Elden Ring meets DnD in the scariest Soulslike you'll never play

(Image credit: Hollow Press/Plastiboo)

Imagine if Elden Ring never existed, but an official guide book was published so that you could try to piece together its mysteries without ever playing the game for yourself. That's basically the concept behind Vermis, an artbook series exploring the world of a terrifying horror game that isn't actually real.

"Vermis I is the first of an artbook series by the artist Plastiboo," as publisher Hollow Press explains in the official description. "A pure act of world-building inspired by old dungeon-crawler games. It could be considered an official guide of a game that doesn't exist, since it's not a game at all!"

Its pages describe character classes like the Stone Scholar, "unable to see or smell due to the scars from the rocks that were tied to their faces for ages." There are monsters like the Stench Champion, moving "in a strangely human way, trying to mimic the warrior they once were, as if they are unconscious of their new body." You might encounter creatures like the Dubious Friend, a "man-shaped figure dancing and jiggling in the dark."

While the aesthetics are clearly inspired by PC dungeon-crawlers, it's tough not to see the echoes of FromSoftware's notoriously obtuse worldbuilding here. Half the appeal of Soulslikes comes from piecing together tiny bits of lore into something cohesive, and Vermis builds itself entirely around that element, to impressive results.

Despite being a niche concept run by a boutique publisher, Vermis has found a whole lot of crossover appeal, and just a few months after launch is already on its third print run. Old-school Dungeons and Dragons fans are using it to inspire their own campaign settings, and Vermis seems captivating whether you're looking for similar inspiration or just a cool worldbuilding exercise to explore.

Looking for the best Dungeons and Dragons books? You can follow that link for an extensive guide on what to buy.

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.