Elden Ring Great Runes: Great Rune unlocks, power up, & using a Rune Arc to equip

Elden Ring continues with many of the game mechanics established in FromSoftware’s other Souls-style action RPGs, but it also features some all-new mechanics that are built around the new lore of The Lands Between. One major part of this is the Great Rune and an important associated consumable item - the Rune Arc

If you’re early on in Elden Ring, you might’ve picked up Rune Arcs and be curious about what they do. If you’re deeper, you might be wondering about Great Runes and how to make good use of them. This guide will explain both systems, so you can get stuck in and plan ahead.

Why plan ahead? Well, Great Runes and Rune Arcs are significant enough that you might reconsider aspects of your character class build and how you spend your attribute stats on level up - but only if you first understand them:

What is a Great Rune? 

The screen that allows you to equip and use Great Runes in Elden Ring.

Great Runes are the ultimate drops in Elden Ring. They’re only dropped by the main bosses of the game - the Demigods. Great Runes can’t be spent, or lost - but they do have to have their power restored, which is accomplished by scaling one of the Grand Divine Towers scattered across The Lands Between.

That’s pretty much it; each Great Rune belongs to one of the major bosses of Elden Ring - and each has powers that match the theme and fame of that Demigod. Each one also has to be powered up in a different location. Great Runes are separate to the Boss Remembrance Items, which can be used to obtain boss weapons.

To finish Elden Ring, you must acquire two Great Runes & restore power to at least one. If you haven’t done that, you’ll be blocked from entering some story-critical locations later on in the game. 

The easiest great Runes to acquire are that of Godrick and Rennala - and the easiest to power up is Godrick’s, as you can access the relevant Divine Tower straight from his dungeon, Stormveil Castle, which is accessed by beating Margit the Fell Omen. In some other cases, you might have to wait many hours before you’re able to power up a Great Rune. 

How to Equip & Use Great Runes in Elden Ring

Once you've powered one up at the relevant Great Divine Tower, you can choose which powered-up Great Rune you want to equip from any Site of Grace menu; once you’ve acquired your first one, a menu option will appear when resting. It’s here you can learn the effects of each Rune and equip one.

You can only equip one Great Rune at a time, and you can only change via these menus at Sites of Grace. Though they appear in your inventory, they don't do anything there. Furthermore, Rennala's Great Rune, that of the Unborn, cannot be equipped in the same way as the others - it has a different functionaliity.

Once equipped, you can gain the effect of that Great Rune by using a Rune Arc. This consumes the Rune Arc - and as previously mentioned, the effect remains in place until you next die. After dying, you’ll need to use another Rune Arc to get the same benefits again, so it's not a good idea to burn these repeatedly dying against a boss, as you'll run out of Rune Arcs, at which point you can't use the equipped Great Rune at all.

Great Runes sadly do not carry over to New Game Plus; once you start a new journey, you'll need to beat the bosses and power the runes up again.

Great Rune Effects, Unlocks, & Power Restore Locations

The Great Runes are in the hands of the Demigod bosses, such as Malenia and Radahn.

As mentioned above, each Great Rune has unique effects when equipped and activated with a Rune Arc. These effects can make a huge difference to your game - for instance, as a non-magic class, you might struggle to have the FP to call on the best Spirit Ashes summons - but with an FP-increasing Great Rune, I could temporarily give myself access to that move.

It's worth keeping in mind that the Divine Towers will not open for you until you have the relevant rune. Though some can be entered early by unothordox means, there's little to do in these locations - they only serve one purpose, with a few slight exceptions, such as in the basement of the Western Caelid tower. It's also worth noting one Divine Tower, the one in Liurnia, has nothing to do with Great Runes... though it is connected to story events.

Here's each of the great runes and what they do:

Godrick’s Great Rune

This Great Rune is known as the anchor ring, found in the center of the Elden Ring. The first demigods were The Elden Lord Godfrey and his offspring, the golden lineage.

  • Earned by defeating Godrick in Stormveil Castle. This is the center Rune of the Elden Ring, and is called the 'anchor'.
  • Raises all attributes, giving a buff to every one of your stats
  • Powered up at the Divine Tower of Limgrave. Go to the Limgrave Tower Bridge at Stormveil Castle, run to the end - though the bridge is broken, there's a teleporter that'll take you to the tower. Climb the tower to restore the Great Rune's power

Rykard’s Great Rune

"Rykard was amongst the children of Rennala and Radagon, who became demigod stepchildren after Radagon's union with Queen Marika. But Rykard fed himself to the blasphemous serpent, Great Rune and all."

  • Earned by defeating Rykard in Volcano Manor on Mt. Gelmir, which can either be assaulted directly or approached via the Volcano Manor assassins side quest
  • Restores HP whenever you kill enemies
  • Powered up at the Divine Tower of West Altus, reached via the Sealed Tunnel in the Atlas Plateau

Radahn’s Great Rune

"Radahn was amongst the children of Rennala and Radagon, who became demigod stepchildren after Radagon's union with Queen Marika. The Great Rune burns, to resist the encroachment of the scarlet rot."

  • Earned by defeating General Radahn, aka the Starscourge, reached via Caelid’s Redmane Castle
  • Raises your maximum HP, FP, and Stamina quite significantly - by between 12 and 15% per stat
  • Powered up at the Divine Tower of Caelid

Morgott’s Great Rune

"This Great Rune is the anchor ring that houses the base, and proves two things: That the Omen King was born of the golden lineage, and that he was indeed the Lord of Leyndell."

  • Earned by defeating Morgott, who is found in Leyndell, and is critical to story progression
  • Greatly raises your maximum HP by a large amount, around 25%
  • Powered up at the Divine Tower of East Altus, accessed by following the eastern Capital Outskirts past the way to the Grand Lift of Rold

Malenia’s Great Rune

"Malenia is daughter to Queen Marika and Radagon, and her Great Rune should have been the most sacred of all."

  • Your reward for defeating Malenia, far in the north at Elphael, Brace of the Haligtree, which requires the Haligtree Secret Medallion to even each
  • Attacks recover HP after damage is taken
  • Powered up in the Isolated Divine Tower, which is reached via two teleporters - first a Trap Treasure Chest in Limgrave’s Tower of Return, then a teleporter from where that sends you

Mohg's Great Rune

"Mohg and Morgott are twin brothers, and their Great Runes are naturally similar. But Mohg's tune is soaked in accursed blood, from his devout love for the wretched mire that he was born into far below the earth."

  • Reward for defeating Shardbearer Mohg, who can be found a few ways, though the easiest is found via a teleporter in the Snowfields in the very late game, in the western Consecrated Snowfields, reached using the Grand Lift of Rold's secret function.
    • Note, this is fighting Mohg at Mogwyn Palace, accessed from a teleporter in the western part of the Snowfield of the Giants
  • Grants a blessing of blood to phantoms, which appears to power up summons and Spirit Ashes allies, making it so when they defeat enemies, the player is healed.
  • Powered up at the Divine Tower of East Altus, accessed by following the eastern Capital Outskirts past the way to the Grand Lift of Rold

Non-Equippable Great Runes List

Some Great Runes, like the Great Rune of the Unborn, cannot be equipped - but serve another purpose.

As well as the Great Runes from the grand bosses of Elden Ring, there's a handful of Great Runes that can't be equipped by the player. These Runes hold vital story importance, and in many cases are actually linked to unlocking some of the Elden Ring Endings. Here they are:

Great Rune of the Unborn

"Amber egg clutched by Rennala, Queen of the Full Moon. Great Rune of unborn demigods. Perfects those who have been born anew. Children born anew by Rennala are all frail and short-lived. Imperfect beings, each and all."

  • Rewarded for defeating Rennala, the Queen of the Full Moon, in Raya Lucaria Academy in Liurnia of the Lakes
  • This is not powered up in the Divine Tower of Liurnia, despite its proximity and connection to the academy - that tower serves another purpose.
  • Instead, Rennala's Great Rune is already powered up when you get it. What it does, basically, is unlock the character respec attribute reset function. It can't be equipped.

Mending Rune of the Death-Prince

"Rune gestated by Fia, the Deathbed Companion. Used to restore the fractured Elden Ring when brandished by the Elden Lord. Formed of the two hallowbrand half-wheels combined, it will embed the principle of life within Death into Order. The Golden Order was created by confining Destined Death. Thus, this new Order will be one of Death restored."

  • Unlocked by following the quest line of Fia, The Deathbed Companion, which begins in full with a request from Fia when you first reach the Altus Plateau.
  • This Rune can be used towards the end of the game to unlock an ending.

Mending Rune of Perfect Order

"Rune discovered by the noble Goldmask. Used to restore the fractured Elden Ring when brandished by the Elden Lord. A rune of transcendental ideology which will attempt to perfect the Golden Order. The current imperfection of the Golden Order, or instability of ideology, can be blamed upon the fickleness of the gods no better than men. That is the fly in the ointment."

  • Unlocked by following the side quests around Goldmask and Brother Cohryn, which begins after Cohryn leaves Roundtable Hold in search of Goldmask. Track them down, and start their quest.
  • Can be used to unlock a different ending variation.

Mending Rune of the Fell Curse

"Loathsome rune gestated by the Dung Eater. Used to restore the fractured Elden Ring when brandished by the Elden Lord. The reviled curse will last eternally, and the world's children, grandchildren, and every generation hence, will be its pustules. If Order is defiled entirely, defilement is defilement no more, and for every curse, a cursed blessing."

  • The Rune of Dung Eater, you must complete his quest and then, after finishing it and dealing with his invasion, feed him Seedbed Curses in the Leyndell Gaol repeatedly until you unlock this rune.
  • When used, gives you access to yet another ending variation.

How & when to use a Rune Arc in Elden Ring

The Rune Arc, a key item in Elden Ring that can make bosses much easier.

You’ll likely get your hands on a Rune Arc, a standard consumable item, fairly early in Elden Ring. These items are rare, but they’re not that rare - and in addition, since they’re consumable, you’ll likely collect quite a number of them over the course of your playthrough, starting early on.

Rune Arcs are described as “a shard of the shattered Elden Ring”. In real terms, Rune Arcs basically offer a temporary power-up to the Tarnished that uses it - temporary, that is, because it lasts until you die.

It’s important not to confuse the Rune Arc with other Rune items, which typically just give you a bunch of runes that can then be spent towards leveling up your character. These are different - and the benefit they give you can vary.

Specifically, using a Rune Arc will give you the benefit of your currently-equipped Great Rune. This benefit lasts until you die. 

If you don’t have a Great Rune equipped, using a Great Rune will instead get you a small benefit in the form of a modest buff to your HP, your overall health. Again, this buff disappears when you die. This will only really be in the earlier stages of the game - as if you don’t have a Great Rune equipped, it’ll likely be because you’re yet to unlock your first.

Where to get Rune Arcs

If you want to get a Rune Arc, they’re a fairly common drop throughout the game. There’s also some guaranteed ways to get your hands on them. In brief:

  • You’ll always get a Rune Arc for defeating a boss as a co-op multiplayer summon helper.
  • Similarly, a Rune Arc is always rewarded for defeating the Host of Fingers during an online multiplayer invasion
  • Beyond that, Rune Arcs are commonly found loot items right across the world - in legacy dungeons, catacombs, and even out in the overworld.
  • Rune Arcs can drop from several types of enemies, including rats.
  • Finally, Rune Arcs are commonly sold by several vendors across the game - and later in the game you’ll even be able to buy them in Roundtable Hold’s Twin Maiden Husks