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 requires some amount of studying enemy attack behaviour, but learning it will provide the player with an advantage in numerous situations.

Execution

  1. 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.
  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 (the first frame) the enemy's weapon begins its motion towards you (i.e. after the windup).
  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. It is possible to perform actions before the riposte as well e.g. two-handing for higher strength scaling then riposte or even swap weapons, rings (for example to a hornet ring) or even armor, it is also possible to attack, cast offensive magic, heal or run away. Additionally it's possible to attack an enemy, who has poise, otherwise they will be staggered by the attack, with some quick attacks, then riposte afterwards. In PvP circles this is referred to as a "Burrito". Even if you're not performing a riposte, the enemy will receive 40% extra damage within this staggered state.
  6. The game allows for players to begin the riposte by pressing R1 while they're still in the parry animation. This inclusion is likely the reason the PvP tech "Parry Backstab" exists.

List of Weapons and Frame Data

Parry animation could be thought of as the active window and the recovery window.

  • Active frames are when the enemy will be parried if their weapon connects with your weapon.
  • Recovery frames are the "cooldown" period where you can't do anything at all. Animations in Dark Souls can almost always be "cancelled" into different animations, how early this happens depends on what other animation is queued to follow next. The earliest cancel in general occurs by dodging. All weapons are classified by Weapon Speed into fast and slow weapons, which decides whether their animations can be cut off earlier or later. This also applies to parries.
Weapon Active Parry Shortest Recovery Earliest Cancel Total Notes RH Attack Dodge Move Block/LH Attack Else
Fast Thrusting Swords 6 frames 12 frames Shared 18 frames - 12 frames 12 frames 15 frames 15 frames 14 frames
Estoc 6 frames 15 frames Shared 21 frames Only slow Thrusting Sword 15 frames 15 frames 15 frames 15 frames 17 frames
Fast Fist Weapons
Fast Whips
7 frames 10 frames Dodge 17 frames Including bare-handed 13 frames 10 frames 16 frames 15 frames 15 frames
Dragon-Bone Fist
Guardian Tail
7 frames 13 frames Dodge 20 frames Only slow weapons of their classes 16 frames 13 frames 19 frames 18 frames 18 frames
Fast Daggers
Fast Katanas
7 frames 10 frames Dodge 17 frames - 12 frames 10 frames 15 frames 15 frames 15 frames
Slow Daggers
Washing Pole
7 frames 13 frames Dodge 20 frames Only slow Katana 15 frames 13 frames 18 frames 18 frames 18 frames
Fast Curved Swords 7 frames 11 frames RH Attack 18 frames Except Gold Tracer1 11 frames 14 frames 19 frames 19 frames 14 frames
Quelaag's Furysword 7 frames 14 frames RH Attack 21 frames Only slow Curved Sword 14 frames 17 frames 19 frames 19 frames 17 frames
Fast Shields 7 frames 10 frames Dodge 17 frames Small Shields except Effigy Shield and unique
Includes numerous Normal Shields
13 frames 10 frames 15 frames 13 frames 13 frames
Slow Shields 7 frames 14 frames Dodge 21 frames Includes Effigy Shield
Excludes numerous Normal Shields2
17 frames 14 frames 19 frames 17 frames 17 frames
Buckler
Target Shield
Parrying Dagger
8 frames 12 frames RH Attack 20 frames Unique Animation 12 frames 17 frames 19 frames 19 frames 17 frames

Partial Parry

When you parry a little too early (i.e. already entered recovery frame) or are hit with an attack that can't be parried while parrying, 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.
  • If an enemy's attack would take away more stamina than you have remaining, you will get knocked back. For example, the Mushroom People's punch or the Gaping Dragon's tail swipe.

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 Her 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
Darkmoon Soldiers (Balder Knight) Anor Londo Parries you with Balder Shield

Tips

  • All Jump attacks (forward + strong attack) can't be parried and are therefore useful against mobs able to parry the player. This should not be taken as advice for PvP.

Notes

  • The classification of Small and Normal for shields does not technically have anything to do with parrying, however with the exceptions of the Effigy Shield and Heater Shield they do correspond to fast and slow shields.
  • It is possible to parry an attack from an allied phantom (or the host, if you're summoned)
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