OSR: Iron Gates - Dark Souls Armour in Tabletop RPGs

In the Iron Gates game I'm working on, all items will be used to convey lore. The descriptions can be read by merchant NPCs or simply told to the players. Items provide a set of clues as to the world's true nature. They're one part of the Three Clue Rule. Any important setting detail will have at least one hint-bearing item.  Each area will have a list of items available, either as loot or for sale. Some will hint at future locations. Some will reveal new aspects of past encounters.

Side Note: this is wickedly hard. Dark Souls is a very polished game. You can't just bang out a list of items in an afternoon and expect them to have the right feeling. Everything needs to feel deliberate.

Fashion Souls

There are basically two ways to dress in Dark Souls games: Fashion Souls or GIANT DAD. Choose armour based on looking good or fighting well.
In an RPG, there's not as much satisfaction in mixing and matching armour pieces to get just the right look. Your character exists in your mind and in the mind of the other players. Item descriptions should be evocative without requiring illustrations, but leave enough room for the GM to elaborate or answer questions.

I don't think enchantments or benefits need to be hidden until tested in a Dark Souls style game. There are enough mysteries. It's also much easier for players to track their abilities than for a poor overworked GM to try and remember exactly what the boots they got a month ago actually do.
Bruno Biazotto

Optimizing Armour

  • Robes and cosmetic clothing provide no protection. They do not take up any inventory slots if worn. They are often enchanted.
  • Leather armour provides some protection. It does not take up any inventory slots if worn.
  • Chain armour provides better protection. It takes up 2 inventory slots and count as 1 Iron
  • Plate armour provides the best protection. It takes up 4 inventory slots and counts as 2 Iron.
Players will need to balance their protection with their Iron capacity. Most armour has some additional benefit or interesting drawback. I've tried to make the descriptions below as system-less as possible.

Rather than provide rules mixing and matching boots, gloves, chestplates, etc, I've kept armour together in sets. Further customization can be added by enchanted rings, masks, charms, and possibly crowns.

Igor Krstic

Example Armour Sets

I'm not sure  how many armour sets will be in the final pointcrawl, but here are a few examples.

Generic Armour
Black Scholar's Robes Thick hard-wearing cloth dyed with enduring ink. Scholars are ubiquitous in every city. Since they often lack funds, thieves and tax-collectors leave these poor students to their studies.
Vanirian Furs This leather armour comes the barbarian kingdom of Vanir in the north. Their warriors fight bare-chested, the better to display their scars.
Mercenary Chain Repaired many times by many hands, this armour has served many masters. Not many would give it a second look, for good or for ill.
Knight of Meridia Plate Few warriors remain in Meridia. The lure of Azure's war long ago drew most knights away. Those who remain wear armour covered in gold foil and elaborate scale patterns.

Nikola Matkovic

Rare Armour
Elaborate Ivory Gown A dress in an antique style, once worn by a disreputable princess of Rhem. Its elegant silk folds cannot be stained by dirt, rain or blood.
Grey Desert Leather Made from the thick skin of a desert beast, this leather armour clearly marks the wearer as an explorer or tomb raider. Its wearer cannot be knocked prone.
Azure Citadel Chain Iron's song corrupted the defenders of Azure, driving them into a frenzy of self-destruction. This chain armour was made to defend a citadel that fell from within.
Flower Knight Plate The elegant knights of Prince Vard traveled to Azure, losing themselves in the fury of war. Wearing their vine-carved armour grants the wearer the Vow: "I will protect all things beautiful."

Alexandr Komarov

Enchanted Armour
Pearl Hydromancer Robes Hydromancers from Meridia immersed themselves in the sea, listening for secrets from the deep water. The enchanted pearls sewn into this robe allow the wearer to breathe underwater.
Silver Chain Cloak This silk-lined cloak is covered in fine silver rings blessed by Ennu, Goddess of Dreams. It can carry a single Hydromancy spell for the wearer. It defends as Leather.
Black Iron Chain Hardened by unnatural fire, this crudely made armour always feels cold. The wearer is immune to the desert's heat and takes 1/2 damage from fire.
Radiant Plate of Ankai Engraved with the holy symbols of Ankai, God of the Sun, this gold-spined armour was made for a champion of light. Once per day the wearer can cast the miracle Radiant Burst. 

TB Choi

Legendary Armour
Martyr's Wrappings These grey rags, stained with ancient blood, provide little protection, yet they are still regarded as precious. For every HP the wearer loses, allies within 10' heal 1 HP.
Wormskin Leather Once worn by a cunning scoundrel. The worms of the catacombs have soaked in death for untold generations. Once per day, the wearer of this armour can appear as a rotting corpse for up to 10 hours.
Ancient Bronze Chain Though badly corroded by time, this armour once protected a member of Iskandar's legions. It carries echoes of melancholy and loss. This armour defends as Plate against ghosts, miracles, and magic.
Lord Eustan's Plate Worn by the false Lord Eustan, this armour is thickly encrusted with enchanted gems. Once per round, the wearer may lose 1 HP to immediately move 10' in any direction.


  1. I very much dig this. Have you looked at symbaroum at all? Between the corruption mechanics and dark theme, your project has a number of similarities.

    1. I have, but I'm sorry to say I ran into the walls of text and stopped dead. Symbaroum is very pretty but very dense.

    2. Gotcha, fair. The system fits the setting very well, but the workers aren't English natives and pretty bad at formatting.

  2. Do you plan to return to this setting?

    1. Possibly! It's sort of on hold at the moment.