Pontiff Sulyvahn 

Pontiff Sulyvahn
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, icon-darkbonusDark, 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. Their 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+7 (107,100)
  • Co-op Souls: NG (7,000), NG+ (??), NG++ (??), NG+3 (23,101), 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 the second phase, Sulyvahn may summon a 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 a successful parry.
  • Cannot be backstabbed.
  • You can avoid a good number of attacks while doing gestures such as "Sit, Toast, Rest, Collapse and Stretch Out". Tested on NG+7.

 

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 immediately 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 its 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 the 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 also keep your shield up 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 your shield down for stamina regeneration until the moment he attacks again. When the boss misses a single attack, you can make a single hit and immediately 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 gap closing 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+.

General Tips

  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. However, I will explain how to no-shield this fight later on in this playbook, and the strat will be confirmed to work in NG+7
  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. 
  6. You NEED a fast weapon for this fight. The Sellsword Twinblades have a VERY fast, short and responsive rolling attack so this is a good way to get in your rolls. Fast weapons also increase your number of openings, making the fight shorter and making it less likely you'll lose.
  7. Dark or Chaos is definitely good against Pontiff. Chaos does about 40 more or less damage to him, so they're pretty interchangeable
  8. You want multiple weapons for this fight. This way, you don't have to lose DPS because your weapon lost durability.
  9. Unless Pontiff is throwing a heavy or big attack with a nice big window for damage, you want to focus on rolling, and I will explain why: He will almost ALWAYS try to roll catch by waiting for your roll. However, his attacks are on a timer, so he must swing after some time.
  10. You do NOT want to get hit by Pontiff. This is because his strategy is to use his poise and long, fast, roll-catching combos to stun lock you to death. That means that if you get hit once, you will almost assuredly also get hit three or four times, and then it's a TKO-you lose!
  11. When Pontiff has his hologram out, you don't want to try to punish his flurries. This is almost a guarantee that you will get roll-catched to death.
  12. Try not to attack unless he is open to attack, at these times:
    • When he is in his default stance, with one sword held low across his torso, and the other held high across his torso. He HAS to wind up or go into stance in this window, so that is a good amount of time to get in hits. This is also pretty much the only window to use items, and I recommend getting a FAR distance to do that.
    • He does his lunging spin combo. This leaves a window.
    • His jumping attack that he most often starts the fight with. However, like ALL of his windows, he always tries to sneak in an attack and counter.
    • His overhead slam with his Profaned Greatsword. Window number four, here.
    • Overhead jumping attack with his Greatsword of Judgement
    • He is getting ready to do an AOE, or he has just done an AOE
    • Fiery jumping attack AOE
    • Horizontal purple magic projectile beam attack.
  13. Here is a list of red flags that can get you hit and thus very likely killed in this fight:
    • You are too close when using items. Remember, when Pontiff hits you once, he is VERY likely to hit you some more times and kill you.
    • Your weapon has degraded past 99%. Use repair powder, or swap to another weapon.
    • You have come between Pontiff and his hologram. 
    • You are trying to wait for only one window. Good luck, because Pontiff loves to juggle his attack routines to mess with you, and draw out the fight.
    • You are trying to tank hits. Yeah good luck because he's basically a one-shot speed tank build.
    • You are looking at parts of Pontiff, instead of him along with the whole scene.

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, inflicting 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, a sorcery protected by one of Sulyvahn's Outrider Knights.  This is further supported by his design, which has the red vestment of the Grand Archive Scholars.
    • The Pontiff is wearing a chain of brass medallions identical to that found on the Xanthous Overcoat, indicating that he was at one point a researcher of lost sorceries.
  • 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.
    • Pilgrims similarly have roots growing from under the shells on their backs.
    • When hollow, root like growths appear on the player's body.
    • 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.
  • Given the similarity of the clone the Pontiff summons in his second phase to the phantoms wandering around Irythyll, and their shared similarity to player phantoms, it is possible that the second Pontiff is a Pontiff Sulyvahn from another time, summoned in much the same way that players summon each other as phantoms from across time and space.
  • Pontiff's Left Eye is a ring that you can transpose from 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.
    • Based on the description of the Archdeacon Set, as "a sign of the Way of White's highest rank," and the organization's central location in Anor Londo, it is likely that the religion Sulyvahn heads was created by co-opting the beliefs of  The Way of White by feeding one of the gods they worshipped to Aldrich, thereby creating a new religion around the god's devourer.  
    • Despite the Pontiff's apparent devotion to Aldrich, Archdeacon McDonnel, head of the Aldrich Faithful Covenant, is found dead in the Water Reserve, with two Sulyvahn's Beasts guarding his body and preventing any from reaching it.
  • 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, symbolic of the Dancer's vows, are enchanted with dark magic in the right hand, and fire in the left, mirroring the Pontiff.
  • From the description of the spells Snap Freeze and Frozen Weapon, Sulyvahn was the creator of these two spells, and was born and raised in The Painted World of Ariandal, "yet had little use for his frigid homeland, since he had not yet experienced loss."  If so, he may be the source of the frozen weaponry that supplies both his Outriders and the Pontiff Knights.
  • Although Pontiff Sulyvahn's motivations are unknown beyond a yearning for the Profaned Flame, he appears to be the only boss in the game to actively work to hinder the process of linking the fire, having deployed Outriders as watchdogs at passages key to Unkindled, having ended The Blades of The Darkmoon by feeding Gwyndolin to Aldrich and imprisoning his sister, and if the First of the Scholars, having convinced Prince Lotheric to abandon his duty as a Lord of Cinder.   Aldrich and Pontiff Sulyvahn are additionally strongly associated with Rosaria's Fingers, with the covenant being headquartered in a temple devoted to Aldrich, and therefore enabling the proliferation of  cracked and whole Red Eye Orbs.
  • "Pontiff Sulyvahn" was likely influenced by the DS2 character "Darklurker". Cut content suggests he was closely connected to "the eclipse" as well as to the Primordial Serpent Kaathe. The Pontiff clung to Prince Lothric in the fashion of another fiendish shadow that clung to Mergo.

 

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 anyone who is a Bishop or above, including the Pope.

 

Gallery

 Pontiff 

Pontiff

 

Pontiff

Pontiff's Ghost 






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    • Anonymous

      16 Jun 2021 11:25  

      Does anyone know why a boss would deal double damage to a phantom? Whenever I get summoned to a specific players world (I didn't actually know the guy he just summoned me multiple times) I noticed that pontiff always did way more damage to me then he usually does when I am summoned for others on the fight. The host always started off with a parry and riposte and then tried to hit him with storyteller's staff's poison and that was the only unique aspects I remember about those fights. I looked around and tried to see if calamity ring affected phantoms or something along those lines but saw nothing.

      • 03 Jun 2021 09:03  

        Huh. Never realized he's an undead birch-person hybrid, making him some sort of tree-wizard. Gah, why would one of the hollow legionaries f*ck a tree? Or more importantly, why is this one of Miyazaki's weird fetishes? And who keeps letting him put them in game?!

        • Anonymous

          23 May 2021 23:31  

          Pontiff is the boss that manages to kill me at least once every single run. I always underestimate the damage he can do

          • Anonymous

            04 May 2021 04:52  

            Chart on the top right lists that he is weak to Dark damage, yet the text in the body of the page doesn't list that as part of his weaknesses.

            • Anonymous

              26 Apr 2021 00:48  

              If you suck at parrying like me, I think best method is to run back and forth lengthwise in the chapel and bait his lunge attack. Dodge then swipe and dodge the hell out of there. rinse repeat. and youll end up killing the clone too

              • Anonymous

                21 Apr 2021 03:32  

                Guys here’s another reason to hate this guy he fed gwyndolin to Aldrich pontiff you ****ing son of a *****

                • Anonymous

                  16 Apr 2021 19:02  

                  Can't believe it takes this long to reach the first real boss.

                  I've finally gotten that rush that I got from the Pursuer and the Old Dragon Slayer.
                  Seriously, DS2 had such scarier and harder bosses that make you try, try again.

                  • Anonymous

                    09 Apr 2021 11:29  

                    I hate this f***** so much been playing this game for 3 years completed several playthrough this is the only boss I never git gud at. I don't like summons, i don't like meta/cheese strats I want to learn and git gud. That I did for every single boss except this abomination. Pontiff spits on my 0 death runs. It's hard to admit that you are bad at something because there is always hope to git better git gud after 5 or for worse 500 tries but with this mf right here? there is no hope, atleast for me.

                    • Anonymous

                      06 Apr 2021 19:58  

                      Haven't seen it in the page, if you have a good dps weapon you can kill his clone even before he is able to do anything by starting attacking when you see Ponty engaging in the animation. Moreover, by hitting both the clone and him, you get also a few free hits. I did it with sharp +6 sellsword twinblades and around 30 dex

                      • Anonymous

                        05 Apr 2021 09:42  

                        Listen buddy, I'm an unkindled, that means i solve problems. Not problems like "what is lore", because that would fall within the perfew of your conundrums of philosophy. I solve practical problems. For example, how do you stop some mean motherhubber from tearing me a structually superfluous new behind? The answer - use a parry. And if that dont work, use more parry. Like this +4 buckler bought by me, reinforced by me, and you best hope... Not parrying you.

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