Like the game worlds FromSoftware creates, the Elden Ring community is full of eccentrics. There are level one diehards who take pride in beating the game without leveling up, no-hit challenge runners who will restart their entire playthrough if they so much as stub their toe, speedrunners using absurd glitches to defy space and time, and streamers beating the game with anything but an actual controller. Then there are the grinders, arguably the most deranged of the lot. Grinders conquer Souls games through sheer repetition, turning their characters into demigods not by acquiring story MacGuffins but by stuffing them with so much XP that they become functionally invincible, over-leveled to the point of deification. Demons run when a grinder goes to war.
One such grinder recently appeared on the Elden Ring subreddit. A few days ago, brave Tarnished VahnNoaGala (opens in new tab) shared an impressive achievement: hitting the 999,999,999 Rune cap through the sheer force of farm. A billion Runes. A billion Runes. I don't know if I've accumulated a billion Runes and Souls combined across the entire FromSoftware library, and I've been here since the three-four Black Phantom Soulsucker farm in Demon's Souls.
i_hit_the_999999999_rune_cap from r/Eldenring
Elden Ring has been out for a year, so VahnNoaGala certainly isn't the first person to amass a billion Runes – they're still only level 639 of 713, and we've seen plenty of maxed players before – but I've never seen someone hit the Rune cap without actually spending any of them. I was intrigued by their tenaciousness, so I flagged them down to talk about The Grind.
Responses were edited for clarity and length.
GamesRadar+: What made you want to grind out and save up a billion Runes at once?
VahnNoagala: I've always been a completionist in games. At first, I didn't intend to get the whole billion, but once I hit 200 million I was like...hell with it, let's cap this bottle.
Did you ever die with your massive Rune stash and come close to losing it all?
I fell off the cliff's edge by the Grace twice, as happens naturally when your brain glazes over—never tiptoed toward my Runes so slowly in all my life. After the second one, I started equipping Sacrificial Twigs for a third layer of anti-doofus.
You commented that this took about 50 hours over three weeks, right? Were you able to optimize things at all and improve efficiency, or did you stick to the same method the whole time?
Yep, that's about right. I just tweaked where I stood to ensure I killed the first three Albinaurics with the Wave of Gold – any after that were up to RNG, but one of the first three is missable if you stand too close. I occasionally broke up the monotony with farming materials for gold-pickled fowl feet, which is also monotonous.
What playthrough are you on?
I am on NG+4.
Did you automate or macro anything, or do it all by hand?
No macros, I'm on PS5 and it was pure manual labor.
The real question is, what were you watching on another screen while grinding this out?
Lots of Last Podcast on the Left, also StarCraft 2 tournaments, Seinfeld, Aggretsuko, and VaatiVidya's mellifluous Soulsborne content on YouTube. I thought I could watch his whole channel before I was done. I was extremely wrong. Thank you Vaati for all that you do, especially that latest Miquella video.
And you still aren't max level, with a few hundred million Runes to go, right? How much longer do you think it'll take you to reach level 713?
Not max yet, amazingly. The cost per level scales upward significantly. This billion got me from level 353 to 639, and people have said it takes about 700 million more to get to 713 from there. I am... gonna need a farming break before I go for almost-billion number two.
What are you going to do after you're maxed? Go bulldoze The Lands Between on New Game +5?
Since I am an insane person, I want to have literally every item in the game. I got all the weapons, tools, Spirit Ashes, and Ashes of War. I am currently working on the helms, then onto the rest of the armor pieces. Long-term goal is to beat the game enough times to get every weapon to +25/+10. You can only get 21 final upgrade smithing stones per playthrough, and there are like 300 weapons, so it'll take a few runs. After that, I might go outside, unless the DLC has dropped by then.
You said you've put about 500 hours into this one character, not accounting for AFK time. Is that all the time you've put into Elden Ring, or do you have any other characters?
Just the one character, now on over 600 hours. I do plan to make more, but probably not till after this one is maxed. Then maybe I can do the opposite and try a Level 1 run.
Have you received any complaints from the Albinaurics about the whole genocide thing?
I haven't heard a peep from them. They must like it, because they keep coming back for more.
I understand you ate around 300 gold-pickled fowl feet to boost Runes in the process of this grind. Wild card: have you ever eaten chicken feet in real life?
No chicken feet have been in or around my mouth. I don't even have a good story for the strangest thing ever eaten. But I have a family member who dips Oreos in chip dip, so stay blessed out there because it's cursed in here.
Don't panic if a giant turtle invades you in Elden Ring – they're "just taking a walk" and give free Runes to chill hosts.