My heart is racing. Palms are sweaty as I grab the controller in anticipation. My sign is down, but will my reseller show up? Or will my money be wasted?
Then the screen goes black: I’ve been summoned.
A quick look on eBay is enough to see that runes are being sold for real, real money. Runes – like souls in the Dark Souls games – are the currency of Elden Ring. They allow you to level up your character or buy items and equipment. Now you can buy them on the black market.
In effect, what you’re buying is the promise of a trip to another world in the game’s slightly convoluted summoning mechanic to pick up a bunch of Golden Runes, an item that can be used to earn ready-to-spend runes. The prices Eurogamer has seen range from five cents for a million runes to around £60 for 20 million runes.
After making my purchase on eBay (£11 for 2 million runes), it’s up to the seller to contact me with the details and call me into their game where they’ll presumably be waiting, Golden Runes in hand.
With no physical product to send to me – postage thankfully is listed as free – is there a guarantee that I will receive my prize? Or is this all just an elaborate scam?
The process itself was quite easy. The seller contacted me. We traded a password, time and place for the sordid market. I put down my summoning sign and waited.
I feel like I’m meeting a drug dealer.
Luckily, they kept their end of the bargain. Upon entering their world, a quick tour of their character and I follow them to a pile of gold waiting for me. A few party jumps and I’m kicked out, back to my own Lands Between 2m richer runes.
Was it worth it? No.
I’m not one to cheat – especially not in this form – so I created a new character specifically for this personal quest. With my newly acquired runes, I quickly went from 9 to 94, increasing my Drifter’s strength from 14 to 99.
I then headed towards the Tree Sentinel – the first major enemy you encounter – expecting an easy battle. But, of course, leveling in Elden Ring is not so simple. Despite my great strength, my starting gear was too basic to evolve and make the most of my new stats.
Additionally, each higher level costs exponentially more runes. The last instance left me with a huge excess of runes that will take way too long to add at the start of the game and there is no way to bank them.
Worse, as with all Souls games, die and you risk losing those runes if you fail to remember them. All that hard-earned money wasted.
So buying the runes was far from a quick win – you still have to play the game, learn the systems, and get better gear.
Instead, they’re just scammers tackling the game’s high difficulty to earn some quick bucks.
If you’re wondering how they do it, there’s a Dark Souls 3 item duplication exploit that works the same way in Elden Ring, allowing for an infinite number of high-level items that are now sold for actual profit. . But we won’t go into that here.
My advice? Don’t be fooled! Elden Ring is the most accessible Souls game and there’s no one way to play it. But cheaters never, ever prosper.
Now I’m off for a cold shower. I feel dirty.