How to build Prisoner, Elden Ring’s dedicated dex-int class

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Elden Ring has a ton of dextrous weapons and sorceries to use, and the Prisoner starting class is the easiest to build to take advantage of them.

Prisoner is probably the most depressing of Elden Ring’s starting classes, but not because they’re not strong. The masked warrior comes with high stats in dexterity and intelligence, nudging players towards being a swashbuckling wizard. Here’s how to build and play Prisoner in Elden Ring.

Is the Prisoner a good starting class in Elden Ring?

Solid starting weapons and great stats make Prisoner one of the stronger starting classes in Elden Ring.

The Estoc and Rift Shield are a tricky combination, but they offer arguably the widest option tree of any Elden Ring starting class. The Rift Shield’s parry allows players to knock enemies off balance and score a surprise critical hit. The Estoc can also be used while blocking, providing another defensive tool. Impaling Thrust works wonders against defensive foes. All that is in addition to Magic Glintblade, which can deal magic damage and cover players as they advance on unaware targets.

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On the downside, Prisoner’s armor is some of the worst of any starting class. Low endurance also makes it difficult to switch into heavier armor without going over the medium roll speed threshold. These downsides are mitigated by the Prisoner’s numerous defensive options, but players need to dump runes into endurance or vigor to tank and hits that slip through.

The best Prisoner starting build in Elden Ring

As a class focused on dexterity and intelligence, the Prisoner has access to an extremely strong weapon just after acquiring their first Great Rune.

While conquering Stormveil Castle, players are likely to come across a spellblade named Rogier. This character can be summoned early to help against Magrit the Fell Omen, but he can be encountered either way in a small chapel at the center of Stormveil. Rogier will sell a handful of helpful sorceries and Ashes of War before continuing his own journey through the fortress. He later shows up in the balcony at Roundtable Hold. 

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After exhausting his dialogue, he will give his prized rapier to the player. Roger’s Rapier is a +8 thrusting sword with C dexterity scaling and Glintblade Phalanx with reduced FP cost as a skill. This is an amazing weapon for dexterity intelligence Elden Ring characters like the Prisoner.

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Outside of their primary stats, the Prisoner’s spread is balanced. Early points in vigor and endurance are always good, and runes in mind will keep the spells flowing in extended boss fights. The Prisoner’s starting Rift Shield is great for parrying melee foes, but the low damage block isn’t the best. Grab a Blue-Gold Kite Shield from the merchant southeast of Mistwood Ruins for 100% physical block and solid resistance to the elements.

Is the Prisoner’s mask a reference to Berserk?

The Prisoner in Elden Ring is very likely a reference to Berserk, which is a staple with FromSoftware games.

As soon as the Prisoner starting class’ unique armor design was shown, fans began speculating if it was a reference to the critically-acclaimed manga series Berserk. The iconic helmet looks very similar to a mask worn by Griffith during his torment in the Golden Age arc. While not explicitly confirmed by the developers, it’s safe to say that the Prisoner Iron Mask is a direct tribute to Berserk.

Dark Souls has never shied away from Berserk references. From greatswords looking exactly like the Dragonslayer to armor and poses ripped straight from the manga, there are clearly many Berserk fans at FromSoftware.

Elden Ring continues the tradition with many references including one especially poignant one. A Dragonslayer greatsword sits directly across from Master Smith Hewg in Roundtable Hold. This inclusion could be a tribute to Berserk creator Kentaro Miura, who sudden passed away in 2021.