In an unprecedented spurt of Dark Souls excellence, I defeated the Gaping Dragon in a single evening after just thirteen attempts! (I kept count this time.)
It took some time to find the beast. My Knight wandered around the maze-like sewers of The Depths for days, falling through cleverly-hidden holes in the floor, stabbing rats of all sizes, dodging the cursed basilisks’ breath. Not always successfully. I had never been cursed before, and I hope I’m never cursed again, because halving one’s health is not pleasant. I spent a whole evening tracking down a Purging Stone to get myself back to normal. (Of course, being frugal, I had to run all the way back to the top of the church to buy the cheaper one–and of course because this is Dark Souls, you have to kill everything in your path no matter where you go.)
I picked up a Crystal Greatsword from a vendor who inexplicably chose a sewer as the best locale to ply his trade. It was pricey but worth it–until I realized I had no way to repair it. Still, it held out until the boss was dead at least.
Compared to the Capra Demon, the Gaping Dragon was surprisingly easy. You wouldn’t think so from the size of the thing, though. The introductory cut scene for this monstrosity is truly terrifying. It’s like … oh a cute little snake this shouldn’t be so bad and OH GOD WHAT IS THAT RUN AWAY RUN AWAY.
Two things made this fight straightforward: Being able to move around in a big space, and the Gaping Dragon’s fairly predictable attack patterns. You want to stay away from his legs when he’s walking around because he’ll stun you each time a foot hits you, and if you hang around his hands he’ll pick you up and devour you for effectively a one-shot kill. Sometimes he’ll “charge” toward a wall, leaving big puffs of dust (or mist or whatever) and if you get underfoot it does a ton of damage, too. And he smacks the ground with his … head … maw … mouth-part-thingy … but I don’t think I was ever underneath it to see how much damage it did. Of course he has a nasty tail swipe as well. Oh, and he jumps up in the air to turn around if he can’t reach you with his mouth–if you don’t run away he’ll land on your head and do a lot of damage.
I found my shield fairly useless, so I used the Crystal Greatsword two-handed for extra damage. Basically my strategy was to run away from him until he charged a wall, then run in to wack him on the back thigh while he stood still. He sort of stuns himself when he hits the wall, giving you time to get in a good three swings. Then he jumps up into the air (usually) and that’s your cue to run away and repeat the process. Seven minutes later victory was achieved.
Of course, that strategy does not allow you to cut off his tail, so if you want the Dragon King Greataxe you’ll have to do something different. (I wouldn’t have been able to use it anyway.)
The Gaping Dragon drops the Blighttown Key, which leads to the next section. It took me an embarrassingly long time to find that door, but eventually I made my way into the next fresh hell of Dark Souls, the aptly-named Blighttown.