Pure Sorcery Glass Cannon Mage Guide for PvE / PvP by SeyroonTheMage
This guide is expressly written for players who are curious about playing a ranged magic DPS but don't know where to start. It is primarily focused on the PvE-oriented mage but I will try to include any relevant tips or tidbits I've come across regarding PvP as well. Below you will find everything you need to know to become a powerful spellslinger. So "stay a while, and listen."
Minimum - Soul Level 82
27 Vigor - 1,000 HP Base, 1,300 HP Embered (800 HP Base, 1040 HP Embered w/ Dusk Crown Ring)
30 Attunement - 233 FP, 5 slots
9 Endurance - Base
7 Vitality - Base
7 Strength - Base
12 Dexterity - Base
60 Intelligence - Sharp Cap
7 Faith - Base
12 Luck - Base
Suggested - Soul Level 120
40 Vigor [VIG] - 1213 HP Base, 1576 HP Embered (971 HP Base, 1261 HP Embered w/ Dusk Crown Ring).
Having a larger HP pool can help you survive one or two extra hits before death. Also, if you intend on using the Dusk Crown Ring, this can help make that less punishing.
12 Endurance [END] - On my character I put these three points in early-on so that I could cast two HSA's in a row without running completely out of Stamina, helping to avoid the short penalty before Stamina begins recharging. It seems like a safe bet as I don't see where else to put them, personally, but you may want to redistribute them as you see fit; sorcery PvE starts out rough but ends up becoming quite easy so whether or not these 3 points are here probably makes little difference in the end.
For PvP, however, I would recommend taking some points out of Attunement and/or Vigor and reallocating them here.
10 Vitality [VIT] - 3 SL's provides some much-needed wiggle room when it comes to equipment, allowing you to keep the fast roll (vital, IMO).
However, this is by no means necessary. You can leave this at base and still keep the fast roll. It's just that you will be very restricted as to what or even how many pieces of armor you can wear.
Just a few points is all that is needed to open that up considerably, so if you want to play a bit of fashion souls while still maintaining your usual effectiveness in combat or keep a chime handy for casting miracles, this will make it that much easier to do so.
Ultimately whether you raise this stat or leave it at base just depends on what final pieces of equipment you want to use and if you want to fast roll or not. In any case, give other stats priority while leveling and increase this last, if at all.
8 Strength [ST] - Again I put one point in here early-on so that I could wield a halfway decent shield, the Pontiff Knight Shield, which I did find fairly useful during the early game.
Later on, you will always want to avoid damage entirely rather than block it but if you're like me you may find this shield (and by extension, the one SL point in Strength) worthwhile.
FWIW, also allows you to one-hand both the Shortsword and the Cleric's Candlestick. While these weapons are of little use in PvE, in PvP it can help to have a melee weapon available to quickly finish off wounded opponents and other tactical applications. Of all the straight swords that gain S-scaling with the crystal infusion, the Shortsword is notable for requiring the least stat investment for a Sorcerer to wield effectively. The Cleric's Candlestick is another good choice due to its A-scaling as well as its added utility as both a staff and a sword, although it is inferior in terms of spell buff to any actual staff you will be using (~200 at +10, which isn't terrible, but which does make it hard to recommend). And both of these weapons are still inferior in terms of damage, reach, and speed to Farron Flashsword; but nonetheless, may be worth having at the ready for PvP.
12 Dexterity [DEX] - Base
60 Intelligence [INT] - Sharp Cap
15 Faith [FTH] - Mainly for Tears of Denial. A lot of points to spend for one spell (8 SL's), but it's a useful one, and on the plus side there is also the added benefit of gaining limited healing ability, whether through an actual heal miracle or merely a chime's weapon art, freeing up estus allotment for more ashen estus.
12 Luck [LK] - Base
If you picked Fire Gem as Burial Gift, apply it to your Mail Breaker as soon as possible. Spend any Titanite Shards reinforcing your Sorcerer's Staff up to +3 or +4. Pour most of your souls into Intelligence (30), and then Vigor (no more than 20, for now) or, optionally, Attunement (no more than 18). Once those stats are achieved, basically focus on raising Intelligence up to 40-60 as soon as you can, increasing Vigor and Attunement as needed along the way. You should be able to hit 60 shortly after acquiring the Court Sorcerer's Staff. Soul Arrow and Heavy Soul Arrow are your main spells until you get the Greater versions of them. If weaker foes tend to survive one of your casts with just a little bit of health remaining, don't be afraid to try finishing them off with your Mail Breaker; in fact, you should try to do this whenever you can or else you risk going out of Mana. If you're good at parrying, definitely take advantage of your starting shield's parry ability and the increased critical damage of your Mail Breaker to instantly defeat foes and conserve FP. You can pick up the Heretic's Staff on the way to rescuing Vinheim. With two staves, consider equipping one in each hand. For example: Left1 - Staff A, Left 2 - Pontiff Knight Shield; Right 1 - Staff B, Right 2 - Fire Mail Breaker. This just allows you to switch on-the-fly between different modes of play, such as a more defensive approach (shield + staff) or a more offensive method (staff + weapon). But, this can probably push you over the equip load threshold, so you may lose the ability to fast roll while playing like this. The mage is primarily designed as a DPS build so in order to defeat certain bosses you may have to swallow your pride and summon NPC phantoms to help tank some of the boss's aggro. Always be well aware of your environment. Try to outsmart foes. Play tactically. Other than that, all I can say is happy maging.
Bellowing Dragoncrest Ring - +20% magic damage. Mandatory. From the Irithyll Dungeon bonfire, go right to the end of the long hallway and open the shortcut using the Jailbreaker's Key. The ring is on some rocks below.
Young Dragon Ring - +12% magic damage. Pretty much mandatory. If you absolutely must switch a 3rd ring, switch this one; otherwise, always have it on. Starting equipment for Sorcerer class.
Magic Clutch Ring - +15% magic damage, but -10% physical resistance/absorption. Wear it whenever you can in PvE but if you need to switch out a 2nd ring, it should be this one. It is not advisable to wear this ring for PvP due to it allegedly providing a lower buff and/or higher debuff than its description indicates. Located behind an illusory wall near the Church of Yorshka bonfire.
Lloyd's Sword Ring - +10% all damage at full HP. Can be used to good effect with Hidden Body. Helps 1-shot enemies, which you should be able to do most of the time; so, even without the use of any form of healing other than estus it should be quite reasonable to keep your HP at 100% in order for this ring to proc. Indirectly this can help reduce FP consumption since the extra damage might mean the difference between having to cast a spell once or twice. Can sometimes prove useful for bosses, since you may often find yourself in either one of two states during boss fights: 100% HP, or below 100% HP; of course, this goes without saying and would be true of any class, I suppose; but as a mage your HP/resistances/absorption tend to be so low that you may often find yourself not wanting to risk taking more than a single hit from bosses without healing, and for a good part of the early game a single use of estus will fully replenish your HP from as low as pretty much any percent. Looted from a corpse near the first giant in Cathedral of the Deep.
Red Tearstone Ring - All damage increased by 20% while below 20% HP. Can be used to good effect with Hidden Body and Tears of Denial. Relies on the same strategy as Lloyd's Sword Ring -- of moving undetected from enemy to enemy, 1-shotting each of them along the way -- only this time it's higher risk -- because you'll die much easier at ~20% HP than at 100% HP -- higher reward -- because this ring, which is typically obtained much later in the game, provides a more powerful damage buff. The Tears of Denial miracle synergizes well with this setup (not to mention the name of the ring) because it helps offset some of that high risk by giving you one chance to make a mistake. While it may be used at your own peril for bosses, this setup is primarily geared towards exploration between boss battles. Found on a balcony outside the room with the elevator leading up to the Twin Princes boss fight (or down, to the Titanite Slab) in Lothric Castle.
Dusk Crown Ring - Reduces FP cost of spells by 25% but lowers max HP by 20%. Definitely recommended as more of a late-game item since it will be most effective when using high-FP spells. Not great for boss battles since most bosses being hit by your spells will die long before you can go "Out Of Mana" (OOM), assuming you're going straight from a bonfire to the boss via some sort of shortcut. Good for solo exploration and co-op multiplayer, so you can still equip all your best spells without having to substitute something for a last-resort, FP-saving weaker spell, like GHSA, to avoid embarrassingly going OOM in the middle or towards the end of a session. I realize some may prefer to have a weaker trash/mob slaying spell at their disposal rather than take up a ring slot and suffer the HP penalty, and that's perfectly fine and viable too. To each their own. Found inside a cell beside the open area with six patrolling Jailers in Irithyll Dungeon.
Sage Ring - Reduces casting time. Increase in casting speed is equivalent to the increase in speed which would be gained if you had +30 Dexterity. All around usefulness, but especially useful for bosses or PvP. Found in Crucifixion woods, in the flooded basement of the building before the Crystal Sage boss in Road of Sacrifices.
Lingering Dragoncrest Ring - Increases spell duration by 30%. All around usefulness, but especially useful for exploration. Provides a small quality of life boost and takes away some of the burden on FP consumption when embarking on excursions between bonfires by reducing the frequency with which you will have to re-cast Hidden Body. Drops from a Giant Crab near the Keep Ruins bonfire in Road of Sacrifices.
Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring - Silences movement. Helps avoid detection. Can be used in addition to, or instead of, Hidden Body to varying effect, though not particularly useful as Hidden Body will generally be all that is needed. Can be obtained fairly early-on when you may be lacking for rings, making this one a fine option at that time.
Life Ring - +7% max HP. Probably the best starting gift for mages. Mainly useful in the beginning when better rings are still scarce. Will occasionally save your life.
Covetous Silver Serpent Ring - Obtain 10% more souls. Another good early-game ring that can be obtained for free as soon as you arrive at Firelink Shrine by performing a well-timed jump off the tree root near the roof of the shrine. On a tangentially related note, all enemies when 1-shotted in this game drop 20% more souls. So, combine that effect with this ring and you'll be getting 30% more souls for as much of the early game as you can 1-shot enemies. Later, this ring will get replaced.
Sorcerer's Staff - Starting staff for all mages. At +10 reinforcement with 60 INT it has 226 spell buff.
Court Sorcerer's Staff - Late-game/Endgame staff. At +10 reinforcement with 60 INT it has 238 spell buff, the highest in the game. Recommended end-game staff for all mages. Note that it will not really start to shine until you begin pushing 50-60 INT; until then, you may find even an upgraded Sorcerer's Staff outdoes this staff's spell buff at similar upgrade levels. Looted from a Mimic near the NPC who drops Logan's Scroll in Profaned Capital.
Sage's Crystal Staff - Endgame staff. At +5 reinforcement with 60 INT it has a spell buff of 207, which is not even 2nd best among staves. However, with Steady Chant active it buffs all spell damage by 40%, far superior to all other staves' 12.5% Steady Chant damage buff -- although it also costs just over thrice as much initial FP (30 vs 7) -- giving it slightly (about 50-100 points of damage or so) better spell power than even the Court Sorcerer's Staff while the effect is active. Note the increased FP cost described in this item's description applies only to the initial cost of the weapon art itself, Steady Chant, and not to spells cast whilst Steady Chant remains in effect. Dropped by the same NPC who drops the Crystal Scroll in the Grand Archives.
Izalith Staff - While it looks cool, this staff is best used to cast Dark Sorceries with a 45 INT / 45 FTH set up. Stay away from it otherwise, as its Faith scaling only applies to dark sorceries and there are more powerful staves with better scaling solely for Intelligence.
Scholar's Candlestick - +25% buff to spell damage when equipped with a staff in the other hand. This effect stacks with other sorcery-enhancing effects/equipment, cannot be altered by reinforcement, and will occur whether or not you meet the requirements to wield the weapon effectively. You want to get this as soon as you can, and use it as much as possible instead of a shield. Here's a quick outline of the steps needed to acquire it sooner, rather than later: Return Seigward's armor > Rest at Central Irithyll (requires beating both High Lord Wolnir and Deacons of the Deep) > Send Greirat to scavenge > Kill Old Demon King > Purchase from Greirat at shrine.
Pontiff Knight Shield - Can be purchased fairly early. Requires only 8 Strength. Provides roughly 70% reduction of everything. Can be buffed by Magic Shield / Great Magic Shield. Has Weapon Skill, allowing you to have quick and easy access to a shield should you need it in case of emergency when battling foes with the staff in your right hand, while also still being able to apply Steady Chant without having to switch to two-handing your staff first. Generally, however, you want to dodge attacks, but sometimes, particularly against heavily melee-oriented enemies or in confined spaces, it's just nice to have a shield to fall back on at a moment's notice. Most useful during the early stages of the playthrough, until you begin accumulating more estus shards and/or Vigor, and before you're able to acquire Scholar's Candlestick.
Dark hand - Can be used as a shield when equipped in the left hand, and also has the Lifedrain ability. With 0 equip load and 65% damage reduction across the board, you won't find a better shield for such a low equip load anywhere.
Homing Crystal Soulmass - Provides mediocre piercing damage compared to Crystal Soul Spear, especially considering its high FP cost, but can be cast in advance to unleash impressive burst damage. Useful as a defensive spell since it can be cast quickly in between dodges and will fire automatically while moving whenever foes draw near. A standard strategy in PvP is to cast CHS and then backstep towards your target by facing away from them and tapping the roll button, then begin casting Crystal Soul Spear and spin around to face the target mid-way through the casting animation. This will trigger your Homing Crystal Soulmass to fire and allow Crystal Soul Spear to connect while the target is still staggered from the initial hit.
Crystal Soul Spear - Great, piercing damage. Should become one of your main spells and your main nuke once you get it.
White Dragon Breath - Signature technique of Seathe the Scaleless from Dark Souls. A decent cast-time and almost as much piercing damage as CSS for almost half the FP cost, but has a shorter range and can't hit enemies in the air. It can, however, travel up or down the sides of walls, making it deadly effective against players or enemies on ladders. Hard to dodge in confined spaces.
Great Heavy Soul Arrow - The most efficient sorcery in the game in terms of damage per FP point. Once acquired, should remain your go-to spell until Soul Spear and/or Crystal Soul Spear become available. In general, you will want to use this spell to "pull", casting it 1-3 times while you wait for enemies to charge at you, then falling back to evade them and finishing them off when you get a chance with Great Soul Arrow or possibly even Great Farron Dart, although I personally never found much use for the latter spell. I imagine Great Farron Dart might be useful against other players due to its short cast time but admittedly I haven't tested this.
Farron Flashsword - A less powerful but much quicker and low-FP alternative to Soul Greatsword. A viable choice to include in any spare attunement slots you have all throughout the game. A great solution to melee combat, when avoiding melee combat isn't an option. It has a few different attack animations, such as a running attack, like actual swords do, and like actual swords it can be parried (even without the Spell Parry weapon skill), but only if the parry connects with the base of your staff itself.
Soul Greatsword - Great for AOE damage; can work really well for hitting a bunch of close-together enemies at once. Particularly effective against the Deacons of the Deep boss fight.
Hidden Body - Keeps you safe and worry-free while traveling and exploring and allows you to get in position to cast a spell or two on your target before they even know you're there. Many foes won't survive beyond that, and those that do often won't know what hit them and will stand around in apparent confusion, allowing you to continue launching spells at them until they are dead. As a mage the threat of foes sneaking up on you is very dangerous, as your health/defense is so low a surprise attack could quickly prove fatal. This spell insulates you from that risk by keeping you hidden, and simultaneously turns the tables by almost always ensuring that the element of surprise is in your favor.
Pestilent Mist - Makes Mimics and sleeping/slow moving Enemys almost trivial. This spell does not trigger Mimics but damages them nonetheless, it takes around 2-3 casts and Mimics are safely disposed of.
Keep your distance though, this spell damages the player if you are too close. But friendly Phantoms will receive no damage and can fight in the mist. Sometimes to the annoyance of hostile Players.
Try this spell when encountering many of the above mentioned enemies like in Irithyll Dungeon. You can't stack this spell, only one active Pestilent Mist per Player.
Power Within (Pyromancy) - Requiring 10 INT and 10 FTH and consuming 35 FP and 2 attunement slots. Lasts 15 seconds (20sec with Lingering Dragoncrest Ring), increases all damage by 20% and Stamina regen by +30/sec (base is +45/sec), but drains 30% of max HP over the course of its duration.
Effects of this ability don't scale with Intelligence or Faith and aren't affected by Pyromancy Flame reinforcement level. A situationally useful raw damage boost.
Tears of Denial (Miracle) - Requiring 15 FTH and consuming 75 FP and 2 attunement slots. Basically the same as Second Chance from Demon's Souls.
Optionally, can be attuned at a bonfire, cast, and then swapped at a bonfire for a different spell (or two). The buff will remain in tact so long as you don't fast-travel, die or quit the game (not sure how this is effected by joining multiplayer sessions as, say, a phantom, though). Great for boss fights and general use.
Scrolls, Souls, NPCs, Miscellaneous
Sage's Scroll - Enables access to Great Farron Dart, Farron Hail and Pestilent Mercury when given to Orbeck of Vinheim. Can be found at Keep Ruins bonfire in Farron Keep, go left at the bottom of the path and look for some mushrooms against the wall. It's found on a corpse near there.
Orbeck of Vinheim - Initially located near the Crucifixion Woods or Crystal Sage bonfire in Road of Sacrifices. Will relocate to Firelink Shrine after speaking to him with 10 or more INT. Greater versions of the soul arrow spells are available to purchase from him as a vendor when speaking to him in the shrine, among some other spells. Turn in sorcery scrolls to him to unlock new sorceries. He will disappear from the shrine if the player beats two or more bosses without turning in a single scroll to him first. He will give the Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring and Silent Ally gesture upon buying the following spells: Aural Decoy, Farron Flashsword, Spook, and Pestilent Mercury. Upon buying all of his spells, he will give the Young Dragon Ring, and leave the shrine; then he can be summoned for the Twin Princes boss battle, and afterwords his ashes can be found in a chair in the Grand Archives, near a shortcut with 3-4 Scholars. The Clandestine Coat will also become available at the Shrine Handmaid; at base 7 Vitality, this can prove to be a valuable piece of chest armor due to its relatively high stats and low equip load. His ashes can also be given to Yuria to receive the Morion Blade provided you started her quest prior.
Estus Flask Allotment - 6 normal, 8 ashen.