboldened the developers of Soulslike indie, Ring of EldenStyle tabletop RPG to create original dark fantasy settings inspired by specific interpretations of FromSoftware worldbuilding. For example, the RPG Muda one-page fantasy game about undead warriors overthrowing tyrants, reframes the premise Tarnished vs. half gods of Ring of Elden as a just act of revolution, while the fantasy RPG of playing cards You are dead takes place in a kingdom built on the massive corpse of a rotting giant. These unique worlds, ultimately, mean better spaces for tabletop RPG players, which makes Ring of Elden an important modern influence.
Next: Elden Ring: The Shattering Was Even More Brutal Than You Think
Source: itch.io – Better Soulslike Tabletop Jam
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