Soulslike campaign suggestions

I got a nice email today from someone wondering what kinds of adventures I’d run using Grave, and my response was so long I figured I might as well turn it into a blog post. Here are some things I used for my own soulslike RPG campaigns—maybe you’ll find them handy too!

Exhumed is a pamphlet dungeon I made as a generic “you wake up in a tomb” starter scenario. (I’d like to expand it in the future into a series of linked, one-page dungeons, but who knows what I’ll have time for.)

The Cold Ruins of Lastlife is a soulslike setting for Dungeon World. Mostly I mined it for characters suitable as bosses or covenant representatives, like the Deepwasp, a giant, immortal bug wizard who seemed like a pretty okay dude.

Veins of the Earth is great for making underworld areas with lots of extremely creepy creatures. I especially enjoyed running the Antiphoenix (the living embodiment of the finality of all things) and the Spectre of the Bröcken (a giant she-wolf made of tiny skeletons, who in my game wanted to pay the PCs to kill the Deepwasp). I wrote a bit more about the experience here on the blog.

Trilemma Adventures has a ton of self-contained dungeon maps and adventure sites. I used several during playtesting, including a giant plateau dotted with ruins, and an abandoned monastery full of undead cultists in the watery catacombs below, among others. 

Embers of the Forgotten Kingdom is an entire soulslike campaign started out for multiple rule  systems. I have yet to use any of it, but it seems like a thing I should look at more closely (especially since I did buy it). 

The One-page Dungeon Contest also includes some great material, including a wizard tower and snake-person village built on the back of a stone titan leaking mutagenic blood, and a shattered temple you build by randomly drawing printed-out squares as you explore the map (both from the 2014 compendium).

The adventure hook and frame story was gradually revealed in pieces over the course of the campaign. If I ever expand on Exhumed, this will probably be what holds it together.

  • Something broke open the gates to the underworld, so now demons and souls of the dead dead roam free
  • The PCs are all named in a cryptic prophecy that implies they might save or doom the world
  • The gates to the underworld are so heavy that they can only be closed once more by hands bearing the strength of [some absurd number of souls, so the players understand they need to reclaim the souls of a bunch of great demon “bosses” in order to “beat” the game]
  • Later, they learn they could opt to leave the gates open, slay the king of demons, seize the Black Iron Crown of the Damned from his brow, and use it to rule over a world without death
  • (Also it became very apparent in time that it was one particular PC’s fault that the gates of the underworld burst open, oops)

If you’ve run a soulslike tabletop RPG campaign yourself, I’d love to hear what kinds of materials you used. Please feel free to comment below!

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