God-Devouring Serpent and Rykard are two optional bosses you battle back-to-back in a single encounter in Elden Ring.
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How to prepare for God-Devouring Serpent and Rykard
Rykard is a boss with a gimmick mechanic in that he can only be damaged by the Serpent-Hunter, a weapon that is both great-sword and spear, which you can find from a corpse when you first enter the boss arena.
Because it is a mandatory weapon, there are no stats requirements for wielding it, but you can still upgrade it at a smithy, which will definitely make the fight easier, so consider warping out to upgrade before warping back to the Site of Grace.
As a special armament, Sombre Smithing Stones are required, with an Ancient Dragon Sombre Smithing Stone for reaching the max +10 level.
While it’s possible to reach him by almost as soon as you have reached Volcano Manor, you will likely be a bit underlevelled, and so his attacks can take quite a lot out of you, so it’s best not to fight him until you’re near the late stage of the game, which will be the case if you’re following Tanith’s requests.
In any case, heavy armour and a shield will be very helpful to mitigate most attacks.
Otherwise, summoning Mimic Tears with a Serpent-Hunter can also make this fight significantly easier.
How to defeat God-Devouring Serpent
The boss arena is quite large, and while you’ll see the large serpent in the middle, it won’t initiate the fight until you are close. This gives you time to pick up the Serpent-Hunter from the corpse at the start if you are entering this fight for the first time, as well as summon a spirit.
The serpent is surrounded by lava that makes up-close melee attacks less than ideal. Although the damage from the lava only causes chip damage it does stagger you out of your animation, making heavy or charged attacks not very feasible.
Fortunately, the Serpent-Hunter has a special mechanic in this fight as each attack releases a blade of light, making it a ranged weapon. There is also its unique skill that can be performed with the left trigger that can be charged up into a powerful slash, although this will cost FP.
If you just stay outside of the lava pool, it’s quite easy to spam attacks and if you have a spirit to distract, the serpent will go down in no time.
If you’re soloing this, then you may need to watch out for its brute force attacks, which come in the form of lunges from either side, or sometimes both in quick succession, but these can be guarded against with a strong shield.
They also have a grab attack that can be dodged, but if caught you will be slammed down on the ground twice, although you fortunately only have to eat critical damage once.
How to defeat Rykard, Lord of Blasphemy
Of course, the serpent’s just the first phase before it reveals its true identity as Rykard. If you’re killed during this phase you’ll also have to fight the God-Devouring Serpent again.
This new phase isn’t too different from the first, apart from the fact he’s now wielding a blade that can really hurt, and so having a spirit to distract him comes in especially helpful here.
His most common combo has him swinging his sword from his left to the right, before swinging it back (but not without first slamming it on the ground before continuing the swing, just to throw you off) and then ending with a rise and stabbing it into the ground in front of him.
You can avoid these if you’re keeping your distance, and the Serpent-Hunter’s ranged attacks should still be able to hit.
The reach of Rykard’s blade means he might sometimes smack into the environment causing debris to fall. These won’t hurt you but it can obscure your vision.
He also has his own ranged attack, first by releasing a small flaming skull from his mouth which then leaves a trail of fire followed by explosions along the trail.
Again, if you have a spirit with you, it’s likely this will follow them, leaving you open to continue wailing your Serpent-Hunter attacks without much issue.
Rykard, Lord of Blasphemy reward
For a fairly simple gimmick fight, defeating Rykard nonetheless rewards you handsomely with 100,000 runes. You'll also get Remembrance of the Blaspehmous, which can be used for Runes or exchanged with Enia at the Roundtable Hold for new items, as well as Rykard’s Great Rune.
This will need to be restored at the Divine Tower of West Altus first, but when equipped and consuming a Rune Arc, it will restore a bit of health everytime you kill an enemy.
Not bad, though not nearly as useful as Malenia’s Great Rune.
With Rykard felled, you can also conclude the quest at Volcano Manor as well as Patches’.