Let’s Illustrate Dark Souls 3 Part 10: Maybe Everything Isn’t Always Horrible

Last time Fault made a friend. This time it’s back to stabbing people along the road of sacrifice and things are actually going pretty well. Fault started the game as an under-leveled, under-equipped thief with a crippling build gimmick. Fault is now a properly-leveled pseudo-knight wielding a +3 fire rapier that almost makes up for her crippling build gimmick. Which means I’m actually making pretty good progress without constantly dying.

It's a little disappointing that fire weapons don't actually look like they're one fire.

It’s a little disappointing that fire weapons don’t actually look like they’re one fire.

Fun fact: There are actually two exits from the road of sacrifice. On my first playthrough I completely missed one of them and wound up completely skipping an entire early-level dungeon in favor of jumping straight into mid-game content. Didn’t find the other area until I ran out of bosses to fight and did some extreme backtracking. This time around I’ll be avoiding that little slip-up and fighting the bosses in the actual “correct” order.


Let’s Illustrate Dark Souls 3 Part 9: I Have The High Ground

Last time Fault finished up with the Undead Settlement, so we rejoin her today as she enters the cheerily named “Road of Sacrifices”, which I think is supposed to be a path that was used for transporting undead prisoners from one horrible part of the DS world to an even worse part the DS world. At the moment it’s full of crow monsters that would be a real pain to fight if they didn’t have such a bad habit of standing right beneath plunge attack enabling ledges.

Manga Studio has some pretty nice watercolor effects that would be really useful if I actually knew how to paint

Manga Studio has some pretty nice watercolor effects that would be really useful if I actually knew how to paint

The third monster crow Fault kills also happens to drop an item that will completely change the course of this entire playthrough… or at least it would if any of the NPCs back at Firelink knew what to do with it. Instead it’s just going to sit in my inventory mocking me until much much later in the game. And no, I’m not going to tell you what it is. If I have to put of with the frustration of not being able to use it you have to put up with the frustration of not knowing what it is.

Halfway through the area we also run into a traveling knight. Fault and the stranger quickly bond over their shared enthusiasm for helmets. I can only imagine this is the start of a classic Dark Souls style NPC quest that I will undoubtedly fail to complete because step 4 will involve going to a secret area while holding a secret item and then backflipping twice between the hours of 3 and 4 in the morning.

OK, I exaggerate but I don’t think I’ve ever finished a dark souls NPC quest without “cheating” through the wiki. (Although to be honest I don’t think the developers intend you to find all these secrets on your own. DS is a very community based game.)

Let’s Illustrate Dark Souls 3 Part 8: The Bigger They Are…

Last time Fault killed several dozen heavily armored knights but failed to find even a single pair of intact knight leggings. So for now she’s settled on wearing a big heavy helmet and is pushing on ahead through the Undead Settlement.

Not that there’s really much to do in the Undead Settlement aside from saving a few NPCs and collecting some upgrade materials all of which can be done pretty quickly if you know where to look. After that there’s really nothing preventing you from dodge rolling past a few mobs of enraged zombie villagers and taking the elevator down to the next area.

I'm a big advocate of the Hanna-Barbera approach to adventuring

I’m a big advocate of the Hanna-Barbera approach to adventuring

On the other hand I happen to know the Undead Settlement has a bonus boss that’s absolutely terrifying until you find the weakness in their attack pattern at which point it becomes free XP. And boy could I use some free XP.

So off I go to manipulate the AI of a giant tree.

If anybody wants to know the trick to killing the giant cursed tree it’s this: Get to the second stage of the fight and then stay barely out of range of its melee attacks. This will usually result in the tree trying to crush you by standing up really tall and then falling over. The huge windup on the attack makes it easy to dodge and afterwards the enemy will be stunned for several seconds during which you can stab its zombie arm weak spot repeatedly. Can be a bit tedious if you don’t do a lot of damage per hit (That’s my Fault!) but it’s pretty easy to eventually win.

Let’s Illustrate Dark Souls 3 Part 7: The Quest For Pants

Defeating Vordt gives Fault access to the Undead Settlement, a rural farming community full of undead. Not really sure why though. Was it a normal farming town where everyone went hollow all at once or did a bunch of hollow decide to get together and take up gardening as a way of fighting off madness?

Anyways, Fault has more pressing issues than wondering about the history of undead agriculture. Her armor still sucks and she’s tired of scandalously flashing her ankles for the whole world to see. It’s time for a quest for pants.

Thanks to our high luck Fault manages to rob a pair of worker’s pants off the first undead villager she murders. Unfortunately it turns out to be completely worthless having even less stat bonuses than the “Deserter’s Trousers” we started the game with. Same problem with the cleric pants we find on a corpse later on in the area. So for now we’re stuck with our silly ragged shorts because as much as Fault hates running around with cold legs she hates getting stabbed to death even more.

But wait! Killing Vordt means we now have a bonfire right next to a group of three knights. Knights that dropped all sorts of awesome armor when I killed them in an earlier file.

Thus launches Operation Metal Pants which basically boils down to killing those three enemies, looting their corpses and then running back to the bonfire to start the whole cycle again in hopes of eventually getting a good armor set. The plan does have some slight kinks, mostly revolving around the fact that fighting heavily armored enemies while virtually naked yourself is kind of difficult, but eventually the drops start piling up.

And what drops they are! Fault’s high luck is already paying off as I’m inundated by cool drops I never saw on my earlier files: Free embers, powerful swords, cool shields and a ton of crossbows. But, frustratingly enough, no pants. The one piece of armor I always found on my non-luck files becomes the only piece of equipment I fail to find after killing several dozen of the things. Instead they just keep dropping these awesome weapons I don’t (and probably will never) have the stats to use.

Well, whatever. Function is more important than form so I dramatically boost my armor by throwing on a full steel helm and some gauntlets and warp back to the Undead Settlement with Fault still stuck in her breezy shorts.

Finally switched from Gimp to an actual illustration program, Manga Studio. It's nice but obviously not a miracle worker.

Finally switched from Gimp to an actual illustration program, Manga Studio. It’s nice but obviously not a miracle worker.

Let’s Illustrate Dark Souls 3 Part 6: Performance Enhancing Embers

Last time Fault the thief forged herself a +1 fire rapier and then died repeatedly to the game’s first non-tutorial boss: Vordt of the Boreal valley.

The basic problem is that Fault doesn’t have enough armor or HP to survive more than one attack in a row, which is unfortunate because Vordt’s fighting style involves a lot of combos where he uses one attack to knock you over and then hits you a second time while you’re standing up. All the estus in the world won’t do you any good if you go straight from full health to dead without a chance to drink it.

The obvious solution here is to just avoid getting hit in the first place but my fire rapier only does 40 points of damage per poke, dragging the fight out and giving Voldt lots and lots of time to pull off a two-hit combo. I manage to work myself up to something like a 90% successful dodge rate but that’s just not enough when the other 10% is lethal.

I finally burn one of my precious early game embers which gives me just enough bonus health to survive the occasional two-hit combo. Fault can now survive long enough to fire poke Voldt to death.

This victory gives Fault a ton of XP souls which, according to my build rules, I have to use to level up luck. Bummer. But at least my luck is finally high enough I can start boosting my vitality for some extra HP!

This was much funnier in my head.

Let’s Illustrate Dark Souls 3 Part 5: A Burning Question

Last time Fault found enough upgrade materials to give one of her weapons a +1 bonus.

Equally important is the fact that she still has the fire stone she selected as a starting gift. This can be used to imbue a weapon with fire, which removes normal stat bonuses in exchange for a set amount of fire damage. Ex: A normal axe does extra damage based on how strong you are but a fire axe does the same damage no matter what your stats are.

Our luck build means that our stat bonuses are all horrible anyways so we should come out ahead in this deal. In fact, that’s why we picked this starting gift.

Most people can't draw hands, but I really have no excuse for also failing to draw a simple cube.

Most people can’t draw hands, but I really have no excuse for also failing to draw a simple cube.

But Fault only has enough materials to upgrade on of her weapons, meaning we have to decide between our rapier and our bandit knife. The rapier does more damage and has longer range but the bandit knife has a bleed effect that does bonus damage if you hit the same enemy enough times in a row.

In the end Fault goes with the rapier. It turns out that a fire bandit knife does slightly less bleed damage than a normal bandit knife and it seems a shame to mess with the weapon’s gimmick. Of course, neglecting to upgrade it means we won’t use it as often which means we won’t see the bleed effect anyways but, meh, decision making is hard.

With our shiny new +1 Fire Rapier in hand we go to tackle the first non-tutorial boss which, of course, absolutely destroys Fault over a dozen times in a row despite the fact that I’m doing a better job at dodging his attacks and exploiting his openings than ever before. Tune in next time to find out why.

Let’s Illustrate Dark Souls 3 Part 4: Second Hand Swords

Last time Fault made it through the tutorial area and reached Firelink Shrine. That means she can now activate the shrine’s main bonfire and use it to teleport to the first area of the game proper: The High Wall.

Once again, areas that my non-gimmick character effortlessly cleaved through require a ton of hard work as a thief. It’s not just that Fault’s armor is weak, her shield also only blocks 60% of incoming damage. That means that even if I block an attack I still take a beating that my low health can’t handle. As a result I have to rely almost entirely on dodging and the occasional parry. And while DS3 has really boosted the power of the dodge roll compared to the previous two games it’s still nerve racking and dangerous to not have a great shield to fall back on.

Now a normal thief build would solve this problem by dumping three points into strength so they could wield a decent shield. Especially since those strength points would also give them access to more and better weapons.

But Fault is a Luck Knight and is dozens of levels away from being allowed to touch her base stats. So no shields for us!

It’s not all bad knew though. Fault manages to corpse rob herself a rapier that she can actually wield using nothing other than her base stats! She also picks up a handful of titanite and still has her fire stone starting gift burning a hole in her pocket (pun intended) all of which means it’s time to go the blacksmith for some much needed upgrades.


The smaller the drawing the less room there is for making mistakes, right?

Let’s Illustrate Dark Souls 3 Part 3: In Which The Plot Is Expositioned

Last time Fault the thief challenged the tutorial boss and died. Repeatedly.

Fortunately I eventually get good enough at dodging to kill the boss. As you might imagine this will become a sort of running theme for this playthrough.

More importantly, with the tutorial out of the way Fault is able to make her way to Firelink Shrine where a mysterious blindfolded woman offers to help her turn souls into levels because this a FromSoftware adventure game and that’s just what happens. The mysterious woman also mentions something about needing to find some Lords of Cinder so they can kindle some magic fire etc… etc… deja vu.

The thief’s crazy low starting level means I can level up multiple times with nothing but the souls from the tutorial boss. Normally this would be super exciting but my build restrictions mean I have to dump all those points straight into luck despite desperately wanting more health. Oh well, at least the game gives you an itty bitty defense boost just for leveling up.

Remember how back in the original you could level up all on your own at any bonfire? Is there a lore reason that doesn't work anymore?

Remember how back in the original you could level up all on your own at any bonfire? Is there a lore reason that doesn’t work anymore?

Let’s Illustrate Dark Souls 3 Part 2: Off To A Smashing Start

Last time I introduced the rules of doing a Luck Knight run of Dark Souls 3, rules that will basically require me to pour half of my levels directly into my luck score instead of something more obviously useful like strength.

That means it’s time to get things started with character creation. We choose the thief class, grab a fire stone for our starting gift and then it’s time to customize our appearance.

Since my Dark Souls 2 hero was a man I figure I might as well go with a woman this time. I then spend roughly ten seconds on customizing her appearance because, let’s be honest, she’s going to spend her entire career wearing so many layers of Dark Souls style unisex armor that it won’t really matter whether she’s a nice looking brunette or some sort of radioactive green mutant. (For the curious she’s a blond with red eyes. Because why not?)

On the other hand her name deserves a little more thought. I eventually go with “Fault” since I figure I’m going to be spending a lot of time staring at the game over screen and saying to myself “Yup, that was my Fault”.

With that out of the way the game finally begins with Fault waking up in a graveyard filled with handy tutorial messages, weak enemies and a nifty tutorial boss.

At this point I get my first taste of how much “fun” this run is going to be when the tutorial boss effortlessly flattens me half a dozen times in a row.

Gimp is a great open source tool for photo editing. Admittedly not so great for freehand illustration.

Gimp is a great open source tool for photo editing. Admittedly not so great for freehand illustration.

For comparison I killed this same boss on my first try during my first non-gimmick run.

And my weird build restrictions haven’t kicked in yet! I’m not losing because I’m being silly. The thief class just has an innately rocky start due to their low starting level, weak equipment and a focus on range and backstabbing in a world where bosses usually can’t be backstabbed or fought at range.

Let’s Illustrate Dark Souls 3 Part 1: Let’s Do What Now?

I’ve always wished I could draw but I’ve never quite had the discipline to put in the daily practice required to learn the skill. This is a real shame because the ability to produce half-decent character art would be a really valuable skill for a hobbyist game developer like me.

So I’ve hit on a plan. Why don’t I illustrate my most recent Dark Souls 3 playthrough and post it on the Internet? Illustrating a game means I won’t run out of ideas of what to sketch and posting it online should help shame me into actually keeping up a regular schedule.

But why should you care? Because this isn’t just any Dark Souls playthrough, it’s a gimmick run! I’ve created a build I call the “Luck Knight” that focuses on pumping it’s luck super high instead of spending points on stats that actually help with killing monsters.

The rules of the Luck Knight build are as follows:

  • Starting class: Thief
  • Luck must always be the highest stat
  • Vitality, Vigor and Endurance can be raised no higher than half of luck
  • All other stats are capped at one third of luck


That means that if my luck is 30 then my vitality can be no higher than 15 and my strength is stuck at 10.

It also means that if I want to use something like a katana with an 16 dexterity stat requirement I will have to first boost my luck to 48.

So basically I’m going to be stuck with the thief class’s starting stats for a very long time.

At least I got the right number of limbs. It's a start, right?

At least I got the right number of limbs. It’s a start, right?