Parrying is a technique usable against most humanoid enemies in Dark Souls. It is not recommended for beginners due to the required enemy knowledge, but learning it will definitely provide the player with great advantages. Mastering this technique will take a lot of practice, but it will increase the player's concentration, reaction time, and stress management abilities in difficult situations.
- Equip a shield or weapon that can parry in your left hand. An empty hand works as well but is not recommended as failing the parry will have you take full damage.
- Face a parriable enemy, lock-on recommended though not required, stand as close as possible. Since your weapon/shield has to connect with the enemy attack itself, your chance also increases if you are nearer.
- Press L2 (PS3) / LT (XBox) / TAB (default on PC) at the moment just before the enemy attack connects.
- On successful parry, the enemy will be thrown back for about one second, and you'll hear a echoing cue sound.
- The enemy will be in an unique staggered state. Ripostes can only be done in this unique state. But you can basically do whatever you want (e.g. two-handing then riposte, heavy-hit, cast offensive magic, jump-attack, heal, run away, backstab). Even if you're not doing a critical attack, the enemy will receive 40% extra damage because of the staggered state.
List of Weapons and Frame Data
Equip only in left hand. Parry animation has 2 main components: Active frame and recovery frame.
- Active frame is where the enemy will be parried if their weapon connects with your weapon.
- Recovery frame is the "cooldown" period where you can't do anything at all.
|Weapon||Active Frame||Recovery Frame||Total||Notes|
|Fist Weapons||6 frames||16 frames||22 frames||Including bare-handed|
|Daggers||6 frames||16 frames||22 frames||-|
|Curved Swords||6 frames||20 frames||26 frames||Except Gold Tracer1|
|Katanas||6 frames||16 frames||22 frames||-|
|Thrusting Swords||6 frames||15 frames||21 frames||-|
|Whips||6 frames||16 frames||22 frames||-|
|Small Shields||6 frames||14 frames||20 frames||Except Crystal Ring Shield|
|Heater Shield||6 frames||14 frames||20 frames||Only Normal Shield with the shorter recovery of Small Shields|
|Normal Shields||6 frames||18 frames||24 frames||Except Crystal Shield, Spiked Shield, and Pierce Shield|
|8 frames||19 frames||27 frames||These three weapons have longer parrying window and different parrying animation|
When you parry a little too early (i.e. already entered recovery frame) or trying to parry an unparriable attack, you will do a "partial parry". You don't actually parry the attack (no parry SFX), and you don't technically block the attack either (no deflection), but it has several properties:
- You still take damage, but the damage is partial. The damage taken is calculated from your weapon's actual blocking abilities divided by 2 (e.g. a partial parry by a Target Shield will give you 39% physical damage reduction instead of the normal 78%).
- You don't suffer any kind of block stun, hit stun, or Poise damage.
- You can do this to almost all kinds of attack in the game, including projectile attacks. The only exception is grab attacks; you must dodge those.
List of Parriable Enemies
Some of these enemies use the same base model as the player (NPCs, Clan of Forest Protectors, Dark Spirits, etc.). As such, they may carry parriable weapons and thus can be parried.
Ordered by normal playthrough without the Master Key.
List of Enemies Who Can Parry
These enemies have a special defensive stance. If you attack them in this stance, they will attempt to parry you and if you're close enough, you'll get parried and get riposted.
|Balder Knight||Undead Parish
|Only the rapier-wielding ones can parry you|
|Undead Assassin||Lower Undead Burg||-|
|Skeleton||The Catacombs||The scimitar and falchion-wielding ones can parry you|
Aside from the enemies above, some hostile NPCs (the ones with the same model as the player) will attempt to parry you when they hold up their left-hand weapon (either a shield or a Parrying Dagger). They differ from the "normal" enemies above in that they will dodge backwards (or just block the attack) if they got attacked by a non-parriable attack.
|Undead Prince Ricard||Sen's Fortress||Parries you with Buckler|
|Crystal General||The Duke's Archives||Parries you with Crystal Shield even though normal Crystal Shield can't parry|
|Crestfallen Warrior||Firelink Shrine
New Londo Ruins
|Parries you with Heater Shield|
|Oswald of Carim||Undead Parish||Parries you with Parrying Dagger|
|Lady of the Darkling||Anor Londo||Parries you with Parrying Dagger|
|Knight Lautrec of Carim||Undead Parish
|Parries you with Parrying Dagger|
- Backhand attack by the enemy (right to left from your point of view) are usually more difficult to parry, since usually it will hit you first before hitting your weapon/shield.
- Spear Thrusting attacks have the longest parriable time-window, start parrying those might a good practice for beginners, since they can attack behind their shields.
- Blunt weapons have a long lag before they come down, so take a breath and don't panic, and wait for the actual swing animation rather than spam parries.
- Poise is recommended for the beginning, so even if your timing was off, got hit, your parry would still finish, eventually connect with the same swing that hit you and so it will stop the enemy's combo, preventing you from taking further damage.
- Jump attacks (forward + strong attack) are useful against enemies who have the auto-parry defensive stance, as it doesn't trigger the parry. Hostile NPCs will just roll backwards though, and online players can parry it.
- It is possible to parry an attack from an allied phantom (or the host, if you're summoned)
- Information about partial parry and frame data are from this video.