The art of spellcasting in Dark Souls 3 functions a bit differently than previous iterations in the series. If you employed the use of pyromancy, miracles or sorcery with any of your characters or builds in the previous games, you will need to make some slight adjustments to how you approach spellcasting depending on how much you use it.
If this is your first game in the series, and you want to familiarize yourself with the use of magic, you will definitely need some tips to configuring your character build to your liking.
In previous Dark Souls games, each individual spell had a set amount of times you could use it before you had to rest at a bonfire to replenish. The amount of times you could use it generally coincided with the overall strength of the spell you were casting.
In other words, you could get multiple uses out of weaker spells before its usage was depleted, while more powerful spells had more meager uses and required some thought to when and where was the best time to use it.
In Dark Souls 3, in addition to your health and stamina bar (red and green respectively), a blue mana bar has been added that governs how many times you can use a spell.
With some variation, no matter what class you start with, your mana bar will typically only allow for a few spellcasts before you need to refill it (which can be done automatically by resting at a bonfire). To increase your maximum mana, you must level up the “Attunement” stat. In addition to increasing your max mana, Attunement also serves another critical function in magic usage.
You can only have a certain number of spells equipped on your character at a given time. Again, contingent on the class you start with, this will be a very low number at the beginning of the game.
Therefore, if you want to try out different spells, you’re going to have to constantly find a bonfire and configure your magic preferences for each venture. This is not only cumbersome, but severely handicaps your potential as a spellcaster.
When you upgrade your Attunement stat to certain level milestones, you will gain an additional “Attunement slot”, which basically means an additional inventory space for you to hold a spell of your choice while out on the field.
Therefore, in order to maximize your abilities with magic and give yourself a variety of spells to choose from and additionally use more than once, you’re going to want to be generous to your Attunement stat.
Ashen Estus Flasks
The integration of the mana bar into Dark Souls 3 can be both a blessing or a curse depending on how you optimize your equipment and build. Because your mana bar starts out so low and depletes so fast, you will find your usage of even the weakest of spells is very limited in contrast to the system in the first two Dark Souls games.
Unsurprisingly, the amount of mana used for each cast is contingent with the strength of the spell in question, so a weaker spell like Lightning Spear will be kinder to your mana bar, while a more powerful one like Sunlight Spear will gluttonously swallow up your mana.
To accommodate the new mana bar, the Ashen Estus Flask was introduced as well. While the standard Estus Flask restores your character’s health, the Ashen Estus Flask will replenish your lost mana.
Unfortunately, the amount of times you can take a swig of both the Estus Flask and Ashen Estus Flask are based on a singular variable, meaning you have to share the amount of times you can use them between the two.
For example, if you have upgraded your usage of these special flasks to a maximum of 10 using Estus Shards, you have to decide how many of these usages you will allocate to standard Estus Flasks and Ashen Estus Flasks.
An idealist might decide that 5 points in the standard Estus Flask and the other 5 in the Ashen Estus Flask is a good approach, but depending on your build and what you’re tying to accomplish, you will have to think very carefully about how you want to allocate your flask uses. Thankfully, this stat can be changed and reconfigured at any time by paying a visit to blacksmith in Firelink Shrine.
Since each player and their build in Dark Souls is unique, we can’t recommend an exact number of points to be allocated to each stat for every individual scenario, but we can offer some advice on the variables you should consider. If you are a mage or your build is based heavily on spellcasting, you’re going to want to be very liberal with the amount of points you allocate to your Ashen Estus Flask.
While it may seem risky to leave yourself with a comparatively low amount of standard Estus Flasks for restoring your health, a talented player can learn how to employ the long range of many offensive spells to keep themselves out of risk of sustaining damage from the more brutish, hard-hitting melee foes.
If your use of magic is more or less just a small supplement to a predominantly melee character, you may want to keep your standard Estus Flask count high and your Ashen Estus Flasks low.
For example, my main character’s damage output is predominantly based on the Dexterity stat, with a smaller emphasis on Faith to give him miracle options when needed. For most situations, I keep a weapon buff like Sunlight Blade on hand for when I face bosses or get invaded, and then Sunlight Spear when I am up against certain enemy types, such as dragons, who are very vulnerable to lighting based attacks.
Because my usage of magic/miracles will generally be more limited, with fully upgraded Estus Flasks (15), I can consider allocating 13-14 for the standard flask for healing and 1-2 for the ashen flask for restoring mana.
Types of Magic
Now that you understand how to employ magic to some degree of functionality, it’s time to take a look different categories of magic available to you. In simple terms, there are three different types of magic, not including their “dark” variants: Miracles, Sorcery and Pyromancy.
The former two scale with the Faith and Intelligence stat respectively, while the latter scales with both, meaning the overall damage they do is contingent with how how these stats are. Additionally, in order to be able to use the more powerful spells in each category, you will need to level up your stats in each category to meet the requirement dictated by the individual spell.
Miracles include a variety of different spells, including, but not limited to, lightning based projectiles and weapon buffs and individual and group healing casts (useful if you’re playing co-op). In order to use miracles, you need to have a chime or talisman equipped in your main or off hand.
As stated previously, miracles scale with the Faith stat and additionally require a high level in this category to be able to use the most impressive ones.
Sorceries are more geared towards players who want a mage type character, and like sorceries include different projectile based attacks and weapon buffs, but also some interesting “utility” spells that can be mixed in to good effect.
In order to use sorceries, instead of a chime or talisman like you would need for miracles, you will instead need to equip a staff or any of the other rarer weapons that allow the use of sorceries, such as the Immolation Talisman. Once again, sorceries scale with Intelligence and will generally reach their apex in their damage and spells you have access to at around level 50 in this stat.
Pyromancies, as the name suggests, are predominantly flame based spells occupy a sort of hybrid position between Miracles and Sorceries. They don’t have a single individual stat that they scale with, but instead scale, to some degree, with both Faith and Intelligence, as well as the casting weapon you are using.
While investing in both Faith and Intelligence can seem a bit inelegant (you generally want to pick one or the other, never both unless you are trying some crazy builds), the good news is you don’t need as high of a level in either of these stats to gain full access to the roster of available pyromancies.
Additionally, the single weapon you use to cast pyromancy, the Pyromancy Flame, can be upgraded like any other weapon with titanite, increasing the amount of damage you can dish out overall.
Whether you want to be a pure caster or compliment your melee based character with magic, miracles, sorceries and pyromancy add a very fun and satisfying extra depth to the game, your build, and your strategies.
Acquiring different spells in each category can prove to be difficult and tedious, since some can simply be purchased from merchants, but others (typically the more powerful ones) require you venturing later into the game or completing a time-consuming side objective.
Regardless, if you want to maximize your potential as a caster, as well as secure the achievement/trophy for acquiring all the spells, you’re going to have to proceed forward with resolve, brave adventurer.