Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Video Game to Pen and Paper - Demon's Souls

If you aren't a big video game player, most of this post may be lost on you. If you have a Playstation 3 and don't know about the game I am about to talk about, you really need to get educated.

With that, let's talk about Demon's Souls.

Last year, while I was on a blogging hiatus, I spent most of my time working on my Senior Thesis (a massive project which detailed The concept of Identity in Mecha based Anime that ran almost over 100 pages in length). When I wasn't cramped in a library, I spent most of my time sleeping on my friends' futon, playing an occasional game of League of Legends (LOL), but for the most part, played Demon's Souls.

This game has one numerous awards and is now a Greatest Hits title for the PS3. If you haven't bought it yet, now is the time. I just picked it up on Amazon and will hopefully be giving it another run through in 2011.

There were a lot of things that made this game incredibly unique. First of all, it was brutally difficult and unforgiving. It had an amazing leveling system and the difficulty of the game scaled indefinitely, so you can literally play the game almost forever.

You start out as one over several classes, but, these classes are all essentially a simple starting package of stats and gear. As you level, you have the opportunity to literally change anything and everything about your character. It really makes character customization a fantastic experience. Gear in the game is simple. You don't really pick up a lot of different magic items throughout, but are more focused on getting yourself into some good armor.

However, probably the thing that made the game extremely entertaining to me was the death system. In some games the death system may be a simple time waster (aka WoW) or it may be incredibly brutal, causing you to start over from some save point that you forgot about an hour or 2 ago. In Demon's Souls, when you die, you are forced to restart the level as essentially a ghost; you must fight back towards your body and try to reclaim all the experience points that are attached to your corpse. If you can't, say goodbye to all your XP.

This system was unique, fun, and exciting.

I would really like to see Demon's Souls adapted into a Pen and Paper RPG. I think the leveling, gear mechanics, and the death system would all make for a very entertaining game. If you combine that with the way Demon' Souls is essentially a bunch of individual dungeon crawls, you have yourself a very, very interesting combat based RPG.

If someone doesn't come up with this sooner or later, I may just have to try and get the company to let me work on it myself.


  1. Interesting... the death system sounds a little like the old 3.x D&D setting called Ghostwalk. Being a ghost was absurdly common in that setting (lots of magic-babble as to why in the book), including classes that characters could advance in if they chose to remain ghosts. If you died, you either gave up on your body or you found a way to drag it back to the city and get your soul reattached to it. Not quite the same, obviously (falls under "Death is a Speed Bump"/"Revolving Door Afterlife") but still intriguing.

    I've toyed with the idea of trying to port it forward in some meaningful way to a system I actually enjoy using (4th Edition, Mutants & Masterminds...), because the concept itself was interesting enough to bear a second look. If you can find a copy somewhere, it might be worth browsing through, just to see how someone did something similar in 3.x D&D.

    And if I ever find myself with time to kill around a PS3, now I know what game I should try. :)

  2. Honestly, this is probably one of the better Video Games I have ever played. One of the nice things is that while you are dead, you can essentially run through a level with no consequences, as a ghost, to find where things are and scout the level, as long as you aren't interested in XP. Since dying, while in ghost form, only sends you back to the start of the level, and moves your corpse to a new location, you don't have to worry about any permanant bad effects while scouting an area. I actually really like this part of the Death Rules as well. Imagine allowing your players to walk through a dungeon, get killed, then start at the beginning of the dungeon alive again, but with full knowlegdge of what is coming - it would allow you to make much more brutal encounters that rely on even more advanced tactics.

  3. Must say I love this game. Played a year ago as a Royal, just couldn't get into it. Playing it again as a magician and am having a blast, about halfway through my first play through. Currently soul level 71.

    We have played a Battlejack version of Demon's Souls. In the campaign version of the game, when you die, your Loss pile drops in the zone you die in. When you restart, you restart at half your normal stake. If you get back to the zone you died in you can regain your Loss pile and add it to your current Loss pile. If you die before you recover it, that Loss pile is gone and a new one is created. It is great fun in that it really creates a sense of loss when you die and fear of permanently losing what you have worked so hard for. We are thinking of implementing this idea as a primary rule that the Battljack campaign works on.

  4. I started with a soldier. By the time I was done playing on my friend's game, I think i had made it to Soul Level 149. I was also on my 3rd or 4th playthrough of all the bosses. THat is another thing I love about the game. You can keep playing it over and over and it keeps getting harder and harder. Since the level cap is rediculously high, you can essentially pimp yourself out in every stat and have every spell, skill, and weapon by the end of the game.

    But, I hated the damn shiny lizards. I always let those things get away. Not this next time around.

  5. Still looking to get through my first game so that I can start an NG+ game and see what all the fuss is about.

  6. The big deal with NG+ is that you get the boss drops all over again so that you can use them for different purposes. The alignment of the world gets reset as well so you get a second chance at all of the alignment specific drops, like the Executioner Miralda set, etc.