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Games for Early PCs

Ossuary: the Role of Magic

Playing Ossuary as a mage
Playing Ossuary as a mage

Saturday, 6th March 2021

As an intelligent hero trying to make a living using magic, it's easy to feel hard done by down in the Ossuary. After the dagger, you see swords and battleaxes giving +4 and +6 bonuses to brainless fighter characters, where your wand stays stubbornly at +2. While the iron shield gives the figher a +4 bonus, your amulet again is stuck at +2.

But there is a more subtle bonus offered by magic, and being an intelligent character you'll appreciate it once it's learned. The secret is in the fact that the two magical items, the wand and the amulet, not only increase intelligence but also transfer attack and defence to intelligence respectively.

That means that combined, they feed off one another. Together they increase your intelligence by 4 points. This might seem paltry compared to the combined benefits of a +6 axe and a +4 shield. But because the doubly increased intelligence will be used for both attack and defence, this +4 is counted twice: +4 for your hits against the enemy, and +4 for your defence against their retaliation.

This +8 is still slightly short of the +10 for the combined axe and shield, or the double-wielded axe and sword. However, your wand gives you another trick. Unlike a blade, which swishes through a spectre or bounces off a daemon, a wand can damage them. So a sufficiently strong magic user doesn't have to bother collecting the magic scrolls that are the fighter's only way of dealing with these enemies. Fewer scrolls carried equates to more potions or apples.

This advantage also manifests itself another way. The magic user can afford to discard the blades and shields encountered along the way, leaving more room in the bag for potions and apples. But the magic scrolls have a tendency to disappear in a puff of smoke at the wrong moment. The foresighted warrior therefore has to consider hanging on to the wand, just in case that last scroll disappears on a level full of daemons and spectres.

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