Parry

Description

Parrying is a technique where you deflect an enemy attack, leaving the enemy in a special staggered state, vulnerable to ripostes.

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.

Execution

  1. Equip a shield or weapon that can parry in your left hand.
  2. 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.
  3. Press L2 (PS3) / LT (XBox) / TAB (default on PC) at the moment just before the enemy attack connects.
  4. On successful parry, the enemy will be thrown back for about one second, and you'll hear a echoing cue sound.
  5. 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
Normal Shields 6 frames 18 frames 24 frames Except Crystal Shield, Spiked Shield, and Pierce Shield
Buckler
Target Shield
Parrying Dagger
8 frames 19 frames 27 frames These three weapons have longer parrying window and different parrying animation

Partial Parry

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.

Enemy Location Notes
All normal-sized NPCs Various NPCs with the same base model as the player all carry parriable weapons
Hollow Undead Asylum
Undead Burg
Undead Parish
Depths
Painted World of Ariamis
The archers don't have parriable attack
Armored Hollow Undead Burg -
Undead Soldier Undead Asylum
Undead Burg
Undead Parish
-
Balder Knight Undead Parish
Sen's Fortress
The crossbow-wielder in Sen's Fortress doesn't have parriable attack
Heavy Knight Undead Parish
Sen's Fortress
Painted World of Ariamis
Can be parried but can't be riposted
Andre of Astora Undead Parish NPC
His dropkicks cannot be parried
Clan of Forest Protectors Darkroot Garden -
Havel the Rock Undead Burg -
Undead Assassin Lower Undead Burg -
Butcher Depths His left hand grab cannot be parried
Dark Spirit Kirk, Knight of Thorns Depths
Demon Ruins
Lost Izalith
-
Infested Barbarian Blighttown The boulder-wielding ones don't have parriable attack
Infested Ghoul Blighttown Their grab attacks cannot be parried
Dark Spirit Maneater Mildred Blighttown -
Serpent Soldier Sen's Fortress
The Duke's Archives
-
Serpent Mage Sen's Fortress
The Duke's Archives
-
Undead Prince Ricard Sen's Fortress -
Painting Guardian Anor Londo -
Dark Spirit Xanthous King, Jeremiah Painted World of Ariamis Cannot parry the Notched Whip, but if you interrupt his spell casting, he might punch you with his Pyromancy Flame, which you can parry
Silver Knight Anor Londo -
Hostile White Phantoms Anor Londo Lautrec's lackeys when you invade him using the Black Eye Orb
Darkmoon Soldiers Anor Londo Only in dark Anor Londo
Skeleton The Catacombs The archers don't have parriable attack
Vamos The Catacombs NPC
Dark Spirit Paladin Leeroy Tomb of the Giants -
Darkwraith New Londo Ruins -
Undead Crystal Soldier The Duke's Archives The archers don't have parriable attack
Crystal General The Duke's Archives -
Daughter of Chaos Lost Izalith If you interrupt her spell casting, she might punch you with her Pyromancy Flame which you can parry
Black Knight Undead Asylum
Undead Burg
Undead Parish
Darkroot Basin
Catacombs
Tomb of the Giants
Kiln of the First Flame
-
Gwyn, Lord of Cinder Kiln of the First Flame The only parriable boss
His grab attack cannot be parried
Scarecrow Royal Wood Additional Content only
Bloathead Oolacile Township
Chasm of the Abyss
Additional Content only
Bloathead Sorcerer Oolacile Township
Chasm of the Abyss
Additional Content only

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.

Enemy Location Notes
Balder Knight Undead Parish
Sen's Fortress
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.

NPC Location Notes
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
Firelink Shrine
Anor Londo
Parries you with Parrying Dagger

Tips

  • 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.

Notes

  • It is possible to parry an attack from an allied phantom (or the host, if you're summoned)

Video

  • Information about partial parry and frame data are from this video.
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