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A Tarnished wearing the Black Knife set stands on a roof in Ordinia, Liturgical town in Elden Ring.
Screenshot by Dot Esports

The best Black Knife build in Elden Ring

The fearsome assassins aren't dead yet.

The fearsome Black Knife assassins are key parts of Elden Ring‘s backstory, and you can build to become one. The Black Knife build combines an incredible and unique damage-over-time effect with strong spellcasting to make a deadly Tarnished.

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If you want to maximize your build’s connection to the lore, all Black Knife Assassins are believed to be Numen women. Numen is an option from the templates during character selection.

Once you’ve got that option picked (come on, do it for the Elden Ring flavour), you can then get started on the best Black Knife build.

Best stats for a Black Knife build in Elden Ring

A Tarnished leaps into the air before launching a flaming projectile from the Black Knife in Elden Ring.
The signature attack of the deadly assassin order is yours to command. Screenshot by Dot Esports

The Black Knife build focuses on their signature weapon, a Dexterity and Faith dagger. You should start as a Prophet to maximize your stat distribution. Any starting class in Elden Ring can get to these milestones, but only the Prophet gets here by level 150.

  • Vigor: 60
  • Mind: 18
  • Endurance: Eight
  • Strength: 11
  • Dexterity: 60
  • Intelligence: Seven
  • Faith: 55
  • Arcane: 10

You get to two soft caps by level 150, in Vigor and Dexterity. Elden Ring is an explosive game so having the highest health you can without it being a waste is a great idea. Dexterity is the stat your knife scales the hardest with, making it your priority for most of the game. It’s also easier to use knife-like weapons if you prioritize it over Faith.

However, Faith is a big component of the weapon too, so getting it as high as you can is always good—not only for the knife but for the buff and attack Incantations you get access to at the highest Faith levels.

The only other stat you’ll want to increase is Mind. The Black Blade has an excellent Weapon Skill in Blade of Death, and you’ll be casting plenty of Incantations to buff and heal. While 18 Mind is far from the highest amount of FP you can get, it works well alongside the Godrick Great Rune. You’ll consistently be able to use the Weapon Skill four to five times without needing to sip with 18 to 23 Mind.

Best weapon for a Black Knife build in Elden Ring

The Black Knife dagger in Elden Ring in the game's inventory screen.
A really unique dagger for any Faith-heavy build. Screenshot by Dot Esports

The Black Knife dagger is a serviceable weapon in Elden Ring, capable of dealing great damage on each fast-paced attack. Alongside Talismans, you can find success landing repeated attacks on foes. You also want to use a Godslayer’s Seal for your spellcasting; it’s the strongest option for middling-to-high Faith builds.

The Black Knife is a quick-striking dagger with a unique heavy attack. Its Weapon Skill, Blade of Death, deals damage to maximum and current health. The skill scales mostly off Faith and seems to deal mostly Holy damage, making it a great build-around power.

Your casting implements change hands often during your Black Knife career. At 55 Faith, the Godslayer’s Seal as the best option. Once you reach above 70 Faith, I’d suggest swapping to the Erdtree Seal. Before then, the Finger Seal works excellently, unless you have a specific Incantation school you’d like to buff.

Best armor for a Black Knife build in Elden Ring

The Black Knife Armor chestpiece in Elden Ring.
The stealthiest armor in the game, despite its weight. Screenshot by Dot Esports

Thankfully, Elden Ring makes the armor for a Black Knife build easy with the Black Knife set. This is looted off of a corpse in the northern part of the Consecrated Snowfield. Once you reach Ordina, Liturgical Town, it’s under the bridge that leads to the teleporter to the Haligtree. The full set is here and has a total weight of 21.8.

Tip: Don’t like the look? Alter it.

If you’re not a fan of the cape of the Black Knife Armor, you can use a sewing kit to alter it. This removes the cape and the silencing feature of the armor. It also weighs 0.2 less, in case you need to equip a thimble or something.

This is a relatively lightweight armor set in Elden Ring, but that doesn’t make it ineffective. It comes with a sound-muffling effect, which is mostly helpful for landing a backstab before a fight actually begins. Unfortunately, at 40 poise, you’re beneath a major PvP threshold to avoid staggers—unless you tech in the Bull-Goat’s Talisman.

Best spells for a Black Knife build in Elden Ring

The Black Blade Incantation in Elden Ring.
A bit flashy, but very effective if you can land it. Screenshot by Dot Esports

With 55 Faith, the Black Knife build can handle almost any Incantation in Elden Ring—including legendary ones. You should get a body buffing spell, like Flame, Grant me Strength, as well as holy damage-dealing projectiles, such as Black Blade, to further bolster your loadout.

The following spells help form the build as well as cover different weaknesses the build has.

  • Black Blade: From the Remembrance of the Black Blade.
  • Flame, Grant Me Strength: From behind Fort Gael.
  • Fortification Incantations: Select the ones that best apply to your combat situation, such as taking Lightning Fortification before fighting Placidusax.
  • Shadow Bait: From the Subterranean Shunning-Grounds.

Play around with other options, though be warned: you already have the Assassin’s Footsteps spell at all times once you get the Black Knife chest piece.

Best Talismans for a Black Knife build in Elden Ring

The Sacred Scorpion Charm in Elden Ring in the game's inventory screen.
With how much Holy damage you deal, you’ll want this. Screenshot by Dot Esports

The best Talismans for a Black Knife build prioritize dealing a lot of Holy damage and dealing that damage multiple times. Thankfully, there are quite a few options to make you a fragile but deadly missile.

  • Sacred Scorpion Charm: This charm boosts Holy damage by 12 percent, though at a 10 percent deficit to your physical defenses. Your dagger’s basic attacks and Weapon Skill all do Holy damage, so it’s a good trade. You get this as soon as you head to the Smoldering Church in northwestern Caelid.
  • Dragoncrest Greatshield Talisman: This defensive charm is mostly to counteract the Sacred Scorpion Charm, boosting your physical defenses by 20 percent. It’s found near the bottom of the Haligtree, so be ready to trade through defensive Dragoncrest and Drake Talismans until you reach that endgame area.
  • Rotten Winged Sword Insignia: A reward for clearing Millicent’s quest by helping her, this Talisman boosts damage by up to 13 percent based on successive hits.
  • Millicent’s Prosthesis: A reward for killing Millicent at the end of her quest, this Talisman is only 11 percent damage, but also boosts Dexterity by five. If you use this Talisman, you can instead run 55 Dexterity/60 Faith to hit soft caps.

Until you go to New Game Plus, or until an Elden Ring friend drops the Prosthesis for you, you may have to run another Talisman. The Erdtree’s Favor plus two is a great defensive option and the Ritual Sword Talisman is a good offensive one.

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Image of Jason Toro-McCue
Jason Toro-McCue
Contributing writer and member of the RPG beat. Professional writer of five years for sites and apps, including Nerds + Scoundrels and BigBrain. D&D and TTRPG fanatic, perpetual Fighter main in every game he plays.