Dark Souls Magic Guide

I don’t know everything, but I wanted to give this a shot.  Dark Souls guide for Beginners Magic.

There are 3 types of Magic: Miracles, spells/sorcery, and pyromancy.  Miracles grow based on Faith Stat, Sorcery Intelligence, and Pyromancy is like a weapon where how many upgrades you’ve placed on your pyromancy flame, that 0 weight glove, governs it’s effectiveness.

Why use magic?

Many classes start with room for one spell, with just a few points you could begin adding ranged magic, weapon/shield buffs, or healing spells to your arsenal which greatly increases your chances in the challenging world of Lordran.

What is right for me?

Miracles are for those with faith, the sort of white mage identity.  Whether a paladin or a true white mage this class focuses more on survivability and slowing or moving the enemy over damage.   Though there are several useful exceptions.

Sorceries are used more for damage, whether a ranged “soul arrow” type spell, or a weapon buff.  Though there are many spells of circumstance that are very useful, though only in several instances.  These are spells like fall control or light, or even the spells around stealth.

Pyromancy is newer to the series and more controversial, while many will choose to boost faith or intelligence for their magics pyromancy only requires points into attunement and upgrading your flame.  Definitely considered the cheap man’s magic it can be a great benefit to players who have started creating a character and found they might not be getting as much out of their character as they wanted.  But, if you really plan ahead pyromancy is a great benefit and often favored by speedrunners.

What type of magic do you want?

Paladin’s are white knights, following a set of rules they are like a magic knight.  They love fighting the undead and entering catacombs, often wielding armor with great poise.

Magic knights are basically knights that use buffs or spells as an addition to their fighting prowess.

Spellswords, these are the real half and half, using sorceries like homing soulmass so they can keep up a shield and maintain pressure on the enemy close up or from a distance.

Pure mages-light/cloth clothing, using magic with a light shield, Big Hat Logan is a pure mage.

The Ninja, using magic to enhance their stealth, they engage in reconnaissance on the enemy first then might even use undead rapport to bring in a friend for a moment.  They use every “trick” in the book and don’t care.  Light weight, ninja-flipping ninja.


So, obviously these are sort of vague, not necessarily all of these classes can’t be considered part of another one-what really is the difference between a Magic Knight and Paladin outside of D&D style gaming? Besides paladins using miracles and magic knights sorceries in Dark Souls? Not much.

You can design a class however you want.  Black Knight gear with pyromancy? Fine.  Ninja style but only miracles? Cool.  But in reality the constrictions are what the game creates.

Levels and such

You might want to use a spell that requires 16 intelligence, if you spend any points on your character to get this state those points can’t go into miracles(faith).  This is the real thing keeping people usually on just one path, Obviously you can mix and match lower level spells-but people really want to use those powerful upper-tier spells.

The highest level magic spell isn’t worth it, so don’t upgrade intelligence over 40, kill the Hydra to unlock Dusk, and use the Oolocille catalyst, then the starter “sorcerers catalyst” when it’s scaling kicks back in at 27 or so.  Dusk’s catalyst weighs way less, but beyond low level intelligence it just get’s outclassed.  Eventually Logan’s catalyst is the real deal, but you might not even decide to raise your intelligence to that level.  Still-he drops it at the end of his quest line and you probably want to pick up all of his spells just for the trophy/achievement. He’s located in Sen’s fortress-sells spells at Firelink for a while, then you have to rescue him from the Duke’s archives-where he will then start selling the high level spells.  Obviously the wiki has more information.

Similarly miracles pull you into the Way of white early-a covenant trying to deal with an expedition to the catacombs.  There’s a low level spell dealer at firelink, then provided you save her during the catacombs/tomb of giants escapade a trainer in the church at the top of the elevator from firelink.  Warning-buy her spells all at once, or in two trips, this is worth busting those brave warrior souls out for.  She will be killed and you won’t be able to get the rest of her spells until the next playthrough.  Damn, way of white is harsh.

Pyromancy is started by a trainer you save in the building linking lower undead burgh w/ the depths-if you’re not-NOT- a pyromancer he will give you a pyromancy flame every playthrough-these can be upgraded to the point of being ascended 1 time and traded w/ snuggly for a red titanite SLAB once a playthrough….then the better pyromancy comes from Quelana of Izaleth in the area of blight town right before queelag’s domain(sp?). She only appears after defeating the flame-puking naked-spider woman.  As well the covenant of chaos, located past the 2nd bell, will give you pyromancies for leveling up via feeding the leader(spider woman 2) humanity.  Possibly the best pyromancies come from this covenant-as well as a short cut  but that’s not this post.

So there’s way more but not for this beginners guide.  Just Check the wiki any time your in an area to make sure there aren’t any spells you should find.  Great magic weapon is in Anor Londo during the beam walking part and it’s a great upgrade over the basic magic weapon spell.  However Logan’s Crystal Magic Weapon spell is the real thing-that’s the spell that decimates the first playthrough.

About buffs-these don’t work like scaling but are a base number added to your normal damage.  There are magic and enchanted weapon upgrade paths-I’m only just trying them out-but enchanted is for higher intelligence, magic for low level.  Weapon buffs are great because your scaling from upgrading dexterity or strength still kick in, but the buff gives an extra amount of damage.  While buffs take up an attunement slot, the ability to add this extra damage on the fly is a great value.  As well, of the rings the original magic trainer sells for 20k souls a piece, one boosts sorcery damage, one boosts the length of buffs or similar effects.  If you’re just using magic for buffs and circumstantial magic this is the ring for you.

Basically all high level magic builds will have you pushing for certain things-headgear that boosts magic and rings that boost magic.  As well, the highest catalysts will halve your spell casts while doubling the damage power.  This causes a lot of problems for those that don’t understand well. So a bit about both.  I watched someone fighting Artorias, they had over 40 intelligence(already dumb) as well as a catalyst that doubled the damage but halved their casts.  The thing is Artorias is quick and when they missed a shot that meant they missed a lot of damage. It would have been more sensible in the long run to have used a normal catalyst because even if you missed sometimes it’s better to get some damage than none.  As well, if you are going to use the powerful catalysts for  a fight like that hang back, wait for a chance to strike, you don’t want to waste the chance.

As for the gear, dusk’s crown and Gwyndolyns head pieces raise magic damage at the cost of lowering magic defense.  I usually travel light at the point at which the numbers matter so much I switch to the head gear, but be careful about that.  I prefer to be able to roll and dodge the attacks, but if you decide to just put the crown of dusk on and try it out remember it’s effect because it does cause a lot of deaths.  A major part of offensive magic is making sure that when you can strike you do maximum damage.  In the beginning magic is about survivability, making sure you have health to keep fighting through ambush after ambush, or allowing you to kill from a distance with impunity not setting off these ambushes until you want to.

However, magic doesn’t automatically allow you to win.  You still need to understand the basics of timing and movement during combat.  Everyone’s seen the videos of a guy pulling up his catalyst and getting smashed by the enemy, or knocked off a cliff.  This is timing.  The only thing that helps is the dexterity stat, which increases casting speed.  This is why many who use magic choose a Dex based weapon, they get the most out of this boosted stat.

Spells of circumstance

There are times in this game when you need to disappear, or become somewhat impervious to flame, or create a noise to distract the enemy.  These spells are really useful, just make sure you pull them out of your attunement slots once you’re not using them, as there is nothing quite like pulling up a catalyst trying to get that soul arrow out and then noticing you’re glowing with a light on top of your head.  Yeah, that’s going to make running away harder too now, huh? The only other thing to mention about circumstance is the little white rings you see on the ground-that’s where somebody has cast a miracle recently connected to you in multiplayer.  Why does the game show that?  It allows you to cast a miracle there and get a 10% boost to power.  You usually see these before a boss fog, or right after, if you see one use it.


Covenant magic

Some covenants give out “powerful” magic, some of which only works while in the covenant.  Know which is which before going for that particular covenant because it can take a long time to rank up in some covenants.  Also a number of covenants give out the great faith based magic…If you have a character that is probably going in a faith way it would be of benefit to really spend some time researching which covenant works best and then attempting that group’s ranking process.  Almost all are based around multiplayer, or intended to anyways.  Sunlight blade is a very useful miracle, but do you want to spend the time on it?


Weapon selection

I am not a huge fan of new players trying to use builds, or trying to get specific weapons.  However, if you are going to be doing certain types of magic it wouldn’t hurt to know what the stat requirements are of the weapons you would want to use.  Though this all sort of rolls into the upgrade system in Dark Souls.  While not the best for experimentation, if you stick to the normal upgrade path for most weapons you can always throw a buff on the weapon.  If you try out weapons created with boss souls demon titanite will upgrade them, and there is a titanite demon you can farm in the game, so try these out if you want to.  Remember, in Dark Souls if a boss has a tail, cut it off.  If you are playing blind you can always look at these weapons after you pick them up/cut them off.

Final thought

Dark Souls can be punishing, especially if you create a character without putting some thought into it along the way, from accidentally using slabs on dumb things, to points in resistance you’ll never get back(every point will increase these stats AS WELL AS SOMETHING ELSE).  When you start a new character and haven’t tried magic, check out the trainers(or merchants) who show you what spells you can purchase.  If a low level one seems useful give it a try, and if you find an area is giving you a hard time early on see if one of these trainers might have a spell that could help.  While Dark Souls can seem quite a bit of a game without a guideline early on trying to figure out the magic system might be an easy way to figure out the rest of the game.  That said, in Dark Souls magic really is of the world, it fits with the setting and reading about the spells in the shops will give you a better idea of the world.  It’s fun to charge into battle knowing only your faith or intelligence stands between you and certain doom.

While learning the basics of magic might seem difficult in the beginning, it isn’t that much more difficult than the basic combat, and very rewarding if you crack this code.  That said, you might want to keep a bow handy.  Or several, poison arrows and everything.  using magic will make a lot of your damage be magic damage-some enemies are less susceptible to magic damage so a bow with a lighting upgrade or poison arrows can give you a different form of damage that might tip the scales since your magic output might not.

Rules-Always make sure you have physical damage weapons ready, experiment with what works for your.

Try to find what sort of magic works for you, then go after it whole heartedly.  It not only gives your character a sense of personality but another layer of survivability.

Finally, work with what you have.  This game doesn’t drastically change, you still have challenges you have to face and as always you need to figure out the best path-magic doesn’t change that fact, but it helps.  Know the rules, know the stats you need, and you have a goal to follow.  In a game as oblique as Dark Souls a goal can be a very powerful weapon.