Elden Ring Story Explained: A Complete Guide To What You're Doing In The Game

Elden Ring has you killing a bunch of demigods and taking their stuff. Every wonder why? We've dug into the lore to explain everything you do in the Lands Between.

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Elden Ring is a vast game that takes you through an enormous world brimming with history and lore, as well as tiny stories playing out all around you. But then there's your story: the things you actually do in the game. You're something called a Tarnished, and you're told you have to get something called the Elden Ring, and that you want to become something called Elden Lord. There are people you have to kill to do that. Have fun.

The reasons you're doing the things you're doing are opaque, there's not a lot of information on the people you're fighting, and it's extremely easy to miss the context of what's going on in Elden Ring. That's where this guide comes in. After playing the game for more than a hundred hours, reading and watching a host of lore deep-dives from various content creators, and consulting and working with GameSpot's other Elden Ring obsessives, we've created a complete guide to what actually happens in Elden Ring. This is the story of you, the chosen Tarnished, as you journey through the lands between, face the demigods, and try to understand the machinations of cosmic forces beyond your control. There's a lot more to Elden Ring than just killing huge bosses. Here's everything you need to know to make sense of it.

Be warned, these articles are full of spoilers. It's also worth noting that the stories of the Lands Between often interlock with one another, so while you can jump around to articles that concern a specific section of the game, we sometimes reference discussions from earlier parts--especially when it comes to characters like Marika, Miquella, Godwyn, and the Albinaurics.

The lore and history of the Lands Between

The Lands Between is a huge place with a long history, and understanding it is key to making sense of what you see before you.
The Lands Between is a huge place with a long history, and understanding it is key to making sense of what you see before you.

First, we have the basics. This is an explanation of what happened before the start of Elden Ring, who the major personalities are, who the player character is, and why the player character is in the Lands Between. TL;DR: A human woman named Marika was elevated to the status of god-queen by a distant and unknowable cosmic entity, and then continually screwed up the world in increasingly awful ways.

Part 1: Limgrave

You start the game in Limgrave with a clear target: Godrick the Grafted.
You start the game in Limgrave with a clear target: Godrick the Grafted.

Your story begins in Limgrave. God is missing, there's no one in charge, monsters are running around, a bunch of people are being murdered, and the whole place has stagnated. In Limgrave, you'll learn about the Greater Will and the Guidance of Grace, as well as about Godrick the Grafted, a demigod usurper who runs these lands with horrific cruelty. It's up to you to kill Godrick and claim his Great Rune, a chunk of the magical Elden Ring. Gathering the Great Runes will allow you to repair the Elden Ring and fix the world.

The Lands Between needs a new regional manager, and you're applying for the job.

For more on Godrick, a completely pathetic bully who maims and murders people to make himself feel better, and check out our detailed look at his story and lore.

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Part 2: Liurnia of the Lakes

In Liurnia, you'll hunt the Great Rune of Queen Rennala and learn more about the sorted affairs of the demigods.
In Liurnia, you'll hunt the Great Rune of Queen Rennala and learn more about the sorted affairs of the demigods.

When Godrick falls, the way through Stormveil is cleared, allowing you to venture north to the next region of the Lands Between: Liurnia of the Lakes. Another piece of the Elden Ring waits in Raya Lucaria, the Liurnian academy of sorcery. Nobody poops on the floor there, but they do plenty of other messed-up stuff. This region has a rich history that directly relates to the demigods who run the Lands Between, and it's where the intrigue among the Tarnished gets serious. There's some fierce competition to be Elden Lord--be careful who you trust.

Check out our video for an even deeper dive on Raya Lucaria and Queen Rennala, Liurnia's monarch and the former head of the academy.

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Part 3: Caelid

Caelid is a scarred and rotting place full of mutant creatures, but it's more tragic than frightening.
Caelid is a scarred and rotting place full of mutant creatures, but it's more tragic than frightening.

After Liurnia, we depart to the southeast for Caelid. In this land, the biggest battle of the demigods' civil war, the Shattering, took place, and it covered the region in a deadly pestilence called the Scarlet Rot. Now the soldiers once loyal to Caelid's demigod, Radahn, fight a losing battle to contain the Rot and the creatures it mutates with the judicious application of fire. This place is hell.

The Shardbearer you're hunting in Caelid is General Radahn, who was also infected with Scarlet Rot back during Caelid's major battle. Radahn lost his mind from the disease, but because of the actions of god-queen Marika, the Rot won't kill him. Radahn's loyal soldiers organize tournaments in which champions flock from around the world to try to kill the fierce but mad warrior. Check out our video for a deeper look at Radahn.

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Part 4: Mt. Gelmir and Volcano Manor

Volcano Manor, on the other hand, is the site of actual horrors. Praetor Rykard rules here, blaspheming against the Golden Order.
Volcano Manor, on the other hand, is the site of actual horrors. Praetor Rykard rules here, blaspheming against the Golden Order.

Heading north from Liurnia, you'll ascend to the Altus Plateau, where you'll find the volcanic Mt. Gelmir. Fighting still continues between the demigods' factions in this place. Volcano Manor, the seat of power in Mt. Gelmir, is home to Rykard, Lord of Blasphemy. Rykard rejected the religion of his stepmother Marika and embraced a lot of horrible actions to gain his own power. His main goals: creating snake people and eating his friends.

Part 5: Leyndell, Royal Capital

Leyndell is ruled by Morgott, Marika's deformed and twisted son, who maintains loyalty to the Golden Order despite being oppressed by it.
Leyndell is ruled by Morgott, Marika's deformed and twisted son, who maintains loyalty to the Golden Order despite being oppressed by it.

On your trek north, you've cleaned out a handful of demigods and gathered their pieces of the Elden Ring. With those in-hand, you can head to the base of the Erdtree, the giant, life-giving golden tree at the center of the Lands Between, and claim your right as Elden Lord. Surrounding the tree is Leyndell, Marika's capital city. And perhaps somewhat unsurprisingly, you discover that the current mayor isn't sitting around writing his concession speech.

Part 6: Mountaintops of the Giants

In the Mountaintops of Giants, you'll learn about Marika's first war against another god's influence in the Lands Between.
In the Mountaintops of Giants, you'll learn about Marika's first war against another god's influence in the Lands Between.

Nothing can ever be easy. Barred from entering the Erdtree, you're forced to find another path forward. If you want to become the Elden Lord, you'll have to commit a "cardinal sin." But maybe that was the plan all along. Or maybe you're being manipulated by forces you can't understand. Either way, the answer lies in the Mountaintops of the Giants, where Queen Marika waged her first war in the Lands Between.

Part 7: Castle Sol and the Consecrated Snowfield

The Mountaintops of the Giants hide a secret path to a place where one demigod thought he could create a better world. You'll have to work hard to find it.
The Mountaintops of the Giants hide a secret path to a place where one demigod thought he could create a better world. You'll have to work hard to find it.

Hidden in the Mountaintops of the Giants is another demigod Shardbearer, waiting in a place meant to create a new, better version of Queen Marika's Golden Order. A secret group of guardians work to hide this secret place, a safe haven for the downtrodden of the Lands Between. To find your way there, you'll have to face a castle filled with ghosts and befriend one of the most persecuted peoples in the Lands Between.

Part 8: Miquella's Haligtree

In Miquella's Haligtree, you'll see how close the Lands Between might have come to salvation.
In Miquella's Haligtree, you'll see how close the Lands Between might have come to salvation.

Your efforts pay off, unlocking the path to Miquella's Haligtree. A son of Marika, Miquella was beloved by his followers and seemed intent on creating a new Erdtree, replacing his mother's oppressive Golden Order with something better. But what once might have been the salvation of the Lands Between is now rotted and festering with Scarlet Rot, thanks to the actions of other demigods. One of them waits for you at the base of the tree.

Part 9: The Eternal Cities, Deeproot Depths, and Mohg

Hidden beneath the Lands Between are ancient cities that were punished by the Greater Will. Their secrets reveal a lot that's hidden about the world.
Hidden beneath the Lands Between are ancient cities that were punished by the Greater Will. Their secrets reveal a lot that's hidden about the world.

Like the Haligtree, the Lands Between contain many secret depths. If you descend to plunder them, you'll discover the remnants of an entire separate civilization. Once a part of the surface of this world, the Eternal Cities were cast down by the power of the Greater Will. Another Shardbearer waits in one of these secret places, communing with an outer god and hoping to claim all power in the Lands Between--unless you stop him.

Part 10: Crumbling Farum Azula

Farum Azula is both city and mausoleum, floating in the sky and existing outside the bounds of time. It's weird.
Farum Azula is both city and mausoleum, floating in the sky and existing outside the bounds of time. It's weird.

We took a bit of a detour in the Mountaintops of the Giants to finish off the last of the Shardbearers, but there's one more thing we need to truly repair the Elden Ring: the Rune of Death. Also known as Destined Death, this piece of the Elden Ring was removed by Marika long ago, and it's a move that created some serious turmoil in this place. Without death working as naturally intended, the demigods became nearly immortal. To put that right, you have to defeat the keeper of Destined Death, but there's a lot more going on in this strange, floating city than first meets the eye.

Part 11: Leyndell, Ashen Capital

There are others who wish to become Elden Lord, and they're not going to let you take the title without (another) fight.
There are others who wish to become Elden Lord, and they're not going to let you take the title without (another) fight.

With Destined Death claimed, you can finally return to Leyndell and wrap all this nonsense up. Time to grab that Elden Ring. Surely there's nobody else who could stand in your way, right? You've killed, like, everyone. Right?

Part 12: Becoming Elden Lord

Your jouney ends with
Your jouney ends with

This is it: the culmination of your journey through the Lands Between. You stand before a god, facing one final challenge as you reshape the world to your liking.

The Frenzied Flame ending, explained

The Frenzied Flame might be the polar opposite of the Greater Will--but they're more closely linked than you might realize.
The Frenzied Flame might be the polar opposite of the Greater Will--but they're more closely linked than you might realize.

Elden Ring includes multiple endings, all determined by which Great Runes you claim as you work through the game and how you choose to repair the Elden Ring when you finally stand before it. These endings require you to take on various side quests in order to get the pieces you need to change the Elden Ring, and with it, reality itself. One ending stands above the others for being confusing and extremely bleak, however: the Frenzied Flame ending.

If you want to see even more Elden Ring lore explainers, let us know in the comments below!

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