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Back in Dark Souls, being a white phantom that helped to kill a boss gave you a significant amount of reward. Not only did you get the souls of the monsters you helped to kill, you got half the souls of the boss you killed, a sun token if you had a person from that covenant, and you got humanity for your troubles. At least I'm pretty sure that those were the benefits.

Now, in Dark Souls 2, it seems you still get tokens (either sunlight or fidelity), but you don't always get your humanity back. There were a number of times I remember finishing a boss with a group of people and I would go from hollow to human. There were other times that I stayed hollow.

From what research I did on the internet, it sounds like FromSoftware didn't intend you to get humanity back from helping to kill a boss, or even beating a boss in your own game session. So, that leaves Human Effigies the only way of going back to human. And with them being a very limited commodity, I question if there will be enough for one play-through in the game.

So, is this really the case?

  • Some people report that you do, but it's inconsistent. FROM has made some comments on it, and it appears it might be a bug, and you're never supposed to get humanity back from helping another player. I personally wouldn't worry about running out of human effigies, though. Unless you need to summon another player for help there's no reason to use one. – Wipqozn Mar 25 '14 at 13:07
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Update

Since Patch 1.03 the bug of randomly getting human form back after multiplayer sessions has been fixed. According to the patch notes, you now get some humanity back for helping others as a white phantom, meaning your health penalty will decrease. When all your health is back, you will regain your human form (I have just tested this). This means you are no longer dependent on human effigies to get your humanity back in online mode.

Patch note excerpt:

Players now receive a small portion of Humanity after successfully assisting in a Multiplayer session instead of regaining full Humanity.

Before Patch 1.03:

Before Patch 1.03, you got revived by playing co-op at random. It does not matter whether you defeat the boss or die, sometimes you will return to your world revived, although you placed your summon sign hollowed.

There are several rumours on the internet, that it gets less likely to revive the more often you fight the boss, or that the amount of human effigies you have has an influence on your chances to revive, but they are wrong.

I once got revived although the summoner died in a boss fight, and once it took six times killing a boss and then only one time killing the same boss to revive, although the circumstances had not changed.

This random procedure indicates, that you are not actually meant to revive. In From Software's twitter post, that has been partially translated at reddit, it has been confirmed, that phantoms reviving is a bug and not actually supposed to happen:

Somebody asked the official Japanese FromSoftware twitter if it was a bug that sometimes you didn't revive to human after helping somebody else play coop.

The answer? "Actually you're not supposed to revive to human, we'll investigate why that happens".

Human effigies are limited in Dark Souls 2, as long as you don't use Bonfire Ascetics, which practically turn areas into New Game + difficulty, but as long as you use them rarely and with care, you shouldn't run out of them. You can find a lot of them as treasure and they also drop from (limited) enemies. For more information on that, see How do I farm Human Effigies?.

Should you find yourself running out of effigies anyway, you can either try to find the Ring of Life Protection, which makes you practically immortal as it can be repaired, or you could try to get summoned and ask other players through private messages to give you an effigy.

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To add to Dominic's answer, according to fextralife wiki there's another method to become human without using human effigies:

In the Shrine of Amana, there is an altar you can pray to and you can become human. After you defeat the boss, proceed to the right and follow this path. Take another right and you'll come to a staircase leading to a door. It only becomes unlocked if you're hollow. Follow this path and you will come across the alter. To become human, a few things are required. You must have talked to the Milfanito (the woman before boss) so she disappears. You must also not have killed any of the other singing women in the Shrine of Amana. Also, you must not have a high Sin level and have no Human Effigies in your inventory or your item box.

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You can also join the SunBros which grants you full Humanity if you successfully aid another player in a boss fight.

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