Elden Ring's Rivers of Blood katana build and location guide

elden ring rivers of blood
(Image credit: From Software)

I'm not saying Rivers of Blood is the single best weapon in Elden Ring... but is it up there? Most definitely.

Elden Ring's Rivers of Blood katana may be the most popular sword in the game thanks to the effectiveness of bleed skills, even after they were nerfed in one of Elden Ring's earliest patches. And nothing makes your enemies bleed like Rivers of Blood. This thing will make normal mobs, bosses, and PvP players burst into fountains of gore in a few quick hits.

Recent updates

June 2024: There's a cool new katana in town if you're playing Elden Ring's expansion. Spoilers ahead in here for those who like to go swords unseen, but be aware there is definitely a best katana in Shadows of the Erdtree.

Below is our guide to getting your hands on the Rivers of Blood katana, along with some build tips to get the most out of its bleed damage.

One thing to keep in mind if you're starting Elden Ring for the first time: Rivers of Blood is not a weapon you can get your hands on early. If you're a diehard katana fan who wouldn't dream of looking at hammers or axes or short swords, you'll have to use other katanas for quite awhile before you get your hands on this one. Finding Rivers of Blood requires reaching the late-game area the Mountaintops of Giants, and it's important to grab it once you arrive: after defeating a certain boss, it becomes unavailable.

The Rivers of Blood katana is the best sword for a bleed build, either two-handed or dual wielded with another katana. For the first half of the game you'll likely be making do with the Uchigatana, which you can find in Limgrave (or start with if you pick the samurai class).

If you're all about the bleed, you can still apply bleed Ashes of War and put points into your Arcane stat and do great damage with other other Elden Ring weapons aside from Rivers of Blood. What makes Rivers of Blood especially good is its unique ability, which stacks up even more bleed damage than most other weapons. That's why it's the go-to katana for inflicting catastrophic blood loss on bosses and slicing off a chunk of their health.

Even if you don't want to use it yourself, it's likely a weapon you'll run into in PvP very often, so you better learn to recognize it.

Here's where to find Rivers of Blood—and make sure to get it before defeating the Fire Giant.

Elden Ring Rivers of Blood location

(Image credit: Mapgenie.io/elden-ring)

If you've already killed the Fire Giant, Bloody Finger Okina won't invade so you won't be able to get the Rivers of Blood katana in your current playthrough.

If you haven't, venture into the Mountaintops of the Giants to get this katana. It's the area past Leyndell, Royal Capital, so don't expect to get to it too early.

When you approach the Church of Repose, far south of Castle Sol, you're invaded by the NPC Bloody Finger Okina. Okina wields the Rivers of Blood katana and deals heavy bleed damage if he hits you, so your best bet is to keep him at a distance. Or just don't get hit. Easy, right?

Once you've defeated the invader, you're rewarded with the Rivers of Blood katana and the Okina Mask.

Rivers of Blood stats

  • Requires: 12 strength, 19 dexterity, 20 arcane
  • Damage type: Slash/Pierce
  • Scaling: Strength E, dexterity D, arcane D
  • Skill: Corpse Piler
  • Passive: Blood loss buildup (50)

The bleed passive means you'll be able to take chunks of health from enemies with successive hits, making some formidable opponents an absolute breeze.

What makes Rivers of Blood especially popular is its unique skill Corse Piler, which isn't on any other weapons in the game. This multi-slash attack has great range, does heavy damage and piles on extra helpings of bleed. Its bloody slashes are ridiculously effective even after FromSoftware's first few Elden Ring patches.

The Rivers of Blood katana is upgraded with Somber Smithing Stones, meaning you can upgrade it to a final value of +10. At level +3 its dexterity scaling increases to C, and at +10 its dexterity scaling improves to B.

Rivers of Blood build tips

Okay, so you have Rivers of Blood. Now what? What gear pairs best with this bloody blade? Here's a straightforward build to maximize your bleed damage.

  • Off-hand weapon (optional): ⚔ Nagakiba (another katana to amp up bleed), 🧙‍♂️ Dragon Communion Seal (for incantations, but scales well with Arcane)
  • Armor: 🎭White Mask (briefly increase attack damage by 10% after triggering blood loss)
  • Talismans: 🥇Lord of Blood's Exultation (briefly increase attack damage by 20% after triggering blood loss), 🥈 Winged Sword Insignia (briefly increase attack damage with successive attacks)

You don't need an off-hand weapon to pair with Rivers of Blood, but you certainly can go into combat dual wielding if that's your jam. The sword is a beast by itself, though: just upgrade the blade, put points into Dex, and learn how to use its L2 attack, which racks up the bleed.

The White Mask is a near-essential pairing to maximize the damage of any bleed weapon, as is the Lord of Blood's Exultation talisman. Get your hands on both of those and you'll be set.

As suggested with our off-hand weapons above, Elden Ring is a flexible game, so you could easily pair Rivers of Blood with arcane magic or focus less on the bleed proc and more on dexterity.

Sarah James
Guides Writer

Sarah started as a freelance writer in 2018, writing for PCGamesN, TechRadar, GamingBible, Red Bull Gaming and more. In 2021, she was offered a full-time position on the PC Gamer team where she takes every possible opportunity to talk about World of Warcraft and Elden Ring. When not writing guides, most of her spare time is spent in Azeroth—though she's quite partial to JRPGs too. One of her fondest hopes is to one day play through the ending of Final Fantasy X without breaking down into a sobbing heap. She probably has more wolves in Valheim than you.