Elden Ring Astrologer and Prisoner beginner's guide: Master sorcery and magic combat

Elden Ring Sorcery
Elden Ring Sorcery (Image credit: Windows Central)

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

"You're a wizard, Tarnished," is what Hagrid might say if he was in Elden Ring. Alas, he is not (although several of his relatives might be). In any case, I am here to proclaim to you: You're a wizard, Tarnished.

If you're undertaking the path of magic and sorcery in Elden Ring, you're heading down one of the more complicated and difficult combat styles in the game. Playing a sorcerer isn't necessarily any tougher than some of the other classes, but every spell you get is unique in its applications, animation speed, and general potential. Additionally, finding those spells is a complex process, at least for right now, since there isn't a ton of information out there on exactly where they are and what they do.

Much like magical study in other media, becoming a powerful Astrologer wizard or Prisoner battle-mage is a complex and rewarding task that requires a mountain of research. Here are some tips to get you started on your journey to magic and mayhem in what is undoubtedly one of the best Xbox games of all time.

This article will by no means cover everything and will avoid general spoilers save for the weapons list at the bottom. It's not fully extensive, designed to avoid spoilers.

Elden Ring: Guide to Astrologer, Prisoner, and sorcery magic

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I first rolled Elden Ring as an Astrologer sorcerer, and initially, I regretted it. I came in with a Dark Souls Remastered mentality to sorcery, but it's a fair bit different in Elden Ring.

Whether you play as a Prisoner, an Astrologer, or a customized class that uses sorcery magic, you'll be looking a lot at Intellect as one of your primary stats. However, don't make the same mistake I did. Dumping all of your points into intellect to try and get extra damage is not a good strategy early on. Most of your damage improvements will come from weapon upgrades and new spells. You should take a look at our guide to upgrading weapons and Smithing Stones in Elden Ring because this is where a lot of your passive damage upgrading comes from, even before your Intellect stat. For stat allocation, the best rule I've found is to evenly distribute between HP (Vigor) and FP (Mind), while focusing points into Intellect when you need to meet a specific requirement for a spell or weapon.

To begin with, you only get two slots for sorceries, but you can unlock more using memory stones found throughout the Lands Between. You can allocate your learned spells at any Site of Grace.

Sorceries consume focus points (FP), and managing your supply is crucial to progressing through dungeon areas. Depending on your playstyle, you can allocate more flask charges to your Cerulean Flask, which recharges FP, or more to your Crimson Flask, which charges HP. You can save FP supplies by engaging in melee, which naturally doesn't cost any FP for the most part. We'll go over that in the next section.

If you find your spells at the start feel weak, that's by design. As you explore the world, you will find new and more powerful spells to aid you in battle. If you find that some spells are too slow, there's more than likely a faster version somewhere. If you find they don't do enough damage, there's likely a higher-tier version that does more damage, etcetera.

There are some things you can do early game to give you a step up on your journey. First off, whether or not you're attempting to play a pure mage, you're going to need a good staff to ensure your damage output meets the challenges ahead. The best starting staff you can get is the Meteorite Staff, which is located in a higher-level area next to Limgrave. This is an S-ranking staff and will last you easily into the next area, without having to spend any smithing stones for upgrades (because you can't, since it cannot be upgraded). The same area also contains Rock Sling, which is an incredibly powerful attack.

You'll also want to immediately head to the Waypoint Ruins Cellar, to the west of Agheel Lake in Limgrave's starting area. Inside a basement cellar in the ruins there (near an angry plant monster) is a Pumpkin Head troll boss. Strafe around near his head and dodge his attacks, nuking him with Glintstone Pebble or an equipped sword in the back or in his head. His attacks hurt, but they are slow.

When you unlock the sorceress in the Waypoint Ruins cellar, you can buy a few new abilities. You can also find books throughout the game's world and give them to her to access even more spells and abilities.

Elden Ring: General tips for Magical combat

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Now that you're all set with some new spells, you'll be a Prisoner or Astrologer in the wild of the Lands Between. However, combat is an entirely different beast when it comes to being a magic-user.

The first rule you need to know is that not every spell will fit your fight. Spells and their designs are generally deliberate and aren't just designed to be pretty. If a spell seems weak or weird, it might be because it's designed for a specific situation. For example, Crystal Release is a higher-level spell that sprays a huge amount of crystals everywhere around you, but it's very slow to cast, leaves you entirely open to attack, and uses up all your FP. I'm not sure there will be many situations where this spell is actually useful in combat with anything serious. That being said, there may be bosses with swarms of small adds where this becomes more important.

Indeed, you can only allocate so many spells at a time, depending on how many memory slots you have. You can quickly return to the top of your list by holding down up on the d-pad. Holding down on the d-pad will do the same for your flasks.

To begin with, your main spells will be Glintstone Pebble and Glintstone Arc. The arc hits all enemies in a wide area, and is useful for removing groups of weak mobs quickly. The arc also can be useful for hitting fast-moving enemies, given that Glintstone Pebble's turning circle is very shallow and easily dodged by enemies.

Many spells can be charged up by holding down the attack button. Depending on the spell, it'll result in a more potent, more powerful variant, but it'll also cost more FP and Stamina.

I personally found the early hours of Elden Ring particularly tough as a sorcerer, when compared to my second melee-focused playthrough. I haven't found many fast sorcery abilities that can trigger enemy "staggers," besides the slow-casting Rock Sling, which you should most definitely grab as soon as possible. This means you need to keep on your toes constantly, weaving spells and attacks in between enemy recovery frame periods. You can always resort to two-handing a sword by holding down Y and RB on an Xbox controller. In some situations, using heavy attacks and jumping heavy attacks can help you stagger a boss, to help you set up spells with a longer-casting time, if you cannot land Rock Sling due to its casting speed.

Indeed, spells with long casting times and can leave you open to get smashed. However, summonable Spirit Ash mobs will help a ton with some bosses, taking hits while you load up your most powerful spells. Some Spirit Ashes behave more like tanks with a shield, taking the enemy's attention for you. This can help in casting combat.

There are a few other things you can do though to make your life easier. Try to learn how many casts you can perform before you run out of stamina or mana. Ensuring you have enough stamina left to dodge is absolutely crucial.

You can play with a shield to help you perform guard breaks and engage in melee combat. Read our full Elden Ring melee combat guide for help with this. Ideally, you'll want a shield with 100% damage mitigation if you want to have some capabilities in melee.

Skillful players can forego shields and armor altogether, taking advantage of Elden Ring's dodge rolls and jumps to avoid almost all enemy attacks. Every dodge comes with invincibility animation frames for a few split seconds, starting at the beginning of your dodge. If you have a light load (i.e. the robes you start with as an Astrologer), you get better and faster rolls, with more invincibility frames. If you find that your timing isn't always the best (like me) it can be useful to go for a medium roll, add some armor to your build, and maybe allocate some points to HP to help you survive a bit longer. If you expect to get hit, it's worth investing a bit in your defense. At least while I'm still learning the game, I've made something of a medium-armored wizard with a shield so I can block and tank a few hits if I fail to dodge.

Elden Ring: List of sorcery spells and usage tips

Here's a list of some of the early sorceries in Elden Ring that we've found thus far. These are the ones you can grab near the start of the game. There are, of course, much more powerful high-level spells that make these ones look quite pathetic by comparison. For those, head over to our best sorcery spells list for Elden Ring, but beware of spoilers.

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Spell NameLocationTips
Glintstone PebbleSellen (Waypoint Ruins)Can be charge-casted. Once the initial rune is created, you can keep tapping the attack to recast more pebbles without the initial wind-up.
Swift Glintstone ShardAcademy Scroll (Graveyard in south Liurnia, not far in after Godrick's castle. Give it to Sellen to buy the spell.)Faster version of the Glintstone Pebble, can arguably replace it in more scenarios. Travels more quickly, and can be cast more rapidly. Can even be cast while jumping.
Rock SlingCaelid, Street of Sages Ruins western side, inside a cellar of a church-like ruin, guarded by mushroom mages.This spell is found in a higher level area, but you can ride there pretty easily on Torrent. This spell is also insanely powerful, dealing stance-breaking physical damage, with a tremendous range. The projectiles are slow and can easily miss fast moving targets, but against larger, lumbering enemies, it's incredible.
Great Glintstone ShardAcademy Scroll (Graveyard in south Liurnia, not far in after Godrick's castle. Give it to Sellen to buy the spell.)Slower casting, more powerful version of the Glintstone Pebble.
Glintstone StarsSellen (Waypoint Ruins)Fires three magical projectiles. Unfortunately, the damage dealt doesn't make it worth using over the Pebble.
Glintstone ArcSellen (Waypoint Ruins)Shoots a horizontal arc of magical power. Great for cutting through large amounts of weaker mobs. Its wide arc can also be useful for hitting fast-moving targets.
Crystal BarrageSellen (Waypoint Ruins)This spell shoots a spray of small crystals, but its high FP cost and how you need to basically stand still makes it hard to justify using in most cases. When free-aimed, it does seem to have some mild stagger potential, but it's nowhere near as potent as simply doing a heavy melee attack. Still unsure on the benefits of this spell.
Crystal BurstDemi-Human Queen (Forest Ruins, Weeping Peninsula north west side)This spell fires a shotgun blast at close range. It's decent for hitting larger targets like the Agheel Lake dragon, but is useless against smaller, quicker foes. If you can land all of the crystals into an enemy's head, it can cause a stance break effect.
Carian SlicerRoyal House Scroll (Found on top of a structure directly east of the Agheel Lake south Site of Grace.)This is a truly great spell that lets you slice and dice at enemies with a light saber-like magical blade. It's FP-efficient and can interrupt even more heavily armored enemies. It's great to spam on invaders, both NPC and player alike.
Glintblade PhalanxRoyal House Scroll (Found on top of a structure directly east of the Agheel Lake south Site of Grace.)A defensive arch of magical swords that automatically nuke incoming targets. This is a great spell to start a fight with, since you can pre-cast it before you get going. Also if there's a boss that requires a lot of movement, this is useful to cast while still moving around.
Ambush ShardWeeping Peninsula (In an underground jail of the Witchbane Ruins, far to the south west of the area.)This spell is useful for hitting enemies using shields, although its long cast time and prohibitive range can make it awkward to use.
Scholar's ShieldSellen (Waypoint Ruins)If you have a shield equipped, casting this spell gives it additional damage negation for a time. It can be useful if you're forced into melee.

Elden Ring: Best magical weapons and equipment

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There are dozens upon dozens of great items in Elden Ring, and if you're playing a sorcerer-type character, you'll want weapons that damage scale based on Intellect. Naturally, almost all staffs scale on Intellect, but some melee weapons do as well if you need to get into melee range.

I tend to use medium knight armor to maintain a medium load and thus have medium dodge rolls. It may be more effective to play with a light load so you can maintain a high degree of mobility. It ultimately depends on your playstyle and your reaction speeds (I'm old, so mine are slow, RIP.) You should unreservedly consider grabbing the Meteorite Staff as soon as possible.

Again, this isn't an exhaustive list of the best sorcery weapons and equipment in the game, as to avoid spoilers. If you want to know what are the best high-level sorcery staffs, head to our best Elden Ring staffs list.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Carian Knight's Sword1H SwordA convoy of Cookoo Knights along the western road around Lake LiurniaThis sword comes with a pretty badass unique Ash of War that turns it into a magical greatsword with three powerful charges. (Requires: Str 10, Dex 10, Int 18.)
Crystal StaffGlintstone StaffCrystal Tunnel, on the western shore of Raya Lucaria Academy.This may potentially be your mid-game staff. It boosts crystal spell damage by an undescribed amount, but also requires a heap of upgrades (+7) before it outperforms the un-upgradeable Meteorite Staff. (Requires: Str 8, Int 48.)
Carian Knight's ShieldMedium ShieldMoongrum mini-boss in Raya Lucaria Academy.This shield comes with an interesting magical deflect parry, although it's a bit inconsistent to pull off at times and only affects projectile spells. (Requires: Str 10, Int 15, Dex 10.)
Twinsage Glintstone CrownHelmetRooftops of Raya Lucaria Academy, hidden on a small crystal crab.This helm increases your Intellect by a large amount, but hits your HP and Stamina as a trade-off.
Graven-School TalismanTalismanBehind an illusionary wall in Raya Academy. Look out for bookshelves mysteriously devoid of books.This item increases the power of your sorceries by an indeterminate amount.
Rogier's Rapier (Magic)1H Thrusting SwordGift from Rogier. Meet him in the chapel in Stormveil Castle.This sword is a fast-slicing stabber and also gives you a free Glintblade Phalanx spell that uses less FP than the standard version. (Requires: Str 8, Dex 17.)
Meteorite StaffGlintstone StaffCaelid, Street of Sages Ruins western side, inside a tower structure guarded by small plants.This is probably the best staff for early Sorcery players, and will last you deep into the first third of the game at least. It cannot be upgraded, sadly, but it will beat almost all staffs (even upgraded ones) for a very long time. (Requires: Str 6, Int 18.)
Carian Regal ScepterGlintstone StaffReward from defeating Rennala in the Reya Lucaria Academy.This is the most powerful staff I've found in the game thus far, and has a monstrous 60 Intellect requirement. (Requires: Str 8, Dex 10, Int 60.)
Azur's Glintstone StaffGlintstone StaffSide room in Reya Lucaria Academy, guarded by an angry crossbowman.This is a very powerful staff with 52 Int requirement. Its passive effect increases your casting speed, which can be incredibly useful. However, your spells will use more FP. This might be good for users who are investing heavily into Mind as well as Intellect. (Requires: Str 10, Int 52.)
Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!