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PONTIFF SULYVAHN

Pontiff Sulyvahn DKS3
General Info
hp.jpg souls.jpg Location
5106 28,000 Irithyll of the Boreal Valley
Drops Soul of Pontiff Sulyvahn
Defenses
Weak Resistant Immune
Thrust Thrust 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.
  • You can summon Black Hand Gotthard in front of the Boss door. Gotthard gives the "By My Sword" gesture when summoned here.
  • 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. The Shade gives the "Duel Bow Gesture" when summoned here.
  • You can summon Anri of Astora to help you with this boss fight. If you are looking at the boss door, the sign will be to the left and behind you infront of a statue.

 

Location

 

Drops

  • Souls: NG (28000), NG+ (69300), NG++ (92401), NG+3 (??), NG+4 (100,800), NG+6 (??), NG+9 (??)
  • Co-op Souls: NG (??), NG+ (??), NG++ (??), NG+3 (??), NG+6 (??), NG+9 (??)
  • Other: Soul of Pontiff Sulyvahn

 

Combat Information

  • Health: NG (5106), NG+ (7777), NG++ (8554), NG+3 (8943), NG+4 (9332), NG+5 (10110), NG+6 (10499), NG+7 (10887)
  • Attacks with Fire and Magic damage. Armor that gives resistance to these types of damage, 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.
  • 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.
  • Can be parried, 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 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. It 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.

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

  • 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.

 

 

PontiffPontiffPontiffPontiff's Ghost




    • 20 Jan 2017 23:53

      It's also extremely easy to just keep distance and use crossbow during the second phase (after whatever method during the first one, e.g. I parried him). Just shoot until Pontiff and his clone use "Forward fire swipe", then roll and run away and continue. This boss is very bad at closing the distance, as his most effective move for that is pretty rare.

      • 18 Jan 2017 11:41

        To pyromancers out there,during the middle of the fight when he creates his magic clone throw a great chaos fire ball on top of him to get some free damage on him because the fire ball will hurt him and he will stand in the lava for few seconds

        • 09 Jan 2017 22:02

          Killed Black Hand Gothard. Killed me. Both of us, seven times in a row. Neither of me or the summon could get a single hit in. Worst boss I've ever seen in a game. Constantly attacking and never stopping, does he have an infinite stamina bar? Impossible. Not a single moment to attack, heal, counter, anything.

          Oh, and parry? Impossible! The timing is ridiculous. No idea when to parry against this enemy, not that it matters since he attacks stupidly fast.

          Clorathy Ring and Green Blossom combined don't give enough stamina to keep blocking or evading. Could not evade, even with Clorathy Ring and using a Green Blossom upon entry. He killed me before the Green Blossom had worn off.

          Level 61, well armored but not 70% equip load, Raw Astora Sword +6. I thought that having a summon with me would change his focus from me to Gothard at times. Nope. Can hit us both as we walk up the aisle and stun locks us, then promptly kills us. Impossible.

          • 07 Jan 2017 12:44

            Circle strafing while holding a shield up to the side where he swipes you with makes his attack completely miss you and the other times you can tank it, did it on my first try.

            • 01 Jan 2017 08:41

              If anyone is struggling with this boss I recommend doing something that allowed me to kill it after 2 tries.
              1. Grab any protection and gear you like or want to use.
              2. Get a phantom like Anri that can aggro the boss.
              3. Don't even try to parry unless you're really good at it.
              4. Dodge every attack he tries to hit you with
              5. When the phantom gets aggro run up to him and hit him as hard as you can
              6. And last but not least, in the second phase try to kill the phantom as soon as it spawns since this will make the fight much easier + you can get a few hits into the boss as well

              Hope this helps

              • 17 Dec 2016 13:32

                Does anyone else listened to the voices coming behind the barred big metal door inside the area where we fight pontiff. The voices remind me of the same voices as in Aldritch boss fight area. Pontif and Aldritch are related we know this but the sounds coming behind that door are intriguing. I wonder what is behind that? Any speculations?

                • 25 Nov 2016 08:07

                  This had me think back to the fight with Pontiff what are those dark wings that appeare on him half way through the fight is that the abyss, the deep or something else? its never explained is it me over thinking or have people overlooked it?
                  Lord Vaati hear my call

                  • 19 Nov 2016 17:37

                    I think it's the classic "outcast family member on a revenge trip" story. He disguised himself as a loyal sorcerer until he found a power great enough to take what was his all along. His true home. Anor Londo. There is also a reason why he couldn't kill Yorshka. She reminded him of someone very special to him.

                    • 17 Nov 2016 14:27

                      The DLC gives Pontiff a backstory- a very interesting one too. One of the new sorceries's descriptions state 'Pontiff Sulyvahn was born and bred inside the Painting of Ariandel, but found no use for his frigid homeland, as he had not yet experienced loss'.

                      • 09 Nov 2016 06:50

                        How to easy-mode this boss:
                        Get all of the following items.
                        1) Red Tearstone Ring
                        2) Morion Blade
                        3) Dragon Torso Stone
                        4) Yhorme's Machette
                        5) Deep Protection
                        6) Hornet Ring
                        7) Target or some parrying shield
                        8) Sunlight Straight Sword

                        Once you have all of these, begin from the Church of Yorshka bonfire. Get hit down to under 20% health so RTSR procs and you're covered with a red aura. Run past all the enemies (dodge if required) and enter the boss fight. First apply Sunlight Straight Sword weapon art. Second apply Deep Protection. Third two-hand Yhorme's Machette and use the weapon art, quickly swapping back to one hand. Fourth use the Dragon Torso Stone twice so that it does it's roar thing and you get a weird red aura. Fifth run up to the stairs where Sulyvahn then charges you with a slow overhead swing. Sixth, spam L2 and hope he gets parried. If he does, immediately swap your left hand to the Morion Blade and riposte the boss. Congratulations, you've just one-shot Sulyvahn, one of (and to some people just) the hardest bosses in the game.

                        • 08 Nov 2016 13:33

                          Could he be the son of Priscilla? Did he left the painting and fed the last god of Anor Londo to Aldritch because he wanted revenge for what his own family has done to his mother? This page interprets the events as if he is on some religious mission but if he is from the painted world his motives might be much more personal.

                          • 08 Nov 2016 13:23

                            Could he be the son of Priscilla? Did he left the painting and feed the last god of Anor Londo to Aldritch because he wanted revenge for what his own family has done to his mother?

                            • 06 Nov 2016 01:59

                              Being born in the painting and having black wings grow during the fight might indicate he was actually a corvian, albeit in a far less decayed state then most others encountered in DS3.

                              • 04 Nov 2016 09:26

                                With the DLC we have additional information about him:
                                - From the Frost Sorceries we find, we know that he was born in the Painted World of Ariandel.
                                - From Unused Content found in the game files, we know there are some dialogue concerning a mother Tree called Birch Mother which is a unique enemy that is found right in front of a Sulyvahn sorcery, which could possibly confirm that Sulyvahn is also a Tree as speculated by his 2nd phase in game

                                • 01 Nov 2016 11:49

                                  I can't make edits because I'm on mobile but it's worth adding that the snap freeze and frozen weapon sorceries both mention that sulyvahn was born in the painted world

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