Elden Ring Lore: Duelists
This is the Lore of the Duelists from Elden Ring. They are the expelled gladiators from the colosseums in the Lands Between. A free update just added the ability to engage in bloody battle online in the colosseums, so I think it’s a good time to learn more about these former fighters.
The information about these duelists is quite limited and we’ll have to understand them with what we have. The main sources of information are various item descriptions of gear associated with the duelists.
Types of Duelists
Grave Wardens are the bosses of Murkwater Catacombs and Auriza Side Tomb. Upon defeat, they drop Spirit Ashes as loot. It’s obvious for a Grave Warden to have the Ashen Remains of dead warriors.
As for their common counterparts, they look rather similar, as expected, but are weaker. They’re well-built and they wield heavy, strength-based weaponry. As for their battle tactics, they prefer to charge at their foes and overpower them, rather than focus on defenses or dodging.
These duelists can either be ones that fought in the Leyndell colosseum or the Limgrave colosseum. At the entrance of the Leyndell colosseum, you can find one of them (a weaker counterpart). Maybe he wanted to get back in the colosseum? It somewhat seems so, with the way he’s staring at the doors…
The Scarlet Rot has affected these duelists and they inflict the rot with their attacks. These duelists and their common counterparts (Rotten Duelists) are probably ex-gladiators from the colosseum in Caelid. As you must be familiar, Caelid is the rot-stricken land where Malenia and Radahn fought, and most things you find there -living or dead- are taken ill by the Scarlet Rot.
The Frenzied Duelist is one of the rarer types of duelists, as he’s only found in the Gaol Cave. The cause of his frenzy affliction is not known. There aren’t any common frenzied duelist counterparts.
Why were they banished from the Colosseums?
This is a question which we don’t have clear answers to. The best thing we can do is to try and learn as much as possible with what we are given.
Bronze helm decorated with innumerable snakes.
Worn by gladiators who were driven from the colosseum. The wearer becomes a slightly easier target for foes.
The snake is viewed as a traitor to the Erdtree, and the audience delighted in seeing these bronze effigies beaten and battered.
It’s clear that they were shunned and disdained. This raises another question, however: what is the snake? What instantly came to my mind was the God-devouring Serpent and Rykard. The item description of the above helm says that the snake is a traitor to the Erdtree. This further stabilizes the theory that the snake is in fact associated with the God-devouring serpent. Observe the below quote from Rykard.
“I understand. The road of blasphemy is long and perilous. One cannot walk it unprepared to sin.”Praetor Rykard
It’s clear that the Great Serpent of Mount Gelmir was blasphemous. Blasphemy is surely frowned upon by the Erdtree and its worshippers. This might be just a theory, but we really don’t have any other sources of information that links the duelists to some other snake. While this does seem far-fetched, it’s what I consider to be the truth.
But this newfound information still doesn’t answer our original question: why were they banished from the colosseums?
The item descriptions of all other equipment say things that are quite similar to what’s said in the description of the helm. There really isn’t any solid evidence that would tell us why they were banished. The crowd loved to see the bronze snake effigies get beaten, so the proprietors of the colosseums had reason to keep the duelists there. I guess this will remain a mystery…
Why are many Duelists found in Catacombs?
Almost all the boss variants of the Duelists are end-bosses of Catacombs. They drop the Ashen Remains of other warriors as loot. This is indeed another mystery. We can guess that they sought to become wardens to graves because they had no purpose, now that they were exiled from the colosseums. But that’s just a guess.