Written by Gav Russell
As is to be expected with Dark Souls, the seemingly complicated rules and prerequisites surrounding any type of magic use in the game is never really explained outright, and could easily put people off. But, again true to Dark Souls, it’s actually quite simple, and understanding these basics will see you blasting spells all up in people’s faces within minutes. The most important thing to be aware of is that the use of magic isn’t just a simple case of gaining a spell scroll and using it like any other item. You need a catalyst, as in, a Staff or Chime type weapon. Then you need to ‘attune’ that spell at a bonfire to be able to use it. Once you’ve-oh, wait, come back!
Ok….Quite simply – you need a spell, you need a weapon to cast it, then you need to bolt (or ‘attune’) that spell onto that weapon to be able to send it hurtling into enemies heads. Starting a new game and selecting the Sorcerer build, a lot of this initial setup is done for you. You begin with a Sorceror’s Staff, the Soul Arrow spell (a basic but highly usefull ranged attack spell) and enough points in your Intelligence and Attunement levels to get to a bonfire, ‘bolt’ that sucker on and get going. Simple, right?
Which brings me to the next, and equally important, bit of basic info. Leveling. Playing as yer classic sword and shield build, the relevant leveling options are pretty straightforward. Raise your Strength to increase your characters …. yup, strength. Raise your Endurance for your characters stamina. But the stats you’ll need to concentrate on if you want to play as an outrageously powerful wizard may seem a little less clear. You’ll still want to drop the occasional point into your Vigor (overall health) and Endurance, as well as some into Strength and Dexterity (more on that below) but the two you’ll be whacking most of your souls into as a Sorcerer are Attunement and Intelligence. It breaks down pretty simply; Attunement governs how many spell slots you have (attuning is the process of adding spells into these slots when sitting at a bonfire) and Intelligence governs the power of your spells. Simple yeah? Each stat also raises some other elements, be that cast speed (very useful, especially for more advanced, slower to use spells), Curse Resistance and so on, and it’s well worth knowing that as you raise your Attunement, the amount of times you can cast each spell will go up. For example, at a low level of Attunement, you can cast Soul Arrow 30 times, but raise your Attunement somewhat and that’ll increase to 40.
Something worth bearing in mind is just like how melee weapons require you to have a certain level of Strength or Dexterity in order for you to use them, certain spells, particularly high level ones, require a minimum level of Intelligence to use, and some spells require more than one Attunement slot.
My spells done all ran out! Now what?
There are two solutions to this. The first one, which is nice and simple, is to stock up on herbs as if you were Leon Kennedy. Amber Herb, Twilight Herb, Wilted Dusk Herb as well as Rouge Water and Crimson Water all restore varying levels of spell casts when you use them, making them pretty much invaluable. In the early stages, you will run out, so whenever you run into a Merchant stocking any of these, get spending. You’ll come across plenty as you play naturally too, so don’t be too worried. Resting at a bonfire restores all spell uses too, and as From Software have spaced the bonfires pretty evenly, you should be fine.
But as I said – you will run out. So as you’re throwing all of your souls into leveling Attunement and Intelligence, spare a thought for good old Strength and Dexterity, cause you’ll want a decent melee weapon to fall back on. As a Sorcerer, you’ll start with a dagger, but you’ll soon start to feel the limits of that so you’ll want to upgrade to something a little sturdier. The range of melee weapons on offer is staggering, so you can go nuts and take your pick but as you’ll want to be spending your souls to level up the magical elements of your character, it’s wise to stick to something light and not too reliant on your Dex. A basic Shortsword will only require 7 Strength and 10 Dex, and will easily see you through the early stages. You can help it along by upgrading it at the blacksmith’s in Majula too, to give it some extra bump. Me? I’ve gone for a Scimitar from the Curved Sword range. It’s light and incredibly quick, and I’ve currently got it upgraded to +8 and infused with a Raw Stone, so it packs a punch if I need it.
As an aside, getting your Strength up to level 10 is a good idea, as this will also open up the use of the Silver Kite Shield, available from the armorer in Majula. It’s a good all-rounder; not too heavy, high damage reduction and more importantly – looks the part too
Have Staff, will travel
Once you’ve completed the opening section of the game and arrived in Majula, a number of paths are open to you with the only restriction as to how you proceed being how much you want to get your ass kicked. While not as severe as the choices offered from the hub in Dark Souls 1 (Graveyard? New Londo? yeah right) I would still suggest approaching them in the following order as you’ll come across some handy spells along the way as well as steeling yourself against the steadily increasing difficulty. Head to Forest Of Fallen Giants first, ensuring you grab the essential Great Soul Arrow from the ballista ambush room before you show both bossess who’s … um .. boss. Then, double back and head to Heide’s Tower Of Flame, making sure you get the very handy Ring of Binding from out front of the cathedral before taking out both bosses, drinking dem souls and hot-footing it to No Mans Wharf. As you’ll see below, this area is both a humbling experience and the gateway to you unlocking your limitless potential as a Sorcerer. After clearing this area and gaining the connection we’ll discuss below, you’ll feel a lot more competent, so head into Huntsmans Copse to grab what will be your most powerful spell for a while : Soul Spear. With that under your belt, you’re more than ready to start poking about wherever you please.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
If you approach the game in a similar order to the one suggested above, before long you’ll arrive in No Mans Wharf. Be warned- this place is relentlessly miserable and will cause many a new player plenty of grief. Drenched in darkness and full of horrors, it does a pretty good job of making you feel incredibly under-powered with its combination of quick, aggressive enemies who attack in gangs and a particularly nightmarish creature that likes to scramble out from unlit corners and clobber you with disgusting, stretchy arms. But stick it out and just before the end of the area as you’re running towards the ghost pirate ship you’ll have called forth (this does happen), hang a right and you’ll find Carhillion Of The Fold. Sitting stoically at the end of the pier, he’s your gateway to a bunch of beefier spells and some super handy items for the budding spell-caster, and access to these will give your damage output a welcome boost at this stage of the game. Your Intelligence will need to be at least level 8 for him to deem you worthy enough to talk to, but by this point you’ll likely have achieved that. Exhaust his dialogue and he’ll move back to Majula, ensuring that any spells and items you cant afford right away you can easily grab later. Talk to him once he’s moved back and you’ve hit Intelligence level 30 and he’ll give you a Northern Ritual Band Ring+1, further increasing your spell uses but compromising your overall HP,
Use (almost) all of the boss souls
As you may be aware, once a boss is defeated and its soul is in your inventory, you have three choices. Consume it for soul currency, leave it there as a trophy or hold on to it and trade it for unique weapons and armor. Arguably, a lot of the boss soul trades aren’t as special as you’d expect, and this whole trading process is even more redundant for your sorcerer build. With the exception of the Ruin Sentinel soul you’d be wise to not get too sentimental and consume them as soon as you get them, using the large amount of souls this grants you to boost your levels. Clearing the opening 3 areas (Forest, Heide’s and No Mans Wharf) will see you earn 5 boss souls with a total worth of 36,000. Couple that with the 73,000 souls you’ll earn just from defeating them and that’s a huge figure that could be put to great use when leveling up. You can rest assured you’ll be missing out on nothing worth trading, and you can be well on your way to a well rounded build. Throughout the rest of the game, this rule stands, so ingest all of those tasty, tasty souls and zip your way up the level ladder. Definitely hang on to that Ruin Sentinel soul once you’ve beat that boss in The Lost Bastille though. Trade it with Straid Of Olaphis further into the Bastille (after you un-petrify him of course) and you’ll get access to an incredibly handy, potentially deadly spell in the form of Heavy Homing Soul Arrow. Oh, you may notice that the soul of Scorpioness Najka will get you a spell if traded with Straid, but unless you’re chasing the Sorcery completion achievement, you may be best off chowing down on the soul instead, as the spell it gets you, Soul Shower, is a bit shit
Don’t be afraid of a little murder
Relatively early on in the game, you’ll meet a merchant just before the entrance to Huntsmans Copse. This fellas name is Felkin The Outcast, and he won’t even talk to you unless your Intelligence and Faith are at least sitting at level 8. Similar to Carhillion Of The Fold’s prerequisites then, who we just met in No Mans Wharf. But Whereas Carhillion is very useful to a sorceror build, Felkin won’t do us too much good. He specializes in Hexes primarily, and unless you’re interested in getting early access to some of the Resonant Soul hexes, we can do without him. Why not just leave him alive? Well, at this stage in the game, every spell matters, and the headgear that Felkin is wearing, the Hexer’s Hood, grants you extra casts. You could always wait until both your Faith and Intelligence are at level 20, at which point he’ll give the full Hexer’s set to you, but souls is money (or something) and as a sorcerer, you’re souls are better spent on things other than Faith. So murder him up, then speak to Merchant Hag Melentia and she’ll be selling his gear.
This, of course, is only the beginning, and is a guide that is largely focused on your survival through the ability to cast spells that will break enemies in half. As you proceed you’ll discover that Sorcery has a whole host of defensive and utility spells, from Magic Shield to Hush (move silently) to Fall Control (reduced falling damage) to the bonkers Chameleon, which disguises you as an item of scenery. Half of the fun will be experimenting with your Attuned spells, and seeing which works best for you. Also, a lot of the apparel linked to magic, such as hats and robes, will buff certain elements of your build; raising your Intelligence while equipped or increasing your cast speed etc. There’s lots of tinkering to be done as you get to grips with it all, so go nuts. Have fun. What’s the worst that can happen?