Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice has an interesting system for death in which you’re allowed to resurrect yourself without losing experience or sen, but dying and coming back to life at a Sculptor’s Idol also comes at a price.
Repeated death and resurrection decreases your chances of recovering your Skill Experience and sen by receiving Unseen Aid when you respawn at a Sculptor’s Idol. Dying and coming back to life also increases the chances you’ll be given a Rot Essence item at a Sculptor’s Idol. Each of these items comes with a character’s name attached. Surprise! That character is now suffering from Dragonrot, and you can’t move that NPC’s story forward while they’re sick.
Let’s say that in a slightly different way, since this is so confusing. Resurrection means two things in Sekiro:
- Dying on the battlefield and pressing a button to resurrect where you fell
- Dying on the battlefield and resurrecting at a Sculptor’s Idol
Both are forms of resurrection, and both have the same consequence. It doesn’t matter how or where you resurrect. Both build up an invisible meter that, at a certain threshold, lead to Rot Essence and Dragonrot. The more you resurrect, the greater you chances of receiving Rot Essence are. So if you resurrect on the battlefield a lot, you’ll get Rot Essence faster.
Sekiro’s narrative justification for this system is simple: For Wolf to resurrect, he has to take some of the life essence from people in the world — merchants and helpful characters like the Sculptor alike. The more you die and resurrect, the greater your chances are of receiving Rot Essence, thereby affecting people in the world. At a certain point, people start getting sick.
You’ll only receive Rot Essence when you resurrect at a Sculptor’s Idol. Based on our testing, the more you resurrect — no matter where you do it — the greater your chances of receiving Rot Essence are. You can choose not to resurrect on the battlefield and still receive Rot Essence from repeatedly dying and resurrecting at a Sculptor’s Idol.
It’s very easy to abuse the resurrection ability early in the game before you know better, and it takes a while to learn what to do about it — so much so that you may be tempted to restart your game if you incur too many Rot Essence items. A few of us here at the office almost restarted, and it’s a popular conversation online.
But fear not! The condition isn’t fatal, and curing it isn’t very complicated. You can find instructions in our guide to Rot Essence and Dragonrot. Restarting your game out of frustration isn’t the answer, as much as it may seem like an easy way out in the first few hours of the game.
You’ll be constantly incurring Rot Essence as you die and resurrect at a Sculptor’s Idol throughout Sekiro, which means you’ll be periodically using items called Dragon’s Blood Droplets to cure everyone, but be aware that supplies are limited, so you’re going to need to use the item strategically. If you think you’re going to die often in the next hour or so, you may want to hold off on using your Dragon’s Blood Droplet.
But that’s just something to consider as you play, and it’s a world away from restarting completely. Dragonrot is curable. Your save game shouldn’t suffer just because you get frustrated early in the game.
Update (March 26): We’ve updated this post to make our description of Dragonrot’s causes clearer.