“It’s dangerous to go unequipped, Chosen Ones. Here. Take thy burial gifts with thee,” said the firekeeper to the dragon Ebonwrath’s latest victims.
When the PCs return to rest at the bonfire, there’s a NPC waiting, the firekeeper. A firekeeper should be an ally for PCs and a source of information, equipment, and occasional gifts. The firekeeper is their first friend in the new world of a Dark Souls 5E campaign.
Specifically, the firekeeper gives PCs a choice of beginner’s trinket and estus healing flasks. Where the PCs are going next, they could use the help. Here are the the specific items the PCs need to get on their feet in this new world.
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After setting the tone with game-altering new rules last time, the PCs need to be properly equipped to search for their stolen true souls.
The first item on the list is the estus flask, a personalized replacement for potions of healing, followed by souls, the method by which all things are valued.
An estus flask is a personal healing item specific to each PC that cannot be shared with or used on others. An estus flask starts with three charges which can be expended with a bonus action to regain hit points. It can be upgraded up to three times by gifting a firekeeper’s soul to a firekeeper NPC found at a lit bonfire. See the Estus Flask Upgrades table for the number of hit points recovered with each use.
|Souls Needed||Healing Effect|
|none||Estus Flask. Use to regain 2d4 + 2 hit points.|
|1 firekeeper soul||Greater Estus Flask. Use to regain 4d4 + 4 hit points. Gain 4 total charges.|
|2 firekeeper souls||Superior Estus Flask. Use to regain 8d4 + 8 hit points. Gain 5 total charges.|
|3 firekeeper souls||Ultimate Estus Flask. Use to regain 12d4+12 hit points. Gain 6 total charges.|
Souls are the currency by which most things are paid for within Dark Souls. Souls buy character levels, equipment, crafting, upgrades, and even the services of those few wretched creatures who have not yet become Hollow.
Coins and other forms of currency have no value, only Souls. Use the Soul Currency table to determine how many souls each translate to money in a standard 5E game. Convert any starting gold to souls upon character generation.
|copper piece||1 soul|
|silver piece||10 souls|
|gold piece||100 souls|
As souls are crucial for success, here’s how you get them:
- A PC earns souls equal to the Challenge Rating of each monster killed. Each PC receives the full amount of souls, do not split them among the party.
- Lost soul items are scattered throughout the campaign wherever gold, jewels, art objects, or other lootable wealth would appear in a normal 5E game. A PC can spend an action to crush a lost soul item and gain its value according to the Lost Soul Items table or you can carry the lost soul in your inventory to preserve its value against possible death or for later barter. Crushing a lost soul item awards souls to the PC who spent the action to activate it.
- Killing a boss monster awards souls equal to its CR as well as a Boss Soul item that can be used for crafting, bartering, or just like a single-use lost soul item to gain an appropriate amount of souls for the monster’s CR.
- Firekeeper Souls are all that remain of the wise firekeepers who tended to the bonfires and kept the light from dying. Use them like a lost soul item to gain 5,000 souls or to upgrade an estus flask. In the video games, firekeepers are rare, enigmatic NPCs that the player regularly interacts with.
In my campaign, the PCs met only one firekeeper: Lady Burwenna, who tends the Great Bonfire of Giantsfall Ruins. It encouraged more relationship building to have only one instead of a firekeeper at each bonfire.
Lost souls come in a variety of values, ranging from stupefied wizards to defense-stripped dragons. Lost Souls represent the poor creatures who have succumbed to hollowing, withering away until only the simple value of their soul remains.
The Lost Soul Items table includes relevant die sizes at the appropriate intervals on the table, allowing for a quick roll and reference whenever a random reward is due.
In addition to finding lost souls throughout the game, I also awarded my players a roll on the Lost Soul Items table for engagement between sessions, letting them earn souls and sometimes even humanity for sharing maps, pictures they made of the dungeons and enemies, journal entries, and responding to a weekly questionnaire about their characters.
|1||Soul of a Mindless Wizard||100||11||Soul of a Lost Ranger||15,250|
|2||Soul of a Repulsive Sorcerer||500||1d12||Soul of a Broken Barbarian||17,500|
|3||Soul of a Wretched Warlock||800||13||Soul of a Fangless Vampire||20,000|
|1d4||Soul of a Begger Bard||1,000||14||Soul of a Hollowed Golem||23,500|
|5||Soul of a Lonesome Druid||2,500||15||Soul of a Conquered Giant||28,000|
|1d6||Soul of a Guilty Rogue||3,750||16||Soul of a Rebuked Mummy||33,500|
|7||Soul of a Faithless Cleric||5,000||17||Soul of a Beaten Sphinx||38,000|
|1d8||Soul of a Benighted Monk||7,500||18||Soul of a Fallen Angel||43,500|
|9||Soul of a Disgraced Paladin||10,000||19||Soul of a Redeemed Demon||55,000|
|1d10||Soul of a Defeated Fighter||12,750||1d20||Soul of a Scaleless Dragon||60,000|
With estus flasks in hand and a few loose souls in their pockets, PCs are ready to throw themselves into harm’s way.
Next time, look for new mechanics including parrying and dodging.