Dark Souls 3 Dark Magic Build
Building an INT/FAI Hybrid

Before you make your dark magic character, you should know that dark magic is extremely underpowered in it's current state in Dark Souls 3. A true sorcerer will do much more damage using sorceries and clerics have access to the same miracle buffs (and in most cases, the non-dark version is just better). There's very little reason to actually focus on dark magic right now.

Stats

I'd recommend starting as a pyromancer for this build but you can start out as knight if you want to use a heavier weapon or wear heavier armor. One of the benefits to starting out as a pyromancer is that this build is virtually equivalent to a traditional pyromancer build but exchanges power for versatilty.

Starting Class: Pyromancer (or Knight if SL 150)

StatSL 6SL 100SL 125SL 150
VIG 11 27 27 39
ATT 12 30 30 30
END 10 26 26 30
VIT 8 8 12 19
STR 12 16* 16* 16*
DEX 9 15* 18* 18*
INT 14 30 40 40
FAI 14 30 40 40
LCK 7 7 7 7

Note: Equipping a Prisoner's Chain in one of your ring slots allows to reduce VIG, END, and VIT by 5 points each, freeing up a total of 15 points that you can spend elsewhere.

Your STR/DEX stats are somewhat flexible. Find a weapon (or a few weapons) that you like and adjust your stats according. 16/18 is a nice stopping point for most weapons, but you can save a few points by sticking to a Dark Sword (or even an Estoc).

Equipment

Weapons

Use Dark Sword (16/15) or Astora Greatsword (16/18). Winged Spear is also D/C/A/A (12/15, 6). A Crystal-infused Saint Bident scales E/E/C/C and is reasonably strong, especially for the 12 STR and 12 DEX requirement.

Since your stats are heavy into FAI and INT, dark and chaos infused weapons are good. I generally like to mix damage types and since this build focuses on dark magic, I'd use a chaos-infused weapon in order to deal with dark-resistant enemies.

It's a good idea to have a raw infused weapon that you can buff for boss fights, but general damage can come from your chaos or dark infused weapons.

Scholar's Candlestick (7/0/0/16)

If you plan on casting sorceries, having a Scholar's Candlestick on hand will provide a 25% boost to sorcery damage.

Catalysts, Talismans, and Flames

The following equipment benefits most from dark magic builds:

Izalith Staff

If you plan on using sorceries, the Izalith Staff is the strongest staff for this build. 

Sunless Talisman/Caitha's Chime

For casting miracles, it's a toss up between the Sunless Talisman and Caitha's Chime. The Sunless Talisman provides additional poise when casting miracles and it better situated for PvP, while Caitha's Chime is better for PvE because it's slow heal over time.

Both scale roughly the same for casting miracles or providing buffs.

Pyromancy Flame

As expected, the Pyromancy Flame is the best option for dark pyromancies. This has a second benefit of allowing pyromancers to naturally transition to dark magic as enemies become resistant to fire as you progress through the game. 

Armor

Due to the very low vitality stat, armor is fairly limited for this dark magic build. It's not necessarily a problem though, since armor (especially in its current state) is pretty irrelevant. Grab whatever you think looks good and make sure your equipment load is under 70% and you're good to go.

That being said, I have a strong preference for either the Dancer's Set or Armor of Thorns. The Dancer's set provides very good damage mitigation for its weight while Armor of Thorns is light and is the only armor set in the game that provides a unique effect.

Note: The Crown of Dusk does not provide any benefits to dark sorceries.

Rings

Rings are fairly open for dark magic users and will vary based on how you play. Melee orientated rings will favor miracle users, while casting damage rings will be a good choice for caster-focused builds.

Required Rings

Ring of Favor (Increases HP by 3%/4%/5%, stamina by 10%/11%/12%, and equipment load by 5%/6%/7%)

This ring does everything. A miniature Life Ring combined with a mini Havel's Ring. It's also the only ring in the game that increases stamina.

Sage Ring (Increases casting speed by 30/35/40 DEX) or Cloranthy Ring (Raises stamina regeneration by 7/8/9 per second)

Your second ring slot is between the Sage Ring and Cloranthy Ring. If your primary strategy is to buff up and attack like most faith hyrbrid builds, use the Cloranthy Ring; if you want to stand back and sling spells at your opponents, use the Sage Ring. It's very rare to need both of these rings on a build.

Sorcery Rings

Bellowing Dragoncrest Ring (Increases sorcery damage by 20%)

Increases your sorcery damage by 20% with no drawback. Dark magic sorceries don't hit as hard as normal sorceries, so there's very little reason to not use this ring.

Young Dragon Ring (Increases sorcery damage by 12%)

Bellowing Dragoncrest Ring stacks with this ring, so it's an extra 12% damage with no drawback.

Miracle Rings

Most of the miracle rings do not provide benefits to dark magic buffs, so you'll want to focus on combat rings. Look at the Other Rings section for your best options.

Even though the guide does not mention much on it, you could use Morne's Ring and Ring of the Sun's First Born with Sage Ring to cast Dorhy's Gnawing. It's a viable PvE option, but good luck trying to use the spell in PvP (it hits somewhat hard but travels too slow).

Pyromancy Rings

Witch's Ring (Increases pyromancy damage by 20%)

Same idea as the sorcery rings, get more damage from your pyromancies with this ring.

Great Swamp Ring (Increases pyromancy damage by 12%)

Like the Young Dragon Ring/Bellowing Dragoncreast Ring, the Great Swamp Ring stacks with Witch's Ring.

Other Rings

If you aren't planning on using the sorcery or pyromancy rings listed above, I'd recommend the Leo Ring and Carthus Milk Ring. In very rare PvE circumstances, the Dark Clutch Ring is a possible replacement for the Carthus Milk Ring.

Leo Ring (Strengthen thrust weapon counter attacks by 15%)

The Leo Ring is great for melee minded dark magic users using the Dark Sword or other weapons that have the thrust weapon-type.

Carthus Milk Ring (Increases DEX by 3 and obscures rolling)

A PvP ring that's mainly used for hiding the direction that you roll. It increases your DEX by 3, so it gives you a few extra weapon choices if you decide to use it.

Dark Clutch Ring (Increases dark damage by 15%, increases physical damage taken by 10%)

This ring has a high cost for 15% additional damage, but might be worth it depending on your strategy; it seems a little better for melee orientated builds where you are rolling to prevent damage (if you're a caster and you get caught, this ring will punish you too much).

Spells

Since dark magic scales off of both INT and FAI, this build has access to just about every spell in the game.

You'll want to mix and match spells according to your playstyle, but the following information is a short list of the spells you should be using. For example, a sorcery heavy dark magic build will play more like a true caster, while a miracle heavy dark magic build tends to buff up and fight using a raw-infused weapon.

Sorceries

Dark sorceries are rather limited in Dark Souls 3.

Deep Soul/Great Deep Soul (1 slot)

The dark magic version of Soul Arrow, this is your primary damage dealing spell. Rather quick casting time, and fast tracking, the spell hits faster than Soul Arrow but doesn't hit as hard.

Great Deep Soul will give you a significant damage boost, but requires rank 1 of the Aldrich Faithful covenant.

Affinity (1 slot)

The dark magic version of Homing Soul Mass, you'll use Affinity to set up your other damage spells (or attacks) by turning your back to the enemy before you cast this spell, then turn around/lock on when you're ready to attack. This will activate the orbs and you can time your spells/attacks to hit your opponent after they roll to avoid the initial spell.

This takes a lot of practice, but is a necessary strategy for casters in PvP.

Dark Edge (1 slot)

The dark magic equivalent to Farron Flashsword. It can attack through walls, so this can be a good strategy when the situation arises.

Hidden Body/Chameleon (1 slot)

Hidden Body and Chameleon aren't truely dark magic spells, but they're still an option for the build. Similar to other things in this guide, Hidden Body is better for PvE and Chameleon for PvP. Hidden Body prevents (or resets) enemy aggro and allows sorcerers to skip the majority of trash mobs while progressing through the game.

Chameleon allows you to blend into the environment to set up better opening attacks against an invader (or to just troll your opponent, both are very good uses of the spell)

Spook (1 slot)

Sppok prevents fall damage and noise, it's another good PvE spell and situationally good in PvP if you can bait people into taking fall damage.

Miracles

A good set up for miracles would be Dark Blade and Great Magic Barrier with Deep Protection and Bountiful Light. Unfortunately, it's not much better than most FAI/STR or FAI/DEX hybrids and you're limited to raw-infused weapons instead of STR or DEX scaling weapons.

Deep Protection (1 slot)

Deep Protection increases your damage by 5%, reduces damage taken by 5%, increases resistances by 10, and increases stamina regeneration by 3.

Note: Sacred Oath offers more damage, better damage absorbption and can be cast on party members, but does not increase stamina regeneration or resistances and takes up two spell slots.

Dark Blade (1 slot)

Dark Blade adds dark damage to your raw-infused weapons. It's useful for boss fights and PvP, but you'll want to use a chaos or dark infused weapon for general gameplay.

Note: Blessed Weapon, Lightning Blade, and Darkmoon Blade are also usable in this slot, Dark Blade just happens to be best-in-slot due to your stat allocation.

Great Magic Barrier (2 slots)

Even though Great Magic Barrier is not a dark miracle, it still works within this build and does not remove Deep Protection if this spell is cast after using Deep Protection.

Tears of Denial (2 slots)

Tears of Denial is a meta spell right now, it helps avoid one-hit knockouts (OHKO) from backstab fishers using the Hornet Ring. Outside of that, it provides circumstancial benefits for preventing death from fall damage.

Note: Tears of Denial does not work with Great Magic Barrier or Deep Protection.

Caressing Tears (1 slot)

More of a PvE spell, Caressing Tears removes status effects. Great for removing poison or toxin in areas where that is common.

Bountiful Light (1 slot)

A heal over time is nice for pre-emptively healing a hit or two in combat (especially PvP).

Doryth's Gnawing (1 slot)

The only reasonable damage dealing miracle is Doryth's Gnawing; Lifehunt Scythe is way too slow. The other problem with this spell is that you need to equip Dark Clutch Ring and Ring of the Sun's First Born.

Pyromancies

For this particular, I'm going to ignore the fire-based damage spells (if you're interested in that, take a look at a pyromancer build instead) and will focus on the dark magic spells and buffs. Run all of the following pyromancies, but choose between Power Within and Bouler Heave for your fifth spell.

Similar to the sorcery style, you'll want to equip rings to improve damage (Witch's Ring, Dark Clutch Ring, and Great Swamp Ring).

Black Fire Orb (1 slot)

The primary damage spell as a dark pyromancer, it's a better version of Fire Orb that deals dark damage instead of fire damage.

Black Flame (1 slot)

A better version of Great Combustion that deals dark damage instead of fire damage.

Carthus Flame Arc (1 slot)

Okay, I lied. I added one fire damage spell. The fire weapon buff is worth it.

Warmth (1 slot)

Same logic as Bountiful Light. It's a heal over time, so it's used for healing while in combat.

Power Within (1 slot)

A massive damage buff (+20% AR) at the cost of a small damage over time (about 30% of your health over 15 seconds, two ticks per second).

Boulder Heave (1 slot)

Only really mentionable for the knockdown in PvP. The damage and range is really bad, but you're almost guarenteed to knock the enemy down. From there, you can set up better damage.

Gameplay

Since there's at least three different routes that you can take with this build, gameplay varies quite a bit.

Sorcerers want to turn their back to their enemy, cast Affliction, start casting Deep Soul and turn around (and lock on to the enmy) during the casting animation. If this is done correctly, the orbs from Affliction should hit around the same time that Deep Soul hits and should do a fair amount of damage to the enemy.

Clerics will want to buff up with Dark Blade and Deep Protection and fight the same way most faith hybrids would fight (this means you should be using a raw-infused weapon instead of chaos or dark).

Pyromancers will want to force their opponent into rolling and then throw a Black Fire Orb where they think their enemy will end up (this will take a lot of practice, you can't lock on to your enemy).

A gameplay video might be up in the future. If you have some footage using this build, contact us.

Closing Thoughts

As mentioned at the beginning of the guide, this build is a little weak but I would expect it to see some improvements as expansions come out. If you make this build, you're banking on new dark magic spells to show up in the next expansion or to see huge buffs to the dark magic spells (especially sorceries) moving forward.

Corey Docken

Corey Docken

Corey has been playing video games all of his life. He learned how to use grid references playing The Legend of Zelda on NES and spent way too much running in front of a TV as a child. He loves the Final Fantasy, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Dark Souls, and Civilization series and is stil trying to get over the loss of Fable.

Published on Tuesday, May 10th, 2016 at 4:23 PM.
Last updated on Thursday, May 12th, 2016 at 2:53 PM.