This guide will help players navigate the Catacombs of Carthus in Dark Souls 3. The Catacombs are filled with reanimating skeletons and other undead foes. Players can also find the Carthus Pyromancy Tome, which can be given to Cornyx to learn new pyromancy spells. Follow our steps to find your way through the skeleton-filled corridors and reach the chamber of High Lord Wolnir.
The Catacombs of Carthus involve of a series of sandy passages that connect to the Smouldering Lake. The Catacombs are lined with hidden traps, and the enemies mainly consist of reanimating skeletons. When you defeat a skeleton, make sure you gathered their souls. Otherwise, the skeleton will likely reanimate and come back to strike when you are least expecting it.
Note: If you are pursuing Yoel of Londor’s storyline, be sure to draw out your true strength and receive all five Dark Sigils from Yoel before heading to the Catacombs. Once you enter the Catacombs, Yoel will no longer be available to give you levels and sigils.
Descend Into the Catacombs
The Catacombs of Carthus can be accessed after defeating the Abyss Watchers. Go down the stairs to enter the Catacombs, and head to the left. At the end of the stone path, you will encounter the first of many reanimating skeleton enemies. Defeat the skeleton, wait to see if it rebuilds itself, then destroy it again. It’s best to get into the habit of ensuring a fallen foe stays down, as this will be a recurring issue throughout the Catacombs.
Grab the Carthus Rouge from the corpse at the end of the path, then prepare to head across the nearby bridge. On the bridge, you will face a red-eyed skeleton swordsman with a shield. Be careful when fighting on the bridge, as it is easy to fall off the sides. Lure the enemy toward the start of the bridge, so that you have more room to fight. You may also notice some platforms over the left side of the bridge. Don’t worry about those for now, as we will show you how to reach these platforms soon.
In the next room, you’ll find an enemy on the staircase ahead of the door. There is another ranged skeleton enemy on the ledge above to the left. Watch out for arrows as you make your way up the staircase to reach this upper level. From the top of the stairs, follow the path to the right first, and collect the Soul of a Nameless Soldier at the end of the walkway. Take note of the pair of red-eyed skeletons patrolling below, as we will help you deal with them shortly.
Head back to the stairs and continue along the left path, where the ranged enemy was. Eliminate him and a few other skeleton foes, then proceed through the hall to the right. Watch out for a button in the center of the path, about halfway down. Stepping on this button causes arrows to come flying through the hallway from the far wall. There are more traps like this throughout the Catacombs, so stay vigilant. Descend the ladder at the end of the hall, and collect another Soul of a Nameless Soldier at the bottom.
Continue around the corner, and prepare to face another red-eyed skeleton enemy. Collect the Sharp Gem from the corpse on the ledge, and watch out for arrows fired from a skeleton enemy across the gap. Afterward, investigate the wall that has an archway over in the right corner. Strike this illusory wall to reveal a hidden passage.
There is another sword-wielding skeleton in this hidden passage, as well as two more enemies around the left corner, one of whom was the one firing arrows at you earlier. Take them out, then pillage the corpse to the right to find the Carthus Pyromancy Tome. Take this tome back to Cornyx in Firelink Shrine at your leisure to learn new pyromancy spells.
Return to the previous room, and proceed toward another pair of red-eyed skeleton swordsmen in the chamber ahead. Lure one of these enemies into the room you are in, so that you can face them one-on-one while also having more room to move around. These enemies inflict bleed damage as well, so prepare accordingly.
Once you have eliminated both of the skeletal swordsmen, enter the room. This room has a doorway directly across from the stairs, as well as a passage close to the stairs. You may notice that the staircase on the left leads back up to the original level you entered from earlier via the bridge. Move around to the right of the stairs to collect some Titanite Shards in the corner.
To the right of this item corpse is another doorway. Proceed through the passage, and go down the stairs to the right to find Anri in the lower room. Speak with Anri to progress his/her storyline, then continue to the outer platform on the right.
There is a Crystal Lizard on the left, and another item corpse on the right. Attack the lizard to collect some Twinkling Titanite, then pillage the corpse nearby for some Bloodred Moss Clumps. Watch out for arrows from a skeleton on the upper ledge. If you have a ranged attack, use it to take down the skeletons on the platforms across the chasm. You will need to head over there in a moment, and it’s best to clear the path of enemies ahead of time.
Get the Ball Rolling
Return to the room where you fought the pair of red-eyed swordsmen. The next step is to head through the open doorway that leads to a platform overlooking the chasm. Beware! There is another surprise obstacle ahead. When you step out onto the platform, you’ll see a long staircase leading down to another platform on the opposite side. However, as soon as you begin walking down the stairs, a large ball of undead corpses will drop from above, and roll down the staircase. This will undoubtedly crush you if you aren’t careful.
When you’re ready, sprint down the staircase and move to the side once you reach the platform down below. Halfway down the stairs, there is an Ember behind one of the pillars. If you run back up to get it, watch out for the corpse ball, as it will roll back up the stairs again. The ball will continue rolling back and forth through the passage. Prepare to make your move just after it passes.
Enter the hallway and head left, where you will encounter another set of reanimating skeletons. One of these skeletons will lob magic skull bombs that attack you. Continue around the corner to the right, and you will see an area filled with clay pots.
Be careful as you destroy the pots, as most of them contain magic that can attack you. You should attack them rather than roll through them. There are also arrows that can be triggered from the walls, so watch your step. At the back of this clay pot area you will find the Carthus Milkring, which you can use to become obscured while rolling.
Proceed along the main path, and watch out for more switches on the floor that can trigger wall arrows to shoot at you. In the next section is a red-eyed skeleton swordsman, and several more reanimating skeletons. Destroy these enemies, then head through the passage in the right corner.
Be careful, as two more possessed skeletons with shields patrol the passage. Lure them out one at a time to ease your fighting burden. Be sure to collect the Large Soul of an Unknown Traveler off the corpse near the trap switch in the center of the passage. If you’re savvy, you can step on the floor switch to hit the enemies with arrows as you dodge out of the way.
Proceed to the end of the passage to collect an Ember from the corpse. Be mindful of the hole in the floor, but don’t jump down. Instead, continue through the passage to the right, just before the hole. The corpse ball will come rolling through the passage at the end of the corridor where the two passages intersect. Wait for the ball to roll right, then run to the left corner to grab a Large Titanite Shard.
Return to the intersection and wait for the ball once again. This time, follow behind the ball as it rolls to the right, and enter the corridor on the left to find a bonfire at the end. Ignite the Catacombs of Carthus Bonfire, and rest if needed. Keep in mind that enemies will respawn upon doing so. If you return to the area where the first ball rolled, you will find an Undead Bone Shard just beyond the gate near the bonfire.
Starting at your newly lit bonfire, return to where the ball rolls in the main passage. Wait for the ball to roll to the right, then run down the stairs to the left. At the bottom, you will be met by several hound-rats. Trick them into getting squished by luring them into the path of the corpse ball. With any luck, the ball will destroy the rats for you. There is a larger hound-rat waiting around the corner, so be sure to eliminate it as well.
There are several routes to take in this area. With your back to the bonfire passage, there is a doorway straight ahead, a corridor around the right corner, two more doorways to the left, and another corridor on the very left end. If you go through the doorway ahead, just to the left of the large hound-rat, you will be invaded by Dark Spirit Knight Slayer Tsorig if you are embered.
This invader wields a powerful Greatsword, so proceed with caution. Dodge his combo attacks, then move around to his back side to stab him from behind. Afterward, collect the Ember on the corpse at the end of the corridor, and take note of what you see on the other side of the bars.
Return to the main room and this time head around the corner to the right of the large hound-rat. This passage contains multiple rotten flesh blobs that will drop down from the ceiling. Use fire to destroy them quickly as you proceed through the passage.
Pillage the corpse along the left wall to obtain some Titanite Shards, and watch out for the wheeled skeletons further ahead. Go around the left corner and continue to the end of the passage. Beware of more rotten flesh blobs that line the ceiling. Loot the corpse along the far wall to obtain the Carthus Bloodring, then return to the main room.
Now, head through the left side of the corridor and take down the red-eyed swordsman at the far end to clear the area of hostiles. Collect two Titanite Shards off the corpse halfway down the corridor at the base of the pillar. To the right of this item corpse, you’ll see a staircase. Attack the wall to the left of the staircase to reveal another hidden staircase. Both of these stairwells lead to the same upper floor, which contains multiple red-eyed enemies and valuable loot.
If you go up the stairs on the right, you will be close enough to obtain some Carthus Rouge off a nearby corpse after eliminating several possessed skeletons. If you go up the hidden stairs on the left, you must face one scythe-wielding skeleton, but you will be closer to an item corpse that holds the Grave Warden’s Ashes. Or, you can just clear out the entire floor of enemies and obtain all the loot, as both areas are connected. The choice is yours.
Take the stairs back down to the main lower area, and proceed toward the far side where the possessed skeleton once patrolled. Head through the rocky tunnel passage on the right corner. Quickly kill the Crystal Lizard to obtain a Fire Gem before it scurries into the wall. At the end of the tunnel, there is a skeleton swordsman standing guard on the outer ledge. Take him out, then pillage some Yellow Bug Pellets from the corpse on the far left edge.
Proceed through the archway to the right. As you enter this small room, multiple skeletons will begin rising from the floor. Quickly collect the Soul of a Nameless Soldier and Black Bug Pellets off of the corpses, then go outside toward the bridge. Before crossing the bridge, head up the path to the right. Along this upper path you will encounter Anri once again. Speak with him/her to continue Anri’s storyline, then note the path leading down to the opposite side of the bridge.
Head back to the start of the bridge, and run across. Once at the other side, quickly turn around and cut the ropes tied at the sides. This causes the bridge to collapse, taking any remaining skeleton enemies with it. At this point, the bridge will remain cut. If you return to this side coming from the Catacombs of Carthus Bonfire, you can instead use the uphill path where you just spoke to Anri to reach this side when necessary.
Defeat the Fire Demon
The corridor straight ahead from the bridge leads to the High Lord of Wolnir boss chamber. If you are ready to take on this boss now, skip down to our boss battle section below. However, there is still more to discover in the Catacombs, including another nearby bonfire. We are going to continue onward to the Fire Demon first before returning to the boss encounter, so feel free to follow along.
With the bridge cut, it will now act as a ladder, allowing you to access the level below. Climb down the new bridge ladder and continue through the passage until you reach the Fire Demon, who senses your presence immediately.
There are several ways to deal with the Fire Demon. You can stick to the upper walkway and fire ranged attacks at the demon if you want to go for a safe approach. If you are brave enough to face the Fire Demon head-on, keep in mind that several skeletons will spawn around the demon’s feet. They will help you attack the Fire Demon, but can also turn to attack you if you aren’t careful.
If you follow the upper walkway to the far side, you will see a chest at the end. The chest is a Mimic, which can be used to your advantage. Get the Fire Demon’s attention, then lure the demon up the stairs onto the upper platform toward the Mimic chest. When the demon is close to the chest, strike it to wake the Mimic, then roll off the platform to the lower level. If all goes as planned, the Mimic will begin attacking the Fire Demon for you, allowing you to take down both enemies easily.
Defeat the fiery foe to earn the Soul of a Demon. Take this soul to Ludleth to add the Demon’s Greataxe and Demon’s Fist to his wares. Defeating the Mimic chest also rewards you with a Black Blade.
After eliminating both enemies, continue down the staircase to the lower area where several more skeletons begin to spawn. Try not to activate all of the skeletons at once, as most of them will reanimate, forcing you to fight each one a second time.
After clearing out the skeletons, go around and pick up the Large Titanite Shard and Large Soul of a Nameless Soldier off of the nearby corpses. Continue down the next set of stairs and enter the corridor. At the end of the passage is a corpse that holds an Old Sage’s Blindfold, as well as a Witch’s Ring.
In the doorway to the right is the Abandoned Tomb Bonfire. The passage ahead of the bonfire leads to the Smouldering Lake, where more adventures await. For now, we are going to show you how to defeat High Lord Wolnir. Return to the bridge ladder, and climb back up to reach the boss chamber at the end of the hall.
Boss Battle: High Lord Wolnir
Push open the double doors to the boss chamber. Ahead of the doors, you will see a goblet on an altar just before a staircase lined with candles. Touch the goblet on the altar to begin the boss battle.
After the cut scene, the chamber will go dark. You’ll see the faint light of a Grave Warden Pyromancy Tome glowing on a corpse a few steps away. Grab the collectible quickly, because the boss battle begins as soon as you go toward the the corpse, and you may not be able to grab this item after the boss fight.
As you approach the item corpse, the massive skull of High Lord Wolnir emerges from the darkness to greet you. At first, it would seem that you need to attack his face and hands, but attacking these areas results in very little damage. It’s actually the golden bangle bracelets that are the key to winning this fight.
When High Lord Wolnir lowers one of his arms close to you, focus on swinging at his bracelet to inflict significant damage. Early on in the battle, multiple types of skeleton enemies will start spawning from the floor. Take down any skeleton enemies that may be around you first before turning your attention back to the bracelets.
High Lord Wolnir uses various tactics during the battle. If you see a dark cloud of smoke forming close to his body, do your best to stay away. This dark magic cloud will inflict damage when you touch it. A similar smoke will pour from his mouth as well from time to time, which will hurt the other skeletons as much as it hurts you. Try to attack the wrist and bracelet that are furthest away from Wolnir’s body to avoid touching this smoke.
If you see High Lord Wolnir raise up either of his arms, prepare to dodge either a powerful ground pound, or horizontal side swipe. Keep in mind that as you run backward, Wolnir will crawl forward, shrinking the battle area. Space is limited, and you don’t want to be stuck too close to the wall during battle. Rather than continually backing away from his attacks, just try to dodge around them instead.
After successfully smashing his bangles and destroying his health bar, High Lord Wolnir will retreat into darkness, and you will return to the original chamber where you touched the goblet. Defeating this boss rewards you with the Soul of High Lord Wolnir, which can be taken to Ludleth for transposition.
Ignite the High Lord Wolnir Bonfire, then proceed up the stairs. Enter the newly opened double doors to reach Irithyll of the Boreal Valley. Another bonfire is found over to the left as you enter this new region. Light the Irithyll of the Boreal Valley Bonfire to have a second travel option for these locations.
From here, you can either proceed across the bridge into this new area, or return to the Abandoned Tomb Bonfire to explore the Smouldering Lake. For more Dark Souls coverage, head over to USGamer’s Dark Souls 3 Walkthrough and Guide.