The Catacombs is a subterranean area in Dark Souls. Despite its relative difficulty, the area is accessible immediately once the player arrives at Firelink Shrine after completing the Undead Asylum tutorial area. The Catacombs' entrance lies at the far end of a cliffside graveyard at the edge of Firelink, which is guarded by several Skeleton enemies.
Players preparing to explore the Catacombs are recommended to equip a Divine-upgraded weapon. Unlike the Skeletons at Firelink Shrine, the Skeletons encountered inside the Catacombs will resurrect themselves upon death so long as their attendant Necromancer is alive. However, striking the final blow with a Divine weapon will prevent a Skeleton's resurrection. Killing a Necromancer will also negate any nearby Skeletons' ability to resurrect, and individual Necromancers will not respawn once killed. There are a total of six Necromancers occupying the Catacombs, each of which has a chance to drop the rare Skull Lantern item upon death; this illuminating item can prove extremely useful in the pitch-darkness of the Tomb of the Giants. The bottom of the Catacombs is a gauntlet of Bonewheel Skeletons, a highly-dangerous enemy type capable of quickly overwhelming players with its speed and rapid-fire attacks, especially in numbers.
Aside from challenging enemies, this area is also laden with various traps and mechanisms designed to significantly slow the player's progress. Lever-operated doors and bridges are often manipulated remotely, requiring thorough exploration of the Catacombs' many branching tunnels to locate an obstacle's corresponding switch. Since the area is largely vertically-oriented, several chambers and ledges can only be accessed by falling from a higher ledge or dropping through a fragile floor. One of these drops leads to Vamos, an undead blacksmith residing near the Bonewheel room who provides Fire and Chaos weapon upgrades after receiving their corresponding Embers. A friendly phantom of Paladin Leeroy may also be summoned from a nearby ledge for assistance with the imminent boss fight.
Pinwheel, the area boss, is found inside a coffin-shaped chamber at the bottom of the Catacombs. Upon his defeat, players receive the Rite of Kindling, an item that allows further bonfire kindling for an increased maximum of twenty Estus charges. Beyond Pinwheel's chamber, a ladder leads up and into a series of larger pitch-dark caverns known as the Tomb of the Giants.
Patches, an NPC originally introduced in Demon's Souls, may also be encountered in this area under certain conditions; namely, players must visit the Catacombs before Rhea of Thorolund and her companions depart from Firelink Shrine on their ill-fated mission. As in Demon's Souls, Patches detests clerics. If spoken to, Patches immediately asks whether the player is a cleric or not; regardless of the answer, this will prompt Patches to flip one of the Catacombs' spiked bridges as the player attempts to cross, triggering a long and likely-fatal drop into the pit below.