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Guide to World and Character Tendency in "Demon's Souls"

One of the more opaque concepts in Demon's Souls, Tendency is barely explained and easy to ignore. Tied to your character's morality, both World and Character Tendency can alter your playthrough in some pretty neat ways - though if you're just playing through normally, you may not notice any changes at all.

This guide will teach you about both World and Character Tendency in Demon's Souls. They're both important if you want to get the most out of the game, and players who turn into NPC murderers will find their playthroughs a fair bit more difficult as a result of their actions.

All images copyright Sony Interactive Entertainment.

All images copyright Sony Interactive Entertainment.

World Tendency

Pull up the menu and check the fourth submenu from the left. This is the Tendency menu, and the first section you see is the World Tendency. This shows how your actions have rubbed off on the game's five worlds. Each Archstone depicted has a small eye icon under it, and depending on how you've conducted yourself the eye may range from sparkling white to deep, deep black in hue.

Demon's Souls keeps track of the things you've done in each world, sliding the Tendency this way and that as you play. Once you reach certain levels of positive or negative Tendency you'll start seeing changes in the world around you. Each world tracks its own level of Tendency, so you'll need to manipulate it in each world to see these changes.

There are several ways to 'boost' your Tendency towards Pure White World Tendency:

  • Defeat invaders, ie other players who enter your game and try to kill you.
  • Defeat mandatory boss monsters
  • Defeat optional monsters, such as the two dragons in Boletarian Palace
  • Defeat Primeval Demons
  • Defeat Black Phantoms spawned as a result of Black World Tendency

There are fewer ways to slide a world's Tendency towards Black World Tendency:

  • Die while in a body
  • Defeat an NPC spawned as a result of White World Tendency

Aside from defeating invaders and killing yourself over and over your options for moving the Tendency scale in a playthrough are limited, so you need to know exactly what you want out of your Worlds before you start making choices.

World Tendency affects the game in different ways, though roughly speaking a world with greater White World Tendency will be easier but less rewarding, while a world with greater Black World Tendency will be harder but more rewarding. You can expect the following effects as you shift towards White World Tendency:

  • You retain more of your health gauge in Soul form
  • Your attacks do more damage in Soul form, as do the attacks of allies you've summoned
  • Enemies are weaker than normal
  • Special NPCs with unique quests will appear in each world
  • New areas will open up for you to explore, such as the gate to the left of the first Archstone in Boletarian Palace

By contrast, you can expect the following changes in a world with higher Black World Tendency:

  • You retain less of your health gauge while in Soul form
  • Enemies are stronger than normal
  • Black Phantom players who invade your world will be stronger
  • Black Phantom enemies will appear throughout the levels, including Black Phantom versions of the NPCs that appear in White World Tendency
  • Primeval Demons will spawn
  • Item drop rate improves
  • Enemies drop more Souls when defeated
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In general it is easier to maintain Black World Tendency than White. All you have to do is go to the world, revive yourself with a Stone of Ephemeral Eyes, and jump down the nearest pit. Several deaths in this manner will turn your world to Pure Black World Tendency. That said, certain events during Black World Tendency - defeating special NPC Black Phantoms or Primeval Demons - will instantly grant you a massive White Tendency boost, so you need to be careful who you kill if you want to maintain your item and Soul boosts.

One final note: You will not see a change in your World Tendency until you leave the world and return to the Nexus. Normally this isn't an issue, but if you're killing yourself in body form in order to achieve Black World Tendency you may think you're not making any progress - or, worse, revive yourself too many times. The icon will change hues once you jump back to the Nexus.

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Character Tendency

Unlike World Tendency, which is location-specific, Character Tendency is player-specific. Whenever your character takes a moral action, for good or ill, it will affect their Character Tendency. You can view your Character Tendency via the second tab on the Tendency screen.

There is only one way to improve your Character Tendency, and that is to kill Black Phantoms. These can be enemy players, whether they invade your world or the world of another player who summoned you, or the five special NPC Black Phantoms that appear as a result of dipping your worlds into Black World Tendency. The other, generic Black Phantoms that appear throughout the game do not count towards White Character Tendency.

Similarly, the only way to drop your Character Tendency into the black is to kill 'innocent' characters. This can be done online, by invading other worlds and killing hosts, or offline, by killing NPCs in your own game. Every NPC can be killed (though the Maiden in Black will revive after a short time), and most kills with progress you towards Pure Black Character Tendency. In general it is better to kill the merchant NPCs that remain in the five worlds, as killing the NPCs in the Nexus will rob you of their valuable services. If you kill Stockpile Thomas, for example, you'll lose access to your storage space for the duration of the playthrough, and killing the two blacksmiths will prevent you from upgrading weapons.

White Character Tendency has the following effects:

  • Your attack power as a soul is increased. This counts in your game, and when you appear as a Blue Phantom in someone else's game.
  • When you reach Pure White Character Tendency the Monumental will give you the Ally's Ring, a useful item if you enjoy aiding other players.

The effects of Black Character Tendency are a little more striking:

  • Your maximum health in Soul form is reduced.
  • Your attack power as an invading Black Phantom is increased.
  • You gain access to the Mephistopheles NPC, who appears once you've killed Yurt the Silent Chief. Mephistopheles has an entire quest line, with plenty of valuable rewards.

If you plan to kill NPCs to reach Pure Black Character Tendency it is best to wait until you're almost through your playthrough. If you don't plan this part out carefully you'll rob yourself of many of the resources you'll need to complete your playthrough.

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Do you have to tinker with Tendency?

No! It is perfectly possible for you to enjoy most of the Demon's Souls experience without messing with either World or Character Tendency. Both mechanics are finicky, and you'll need to do some unnatural things - such as killing yourself in the Nexus over and over, so you don't risk dying in your body in a world - to make the most of Tendency. The new areas and items you unlock are far from crucial to completing the game.

If you're the kind who enjoys seeing everything a game has to offer, however, World Tendency and Character Tendency are vital concepts. There are some things that will just plain be outside your reach if you don't understand, and manipulate, both aspects of your playthrough. Just be sure you plan your path through your game out before you emback, as it's very easy to screw up Tendency and have to start over.

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