Elden Ring: What happens when A Great Rune has broken?

Once players have progressed far enough into Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree, they'll eventually be alerted with a cracking sound, accompanied by a visual flourish and the system text alerting them that "somewhere, a Great Rune has broken." An ominous sign; but what exactly does it mean, and how has the Land of Shadow changed in the aftermath?

What does "A Great Rune has broken" even mean?

Simply put, players will have the system text pop up to signify that Miquella has proceeded to the next stage of his plan, having discarded his Great Rune entirely. This will happen a few different ways; approaching the Shadow Keep is one, while players will also receive the system text while leaving Bonny Village on their way to the Church District, if they hadn't received it already. It acts as a signifier that the world state has changed, and it would be wise to go back and talk with any and all NPCs affiliated with Miquella before proceeding any further.

What does the Great Rune breaking change?

NPCs that were previously charmed by Miquella have now been lifted of the affliction due to the loss of his Great Rune; some character's allegiances remain the same, while others will now reveal how they've been shepherded towards the Land of Shadow under Miquella's spell, much to their chagrin. Many NPC questlines will begin to move at a quicker pace, now that the spell has been broken.

In addition to the change to NPCs, there's another - more crucial change to be aware of. At the farthest south point of the Land of Shadow, players might have discovered a barrier preventing them from accessing the Stone Coffing Fissure legacy dungeon; once Miquella's Great Rune has been broken, the barrier lifts and players can finally access the legacy dungeon, challenge its Remembrance Boss the Putrescent Knight, and meet Miquella's discarded other half, Saint Trina.

Reaching Saint Trina

All in all; while it's certainly going to give players a startle, the Great Rune breaking is an integral part of Shadow of the Erdtree's story and progression, and nothing to worry about - you haven't locked yourself out of anything by letting the Great Rune break, though you will maybe want to be more careful with progressing character questlines now that the DLC has begun to open up. While there's plenty of side content to tackle in the DLC, we'd say that the Great Rune breaks about halfway through the main story - or thereabouts. So if it's broken, you've transitioned to the latter half of the DLC's main story. Have fun with the rest of the game!