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PONTIFF SULYVAHN

Pontiff Sulyvahn DKS3
General Info
hp.jpg souls.jpg Location
5,106 28,000 Irithyll of the Boreal Valley
Drops Soul of Pontiff Sulyvahn
Defenses
Weak Resistant Immune
Thrust Thrust,  Fire, Lightning, Critical Strike PoisonPoison/Toxic Bleed Bleed Frost Frost n/a

Pontiff Sulyvahn is a boss in Dark Souls 3. 

Pontiff Sulyvahn Information

  • Not optional. Must be killed for access to part of Irithyll.
  • Summoning Black Hand Gotthard, in front of Sulyvahn's gate, will grant the "By My Sword" gesture.
  • Londor Pale Shade can be summoned in front of a statue to the right when facing the boss fog, as long as the player has been following Yuria's and Yoel's questline, and gives the "Duel Bow Gesture" when summoned.
  • Anri of Astora can be summoned here. Her sign will be to the right (facing away from the fog door) in front of a statue.

 

Location

 

Drops

  • Souls: NG (28,000), NG+ (69,300), NG++ (92,401), NG+3 (94,500), NG+4 (100,800), NG+6 (105,000), NG+9 (107,100)
  • Co-op Souls: NG (7,000), NG+ (??), NG++ (??), NG+3 (??), NG+6 (??), NG+9 (??)
  • Other: Soul of Pontiff Sulyvahn

 

Combat Information

  • Health: NG (5,106), NG+ (7,777), NG++ (8,554), NG+3 (8,943), NG+4 (9,332), NG+5 (10,110), NG+6 (10,499), NG+7 (10,887)
  • Attacks deals Standard, Thrust, Fire and Magic damage. 
  • Weak to Thrust, Lightning and Fire damage.
  • Resistant to Poison, Toxic, Frost and Bleed.
  • During second phase, Sulyvahn may summon clone. The attack pattern of the clone will always preempt the attacks of Sulyvahn. When the clone does an attack, expect Sulyvahn to do the same right after.
  • Clone has 50% damage reduction towards all types of damages. 
  • Can be poise-broken, but that does not allow to perform a riposte.
  • Parryable: Yes. Player can riposte him after successful parry.
  • Cannot be backstabbed.

 

Strategies

Video Strategies

 

Strategy 1 (Fast Melee without a shield)

Sulyvahn has very long combos and leaves few openings, so be sure to better your stamina with the Cloranthy Ring, Ring of Favor, Grass Crest Shield or Green Blossoms to be on the safe side. When you enter, he will likely leap at you with his fire sword. Roll to the right or the left when his sword is about the reach the ground and attack him one or two times. Then, get as far as you can. He will likely do the same attack over and over.

Be careful, because if you get too close, he will chain his attacks rapidly, and you won't be able to avoid them all. If you want to get close to him, roll through his attacks and strike immediatly when he stops attacking. The preferable angle of attack is his back, but he turns quite rapidly.

When his phantom clone appears, don't bother attacking him and make sure to roll through it's attack and wait as far as you can, luring Pontiff into leaping towards you. Be careful, because he could also use a ranged magic attack, which is quite deadly, but is easy to avoid; just roll to your left or right. 

Strategy 2 (Parry)

You can read a long guide with video on "How to Parry Pontiff Sulyvahn" here. This strategy aims to burst down the boss before he has a chance to get in your face with two copies of himself. Thankfully, this boss is extremely prone to parrying and thus equipping a small shield such as the Target Shield is advisable for facing this boss. Using the Hornet Ring, if the player has it, is very helpful as well.

The best attacks to parry are the overhead attacks with delay (both the attack with the fire sword and the one where he uses both weapons can be parred) as well as the combination attacks he has. For these attacks, blocking the first attack often sets up for the second parry quite well, although there is a slight delay in his second attack that you should watch out for. If a parry is missed the best idea is to immediately roll away. He is very unlikely to hit you like this. Iron Flesh can also be utilized here, enabling you to poise through a botched parry to easily get the follow-up.  One cast should give you enough time to get him to phase two.

You can dodge the first move he does (jumping slash) left and behind him, stay there and hope it baits him to continue with a single swipe that is easy to parry. Just hit the parry button as soon as you see the swipe. This bait tactic does not work 100% of the time but more often than not.

Two parries should be enough to get him into the stage where he begins to transform, first with a black aura around him and then with the animation where he points his sword upward and it spawns his clone. During these two animations you should two hand your weapon and try to do as much damage as possible.

If you have weapon buffs they can be very useful here; simply buff your weapon while he is standing up from the second parry and then attack as fast as possible. Even if you cannot burst the boss within these two animations, his remaining health should only require a couple more hits. Be patient and soon the boss will be down before you know it. 

The only really parryable move when the clone is out is the jumping slash. Clone goes up, Sullyvahn goes up, clone comes slashing down, Sully does the same. Dodge the clone and immediately parry. No waiting at all. Just dodge+parry+riposte. Just be sure the move is not jumping smash instead. If the clone drops straight down and thrust his sword to ground do not try to parry Sully. Just dodge.

Strategy 3 (Shield strats without parrying)

Staying at extremely close range and lock-on circle strafing the Pontiff is very effective in the first phase of the fight but requires a little bit of stamina management unless using a greatshield (see below.) Many of the Pontiff's attacks will pass overhead or miss completely with this strategy and a stable shield with good fire and magic block, such as the Wargod Wooden Shield or even better, the Dragon Crest Shield, will reduce the damage taken significantly.

Possibly the safest way to combat this difficult boss is by hiding behind a Greatshield, particularly the Greatshield of Glory, which is able to absorb a massive amount of damage without being staggered. Yhorm's Greatshield is also viable, and it is obtainable, just like the Greatshield of Glory, in New Game by fighting Yhorm before Aldrich or the Pontiff. The strategy? Simply stand near him with your shield raised and block until you see a clear, sure opening and strike him with a fast weapon (like a Longsword or Axe) 1-2 times. The Butcher's Knife is particularly effective for this purpose, because the health you regenerate from hitting him is almost the same as the chip damage you will take while blocking, which allows you to block for much longer. The Chloranthy Ring and Green Blossoms are highly recommended, as well as the Estus Ring to maximize heals, and the Knight's Sword Ring to maximize damage right after a heal. Havel's Ring is all but required to maintain a fast roll while holding such a massive shield. With this strategy, his first phase is relatively simple.

You could aslo keep up your shield and keep walking to the right. The boss will hit either zero, one or two attacks on you before he misses one or stops his combo. If he stops his combo, keep down your shield for stamina regeneration until the moment he attacks again. When the boss misses a single attack, you can make a single hit and immediatly hold up your shield again without getting hit.

If you need to heal only do so after his crushing fire sword or magic stinger, when he has the most recovery.  You can also try to gain distance on him, but be aware that he can cover a massive distance to punish you, so be prepared to put a football field between the two of you.

His second phase is a bit trickier. When he begins his "transformation", back up to avoid the explosion, and then move in for 1-2 hits. It is also a perfect opportunity to heal. He will almost always attempt to summon his clone immediately after this, so be prepared to deal with that. Get close and wait until the clone appears, and then attack it as much as you can. Be careful though, if you use too much stamina he may punish you severely. Again, the Greatshield can absorb a stunning amount of punishment, and should be used whenever in doubt. The only attacks that will severely damage you through the shield are his flaming plunge attacks and his magic attacks. Be wary of those, and prepared to dodge to avoid big damage. Ideally, you will be able to kill the doppelgänger and simplify this phase. If not, you still should not have too much trouble taking him down if you simply play safe.

For a full playbook, here is how the fight goes. Summoning, embers, and such are not necessary for this playbook, and it contains five valuable bits of knowledge which can net the player lots of extra damage that can kill Pontiff.

  1. Pontiff will always open up the fight with a jumping lunge attack, provided you are at a distance. He will not approach you unless you are a certain distance in front of him.
  2. Pontiff's attacks are fast, aggressive, long-reaching, and do lots of damage. Staying locked on to him while circling over his right shoulder, on the left of the player, where his flame sword is held, will reduce a lot of damage, and players have beaten Pontiff at SL 1, with no hits, parries, or rolls this way.
  3. His heavy attacks, which are slower and more emphasized than his other attacks, allow for a one to three second window to hit him, without taking damage. A shield with 60 or more stability, such as a slightly upgraded Shield of Want, helps make this process safer, because Pontiff attacks a lot, and frequently.
  4. When Pontiff squats down, he will do a powerful AOE attack. You have about a two second window to roll out to avoid damage from this, so you are not low on estus flasks, with lots of health to take away from Pontiff.
  5. There will be times where Pontiff raises his neon purple sword to his face to summon a hologram of himself, and he will summon multiple, if you let him. There are the times to get free hits on him, and take out the hologram, as they do not have boss-tier health. Many say to leave these holograms, as Pontiff will be less aggressive, but please note that this reasoning is flawed, because yes, Pontiff will be less aggressive, but the combined aggression between multiple holograms and himself will keep the fight at the same temperature. It is better to kill these holograms, to put Pontiff in a loop where he will continue to summon, so you can continue to get free hits on him. This, along with the last three points are the real bulk of the fight. 

Strategy 4 (Pyromancy)                                        

With a large amount of points invested in Faith and Intelligence (28/32 respectively in my case) and a properly upgraded Pyromancy Flame (+5), the boss battle becomes extremely trivial. For this fight, use the Great Chaos Fire Orb (from the Izalith Pyromancy Tome) spell. Upon starting the fight, kite backwards. The Pontiff's jumping gapclosing attacks are fairly easy to dodge in comparison to his other moves and give you ample time to land a spell or two. Once you've chipped him down to his second stage, he'll spend a significant amount of time for his transformation. This gives you free time to lob more Fire Orbs at him. You should only have to dodge a jumping attack or two until he attempts to summon his clone. Keep throwing Fire Orbs at him, the puddle of fire left behind after each hit will end up killing his clone almost immediately. At this point he'll either be dead or a few spell casts away from death. If he attempts to summon his clone simply lob another Fire Orb at it, killing the clone and dealing him a large amount of damage. Continue kiting backwards as long as it takes for you to kill him.

The fight is very easy with the large investment in Faith and Intelligence. It simply requires slightly more patience with lower values. With my values it's possible to kill the Pontiff in about 30 seconds with very little actual maneuvering etc.

Strategy 5 (Sorcery)

For this fight you should first get the Logan's Scroll and free Karla in Profaned Capital. This will give you the Soul Spear, Affinity and if your INT is above 50 the Court Sorcerer's Staff. Damage is your best defense in this fight, with enough damage you can one-shoot the illusion he spawns, thus making this fight quite trivial. On NG+ you should use the Crystal Soul Spear and the Court Sorcerer's Staff. Steady Chant can be tricky with this boss because he will often get you in the midst of charging it, which is why I chose the Court staff over the Sage's Crystal Staff.

When you enter the room, cast Affinity and be ready to roll right when he jumps. In general you can evade most of his attacks by rolling backwards or right. When he swings from (your) right to left you can roll under the swing if you go right, he will most likely hit you if you go left. Affinity does almost half the damage of a Crystal Soul Spear so you should definitely use it. The next opportunity to cast it is when he summons his illusion. Cast Affinity and a Soul Spear, this will one shoot the Illusion. If the (Crystal) Soul Spear does not one-shoot it for some reasons, stay back and let Affinity finish the job. If you are far away from him he will often just walk towards you, use this opportunity to cast Affinity and some Soul Spears. See video above as an example for this strategy on NG+.

Attacks

First Phase (Pontiff Sulyvahn is alone)
Forward Fire Swipe He swipes forward with his fire sword and can hit you from a great distance. When he lands, it is quite easy to attack him if you avoided his swipe.
Backwards Fire Slash If you get behind him, he might do a backwards slash with his fire sword, but it will only hit your right side, so you can just roll to the left an attack one more time. Can be parried.
Backwards Magic Slash Same as the backwards Fire Slash, but instead of doing it on his right side, he will attack his left side with his magic sword. Roll to your right and attack one time.
Magic Sting and Fire Swipe He swipes forward with his fire sword, like in the first attack, but he doesn't have as much range. He also charges with his other magic sword at the same time, inflincting great damage. 
Spin and Stab He whirls with his sword and, as soon as his fire attack is over, he leaves a small open window for attacking before stabbing you with his magic sword. 
Sweep Attack His favorite attack; he will swing his sword from right to left (or the opposite) rapidly, sometimes doing it more than three times. His range is short, but don't be greedy: he can still kind of move when he attacks, and can gain land fast if you don't pay attention. 
Second Phase (Pontiff Sulyvahn is accompanied by his phantom clone)
Soul Spear Use his magic sword to throw a soul spear, dealing massive damage. 
Soul Wave Use his magic sword to throw a magic wave. It is possible to roll through the wave. This attack has a very limited range.
Jumping Crush Make a very high jump, and fall back on you, doing a big fire AoE when he hits the ground.
Phase 1 Attacks The Pontiff is able to use all Phase 1 attacks during Phase 2, especially after you kill the clone.

 

Lore Theories

  • The Pontiff is a very important character in Dark Souls 3 and ally of Aldrich.
  • The Pontiff was once a sorcerer. Something changed in him when he found the Profaned Flame, suggesting that he developed a thirst for power and influence (see descriptions of Profaned Greatsword and Greatsword of Judgement).
    • In the High Wall of Lothric, there is a Winged Knight patrolling a courtyard full of corpses, circling around a statue in the middle of the courtyard.  This statue appears to be holding the Profaned Greatsword, and has a bracelet on its right wrist that closely resembles the one that Sulyvahn wears.  This suggests that Sulyvahn once had considerable influence in Lothric, and, being a sorcerer, may have been the first scholar of the Grand Archives, as mentioned in the description of the Soul Stream sorcery.
  • In phase 2 Sulyvahn sprouts rootlike wings. The clerics in Irithyll have roots sticking out from under their garbs.
    • Fat Clerics (including McDonnell) have roots growing from their eyes.
    • The sky of Lothric Castle is full of "Pilgrim Butterflies" which have rootlike wings.
    • The Profaned Flame that Sulyvahn discovered seems to be tied, or similar, to the Chaos Flame, as roots are a common theme with it as well.
  • Pontiff's Left Eye is a ring that you can transpose from the Vordt of the Boreal Valley's soul. It is a ring that Pontiff "bestowed upon his knights". 
  • Pontiff's Right Eye is a ring found on the first Sulyvahn's Beast (crocodile monster) you encounter when entering Irithyll.
  • The title Pontiff is self-proclaimed, based on Yorshka's dialogue.
  • Pontiff Sulyvahn is most likely dedicating a cult to Aldrich seeing as he "imprisoned a god in the abandoned cathedral to be fed to the devourer"
    • The imprisoned god was Gwyndolin, as is apparent by the appearance of the humanoid top of Aldrich.
  • The Pontiff created the Outrider KnightsVordt, of the Boreal Valley, the Dancer of the Boreal Valley, and three nameless knights: one in the Undead Settlement, one in Lothric Castle, and one in the Grand Archives.
    • The Dancer mirrors his swords. From the description of the Dancer's Enchanted SwordsThese blades, symbollic of the Dancer's vows, are enchanted with dark magic in the right hand, and fire in the left, mirroring the Pontiff.

 

Notes & Trivia

  • Armor that gives resistance to Fire or/and Magic, the Flame Stoneplate Ring and Magic Stoneplate Ring (for NG+ mostly) are advisable. If the player doesn't have the ring slots, Speckled Stoneplate Ring.
  • Tends to thrust with his Magic sword and whirl with his Flame sword, so focusing on gaining more Flame Absorption than Magic is a good idea.
  • His name is derived from Irish name Súilleabhán which means "Little Dark Eye" in Irish.  This goes well with the appearance of the rings which reference him in their names and descriptions.
  • Pontiff is a religious title for any one who is a Bishop or above, including the Pope.

 

Gallery

 Pontiff 

Pontiff

 

Pontiff

Pontiff's Ghost 






    • Anonymous

      02 Nov 2017 18:52  

      when he is visible from afar it remembers me of that one poison beast from Bloodborne that guards the first chalice. There you too see it...and it comes closer and closer... until all hell breaks lose. the same imagery but Suly is the total anti thesis of that beast.

      • Anonymous

        01 Nov 2017 12:25  

        sully is like the only character in Dark Souls that I consider PURE *****ING EVIL. I mean I agree with his original motive of discarding the gods' legacy to avenge the forlorn, but holy hell did he lose his marbles. he subjugated Irithyll, enslaved its citizens, turned the rest of them into beasts, exiled the royal family (and turned them into beasts), fed the beautiful baby boy to some fat pig, fed a bunch of other people to said pig, stole the profaned flame, gave the flame to the holy knights which effectively destroyed their minds, used the Irithyll dungeon for dragon research using prisoners as test subjects, also enslaved the original inhabitants of the profaned capital... before all that, even, he was apparently a big-shot in lothric, and might have helped oceiros in his dragon research which eventually drove the king mad, and there's even reason to believe that he convinced prince lothric to abandon his duty as a lord.

        basically everything that has transpired in DS3 is sully's fault. not even manus could achieve this kind of asshole-ishness.

        • Anonymous

          26 Oct 2017 17:40  

          I feel like Sulyvahn and the Profaned Flame have something to do with the Angelic faith of Lothric... The Angels in the Dreg Heap also have root-like appendages where their legs should be, making them similar to the Pilgrim Butterflies. Plus, the Angels are actually astral projections, and Sulyvahn also uses a sort of astral projection throughout this fight.

          • Anonymous

            19 Oct 2017 18:30  

            Sulyvahn might actually be my favorite boss in DS3. He hits hard and doesn't really let up, and if you don't know what you're doing, its unlikely you'll survive. At the same time, he doesn't take too long to kill, so you don't have to end up repeating a 10-minute cycle if you die later in the fight like you do with Friede or Gael. Plus his OST is a banger.

            • Anonymous

              14 Oct 2017 16:52  

              Ganksquaded him on my first playthrough with the NPC summons, figured he'd give me trouble solo in NG+.
              Surprisingly, he didn't. Got him first attempt with my Astora Greatsword +10. He's definitely easier, albeit intimidating, in the second phase.

              • Anonymous

                12 Oct 2017 02:43  

                It should probably be noted that according to the Snap Freeze description, Sulyvahn was born in the Painted World. Maybe that explains the statues resembling Friede in his arena?

                • Anonymous

                  02 Oct 2017 05:46  

                  Any advice for soloing him would be appreciated im on ng10 and him and friede are the last bosses I haven't soloed, weapon suggestions, infusions and utility equipment would be very appreciated thx guys

                  • Anonymous

                    30 Sep 2017 21:29  

                    I realized that in his first phase, he kind of works like the Blood-starved Beast in Bloodborne in that dodging to one side prevents most of his attacks from connecting whatsoever, even if you just walk out of the way. For Sulyvahn, you have to dodge to the right (his left side), toward the Greatsword of Judgement (the purple disco sword) and away from the Profaned Greatsword (the big fiery one). Of course, unlike BSB, he has that second phase that counters dodging by potentially trapping the player between him and his clone, but by staying far back and baiting his lunging attacks, one can easily get a hit or two on either of them.

                    One thing I'm not sure about, and I was hoping someone else might be able to clear it up: is it just me, or does Sulyvahn take double damage if you hit him while the clone is present? Or is it that hitting the clone also depletes the "true" Sulyvahn's health, and hitting them both in one hit deals twice as much damage? He seems to die way faster than I expect he should once he hits phase 2, in just 10-15 hits... And I was specifically targeting the clone this time around, and yet Sulyvahn still died before I could get rid of it. I didn't have a cooperator or anything, either.

                    • Anonymous

                      24 Sep 2017 05:32  

                      Very hard boss, if your weapon or stamina doesn't allow you to kill his duplicates immediately. Otherwise, a quite easy boss.

                      • Anonymous

                        16 Sep 2017 22:49  

                        So if I've got this right... Sulyvahn was a sorcerer of the Cathedral of the Deep, I guess back when the Cathedral wasn't corrupted, and he assisted King Oceiros with the studies of moonlight in the Grand Archives. I assume this is what sparked his conquest of Irithyll, considering the city's affiliation with the Darkmoon, and during this time, he discovered both the Profaned Flame beneath the city, as well as Aldrich, whom he allied himself to and brought back to the Cathedral of the Deep for some reason, probably because of his newfound thirst for power. Aldrich was made a saint, and the Archdeacons assisted in keeping him fed, until eventually Sulyvahn captured Gwyndolin and fed him to Aldrich. Aldrich eventually became a Lord of Cinder, but returned to Irithyll and ascended to Anor Lando when the First Flame began to wane.

                        And then Sulyvahn FOLLOWED him to Irithyll, dubbed himself the Pontiff, and enslaved the former inhabitants and created the Pontiff Knights. He then sent his Outrider Knights, including Vordt and the Dancer, to combat the kingdom of Lothric, perhaps to claim the cinders of Prince Lothric, or maybe even because he and Oceiros were now in a sort of race to discover the true power of Moonlight? Or maybe he wanted to feed Ocelotte to Aldrich or some*****? Okay, that's a bit of a leap, but I wouldn't put it past a slimy guy like Sully if he'd been granted the opportunity.

                        • Anonymous

                          02 Sep 2017 13:41  

                          Sulyvahn is just a massive troll. He is like : hey there, you know what ? I am powerstancing and i can buff both of my weapons. Deal with it because you can't do neither of that.

                          • Anonymous

                            12 Aug 2017 17:15  

                            Deprived , Soul Level 15 . Won the second time by summoning gotthard and spamming R1 like a noob , poise-breaking Pontiff . His clone is really weak to pyromancy so 2 Fire Orbs and it died . Kinda easy to be honest...

                            • Anonymous

                              09 Aug 2017 05:24  

                              With something comparable to a Dragonslayer Axe +6, you can destroy the phantoms within the time it takes Sulyvahn to summon it and start moving. Made the fight much easier.

                              • Anonymous

                                09 Aug 2017 05:18  

                                i was reading the wrong section of the page thinking that his soul drops on different NG's was his health thinking "holy***** 100,00 health thats is insane" then realized that i was looking in the wrong spot

                                • Anonymous

                                  01 Aug 2017 13:46  

                                  On my first playthrough, took me a few tries. Mainly rinse and repeat first phase with staying to his back and just zoning in on rolls and limiting strikes to two per opening. The second phase was giving me trouble, but I jumped on the clone as a priority and then engaged Pontiff directly. When he tried to summon a new clone, I just went to town and took him out. It's strange because Pontiff sans parries has such a vicious reputation, but I think his faster and more direct attacks made him easier to combat. Dragonarmour, though, with his lumbering and big awkward shield, has already killed me more than Pontiff did; and his reputation is far inferior to that of the Pontiff.

                                  • Anonymous

                                    20 Jul 2017 20:01  

                                    He is definitely weak to Dark. Was doing nearly 370 a swing with a +7 Dark Exile with 17 INT and FTH while two phantoms were present.

                                    • Anonymous

                                      20 Jul 2017 01:18  

                                      Just a heads up for anyone using a fist weapon such as I did when fighting him. Some times when you're as close as you can possibly get, you can hit him, and it looks like it would do damage, but it wont register.

                                      I am not talking about the time when he spawns a duplicate of himself, I am talking about generally throughout the fight, and it did not happen just once or twice. I failed and had to re-do this fight multiple times and saw this occur plenty of times even when I was so close to him that I couldn't possibly miss due to the short range.

                                      • Anonymous

                                        13 Jul 2017 01:10  

                                        Is it normal that i can use both astri and blackhat? I tried the 3rd but didnt make it i think? Or am i being noob and its normal to summon 2 phantoms?

                                        • Anonymous

                                          12 Jul 2017 22:33  

                                          First try, level 61 Knight. Just use shield with 100% Psysical and at least 80% fire + 60% magic absorption. Wait until he is done with his set and strike him 2-3 times, when you are stuck in his set, use shield (main is Dragon Crest Shield +3) and you should be covered until his last strike. Carefouly look when he starts to Clone him self and strike him as much as you can (it will damage also the clone). The last fase is easy, just wait until both are close together and strike them both.

                                          Really not that hard or I was just lucky :D Will see on NG+

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