Runes and upgrades

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Runes are permanent upgrades for the player. Some runes unlock alternate paths throughout the island, enabling the player to travel to new Biomes and take different routes to reach the end. Other runes enable the use of objects found on the island, enhance the player with a new movement option or ability or unlock alternate gamemodes.

Collected runes can be viewed in the saved game slot (in the main game menu, under "play"). Runes are found in specific places on the island and require a Boss or an Elite enemy to be defeated, which spawn in unique rooms. These rooms will no longer generate when the rune has been collected. Collecting a rune unlocks it instantly, there is no requirement to bring it to The Collector or a need to unlock it with cells.

Upgrades are general improvements purchased from the Collector for cells, and function as improvements that introduce or improve various mechanics in some way that benefit the player. They are permanent and last between runs. Most are only available after completing a certain amount of unlocks and others must be acquired as Blueprints from specific locations before they are available.

List of runes[edit]

There are currently 8 runes in Dead Cells. All runes will drop after the guardian is defeated and can be picked up afterwards, save for the Homunculus rune, which is acquired automatically after the Hand of the King is defeated.

Icon Name Biome Description Location Elite Guardian or boss Grants access to
Vine Rune Icon.png
Vine Rune Promenade of the Condemned This permanent rune causes climbing vines to grow. In a hall under an overpass in the promenade of the condemned. Entering this room will take you to an elite enemy. The rune is dropped when killing said enemy. Undead Archer
Customization Rune Icon.png
Customization Rune Ramparts This permanent rune unlocks the Custom Mode. In a room close to the entrance of the Ramparts Undead Archer or Zombie Custom Mode
Challenger Rune Icon.png
Challenger's Rune Black Bridge This permanent rune provides access to the daily challenge (Prisoners' Quarters). Defeat the Concierge The Concierge Daily Run
Teleportation Rune Icon.png
Teleportation Rune Toxic Sewers This permanent rune lets you use teleportation monoliths. Found in a room with an elite enemy in the Toxic Sewers. Dropped when killing said enemy. Slasher
Ram Rune Icon.png
Ram Rune[a] Ossuary This permanent rune lets you break through certain floors. In a special room with an elite enemy in the Ossuary. Dropped when killing said enemy. Slasher Ancient Sewers from Toxic Sewers.
Explorer's Rune Icon.png
Explorer's Rune Forgotten Sepulcher This permanent rune reveals the whole map and its points of interest (scrolls, merchants, etc.) once you've explored most of the level. In a room that is after two elite room, which is at the end of the biome Two Dark Trackers N/A
Spider Rune Icon.png
Spider Rune Slumbering Sanctuary This permanent rune lets you cling to walls. In a room with an elite enemy. Dropped when killing said enemy. Caster
Homunculus Rune Icon.png
Homunculus Rune Throne Room This permanent rune lets you leave your body. Defeat the Hand of the King The Hand of the King

List of upgrades[edit]

Health Flask I must be unlocked before anything else.

Icon Name Description Cell cost Cell Currency Icon.png Requirements Notes
Healing Potion 1 Icon.png
Health Flask I Unlocks a health potion that can be used at any time. 5 Must be unlocked first. Heals 60% of your health over a few seconds. Each use removes 150 points (3 bars) of Malaise.
Healing Potion 2 Icon.png
Health Flask II The health potion can be used 2 times. 50 Health Flask I
Healing Potion 3 Icon.png
Health Flask III The health potion can be used 3 times. 150 Health Flask II, unlock 10 items
Healing Potion 4 Icon.png
Health Flask IV The health potion can be used 4 times. 300 Health Flask III, unlock 25 items
Gold Reserves 1 Icon.png
Gold Reserves I Preserves up to 500 GOLD when you die. 5 Health Flask I
Gold Reserves 2 Icon.png
Gold Reserves II Preserves up to 1000 GOLD when you die. 35 Gold Reserves I
Gold Reserves 3 Icon.png
Gold Reserves III Preserves up to 1500 GOLD when you die. 100 Gold Reserves II, unlock 8 items
Gold Reserves 4 Icon.png
Gold Reserves IV Preserves up to 2000 GOLD when you die. 200 Gold Reserves III, unlock 15 items
Gold Reserves 5 Icon.png
Gold Reserves V Preserves up to 2500 GOLD when you die. 400 Gold Reserves IV, unlock 30 items Only available after finding its blueprint in the secret maze room in the Ancient Sewers. Requires the Homunculus Rune Icon.png Homunculus Rune to get.[1]
Recycling 1 Icon.png
Recycling I Transforms objects found on the ground or in chests into gold. 25 Health Flask I 7% of the sale price
Recycling 2 Icon.png
Recycling II Transforms objects found on the ground or in chests into gold. More than the previous version. 120 Recycling I 15% of the sale price
Random Melee Weapon Icon.png
Random Melee Weapon The starter melee weapon is drawn at random from your unlocked weapons. 65 Unlock 2 items
Random Starting Bow Icon.png
Random Starter Bow The starter bow is drawn at random from your unlocked bows. 65 Unlock 2 items
Random Starting Shield Icon.png
Random Starter Shield The starter shield is drawn at random from your unlocked shields. 65 Unlock 2 items
Restock Icon.png
Restock Refreshes a shop's stocks at a very reasonable price. 300 Unlock 20 items The player can interact with a pedestal at any shop to change the items on display. Can be used 5 times per shop, with the shopkeeper's prices increasing by +40% every time it is used.
Hunter's Grenade Icon.png
Specialist's Showroom Unlocks a special shop in the Prisoner's Cells. There you'll find all sorts of rare and expensive oddities for only the most experienced and discerning shoppers. 150 Unlock 20 items Makes the Specialist's Showroom spawn in Prisoners' Quarters each run, which contains a Hunter's Grenade Icon.png Hunter's Grenade, a Forgotten Map Icon.png Forgotten Map, and the Golden Outfit blueprint.
Hunter's Mirror Icon.png
Hunter's Mirror Unlocks a mirror near the Scribe that may come in handy during your hunts. 150 Specialist's Showroom Shows a random enemy or boss that carries a blueprint you don't have yet, Will not show any items that cannot be unlocked at that difficulty, but the mirror can show you inaccessible enemies.
Merchandise Categories Icon.png
Merchandise Categories The merchants will offer a wider range of categories. 300 Unlock 30 items Found in the Graveyard. The Architect's Key.png Architect's Key (found randomly in a wall) is needed to get it.

You can now pick between 3 categories in item shops. This will force the shop to have only the items selected. (Does not affect the food shops.)

Weapon and skill shop categories can be chosen between the 3 stats: Brutality, Tactics, Survival.

This can be changed in Custom Mode to work as it did prior to v1.9 which allowed the choice of different weapons (Melee, Ranged, Shields) and skills (Deployable Traps, Grenades, Miscellaneous Skills)

Advanced Forge I You can increase the quality of an object at the forge twice instead of once. 200 Gold Reserves IV, unlock 40 items Only accessible after defeating Conjunctivius for the sixth time.
Recycling Tubes Icon.png
Recycling Tubes Allows you to choose between a few sets of starting equipment, each containing a melee weapon, ranged weapon, shield and two skills. 150 Only available after you get its blueprint by defeating the Hand of the King on 1 BSC mode.

Replaces your starting equipment with a large room that holds 4 sets of starting equipment. (If you do not have a Random Starting X upgrade, you still get the basic weapon).

Backpack Icon.png
Backpack Allows you to carry a spare weapon. Hold the interact button to empty the backpack. 100 Unlock 15 items Cannot hold skills, two-handed weapons or the Giantkiller Icon.png Giantkiller.
Training Room Key.png
Training Room Key Unlocks the Training Room. Looted off the corpse of the Tutorial Knight in Prisoners' Quarters.


  • The Ram Rune will also buff the player's dive attack damage and range (long fall dive attack only).
  • The Homunculus Rune allows the player detach their head and control it separately from their body to access certain areas. It can latch on to a single enemy, dealing damage to them and leaving the player with full control of the player's body. The damage is scaled on the player's highest stat. The head can also climb walls indefinitely.
    • The head will return to the body instantly, going through all obstacles, under any of the following conditions: Reaching the max distance away from the main body, the player taking damage while the head is latched onto an enemy, the head defeating an enemy, the head remaining attached to an enemy for ~7 seconds, or if the player presses the assigned button again.
    • The base damage dealt is 12, and it hits 5 times per second.
    • The cooldown for this rune will not start unless the head attaches to an enemy but returns before the enemy is defeated. The cooldown is instantly reset if the enemy is defeated, should the head still be on that enemy.
    • The head can also take items and blueprints before bringing them back to the player. However, they will be dropped if they encounter any enemy or if the head jumps. Besides, picked up items can be manually dropped by pressing the "roll" button.
    • The head can climb up ropes and fall down faster if the player tries to down-slam while controlling the head.
    • Using the rune breaks invisibility.
    • This rune can't be used if the player is affected by Cursed Effect.png curse, except if the only source of curse on the player is the Cursed Sword Icon.png Cursed Sword.
  • For the Explorer's Rune, once the player has explored 80% of the biome's map, the entire map of the biome and the map inside BSC doors are revealed, showing all points of interest, enemies, as well as items and scrolls of power (but not blueprints).
    • Additionally if an enemy is carrying precious loot, like an item or scroll, it will be marked in the map with a star, but it doesn't reveal any layouts or terrain.
    • This effect is similar to the map-revealing effect of the Forgotten Map Icon.png Forgotten Map.


  • 0.0:
    • Teleportation Rune introduced.
    • Vine Rune introduced.
  • 0.3: Challenger's Rune introduced.
  • 0.4:
    • Spider Rune introduced.
    • Ram Rune introduced.
  • 1.0: Homunculus Rune introduced.
  • 1.1: Customization Rune introduced.
  • 1.2: Customization Rune can now be obtained in the Ramparts as well.
  • 1.5: Explorer's Rune introduced.
  • 3.0: Reduced requirement for Random Melee Weapon from 12 items to 2.


  1. Formerly known as Belier's Rune.
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