How To Kill As Little As Possible

How To Kill As Little As Possible

War, violence, and death are key to both the narrative and gameplay of Elden Ring, FromSoftware’s newest dark fantasy RPG, but that doesn’t mean players can’t do a pacifist challenge run. The game’s fantasy world, called the Lands Between, is scarred and ravaged by generations of war and strife, and while the majority of the gameplay mechanics in Elden Ring are designed to empower the death-dealing capabilities of players and their characters, it is possible to beat Elden Ring without ever harming hostile foes – at least, not directly. Special status effects such as Sleep can be used to stagger or hinder Elden Ring enemies without causing them harm, while certain Spirit Summons, with the right upgrades and supports, can defeat tough Elden Ring bosses on their own. An Elden Ring player character who uses Spirits to do the dirty work of killing may not be “pacifist” in a technical sense, but it’s a fascinating new way for Elden Ring veterans to experience the game and make use of oft-overlooked support abilities.


Most video games, even the kid-friendly ones, can be rather violent; if gamers aren’t shooting down hordes of aliens in first-person shooters such as Halo or commanding armies of aliens in games like Starcraft, they’re jumping on top of cute turtle people in Super Mario Bros-style platforming games or punching and kicking martial artists in games like Street Fighter. Games, be they competitive or cooperative, are meant to challenge players, and life-or-death combat is one of the most challenging activities a person can face in real life. Paradoxically, the ubiquity of violence in video games like Elden Ring makes “Pacifist Runs” of said games all the more challenging; a gamer who attempts a pacifist run not only seeks out alternatives to violence when completing game objectives, but rebels against the logic of the video game world itself (even to the point of exploiting glitches or loopholes in the game’s programming).

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The gameplay tips listed below are designed to help Elden Ring players complete Pacifist Runs with the following criteria: first, the player doesn’t kill any enemies with the weapon or spells their characters wield. Second, any consumable items the players uses to hinder opponents should do the mildest possible amount of damage and never be used to finish enemies off (this second clause lets Elden Ring pacifist runners use items like Sleep Pots that do minuscule amounts of scratch damage). Third, Elden Ring pacifist runners can’t summon other players or NPCs using summon signs. To complete a playthrough of Elden Ring within these restrictions, players must give up a lot of the violent problem-solving tools available in the game, but are also freed to make use of new tools they may not have considered before.

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If an Elden Ring pacifist runner can’t directly kill their opponents, how are they supposed to gain Runes and level up? In the early game, at least, a pacifist run-attempting Elden Ring player can gain experience points by tricking large enemies into killing off other enemies. In the Limgrave starting area, for instance, giant creatures such as Trolls, Crabs, and the Flying Dragon Agheel will hurt and kill other enemies in the area when they unleash attacks with large hit-boxes. By unlocking the spectral steed Torrent and galloping around these foes on horseback, players can lure them into other enemies and pacifistically farm the Runes unleashed by their demise, upholding the letter, if not the spirit, of their non-violent vows.

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Bleed, Madness, and other such status effects through Elden Ring’s story are capable of dealing both players and enemies massive amounts of damage when their meters fill up to the max. The Sleep status effect, on the other hand, causes no damage to enemies; living enemies with a full Sleep meter fall unconscious for a brief period and become vulnerable to backstabs, while certain boss enemies become staggered for a brief period. Veteran Elden Ring players looking to complete a pacifist run where their characters deal no direct damage to enemies can use the craftable Sleep Pot item and the St. Trina’s Torch item’s special skill to create clouds of harmless mist that cause the Sleep status effect to build in foes. Elden Ring pacifist runners who don’t mind nicking their foes with scratch damage can also make use of Sleepbone Arrows or the Sword of St. Trina’s special skill; these two items need to be wielded more carefully by players seeking to do the least amount of direct harm to their foes while still putting Elden Ring’s St. Trina’ Lily items they’ve collected to good use .

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Spirit Summons, unlocked when players acquire Elden Ring’s Spectral Steed Torrent and talk with the Witch Renna at the Church of Elleh, are the bread and butter of pacifist runs in FromSoftware’s newest dark fantasy RPG. By acquiring a Spirit’s Ashes through open-world exploration, players can conjure forth ghostly specters to face off against groups of open-world enemies and singular bosses (as long as a Rebirth Monument rests nearby). Spirits can be summoned against every mandatory boss in Elden Ring, theoretically letting players defeat fearsome Demigods, beasts, and Shardbearers without ever soiling their character’s hands with blood.

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The majority of Spirit summons in Elden Ring are designed to distract enemies and die rather quickly if they’re swarmed by enemies or caught in a boss’s attack combo. Certain Spirits, however, are spectral versions of enemies with the ability to nimbly dodge attacks (i.e. the Lone Wolf Ashes) , the ability to block attacks (i.e. the Kaiden Sellsword Ashes), or the ability to deal huge amounts of damage with status effects such as Bleed, Madness, or Scarlet Rot (i.e. The Mad Pumpkin). These sorts of Spirit Ashes are far more likely to survive to the end of an Elden Ring boss battle, particularly if they’re strengthened with Grave Glovewort or bolstered with support magic.

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An Elden Ring melee or glass-cannon character build is different from those designed pacifist runs. A pacifist build doesn’t need to invest heavily into weapon-wielding attributes such as Strength or Dexterity, freeing players to invest more of their hard-earned runes into resource attributes such as Vigor, Mind, and Endurance. The Mind attribute, which determines the size of a player’s blue Focus meter, is essential for pacifist runners who want to summon strong Spirits with a high Focus point cost, and doubly important for players who also want to cast support spells afterward.

In general, players who want to create pacifist spell-casting characters should upgrade their Faith attribute so they can cast Incantations – a Faith-empowered school of magic in Elden Ring with several non-lethal spell options. Healing Incantations with larger areas of effect can be used to heal both player characters and their Spirit summons, the Rejection Incantation generates a non-damaging shockwave that interrupts foes, fortifying Incantations like Golden Vow strengthen the attributes of allies, and aggro-altering Incantations such as Assassin’s Approach, Darkness, and Shadow Bait let players sneak past troublesome foes or distract bosses at key moments.

Since pacifist runners in Elden Ring generally won’t be upgrading any weapons, they’re free to invest their hard-earned Runes and Smithing Stones into upgrading their shields while also using Talismans and upgraded Endurance to wear the heaviest possible armor in true GiantDad fashion. A fully-upgraded, 100% damage reduction shield with the Barricade Ash of War activated is nigh, impervious to attacks from individual enemies, while a shield with the classic Parry ability can be used to interrupt and stagger attacking bosses, letting Elden Ring pacifist character builds stand toe-to-toe with the most fearsome enemies in order to keep their damage-dealing Spirit summons alive.

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About The Author

Coleman Gailloreto
(409 Articles Published)

A Chicago-based Writer, Author and freelance translator. Looking to prep his readers for the next renaissance or apocalypse, whichever comes first.

Write and publishes web fiction under the pseudonym Aldo Salt on

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