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Elden Ring Ashes of War explained

Elden Ring
(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Elden Ring Ashes of War can add abilities to your weapons, giving you new powers, damage modifiers, combat skills and changes scaling to tune and change how you use them. It's not immediately obvious how to use Ashes of War but it is is a huge advantage to master them in Elden Ring. It's especially useful if you're trying to adapt an existing weapon for a specific kind of build. If you're leaning towards Sorcery or Faith, say, you can use Ashes to link a certain stat to a weapon and make it scale accordingly. We'll explain how all this works and everything you need to know about the Elden Ring Ashes of War below. Importantly, we'll also explain the various Whetblade locations and how to use this additional tool to alter weapon Affinities.

What are Ashes of War in Elden Ring?

Elden Ring ashes of war

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Elden Ring Ashes of War are probably better explained by just saying that they're enchantments, but enchantments that can be peeled off your weapons at Sites of Grace and reapplied to other, similar weapons if you're so inclined. While Ashes of War can be changed freely, any given Elden Ring weapon can hold only at a time. 

Each Ash of War adds a Weapon Art - some sort of special ability that we'll explain how to use further down - and an Affinity that affects it's damage scaling stats. When you apply them to a relevant piece of gear, they do the following:

  • Change the weapon's Affinity to raise certain stats and scaling and lower others.
  • Replace the existing Weapon Skill, if it has one, with a preset skill.

It's also worth keeping in mind that Elden Ring Ashes of War are limited to certain weapon and gear types. For example, the Ash of War: Thunderbolt can only be applied to melee weapons, not any other equipment. Similarly, the Ash of War: Parry skill only works on shields and certain small armaments.

Let's say you acquire the Ash of War: Holy Ground, either because you're the Prophet Class or you beat the Tree Sentinel and take it off them. You can remove it from any shield at a Site of Grace and put it on any other one. When you do, it'll boost Holy Damage, increase certain stats, but penalise others, including physical damage negation. It also takes away the shield's specific skill - likely the Parry, if it's a standard shield - and replaces it with a unique skill called Holy Ground, which allows you to create a circle in which you and all allies regenerate health.

Just to clarify, it's important not to confuse Ashes of War with Spirit Ashes, the Elden Ring summons items that create NPC allies and can be bought from various merchants or found. Despite very similar names, there's no real overlap between the two item types beyond being magical in some way.

How to use Elden Ring Ashes of War on weapons

Elden Ring ashes of war menu

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Get more Runes with the Elden Ring Golden Scarab Talisman

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Did you know the Golden Scarab Talisman will permanently boost the Runes you get? Check out how to get the Elden Ring Golden Scarab right here!

It's simple enough to apply Ashes of War to your equipment in Elden Ring - when you're at a Site of Grace, rest next to it and select the 'Ashes of War' menu option to manage all your owned Ashes. Here you can remove or apply them to any compatible gear you have. This process is free and can be done whenever you want. It's also useful to know that any gear you remove the Ashes from will return to its default state, so to carry on the above example, the shield you take Holy Ground off will get the Parry skill and standard stats back.

In this menu you can also see how different Weapon Arts work and what their FP cost is (that's the blue bar between your health and stamina). More powerful weapon skills will obviously cost more FP, so bear in that in mind. You'll also be able to see how you weapon damage scaling changes based on the Affinity that gets applied - further down, we've got a section all about the different Affinities, so look there for more advice.

With an Ash of War equipped, you can use its Weapon Art skill by pressing the LT/L2 on your controller. However, it's important to know that certain you can only ever use one Ash of War as some can override others depending on your equipment loadout. Your active Ash of War is always shown on the left of your screen above your equipment slots.

Elden Ring ashes of war

(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

For example, if you're using a sword and only a sword, pressing LT/L2 will always use the sword's skill. Although, if you're using a sword and a shield with the parry skill, the parry will always override the sword. To avoid this, you can either remove the Parry Ash of War from your shield, quickly put away your shield, or two-hand your weapon to also put away the shield. 

Elden Ring Ashes of War Affinities explained

Elden Ring ashes of war affinities menu

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As previously mentioned, Ashes of War give Elden Ring weapons a Weapon Art skill and an Affinity. The Affinities other than Standard will generally improve one particular damage scaling stat and will reduce the others, making your weapon very specialised to a particular stat. Bear in mind that not any weapon can take any affinity - it'll depend on the weapon itself. Here are all the weapon Affinities as well as what they do:

  • Standard: Default damage scaling that is generally balanced across several attribute stats.
  • Heavy: Boosts Strength damage scaling. Good for large weapons.
  • Keen: Enhances Dexterity damage scaling. Good for lighter weapons.
  • Quality: Slightly boosts Strength and Dexterity. A nice improvement over Standard scaling - if you don't know what else to pick, pick this one. 
  • Magic: Lowers default scaling but adds Intelligence damage scaling and splits weapon  damage to Physical and Magic damage types.
  • Sacred: Weakens default scaling but adds Faith damage scaling and splits weapon damage to Physical and Holy damage types.
  • Fire: Reduces default scaling but splits weapon damage to Physical and Fire damage types.
  • Flame Art: Weakens default scaling but adds Faith damage scaling and splits weapon damage to Physical and Fire damage types.
  • Lightning: Weakens default scaling but boosts Dexterity scaling and splits weapon damage to Physical and Lightning damage types.
  • Poison: Enhances Strength, Dexterity, and Arcane weapon damage scaling, and adds Poison build-up to attacks.
  • Cold: Lowers default scaling but boosts Intelligence scaling and add Frostbite build-up to attacks.
  • Blood: Reduces default scaling but adds Arcane scaling and Bleed build-up with attacks.
  • Occult: Weakens default scaling but adds Arcane damage scaling and prevents undead enemies from being revived.

Elden Ring Whetblade locations

Elden Ring ashes of war glintstone whetblade

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Affinities are tied to Ashes of War, but by finding special items called Whetblades you can expand your options, each one essentially adding two or three new Affinities to your roster. Find them all and you'll effectively be able to add any Affinity to any compatible weapon. We've listed their locations below for you to check out.

Whetblade locations
WhetbladeAffinitiesLocation
Whetstone KnifeNone (used to apply Ashes of War at Sites of Grace)Gatefront Ruins, Limgrave: The soldiers camp by the Stormgate. Find the stairs in the Southeast side to find a treasure chest with the Whetstone and the Storm Stomp Ash of War.
Iron WhetbladeKeen/Heavy/QualityStormveil Castle, Limgrave: Behind a Stonesword Key door on the West side of the Castle past the Grafted horror with many arms.
Glintstone WhetbladeMagic/ColdRaya Lucaria Academy, Liurnia of the Lakes: After killing the Red Wolf, head West at the courtyard fountain and head up the slope to find a corpse on a balcony by some kneeling undead.
Red-Hot WhetbladeFire/Flame ArtRedmane Castle, Caelid: From the Chamber Outside the Plaza Site of Grace run back past the flamethrower turrets and take the Northwest path towards the tower straight ahead. Evade the Iron Maiden and once you're inside, you should find the Whetblade.
Sanctified WhetbladeLightning/SacredFortified Manor, Leyndell, Royal Capital: Climb the dragon's wing from the Avenue Balcony Site of Grace, then head left and up the wooden balcony when you reach the main doors. Head inside the little side-door to find the Whetblade on an anvil.
Black WhetbladePoison/Blood/OccultNight's Sacred Ground, Nokron: Found on a corpse in front of an altar in the church.

How to get more Ashes of War in Elden Ring

Elden Ring ashes of war gravitas reward

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Elden Ring Ashes can be found in all manner of ways, much in the same way that weapons and armor can be found all over the place. Here's how you can happen across or buy Ashes of War in Elden Ring:

  • As rewards for defeating bosses or unique enemies.
  • Found in hard-to-reach areas blocked by enemies.
  • Pre-equipped on certain weapons.
  • Can be bought from certain merchants, such as Bernahl at the Warmaster's Shack in Limgrave
  • You can duplicate Ashes of War you already own by providing Smithing Master Hewg with Lost Ashes of War.

Elden Ring weapons | Elden Ring armor locations | Elden Ring Smithing Stones | Elden Ring best builds | Elden Ring best spells | Elden Ring weapon scaling explained | How to strengthen weapons in Elden Ring | How to get the Elden Ring Golden Scarab | Elden Ring Stonesword Keys | Elden Ring Meteorite Staff | Best Elden Ring early game weapons | Elden Ring Sacred Relic Sword | Elden Ring Mimic Tear

Joel Franey is a writer, journalist, podcaster and raconteur with a Masters from Sussex University, none of which has actually equipped him for anything in real life. As a result he chooses to spend most of his time playing video games, reading old books and ingesting chemically-risky levels of caffeine. He is a firm believer that the vast majority of games would be improved by adding a grappling hook, and if they already have one, they should probably add another just to be safe. You can find old work of his at USgamer, Gfinity, Eurogamer and more besides.

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