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Creating Low Level, High Power PVP Characters
This guide explains how to make characters that are as strong as possible for their Soul Level in Dark Souls. These kinds of characters are ideal for level dependent PVP. This guide covers a variety of different level ranges, build types, and PVP strategies with low level, but high power characters.
Welcome to my guide for creating Dark Souls characters designed to be as powerful as possible in PVP for their Soul Level. This allows you to dominate equal or near equal level players that you fight against with relative ease and lets you stand your ground against much higher level opponents in PVP. Being low level and being powerful is important especially for Darkwraith and Darkmoon invaders, as you frequently can be entering a 1v3 battle or invading significantly higher level characters. The first and most critical step to creating a successful character designed for this kind of PVP is to plan out your final build for the character.
Overview of PVP Strategies
The strategy or strategies your character will employ in PVP will help define the rest of the build. To simplify this, I have broken down PVP strategies into three broad types of strategy. A character will usually focus in one of these strategies, but may combine them and change strategy depending on the enemy being fought.
Damage and Poise Superiority
This strategy involves making your character able to deal and survive high damage while stunning (dealing poise damage) and resisting the stun (surviving poise damage) of the enemy. Dealing enough damage to kill the enemy and surviving the enemy's damage is the goal of all PVP battles. Being able to act (e.g. not being stunned) has a huge effect on DPS and goes hand in hand. You could argue all PVP strategies really fall into this category, but I limit it to characters who focus mainly on their character's weapon damage, effective hit points, poise, and ability to deal poise damage. Classic example is dumping almost all stat points into Vitality and Endurance and using a weapon with high base damage, which gives you tons of hit points, the endurance to move with high poise armor, and high damage per second with your large stamina pool.
Works at any Soul Level
Wide range of possible builds
Can be easy to execute
Slight lack of combat options. Usually only one or two ranged weapons or spells at best, can have trouble dealing with certain enemy builds.
Combat Control Superiority
This strategy involves using speed and/or and a long range weapon to control the fight. It is different from damage/poise superiority in that a you try to avoid taking damage or being stunned by blocking or dodging almost all of your enemies attacks. Although you may do this a little in a character designed for damage/poise superiority, you can also build an entire character around controlling the fight this way. A good example of this strategy is a low HP, low poise spear and shield wielder with very high stamina to be able to roll and block more than the opponent can.
Can be effective at fighting enemies that have much higher damage/poise or are higher level than the player
Difficult to execute, it can take a lot of skill to properly avoid enemy attacks and control the fight
Can have problems against spells and range attacks if too reliant on a shield
This strategy involves using powerful spells to win fights as the main focus of the character. This usually means relying on the spell as your main form of DPS, but not always. A powerful and popular example is making a character designed for the nearly undodgeable "Pursuers" spell. There are still plently of other ways to use spells in PVP however, using this strategy usually means hitting the minimum requirements for the desired spell while still trying to have good damage and poise capabilities.
Very easy to execute
Usually has good ranged options or area effect spells for dealing with multiple enemies at once.
Easily countered in many cases
Tend to be too reliant on spells and not have good melee fighting capabilities
Spells stat requirements (not including Pyromancies) make certain spells unavailable at low levels
Other Important PVP Strategies and Tactics to Consider
Critical Strikes Backstabs and ripostes can be powerful tools in PVP. Backstabs are easy to land once mastered and can give your character a large boost in damage. Consider weapons with high critical stike multipliers and the Hornet ring (both will be discussed later) if you want to make critical strikes a focus of your character. Backstabs were nerfed in the DLC (and that means for all PC players), but they were once (and can still be) the main focus of many of the best PVP builds.
Useful Items Consumable Humanity items can usually fully restore a characters HP and are faster than a heal spell, but are a pain to farm. Green blossoms increase your stamina regeneration. Lloyd's talismans can negate a player's ability to use Estus Flasks. You can purchase Repair Powder items to repair your right hand weapon during fights. There are plenty of items that can be useful in PVP. Bear them in mind before making decisions like whether the spells Heal or Repair will be useful and other build choices. This will be also be discussed later in more detail.
Choosing a Strategy
Try to determine how you want your character to approach most of his/her PVP battles. Feel free to combine different strategies. Work on coming up with a vague plan of how you character will be approaching different battles. For example, if you want to be primarily a "Pursuers" based magic user you know most of your fights will be approached by just casting that spell. You should think of how you will handle characters that have a way of countering Pursuers, like a shield user with a shield that can block magic damage effectively.
Damage and Poise Superiority
A characters ability to deal damage and poise damage while surviving damage and poise damage can decide almost all PVP fights. If you can get the enemy in your weapon range and you have more damage and poise capabilities, you win. Player skill can make up for a lack of damage and poise to some degree, however it is usually critical to maximize you characters damage, ability to survive damage, poise, and ability to deal poise damage. Two stats, Vitality and Endurance, are essential achieving damage and poise superiority. Ring choice is very simple for a character aiming for damage and poise superiority, and is covered at the end of the section.
Every PVP character needs to deal damage somehow. That means a high damage weapon is critical, and there are many options available to consider which make this a long section. For most of the Soul Levels that are considered "low" and are covered in this guide the highest damage weapons will be ones that do not scale with stats (except Humanity and Chaos weapons). All Dark Souls characters below Soul Level 80-100 should almost always use one of the following categories of weapons to achieve maximum damage with minimal stat investment.
Typical High Damage Weapons
Lightning Weapons - Lightining is a hard damage type to block with shields and armor and lightning weapons have some of the highest base damages in the game.
Fire Weapons - Fire is a lot like lightning, but is slightly easier to defend against through shields and armor. Useful if many people are geared to defend against lightning damage.
Chaos Weapons - Like a higher damage version of fire weapons, requires 10 Humanity to achieve the full damage since it partially scales with Humanity. Good, but annoying to maintain the 10 Humanity.
Normal Weapons - When fully upgraded (to +15) and with a weapon buff applied normal weapons are actually very damaging. The time it takes to enchant the weapon and the physical damage to lightning/fire damage ratio and noticeable weaknesses. Physical damage is easily blocked.
Certain Special and Boss Weapons - Especially ones with high base damage and low stat requirements. Some examples: Drake Sword, Quelagg's Furysword, and Demon Spear.
Important Weapon Attributes
Damage - The higher the better, scaling will be essentially not revelant for a low level character since you won't want to invest many stat points for such little benefit.
Attack Speed - Not listed anywhere. Goes hand in hand with damage, makes enemies easier to hit. The higher the better.
Stamina Usage - The less the better, depends on which attack (strong or normal) you will use the most.
Weight - The less the better, every pound saved here is a pound more armor you get to wear.
Poise Damage - Not listed anywhere, the more the better. Makes it easier to break shield blocking.
Area of Effect - Not listed anywhere, this refers to the area of the weapons swings. The larger the better.
Stat Requirements - You need to meet the stat requirements before you can use the weapon, the lower the better.
A large part of choosing a weapon is personal preference. Whatever your favorite type of weapon is, upgrade one to Lightining and you have a great PVP weapon. For a character aiming for damage and poise superiority I recommend using one of the following types of weapon:
Graph of Different Weapon Types All of these types of weapons have strengths that benefit a character designed to have damage and poise superiority. A few types that I left off the graph can be useful. Curved greatswords are essentially greatswords but are often slower. Hammers are like axes, except they generally deal slightly less damage but deal more poise damage (stun enemies more easily and break shields). The remaining weapon types are not recommended, usually because they specialize in something not useful for dealing damage and poise damage.
The other half of winning the damage battle is being able to survive damage. Armor and shield choice are important here. You probably want to maintain fast movement, and at worst want to have medium movement. Try to find a armor combination that lets you just barely be less than the 25% of your equip load for fast movement (or 50% for medium movement). If you comfortable at medium movement you will have the benefit of heavier armor and/or more hitpoints by putting more points into Vitality instead of Endurance. Weight, stamina usage, and stat requirements of your weapon will have a large effect on the survivability of your character. Every stat point you do not need in Endurance or to meet weapon requirements becomes Vitality and more hitpoints for your character.
Finding a good balance of Vitality and Endurance is important. If you are using a weapon that drains a lot of stamina, make sure you give yourself enough Endurance to have an amount of stamina you feel comfortable with. Having a low weight, low stat requirement, and low stamina using weapon means your character can have more hitpoints.
Shields Shields are covered in great detail in the Combat Control section. A character aiming for damage and poise superiority doesn't have to worry about blocking that much, worry more about the enemy's shield blocking.
Poise is a stat you can gain through armor, rings, and a few spells and abilities that determines how resistant your character is to being stunned when struck by an enemy attack. It works like poison and bleed, with a status meter. The status meter is hidden, but you can view how much poise your character has and see how much poise each piece of armor provides.
All characters have a base poise of ZERO. This means any time your are hit you will be stunned. Different weapons deal different amounts of poise damage, and your poise status meter can be filled up by multiple hits so that even a weapon that deals little poise damage will eventually stun you with enough repeated hits. Having high poise means being stunned less often which means you get to deal more damage and poise damage of your own.
Your weapon choice alone will determine how much poise damage you deal, even for stat scaling weapons the poise damage never changes. You can find a table of the different poise damage values on the various Dark Souls wiki sites, I highly recommend becoming familiar with them.
Poise and weight should be your priority when choosing your armor, defensive resistances are a secondary concern. Armor will likely be your main source of poise, so choose it wisely.
Other Important Information
There are a few other things to bear in mind for having the best damage and poise at a given Soul Level.
Ring Choice Your have about three rings to choose from:
The Ring of Favor and Protection - Pretty much a mandatory ring.This ring basically increases your Soul Level by 40%. It increases the effect of Vitality by giving a ridiculous 20% increase in max HP and increases the effect of Endurance by increasing equip load and max stamina by 20%. It would take 40% more Soul Levels to get the same effect, and I shouldn't need to tell you how important Endurance and Vitality are.
The Wolf Ring - The best poise-giving armor set in the game gives 121 poise and weighs 50 pounds. This ring gives 40 poise, a third of that, and weighs nothing.
Havel's Ring - This can let you wear heavy armor pieces and stay at fast or medium movement speed. A situationally good choice if you have invested heavily in Endurance and will be able to wear significantly better armor. Just ask yourself if improving movement speed or moving to a heavier armor is worth losing 40 poise. It rarely is.
Combat Control Superiority
When I say combat control superiority I mean designing a character that can control combat better than the opponent and use that to deal more damage and avoid taking damage. Damage and poise superiority essentially means you make your character as strong as possible for a fight where you and the opponent trade blows relatively equally. As I mentioned in that section, you can overcome the fact your character has less damage/poise capabilities with skillful fighting, to a point. All types of characters will try to control combat and win through skill, and may want to take consider adding some combat control strategies into their character design.
A character designed mainly for combat control superiority attempts to make the character even better at controlling the fight and insure that your opponent lands almost no attacks while you continue to land your attacks. You will still do many of the same things a character designed for damage/poise superiority would, such as using a weapon with high base damage and focusing most stat points into Endurance and Vitality. However you may also divert even more stat points into Endurance to insure you have maximum movespeed and/or have ample stamina for blocking attacks and dodging. Weapon choice will again be critical to the design of the character with speed and range of the weapon becoming more important than damage and poise damage. This strategy can let you overcome the enemy's superior damage, poise, and survivability. It sounds amazing, but the drawback is that it can be very difficult to execute in practice.
Avoiding Enemy Attacks
A key aspect of have a character the can control combat better than most opponents is having a way to avoid enemy attacks. Dodging and shield blocking are the two main techiniques for avoiding damage.
Shield Blocking Blocking enemy attacks with a shield is a great way to avoid taking damage. In fact I recommend everyone, no matter what strategy is the main focus of your character, to have a shield even if you rarely use it. This gives you a valuable option against many ranged attacks and melee attacks that might be difficult to handle otherwise. The proper shield (Crest Shield for example) can block many spells effectively as well.
A problem with using shields heavily is that almost all PVP enemies you will face will have some type of non-physical damage that will partially penetrate through ANY shield you use. Combine this with the fact that a character built for having damage/poise superiority can usually break most shield blocking and you have a problem. This is due to many characters having large stamina pools and weapons that deal large amounts of poise damage (which means it requires a large amount of stamina to block). Bear in mind the stagger from your shield block being broken is significantly longer than the hitstun of a weapon.
Believe it or not, there are actually only a few shields I would consider for your character. Greatshields are too heavy and have stat requirements that are too high UNLESS you are designing a character specifically for a greatshield. I highly recommend sticking to the following shields:
Silver Knight Shield - A heavy 5.0 pounds, but when fully upgraded it has the highest stability of any medium shield. Combined with its very good resistances, this is one of the best medium shields. It's requirement of 14 Strength might be high for some characters however.
Balder Shield - Basically a weaker version of the Silver Knight Shield, but with lower weight and stat requirements (12 Strength). Only has ONE less stability than the Silver Knight Shield when fully upgraded.
Crest Shield - A light (3.0 pound) shield that has amazing magic resistance. It's stability is lower than other shields, but is good for such a light shield.
Grass Crest Shield - Another 3.0 pound shield, it has a VERY good passive ability of increasing stamina regeneration. Its above average non-physical resistances usually make up for its less than perfect physical resist.
Heater Shield - Very light shield (2.0 pound) with low requirements and decent stability.
Wooden Shield - Incredibly light (1.5 pound) shield with good stability.
Dodging Dodging enemy attacks is a lot easier when your character has fast (or even NINJA) movement speed. Bear in mind that dodging enemy attacks can require a large amount of skill. To complicate things, a laggy connection in a PVP battle can make dodging enemy attacks even more difficult or impossible.
That being said, using rolls to dodge attacks are a great way to avoid damage and position your character. Larger, slower weapons are easier to dodge so consider whether it is best to dodge an attack, block an attack, or take damage from an attack before dodging it. Also try not to roll into a bad position, like a corner or simply away from the enemy you wanted to engage.
Deciding Whether to Attempt to Avoid Damage Avoiding or mitigating an attack through blocking or dodging costs stamina and prevents you from attacking. It is important to carefully decide on how you will respond to an enemy attack. At some point, once the enemies health is low enough you will be able to win a fight where you trade blows equally with an opponent and can stop avoiding damage as much.
When deciding whether to block or dodge an attack, ask yourself these questions:
Will a roll or block drain too much of my stamina or will my block break?
Will a large amount of the damage penetrate through my shield or will a roll put me in a bad position?
Do I have enough poise to avoid being stunned by the unblocked attack?
Do I have damage/poise superiority over the oppoenent and will win if we start trading blows?
For all these questions, if the answer is yes, seriously consider not avoiding the attack. Stamina used to avoid an enemy attack can often be better spend damaging or hopefully stunning the opponent, blocking or avoiding and attack means nothing unless it helps you deal damage later.
Weapons Good for Controlling Combat
Many different types of weapons have good combat control characteristics, it is not a defined by weapon type as good damage and poise weapons are. Still, I tried to broadly categorize good combat control superiority weapons below and highlight their strengths, weaknesses, and other useful attributes for controlling combat:
Spears - Long range and fast attack speed, but medium damage and small area of effect. Can also attack from behind a shield.
Piercing Swords - Fast attack speed, but small area of effect and low damage. Can also attack from behind a shield. Some have a higher critical strike rating than normal. Replaces your kick with a backstepping slash.
Straight Swords - Fast attack speed, medium range, area of effect, and damage. The strong attack of many straight swords is a longer range thrust.
Greatswords - Good damage and area of effect, medium range and attack speed. Also has good poise damage and can have a long range thrust or other special move as its strong attack.
Katanas - Great damage and fast attack speed, medium area of effect and range. The bleed effect can also be useful, some katanas have long range thrust strong attacks or other special attacks.
Halberds - Long range, medium damage, speed, and area of effect. Have various different strong attacks that can have large areas of effect, some halberds (scythes) cause bleed as well.
When choosing a weapon you want to look for weapons that you can attack the enemy with when you create an oppurtunity to do so safely. Using long range and fast weapons allow you to hit the enemy from a safe distance and/or time your attack to give you enough time to block/dodge any counter attack.
Magic users build their character around a spell or spells. This can reduce the amount of stat points that will be available for Endurance and Vitality for damage and poise capabilities. Pyromancies have no minimum stats, but do require attunement to use which can be a significant stat investment depending on your starting class. The most important thing to consider when making a magic user is choosing which spell or combination of spells you want to use. Many spells are completely useless in PVP, others are amazing, and others require some effort on the players part to use to their full potential. Make sure you know how you will be using the spell or spells you are trying to use.
Depending on how creative you are willing to be you might be able to find uses for spells that I consider useless, but for the most part the spells worth using in PVP are listed below:
Sorcery, Pursuers - A very powerful spell that does massive damage and is incredibly difficult to dodge. It creates five black orbs above your head that track the closest target or the target you have locked on to. Has a slow cast time. Note that it requires two attunement slots, has only 3 charges (that can easily be three won battles) and 32 Intelligence.
Sorcery, Dark Bead - A strong spell that shoots a shotgun like blast of six dark magic balls. Best used at short range, it has a fast cast speed and very good damage if many of the balls hit their targets. Requires a medium stat requirement of 16 Intelligence to cast.
Sorcery, Homing Soulmass - This spell and its higher damage crystal version create up to five blue magic orbs that shoot toward the nearest target or the target you have locked on to. Poor homing homing capabilities, easiliy dodged, but it makes up for it with a fast cast time and large amount of charges (10). Requires 18 Intelligence for the normal version, 24 for the Crystal version, and requires 31 Intelligence to have five orbs (four orbs at 25 Intelligence).
Sorcery, Magic Weapon - There are three Magic Weapon that each add a different (increasing as Intelligence requirement increases) amount of magic damage to your ENCHANTABLE weapon. The Intelligence requirements are 10,15, and 25 and they have 5, 3, and 3 charges respectively.
Sorcery, Chameleon - Transforms you into a inanimate object common to the surrounding area. Can be useless, can be absurdly powerful. This is pretty much the only effective stealth spell for invaders, since a glowing red or blue phantom is still easy to see even if you are partially transparent. Requires 14 Intelligence.
Miracle, Wrath of God - A very powerful spell that does good damage, deals a large amount of poise damage and can knock enemies back, and has a very fast cast time. Only 3 charges. Requires 28 Faith to use.
Miracle, Great Heal - Good heal spell with a high faith requirement, I only recommend it if you are putting stat points into Faith for Wrath of God. Heals 8x your magic adjust, which should always be >1200 HP. Usually enough to fully heal your character. Requires 24 Faith to use and has a slow cast time.
Miracle, Great Heal Excerpt - Same as Great Heal, but with a much lower Faith requirement of 14 and only ONE usage. If you want the easiest way to heal to full without using a healing item, this is it. Can still heal for more than 1200 HP by using the Thorolund Talisman.
Miracle, Replenishment - Restores health to your character over time at the rate of 10 HP a second for 60 seconds. A useful spell since it can be cast at the start of a fight and provide healing without need for further casting. Has the medium stat requirement of 16 Faith.
Miracle, Magic Barrier - This spells and its Great counterpart are effective counters to magic damage. I do not recommend building and character around these spells, but they can be useful if you are aiming for more powerful miracles like Wrath of God and will have enough Faith, 14 and 24 for normal and Great version respectively, to use them.
Miracle, Tranquil Walk of Peace - A interesting and useful spell that causes you to emit an aura that causes all enemies around you to act as if over burdened, as in unable to roll or run and only able to walk slowly. Very good for controlling combat and can cripple enemies than rely on dodging your attacks. Only lasts about 10 seconds and requires 18 Faith.
Miracle, Force - A relatively weak spell that deals no normal damage, but deals poise damage and can cause knock back. Also deflects sorceries if timed correctly. With a low Faith requirement of 12 and 21 uses this can be used for various utility purposes like stopping sorceries or breaking shield blocks.
Miracle, Gravelord Sword Dance - This and its Great counterpart are very unusual miracles with a Faith requirement of 0. They work similarly to the Fire Storm spells and their damage scales with your Covenant level in the Gravelord Covenant as well as your talisman's magic adjust.
Pyromancy, Black Flame - A short range spell that has a fast cast time and large damage and poise damage (stun). Very powerful at close range and a potential solution if you have problems dealing with shield users do to its high poise damage that can break their shield blocks.
Pyromancy, Combustion - This spell and its Great counterpart work like Black Flame but deal less poise damage but still deal plenty of normal damage.
Pyromancy, Great Chaos Fireball, This spell and Great Fireball both have large areas of effects that make them easier to hit than most projectile pyromancies. The Chaos version leaves lava behind and requires two attunment slots.
Pyromancy, Chaos Storm, This spell and the other similar fire storm based spells have large area of effects around the caster. They have a slow cast time but very good damage. The 20 charges actually equal about ONE cast.
Pyromancy, Fire Surge, A spell that lets you walk while you cast it, emits a constant stream of fire that rapidly drains its 80 charges.
Rarely will you build you character around just a single sorcery or miracle, as the stat point investment needed to use some of the more powerful sorceries and miracles often mean you can easily use other good miracles and sorceries with minimal stat point investment.
Adding Magic to Other Strategies
You can also add a spell or a few spells to a character who has a main focus in damage/poise superiority or combat control superiority to increase their effectiveness. Pyromancies are an obvious choice, as you will only need the appriopriate attunement to add them to your character. This could still cost a significant amount of stat points depending on which start class you used. Some powerful sorceries and miracles can be accessed with a medium amount of stat point investment, like Dark Bead or Great Heal Excerpt.
While designing and planning out how you will build your character, you should be thinking of how you will approach different fights. Few, if any, characters can approach all fights the same way. Just as you looked at different ways to build an effective PvP character, consider all the possible dangerous PvP opponents you could encounter. You will want some type of battle plan for how you deal with every type of opponent.
Usually you will be able to overpower some enemies with damage/poise superiority, learn how to recognize these cases. Otherwise you have to rely on skill and controlling combat until you can obtain the advantage, not always easy. A magic user or any character using spells should know when and how you should and should not use the spells. Learn to recognize armor pieces and have a vague idea of how much poise the enemy has. Think about these kind of things when a battle starts:
The enemy has light armor and a Greatsword, I have full Havel's armor and an Ultra Greatsword; why am I backing away when he moves in for a swing?
The enemy has a Greatsword of Artorias, a Greatshield of Artorias, heavy armor, and is rolling at medium speed, is it stupid to try to trade damage with him?
The enemy has a Silver Knight Shield and Spear and rolls fast, should I try to chase him down and break his shield or take it slow and carefully whittle him down?
Dangerous and Unique PvP Strategies
Some types of strategies are particularly difficult to counter due to the unusual spells and techniques they employ. This usually means a Magic User strategy, at least to some degree. Some very important spells and abilities and how to counter them are detailed below.
Pursuers - An incredibly dangerous spell that can one shot a character and is very difficult to dodge. This spell alone requires special consideration. Normal shields and the Silver Pendant aren't effective, the spell is VERY hard to block and the Silver Pendant effect only delays the projectiles. These are good counter strategies to use against Pursuers:
Ninja Flip - Acquiring the Ninja Flip light roll means giving up a ring slot, but if you wanted to be a fast character anyway the Ninja Flip ring allows you to dodge Pursuers will a little skill.
Magic Shield and Strong Magic Shield - Pursuers does almost entirely magic damage. With just 10 Intelligence and 10 Attunement you can equip Magic Shield, a spell that gives any shield in your left hand +30% (additive) Magic resistance and a large stability boost. Strong Magic Shield is even better, but requires 15 Intelligence. It can be a bit difficult to cast this in time to block Pursuers, especially if the enemy already has it ready when you finish entering their world.
Great Magic Barrier - This miracle drastically reduces magic damage to the point of where taking a Pursuers to the face will not be a death sentence damage-wise. However, the 5 Pursuer projectiles will most likely hitstun you at least once so watch out for repeated Pursuers casts or a follow up attack. Also may take too long to cast during combat.
Greatshields - A good greatshield can block most of Pursuers damage without you running out of stamina. Large Strength requirements make this option tough, but the Eagle Shield can kind of do the job in a pinch. Expect large penentration damage however.
Magic Barrier - I separate this from Great Magic Barrier since I suspect (but have not tested) that this will not sufficiently reduce the damage from Pursuers. A bad option, but a better option than no option.
Force and Wrath of God - Not a very good or safe strategy, but these spells allow you hold back the Pursuers projectiles while dealing damage. Only works if the enemy is in range. Useful if invading an enemy who stands near the invasion entering location with Pursuers ready, it can deflect the Pursuers while damaging and usually stunning the nearby caster.
Godly Roll Dodging - When you just don't want to build an option into your character, you can sometimes (rarely) make up for it with amazing dodges. Dodging behind obstacles or at the PERFECT time under Pursuers can dodge the projectiles.
Dark Bead - This spell is like Pursuers little brother, and in the right hands it can be much more annoying. It has a fast cast time that allows casters to use it during a fight, unlike Pursuers. Its shotgun cone of 6 projectiles punish those engaging at close range, and it also has huge poise damage that will stun you and stamina drain when being shield blocked. The counters for this spell are easier to build into a character but harder to execute due to this spells fast cast time.
Roll Dodge - This spell can be dodged with only a medium amount of skill. Rolls can save you, although its fast cast time and 6 casts per spell slot mean you may have to perform 6 good dodges in a row.
Silver Pendant and other Sorcery Deflecting Spells - If you have fast enough reactions or predict a caster will use Dark Bead, keeping the Silver Pendant shield up will block the spell effectively. The sorcery-deflecting miracles should also block this spell if properly timed, but this is much harder.
Shields - Not the best solution since casters will probably spam this spell repeatedly, but if you can block the first cast without it breaking your shield block you can buy time to roll.
Fighting at Range - This spell is considerably less dangerous to far away targets, if you have medium or long range weapons/attacks consider sticking to those options unless an oppurtunity presents itself.
Wrath of God and Similar Abilities - The miracle Wrath of God, the Grant, and some dragon weapons all have large AOE damage blasts that will almost always stun you. Wrath of God is the most dangerous since it has such a fast cast time. These blast effects are best avoided by staying at medium range, their AOEs are relatively small. If you can't stay far enough away, a very good shield or simply stunning the enemy yourself is an alternative.
Black Flame and Great Combustion - These close range Pyromancies have a medium cast speed and deal high damage, Black Flame even does large poise damage. I recommend watching for enemies with Pyromancy flames who try to get close to you and simply dodge the spell when they start to cast it. In tight areas, that may be impossible, a greatshield or very good normal shield can safely block a cast or two of Black Flame and a few more of Great Combustion.
Tranquil Walk of Peace and Stone Greatsword Slows - Thankfully these abilities aren't that common, but they can be incredibly annoying. They make all enemies in the AOE act as if they were overburdened. As in not even a fat roll, just no roll at all. In fact do not even attempt to roll when you see one of these miracles as it will just make your character do a weird shrug with no effect. These spells do not last long and are best countered with a good shield for blocking enemy attacks or by avoiding the spells medium sized AOE.
A perfect character would have a powerful combination of strategies to drawn on for most fights, and a counter for every weird spell and ability that could be encountered. Unfortunately, it is often impossible or ineffective to have a plan and a counter for everything. Don't sacrifice too much damage and poise to add a counter for every weird strategy, it's okay to be forced to rely on rolling or positioning to handle certain combinations. Most importantly, design a character that you will enjoy playing. That's the beauty of Dark Souls, the combat system allows many different builds to succeed, so be creative and have fun.