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Dark Souls and Exalted a Homebrew and Discussion Thread by Eldagusto

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  • Dark Souls and Exalted a Homebrew and Discussion Thread by Eldagusto

    Dark Souls in Exalted

    So I finally started playing Dark Souls, and I beat the first game and making my way through the next two. I’ve been a fan of the Lore before I ever played it. I feel it’s a pretty perfect setting to port into Exalted.

    So I want to start a thread discussing some of the options. Before I was cribbing the idea of the painted world and made a minimultiverse based around paintings within paintings, but after fully playing the game I really want to make use of the actual setting locals. Now we will be talking about spoilers too, and while I haven’t beaten Dark Souls 2 and 3 and Bloodborne and Demon Souls I know the spoilery stuff.

    A lot of things need to be addressed. One older Idea I had based off the original opening cinematic was maybe the preFirst Flame Protohollows could be immortal shells of a pacified Primordial Race, immortal mindless empty beings. After the Flame they recieved souls. I’m split on the idea, maybe the discovery of the Flame lead to life and souls being given to these beings, or all of these humanoids were literally given a shard of one of the Lord Souls, usually a splinter of Gwyn’s soul for the race of the Gods/Vassal Knights, or a piece of the Dark Soul. But if all the Lords gave splinters of their soul and not just the Pygmy for the whole of humanity and Gwyn for an elite few, but also a small clan ensouled by Izalith and the Dead given a form of antilife by Nito. So maybe given souls turned these primordial husks into humans and Lords (I guess I’ll call the nameless nonhuman race of kinda giants Lords).

    So if the Protohollows were only given souls by the Lords that poses some questions, like Gwyn has kids and even older relatives, like his Uncle Allfather Lloyd. Cold the old relations between these primordial beings just be the fantasy of the 4 Lords, so maybe Gwyn wasn’t related to Lloyd or even his first kids were not his kids but the fantasy fabricated this, or maybe the older relatives were dreamed to be connected and the children were born after the flame was discovered? Perhaps they were related and after receiving souls they had some memories return from before they became these Hollow like beings, maybe only remembering their names and relations and personality.

    So before souls they are inhuman. Then with souls the Lords are maybe those who received the spirits of Gods as their souls and thus mighty and of a singular soul, ranging for slightly larger than most humans to colossal giants for the Royal Family of Gods. The race of Izalith could have been of the same as the Lords, or maybe they were different unique race that eventually were replaced by Demons, maybe their souls came from Elementals or Devas. Nito’s is more confusing, his people were the dead, so in a world separated from the Underworld of Creation maybe Nito gave of his soul to bring sapience to the dead. Least changed with the different theories are the Pygmies people. I like to think the Furtive Pygmy was just considered a Pygmy of the Gods, so short for Gods and Giants is normal height for humanity. The race of the Pygmies received a portion of the Dark Soul, I like to think that this was the Po, and Humanity in the Souls verse is tied to humans are the only ones with a Po soul, and maybe the only ones with a dualistic soul. Maybe the Pygmy found the dregs and unsouled protohollows ignored by the other Lords and gave them Po’s and in the age of the First Flame after receiving a Po they naturally develop the Hun. I’m also a fan of the idea that Manus is the Furtive Pygmy, and his suffering was the Catalyst for bringing to fore his might and birthing the Abyss. Humanity is emotions and desires and wants and anger. In the Realm of Dark Souls you don’t naturally form ghosts, they are tied to curses or divine accidents or gifts. But souls are material things, the Po is a viscous lump of Humanity, and the Soul is a luminous mote that if unharvested can crystalize.

    Humans are like the Humans of Creation until the time periods were the Undead Curse Manifests, so maybe the Undead just become more like the Immortal Primordial Husks. The Everlasting Dragons seemed to be Transcendent Buddha figures, living in an immortal age separated from Desire and Disparity. In an interview that Miyazaki said that the Flame brought life to the World dragons changed, so the Gaping Dragon needed to eat rather than just exist. I like think then that maybe the Everlasting Dragons were a set group of Immortals, but the flame was discovered and the Gods brought War, after some Dragons were slain then new dragons started to be born and breed, and with the capacity to reproduce they were imperfect but given the quality of change and potential. Thus Seath is younger than the Everlasting Dragons, he was long lived but not immortal without the Stone Scales but he was fertile. One theory I had was Gwyndolin was a child of Seath and Gwyn, Seath after all was pale with snakes for legs like Gwyndolin and also a being of strong Lunar resonance. I like to think also Gwyn’s unnamed wife was a Lunar Goddess, and perhaps Sorcerer in general was perceived as feminine by the Gods as they didn’t fight on the front lines in battles but worked as support, as the Witches burned the Archtrees rather than fight the Dragons.

    So this realm of Dark Souls humans are mostly the same, they can’t channel essence normally, but they have those skilled in combat (maybe even supernaturally skilled), they have Sorcerers (like creations Sorcerers), Pyromancers (I think I will make it something else but similar to Sorcerery revolving around a cultivated flame. Different but close to it like Necromancy, limited to the theme of flame but can represent symbolic flame and passions too), Miracles (This is an interesting idea, so the Divine charms of the Gods were the powers of Miracles but those who weren’t the Gods lets say they developed a related form of magic that uses rote scripture to channel the stories of the Godly Miracles. Like Pyromancy it's like Sorcerery but not quite), and also Necromancy (Nito had Necromancers all over the Catacombs).

    My idea is Pyromancers need to have their personal flame lit by a teacher, and this becomes like a personal artifact. I’m thinking they can develop three levels of Pyromancy based on the strength of the flame, so a Descended Flame as the first level, a Resplendent Flame as the next level, and the Highest Level being the Ascendant Flame. Pyromancy was an offshoot of the Flame Sorceries used in the War in the age of Ancients. So maybe its like a mix of Sorcerery and Evocations. Sorcerery required research and mental cultivation, but Pyromancy was more about your connection with your personal flame, and it was spread by the Witches on the Bordermarches of Civilization.

    Miracles could originally the Divine Panoply Charms of the Gods, and a form of Faith based Sorcerery like power derived from it. I liked the idea that Sun in the Souls Universe was a great Miracle, maybe one of the most powerful ever cast, by Gwyn. The Miracles the Undead Use are thus several times removed derivative powers drawing strength from the stories of Great Divine Miracles which carved the World from the stone of history. Maybe so instead of Occult like Sorcery uses maybe Integrity could be the base of Miracle casting, since we don’t have a Faith Trait. Maybe integrity and Charisma is used, but you need an appropriate Intimacy to represent the Faith needed to cast the Miracle.

    Now for NPC’s and Player Character talk. So maybe Souls work like Solar Experience, acquiring them gets you Soul Experience during each chapter, with Unique souls being not limited by the chapter? You don’t see it much in game and they don’t super clarify much so lets say only supernatural beings can wield Souls, it is the currency of the End of the World used by Gods and Monsters. So let's say you need awakened essence use to channel souls, so that is one of the big changes if you become undead, you can now harvest souls from those you slay, and Gods even did this as it was the Ancient Tradition of the Lords in the War of the Ancients to even take the souls of fallen comrades to help in battle (Ornstein and Smough follow this tradition in harvesting the Soul from whoever dies first in that battle, and the Nameless King absorbs the soul of his Dragon when slain). But how easy is trading souls? Is it just a natural power you automatically get you can manifest souls and transfer it to others?

    I’m thinking Bonfires will be a type of Manse in this world, a Sacred Fire is Kindled with Humanity, and anchored with a Spiral Sword. The Undead can Link to Bonfires to reform there after Death. I’m not sure how to handle the time it takes to reform, maybe I’ll crib the god rules, please if you have an idea share it. In Dark Souls 1 Many Fire Keepers were around, and it may have been an ancient Tradition since before the discovery of the Lord Souls, as a Daughter of Izalith, a Lord in Anor Londo, and even an Ancient Dragon seem to be Firekeepers in this early time period. Later by the time of Dark Souls 2 Firekeepers seem to be rarer as the tradition seems to start dying out without the ancient tradition keepers and patrons, till by the end of the Age of Fire in Dark Souls 3 the World has but one Fire Keeper and one protege. So lets treat Bonfires as like a unique Manse Undead and Unkindled can attune to. They can use these flames as well to digest Soul Experience to help raise traits.

    Some Wyld Theories now. Maybe the First Flame could have been an Exaltation, maybe it was even a being like a Solar Exalted who Created 4 Lord Souls and after dying the Exaltation exists as a Fire Linked to the World? Maybe Gwyn Linking the Flame was binding the Exaltation to a state of not finding a Host? Maybe the Lord Souls were 4 Exaltations? Gwyn could fragment chunks of a Lord soul to give power to Exalt his Vassals. Or not.

    Maybe the Archtrees are the results of Hollows and Giants at the end of an Age turning into trees and evolving and growing in an epoch of Darkness?

    I absolutely love the Primordial Serpents. Maybe they are an immortal Race from the dawn of time, maybe immortal behemoth Children of the Dragon’s Shadow? And Frampt went Rogue and chose to side with his friend Gwyn, he genuinely like humanity but he is still cold enough to ice his friends and compatriots to follow Gwyn’s goal of prolonging the Age of Fire. One of my Ideas is they are all heads sharing the same body. But Serpents are said to be imperfect Dragons, so maybe the Serpents were beings who couldn’t transcend to become Dragons in a state of Nirvana but instead dwell in immortal bodies representing Want and the Material world. Serpent Men and the Lesser Dragons were also said to be the descendents of Dragons. And the Undead could cultivate Dragonlike Traits by joining their Covenant. Maybe in the Age of Dark some Undead become passive and evolve into Trees and then Archtrees, some transcend desire and learn to start evolving into Dragons, and the Hollows grow in power but eventually lose their souls and minds and the cycle starts anew when they rediscover the Embers of the First Flame.

    With Slave Knight Gael we see the Dark Soul can be linked to the Blood, and this is backed up perhaps by the first game as it seems you bleed humanity into Bonfires to kindle them or to reverse Hollowing. So maybe the Blood Retains the Po?

    I need to research more on Demon Soul’s Boletaria and the Bloodborne verse but there is so much to play with there as well. Maybe the Ancient One in Demon Souls is the Bed of Chaos grown to into being its own Primordial? And Bloodborne is after Humanity recedes into a Painted World, loses the Soul Arts and with it the associated curses, but discovers Blood Arts as the Blood Awakens and strengthens their humanity.

    So PC Undead have the Options of Sorcerery (Pyromancy, Miracles and Necromancy as well), Martial Arts (maybe the tradition of Martial Arts are Secrets of the Gods but Undead have awakened essence and can learn to harness them too), and Evocations. Artifacts I like to think are a big part of this splat. Their Realm however is lacking a lot of the Magical Materials of Creation. Lets say the Gods had access to a very small amount of Adamant (Seath), Orichalcum (Gwyn’s Solar Legacy, I would say Ornstein for instance had Orichalcum armor), Moonsilver (Gwendolin used this), Soulsteel (Nito’s Domain) and Starmetal (I’ll get back to you on this). But they had their own forms of Magical Materials like the Bones and Scales of Dragons and most commonly Titanite. Titanite could be seen as a distant cousin to Jade. Maybe souls Crystalize in Primordial Ore Created Basic Titanite which resonate with strength and durability and agelessness. The variants of Blue Titanite could represent Magic, and Mental Traits and Patterns, White Titanite could represent the Divine/Passiveness/Light/Dark, and Red Titanite could represent Flames/Passions/Chaos. And Demon Titanite could represent Ferocity/Chaos/Destruction. Still working on this.

    I’m also experimenting with the Idea that Artifacts in Dark Souls were even used by those who couldn’t attune to them and thus had to grow stronger to use them, or maybe they even had full attunement and half attunement were you could use them but they weren’t featherlight.

    Still considering any other powers for the undead, I like to think they develop their own unique charms only after their bodies swell and mutate with age and Souls, so maybe their native charmsets are not immediately available and they actually are different for each Undead. As they evolve into essentially the bosses of the Game and Lords of Cinder.

    Gods However I see as the Gods of Creation but incarnated into physical flesh. They can die and grow and change like humanity but have long lives like the Exalted. I see essentially two categories of Lords. Let's call the first category Nobles for now, they are the Lords who form the Knights and basic body of the race of Lords. They are larger than men and have awakened essence and can cultivate skills and power, like the incomparable Dragonslaying Knight Ornstein. Then we have the Gods, who perhaps are those who are related to Gwyn through blood and marriage, maybe Gwyn bestowed greater portions of souls on the Gods so they grew larger than the Noble Class, and they were worshipped as Gods by humanity after all, and for good reason as this Class could wield the original Miracles which shaped the World. The Nameless Blacksmith was so potent his slabs of Titanite formed into Demons after he Died, and they brought life and magic and light to the World. So lets say Lords in General could access their own personal charms much like spirits, had physical bodies but were not immortal. And the Gods were beings with Divine Panoply Charms akin to the Celestial Gods of Yu-Shan.

    We also have the Giants who are mysterious and may even be different beings in the different games. In Dark Souls 2 we see Dragons with the souls of Giants which could represent experiments to animate/recreate the Ancient Dragons using the Might Souls of Giants or could more curiously represent the idea that Giants and Dragons have the same souls. Maybe Giants are the Reincarnated Ancient Dragons, that would explain their often stonelike qualities, and the classic Dark Souls notion of those with Strong Souls often develop colossal stature. Another idea I had was maybe Giants are the Ignoble Class of Lords Large and mighty but with less potential with magics and miracles. Or perhaps Giants are the descendents of Lords and Humanity, or an offshoot of the Gods separated from their Culture.

    One of the big issues I have is which setting of Dark Souls to use in the game because I love the cultures of each!? What is the length of Time between each game? We don’t know how long the Age of Fire lasted, but the War of Ancients maybe that was a long time. Long enough for Gwyn to age as he has, or maybe Gwyn appears old because it took his youth to achieve the Lord Soul he Wields. The Robes of Quelana are from before the Age of Fire, so maybe that isn’t before the First Flame, maybe it just means before the Age of Ancients Ended with the Slaying of the Everlasting Dragons. But we get this idea that about a Millenium passed after Gwyn disappeared to Link the Flame. Lordran is on the Decline with the Undead Curse but we get the Idea that it was an Ancient City by the time Gwyn left, and I like to think Gwyn ruled for a long minute after slaying the Dragons rather than just a hundred years or so. I mean Anor Londo is massive.

    We get the idea with snippets and clues by the time of Dark Souls 1 the Undead Curse has been around for over a hundred years, maybe around even three hundred years ago, as talks of things like Big Hat Logan existing hundreds of Years ago and creating Legends of his deeds. Oolacile in my mind came about after Gwyn left but before the Undead Curse. The Abyss and fall of New Londo seems to be tied with the Legacy of the Abyss left by Manus, ultimately engineered by Kaathe whispering into the ears of the Peaceful Sorcerers of Oolicile and then whispering into the corrupting the Four Kings.

    But then Drangleic and Lothric are built upon the Ruins of Lordran right? Lordran Existed in the North of the World, which is hinted as the Land of Giants in Demon Souls. And it seemed to be the Kingdom of the Gods, but they also had humans dwelling in the lesser cities, Its like if Olympus existed as a nation with the other Greek Citystates, which I guess was what God of War was About. Lordran may have been somewhat distant from the other Kingdoms of Man, as the Undead pilgrimaged there. In Dark Souls 3 we have the revelation of the Ringed City, the City given to the Pygmies for Helping with the War of Ancients, but also to maybe quarantine humanity. Could the fact that the Ringed City was put at the Ends of the World represent maybe humanity spread from the Ringed city to cover all of the World but Lordran existed farthest from it? So since Humanity grew and multiplied they became the center of the World and it made Lordran seem like the distant land at the ends of the world?

    We still don’t know much about the Undead Curse, but the Undead seem to be anchored to the burden of Linking the Flame and they seem tied by Fate (maybe the strong miracles of Gwyn) to seek the Land of Ancient Lords. Lordran crumbles after Dark Souls One but how much time has passed since we have Drangleic? Enough time for multiple Civilizations to rise and fall. I believe the hyperbole of countless was used. Drangleic being the last civilization to crumble there, but how long does it take for a magically huge super infrastructure to collapse? Hundreds of Years? A Thousand? Only a Hundred? Though maybe the Ruins were aided by Apocalypse as Creation had one 700 years ago and it snuffed out Civilization and created a lot of Ruins. Were the Undead a Thing from the rise and Fall of Drangleic? I was getting the impression the Curse was on the rise again after a period of dormancy, but if King Vendrick never linked the Flame then it should mean the curse never went away and it multiplied. So maybe King Vendrick was one of the first Undead of that Cycle, or could it be when he collected his powerful Soul he wasn’t even Undead at first, just a mortal who grew in power and souls? But how long since Lordran to Drangleic if multiple nations arose? Well over a Thousand years?

    Last we have Dark Souls Three and it seems the World is in a worse state than ever before. Is most the World Undead at this time? If all the World is undead would Linking the Flame kill off humanity or would people just become alive rather then undead and thus free to have children? How many years would you roughly estimate from Drangleic or Lordran to now? Its odd we still have archeological evidence to link back to even the first days when even back in Drangleic’s age it was mostly wiped off from the face of the Earth. Astora is gone by this time right, but was Catarina also long gone? I wonder if Astora was a Kingdom with a King or if it was more like a Principality, maybe with a lot different Nobles rather then just one Noble Dynasty. There was a theory Undead Prince Rickert was the son of the Unnamed King, who is said to be the Firstborn Son of Gwyn. There seems to be a lot of implications that the Lords of Anor Londo seemed to be the progenitors of a lot of the various Royalty of the World.

    And what of the Mysterious Lands of the East? I often wondered maybe the East was a land removed from the Gods of Anor Londo, and maybe they even had their own Gods?

    This is a big post and I’m still tweaking things, but any Thoughts?

    I wonder if Priscilla and Yorkha are sisters? My Theory is Priscilla is a child of the Nameless King and Seath, she is an albino too, and Yorkha is the last Daughter of Gwyn and Seath making them half sisters as well an aunt who is younger than her niece.

    Last edited by Eldagusto; 08-12-2019, 06:49 PM. Reason: more Spacing for the sake of Reading!

    It is a time for great deeds!

  • #2
    I thought about the idea of translating Dark Souls to Exalted once. My feelings were that placing the heart of both properties together would amount to conflating the Solar Exalted themselves with the curse of the undead, both since they're such central qualities to presumed antagonists of their respective settings, and represent forces that herald the end of the world for better or for worse.

    I can't remember all of the details, but I think part of the idea entailed making Limit Break a more prominent and threatening thing, and maybe folding in some of the qualities of the Abyssal Exalted to consolidate those aspects.

    Under current circumstances, I suppose that the cursed Exalted harvesting souls of the living would ultimately come down to an experience point role bonus revolving around doing undead things to constitute that they grow stronger by feeding off of souls and this is why they're disturbing to people.

    In that schema, I think Dragon Blooded would have wound up still being a decadent magical nobility riding the world into its grave, just even harsher and more overtly corrosive, and reigning over a world in which there had never been Solar Exalted before. Probably still backed up by Sidereals. I'm not sure if I came up with a role for Lunar Exalted in it.

    I think it was something that slanted more in favour of representing Dark Souls by way of some Exalted motifs, out of a feeling that the tone of Dark Souls being so defined by scant details means that it doesn't sit easy with transplanting a lot of Exalted lore into the mix. I do think that it can be done the other way around, but Exalted as it currently is is already so expansive that such ultimately comes down to adding more things into the setting as it currently stands, which has room to spare.

    I have approximate knowledge of many things.
    Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.


    • #3
      Rather than remaking Creation into the world of Dark Souls, one thing you could try is to insert the themes and story of Dark Souls into the existing Creation.

      I would totally envision a lone Abyssal waking up from their Exaltation with no memories and being tasked to roam the ruins of an Underworld kingdom, fighting undead heroes and monstrosities alike. All to light spiritual bonfires which are the only thing keeping the ghosts of an underworld kingdom from devolving into monsters.

      Edit : Come to think of it a Liminal is probably even more appropriate than an Abyssal for this, as they have a Mission to safeguard the natural order of death and their entire thing is exploring what it means to be human. The hero of this quest could be a Liminal trying to become the human that was meant to be resurrected when they were created (their "Human Effigy" if you will), but doomed to never succeed.
      Last edited by Epitome; 08-14-2019, 11:44 AM.


      • #4
        I switched to Nightshift and my sleep schedule is in flux right now but my days off are coming so I will post some more ideas I have in depth.

        But in short I was originally before playing the game just winging a few bits and making up a Soulslike world. But after playing I love the characters so damn much I am going to make a lil subrealm of the Soulsverse in Exalted, maybe even in Creation. I'm thinking of the Concept of Ashlake where the primordial world before lies underneath the common world of man as the gods built upon the roots and ashes. Its beautiful imagery that the core of the world is a lake of water and ash and roots of a multiverse of World Trees... maybe... So I may have it that the Souls' verse exists massively deep below Creation. Already I've liked ideas brainstormed that Creation may have earlier versions that the Primordials just tabula rasa'ed by squishing with a fresh layer. So maybe their is a layer below somewhere, or even in the Wyld, that was a cavern the size of a whole realm. The ceiling is so massive that Gwyn was able to Miracle a Sun at the top and it was this world that had the Archtrees and Everlasting Dragons. Gwyn built upon it so Ashlake is at the Bottom. It would be fitting then that maybe the Soulsverse exists under the Pole of Wood or Water.

        Either that or they are their own pocket world like ideas I've had for Thedas and Hyrule.

        And I want try Making Souls characters as is. So the Lords are Essentially God Spirits incarnated into human bodies, and when humans become undead or infested with the Abyss they awaken their essence. My crossroads is whether I should make precursed humans in the Soulsverse essentially the same as normal humans in Creation but with the potential to become Undead due to an Ancient Magic of Linking the Flame. So they would lack the robust Charm trees of the Exalted when Undead, but have access to Shaping (sorcery/pyromancy/necromancy/miracles) Evocations, and Martial Arts, but if they start to develop into a unique boss like being they develop their own charmset. But the Lords/Gods will be like Spirits in human form and have charmsets like gods.

        It is a time for great deeds!


        • #5
          I considered an idea about the first flame, that others have. suggested as well, that perhaps the First Flame was a dying Primordial, and the Lord Souls were its souls and thus the Protohollows ate these souls and Achieved the strength of Lords.

          My other idea the First Flame was actually either a Solar, or even just a Solar Exaltation. So the history of it being an individual was lost in legends and symbolism, or a Solar Died or Transcended and Mystically bound its Exaltation to the World as a living Crucible

          A lot of potential systems to play around with, like maybe when endowed with a Lord Soul Fragment instead of treating the powers you get from it as developing charms you are actually discovering Evocations for it? So Ornstein learned to harness evocations of Lightning from the fragment of Gwyn Given to the Four Knights.

          And how do you tread the use of the term knight in Exalted. To me the Fact that Deathknights use it I have it represent an obscure title from before the 2nd age and thus a curiosity when the Deathknights use it. And depending on the cultural most are probably more familiar with terms like Janissary and Cataphract. But discovering a world rife with knights is curious and possibly represents links or offshoots of ancient lost cultures. Hell maybe the term knight was more used by prehuman races.

          It is a time for great deeds!


          • #6
            So I'm thinking the Humans of the Dark Souls setting would subtly be inverted Creation Humans, they will have their Po soul be their primary soul and their Hun soul as their more transitory soul. And the Undead I'm thinking will have liquid humanity in their blood.

            And I haven't played Bloodborne yet but I'm digging the lore and I'm thinking maybe they will be an offshoot world were they will have essentially no Hun soul and only a Po Soul perhaps as a method to evade the Curses of Demon and Dark Souls settings. I'm thinking the Great Ones would be 3rd Circle Souls and uplifting a Mortal into a baby Great One makes them for a time essentially a second circle soul. Though I may just have it they are free floating Devas, so essentially 3rd Circle Souls that have no Primordial, or Maybe I'll just make Hegra their Primordial.

            It is a time for great deeds!