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Variants for

Dark Souls the Board Game

Welcome fellow undead! This document contains a collection of variants that can be added onto
the base rules of Dark Souls the Board Game. The intent of these variants is to fix some of the common
issues that arise from the base rules of the board game, add variety to the gameplay, and make the
game feel more like the video game. Some of these variants are based off of other people’s ideas so
credit and gratitude go to them for sharing their ideas. Each variant in this document (indicated by its
bold title) is designed to:

1. Be simple rule changes that do not require additional parts so that it is easy to implement
2. Be independent of one another so that people can pick and choose which variants
they want to use and ignore the ones they don’t want
3. Be balanced so that implementing any combination of variants still maintains the general
difficulty of the base game

The variants have been grouped together based on what they change in the table of contents
below. Hopefully, this will improve your Dark Souls the Board Game experience.

Praise the Sun!


Table of Contents

Go-To Variants​ ……………………………………..…………………...…………………………...…..…... 2

Bigger Party Variants​ ……………………....…………….………………....…..…………………………... 3

Rule Issues Variants ​…………………………….……….….……………………………………………..… 4

Dark Souls Theme Variants ​…………………………………….………....…………………………..…… 6

Go-To Variants
The main complaints about Dark Souls the Board Game is that the game is too long, too
grindy/repetitive and that the treasure deck is too random. These variants address these common
concerns and thus, would be a good place to start for players looking to add house rules to the game but
haven’t come up with their own ideas. Note: you’ll have to choose between either ​Classic Dungeon
Crawl (+ Multiple Attempts)​ or ​Double Souls Half Spark​.

Classic Dungeon Crawl​ (official variant by SteamForged Games)​ ​*remove grinding

● Remove all references of the Spark dial from the game; if a character dies, the game is over
● Gain additional souls for defeating an encounter, including boss encounters:

Additional Souls per Player

Players Easy Standard Challenge Impossible
1 +15 +9 +6 +0
2 +10 +7 +4 +0
3 +7 +5 +3 +0
4 +5 +3 +2 +0

o For example, in a 4-player game in Standard difficulty, award 5 souls per character for
defeating a regular encounter and 3 souls per character for defeating a boss encounter
● Multiple Attempts​ ​*allow for more than one attempt
○ Keep the concept of Sparks in the game and choose the starting amount of Sparks you’d
like for the game (or have infinite Sparks and keep playing until you reach a certain time)
○ Defeated encounters will not respawn its enemies when you die or rest at the bonfire

Double Souls Half Spark ​*reduce grinding

● Start the game with half the Sparks (rounded down)

● Double the amount of souls gained when defeating an encounter

Sell Treasure​ ​*reduce treasure deck randomness, allow you to condense the cards you own

● You can discard two treasure cards you own in exchange for one soul at the bonfire room

Running Past Encounters​​ ​*reduce game time

● Your party can run past unbeaten regular encounter rooms (to go fight the boss, for example)

Bigger Party Variants
These are recommended variants for when playing with 3 or 4 players (or even 1 or 2 players).
When playing with a larger group, usually either the party spends a decent amount of time after each
encounter deliberating how to spend the souls, adding additional time to the already long game, or
somebody just ends up taking control and decides how to spend the souls for everyone (i.e. captaining).
This can be especially true when some of the players are inexperienced with the game and don’t know
what kind of cards can be drawn from the treasure deck. These variants try to mitigate these problems
that arise with bigger parties.

Merchant Shop ​*reduce treasure deck randomness, make it easier to decide on how to spend souls

● After defeating your first encounter, reveal five cards from the treasure deck
● Each revealed card can be purchased for one soul
● After purchasing a card, replace it with another card from the treasure deck
● The party can pay one soul per character to discard the five revealed cards and redraw five new

Independent Souls​ ​*allow each player to decide what they want to do their souls, reducing captaining

● Any souls that are obtained are given to each player directly instead of going to a shared pool
● You CANNOT share your souls with anyone however you CAN still share/trade items that you
● When a member of the party dies during an encounter, only that person’s character drops his
souls onto the ground

Rule Issues Variants
These variants address the complaints regarding the base rules, such as how dodging and
blocking are not balanced well and how little impact barrels, gravestones, and traps have on the

Dodge ​*buff dodging

● After an unsuccessful dodge attempt, roll the defense dice provided by just your character’s
armor to block some of the damage from the enemy’s attack
● Your character is NOT allowed to move to an adjacent node if you are unsuccessful at your
dodge roll attempt, unless pushed by the attack

Block ​*nerf blocking

● If a character blocks or resists an enemy attack or attacks using his shield or weapon, reduce the
number black cubes he recovers at the beginning of his next turn by one
● If a character blocks or resists an enemy attack or attacks using just his armor, he recovers the
normal amount of stamina at the beginning of his next turn

Entering Encounters ​*enter each room initially without knowing the enemy and their spawn points

● When entering an encounter, perform the steps in the following order:

1. Place your characters on the yellow nodes adjacent to the entry point
2. Decide which character will receive the Aggro token
3. Reveal the encounter card and place the enemy and terrain units
● Gravestone ​*mimic the bloodstain effect of warning the player of the upcoming threats
o If your party defeats an encounter containing a gravestone, for the next adjacent
encounter they face, follow the above steps in the order: 3, 1, 2
Barrels ​*add incentive for interacting with barrels during combat

● Destroying a barrel during combat gives the player a chance to find souls in the barrel
● Roll a die to determine the amount of souls found inside of that barrel. That die is determined
by the boss encounter it leads up to:
o Mini-boss: black die; Main boss: blue die; Mega boss: orange die
● Explosive Barrels​ ​*mimic exploding barrels
o Using a magical attack against a barrel causes the barrel to explode, dealing one orange
die worth of magical damage to everyone within one node. It requires two dodge to
avoid. Exploded barrels do NOT drop any souls.

Traps ​*add variety to traps, making items that prevents poison, bleed, or frostbite more valuable
● When an encounter card has a trap icon on it, there are now six possible scenarios that can
occur. Roll a 6-sided die to determine what ensues in the encounter:

1. Swamp​ - You feel your boots flood with water and you smell a noxious scent that makes
you sick to your stomach. The room is a swamp and the yellow nodes are filled with
poisonous waters. At the beginning of the encounter, place a poison token on each
character without poison resistant equipment. If a character ends his turn on a yellow
node, a poison token is applied to him again (unless he is wearing poison resistant
equipment). Additionally, a character cannot walk (0 stamina) when moving through a
yellow node but must always run (1 stamina per node)
2. Spiked Statue​ - Suspicious looking stone statues covered with splotches of dark red are
placed oddly around the room. These statues stand on all empty purple nodes (can be
represented by a trap token), blocking the node. When a character moves onto a node
that is within one node of one of a statue, the statue will shoot out spikes towards the
character. The spikes apply a bleed token on the character unless the character blocks
with bleed resistant equipment or rolls one successful dodge. Each statue can only shoot
out its spikes once during each character’s turn and never during the enemies’ turn
3. Curse Jar​ - You hear an ominous sound but when you follow the noise, all you find are
strange-looking jars emitting dark smoke. They sit on all empty purple nodes (can be
represented by a trap token), blocking the node. At the end of a player’s turn, place two
red cubes onto the Endurance bar of ANY character that is standing on a node that is
within one node of a curse jar. Characters with Ember tokens are immune to this effect.
Curse jars can be broken just like barrels
4. Permafrost​ - After opening the double doors to the next room, you are met with a blast
of freezing, cold air that chills you to the bone. Each character receives a frost token that
cannot be removed until the encounter is defeated. If a character has frost resistant
equipment, do not place a frost token on that character
5. Channeler​ - A Channeler standing across the room notices you, raises his trident,
performs the War Dance, then disappears before you have a chance to react. All enemy
attacks now deal one additional damage and cause stagger
6. Acid Pool​ - You kick the skeleton of a long dead adventurer into a room completely
covered in yellow liquid and see that it melts the rusted equipment right off the corpse.
Before the first enemy activation, each character can choose to unequip the armor
currently being worn. (The character CAN​ r​ eplace it with another armor from his
inventory.) If a character chooses to keep his armor, at the end of the encounter the
armor and any attachments will become corroded and will become no longer useful.
Discard all corroded items from the game

Dark Souls Theme Variants
These variants are not so much intended to fix problems in the board game but rather, they add
or modify elements to the game to better resemble the Dark Souls themes from the video games. These
variants may be for players who have already played the game a couple of times and are looking to add
more of the Dark Souls feeling to the game.

Random Boss​ ​*enter the boss room without knowing which boss lies ahead

● Place two SL1 and two SL2 encounters leading to the mini boss
● Place two SL2 and two SL3 encounters leading to the main boss
● Randomly select which boss to fight upon your party entering the boss room

Increased Boss Souls ​*defeating a boss encounter will grant more souls than a regular encounter

● Defeating a boss encounter grants the party souls equal to two regular encounter, regardless of
how many sparks remain.

Incremental Souls​ ​*higher level encounters grant more souls than lower level encounters

● Reduce the souls gained per player from a SL1 encounter by one
● Increase the souls gained per player from a SL3 encounter by one

*Recommended to use in conjunction with the ​Classic Dungeon Crawl​ or D

​ ouble Souls Half Spark​ variant
to prevent SL1 encounters from only granting one soul per character

HP ​*​don’t heal after encounters, making items that restore health more valuable

● Drinking from the Estus Flask ONLY removes red cubes from the Endurance bar
● After defeating an encounter, ONLY remove black cubes from the Endurance bar
● Each player receives two Estus Flasks per spark. Flip the Estus token to represent one flask
remaining and remove the Estus token from the player card to represent no flasks remaining
● Players can also drink from the Estus Flask outside of an encounter while not in combat

*This variant does have a loophole in that it allows the party to keep the last enemy of an encounter
alive to repeatedly cast healing spells or chimes. Recommended on agreeing on not using this tactic if
you want to implement this variant

Drinking from Estus Flask ​*make drinking from the Estus Flask a defensive action

● A character CANNOT attack an enemy and drink from his Estus Flask on the same turn; he must
choose one action over the other

Parry/Riposte ​*provide more options to the player during combat

● During an encounter, whenever your character attempts to dodge or block, gain 1 Skill Point

● During an encounter, your character may parry enemy melee attacks. To do so, spend one
stamina then roll the number of dodge dice determined by only one your character’s weapons
or shields. You also may also spend x Skill Points to add x dodge dice to this roll. (Max 4 dice)
● If you roll enough successes to dodge the enemy attack, the enemy is parried instead and your
character does not suffer any damage nor any conditions of the attack (e.g. push or bleed)
● If you are unsuccessful, take the full damage and any conditions of the attack
o If using the ​Dodge​ variant, block some of the damage with your character’s armour
● After successfully parrying an enemy attack, your character may walk 1 node (0 stamina) onto
the same node that the parried enemy is on (if not already on that node) then perform a riposte
● To riposte a parried enemy, your character must be on the same node as the parried enemy and
then he must spend the required stamina to use any attack from his weapon
o Ignore the following weapon icons when riposting: Node, Shaft, and Shift
● You cannot parry projectile attacks (e.g. Crossbow Hollow or Titanite Demon’s Lightning Bolt) or
movements with push damage (e.g. Large Hollow Soldier or Executioner Smough’s Bonzai Drop)
● At the end of each encounter, reset your character's Skill Points back to 0

Covenants​ ​*add personal objectives, avoid shuffling common and non-common treasure cards together

● Do not add class, transposed class, and legendary cards into the treasure deck during the game
● Each player chooses a covenant for his character(s) at the start of the game

Warrior of Sunlight Path of Dragon

If the character takes the Aggro token when If the character uses the Luck token during an
entering an encounter, he gains a covenant token encounter, he gains a covenant token
Darkwraith Mound-Maker
If the character lands the killing blow to an enemy If the character only moves during an encounter,
with the highest Threat value of an encounter, he he gains a covenant token
gains a covenant token

● Covenant tokens can be represented with trap tokens or cubes

● Each character can only earn one covenant token from a given encounter (including boss
encounters), meaning a maximum of five tokens per boss
● You can spend one covenant token and two souls to draw a random class card from your
character’s five class cards. You CANNOT draw a card from another character’s class cards
● After defeating a mini boss, add and shuffle your character’s transposed class cards and two
legendary cards with any of your remaining class cards
o It still costs one token and two souls to draw from this new deck