Dragonrot in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice serves as a kind of punishment for dying and resurrecting too often. Or at least it serves as in incentive not do to it where possible.
There is a Dragonrot cure however, helping you mitigate or totally clear away any downsides of the disease - but there's a catch. There's also the matter of how Dragonrot affects NPCs in Sekiro to consider too, which we'll explain in more detail, along with how to best work around that catch, further below.
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Sekiro Dragonrot explained - death, Rot Essence, and Unseen Aid
Dragonrot is Sekiro's way of discouraging you from dying repeatedly - as if the lost Sen and XP wasn't enough of a problem, and as if you were doing it on purpose anyway.
Still, that's its main function: the more you die the worst Dragonrot will get, and the worse it gets, the lower your chances of receiving Unseen Aid, the phenomenon that lets you keep all of you Sen and XP on death, which occurs by chance.
Sekiro Dragonrot explained - death, Rot Essence, and Unseen Aid
There's more detail than that to bear in mind though.
Dragonrot itself is actually a disease. Each time you acquire Rot Essence in your inventory, another NPC in the game has caught the Dragonrot disease themselves. There's a chance you'll receive Rot Essence whenever you die, but the general understanding is that it averages out to about one in every ten deaths that you'll get another Rot Essence - meaning another NPC affected.
The Rot Essence will have a name, which indicates which NPC is affected this time - it seems as though even NPCs you haven't met yet can contract it, although those you've already met are prioritised first. Rot Essence: Sculptor means the Sculptor, first found back at the Dilapidated Temple, has caught it for instance. He'll be the first to catch it (when you do, instead of being teleported back to a Sculptor's Idol on death you'll go back to the Dilapidated Temple and need to speak with him, and then Emma, to start off the simple quest steps for curing it).
Aside from the reduction in your chance of receiving Unseen Aid, the other main downside is that any NPCs affected by Dragonrot will be unable to give you any further progress on your quests with them. You'll need to clear the Dragonrot and get the Rot Essence out of your inventory before you can continue any quests they might give out. The good news is that it doesn't seem to actually kill or remove any NPCs permanently.
Your Unseen Aid will start out at 30%, and drop by a few percent with each bit of Rot Essence you acquire - the first piece of Rot Essence acquired will actually halve it to 15%, with the rest lowering it by smaller amounts.
The final, key thing to know about Dragonrot is that it is acquired when you fully die only. Your use of the resurrection mechanic, where you can revive and continue fighting or fleeing, doesn't seem to affect the rate at which you acquire Dragonrot in our experience. Resurrecting, resting at a Sculptor's Idol to restore the lost resurrection charge, and continuing means you won't get any Rot Essence no matter how many times you repeat that process.
Looking for more Sekiro pages like this? First up, the first main Sekiro patch notes for update 1.03 are live. Otherwise, our Sekiro boss guide, boss list and walkthrough hub has everything in one place, including pages on Lady Butterfly, Genichiro Ashina Way of Tomoe, Folding Screen Monkeys, Corrupted Monk, Guardian Ape, Great Shinobi Owl, Emma and Isshin Ashina, True Corrupted Monk, and Divine Dragon. We also have in-depth pages like Sekiro tips and tricks to get you started, Sekiro Skills, skill tree and Esoteric Text locations explained, our deep dive on the Sekiro combat system, Posture, and Perilous Attacks, or details on all Sekiro Prosthetic Tool locations, how to cure Dragonrot and Rot Essence in Sekiro, Gourd Seed locations, a Divine Confetti farm route method, all Treasure Carp Scale locations, all, Prayer Beads locations and all Snap Seed locations, too. And when you're ready - the how to beat Isshin Sword Saint and an Isshin Sword Saint cheese, plus the many Sekiro endings.
Sekiro Dragonrot cure details - how to cure Dragonrot
Unless you're constantly running back to Sculptor's Idols to regain charges of resurrection, are performing a large amount of deathblows that charge it back up over time, or are just generally fantastic at playing Sekiro without fully dying, you're probably going to want to get rid of all that Rot Essence and cure your NPCs' Dragonrot afflictions at some point.
Thankyfully there is indeed a cure - only there's a catch, as you can only cure it a certain number of times, using a specific resource that's in limited supply: Dragon's Blood Droplets.
How to cure Dragonrot
Here's the step-by-step process for curing Dragonrot.
- Talk to the Sculptor and Emma after you first get teleported back to the Dilapidated Temple, when you first get Rot Essence and learn about Dragonrot.
- Emma tells you she'll research it - you need to leave and come back (rest at an Idol or just come back whenever next suits you) to further her progress.
- When you return she'll ask for a Blood Sample of someone who's contracted the disease. Speak to another NPC who has it - remember the Rot Essence in your inventory will indicate who's caught it so far - and ask to take a Blood Sample from them, then head back to Emma and give her the sample.
- She'll tell you to return later again, and she'll hopefully have more information - rest again or pay her another visit when you like, and she'll give you the Recovery Charm Key Item, and one Dragon's Blood Droplet.
- Use the Dragon's Blood Droplet to cure all NPCs of Dragonrot, and clear all Rot Essence from your inventory, by visiting a Sculptor's Idol and selecting the Dragonrot Restoration option.
- Each time you do so you consume that Dragon's Blood Droplet. They're pretty rare - there are less than 20 in the game that we know of - so do so wisely. Don't bother clearing Dragonrot right before you go into a big boss fight where you expect to die ten times in a row anyway, for instance!
We'll be digging into those specific locations for Dragon's Blood Droplets a little more over time, but for now that's all the essentials covered for curing your lovely NPCs of Dragonrot and ridding yourself of the frustrating effects of Rot Essence. Just remember that when you do come across a Dragon's Blood Droplet in your travels, it's precious: use it wisely (but do use it at some point - there's no point stockpiling them for the end of the game).