10 Notable Cavern Features

Adventurers are often poking about in caves and caverns. Foul monsters and evil creatures often lair in such locales and such creatures need killing!

By Bradley K. McDevitt


Part of the excitement and wonder of adventuring in the Ebon Realm is the strange, often hostile environment. Caves and caverns are fascinating places, but often they become relegated to merely “a passageway” or “a cave.” That’s a shame as adding small features of interest can transform encounter areas and in some cases even provide exciting tactical option for the players.

Use the table below, to add interesting features to the caves in your campaign:

  1. Water drips through cracks in the ceiling, creating a liquid curtain. This provides concealment (20% miss chance) and inflicts a -2 on hearing-based Perception checks made nearby.
  2. Steep, but crude stone steps have been cut into the wall. The steps lead up to a small cavern which has obviously been mined at some point in the past. Perceptive characters (DC 25 Perception) notice glimmering flecks of some kind of metal in the walls. A subsequent DC 15 Profession (miner) check reveals the flecks to be platinum.
  3. This section of floor is unstable. An object or person weighing more than 150 lbs. causes the floor to collapse into a water-filled sinkhole below. The 80 ft. deep (and cold) water breaks the falling character’s fall (he only suffers 2d3 nonlethal damage and 4d6 normal damage), but falling rocks inflict an additional 2d6 damage. The fragile state of the remaining portions of the ceiling means a trapped character cannot climb out without assistance.
  4. A small stand of heligmites—stalagmites resembling trees with “branches” growing off from the main body in erratic and bizarre directions—fills the area.
  5. Thick, cloying mud covers the cavern floor. The mud covers and fills several deep pits in the floor. In these locations, the mud acts like quicksand. Unwary travellers—or combatants—could easily drown in such places.
  6. A thin sheet of dripstone reaches from the ceiling to the floor. In several places near the floor, someone—or something—has chipped holes in the dripstone. The holes are large enough to fit a hand (or thrusting weapon) through.
  7. A field of gour pools—pools whose rims stand about three-foot high—dot the chamber. Within, water almost completely fills the pools. Water drips down from the ceiling into the pools; in this caverns it sounds like it is raining. (This inflicts a -2 on hearing-based Perception checks.)
  8. Long ago an explorer died in this cavern. His calcified bones still remain, transfixed in a slowly growing stalagmite.
  9. A bubbling pool dominates this chamber. A vauclusian spring rises from the rock in the centre of the pool and it is this that creates the bubbling effect.
  10. Detritus and rubble obviously deposited by flooding covers the cavern floor. To the east, a trickle of water dribbles out of a cavern mouth high up on one wall. The rock below the cavern mouth is notably smoother than that on other walls and glistens in the party’s lights.

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8 thoughts on “10 Notable Cavern Features

  1. I love your blog! Every scene has so many great to mundane elements to it! We’ve got to be creative, or else it ends up being a bland, “you go into a cave and fight stuff.”

  2. A slight tweak: for number three here, I’d consider giving the character who fell a reflex save, at least to dodge the falling rocks.