Charon is the mysterious Ferryman of the Underworld who charters travels up and down the River of Styx. He’s a man of few words, but he remains a captivating character even amidst a colourful cast like Hades.
Charon’s motives and thoughts are shrouded in mystery, and the best you’ll get out of him is a mopey groan. He is one of the most important characters in the game, granting access to his shop and a host of other goodies.
In this Charon Hades guide, I’ll explain everything you need to know about Charon, from the items he can give you to how his shop works. I’ll also explain what happens if you’re a fool and help yourself to a five-finger discount on his wares. A quick word of advice, don’t do that!
Bottom Line Up Front
Charon is much more than just a shopkeeper in Hades. He has no romance options (unfortunately!) but does have an affinity reward if you gift him Nectar.
You can challenge Charon to a fight by ‘borrowing’ the sack of Charon’s Obuls that can appear behind him randomly. Depending on when that happens in a run, it can end up being the most demanding battle in the entire game.
Who is Charon?
Not much is known about the cryptic Ferryman. Even his complete codex entry reveals very little about his past or motives. Charon is the boatman that shepherds the recently deceased down the River of Styx. He collects trinkets and sells wares at his shop, but nobody knows to what end. Curiously, he has two brothers in the Underworld.
Thanatos, literally death incarnate and Hypnos, the one you probably know for his sarcastic remarks whenever you emerge from the Pool of Styx in the House of Hades
Obuls are one of several currencies in the Underworld and Charon’s preferred choice for transactions. According to Hades’ lore, wealth in the world of the living doesn’t mean much when you’re dead.
No one knows why Charon hoards Obuls, and it’ll likely stay that way forever. In your escape attempts, grab as many Obuls as possible to take full advantage of Charon’s shops.
Affinity Rewards – Bone Hourglass
If you gift Charon Nectar, he will grant access to his Bone Hourglass Keepsake. This handy trinket increases the duration of buffs bestowed by items from the Well Of Charon. Much like any Keepsake, its effectiveness increases the more you use it. Initially, the Bone Hourglass increases buff durations by four encounters.
This duration can be increased to a maximum of eight encounters; to do so, you must have the Keepsake equipped for 125 battles.
Don’t underestimate the Bone Hourglass. Temporary buffs may not be as attractive as permanent ones, but it’s possible to bring substantial damage buffs into the boss battles. If you can get through the Temple of Styx quickly, you can even bring buffs into the fight against Hades himself.
If you’re playing with Extreme Measures enabled, this Keepsake can level the playing field against bosses like Theseus and the Minotaur, an option to consider if you’re struggling.
If any would-be Underworld detectives were curious, unfortunately, the Bone Hourglass does not work with buffs from Patroclus.
Welcome to the Shop
You’ll bump into Charon multiple times through each of your escape attempts. He’s always manning his shops, and as long as you have a few Obuls to spare, he’s worth the visit.
I usually avoid his shop if I’m Speedrunning or have less than 150 Obuls. He sells a great variety of wares. Most are worth the price, but there are a couple of stinkers. Here’s what you should look out for:
Price: 125 Obuls
Centaur Hearts increase Zagreus’ maximum HP by 25 for the current run. You’ll usually want to pick up a few of these on every escape attempt. How much you need will depend on how adept you are at avoiding damage. It’s always best to have too many rather than too few, but as a guide, I find anything above 200 max HP is comfortable.
Price: 150 Obuls
These are what you really want from the shop! Charon can sell boons from any God except for Chaos. Just note that the same rules apply with boons from the shop as the ones you find elsewhere in the Underworld.
You can only have boons from four Gods per run. This limit excludes Hermes and Chaos so take from these at your leisure. Boons are amongst the highest value items in Charons shop and are a worthwhile purchase.
Price: 200 Obuls
Daedalus Hammers are well worth the price, especially if you’ve not used one yet. These items can dramatically alter how your weapon works, and you can choose based on your play style. It’s worth noting that some Daedalus Hammer upgrades stack and can make powerful combinations.
Random God Boon
Price: 125 Obuls
If you were looking for one of those stinkers I mentioned, here you go. For 25 Obuls less than a standard God Boon, you can jeopardize your entire run and let fate decide what random boon to give you. If your build is in dire straits, you could argue a case for this, but plenty of boons don’t synergize well.
It’s a bad investment. With the boon limit, each one you add to your build is important and not something you want to leave to chance. The only time I’ll grab one of these is as a last-ditch effort to save a dying run or when I’m so strong that it won’t matter.
Wells of Charon
Even if you can’t visit his shop, Charon can still sell you items via his Wells of Charon. These offer temporary buffs instead of boons. Many new players disregard the wells in favour of shops, but they offer some potentially game-changing rewards. Here are a few of the hard hitters you should always keep an eye out for:
Light of Ixion
Price: 40 Obuls
Speedrunners always take these whenever possible as they guarantee a Chaos gate in the next room, and Chaos rooms are swift to traverse. Even if you’re not speedrunning, Chaos buffs can be run-altering and turn a mediocre escape attempt into one that’s downright busted!
Kiss of Styx
Price: 200 Obuls
The Kiss of Styx is a powerful item that replenishes one use of your Death Defiance. As a new player, you’ll be heavily reliant on these into the later stages of the game, so it’s worth keeping 200 Obuls handy just in case.
Price: 60 Obuls
I guess Charon is a keen angler! If you’re looking to fill the ‘River Denizens’ section of your Codex or trade with the Head Chef, the Skeletal Lure is something to look out for.
The Skeletal Lure makes a Fishing Spot appear in the next available location. Thanks to the RNG nature of room spawns, you may still be waiting a while, but the next time a fishable area appears, you can try your luck there.
Price: 40/35 Obuls
These items increase the damage of your Attack or Special, respectively. There’s not much to say about these items other than the quicker you clear rooms, the less likely it is that you’ll take damage.
In Hades, a good offence is the best defence, and the Jerky items are an easy way to enable that. With the Bone Hourglass, the effects of these items can sometimes be taken into Boss battles, netting some fantastic easy wins.
So, You Stole from Charon Huh?
If you ever robbed the shopkeeper in The Legend of Zelda, Link’s Awakening, you should know how unwise it is to steal in video games! After you’ve progressed far enough through the game, there’s a chance that a bag of 300 Obuls will appear behind Charon in shops.
The bag appears randomly, with only a 22% spawn rate. If you go to interact with the Obuls, a prompt to ‘borrow’ them will appear, but make no mistake, you’re robbing Charon when you do this.
Still, if you just can’t help yourself, let me help you survive this predicament.
Showdown with Charon
The moment you steal Charon’s Obul’s, the music abruptly stops, and he will groan at you a little louder than usual. You’ll be transported to a small rectangular arena with four large golden urns on the ground. You can use these as cover in the upcoming battle.
Charon has a ton of health, more than the Minotaur in Elysium, which should give you an idea of how long this can take. Charon has access to several powerful attacks, and if you’re facing him in Tartarus, he can easily kill you in 3-4 hits.
His attacks don’t have official names, but this is what you need to look out for during the fight.
Charon Battle Mechanics
Charon’s Oar doesn’t look like much (it’s just a chunk of wood, after all), but it’s a nasty weapon with a deceptive range far exceeding its length. Charon can almost hit half the width of the arena in a single attack.
To make matters worse, it hits for roughly 45 damage a swing which means he can kill you in 3 hits if you haven’t upgraded your maximum HP.
Charon will usually swing the Oar twice in quick succession, and the attack’s only saving grace is how its telegraphed. Charon briefly holds the Oar like a baseball bat before he swings it.
With practice, it’s easy to see, but you can get caught if you’re in range. You can dash through the attack, but learning the timing for the dodge will take time.
Charon can summon waves of skulls which glide across the arena. These skulls deal roughly 35 damage per hit and are fortunately telegraphed well in advance. When you see Charon spin his Oar above his head and then point it forwards, it’s time to pay attention.
The bad news is these skulls have multiple patterns in which they enter the arena, and these patterns usually get more challenging to avoid the further you are into the fight. You can dodge through them, but as they have large hitboxes, your dodge needs to be accurate to avoid taking a hit.
Some patterns are particularly obnoxious. Charon can send lines of skulls from either side of the arena that ‘criss-cross’ in the middle. This is a nasty one to try and avoid, especially when it’s not the only attack on screen.
The stun wave is my least favourite move in Charon’s arsenal, as it leaves you completely vulnerable to every other attack. Charon can unleash a massive pink shockwave in a circle around himself which stuns Zagreus for a moment on contact.
Fortunately, this attack doesn’t do damage on its own, which is a good thing as it is barely telegraphed. This stun leaves you open for a follow-up Oar attack, but more than anything, it just throws you off.
If you were mid-dodge, you’ll likely take a hit and knowing Charon always has this up his sleeve makes him very difficult to approach.
Charon can shoot small energy waves towards Zagreus. They move slowly and are pretty easy to avoid. They bounce off the arena edges, but they are Charon’s least threatening ability, thanks to their slow speed.
In my testing, I have been able to deflect these waves, but it’s risky. Your best course of action is to give them space and avoid them entirely or dash through them.
Keep an Eye on Charons Health
Charon gets more desperate the longer the battle goes on. As he loses health, his attacks become faster and more aggressive. His summoned skulls, in particular, follow more erratic patterns, making it difficult to land those finishing blows.
Use the Urns for cover, but when Charon’s health dips below 75%, he will destroy 2 of them. When his health falls below half, he will destroy the remaining 2, forcing you to rely entirely on your dashing to avoid damage.
Fortunately, you can’t actually kill Charon in this fight. He surrenders when his health reaches roughly 20%. At this point, he leaves the Loyalty Card artefact for you to collect. It seems so long ago, but remember those Obuls you stole? You can keep those for your trouble as well.
What is the Best Weapon to Defeat Charon?
You can beat Charon with any weapon, but I prefer the Adamant Rail. It’s downright scary going toe to toe with Charon up close, and the Rail lets you avoid that.
I tend to use the Eris Aspect for the Rail and find it works well in the fight. You can power yourself up from afar or go in for those riskier close-range blows with your special attack.
The hardest part about the fight is how much you have to focus on, and that’s an issue no matter what weapon you’re using. Once you start learning Charons’ patterns and how he telegraphs his attacks, he becomes a little bit easier.
He’s immensely tough if you battle him in Tartarus, even with the Rail, but if you persevere, I know you can do it!
The Loyalty Card
The Loyalty Card is an Artefact with effects that only last until the end of the current run. It grants 20% off items in any Wells of Charon and his shops. You’ll get more value out of the Loyalty Card if you can get it early, as you’ll have more opportunities to use it.
Naturally, this is risky as Charon is a dangerous foe even if you’re powered up. Beating Charon with bad boons is brutally difficult, and although the Loyalty card is lovely, it’s usually not worth going for.
This is most useful as a Speedrunning tool, but if you want to battle Charon at full power, you can download a complete game save file here. This file will grant access to a fully upgraded Mirror of Night in Zagreus’s chambers, giving you access to the strongest upgrades in the game.
Just note that this file will only work on PC.
Charon’s Keepsake, The Bone Hourglass, is excellent as it increases the duration of buffs from Wells Of Charon. If you need a refresher on what items are duration based, you can view a list of every potential item here
Any item that lists ‘Encounters’ under duration will benefit from the Bone Hourglass.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Is it Worth Battling Charon if You have the Option?
Answer: It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish in your run and how powerful you are when the opportunity arises. Naturally, if you’re Speedrunning, don’t bother. If you’ve got a nice build on the go and you’re confident you can beat him, go right ahead!
It’s never worth losing a Death Defiance against Charon, so if you feel like the fight will go on for a while, I would advise against it. The Loyalty Card is a nice item, but it’s not worth risking most of the time.
Question: I never Get the Option to Fight Charon. Am I Doing Something Wrong?
Answer: The bag of Charons Obul that you need to steal is never guaranteed to appear and only shows up 22% of the time. On top of that, you need to have beaten Hades at least once for the bag to appear.
Question: Even with the Guide, I’m REALLY Struggling to Beat Charon. Any Tips?
Answer: Charon is no slouch and is arguably the most demanding boss in the game. He’s an easier opponent the later you fight him, as you’ll have more of a chance to collect boons and power-ups beforehand. The best thing you can do to practice is to face him and focus entirely on dodging his attacks.
Like most boss battles in Hades, pattern memorization is critically important, so slow the fight down, don’t recklessly attack and take as much in as you can before going on the offensive.
You’ll likely take a few L’s doing this, but you’ll emerge a stronger player and will be able to snag that Loyalty Card whenever you please.
If that doesn’t work and you just want to beat up Charon, you can turn God Mode on in the Options menu to make the game easier or download the save file in the Useful Resources section above.
Charon plays a huge part in each of your escape attempts. Shops offer a great chance of getting the boons you need, especially Hermes boons which feel essential in Elysium and beyond.
It’s always wise to keep a few Obuls in your pockets to spend at Wells of Charon, and if you’re feeling spicy, there’s always the chance to battle him as one of the most formidable residents of the Underworld.
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