In Dark Souls, defeating a major boss grants you their soul, which you can use to level up or to make new weapons.
Although it still is dark fantasy, Elden Ring is a bit less grim. You don’t collect souls, but you do get runes after defeating your enemies. However, some enemies are unique.
Once you defeat a demigod, you get a Great Rune. These are special items that contain an aspect of the world, such as Blood, Life, Death, or something else related to the creation and destruction of all that exists.
Since you can only get Great Runes from Demigods, it means that you must finish a Legacy Dungeon before putting your hands on one of these items. Since there are only six Legacy Dungeons in Elden Ring, it means that you only get up to six Great Runes.
Great Runes are clearly important items, but what are they, and how do you use them?
I’m going to explain exactly how to use Great Runes in Elden Ring, along with everything else you need to know.
What Are Great Runes in Elden Ring?
Great Runes are items that will grant you some bonus that makes your character more powerful.
For instance, Godrick’s Great Rune increases all your attributes by 5 points, which is an outstanding power boost that is way more meaningful than leveling up your character a dozen times.
However, you can’t just open the Great Rune in your inventory and use it. You must follow some steps to activate the Great Rune’s power, and each Great Rune has its own procedure that must be followed.
On top of that, once a Great Rune is active, you still have to use a Rune Arc in order to gain its power. The Great Rune’s effect will last until your character is taken down to 0 HP.
Where to Activate Great Runes in Elden Ring
Great Runes aren’t just a category of items that you can equip or take to a single NPC to make them work.
Each Great Rune is entirely unique and carries the characteristics of its former bearer. Although they share the same name, they are quite different items, and activating them demands you to go to different locations.
Godrick’s Great Rune
In order to use Godrick, the Grafted’s Great Rune, you must first find the Divine Tower of Limgrave. First, go to the Limgrave Tower Bridge site of grace at Stormveil Castle.
From there, you will have to fight your way through Colossal Statues. You can also try to pass through them until you find a few Bladed Talon Eagles. Deal with them and keep going on a straight path.
You will eventually find a large door that grants you access to the tower. Inside, there is a new site of grace. Make your way to the top until you find a glowing object.
Once you interact with it, you will gain the power of Grodrick, the Grafted’s Great Rune, which raises all your attributes.
Malenia’s Great Rune
Malenia, Blade of Miquella, drops this rune when defeated. She is Malenia Queen Marika and Radagon’s daughter, so therefore she’s an actual demigod.
It is said that her great rune was meant to be the most sacred of them all. To use Malenia’s Great Rune, you must go to the Isolated Divine Tower.
In order to reach it, you must cross the Divine Bridge after having completed Crumbling Farum Azula, one of the six Legacy Dungeons in Elden Ring.
The Divine Bridge waypoint can only be reached via a teleportation trap. This trap is located in the Weeping Peninsula at the Tower of Return.
This Great Rune is basically a nod to Bloodborne. When it’s active, you can recover some of the HP you lost in the past five seconds by dealing damage to your enemies.
However, note that your most crucial healing item will be weaker when you’re using this runes power, causing you to regain 25% less HP when using your Flasks of Crimson Tears.
Radahn’s Great Rune
This is the Great Rune of the shardbearer, Radahn. Its blessing raises maximum HP, FP, and Stamina.
Radahn was amongst the children of Rennala and Radagon, who became demigod stepchildren after Radagon’s union with Queen Marika. The Great Rune burns to resist the encroachment of the scarlet rot.
It is not surprising that Radahn’s Great Rune grants you a buff to Health and Stamina. It is very fitting, really. Once active, Radhan’s Great Rune increases your HP by 15%, your Stamina by 12.5%, and your FP by 12.5%.
It might not seem much for builds that don’t heavily invest in any of those stats, but tanky builds with lots of Stamina and HP can benefit a lot from this Great Rune.
You must go to the Divine Tower of Caelid in order to activate Radahn’s Great Rune. Climb to its top by climbing up the ladders on its side and doing a bit of platforming until you find a way in.
You will see a sight of grace as soon as you succeed. You’re looking for the path that has an elevator. Once you go all the way up, restore the rune. To get its effects, though, you will have to use a Rune Arc.
Morgott’s Great Rune
A Great Rune of the shardbearer, Morgott. Its blessing greatly raises maximum HP.
This Great Rune is the anchor ring that houses the base and proves two things: that the Omen King was born of the golden lineage and that he was indeed the Lord of Leyndell.
Suppose you wanted more HP but don’t like the bonus granted by Radhan’s Great Rune. In that case, Morgott’s Rune might be what you are looking for because its bonus is way more significant since it’s a 25% increase.
Obviously, you get this rune by defeating Morgott, the Omen King. In order to use this Great Rune, you must bring it to the Divine Tower of East Altus. You can find it after taking the Forbidden Lands elevator located at the Capital Outskirts.
Rykard’s Great Rune
This one is the Great Rune of the shardbearer Rykard. Its blessing restores HP upon defeating enemies.
Rykard was amongst the children of Rennala and Radagon, who became demigod stepchildren after Radagon’s union with Queen Marika, but Rykard fed himself to the blasphemous serpent, Great Rune and all.
This is a marvelous rune to use when you want to go for some exploration. It is especially useful in areas that have too many enemies. Once it’s active, Rykard’s Great Rune heals you every time you defeat an enemy. To be exact, it restores 185 Hit Points, each for each enemy you takedown.
In order to activate this rune, you must first bring it to the Divine Tower of West Altus. You have to go through the Sealed Tunnel to get there, though.
Mohg’s Great Rune
This red rune is the Great Rune of the shardbearer Mohg. Its blessing grants a blessing of blood to summoned phantoms, and imparts a Phantom Great Rune upon successful invasion.
Mohg and Morgott are twin brothers, and their Great Runes are naturally similar. But Mohg’s tune is soaked in accursed blood from his devout love for the wretched mire that he was born into far below the earth.
Although they might be visually similar, they are mechanically different. By granting the Blessing of Blood to phantoms, players regain hit points when summoned phantoms take down one of the player’s enemies.
In order to activate Mohg’s Great Rune, the player must first find the Divine Tower of East Altus. You might have to defeat the Fell Twins to be allowed to reach the area where you activate this rune.
Great Rune of the Unborn
This is a weird rune because it doesn’t count as one of the main Great Runes, but it is a Great Rune anyway. It belongs to the mother of imperfect demigods, and it has its importance in both the plot and mechanically.
If you were looking for how to respec your character in Elden Ring, then know that getting the Great Rune of the Unborn is your first step.
Elden Runes are an amazing aspect of Elden Ring that is entirely unique to this franchise when you think about them mechanically.
Yes, they feel like the souls of the four lords somehow. Yet, they are here as a passive buff that you can activate to become extremely more powerful, more resistant, or just make you last way longer when exploring a dangerous new area.
Not only that, there are six different options, making it really hard not to have at least one that covers for something that your character lacks, fits your playstyle, or just makes your build even more effective.
There is some extra work in activating the runes after you finally get them, but I do feel like this is part of the game’s immersion. Getting a broken piece of an overpowered artifact and finding a way to make it work in your favor is an immersive excuse to make you explore even more of the game.
Be aware that fighting Demi-Gods is far more complicated than most bosses in the game. These battles might demand you to level up fast, especially if you feel like you’re underpowered after getting entirely obliterated by a demigod a few dozen times.
If you managed to defeat Margit, the Fell Omen, you now have an idea of how hard a mandatory boss fight can be.
Now you know what Great Runes are, how they work, how to use them, and where to find them.