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Bloodborne Strategy Guide Review and Highlights Part I

This is the first of a 2 post series on the Bloodborne Strategy Guide which was just released.  The first post will cover my initial impressions and describe the guide and its layout.  The second post will highlight unique knowledge and information not available prior to release of the guide, or helpful clarifications of some of Bloodborne’s obscure (dare I say “arcane”) game play elements.  I will also give a final review of the guide.

First impressions

This is a beautiful and heavy hardbound guide, over 500 pages long.  The cover depicts the hunter carryll rune on the front and back.  It comes with digital download codes for a dynamic theme (with graphics similar to the front cover) and the digital guide, which will be updated with patched or new content.  The downloads add extra value in the form of an exclusive theme and an always-current digital guide.

The original release date was pushed back to include day 1 patch content to make the guide as accurate as possible.  Supposedly, over 100 pages were added.  Personally, although initially disappointed at the delay, I applaud this decision since day 1 patches can have significant additional or updated content.  The new subject matter keeps the guide from being obsolete at the game release date.  Black is the predominant color, giving the guide an elegant look while tying nicely with Bloodborne’s dark theme.

The guide is divided in 6 sections or chapters:

Chapter 1 Training Manuals explains the HUD, menus, stats and has tips for newbies and experts, including formulas for attack rating and damage plus hidden damage bonuses.  There is also a section for multiplayer online interactions.

Chapter 2 Hunting Grounds offers detailed maps of each area as well as a progression guide.  The area sections list enemies, insight, time-of-day effects, blood echoes available, even gems and chalice dungeon materials and a difficulty rating for the enemies.  Each area has a map with a legend listing important items like upgrade materials (where do I find those rare chunks????).  Labyrinthine areas are illuminated via explanations of paths and figures of key locations.

Chapter 3 The Bestiary describes enemies and bosses for the normal game areas and the chalice dungeons.  Weapons, armor and drops are listed along with background information for normal enemies.  Bosses receive the royal treatment.  Besides the basic boss info on equipment, there are sections for recommended preparations and an overview of the bosses attack patterns.  Each phase of the boss is explained in detail.  Advice for the boss encounter is listed on a separate and highlighted Key Strategies section.

Chapter 4 Chalice Dungeons delves into the depths of the dungeons.  There is an initial section that enlightens the rather complicated and convoluted chalice ritual system with required chalice materials.  Basic and Root versions of the dungeons are clarified and contrasted, with the basic layouts explained.  Each basic dungeon has its own section with listings for enemies, and a map with an item legend.  Because the dungeons are maze-like, especially the jumbled deeper layers, progression is documented via step-by-step directions leading to the boss.

Chapter 5 Arsenal & Attire is devoted to weapons, armor (attire is actually a better descriptor of the armor) and all of the game’s items.  The weapon section is replete with technical details of attack speed, ratings, stamina consumption and movesets for both normal and transformed modes.  Strategies and tactics for each weapon in different attack modes, along with suggested upgrade gems are covered.  This section adds to past guides for “souls” games.  For the first time, there is an in-depth “technical” discussion of each weapon related to stamina consumption, rolling, moving and dashing attacks, invincibility frames, armor breaks and even hidden bonus damage with different attacks.  This information is not available in full for Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls or Dark Souls II.  A lot of it has been learned and compiled in wiki’s through the activities and research of the community but not until enough time has passed for the game’s full exploration.  However, some aspects of hidden damage and exact multipliers have never been revealed to the community for previous “souls” games.  This guide makes intricate attack calculations available and clarifies actual damage formulas in full for Bloodborne.  After the weapon section, items are depicted along with their in-game descriptions, along with a location and intended use.

Chapter 6 Hunter’s Appendices is the last section acting as a catch-all for a number of unrelated but important game elements.  An event timeline lists the advised progression to interact and complete the NPC’s story arcs.  Each NPC has a proper section that includes the character background and equipment, the entire story line, interaction events and rewards. Next come the shops with all items and costs presented in easy-to-read tables.  The section is rounded out with a description of Wandering Nightmare locations and drops, and a trophy and gesture guide.  The last few pages are devoted to an in-depth interview with the game’s creator Hidetaka Miyazaki, with large game concept illustrations.  For some, this exclusive examination of Miyazaki is worth the price of the guide by itself; in Miyazaki we trust! The Index and Credits & Thanks sections make up the last few pages of the guide.


Dark Souls 2: Hard-Hitting Buff Build

One of the most enjoyable aspects of “souls” game has been the ability to tweak and modify character builds.  Unlike previous versions of the game, Dark Souls II introduced the re-spec mechanic through the Soul Vessel.  In other souls games, you could not deviate from the path you had decided to embark upon.  Once a magic build, always a magic build!  It was possible to hybridize the build at higher levels but resetting the attributes was not possible without trainers, or carrying large number of souls (to experiment just prior to leveling).

Thank you FromSoft for the re-spec ability.  This ability is almost a requirement since some NPC’s will not interact with your character without possessing minimum levels of intelligence or faith.  The soul vessel item can be given to a firekeeper who will then allow you to re-assign leveling points. Souls vessels are relative rare.  You can still make mid-course adjustments but soul vessel are not abundant, so you must still think about the best way to progress the build. 

The art of optimizing your build to take advantage of a specific weapon, armor, ring or spell (or combinations of these) is now more accessible to all players through the use of souls vessels.  I for one did not want to miss out and I proceeded to think about the best way to buff a character.  The second episode of Dark Souls 2 is out.  The difficulty and boss battles have been scaled even higher.  A hard-hitting build is essential to take on the extremely strong bosses in the new DLC.

I would like to describe this build and get your thoughts and suggestions for how to improve it.  Here is the link for the video description of this build.

The build is predicated upon buffing physical damage using rings, spells and an appropriate weapon. Physical damage is the most potent for the DLC, as bosses have extremely high magic and fire defenses, and have very high vigor (life bars).


The Ring of Blades +2 adds 50 points of physical damage to the attack rating of your weapon.  This item is obtained by beating the Pursuer duo in NG+ or by using bonfire ascetic in NG.

Flynn’s Ring also adds 50 points of damage to your weapon.  However there is a catch.  Your equipment load must be at 60 maximum.  Otherwise you will lose 1 point of attack for every half a point of equipment load over 60.  For example, if your equipment load is 61, the buff from Flynn’s Ring will be 48 instead of 50.

The other rings slots are discretionary.  I have selected the Cloranthy Ring +2 for its stamina regeneration.  The last slot uses the Third Dragon Ring.  This ring will increase your equipment load.  With Vitality at 10 or below, you will not exceed 60 equipment load and your will receive the full 50 point buff from Flynn’s Ring.

I really like the mechanic of Flynn’s Ring.  It forces you to select lighter armor in exchange for higher attack.  You can still benefit from this ring even at higher equipment loads.  Imagine increasing your equipment load to 65 for a reduced but still significant Flynn’s Ring buff of 40.  You can increase it permanently by increasing Vitality, or temporarily with the Royal Soldier’s Ring.  You might want higher equipment load based on the armor, shield or weapon combination that you prefer.


A strength-based weapon makes sense to me as it requires the least amount of stats.  Quality weapons, magical weapons or elemental weapons usually are accompanied by more expenditure of stats for dexterity, intelligence or faith.  Weapons with strong attack combinations (combos) can hit multiple times.  I chose the Red Iron Twin Blade +10.  This weapon has good scaling with strength and very good combo potential.  The only negative is the 20 dexterity requirement, since the DEX scaling is quite low and does not contribute much to the attack rating of the weapon.

A bow is a good option for kiting or pulling.  However, you will be doing so much damage that rushing in for an all-out attack is more fun and a viable strategy with this build.  Alternatively, knives can be used to pull enemies and avoid being surrounded by enemy hordes.


The best option here is Sacred Oath.  This miracle will buff both your attack and your defense.  It can be cast with a base level chime, requiring only faith of 10.  Other buff spells like Crystal Magic Weapon or Sunlight Blade have high stat requirements and will use up an attunement slot.  Fire Weapon is a possibility but again requires an attunement slot.  Resins can mimic the effect of buff spells.  These consumables can be purchased without limit from various merchants.

Attunement is important because Sacred Oath requires 4 slots.  I eventually settled on 20 Faith for my character.  That is because I used spices to lower the requirements of both Sacred Oath and Denial during testing.  The final build should have Faith of 10 and will use all of the Skeptic’s Spice on Sacred Oath.

Equipment and Consumables:

The Red Iron Twinblade is quite heavy at 14 units of weight, leaving a small amount of available equipment load for armor and shields.  I chose the Alonne Knight Armor +10 for its high physical defense and poise.  A lighter weapon, such as a greatsword, will allow you to don heavier armor or shields.  Remember you always have the option to increase equipment load and give up some attack rating based on your preferred load out.

The Royal Kite Shield is the perfect complement since it is the lightest shield with 100% physical damage block.  You can select other light shields for elemental resistances or buffs, or a heavier shield at the expense of less armor.

The Hexer’s Hood and the Lion Mage Cuffs and Skirt round out the armor.  I like the high resistances of these items along with the additional spell cast of the hood, and its INT and FAI buff.  The head, arm and leg can be swapped out for other situational items based on the area you are in.

Resins and Bright Bugs to buff the damage, along with Green Blossoms, had a permanent home in my hot bar.  I was pleasantly surprised that Repair Powder was rarely needed in spite of the reputation of twinblades to degrade quickly, especially through the frequent use of its strong attacks.


The build can be pieced together at various levels.  I recommend a minimum of 40 STR and 20 DEX, and of course low VIT.  Vigor can be kept low at low levels and increased as the build progresses.  END needs to be high and should be prioritized after meeting the weapon requirements.  The Red Iron Twinblade uses up much stamina for its strong attacks and combos; the smaller Royal Kite Shield also will consume stamina upon blocking.  Therefore, high stamina from high endurance and buffed stamina regeneration are important.

At higher levels, increase VIG to 50 and STR to 50.  Vigor will provide survivability. Strength will give you the flexibility to increase equipment load through a ring, while still maintaining high attack rating. The endurance minimum is 20 but can be leveled higher.  Attunement also has a minimum of 20, unless you equip the Black Witch Hat which drops it to 16.  I do not recommend using the Southern Ritual Band +2 to lower ATT.  Two ring slots are mandated for the Blade of Ring’s +2 and Flynn’s Ring; the other two become highly valuable and you must choose wisely amongst other available rings.

Faith is the last stat with a hard requirement of 10, to let you equip the fast casting Cleric’s Chime.  Other stats like INT and ADA can be adjusted as needed.  I would like to test high Adaptability between 20-30 to maximize agility, rolling and invincibility frames.

Putting It All Together:

I was really surprised at the amount of damage output available to this build.  Fully buffed, the Red Iron Twinblade mows down even the strongest of enemies.  Remember to allow time to buff.  Imagine a sequence where you stand in front of the fog gate, consume a Bright Bug, buff with Pine Resin and then cast Sacred Oath.  However, it is very satisfying to see this build in action.  The buffs can be massive.  A brightbug will increase your attack rating by 20% for 2 minutes, Sacred Oath will add 50 points for 60 seconds, resins or ooze will add 50 points of elemental damage for 90 seconds.  Don’t forget the passive 100 point buff of the Ring of Blades +2 and Flynn’s Ring.  A weapon with 400 physical attack rating will have a buffed rating of 400 + 80 + 50 + 100 = 630 physical and 50 elemental!

Alternate Builds:

One intriguing build variation is a buffed powerstancing, dual wielder.  Vengarl’s Red Rust Scimitar and Sword are both strength weapons that can be powerstanced by this build.  These weapons hit extremely hard and have up to 6 hit combos, if powerstanced with the curved sword in the right hand.  The shield can be omitted for heavier armor.  Alternate weapon combinations would be the Warped Sword and the Sun Sword, with more of a tweaked quality or dexterity build.

Another build made possible by the Crown of the Old Iron King is a left-handed sword master with the Majestic Greatsword.  This sword receives an additional 50 attack points when placed in the left hand.  It has unique left-handed combos with is 1H and 2H attacks.  It would require an additional expenditure to 20 INT to meet the weapon requirements.

I hope you have enjoyed this post.  Please let me know your thoughts on this build and how you would improve it.

Dark Souls 2 Top Ten Armor – Chest Pieces

There are 2 reasons to wear armor in Dark Souls 2.  Which camp you fall into might depend on your character, intended build or even whether the action will be mostly PVE or PVP.  One camp 1 calls for optimized defensive ratings, resistances, and passive buffs and effects.  Another camp is for the more relaxing times that call for “Fashion Souls”.  While I can’t recommend how to outfit your character in the most fashion-forward manner, I can provide you with my analysis and thoughts on the best armor available in the game.

I have set up some ground rules to make an objective comparison from item to item.  I am limiting this discussion to chest pieces.  Head, arm and leg armor typically provides a much lower level of physical defense.  These items more often have passive buffs that help round out the character with useful attributes.  For the sake of this analysis, I will generalize that you are more likely to wear a non-chest item for a passive effect.  Therefore, the majority of defenses will be provided by the chest armor.

I set up a scoring system that takes into account the physical damage rating, resistances (elemental, curse and petrification), poise, weight, durability and the bonus factor to defense when the item is fully upgraded.  Physical damage, resistances and weight were scaled more heavily since they are more important than the other factors (this is another subjective call on my end).  The goal was to have a score that reflected all resistances (physical and elemental), poise and durability, relative to weight.  The highest scorers should provide the biggest “bang-for-the-buck” when outfitting your character.

I would like to confer an “honorable mention” to an outstanding item.  While it does not make the top 10 when fully upgraded, the Sanctum Knight Chest Armor provides very high defense and poise per weight as-is, without any upgrading.  I actually suggest that you do not upgrade it all. Rather, use it as an alternate while you obtain and upgrade your main piece.  You will not be disappointed.

Now, let’s count down the Top 10 Armor pieces in Dark Souls 2:

#10 Mad Warrior Armor+5

This is a well rounded out armor that requires some farming in NG+.  The defensive rating at +5 is 257.  It does have higher than normal bleed and poison resistance.  Poise is acceptable but durability is relatively low for a “heavy” set.  The Faraam and, especially the Gyrm Armor, are good alternates.

#9 The Jester’s Robes +10

Who would have thunk it!  This is actually a great armor piece no matter whom or what you are facing.  The defensive rating is 131 at +5.  More importantly, the resistances are very high, especially poison protection.  While it does not enter into the calculation, this item makes you invulnerable to backstabs.  It does have a dexterity requirement of 14.  Alternates are Lucatiel’s Vest or the Saint’s Dress.

#8 The King’s Armor +5

The Shrine of Amana holds this little gem.  You must find the secret location while in human form to don the King’s regalia.  This is a moderately heavy set with very high resistances to Magic, Fire, Poison, Bleed and Petrify.  The physical defense is 215 at +5, which is very high for its weight.  However, poise is very low relative to similarly weighted armors.  The lack of curse resistance may have been forced by the developers to fit into the lore (since the King hollows out eventually).  The Drakeblood and the Elite Knight Armors will provide marginally equivalent protection.

#7 Drakeeper Armor +10

A lucky drop from the hard hitting Drakekeepers, this is essentially a granite-black, slightly heavier version of Velstadt’s armor.  Physical defense is a whopping 333 at +10.  Resistances are high and consistent across the board, with higher than normal bleed and curse ratings.  However it does lack petrify resistance and suffers from low durability relative to its weight.  The Imperious Armor and the Drangleic Mail are good alternate choices.

#6 Alonne Captain Armor+10

A rare drop from the bow-and-lighting-katana wielding Alonne Captains, this is the only item in the Top 10 that has 0 curse and petrify resistance.  However, the physical damage rating is outstanding at 324 for a +10 armor.  Very high Fire, Bleed, Magic and Dark resistances help it move up the list.  The Dragonrider’s Armor is a good alternate with lower resistances.

 #5 Agdayne’s Black Robe +5

Agdayne will gift you this item in late game, or you could literally tear it off his dead body if you are impatient.  Normally I am not tempted to off NPC’s but this Robe will tempt even the best of us.  The resistances are high at base level and ridiculous when fully upgraded.  Physical defense is 139 at +5, a high number for light armor.  The Monastery Longshirt is a surprisingly close alternate.

#4 Velstadt`s Armor+5

One of the best options for heavy sets, it can be purchased after defeating Velstadt.  The physical resistance is 330 at +5.  It has outstanding bleed and dark resistance but strangely it is somewhat susceptible to lighting.  Poise and durability are high as well. Frankly, this item will provide you with excellent resistances across the board.  It is only slightly inferior to the top 3 items in the list.  There are no good alternates but Vengarl’s comes close without the high resistances.

The next 3 items are excellent choices for armor.  Each one excels at a particular attribute with high ratings all around.  These items can be used as guiding set pieces for a build, something normally reserved for weapons.  Here are the Top 3 Armors in Dark Souls 2:

#3 Smelter Demon Armor+5

Your reward for one of the toughest boss fights in the game; this is my personal favorite, and a fabulous choice for armor.  Physical defense is 324 at +5.  Fire and bleed resistance is superior.  It is somewhat susceptible to poison, however other resistances are high and consistent.  This item has excellent ratios of weight, physical rating, high resistances and poise.  The Looking Glass Armor is a slightly heavier option but lacking in some of the resistances.

 #2 Havel`s Armor +5

The Gutter has some surprisingly good treasures, none more valuable than Havel’s Armor.  This item has the highest defensive rating, a massive 399 at +5, and the highest durability.  It is a suitably heavy item, perfect for tanks builds and requiring high Vitality.  Bleed resistance is high but, just like in Dark Souls, poison is the only weakness for enemies to explore.  If you want an alternate, try the Gyrm Warrior Armor.  It is heavier but not as good, lacking in defense and overall resistances.

#1 Black Witch Robe +5

In a surprising upset, a light item takes the crown for best armor in Dark Souls 2.  This is not an easy item to get.  You must purchase it from Navlaan in late game after figuring out how to get him to talk to you.  The Black Witch Robe has good physical defense of 146 at +5.  However, its resistances are without equal in the game.  It has the highest magic, lightning and dark rating, and the second highest fire resistance.  It also offers high protection from curse and petrify and shields you from poison and bleed as well.

I hope you have enjoyed this list.  I reserve the right to modify it later on as more items are introduced in the upcoming DLC’s.  Let me know what your list of Top 10 Armors look like.

Dark Souls 2 – Melee Build Guide with Support Miracles

I have transitioned from my beloved Dark Souls and have been enjoying Dark Souls 2, lately on the PC.  I really did not have a favorite build in Dark Souls but I seem to be gravitating to the same type of build in Dark Souls 2.  It is a melee build with support miracles.

Here are some highlights of the build (and a video summary).  I hope these are useful and help you if you are thinking of building a melee character in Dark Souls 2.


The build is based around high Vigor, Strength and Dexterity with support miracles.  The end build level is up to the player but for this build Vigor should be at 50, and Strength and Dexterity at 40.  Endurance is the next most important stat and should be 10 at a minimum, with 20 preferred.

When leveling, prioritize Strength over Dexterity once you have the stats to wield your preferred weapon.  That is because in Dark Souls 2, Strength scaling is superior to Dexterity scaling.  An “A” scaling on STR will get you higher attack rating than an “A” scaling on DEX.

Vitality, Adaptability and Faith should be 10.  Increase these further if you want to wear heavier armor, improve dodge capability or do not want to farm Skeptic’s Spice.


This is a no-holds barred “quality” build that uses weapons which scale well with both Strength and Dexterity.  Only the best quality weapons in the game should be used.  There are some good quality weapons that deal split damage (such as the Black Knight weapons).  However, weapons that deal purely physical damage are superior and can be enchanted with spells or buffed with resins for additional elemental damage.

The three best options are the Sun Sword, the Claymore and the Curved Dragon Greatsword.  You should obtain the Claymore as early as possible (here is a video on how to do it very quickly).  It will take you through most of the game with frequent upgrading and as the build grows in STR and DEX.  The Claymore is probably the best weapon in the game, at least for your first playthrough.  The move set is breathtakingly flexible.  This sword can break poise when two-handed and deals a solid amount of damage at 40/40.

If you choose to summon for the boss fights, summon phantoms from the Heirs of the Sun covenant.  You will receive one Sunlight Medal for each covenanter summoned.  When you collect 30 medals, turn them in at the Sun Light Altar to receive the Sun Sword as your reward.  The Sun Sword has “A” scaling on both STR and DEX and will have an attack rating of close to 400 with the Ring of Blades +2 equipped.  The Sun Sword can be used as a utility weapon for defeating fast enemies or even in PVP due to its fast attacks and good damage.

Near the end of the game, you will gain access to the Dragon Greatsword.  This is a heavy sword with immense hitting power.  The attack rating at 40/40 with the Ring of Blades +2 will be 625.  Like all curved great swords and great hammers, this one is a bit temperamental when it comes to tracking enemies.  You may lose the tracking even on a locked-on target if he spins on you.  The solution is to point the directional stick towards the enemy as you are attacking, if he has rotated around you.  Once you have mastered this little tip, the Curved Dragon Greatsword will help you tear through bosses in PVE and even invasions in PVE.  This sword has powerful ranged attacks with its strong attacks (especially two-handed).  Invaders can be taken down as they are fleeing to heal.  Boss fights can be finished with a flourish from a safe distance, if you are low in health and do not want to mix it up near the end.

If you prefer great swords or great hammers, you can save points on DEX and add them to your favorite attribute.  The Mastodon Greatsword, the Greatsword, the Great Club and the Gyrm Greathammer are good options if you choose this route.


Rings are quite important and are essential to the build.  Try to obtain the highest levels of the Cloranthy Ring, the Royal Soldier’s Ring, the Dragon Ring and the Ring of Blades.  An optional but useful item is the Ring of Giants.  This ring can be paired with some of the better light armors to provide you with similar defense as heavy armor without the weight penalty.  A very good combination is the Llewellyn armor with the Ring of Giants +2, which will provide excellent defense and poise on par with much heavier armor when fully upgraded.

Another useful ring is the Southern Ritual Band.  You should not waste any points on Attunement.  Instead use this ring to provide you with 1, 2 or 3 spell slots as needed.


The best melee spells in the game are Denial and Sacred Oath, respectively.  Denial is the superior one, requiring 3 slots but returning you from death with 1 HP.  This miracle is invaluable and will save you many times in both PVP and PVE.  The Southern Ritual Band +2 will yield 3 slots, perfectly accommodating the Denial miracle.

If you prefer an offensive and defensive buff to cheating death, then use Sacred Oath.  This miracle will not be available until late in the game.  Because it requires 4 slots, you will need the Southern Ritual Band and ATT of 10.

During your first playthrough, you should be able to collect enough Skeptic’s Spice to lower the Faith requirements of either of these spells to about 10.  With some farming, you may be able to lower both within attainable Faith levels.  However, FAI should never be prioritized over VIG, STR or DEX.

Your weapon can be further buffed with resins or with Fire Weapon.  I do not recommend Crystal Magic Weapon or Sunlight Blade.  These spells are too expensive and the same effects can be obtained through resins.


You should opt for a good Normal shield with 100% physical resistance, if you like to block.  The Royal Kite Shield, the Drakeeper’s Shield and the Stone Parma are very good.  If you want to trade a boss soul, upgrade to the Defender’s Shield or the King’s Shield which have superior elemental resistance.

If you prefer to dodge, you can opt to go without a shield.  This is a viable option once you have reached VIG over 35.  An option for those who prefer two-handed attacks is to use a stamina boosting shield (Slumbering Dragon Shield or the Blossom Kite Shield).

Large shields are not recommended.  I prefer to use the weight savings on either a heavier hitting weapon or better armor.


Armor can be varied based on your play style.  I prefer heavier chest and leg armor, and use utility armor for the legs and head.  I recommend the Sanctum Knight, the Drakeblood Knight, the Veldstadt and the Smelter Demon sets for heavy armor.  Good light sets include the Llewellyn, the Black Witch, the Chaos and even the Jester Set.  It is important to note that sets offering resistance to petrification and curse are superior for late in the game and in the DLC.  Other sets are viable but may lack petrification, curse resistance or other resistances.

I want to make special mention of the Sanctum Knight Chest, the Sanctum Knight Leggings and the Drakeblood Knight Gauntlets.  These items are very strong at base level.  If you do not plan to level up armor, these items can be used through multiple plays of the game.  The Leggings may be swapped if you do not care for the useful fall resistance buff they impart.

Putting It All Together

When the build is complete, your character should be able to trade blows with any enemy in the game.  Boss fights are made easier thanks to the survivability of the build, and the flexibility of available weapon move sets with high buffed damage.  This flexibility is unique to “quality” builds and may be sorely missed if you decided to go full strength.

This build is difficult to kill.  The combination of heavy armor, high Vigor and Denial is a powerful deterrent to failure in even the toughest of boss encounters, like the Smelter Demon or Sinh.  Alternatively, a double buff from Sacred Oath and resins transforms your quality weapon into an instrument of death in PVP or PVE.

I hope this guide will help you with your Dark Souls 2 build.  Feel free to drop me a line with your comments and questions.

TechPhantomReviewer will be streaming on Twitch Oct. 4-6 8PM CT USA

Come join me over the weekend for some Dark Souls quality weapons testing and chat on all things Dark Souls! I plan to stream at least 2 hours but will go as long as it’s fun for everyone.  My twitch channel is  I will be streaming Oct. 4-6 starting at 8 PM CT USA.

Dark Souls or Dark Arisen Walkthrough – Poll Question

I can’t decide on my next video walkthrough so I need a bit of help.  Here is the poll where you can vote on the next series.  It will be open for a couple of weeks or until I am ready to start.  As usual, I will post on my views and findings after completion.  Thanks for the help!

Dark Souls – How to Cheese Bosses with a Bow

The air is full of the wonderful sounds and smells of fall: kids walking home from school, leaves changing colors, and even the occasional late barbecue (or is that a pile of burning leaves).  This fall there are also rumors that Dark Souls 2 (March 14 2014 release date) will be even harder and more hardcore than is predecessor.  Dark Souls indeed is a difficult but fair game.  Ingenious players have beaten the game in a number of different ways to prove that with enough practice, the game can be beaten even while handcuffing your character with an additional self-imposed challenge.

I myself had to try a bow-only and no-shield walkthrough.  As a non-bow user (or even a fan of bows), my expectations were mixed: surely the challenge would be high but the level of enjoyment might be low.  How wrong I was!  The bow turns out to be fun, flexible and requires a different level of strategies and tactics than melee weapons or spells.  My biggest surprise is that a bow is actually easier to use as a primary weapon if you don’t use a shield!

Another draw for bow users is cheese.  Cheese in videogames usually refers to a repetitive technique that allows you to dispatch a tough boss or enemy with a minimum of risk. The bow is the ultimate cheese weapon.  My walkthough is cheese-free but it doesn’t mean that I did not nibble off that giant cheese plate offered by a powerful bow with long range plus the Fog and Slumbering Dragoncrest Rings.  Cheesing is tricky and fun.  It can be repetitive, not enjoyable to watch and borderline cheating to some.  But there is joy to be had the first time you master an obscure cheese technique, like dispatching Manus or Siff from outside their boss areas.

So I present to you the following:

A cheese-free full walkthrough for lactose intolerant bow users and a giant plate of cheese for those that don’t care.  Each one is yummy thanks to the main ingredient, a simple bow.

Dark Souls Easy Mode – Walkthrough and Thoughts

After seeing the uproar created by the comments of the Dark Souls 2 developers hinting at easier gameplay, I decided to do a walkthrough for Dark Souls with two objectives:

1. To show that the game’s difficulty can already be “adjusted” by using a pure INT build.

2. To show strategies and tactics that new players can use to minimize the risks and overall difficulty of  the game.

Here is the link to all the videos in my walkthrough:

Tech PhantomReviewer’s Dark Souls Easy Mode Walkthrough

My goal was to make sure that new players were not put off by the learning curve and not give up before they were able to gain enough knowledge and skill to progress into later areas in the game.  I purposely used only the most basic of melee techniques (no parrying or last second dodging was used, and only a few backstabs were thrown in).

The walkthrough is also my attempt to show that there are already varying degrees of difficulty in Dark Souls even though the game does not have a selectable difficulty level.  How is that possible?  Here are 4 different ways that new players of the same skill can experience varying difficulty even without any prior knowledge of the game:

1. A player who decides to summon white phantoms or NPCs for the boss fights will have an easier time than one who does not summon.

2. A player that selects the Master Key will have immediate access to significant early game shortcuts and buff consumables.

3. A player that chooses a pure INT build with high ATT and buys all sorceries will have immense firepower that can be dealt at range from a safe distance.

4. A player that receives a drop of a black knight weapon in early game, and adjusts his melee build accordingly, can max out the weapon and be overpowered for at least half the game.

There are other scenarios I can think of but I will stop at 4.  My point is that, even without taking a player’s skill into account, the inherent difficulty of Dark Souls will vary from player to player.  What appears to be universal for all players that decide to persevere and finish the game is a sense of achievement and satisfaction after each milestone and boss fight is conquered.

The uproar from the souls community may be due to the fear that an easier game will lack the sense of initial dread and then the final accomplishment that makes souls games unique.

Luckily, the new developers have clarified their statements. Follow up interviews and the demo gameplay at E3 show Dark Souls 2 as a true successor to the series and hints at better combat mechanics.  The developers have said they want to be true to the core values of the game  but make the game more accessible (without watering-down the experience).  I hope their statement means they will keep the good things, tweak others and eliminate nuisances, such as the heavy backtracking in early game.

Until Dark Souls 2 is out and we can each pass our own judgment on the game, I hope you will enjoy my posts and videos on Dark Souls.  I look forward to your comments.

Dark Souls Top 10 Weapons – New and Improved!

Here is the link to the video if you want to see these Top 10 Weapons in action:

There is probably no other game where the selection of your weapon is as important as in Dark Souls.  That’s because Dark Souls has the most responsive and efficient sword play mechanics of any action RPG.  Each weapon has its own set of moves which, along with its weight, reach, damage rating and player’s tactics, dictates your play style during battles with in-game enemies or other players online.

After much contemplation, testing and yes, even some hand-wringing, I have come to the conclusion that my first “Top 10 List” needed to be upgraded.  The new bosses in the DLC are pretty much immune to magic and elemental damage, plus they attack relentlessly and in fast waves.  Those changes have big implications for your build and for your weapon selections.

There are many weapons available but the upgrade system can be expensive (in terms of “souls” which is the game’s currency) and also time consuming.  So to help you pick the best weapon for your character, I have ranked the best weapons in Dark Souls.

I created a weighted scoring system that includes the weapon’s weight, attack rating, ability to be buffed (via enchants or rings), required stats for wielding, and required stats for optimizing damage (capped at 50).  I also added bonuses for attack speed, stun, reach, move set, projectile attacks and any static buffs (like increasing magic defense or poison resistance).  The result is not only objective (based on data) but also does take into account those little idiosyncrasies that make our favorite weapons special to us.

Before we get started, there are 5 weapons worthy of honorable mentions.  They are great weapons on their own right but they just could not crack my Top 10 list.  The next best weapons in Dark Souls are:

The Re-inforced Club – pound-for-pound the strongest weapon in Dark Souls.  It can dish out heavy damage with puny stats, can stun and has bleed as well.

The Scythe – an obscure but powerful halberd with low stats requirement.

The Black Knight Halberd – this powerful but heavy halberd was left-out because its top end damage is limited and it requires high stats.

The Zweihander or the Greatsword – a great tool for doling out massive amounts of damage but can be dangerously slow at times.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the countdown of the Top 10 weapons in Dark Souls.

#10 – Lucerne

Initially this appears to be one of the weaker halberds.  However with high STR and DEX, Lucerne becomes the strongest of the halberds.  And it deals thrust damage exclusively.  If you combine it with the Leo ring, power within and a weapon enchant, it becomes an absolute boss killer.  Lucerne is easy to pick up in the Catacombs and available in early game but only once per play through.  It is viable for both STR and DEX builds. The 1H and 2H normal attacks are fast and difficult to parry.   It may lack the reach of other halberds but it still has the superior running attacks, which are especially deadly for boss fights where the counter window is much greater than for regular enemies.  Alternatives are the pickaxe or any other halberd, but nothing quite compares to my sweet Lucerne.

#9 – Obsidian Greatsword

Thank you From Soft for the Obsidian Greatsword.  Finally, a suitable reward for a truly terrifying boss encounter with a very tricky tail cut.  This sword will be your reward for chopping off Kalameet’s tail.  But why would you want it?  After all as a dragon weapon, the obsidian sword has no scaling.  Well, it does a flat out beastly 480 physical damage when maxed out and wielded with 2 hands.  And, it’s enchantable!  This is a Drake Sword on horse steroids which can be buffed with CMW or Sunlight Blade.  But wait, it also has an AOE 2-handed strong attack with decent hit radius that can knock back your enemy.  The AOE is useful for finishing boss fights from distance and it’s a lot of fun on PVP.  It has the same moveset and reach of the bastard sword but the stat requirements are down right pedestrian at 20 STR and 16 DEX.  Alternates are the Claymore, the Bastard Sword and Greatlord Greatsword.  But if you want an equally powerful Claymore, you would need 30 STR and 27 DEX. This is an obvious must-have weapon for INT and FAI builds.  Did I mention that it looks pretty bad-ass?

#8 – The Balder Side Sword

Yes, everyone’s favorite straight sword makes its appearance in the eight spot.  Take an Estoc, combine it with a straight sword, give it some reach, add an incredibly rangy, fast and useful poking attack, and you get the perfect straight sword.  The Balder Side Sword is the ultimate dueling sword.  It’s fast, ignores armor with critical attacks and it’s powerful.  It is actually stronger than the much heavier Washing Pole.  The Balder Side Sword is lightning fast allowing you to hit slower opponents or bosses, and letting you time a counter when you are wearing the Leo ring. This DEX weapon was made for spell-sword builds.  The BSS is one of the few weapons that will make you a better player because it is so much fun to sword play with it.  It is also very light. Even low endurance builds can string together several attacks in a row, each one adding up damage if enchanted with CMW or SB.  If you have high poise, you can rain down multiple shots on your enemy and quickly cut them down to size.  The only negative is that you need to farm for it, and the BSS is a rare drop from the Balder Knights in the Undead Parish or Sen’s Fortress.  But a little farming is a small price to pay the best straight sword in the game.

#7 – The Moonlight Greatsword

A no brainer for INT builds, the Moonlight GS has a rating of 480 magical damage at 50 INT. Additional stat requirements are puny at 16 STR and 10 DEX.  So, magical builds are free to concentrate on becoming powerful sorcerers and they get a hard-hitting weapon at 32 INT.  Most enemies and shields are susceptible to magic, making this sword one of the deadliest weapons in the game.  The Moonlight GS cannot be enchanted so you can equip the catalyst in the right hand, a useful option that allows blocking after casting a ranged spell.  But who needs ranged spells?  The Moonlight GS move set combines the normal attacks of a Claymore with magic projectiles on both the 1H and 2H strong attacks.  This sword is very light, fast and can stun.  It seems to be a tad faster than the Claymore.  To get it, you must get to Seath’s middle tail (his longest one) and chop at it.  It can be updated with dragon scale so you should be able to max it out soon after obtaining it.  Magic builds should plan on a secondary weapon with physical or elemental damage for enemies that have high magic defense.  Alternates include an enchanted claymore or bastard sword.  Another great option, if you can increase your STR and DEX levels, is casting CMW on the Obsidian GS.  Here is to the Moonlight GS, the best weapon for magic builds.

#6 – The Uchigatana

Dark Souls only has 4 katana’s. They are all outstanding but the best of the bunch is the Uchigatana.  It drops from the undead male merchant or you can buy it from Shiva of the East.  This is a pure DEX weapon that was made to be wielded with 2H.  It is fast enough that you can score multiple hits on a boss during recovery animations.  The uchigatana has an attack rating of 420 at 40 DEX so the damage quickly adds up. More importantly, this is a bleed weapon that will reward chain attacks with a satisfying blood-spurting animation that deals bonus damage.  What really keeps me coming back to this weapon is the move set.  Duels are particularly fun and have a dance-like quality to them.  The normal attacks have large hit boxes that hit up and to the side.  The 1H running and both 1H and 2H strong attacks are powerful thrusts, extremely useful in tight corridors, and covering a lot of space in front of your character.  The thrust damage means that the uchi can be buffed with the Leo Ring.  That, along with CMW or Sunlight Blade and the bleed bonus, makes it a killer even in NG+.  The uchi does need to be repaired frequently because of its low durability.  And the rangy strong 2H attack is slow but provides a graceful way to end a boss fight.  Those are minor complaints and do not detract from Dark Soul’s most elegant weapon.

#5 & 4 – The Great Club and the Large Club

Yes, it’s a virtual dead heat for the 5th and 4th position in this countdown.  Sometimes it feels good to pummel your enemies into the ground.  Either of these clubs will let you bully even the baddest bosses in the game.  Both weapons are very similar to each other: the Great Club a bit heavier and slightly stronger, but I give the edge to the Large Club because of its poison damage.  The movesets are the same, except for the 2H strong attack.  Make sure your build has poise because the normal attacks are slow.  But they will stun when they connect leaving your opponent helpless for a follow up.  The overhead running attacks are outstanding, hitting hard, fast and with immense hit boxes.  These are pure STR weapons with high attack ratings of 674 and 648 at 50 STR.  The damage is on par with the strongest weapons in the game but without the weight penalty.  Fast rolling with these big clubs is a lot of fun.  They will absolutely mow down bosses, when buffed with an enchant or power within, even after multiple playthroughs of the game.  The Great Club and the Large Club are the best heavy weapons in Dark Souls.  It’s clobbering time!

And now for the top 3 weapons in the game: a strong case can be made for each one and the final decision will probably come down to personal preference.  But this is my list so here is how I ranked them.

#3 – The Claymore

In spite of the slight nerf in the latest patch, the Claymore is still one of the best weapons in the game.  It is available only once per playthrough but can be had in early game.  As soon as they reach Lordran, most players make a beeline to the bridge guarded by the Hellkite Drake to pick up this greatsword.  It is viable for all builds due to its low required wield stats.  It scales with both STR and DEX and has an attack rating of 460 at 25 STR and 25 DEX. The moveset has a thrusting 1H strong attack that can be buffed with the Leo Ring.  The running attacks sweep out a large arc in front of the character.  The 2H normal attack is fast and can stun.  It is deadly when used in a combo along with high poise when you are trading blows with an enemy.  Alternates to the Claymore are the Bastard Sword and the Greatlord Greatsword.  They might be slightly stronger but they lack the reach and the thrust damage of the superior Claymore.  The Claymore is the best sword in Dark Souls.

#2 – The Gargoyle’s Halberd

From Soft trolled us by describing it as a “perfectly standard bronze halberd without any special power.”  The emphasis is on “perfect.”  The Gargoyle’s Halberd is one of the strongest halberds with improved range.  The attack rating is 469 at 40 DEX.  But it’s excellent for any build since it scales with STR, and it’s also one of the most powerful elemental weapons.  With added STR, it outmuscles the mighty Black Knight Halberd at less than half the weight, while being enchantable.  The running attacks are very fast overhead chops, with extended reach.  It begs to be wielded with both hands. Few enemies will be left standing after a 2H 3-hit combo, also deceptively fast and rangy.  The Gargoyle’s Halberd is a rare drop from the Belfry gargoyles and a guaranteed drop from the Anor Londo gargoyles if not already in your inventory by then.  In addition to being an offensive powerhouse, this weapon will boost your defenses with a 25% reduction in poison and bleed build-up.  The Gargoyle’s Halberd comes pretty close to perfection in my book.

#1 – The Great Scythe

In my humble opinion, the choice for best weapon is an easy and obvious one.  The Great Scythe combines the high damage of a halberd with the most unique and best moveset in the game, and it adds some bleed damage to boot.  This is a pure DEX weapon available in early game by venturing into the Catacombs.  At 40 DEX, it has an attack rating of 483.  The normal attacks are moderately fast but will build-up your enemies bleed meter.  The running attacks are the best in the game, incredibly fast and covering an amazing amount of ground.  The Great Scythe really shines in boss battles.  The 2H strong attack quickly propels you forward and cuts a giant swath of space in front of you.  More importantly, it can be chained for a combo, which will dissolve huge chunks of the boss’s life bar, especially when the bleed damage kicks in.  The Lifehunt Scythe is the only worthy alternate with higher bleed damage, but it is shorter and cannot be enchanted.  If you don’t believe what I have said, take this weapon for a spin in your next playthrough.  I am sure you will agree with my conclusion that the Great Scythe is the best weapon in Dark Souls.

Dark Souls – Chronological Narrative of Lore

I recently finished a video series on my YouTube channel for a complete walkthrough of Dark Souls focusing on hard-to-find items and especially the game’s lore.  As I played the game, pieced together its story and prepared the videos, I found myself creating my own personal story for the game.  I am sure this was intended by the game developers to allow each player to become more vested in the game.

By telling an incomplete story through item descriptions, cut scenes and NPC dialogues, Dark Souls encourages you to dive as deeply as you want into its lore and fill it out based on your interpretation of the partial story.  After thirty hours of gameplay and just as many more researching the community blogs, I have come up with the narrative for Dark Souls tying the lore plot lines in chronological order.

The series was a long but fun project and I thought this plot and lore summary is an excellent way to wrap it up.  In case you are curious, here is my complete version of the Dark Souls Lore, told over 11 Chapters, from the beginning of time to the point where the player wakes up in the Northern Undead Asylum and begins exploring this fantastic game.

Dark Souls Lore Timeline Narration for Video

Chapter 1 – The Rise of Lord Gwyn

In the beginning of time, the primordial imperfect serpents live in the abyss.  Then followed the Age of Ancients, where the everlasting dragons ruled over a world that was still unformed and shrouded in fog.  There are archtrees, grey crags, giants, divine lords, and the lowly and mortal humans spread throughout the lands.

Then came a great fire that arose spontaneously, perhaps as the world started to form itself or perhaps as a type of yin-and-yang response to the dark.  Fire and light, and life and death, exist because they are opposites to cold and dark, and are interconnected: one cannot exist without its opposite.   The fire was great and held Lord Souls of immeasurable power.  The Lord Souls were obtained by Nito, the first of the Dead, the Witch of Izalith and Lord Gwyn.  The furtive pigmy, a lowly human, also obtained a special Lord Soul, the Dark Soul, but he chose to go into the Dark of the Abyss.  He joined in a covenant with the primordial serpents, who allowed him passage into the Abyss and tried to teach him and ply him to their will.

With the power of the Lord Souls within them, the Lords challenged the mighty everlasting dragons.  Aided by the traitor albino dragon Seath the Scaless, most of the dragons are defeated and Lord Gwynn becomes the ruler of this newly formed world.  He rules from Anor Londo, where he is joined by his family and other lords.  He establishes a court with Lords of royal lineage and those that distinguished themselves during the war.  He elevates Seath the Scaless to a duke and allows him to pursue arcane research in his archives.  He also gives the wise Four Kings of New Londo a portion of his soul.

From his knights, Gwyn selects the 4 top lieutenants to act as his personal guard: the Giant Hawkeye Gough who is infallible and can fell a dragon with a single arrow of his great bow; the Lord’s Blade Ciarin, the leader of his assassins and a deadly fighter with gold and silver tracers; Artorias, who is the best swordsman in the land; and Ornstein, the captain of his guard and a deadly fighter with a lightning spear.  Ornstein is the captain because he has the ability to temporarily absorb the power of a fallen comrade to increase his own power and size immensely.  Each of the knights of the guard is given a special ring to augment his unique abilities, making the guards even more formidable and feared than ever.

Lord Gwynn holds all the reigns and subjugates humans and other peoples and is worshipped as a living God.  The Age of Fire has begun.

Chapter 2 – The Furtive Pigmy and the Imperfect Serpents

The furtive pigmy does not care for Lord Gwynn and is angry that humanity worships the Lords, whose power comes from the Lord Souls pillaged from the great fire.  He thinks of himself as being just as powerful since he himself holds a Lord Soul.  Besides, he knows there are humans who are the equals of the Lords.  In particular, there is a heroic human archer, Pharis, who ranks alongside Hawkeye Gough with her prowess with a bow.  After his long exile the pigmy has become old.  As death closes in, the pigmy hatches his plan.  With the help of the serpents and his Lord Soul, he brings about the curse of the undead onto humanity.  He foretells that someday an undead will dethrone Lord Gwyn and that man will rule the land.  The primordial serpents begin spreading the tale of the return of man.

Through the curse of the pigmy, some humans are destined to become undead.  All humans have a soul and can also hoard humanity.  But they can only die once.  However, there are some humans that are marked with a darksign.  When they die, they can replenish their soul with stocked humanity and be revived back to human form.  As they add to their humanity stock, they become more resistant to disease and curses, and fate favors them with added luck.  If they die but do not have any humanity, they can survive and be sane for some time, although their body is shriveled and looks like that of a long deceased human.  Unless he can find humanity, an undead will eventually become hollow.  He becomes crazy and obsessed with finding humanity and attacks any one he sees.  However, hollows can never be cured.  When killed, they die for good.  Normal humans fear the hollows and are jealous of the undead’s ability to revive and cheat death.  In particular, the land of Thorolund is especially hateful of the undead.

Over time, the great initial fire in the abyss, and the source of the power of the Lords, begins to die and the flames start to dwindle.  The Age of Fire is ending.  As this happens, the fog and darkness of the abyss advance.  Anor Londo is bathed in twilight.  New Londo is the first great empire to be consumed by the abyss.  The primordial serpents come out of their long hiding.  As the first beings of the world and creatures of the darkness and the abyss, they consider themselves the true rulers.  The serpents hated the dragons who supplanted them, since dragons are more perfect than serpents in every way.  The serpents are ambivalent about the Lords but at least these new Gods can be manipulated unlike the mighty dragons.  The serpents seek their true lord, one that can counteract the light of the fire through the absorption of humanity.  Humanity is primordial and a solid manifestation of the soul and a direct result of the abyss, just like the serpents.

The serpents believe that the pigmy’s foretold human king is also their long sought dark lord.  The serpents await the return of he who can hold an immense amount of humanity, more than even the furtive pigmy could.   The pigmy was not their true lord.  He longed to return to the world and interact with other humans during his exile in the abyss.  His melancholy prevented him from exploiting his humanity and the power of the Lord Soul to the fullest.  In his last years, he was fixated on the half of the pendant his mother had given him.  The broken pendant reminded the pigmy of everything he had lost during his exile in the abyss.  He eventually died of grief.  The serpents were upset when it became clear the pigmy was not their true lord. They returned the body of the pigmy back to his land of Oolacile, and returned the broken pendant to his family, a noble family that had an affinity for magic, even in Oolacile, a peaceful land that valued magic above all else.

Chapter 3 – The Fall of New Londo

Although not as strong as the dragons, the serpents have magical powers and tempt the Four Kings of the port city of New Londo with the power of life drain.  Darkstalker Kaathe seduces the once mighty and wise Four Kings and their knights with the power to steal humanity and add it to one’s stock.  Kaathe seeks the foretold One that can hold enough humanity to counteract the flames and the Lord Souls.  The Four Kings descend into madness as they absorb more and more humanity.  It turns out that humanity is poisonous and can only be safely absorbed by the undead.

Kaathe turns to the knights of New Londo and tempts them with the power of life drain and the ability to fast travel through the use of cracked red eye orbs.  He tests each one, searching for the chosen one.  The knights have high capacity for humanity.  But they all fail the test so his search continues.  Kaathe advances out into the world along with the abyss. Just like their king, the knights become mad and turn into darkwraiths, hideous creatures that hunger only for humanity and hunt any human they encounter.  They terrorize New Londo and invade the lands beyond.  Word quickly spreads of the advancing abyss and Darkwraiths.

The great remedicians of New Londo are faced with a hard choice.  They sacrifice the entire city to contain the Darkwraiths.  The water locks are closed and the city is flooded.  The denizens of New Londo drown and their ghostly forms swim about forever after.  The remedicians stand guard over the lock to prevent anyone from draining New Londo and stand guard as the keepers of this watery seal.  But the threat is only partially contained.  The Four Kings and the Darkwraiths recede to the Abyss, thanks to their covenant with the primordial serpent.

Gwyn dispatches Knight Artorias into the Abyss to stop the Four Kings and their Darkwraiths.  Artorias, overconfident in his power, is seduced by the serpent Kaathe and secretly gives up his allegiance to Gwyn.  He is granted the ability to traverse the abyss and is given a ring to allow safe passage to his companions, the Grey Wolf Sif, and the magical great feline Alvina.  Artorias traverses the abyss and returns to Anor Londo, where he is hailed as a great hero, even though the keepers of the seal are responsible for containing the Four Kings and the Darkwraiths.

Chapter 4 – The Church of the Way of the White

Lord Gwyn and his uncle All-Father Lloyd are desperate to delay the advance of the dark, and they turn to humans and exploit their pettiness and jealousy.  All-Father Lloyd heads the Church of the Way of the White in Thorolund.  The Church is devoted to the worshipping of Gwyn and other Lords.  Havel the Rock, the old battle compatriot of Lord Gwyn, is made a bishop in the church and the church’s highest ranking human.

Lloyd and Gwynn concoct their plan of using the church and exploiting Thorolund’s hate for the undead.  The undead have humanity within them.  Their bones will be used to kindle great bonfires throughout the land.  The bonfires are related to the first great fire which sprung up in the abyss.  All-Father Lloyd finds very devout undead women, who have a very high capacity for pain and for holding humanity, and assigns them as keepers of the fires.  The firekeeper is bound to her bonfire, and the life of the keeper maintains the flame of the fire.  The bonfire can only be relit by the keeper.  The devout women are forbidden to ever meet.  They can replenish humanity from the bones of the undead by using special Estus flasks, but only at the bonfires.

Lloyd decides that the undead will be singled out as the culprits for the dying flames.  The Church’s new mission is to hunt undead, burn their bones to replenish the fires and prolong the Age of Fire as long as possible.

However, all is not well in Anor Londo.  There is infighting and intrigue in the court and some of the Lord’s, like Velka, are completely outside the control of Gwyn.  Gwyn’s firstborn, the God of War, is derelict of his duties and loses the annals.  Gwyn is forced to punish him severely for this betrayal.  He banishes him from Anor Londo and removes his status as a God.  Seath continues his search for immortality and is becoming more powerful but crazier every day.  He has the temerity to kidnap the maidens that attend to Gwynevere, Gwynn’s daughter, for his macabre experiments.  By using the Lord Souls shard, he creates powerful spells, weapons and even a crystallized catalyst. Seath casts a large shadow over Anor Londo.

Chapter 5 – The Chaos Flame and Lost Izalith

The Witch of Izalith feels compelled to do something about the dying flames.  Her domain, the great city of Izalith adjacent to the archtree swamp, is also closest to the abyss and the advancing dark.  She has mastery over fire arts and can call on the power of her Lord Soul.  After having borne 7 daughters, the Witch is pregnant with her first male child.  But she decides to attempt to recreate the first flame.  The result is a complete disaster.  The flame she creates combines with the Lord Soul and becomes chaotic and uncontrollable. She is tainted and consumed by the flame. She seeks refuge in an archtree where she gives birth to the horribly disfigured Ceaseless Discharge, who has been tainted by the Chaos Flame.

The Chaos Flame engulfs her and the archtree and the 3 are fused into a new being called the Bed of Chaos.  Uncontrollable flames spring forth from the Bed of Chaos and tap into the chaotic nature of the residents of Izalith and the swamp itself.  All but the strongest ones are tainted and turned into demons.  The daughters of the witch are affected as well.  Quelaag and Quelaan are turned into spider demons, and some of the daughters are killed by the taint.  The eldest daughter is unaffected and she watches over her mother.  Another daughter, Queelana, is separated from her siblings and is unaffected as well.  She cannot bear to see her mutated sisters and mother and stays hidden in the swamp, teaching pyromancy to humans she deems worthy.  She becomes known as the mother of pyromancy.

The Chaos Flame extends into the swamp and past it.  A great and wise fire art master is mutated into the Demon Firesage.  A Centipede Demons springs forth from the magical ring tainted by the chaos lava that pours out of Ceaseless open sores.  These two great demons demolish Izalith and the once great city is turned into ruins and becomes lost.  Other beings of Izalith and the swamp are also mutated into spider crags, capras, demonic statues, chaos bugs and the terrible chaos eaters.  Even the headless bodies of the dragons that perished in the battle fields of Izalith are reanimated and become the boundless demons of Izalith.

Lord Gwyn decides to act and leads a troop of his knights into Izalith.  They confront the chaos demons and try to prevent them from escaping out of the swamp.  As they deflect fire and acid from the mutated chaos beasts, the knights’ armor and shields gain a black patina and become highly resistant to fire.  Lord Gwyn is beaten back.  The power of the Bed of Chaos, the Demon Firesage and the tainted Daughters of Chaos is too much.  The final blow is Yulba’s death, a healer from New Londo that provided remedies for the poisonous swamp, but eventually falls in battle.  The demons and the chaos flame advance out of the swamp and into the rest of the world, tainting everything and everyone along the way.

Chapter 6 – The Great Rebellion

Gwyn is ashamed and depressed.  He cannot stop the darkness nor the chaos flame and his newest ally, the primordial serpent Frampt, tells him an undead will one day rise to challenge his rule.  Gwyn returns to Anor Londo in shame.  He seeks advice from his uncle Lloyd who tells him that more and more undead are being born, even in the holy land of Thorolund.  Worse yet, there is a growing number of Thorolunders that repudiate the church’s teachings.  As undead are born into even the powerful aristocratic families, the mandate to hunt the undead is becoming unpopular.

The Church assigns a very devout undead, the Paladin Leroy, the first undead born in Thorolund, a special assignment to head into the Catacombs and look for the Rite of Kindling.  Because of his strong faith, he is given a divine armor, shield and the Greathammer Grant, all crafted by the divine blacksmith who serves the Gods.  With the Rite of Kindling, the bonfires can be kindled higher using humanity from the heretical undead. The Rite has been stolen by the powerful pyromancer Pinwheel, who was able to steal some of Lord Nito’s power.  Nito allows Pinwheel to rule in the Catacombs but remains in firm control of the Tomb of Giants and the land of the dead.  Pinwheel uses his stolen powers to reanimate skeletons that serve as his personal guard.  Leroy reaches Nito’s domain but falls in battle and never finds the Rite of Kindling.

Paladin Leroy’s travels ignite a rebirth of devoutness in Thorolund.  The Church is inundated with requests by followers to go on a crusade for the Rite of Kindling and undead hunts.  The devout are trained as battle clerics and sent out.  In this pious environment, undead Thorolunders and anyone challenging the divinity of Gwyn are repressed.  Lloyd decrees that those that are undead or challenge church dogma must purify their faith by joining the devout in the crusades.  Few ever return from the crusades and undead hunts.  Eventually only the undead or the occult heretics are forced to go into these suicide missions.

Many nobles in Thorolund fear for family members that are born undead.  They secretly plot a rebellion.  Havel the Rock’s niece, Rhea, is born undead and forced into a suicide crusade.  Her family is the most prominent and powerful in Thorolund.  Havel lobbies Gwyn to stop her travels, since he knows it is a suicide mission.

After consulting with Lloyd and the mad Seath, Gwyn only allows Rhea a guard of battle clerics but orders that she too must travel.  Rhea leaves never to be seen again.  This is the last straw for Havel the Rock, himself an undead.  He has never trusted Seath, the betrayer, and now his hate for Seath grows.  He becomes the leader of the secret rebellion and swears to avenge his niece.  He travels seeking an alliance with the Stone Dragon, one of the last remaining dragons who has been hiding in Ash Lake.  Ash Lake is hidden by an illusory wall inside an archtree and has avoided detection from Gwyn and the taint of the Chaos Flame.  The dragon helps Havel create a ward that is especially strong against magic but refuses to leave his sanctuary and openly battle the Lords.

Chapter 7 – The Rise of Seath the Scaless

Seath learns of the rebellion and tips off Gwyn.  Gwyn is saddened by the news but orders Seath to imprison Havel.  He dispatches a large force of battle clerics to Nito’s domain.  They kill the rebels and find the dark ember but not the rumored effigy shield that can block even Gwyn’s mightiest bolts.  The ember is extremely dangerous as it can make occult weapons that can kill the Gods.  The ember is entrusted to Velka who locks it in a special warehouse in her secret domain, in Ariamis.

Seath finds Havel who is hiding in Oolacile.  He imprisons him in a tower and gives the key to the divine blacksmith for safe keeping.  However, the blacksmith is known to be a good friend of Havel, having made Havel’s divine equipment.  The mad Seath does not take any chances.  He kills the blacksmith and locks the key within the workshop.  He also creates a crystallized moonlight butterfly to prevent anyone from attempting to free Havel.  Havel is imprisoned for the rest of time and eventually hollows out in the tower cell.  The blacksmith’s death leads to another tragedy.  The great titanite slabs used for making the weapons of the gods are left unattended and are tainted by the chaos flame.  Great faceless demons spring from the slabs.  The secret to godly weapons is lost and the titanite demons roam the lands.

Seath gains status in the court after successfully capturing the rebel Havel and stopping the rebellion.  He becomes romantically involved with Velka, to the horror of the other Gods.  Velka is pregnant with Seath’s love child and gives birth to Priscilla, a cross breed between a lord and a dragon.  Because she is a hybrid, Priscilla is borne with the power of invisibility and wields the Lifehunt Scyhte, a dangerous weapon that can be loosed on even the Gods.

She is quickly labeled an abomination by the church and the Gods, and briefly imprisoned in a Lordran Asylum.  Velka rescues Prisicalla from the asylum and decides to hide her in Ariamis.  She quietly plots her revenge on the church and the other Gods.  She casts an incantation on a large painting that serves as the doorway to Ariamis.  Only those that have Priscilla’s doll, a toy from her childhood, may pass.  She leaves the doll in the asylum hoping it is found by the rebels or other undead seeking the dark ember.

Chapter 8 – The Linking of the Flames

Gwyn’s mind continues to deteriorate.  He was not able to stop the demons slowly advancing towards Anor Londo.  The fires continue to die down and the oppressive abyss starts to envelop the world in darkness.  He has banished his eldest born and has imprisoned his old friend.  As Seath spirals into madness, Frampt becomes his closest advisor.  The serpent relentlessly recommends linking the flames as the only salvation for the realm of the Gods.

In this enfeebled state, Gwyn accepts this path as his fate.  He leads the black knights into the Kiln of the First Flame, the place where he found the Lord Soul.  He locks away the kiln by draining the Lordvessel.  He approaches the first bonfire and re-ignites the flame by using what remains of his Lord Soul.  The bonfires are linked and shine brightly but only temporarily since Lord Gwyn is not powerful enough to link the flames permanently.  He dies along with his knights in the great explosion that engulfs the kiln.  But his soul is strong and his spirit remains, roaming the kiln while he waits for the foretold undead who will unseat him.

Once word reaches Anor Londo that Lord Gwyn has died linking the flames, there is much fear and confusion.  There are rumors that the guard will soon break up leaving Anor Londo defenseless.  Ornstein recruits Executioner Smough, a mighty warrior but flawed by a penchant for cannibalism, and teaches him how to absorb the power of the fallen.  Together they are Anor Londo’s last line of defense.

Gwyndolyn, the youngest born of the royals, prepares a great mausoleum and tomb for his father.  The God of War returns from exile briefly and is wrecked with pain.  His mishandling of the annals and resultant banishment surely played a part in his father’s immolation.  He leaves his ring and sunlight spear miracle at his father’s tomb.  He is stricken with grief and goes mad.  He uses the last of his power to become a human undead and erase all ties to divinity.  In his madness, he seeks to fulfill the prophecy of the chosen undead who will one day supplant Lord Gwyn.  He awakens in the Northern Lands with his mind overcome with the desire to be the chosen one.  He does not remember his past but he is obsessed with the Sun, whom he considers his Father.

Chapter 9 – The Fall of Artorias and Oolacile

There are even worse news from Oolacile.  A great beast has arisen and is destroying the city.  He is a true creature of the abyss and his darkness taints the land and any who comes near him.  He seems to be searching endlessly for someone or something.  Apparently, the serpents tempted the people of Oolacile into disturbing the resting place of the long dead furtive pigmy.  The people of Oolacile are obsessed with magic and cannot pass up a chance to tap into this source of great magical power.  The Lord Soul has merged with the pigmy’s humanity and soul.  The pigmy’s body may be dead but his immense and powerful humanity is only resting.  When the Oolacile sorcerers disturb his tomb, his humanity re-awakens but it is now uncontrolled and feels a very heavy longing for his lost pendant.

Without the pigmy’s body to contain it, the great pool of humanity literally explodes from the pigmy and turns into phantoms.  These phantoms seek out human vessel to inhabit, even though the merging will destroy both the humanity and the humans.  Only the pigmy’s true descendants, marked with the furtive pigmy’s darksign, can accommodate humanity phantoms but only small ones.  Over time the large phantoms break up into smaller humanity bits that wonder the entire world seeking out humans and undead to inhabit.

The body of the pigmy himself has been changed by the Dark Soul into that of a beast.  The pigmy is transformed into the beast called Manus, who is one with the dark of the Abyss.  The Abyss spreads forth from him and he can cast powerful dark sorceries making use of the immense pool of humanity and the Dark Soul within him.  The taint from the abyss changes all Oolacilians into morphed creatures with multiple eyes and mucous-filled bloated heads.  Oolacile quickly falls into ruins.

Because of his abyss walking abilities, Ornstein sends Knight Artorias to seek out and destroy the threat to Oolacile.  The guard breaks up when Ciarin, Artoria’s lover, follows him into the abyss.  The giant dragon slayer Hawkeye Gough also follows seeking out further adventures now that the dragons are no longer a threat.  Gough has heard rumors that Kalameet, the most dangerous dragon with the power of calamity, is roaming the Oolacile ruins.

No one knows what happened in Oolacile but the tales spread that Artorias saved Dusk and killed the great beast but he was also slayed himself.  Unfortunately, Artorias was not in time and the city was completely destroyed, with Dusk as the only survivor.  Ciarin and Gough never return to Anor Londo.  Gough is imprisoned by the crazed denizens of Oolacile, who mock him by filling eye holes in his helmet with wax.  Over time, his eyes grow weak accustomed to the dark and he is eventually blinded.  In one last act of valor, he wounds and grounds Kalameet with one arrow shot from his great bow.  He takes up carving as a hobby during his long imprisonment.  The myth of Artorias grows and many warriors pilgrimage to his purported grave to try to follow in his footsteps.  Alvina and Sif know the truth and each one fiercely guards the secrets of Artorias and his tomb.

Chapter 10 – Illusions in Anor Londo

Into the Anor Londo power vacuum steps in the completely mad Seath the Scaless.  His studies and experiments have led him to create incredibly powerful sorceries and artifacts.  Without Lord Gwyn to curb his advances, Seath ruthlessly kidnaps humans and gods for his experiments.  Dusk, the royal princess of Oolacile is said to own a magical ring. This mystical family heirloom can double the strength of sorceries in exchange for a portion of your life force.  The mad and blind Seath sends outs his Six-Eyed Channelers to all the lands in search of Dusk, and to kidnap subjects for his experiments.

Dusk is found near the Oolacile ruins where the Black Dragon Kalameet fell.  She refuses to give up her ring to Seath and throws it into a deep lake, where it is eventually swallowed by a hydra.  Seath imprisons Dusk within a living crystal golem, her soul trapped in another dimension, until she is willing to give up the ring.  One of Dusk’s attendants has a broken pendant that appears to be magical in nature.  When she refuses to talk about it, she is trapped as a golem and brought back to the archives.

Seath returns to Anor Londo and resumes his impudent kidnappings and experiments.  The Gods are no longer safe in Anor Londo and seek out refuge by migrating to the various lands.  When Anor Londo is deserted, Seath finally sneaks back to his archives to continue his search for immortality.

But Anor Londo is not completely deserted.  Gwyndolin has been hiding in Gwyn’s mausoleum and allies with the outcast Velka, the God of Sin. Gwyndolin was born partially deformed and has an aversion to the magical divinity of the sun.  He draws his divine strength from the moon.  Because of his deformity, he has an affinity for Crossbreed Priscilla, Velka’s daughter, and other societal outcast.  He even rescued the disfigured Lady of the Darkling, and made her the fire keeper of Anor Londo and one of his Darkmoon Blades.  Velka will ally with Gwyndolin but only if the Blades are used to punish the guilty and other heretics, which pleases her nature as the God of Sin.  The bargain is struck.

Gwyndolin wishes to prevent Anor Londo from falling into ruins.  He did not follow the other Gods out of the city and prefers to stand guard in Gwyn’s mausoleum.  Using his great magical powers, he creates the illusion of a sun that bathes Anor Londo in warm sunlight and masks the eternal twilight from the advancing dark.

Chapter 11 – The Chosen Undead

With the death of Gwyn, the primordial serpent Frampt seeks out another Lord to manipulate and convinces Gwyndolin to create additional illusions in Anor Londo, including an allusion of his sister Gwynevere.  Gwynevere is to instruct any undead who reaches her about the myth of the chosen undead and to seek the counsel of Frampt.

Frampt is still racing Kaathe to find the true Lord of the Dark.  He has put a great plan into motion.  The church has banished all undead to Lordran, where Frampt hides two bells.  It would take a very formidable undead to reach the bells, since one is located in Quelaag’s domain and the other is guarded by gargoyle demons.  When the bells are rung, he has trained a giant to open the great gate of Sen’s Fortress. Frampt booby-traps Sen’s Fortress, the pathway to Anor Londo and to the illusion of Gwynevere.

His plan is simple.  He proliferates the myth of the chosen undead who will one day supplant Lord Gwyn and link the flames, and renames himself Kingseeker Frampt.  This myth gives a purpose to the undead and they come from all the lands to be tested.  Great heroes flock to Lordran and try to ring the bells and survive Sen’s Fortress: King Rendall and his Balder Knights, Iron Tarkus and the Knights of Berenike, the Earl of Carim, Oscar and Prince Ricard of Astora, and even the great undead sorcerer of Vinheim, Big Hat Logan.  None proves worthy but Kingseeker Frampt and Darkstalker Kaathe continue probing and testing every undead who ventures into Lordran.

One day a special undead is born.  As is the fate of many undead, he is captured and imprisoned in the Northern Asylum.  Oscar of Astora is on a mission to free the undead from the asylum.  He lowers a body into the cell of this special undead and allows him to escape.  The special undead opens his cell and takes a peek at his jailer: a gigantic demon with a great hammer.  He dodges many hollows along the narrow asylum corridors and finds the valiant Oscar, who is mortally wounded in a battle with the Asylum Demon.  Oscar gives the special undead his Estus flasks, the key to the Asylum and begs him to take on his mission, muttering something about the chosen undead.  The special undead does not know what to think and cannot remember his past. He only wants to break out of the Asylum.  He loots some equipment along the way and heads to the courtyard, ready to confront the demon jailer and perhaps his prophesied future.

The End