Demon's Souls World Tendency explained

Demon's Souls ps5 world tendency
(Image credit: Sony)

Demon’s Souls World Tendency can make huge changes to the game for something that provides very little info on how it works. You can make the game harder, summon tough enemies, open or close certain routes trough a Demon's Souls area and more if you don't know what you're doing with Black World Tendency and White World Tendency - the two extremes of the system. 

Think of it like a karma or morality system where 'good' decisions will shift the game towards towards White World Tendency, while 'bad' decisions push it into the towards Black. Depending on the Demon's Souls World Tendency you have in a particular section, the game will react accordingly. And while you think you might want to avoid the Black Tenancy some weapons, locations and items can only be reached in this state. 

What makes all this so tricky to deal with is the game does nothing to explain how the World Tendency system works, or what you can do to influence it. So that’s where we come in with this guide - we’ll explain how this strange system functions, explain what actions cause the World Tendency to shift, and show how a areas can change depending on the Tendency.

What does Demon's Souls World Tendency do?

Demon's Souls world tendancy

(Image credit: Sony)

Demon’s Souls’ World Tendency system impacts the world around you. Good choices will have a generally positive impact, bad choices will have a generally negative impact (we say 'generally,' because there are pros and cons for each), and certain events only occur during either White or Black World Tendency.

For the most part, you’ll probably ignore this on your initial playthrough and that’s okay. The game is complicated as is, without having to worry about an additional complexity on top of it. Once you learn the ropes of the game, however, you’ll likely want to pay attention to your World Tendency on subsequent playthroughs - either on New Game+ or if you start from scratch.

The World Tendency system is on a spectrum, with eight rankings ranging from Pure Black to Neutral, and eventually Pure White. Each world has its own ranking, which you can check by visiting the menu and heading to the World Tendency tab. 

Here, you’ll see all five worlds, each with an Archstone that ranges in color, from black to white. They can be hard to read, but pay attention to the center of the stones, where a figure will glow as the Tendency shifts towards White. Keep in mind, you will need to travel back to the Nexus for any changes in World Tendency to take effect. 

In offline mode, the game starts you out at Neutral World Tendencies for all worlds. Previously, you could boot up the game in online mode and the World Tendencies would change depending on choices made from the community at large. Since the online servers have been shuttered, this feature is no longer available. 

The World Tendency screen also depicts your Character Tendency, which is similar to World Tendency, but works independently. For the purposes of this guide, we will only be covering World Tendency, but note that Character Tendency is mostly influenced by killing Black Phantoms - which used to be possible by playing online. Since the servers are now shut down, you’ll have to stick to killing NPC Black Phantoms to increase your Character Tendency.

Demon's Souls White World Tendency

Demon's Souls world tendancy

(Image credit: Sony)

There are many benefits to having White World Tendency. Though it can be challenging to reach that point, the benefits are (mostly) worth it. Here are some of the characteristics of a White World Tendency:

  • Lowers enemy HP, defense, and attack
  • Lower drop rate of upgrade materials from enemies
  • Higher drop rate of healing items from enemies
  • Character’s attack power increased while in Soul Form up to 20%
  • Certain items and gear are accessible, like the Venerable Sage outfit
  • Previously inaccessible areas will now be accessible

As you can see, most of the features of White World Tendency are positive, but it does have its downsides such as lower drop rate in upgrade materials. For balancing purposes, there are also events that only unlock with Black World Tendency. 

At this point, you’re probably wondering how to shift towards White. There are many things you can do, and we’ll highlight them below. Keep in mind, the numbers beside each entry represent the shift in value towards White. Remember, the spectrum features eight ranks, so each number stands for one rank. Here are ways to shift towards White World Tendency :

  • Defeat a boss (+1)
  • Defeat the Red Dragon in 1-2 (+1)
  • Defeat the Blue Dragon in 1-4 (+1)
  • Defeat Black Phantoms (+3)
  • Defeat a Primeval Demon (+3)
  • Kill invader (not possible anymore due to closed servers)

For the most part, the list above is relatively straightforward, but we did want to mention more about the Primeval Demons. These are giant creatures that only spawn when you have Black World Tendency and are found in each world (one per). Killing them grants a massive boost towards White, so you’ll want to seek all five of them out if you want to shift away from Black.  

Demon's Souls Black World Tendency

Demon's Souls world tendancy

(Image credit: Sony)

Black World Tendency also features its own characteristics and surprisingly, not all of them are bad. In fact, we’d argue that most of them are good, so you’ll want to look into shifting towards Black on later playthroughs. Here’s what you get for having Black World Tendency:

  • Raises enemy HP, defense, and attack
  • Higher drop rate of upgrade materials from enemies
  • More souls dropped from enemies
  • Appearance of Black Phantom versions of NPCs
  • Appearance of Primeval Demons
  • Maximum player HP reduced while in soul form

The biggest takeaway is that enemies drop more souls and rarer items while in Black World Tendency. This is particularly useful to know while farming for materials, as some of them (looking at you, Pure Bladestone) are extremely rare. Like less than a 3% chance of dropping rare.

You’ll also want to consider defeating Black Phantom NPCs since they drop useful items and upgrade materials. See? Shifting to Black isn’t as bad as it seems and in many cases is beneficial depending on what you’re wanting to do.

Much like above, we’ll highlight the many ways you can shift to Black. Remember, the numbers next to each entry represent one rank across the World Tendency spectrum - in this case away from White. Here’s how to shift towards Black World Tendency:

  • Die while in body form, outside of Nexus (-1)
  • Kill Old King Doran (-2)
  • Kill NPCs (-3)

While killing NPCs is easily avoidable, dying throughout the game is... not. The important thing to note about this is that you only shift towards Black if you die in body form (which is what happens when you defeat a boss or consume a Stone of Ephemeral Eyes). In other words, this is the game’s way of incentivizing you to play while in soul form (when your maximum health is majorly reduced).

A good tactic to use in this case is to practice difficult encounters (like bosses or tough enemies) while in soul form - that way you don’t get penalized by shifting to Black after death. Once you’re comfortable, pop a Stone of Ephemeral Eyes to gain all your health back and give it another go.  

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Joseph loves Nintendo and horror games. With the Nintendo Switch, he's ready to get spooky anytime, anywhere. He specializes in covering Call of Duty: Warzone and action RPGs like Dark Souls, so you can bet he's looking forward to Elden Ring, the brainchild of George RR Martin and Hidetaka Miyazaki. You can find Joseph's work at GamesRadar, Digital Trends, Inverse, and PLAY Magazine. When he's not writing about video games he can usually be found petting his cats and listening to some Progressive Metal. He thinks Meshuggah is tight.