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TSMP

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#1
There have been so many questions about how to play as a sorcerer or pyromancer, or how do hexes scale, or are miracles good, and so on, that I decided to just make one giant thread to answer all of these questions in one fell swoop, and if done correctly I'll never need to make another thread or even post about magic again. Mods, can this thread be stickied? (Edit: Thank You!)

Note: This thread is a "Living Document". It will change, evolve, and grow as new things are learned. For the most part, you can expect everything herein to be true; it's just that more, increasingly accurate true things will most likely be added later. Forum members and anonymous users, please feel free to add your own tales about magic-centric playthroughs or advice thereof, as that is the entire purpose of this thread. Also, feel free to post your own testing data or organize tests; I am but a single sleep-deprived human, and was unfortunately cursed with but a single set of hands and one lone head. Oh, and if I need correcting, you had better do that because it's pretty important. If this guide isn't accurate, then it isn't serving its purpose.

Disclaimer: All of this information is current and accurate to the best of my knowledge, but I'm not exactly omniscient and I'm spotty on a few details. I would welcome anyone who has further information that I may be missing, or even just corrections to erroneous information I've given.

Now that the formalities are out of the way, let's get down to business.

Index
Part One: Introduction to Magic (You Are Here)
Part Two: The Sorcerer's Scroll
Part Three: Printed Divine Tome
Part Four: Pyromancy Tome


Links for Frequently Used Terms

Classes
Sorcerer
Cleric
Pyromancer

Stats
Vigor
Endurance
Vitality
Attunement
Intelligence
Faith

Spells
Sorceries
Miracles
Pyromancies

Catalysts
Staves
Talismans
Chimes
Flames

Rings
Sage Ring
Magic Clutch Ring
Lightning Clutch Ring
Fire Clutch Ring
Dark Clutch Ring
Young Dragon Ring
Morne's Ring
Great Swamp Ring
Bellowing Dragoncrest Ring
Witch's Ring
Ring of the Sun's First Born
Lingering Dragoncrest Ring

Additional Gear
Crown of Dusk
Blindfold Mask
Scholar's Candlestick
Morion Blade
Red Tearstone Ring

Important NPCs
Orbeck of Vinheim
Irina of Carim
Corynx of the Great Swamp
Karla




General Information

"Caster" is a build archetype, and as such there are a number of core guidelines that apply to the many subtypes covered in this guide. The goal of any caster is, as you'd expect, to cast spells at enemies, and their stats and equipment are chosen to maximize this playstyle.

Your core stats as any type of caster will be Vigor (barring "glass cannon" builds), Attunement, and either Intelligence and/or Faith to varying degrees.

Vigor, Endurance, and Vitality investment follows the same general rule for casters as it does for other builds. Unfortunately, casters have a whole other stat to worry about in addition to their high offensive stat requirements, so one or more of these may end up on the cutting block to make room for Attunement. In the end, unless you're playing at SL150 or higher, you'll need to pick and choose what you want to keep and what you want to lose. The exact ratio of Vigor, Endurance, and Vitality is up to you, and depends entirely on your own playstyle.

Attunement is the stat that allows you to cast spells in the first place, and is the main thing separating casters from melee builds. If you're coming from Dark Souls 2, rest assured that you won't need quite as much as you're probably thinking. Due to the fact that spells now cost FP instead of having limited uses per spell (meaning you won't need to equip multiple copies), and the fact that only a small handful of spells require two Attunement slots and none at all need three, you can easily make due with the mere 5 slots you get from 30 Attunement. As far as FP goes, you don't want more Focus Points than you are able to refill with a single use of Ashen Estus, and a fully upgraded Ashen Estus flask gives 200 FP. You get slightly more than that at 27 Attunement (206FP), although you also get the fifth spell slot at 30 (233FP) so it's worth it to add the extra three levels. The next five levels after 30 give unusually high FP returns, capping at 280 FP with 35 Attunement, although since your flasks only give back 200 FP per use all those extra points will end up going unused unless you have a Simple infused weapon to regenerate them, or somehow managed to make room for the Ashen Estus Ring.

Spell slots are earned at these levels of Attunement:
  • 10 Attunement: 1 slot
  • 14 Attunement: 2 slots
  • 18 Attunement: 3 slots
  • 24 Attunement: 4 slots
  • 30 Attunement: 5 slots
  • 40 Attunement: 6 slots
  • 50 Attunement: 7 slots
  • 60 Attunement: 8 slots
  • 80 Attunement: 9 slots
  • 99 Attunement: 10 slots

Intelligence and Faith are the heftiest investments of any caster build, since they determine which spells you can use and how much damage those spells deal. It should be mentioned, though, that how the spells scale for damage is entirely dependent on what catalyst you use to cast them rather than being an inherent property of the spells themselves. For instance, a normal staff for sorcery might gain all of its spell damage from Intelligence and nothing else, but you may find another staff that gains all of its damage from Faith instead, or another that gives a specific group of sorceries the ability to scale with both Intelligence and Faith together. However, as all sorceries have only increasingly higher Intelligence requirements, one could imagine that the staff that scales off only Faith instead of Intelligence might be a little bit inconvenient to put it lightly, while the staff that makes a select few sorceries scale with both stats might sound promising but dividing your levels between Intelligence and Faith would make you less effective with the many sorceries that it doesn't apply this to. Basically, this means that you need to carefully choose what exactly you want your character to cast, then choose the catalyst and stat spread that best complements your goal.

Caster builds are highly dependent on rings compared to other classes, and there is one ring all casters will want to have: the Sage Ring, which reduces spellcasting time by a dramatic amount. This ring will stack with the natural casting speed boost you get from your Dexterity stat, but since both of them together count towards the softcap it is not advised to combine Dexterity investment and the ring on the same build. In fact, the ring alone gives such an enormous boost that having 15-20 Dexterity with it is enough to hit that softcap, and in subsequent NG+ cycles you'll eventually find an upgraded version of the ring that will put you at the softcap outright, by itself. Due to this, and because caster builds are already cripplingly dependent on heavy investment into several stats, it's recommended to forgo Dexterity investment entirely and just equip the ring alone. Other useful trinkets include the "Clutch" series of rings, which will boost the spell damage of their listed type by 15% (though note that their boost is halved in PvP, but not the defense penalty), the "master" rings that boost spell damage by something near 24.5% for their respective school, and the "novice" rings which boost spell damage of their matching school by 12.5% plus an additional 2.5% for each other clutch, master, and novice ring equipped. Taken all together, the correct arrangement of rings can boost your spell damage by over 70% thanks to the magic of multiplicative stacking.

Spell Scaling
This is a major topic right now, and is the main reason we get magic-related questions so often. Here is the truth of the matter: magic's strength is, and always has been, dependent on what spells you're using. Spell damage actually scales quite well, and this is the very reason why they deal so much damage at higher levels. However, the fact that a Sorcerer's only reliable damage spells in the early game are varying degrees of Soul Arrow, or that the only projectile spell a Cleric will have for most of the game is the extremely weak Lightning Spear, and how the truly powerful spells don't start cropping up until the mid or even end game, will all make that scaling very hard to see early on. For all casters, the first major, boss-killing spells can be found in the Demon Ruins, Irithyll Valley, and Profaned Capital areas, with Pyromancy being especially noteworthy since its strongest spells are all clustered in the Demon Ruins (and technically accessible a mere two bosses into the game if you don't mind the difficulty), whereas sorcery doesn't get their biggest spells until the last area of the game but find slightly weaker versions in the Profaned Capital, and miracles find their one good projectile as a spell made from the soul of the final boss, with the rest of their major offensive lightning spells being from two hidden bosses that resist their primary damage type. As such, while a caster may be devastatingly powerful when they have access to all their best equipment and spells, it's getting to that point that defines the experience of a caster playthrough.

Note:
  • Sorcery caster builds hit their peak spell damage returns at 60 Intelligence
  • Faith caster builds hit their peak spell damage returns at 60 Faith
  • Pyromancy caster builds hit their peak spell damage returns at 40 Intelligence and 40 Faith
  • Catalysts that affect Dark spells hit their peak returns at 45 Intelligence and 45 Faith

About Dark Magic
Dark spells, or "hexes" as they were called in the previous game, have changed in use from their appearance in Dark Souls 2. They no longer count as their own distinct spell type, and as mentioned in the section about catalysts the way they scale is determined by what you're casting them with rather than your own stats. So to sum it up, only a specific three catalysts actually give your dark magic the combined Intelligence and Faith scaling you remember from Dark Souls 2: the Izaltih Staff, the Sunless Talisman, and the Caitha's Chime (and the Pyromancy Flame, but that goes without saying). But when casting dark magic with a normal catalyst that scales off only a single stat, a dark magic spell will scale only off that one stat, though its total scaling is only diminished by an insignificant amount.

The difference in damage between a pure sorcerer with 60 Intelligence casting Great Deep Soul with a Court Sorcerer's Staff and a dedicated Hexer casting the same spell at 45 Intelligence and 45 Faith with the Izalith Staff is less than 50. This is the case for any sorcery hex, and is true for miracle hexes as well when comparing to a 60 Faith character with the strongest miracle catalysts against a dedicated hexer with Caitha's Chime or the Sunless Talisman. As such, the advantage one gains from making a build dedicated to using hexes instead of any particular school is not the ability to use those spells at all (as in Dark Souls 2), but rather the ability to use all of those spells equally, and slightly better at that.

But even then, a dedicated Hexer's stat allotment will look nearly identical to a Pyromancer's, and the only real difference will be what catalysts they use and the spells they are casting. Of course, what was previously a Pyromancer could easily imitate a Hexer by acquiring the right gear and spells, and the Pyromancer is in fact the recommended starting class for a prospective Hexer. For a build that isn't dedicated to casting only hexes, the dark spells simply serve for their ability to circumvent annoying enemy resistances due to dealing a different damage type, although a few are worth noting for their unusual properties.

All in all, this isn't quite a distinct caster type so much as it is a variant of pyromancer. Details for building hex-specific characters can be found in the Pyromancy section under the appropriate catalysts, and information for individual hexes can be found in their relevant sections.

Pyromancy as a Backup Option
This really only applies in PvE, and only early to mid game at that, but technically speaking nothing says an otherwise pure sorcerer or cleric can't use pyromancy spells if they have the stats to cast them. Sorcerers can have a bit of a problem against the Deacons of the Deep and Aldrich since their magic and dark defense are so high, but both are also very weak to fire and most of the really good pyromancy spells have high Intelligence requirements but low Faith ones. Clerics, due to their lack of reliable offensive spells in all but the very end game, might opt to use Great Chaos Fire Orb for a while instead.

Later on though, your sorceries or miracles on a pure Intelligence or Faith caster will start to outperform the damage of your pyromancies, especially if you never invest in the opposite stat. Pyromancy spells will gain very little damage after 40 in either stat, whereas sorcery will continue to get good gains up to 60 Intelligence and miracles will continue to get good gains up to 60 Faith. They will still be usable against magic/lightning/dark resistant enemies and bosses, but in all other cases your real heavy hitters will always be your Crystal Soul Spears or Sunlight Spears.

The Man-Grub Staff

This guide is primarily concerned with the use of catalysts, which includes spells, casting spells, the Intelligence and/or Faith scaling of catalysts, what spells scale with what stats, secondary stats involved in the act of casting spells, weapons that are also catalysts, and builds designed to do all of the above. While the Man-Grub Staff does have the ability to cast spells, it falls outside the scope of this guide since it doesn't have Intelligence and/or Faith scaling. It's also terribly inefficient as a catalyst; while it does outdamage every other staff in the game at an equal amount of Luck vs Intelligence up to 50, the fact that you still need Intelligence to cast spells in the first place means that your spells would be way stronger if you'd put the points from Luck into Intelligence and other stats instead and used a more normal staff. As such, the Man-Grub Staff is only relevant on builds that prioritize Luck over Intelligence, such as those using Anri's Straight Sword, and is far less useful for a build meant primarily for casting. Though, if you intend to use the Man-Grub Staff, keep in mind that Crystal Magic Weapon and similar buffs do not gain any scaling from it. They are always cast as though the spell buff were a flat 100 and gain nothing whatsoever from its Luck scaling.

Weapon Catalysts

Some weapons have the ability to cast spells, those being the Cleric's Candlestick, Heysel Pick, Immolation Tinder, Golden Ritual Spear, the Rose of Ariandel, and the Demon's Scar. These "weapon catalysts" are often a bit weaker than a typical catalyst when it comes to spells and a bit subpar compared to other weapons, but the fact that they count as both at once can allow you to free up your other hand and equip a shield, parry tool, or maybe even another catalyst with different properties.

In all cases, these weapons lack the ability to use heavy attacks besides the jump attack, and instead use the R2 button to cast spells. They keep their normal R1 attacks and still have their weapon arts. Their spell buff will also scale as per a normal catalyst of their type. For example, the Heysel Pick's sorceries will gain a steady amount of damage all the way up to 60, just like any other staff. For weapon catalysts with non-physical damage such as magic or fire, this damage will scale very well beyond 40 and all the way up to 60, gaining anywhere from +2 to +4 damage per level until that point, though note that this never puts them above a normal weapon since the damage starts out so low. The Rose of Ariandel does not have non-physical damage, so it doesn't benefit from this and levels in Faith will give physical damage up to 40, at which point the returns diminish to less than one damage per level.

If you use a weapon catalyst in your left hand, the moveset is mostly unchanged from the right hand. It keeps the standard standing attacks with L1 and casts spells with L2, but the running and rolling attacks just become normal standing attacks.

=== End of Part One ===
= Additional Chapters =
Part Two: The Sorcerer's Scroll
Part Three: Printed Divine Tome
Part Four: Pyromancy Tome
Last edited by TSMP on Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:56 am, edited 46 times in total.
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Callyste

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#2
Pillar of Text crits you for 37,948 48,735 points of smashing damage.

Kidding of course, that's a whole lot of great information!
Last edited by Callyste on Thu Apr 21, 2016 11:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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SilkyGoodness

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#3
Yeah I would just like to add that if you aim for 60 Int and go out of your way to find the upgrade materials that get you above curve(like the 3-5 titanite chunks you can get before The Dancer/Lothric) that you will have good damage throughout as a sorcerer. I feel like when it comes to Pyro vs sorcerer that the sorcerer starts out with damage on curve or slightly(very slightly) below early on but Pyro is just so ahead of the curve early on that people don't realize the sorcerer isn't gimped early on. Especially if you put priority into bumping Int and trying to get that 60 by about the lothric. The sorcerer does go well above curve after the mid game(after bellowing) and I feel the Pyro goes under curve at about that point too unless they work for it with stuff like sacred flame. This also seemed to have been the case in DsK1 where Pyro out damages sorc for a bit but by Sen's Fortress the Pyro is left in the dust.

Also I personally found the homing spells to be much less effective than in previous games and that spook is irreplaceable in a lot of areas, negating fall damage prevents premature estus use and some enemies work entirely sound based. The Candle Wizards are an example of this. Oh and did I mention spook and hidden body stack this time around?
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Serious_Much

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#4
I love the work you put into this.

I will take it to the team and see what they think about it. Perhaps this would also make a good wiki page...?

One thing I would say, is it is very text heavy. If you could convert it more into shorter sentences, bullets points and easy to digest chunks, it could be even better than it already is.
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Kaiden

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#5
Helpful post thanks, do you still recommend soul sword spells post-nerf? Not had a chance to see how badly they were nerfed yet.

Do we know yet if Cleric's Candlestick is the only blueflame-type weapon outside of some pickaxe? Its low stats probably mean it's not useable as an actual weapon toward end-game?
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Serious_Much

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#6
Hi TSMP, some early feedback from the team. Two points:

1. Do you want to make it into a blog article at least if not a wiki page?

2. If not, could we maybe dress it up with links and some images?
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Verkas

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#7
Do not bother with soul spear. Use great heavy soul arrow instead. SS consumes so much fp that you can only get maybe 2 or 3 casts off before you're out fp (I can get 3 shots off with 20 att. before i have to chug an estus). Great heavy soul arrow also consumes less fp so you can cast it a lot more, and this also allows you to allot more into healing estus. SS IMO kinda useless. Because of its fp cost and it's power level.
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DarkGerald

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#8
Great post and lot's of good stuff in there for new Magic users. I agree with Serious_Much that it'd be nice to have that info on the wiki with only the needed information without as much text.

What I don't agree though is with this part:
The argument could be made for some small amount of Endurance, but you'll never need more than 15 and might even be able to get by on only 10.
...
For Vigor, the suggested amount for PvE is 30 and the suggested amount for PvP is 50.

You realize that you need such high Vigor only because you lack the stamina to roll away from attacks? With END at 20 you can leave VIG at 20 too, there really is no need to get higher, just practice more on your evasion skills. It pays of in the end (pun not intended) because with higher END you can evade/cast more often and thus kill the boss faster. Take the last boss for example, he has some attacks like the one where he tracks you with his fire lance, you have to roll back twice or he will get you, rolling to the side doesn't help (might be a small window where it works). With 20 END after two (or even 3 just to be sure) rolls back I have still enough stamina to answer with a CSS.

I think that high VIG is also not coherent with the overall meta of Casters, wearing a light armor that offers little to none protection. A mage user should be able to either protect himself with spells or evade the damage. Tanking with high VIG is not what I imagine a mage to be and as I said, it let's you at the disadvantage of low stamina which you desperatly need to not get hit at all while doing massive damage.

My suggestions would be for NG: 20 END/ 20 VIG
For NG+: 30 END/ 20 VIG

Ultimately on NG+2 or so I'll have 40 END for sure, VIG will probably stay at 20.

But other than that, thanks for doing all the work ;)

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#9
Great post. Thanks a lot.
Would you also be willing to analyze the advantages/disadvantages the magic types have in pvp when compared to each other?

That would be really neat ;)
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TSMP

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#10
Serious_Much wrote:Hi TSMP, some early feedback from the team. Two points:

1. Do you want to make it into a blog article at least if not a wiki page?

2. If not, could we maybe dress it up with links and some images?

Whatever you think would work best. Given a bit of time I could probably reduce it down to something wiki-able, or it could just go directly into a blog, whatever works best. The only reason I asked for it to be stickied was so people could see it immediately upon entering the forum and have their questions answered right away, but as a guide on the wiki that purpose would be served one step earlier.

Anonymous wrote:Great post. Thanks a lot.
Would you also be willing to analyze the advantages/disadvantages the magic types have in pvp when compared to each other?

That would be really neat ;)

I don't have enough experience with all types of magic in PvP. I've used pyromancy, dark sorcery, and dark miracles to a good enough amount so far, still need to make characters for normal sorcery and miracles. I'm also not terrifically great at PvP, so I don't know if I'm just not good enough to imagine a more viable way to approach PvP with magic or not.

Gotta say though, talismans and their Unfaltering Prayer skill are super, super useful. The only downside is your opponent knows exactly when to back off instead of attack, but you can mix it up with a UP Sunlight Spear instead of Lightning Stake (identical startups) and catch them while they're rolling back. So, just off first impressions alone I'd say Faith probably has the best chance as an offensive caster in duels, with UP WotG clearing out opposing ganks no question.
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