Information about how to grind runes fast and early in Elden Ring. How to reach the Bestial Sanctum and how to farm Vulgar Militiamen.
While games like Elden Ring have spawned the ethos of “git gud”, sometimes boosting your stats helps the process along… or perhaps you just need a few levels to equip some shiny new weapon you’ve found? Whatever the case, killing enemies earns you Runes, and if you accumulate enough Runes you can spend them when resting at a Site of Grace (available after you’ve met Melina at the Gatefront Site of Grace) by picking the “Level Up” option. The higher your level, the more Runes are required to level up. Since Runes are dropped when you die - and lost forever if you die a second time without reclaiming your dropped Runes - it’s not a bad idea to level up opportunistically, effectively “banking” your gains.
Different enemies drop varying numbers of Runes when defeated - ideally “stronger” enemies drop more Runes, but this is… subjective, at the most generous. Since the effort put into defeating an enemy doesn’t directly correlate between the Rune drops for said enemy, there are better/faster/easier ways to acquire Runes. One approach is to travel to the Bestial Sanctum at the northeastern end of Caelid and farm the Vulgar Militiamen there - each one gives over 1,000 Runes and there are around two dozen of them prowling the plains to the southeast of the Bestial Sanctum. On the plus side, this requires very little game progress - as long as you have Torrent, you can get there quickly and with minimal fuss. On the other hand, Caelid is a midgame area and while Vulgar Militiamen aren’t too dangerous in the grand scheme of things, for a fresh character they can kill you in a single hit. Nothing a bit of stealth and backstabbing can’t solve, but it’s not a risk-free enterprise.
Follow the step-by-step instructions below to reach the Bestial Sanctum:
The first few steps are fairly easy (and in fact you’ll have to do them before you’re fit to make a serious run at this weapon), but we’ll assume you’re fresh out of the Stranded Graveyard.
First you’ll need to head northwest to the Church of Elleh, then follow the road northeast to reach the Gatefront Ruins. Rest at the Gatefront Site of Grace and you’ll be visited by Melina, who will give you the Spectral Steed Whistle, which you can use to summon your mount, Torrent.
How to Get From the Gatefront Ruins to the Third Church of Marika
Summon Torrent and follow the road southeast. Cross a bridge and when you reach a fork, turn north, ultimately following the trail northeast until you reach the Third Church of Marika.
You may encounter Kaiden Sellswords and a Troll-drawn carriage convoy along the road southeast of the Gatefront Ruins, but you should be able to evade them by just keeping your distance and riding past. On the northeastern fork after the bridge you’ll encounter more enemies, including numerous Demi-Humans under a collapsed curved building that now arches over the road. You’ll probably hear somebody named Kenneth Haight call out to you here - don’t worry, just ignore the whole situation, they’ll still be here when you want to come back and deal with them. Finally, just outside of the Third Church of Marika you’ll find a Troll armed with a sword appropriate to its stature. Again, no reason to fight, just ride past it and into the church.
How to Reach the Bestial Sanctum
Rest up at the Third Church of Marika Site of Grace, then exit the church via its western doorway. Once outside, immediately turn north and when you reach a river, follow it east until you reach a cliff face. Along the cliffs, hidden in some foliage, you can find a teleporter - just follow the streams of light and you should find it. Interact with the teleporter and it’ll whisk you to the Bestial Sanctum. Open some large doors to the northwest and enter the building beyond to find the Bestial Sanctujm Site of Grace. You don’t need to bother the massive beast - Gurranq - at the northwestern end of the Sanctum, and you should avoid provoking the Black Blade Kindred boss outside.
How to Farm the Bestial Sanctum
Once you’ve claimed the Bestial Sanctum Site of Grace, you’re ready to start farming. Exit the Bestial Sanctum and turn left (northeast), dropping off the porch before working your way east past some ruins, then downhill to the southeast.
You should find a lone Vulgar Militaman wandering around here. They’re small, dark-clad humanoids that amble about slowly when not provoked; their size, coloration and gait can make sneaking up on them tricky, since it can sometimes be hard to see where they’re facing. And you should be sure to sneak up on them, as they can inflict 400+ damage with their normal attacks (and inflict blood loss), and considerably more with their charged attacks. They also have a spell that shoots a fan of blades along the ground, which diverges the further it travels. The range on this spell is only moderate, but far enough that it can be hard to dodge if you’re not prepared.
At lower levels, a single backstab probably won’t kill a Vulgar Militiaman, but even with an upgraded weapon and subpar stats, a backstab followed by several normal attacks should do the job. At around 1,000~ Runes per kill, early leveling will go fast, and if you keep exploring southeast you can find around half a dozen of the critters stalking the plains. None of Vulgar Militiamen on the northern/eastern side of the road connecting the Bestial Sanctum and the Farum Greatbridge to the south should close enough to assist each other, so provided you can start things out with a backstab, you should be able to farm them with impunity.
Get as many kills as you feel comfortable with, then fast travel back to the Bestial Sanctum and spend your ill-gotten gains. Once you’ve leveled up to the point where you can kill the Vulgar Militiamen in a fair fight with some ease, consider adding the plains to the south and west to your farming sweep. Just be wary of staying on the road too long or getting too close to the Black Blade Kindred boss. If you provoke him, make a run for it or get to a spot where it’ll be easy to retrieve your Runes.
At 1,000~ Runes per Vulgar Militiamen and around two dozen of the enemies wandering around, you can do some quality farming, although there are arguably more lucrative spots for higher-level characters to seek out. Still, the Bestial Sanctum is a fine spot to get your stats high enough to equip whatever weapon you’re keen on and perhaps to drop some early-game points into Vigor - it’s hard to overstate how much easier the game becomes when you’ve got over 1,000 HP.