Cyningstan DOS Games

Games for Early PCs

Ossuary: Your First Descent

The staircase on Ossuary's first level
The staircase on Ossuary's first level

Saturday, 27th February 2021

Some games encourage you to go into them with an attitude like "I wanna be a WIZARD!" and let you choose what you are. Ossuary isn't like that. In real life we have to make sensible choices, and Ossuary is a bit like that. Your player starts out the game with a set of statistics, or natural abilities, and you probably want to look at those to decide how you'll play.

There are no formal "character classes", but instead the hero's stats will decide how well you'll do with a particular kind of equipment. The stats are always balanced at the start. So if your puny strength limits you to giving your enemies a foppish tap, you'll probably find your defensive skill or intelligence is high to compensate.

Characters with high attack strength generally do better as fighters, carrying a blade weapon and a shield. Characters with high defence skill might have less need of the shield, allowing them to dual-wield blades to offset their lower attack strength. Characters with high intelligence will want to seek out the wand and the amulet; these will make their attack and defence magical, using their intelligence instead of their physical attributes to beat their enemies. Characters with finely balanced stats might find this emphasis shifting during the game, as levelling up may change which statistic is the strongest.

Most adventuring heroes are better prepared than you. At least they remember to bring their own weapon. You have a couple of apples and a healing potion that you found earlier. And you expect to beat the necromancer? More forward-looking adventurers have already failed. But luckily their weapons are already down in the ossuary for you to find. That's going to be your first task.

Thankfully the upper levels contain the easiest monsters to beat. The giant bats you meet at first might be difficult to hit, but their bite isn't much more than an irritant. So your own patience as a player will be your best stat, flapping at the bats till you find that first weapon.

It might be tempting to head straight for the stairs. This is a bad idea. If you haven't collected a weapon yet, you'll not be equipped to deal with the more challenging enemies that await you down there. Even with a weapon, you don't want to miss out on the other goodies you might find scattered around, like the food and potions to keep you health. And the gold. Don't forget the gold. It doesn't do much for you down here, but your whole reason for encountering this danger and inconvenience is the gold.

There's a second reason, too. You're not yet the battle-hardened adventurer that you'll need to be to beat the necromancer. You become that battle-hardened adventurer with experience. Unlike some games, "XP" isn't shown on the screen. But it's there. If you want to level up, to become stronger and wiser, then that comes with fighting and killing the creatures you'll meet on the way. The more of them you challenge, the stronger you'll become.

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