Caves occupy a strange place on the border between civilization and wilderness. Caves can offer shelter, safety and sometimes even resources, but at the same time, they are home to strange and wild creatures and raving hermits, and most of us never feel truly comfortable in their dark depths.
Use the table below, to find a strange cave, or choose the result you like best.
- Cavern of Scaly Death: Named by nearby tribes of primitive humanoids, the Cavern of Scaly Death is a winding passage in the base of a volcano which leads to a prehistoric landscape of humid jungles, stalked by massive dinosaurs. Explorers’ stories differ on whether the cave leads to some primordial valley, or somehow allows passage back through time, but either way, its reptilian inhabitants have been known to wander beyond the cavern.
- Saldonator: Referred to by the elves as Saldonator, the so-called “wandering cave” is the subject of many campfire stories. Believed to be a sort of extradimensional cavern, it is said to be able to appear on practically any rocky surface. According to the stories, the sudden appearance of a cave where there was none before prompts locals to investigate its depths, but the cave vanishes not long after, taking away any still inside.
- Glittering Hall: No gem mine can command as much awe and greed as the Glittering Hall, a cavern hewn from a single massive vein of emerald. All attempts to mine the cavern end in tragedy: often when others seeking the mine’s wealth take it by force, but sometimes for mysterious reasons, leading some to speculate the caverns may be haunted.
- Twisting Caves of Armallao: The Twisting Caves of Armallao are considered by many a marvel of spellcraft. Notoriously maze-like, the caverns defy the laws of physics, with multiple paths and chambers seemingly occupying the same space simultaneously, and paths looping around to places they could never actually connect to. Some believe the cavern is actually several different caves, connected by undetectable portals, meaning it may be possible to use the caves to travel vast distances quickly.
- Deephold: Deephold is an unusual city, built inside a hollowed-out mountain of the same name, and accessible only by a handful of different cavernous tunnels. Built by dwarves, but now inhabited by a mix of races, it is all but impossible to assault, and this safety is well worth adjusting to a sunless existence, in the minds of its inhabitants.
- Kragomak: Kragomak, the Living Cavern, is a massive cave structure rumoured to not only be alive in some fashion, but also sentient. The cave doesn’t appear any different from any other cavern, but tales say the passageways move and shift on their own, including highly-localized cave-ins and collapses which are difficult to explain, and that certain chambers, although clearly inorganic in nature, seem oddly reminiscent of organs.
- Imperial Underway: The Imperial Underway was an ambitious attempt to carve a massive tunnel through an imposing mountain range. Plagued by numerous setbacks, a tragic collapse in one of its support tunnels left over a hundred miners trapped and unable to escape, but because of an engineering quirk, their voices were still audible in the main tunnel. For days, miners in the main tunnel listened to the voices of the trapped and dying, who they could not reach. Afterwards, persistent rumours of ghostly voices eventually put an end to construction, leaving the tunnel half-finished.
- Ice Maze of Dar’lessi: A complex and dizzying network of ice tunnels submerged in a frozen lake, the Ice Maze of Dar’lessi is a frigid death trap. As though the cold and the water weren’t bad enough, the ice is nearly perfectly transparent, making it all but impossible to see where the passageways turn, branch or come to a dead end.
- Ylanic Puzzle Stone: Some scholars debate whether the Ylanic Puzzle Stone can truly be called a cave or not, considering the entire twisted network of stone tunnels floats, by some unknown magic, nearly a mile above the ground. At a glance, it appears to be a flying island, but closer examination reveals the entire rock structure is completely made up of what appears to be a single stone tube, roughly 20 feet in diameter, which was somehow rolled up onto itself like a ball of string. Rumours of what might be found at the centre of the Puzzle Knot are wild and varied.
- The Pit: An opening in the ground that bears an unnerving resemblance to a grinning demonic face, legends say The Pit, as the locals call it, is a literal tunnel into the Abyss. The flickering red light that is often reported from deep in the tunnel and occasional wailing sounds do little to quell these rumours.
This article will appear in GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things II, available in March 2017.
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Alex Riggs has been writing and designing content for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game since 2010, when he founded Necromancers of the Northwest and jumped head-first into the business. Since then, he’s been fortunate enough to be able to work with many other great designers, including contributing to several books on the core line of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game products with Paizo, numerous Legendary Games products, and, of course, his work for Raging Swan Press.