How to Make An Elden Ring DnD Campaign?

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how to make an elden ring d&d campaign
Elden Ring D&D

Have you ever wondered if there are lists Elden Ring themes that can be turned into a large-scale D&D campaign? While Matt Mercer, the Dungeon Master of Critical Role, was able to create an Elden Ring one-shot, running a campaign is a different thing. Actually, running an Elden Ring D&D campaign is an ambitious goal!

If you’re up for the challenge, you can learn the basics of running an Elden Ring campaign through this comprehensive article. We’ve included the key areas that need to be revamped for an Elden Ring ranked or casual game, as well as some suggestions regarding homebrew rules, settings, and more.

Best Prepare for Lots of Changes

An Elden Ring D&D campaign is unlike any type of DnD campaign and a difficult engine to run compared. If you want to learn more about the different DnD campaigns, check our article about it.

Right from the start, you must be ready to make different changes that will align D&D’s adventuring concepts with Elden Ring things.

The first change that you need to focus on is character creation. You can check some backstories from Elden Ring Wiki or review image comics. Naturally, a player wants to join a game with the desire to try interesting concepts. Even if your campaign theme is Elden Ring, a player’s concepts might stray far from the game material. Therefore, you need to be firm with character concepts. Create an outline of the allowed classes and be strict on cutting down races, like Ring bandit class, for example, that don’t support the Elden Ring milieu.

These races can be a logical part of the Elden Ring campaign:

  • Human/Variant Human
  • Half-Elf
  • Tiefling
  • Aasimar
  • Genasi

The second most important aspect that you need to change is the character class system. As you probably notice, Elden Ring class vary but are somehow similar to D&D’s class options. The similarities, however, are only limited to class roles and nothing else.

Take a note of the following D&D class and their related Elden Ring class counterparts:

Vagabond (Best for Fighter Battlemaster)

Warrior (Best for Fighter Champion or Fighter Battlemaster)

Hero (Best for Barbarian – All subclasses except Storm Herald)

Bandit (Best for Rogue – All subclasses except Arcane Trickster)

Astrologer (Best for Wizards and Sorcerers)

Prophet (Best for Light Domain Clerics)

Samurai (Best for Fighter Samurai)

Prisoner (Best for Sorcerers)

Confessor (Best for Paladins)

Wretch (Best for a Level 1 Fighter with a limited starting gear)

Most potions should also be removed or replaced in an Elden Ring D&D campaign. Instead of regular healing potions, characters can use Flasks which can be crafted and modified in Site of Grace locations. As a Dungeon Master, you can make in-depth mechanics that can improve Elden Ring’s Flask-crafting system. You don’t need to include all of Elden Ring’s Sites of Grace. Just focus on a few Sites and tie them up to the greater narrative.

Don’t feel bad if your first Elden Ring session isn’t perfect. Get some feedback from your players and do your best to improve the campaign flow in the next session.

Make the Death System Flexible

Dying is a frustrating experience in Elden Ring. Aside from the fact that you’ve been pawned by an enemy, you will also all of the Runes that you’ve collected. Nevertheless, you will respawn in the nearest Site of Grace or Stake of Marika. Dying in D&D has deeper, more permanent consequences.

If you’re running an Elden Ring campaign, you have the option to retain the game’s Death System or follow the permanent-death basis of D&D. Since an Elden Ring D&D campaign plays out rather slowly, it’s better to choose a flexible approach.

Once a character Elden Ring dies in your campaign, simply allow the character to respawn in a Site of Grace. However, there must be a narrative or mechanical cost. The character must still lose the Runes that he or she is carrying. On top of that, he or she must receive one point of Exhaustion to simulate the chaotic process of death and rebirth.

Additionally, you must make every Site of Grace special. Perhaps during their downtime, the players can discover a minor anomaly affecting the nearest area. Crafting and resting can proceed normally in your homebrewed Sites of Grace.

A Note on Progression or Questline

Sites of Grace are not just meant for respawning, resting, and crafting. These Holy Sites will allow players to level up by using their accumulated runes. If you’re planning to retain this rule, some of your players might resort to continuous grinding instead of following the campaign story or questline.

Since you’re not an automated server, the best way to handle player progression is to add Runes as secondary requirements for levelling up. Elden Ring style D&D players must still follow the natural progression style of D&D. To compensate for the need for runes, you can just lower the XP requirement for each level.

Now, if you’re following milestone progression for your campaign, there’s less emphasis on grinding runes. You can just sprinkle meaningful side-quests all over an area. Fulfilling these side-quests should lead to excellent benefits that can help players fight the demigods of Lands Between. 

Prioritize Tactics Over the Best Magic

Even though Elden Ring has a plethora of powerful spells, they should be considered as alternatives in a D&D-like encounter. Shifting the focus to tactical methods will create combat tension and evoke the feeling of dreaded urgency.

You won’t have deep issues with implementing tactical gameplay because Elden Ring’s classes are mostly focused on martial prowess. As much as possible, you need to ensure that Elden Ring’s most powerful spells are difficult to find.

Heavily Regulate D&D’s Magic System

In the Elden Ring campaign’s Session Zero, you must be firm regarding spell limitations. You won’t use a huge portion of the D&D spell repertoire because not all classes and races are available. More importantly, you probably need to create homebrew spells based on the D&D template. Thankfully, all of Elden Ring spells are available online for reference.

But if you’re really having a hard time revamping most of D&D’s spells, you can just reflavor them while keeping their mechanical functions. D&D is a narrative game, anyway. Your narrative descriptions will definitely matter more than numbers.

Use and Modify D&D 5E Stat Blocks

One of the easiest aspects to modify in an Elden Ring D&D campaign is the bestiary. Elden Ring’s monsters are very similar to D&D’s monsters. You can just modify the descriptions of each monster and add unique combat options. Remember, you don’t need to modify all monsters right off the bat. Analyze the upcoming session and just handpick the monsters related to a planned encounter.

The D&D Monster Manual contains all of the stat blocks that you’ll ever need. But if you want to have additional sources, you can always check out the Tome of Beasts and Creature Codex from Kobold Press. These third-party 5E bestiaries have stronger monsters, flexible NPC enemies, Elden ring bosses, and even additional lore.

Relay A Clear Path for The Future Elden Lord

As your campaign progresses to the end, the imminent question will appear: who will be the Elden Lord? Will all of your players cooperate to put one of them in the position of absolute power? Or perhaps they will fight to the death until one remains to mend the Elden Ring? Always discuss these possibilities with your players, but don’t leave out spoilers.

Making a clear path for the Elden Lord is the real challenge of an Elden Ring campaign. Setting the BBEG is easier because of the multiple demigods available to challenge all players. Once someone has become the Elden Lord, you can even let the campaign go on by introducing new conflicts. Maybe the other players can partake in a new adventure to cleanse the Lands Between from other evil elements.

Effective Homebrew Rules for Your Elden Ring Campaign

An Elden Ring campaign wouldn’t be possible without the use of homebrew rules. The official D&D rules are not enough to cover the uniqueness and gritty nature of Elden Ring or any Souls game.

Researching for homebrew rules can be a daunting task. We’re ready to give you a head start by sharing these tested homebrew options. Here are some points of interest:

Two-Action System

For many years, D&D’s combat mechanics remained grounded on a single-action system. This system allows a simpler way of dealing with enemies or doing a specific task. While this system is great for beginners and veterans alike, it turned combat into a semi-automatic, monotonous method. Players, especially those with martial classes, often get bored with the boring flow of single-action combat.

Using the two-action system will bring back the tension and excitement in combat. In a two-action system, everyone is allowed to take two actions, one bonus action, and free action. Characters can now use their active class features twice, and they can even explore new tactical options. Monsters can also do the same, making them deadlier and more interesting.

For spellcasters, a two-action system means that they can cast spells twice per turn. You can put spellcasting restrictions such as using only one spell and a cantrip instead of two spells. It all depends on your sense of campaign balance.

The two-action system will simulate the raw danger of Elden Ring’s environment. Every turn will feel more visceral, and players must utilize all possible options to survive. Encounters will feel more alive and rewarding, reducing combat time by as much as half.

Prolonged Skill Checks

Skill checks are always necessary for any D&D game. Through skill checks, players can explore the big world and uncover mysteries or clues related to any quest. Naturally, skill checks are simple and quick affairs. After asking the DM for permission, the player must announce the intent and roll the dice. The result can fail or succeed depending on the dice result or the DM’s mood.

Sometimes, the classic skill check might feel boring. Therefore, instead of relying on just a single roll, the players can try a prolonged skill check by making three rolls. The prolonged skill check will offer a greater leeway for interpretation and an equal chance of catastrophic failure. Just like the two-combat system, prolonged skill checks will make the adventure more exciting.

The downside of prolonged checks is the additional creative work needed. DMs need to work harder on coming up with creative skill check results. Still, the results can lead to great moments of fun and drama.

Detailed Crafting Mechanics

Elden Ring’s crafting system is as simple as it can be. You just need to buy a Crafting Kit, get a recipe book, and gather all of the required materials. If your players are content with this system, then you can just let it be.

But if the players are looking for a detailed crafting system, these are some options that you can implement:

  • Prolonged skill checks while combining materials
  • Prolonged skill checks while gathering (greater material count)
  • Usage of homebrew crafting labs or benches (grants bonuses on checks)
  • Assisted crafting
  • Weather decay system (some materials decay under exposure)
  • Pot bundles (allows easy carrying of Elden Ring pots and adds bonuses on throwing)
  • Crafting auxiliary level (up to Level 10; tracks Crafting XP separately)
  • De-crafting (breaks down items to regain materials or reagents – small chance)

Crafting is not the primary focus of Elden Ring but it’s a nice activity to pass time. Moreover, all of the crafted items in Elden Ring are useful. Pots, for example, act like grenades that can inflict damage on certain statuses.

Improved Stealth Options

Stealth is pretty much straightforward in Elden Ring. You carefully sneak up on a target, utilizing the cover of darkness or any potential distraction. Once your stealth is successful, you submit anonymous killing blows or a strong critical that can ruin the target’s stance.

In your Elden Ring campaign, stealth can play out differently. Of course, you can make it as simple as possible, but you can still experiment with some options. You can try the prolonged skill checks to make the stealth process more serious. The prolonged checks will act like multi-stage actions with an equal chance of success and failure.

Creative assassinations are part of improved stealth mechanics. If a player has figured out a cool way to kill an enemy, let it be. After all, prolonged skill checks have already made the process difficult. At the very least, the player deserves the reward of the kill.

Extra XP can also be rewarded to players who have contributed to the stealth mission. You should emphasize their actions before rewarding the XP. This will create a better sense of progression and improve party camaraderie.

Knockout Exhaustion

Getting knocked out is a normal part of D&D and Elden Ring. However, the risk is minimal in D&D because of the spells and remedies offered by classes. To add a noticeable measure of risk, you can implement a knockout exhaustion system.

Knockout exhaustion is what the name implies: a character will gain one point of exhaustion whenever he or she is knocked out. This simple system will deter murder hobos from attacking enemies without tactical considerations or plans. The exhaustion points are cumulative, so getting knocked down twice in one encounter can be a death sentence. Well, that’s just the bloody nature of Elden Ring combat!

Hidden Death Saves (You’re no use dead)

Commonly, rolling death saves is a public affair to keep you from well… being dead. Everyone gets to see the death save roll, expecting success or failure (yes, schadenfreude is also a thing in D&D) despite having a solid armor or build. If you want to raise tension, it is best to simply declare that death saves are hidden.

At every instance, only the DM and the player will know about the secrets of the death save roll. Other players will remain clueless, making them paranoid about the whole ordeal. If the players act too late, they will just hear the announcement that a player character has died.

Spirit Summoning

Spirit Summoning is a unique feature of Elden Ring that can also be used in your campaign. In Elden Ring, a player can use Spirit Ashes to summon the spirits of defeated enemies. These spirits will help the player in every encounter but they will disappear if they stray too far from a specific boundary.

If you want to add Spirit Summoning in your Elden Ring campaign, the players must acquire the feature through a quest or the acquisition of a Spirit Calling Bell (yes, you need to homebrew this as well). Once the player has the required item, he or she can use an action to summon a spirit. The spirit can act like a companion controlled by the player. To lessen your work, you should just give the spirit stat block to the player and allow full control and monitoring.

Stances

Elden Ring stances are as important as the player’s gaming skills. Whenever a belligerent loses a stance, he or she will creep closer to death. An Elden Ring player can avoid losing stance by evading or blocking attacks effectively.

Stances can act as marginal combat bonuses in an Elden Ring D&D session. These stances can be fluid or rigid, allowing additional Athletics or Acrobatics checks. Since D&D combat is slow and turn-based, you can let a stance trigger based on hit or damage results. An 18-to-hit, for example, can be a powerful stance that leads to additional damage. If you also keep on blocking normal attacks, you might lose the damage bonus of the power stance for the next attack.

Obviously, tracking stances is hard for any DM. You must use trackers to know which stance modifier is active. Or better yet – relegate the stance bonuses to the narrative. A remarkable attack from a player can stagger an enemy, making it open for additional attacks from other players. D&D’s combat rules are flexible anyway!

FAQ About Elden Ring D&D

How difficult it is to convert Elden Ring to D&D?

Answer: The homebrew conversion of a popular game is always challenging because of the different factors involved. If you’re the DM, you might also feel conflicted about the concern of staying within the game’s material. To save time in your Elden Ring conversion, focus only on the important parts – such as an unexplored area of the Lands Between. You also have the option of keeping the game’s main quest of finding the Great Runes.

How can I initiate collaborative gaming in Elden Ring D&D?

Answer: Initiating party play in Elden Ring requires a rather different approach. You can accomplish this by dividing the campaign into small one-shots driven by party objectives. This approach will create the impression that the players have fleeting agendas and won’t be together for a long time. Add some challenging combat mechanics and you can truly simulate the Elden Ring experience.

Do I have to keep Elden Ring’s difficulty in a D&D campaign?

Answer: YES! Elden Ring’s soulslike nature is what makes the game truly special. By retaining the game’s difficulty, you can create the Elden Ring experience for your players. You must also disallow most of D&D’s powerful spells to keep the game experience as authentic as possible.

Do character classes need to be revamped in an Elden Ring campaign?

Answer: Definitely! As much as possible, you must stick to Elden Ring’s roster of classes such as Samurai, Wretch, Confessor, Astrologer, Prisoner, and Vagabond. You can use D&D’s related class templates and add numerous homebrew options.

Do I need to make new stat blocks for Elden Ring bosses and monsters?

Answer: It depends on how authentic you want the Elden Ring campaign to be. If you’re keen on researching deeply, you can find flexible stat blocks matching Elden Ring’s symbolic foes. Your best homebrew efforts will go towards recreating Elden Ring’s ultra-tough bosses.

Is it okay to expand Elden Ring’s lore and add my own ideas?

Answer: Yes. As a Dungeon Master, you’re always free to add some exciting ideas to the lore of Elden Ring. However, you must keep the ideas close to the game. Do not introduce so many concepts and ideas at once or your players might feel overwhelmed.

You can start by adding new or improved Elden Ring dungeons or even morphing Elden Ring bandit or mobs. Feeling a little bit more adventurous? Add a new Dragons character Elden 

Will other races make sense in an Elden Ring campaign?

Answer: Yes. Other races make sense in your Elden Ring campaign as long as you don’t publish the homebrewed material for profit. Also, if you plan to add other D&D races, make sure that their design complements the theme of Elden Ring. To achieve this custom homebrew design, you may need to commission special artwork.

Aside from D&D, what are some RPG systems that can fit the Elden Ring theme?

Answer: The best non-D&D RPG systems for Elden Ring are Dungeon World, GURPS, and Fate. Dungeon World prioritizes nearly limitless creative freedom. GURPS, on the other hand, is all about in-depth character customization. Lastly, Fate combines creative storytelling and the limited chances to change a character’s destiny.

Conclusion

Elden Ring is indeed a remarkably difficult game. One wrong move and your character will fall under the weapon of a seemingly low-level foe. Simulating such an experience in D&D will require tons of adjustment, particularly in combat. But don’t be pressured! You don’t have to revamp everything right away. Start small and just keep track of every session’s progress.

So, what are you waiting for? Make your Elden Ring D&D campaign today and lead a party of adventurers to glory or doom!  

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