On a recent trip I found myself back at Mammoth Caves, Kentucky for a quick driving break. I didn’t make it down into any of the caves this time, but got to walk around and peer into the caves while I walked the trails in the park. The last time I was there, I was inspired to do an article on how awesome caves were. This time is no different and I’ve got an itch to throw some of my players back in a cave (I mean… their characters…), but I had a different twist on the idea.
(Warning, This is a big article with lots of pictures.)
Whenever I sit down to plan out a game around a certain theme, the plot and ideas come easy. What it takes me a while to find are the fun little resources that help me really grab the players and engage them. Pictures of unique elements, some fun and unique monsters, good noise effects, etc. The unnecessary elements that you don’t really need, but the ones that can help increase your enjoyment. The things that fall to the wayside while I do more important things that are necessary for the core game. So, I thought, why not compile and link to a bunch of resources that work for a theme? I present you the first Johnny’s Fifty. Here are fifty resources that I found online for you to make use of when running a cave themed game. Use them as morgue files, references, illustrations of various elements in your game, etc. Wherever possible, I’ve tried to find resources that are freely available. I’ve also tried to preserve links to accreditation.
One thing that always strikes me about caves is how the openings are incredibly diverse. The standard hole in the rock wall is good, but there are so many unique elements that could be added to cave openings in any genre.
A cave opening that Adventurers would have
to crawl through.
A cave/archway with stairs leading down.
A cave you could drive a boat into. An excellent smuggler’s cove.
Cave Entrance that is just a hole in the ground, incredibly vertical. And a picture of what it might look like after you get down into the hole.
A far off view of a cave entrance on a coast. Could easily be used as a cave that is hidden because it can’t be seen easily from the other shore.
A cave with an arch and Kanji writing in front of it.
A cave that you would need to swim into and underwater shots of that cave.
Fire in a cave. Not quite lava, but an encampment of cave creatures?
Some cave paintings.
Some rights reserved by Gyrus
Statues inside of caves. While these are very zen, they make great references for how statues might be encountered.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dominicspics/4705541834/ (really nifty statue)
Some rights reserved by Dominic’s pics
http://morguefile.com/archive/display/599686 (Great Ambush Point)
Some rights reserved by KirstenPGow
Fire Caves and Lava Tubes
People crawling through caves
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tom-riddle/285907906/ (Going backwards with a pack)
by Tom Riddle
A tourist map of a cave, but I could see this being the sort of thing drawn for adventurers.
A great underwater cave map.
The Diketon Cave would make a great place to adventure or hunt down an alien monster/nest of werewolves.
Blackgate.com has an article on the art of the dungeon map with a lot of good resources.
Listed under free content, Goblinoidgames.com has a small adventure with a great map.
The very great Gozzy’s Cave Map Generator
Ambient noise can really help you get some fun immersion. I trolled through the freesound.org archives to find a bunch of good cave sounds.
A weird sound that would be good on loop.
Water in a cave
Wind howling through a cave
Bird flying in a cave
Tense music good for a cave
Gates Echoing while being opened in a cave
Scraping Sound In Cave
http://www.freesound.org/people/pscsound/sounds/71261/ – Temple Door Closing
Approaching Footsteps And Climbing Sounds
1. The floor has fallen away and the only way to continue forward is to jump between spikes or pitons along the walls.
2. You’ve got the treasure, but had to go down a steep climb to get to it. It is very heavy, how do you get it back up?
3. Sound reverberates inside of some caves, so imagine trying to sneak up on a group of enemies who have seeded the area with noise traps or just crunchy ground cover.
4. Most caves are fairly humidity controlled (if there isn’t water in them) and things keep preserved for a long time, until they are taken outside of the cave. Have a map or other item that will need preserved in some way to survive outside of the cave.
Caves are a pretty common trope of fantasy games, so here are some more unique monsters that you could throw into caves.
And whew. That’s it. I’m hoping this article is something you can mine for inspiration and resources to use alongside your own plots/games. It’s big, but it’s meaty and full of things that might make you think in different ways about a theme. I might do more of these in the future. Would you like articles like this? Packed to the gills with lots of resources that fit around a theme? What kind of themes would you like to see tackled?