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Perilous Caves


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At the moment, caves are a bit boring and oftentimes even annoying, drifters spawn in mass amounts and huck hundreds of rocks at you. Even in these mass amounts, if you have ample room to fight them or can simply pile up a few blocks, you can cheese them completely and avoid having to risk anything in killing them. Temporal stability is another risk factor when doing very deep caving but it's not a particularly fun feature due to the fact that the only way to mitigate it is to use gears to restore your stability, a resource which is incredibly rare already.

As such, I think that a redo of the whole threat of caves in general is in order, specifically one to make the threats more environmental in origin as to make caves less annoying and provide players fewer chances to cheese them.

General Ambience Changes

At the moment, caves are a bit underwhelming to explore. There's no ambience to exploring a cave that differs from the above ground world and the sheer brightness of light that you can get from a single small candle in a copper lantern is so great that it makes caves feel far too open and inviting. Instead, caves should have a light, cold ambience to them that distinguishes them from the natural sounds of the surface and should, likely by way of a combination of testing light levels and y level, have strong reverberation to simulate the cramped, narrow space that they should be. As well as this, the pure raw stone construction of caves is mostly inaccurate as the majority of real caves floors are composed of dirt, loose stones, and occasional patches of raw stone. A better appearance would be for all cave floors to be gravel with loose stones strewn about and areas of stone being the exception to the rule, not the norm. Additionally, though not required, more variety in stone texture and more large scale detail would contribute greatly towards making caves less uniform.


A more grim shift in aesthetics could be the inclusion of more common "ruins" which consist less of a full encampment and more of tools and skeletal remains of lost miners or creatures that have perished in the depths.



The fallen rocks strewn about the cave should be an indication of something, that being that the material above you is not perfectly solid. When breaking stone blocks, there is a chance that nearby unsupported stone will fall, greatly damaging the player and breaking objects in their path. Cave ins could be prevented by a few methods, with the primary one being to not disturb the natural stone structure of a cave. The stone surrounding a cave would be fully immune to caving in due to it settling into a stable configuration over many millions of years of geological time, but once removed, all bets are off and you must rely upon artificial means to prevent cave-ins.

The main artificial method for preventing cave-ins is that of support beams, large wooden beams (sometimes reinforced with metals) that hold up large areas of rock.


Beams could be placed gradually, with single vertical posts providing enough support to mine out an area to place down a more complete support structure. Support beams are not perfect, though. Falling rocks that tumble from nearby cave ins could destroy them and cause a cascading collapse if the beams are not properly spaced.

Unstable Flooring

With the rocky and uneven flooring of caves as described above, there is a chance that some patches of ground will be unstable enough such that simply stepping on them can result in a cascading rockfall, just as one would see currently in game when scaling a steep hill with soil gravity turned on. This wouldn't extend to pit traps that drop you into a giant fall when you walk over an unstable patch, but standing on loose rocks near to the edge of a pit may result in you slipping in and falling, forcing you to be cautious when near the edges of pits.

Deep Darkness

Lighting in caves as it currently exists is far too simple. You obtain a lantern and you never run out of light in a cave ever again and that light source provides and incredibly large amount of light for how inexpensive it is and how little it requires to maintain (nothing). Instead, weak light sources such as candles, oil lanterns, and torches should work far less effectively as you descend deeper into a cave, eventually getting to the point where these common above ground light sources go out completely and a more powerful light source is required.

This powerful light source would come in the form of an oil lantern. Unlike the oil lap, this lantern will actively consume fuel to produce light and will stop producing light if it runs out. This adds an element of time and preparation to the caving experience as well as through the less powerful light making caves seem smaller and more claustrophobic. The brightness of the lantern can be changed to either be brighter, thus burning more fuel, or be dimmer, thus burning less fuel. The further down in the world one goes, the more lighting power would be required to illuminate the surrounding area.


Given the nature of combustion, this lantern would go out when the upper body is exposed to water unlike the current lantern. As well as this, the lantern will have a chance to break if a piece of rubble falls on it during a cave in, either when placed on the ground or held in the hand.

Enemies (Or More Accurately, The Lack Thereof)

Cave enemies aren't in a great spot right now. They throw rocks at you, spawn in droves, and actively respawn in already explored areas that you may be backtracking through. As they exist, they are annoying threat that either exists to pester you as you mine or to one shot you if you don't have the proper armor class. So, instead of enemies being the primary underground threat, they should be just one part of the whole array of threats that are underground. Enemies would be a much rarer spawn underground and would spawn far from the player, only really being noticed on the first expedition into a cave and not the trip back. To balance this, the enemies that do spawn would be stronger as to encourage treating them less as combat encounters and more as threats to be avoided by hiding in the darkness or running deeper into a cave.



Overall, I think caves have immense potential for being a slightly frightening and more deliberate experience than they are right now in trade for the riches that they can provide. Primarily, the issues present right now are that the threats in caves are reliant too much on AI and thus can be easily cheesed or become annoying as there is no way to stop them short of covering the cave in light sources. So with a general trend towards a more natural set of threats to caving, I think that these annoyances could be easily negated while at the same making caves much more pleasant to look at.


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  • 3 weeks later...

I do absolutly agree with caves beeing quite boring atm. I am not sure if i agree with your conclusion though.

First of all i'd like to say that i feel like the dungeons we can find (not miners leftovers but full living quarters) are there for a reason (see the games lore). And there is actually another way to restore your stability besides temp. gears -> by killing drifters.

I do totally 100% support your idea of making caves look nicer by adding more small stones and gravel. I think 1.18 also does a good job by adding cracked stone to the plain stone we had so far. I would love to see some more stuff in caves like underwater rivers, siphons and also cave vegetation like moss and small plants at the entrances of caves where sunlight and water get. Fitting to the lore i'd also love some rusty/corrpted parts of caves deeper down.

I personally am not a fan of the cave-in idea cause i think it just adds annoyences for the player without benefit gameplay-wise.

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Yeah, the caves REALLY need more content. I love the idea of cave-ins! Fits in well with the already existing concept of land slides (for dirt and gravel).

How about some sort of tainted caves? Where all the stone blocks are tainted and poisonous, covered in some sort of goo (or some sort of fleshy material). You should get the feeling like you're inside the belly of some ungodly beast. Maybe being in there for too long will cause damage, like you're slowly being digested. Bones and skulls scattered about. Blood dripping from the ceiling. Tentacles sticking out of the walls, that attacks you if you get too close (think of the spine crawler from starcraft 2), that can submerge into the wall and reappear somewhere else (probably closer to it's prey). Spore sacks that, upon the slightest touch, releases poisonous/corrosive gas. Well... thats about as far as I've thought of it. There would need to be a reason for the player to venture into these caves. Maybe for resources exclusive to these caves. Maybe the story will have the player go there or something.

Edited by Frepo
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The one thing I would LOVE in caves is an ambient sound of an echoing water drop falling into a pool.  That single thing will give a whole new life to caves.  The Betweenlands mod (in that other block game) does this fabulously.  Just wandering through a non-descript cave has life when there's constant dripping sounds you hear.

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  • 4 months later...

Gas was also a dangerous threat in caves.  Either you get a slow death by suffocation or, if the gas is flammable and you're carrying an exposed flame, you're either burnt to death by fire, blasted to death by the explosion, or crushed under a cave-in.  Of course this means you have to figure out a way to either avoid or remove the gas.  Some sort of ventilation system if such a thing was possible at the Vintage Story tech levels.

Another thing that makes gas dangerous is that it's colorless and often odorless (The reason why you can smell natural gas from a stove or other appliance is that gas companies add a chemical called mercaptan to it, giving it its distinctive rotten egg smell.)  Unless you hear a hissing sound you often have no warning of the danger in the area.  And even then it might be too late.  It's why miners use to carry canaries with them.  The birds are far more sensitive to gas than us, so if the bird dies the miners know it's time to haul haunch out of that shaft.

And then there's coal dust, which carries a similar threats of suffocation and combustion, as well as the long-term threat of black lung.

Edited by Moon_Dew
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