Caves & Caverns (PFRPG)

4.80/5 (based on 5 ratings)
Caves & Caverns (PFRPG)

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A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game GM’S RESOURCE SUPPLEMENT by Creighton Broadhurst and David Posener

In the deep, hidden places of the world where darkness rules, lurk dangers beyond the wildest nightmares of most who dwell in the sunlit uplands of the surface. Only the bravest and most skilled adventurers dare to invade the realms of the depraved duergar, the insane derro or the spider worshipping drow. Beyond these terrible threats lurk the predators of the wild lands chief amongst them the feared purple worm and the implacable roper.

Running a campaign, or extended adventure, in the deep places of the world requires extensive preparation and planning. Caves & Caverns alleviates a GM's preparation time allowing him to focus on providing exciting and compelling adventures by providing the tools to craft memorable adventures.

Caves & Caverns presents:

  • 27 ready-made encounters (EL 6—12) suitable as random encounters or as a springboard to the next adventure
  • Over 60 full stat blocks (EL 1—13)
  • Information on the features and hazards of deep cave networks
  • And more!

Caves & Caverns is a Dual Format PDF. The product's ZIP file contains two versions, one optimised for printing and use on a normal computer and one optimised for use on a mobile device such as an iPad.

You can check out sample encounters and more at ragingswan.com/caves

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4.80/5 (based on 5 ratings)

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Makes Cave Expeditions Fresh Again

5/5

The Underdark, The Night Below, The Darklands, whatever you call it has amazing appeal thanks to the game’s long legacy. When I realized I had prepped a Darklands excursion as a one-shot for three gamers, two of which had only been gaming a few years and never had such a journey, I sifted through sourcebooks to help make it special. I really found what I needed in this book.

What was that? Good, solid encounters featuring the best cavern dwelling creatures. Without a doubt I had planned to toss at them a Roper and a Purple Worm, among other things. But plopping down the mini and saying roll for initiative isn’t going to give them stories to tell their friends about.

Caves and Caverns is a big, meaty 88-page sourcebook of encounters, stats and helpful underground challenges. With over 60 stat blocks (many advanced or custom designs), 25 encounters with detail, and a bunch of rule-sets for dealing with underground dangers like environmental hazards, descriptions of terrain features, and GM helpful hints, it’s one stop shopping for underground adventure prep.

There are also lots of random encounter tables to utilize and Raging Swan’s meticulous cataloging and cross-referencing so you can find what you need in a blink. There’s also a sample location, the Roaring Caverns complete with map! Organization is real clean and handy: each encounter is on a 1 or 2 page spread so you can just print out what you need (or keep the pages open on a laptop or tablet) and run it without a lot of page–flipping.

There’s even a little song/poem on the TOC page I had an NPC read to my players before they began and it set the whole stage. The group was already 12th level and the encounters range from CR 4 to CR 13, so I had a handful to pick from. The roper’s cave and additional terrain was a great challenge and its’ personality freaked them out. The purple worm encounter sent them flying as expected but with good foreshadowing and hints on the effects of the debris it kicks up made it very worthwhile. There were surprises, too. Everyone knows when you see stone life-like statues there’s a medusa or basilisk around. What about piles of smashed glass? I’m not giving that one away but my players loved it; especially the one who’s been playing for 32 years and never saw it coming.

Something I didn’t get to use but filed away for use when I run Shattered Star was underground groups. Entire groups fully stated with individuals, of drow, duergar, morlocks, svirfneblin and troglodytes are presented to drop into any encounter. Building gangs of stats like this can be tough on time, here they’re all ready.

This supplement reeks of homage to classics like Decent into the Depths of the Earth and The Night Below Campaign, but with fresh, new ideas and twists to make each encounter worthwhile and memorable plus easy to run. I’ll be referencing and using this for a long time! I was provided a copy for review.


Everything You Need to Stock Your Caves for Game Time

4/5

Just about every fantasy campaign I've ever played in has involved a cave system or cavern at one time or another. And though I'm a fan of dungeons, I really like it when there's more of a natural element to them. The "Five Room Dungeon" technique I first learned about in Johnn Four's Roleplaying Tips newsletter offers a great way to structure a quick dungeon (whether naturally formed or hand-made). But sometimes it's tough to come up with natural formations or challenges to even fit in the 5-room format.

That's where Caves & Caverns comes in from Creighton Broadhurst and David Posener. This resource for Pathfinder campaigns would most likely work in just about any D&D/OSR-inspired system, but offers a ton of options to consider when building cave/cavern systems for your adventures. Though it's designed for the "Ebon Realm," it's really synonymous with areas like "The Underdark" in D&D-speak, but can really be applied to any world with accessible areas underground.

So what do you get in this 88 page tome? A wide variety of bits and pieces you can use in multiple contexts. Descriptions and details about different features and hazards of the underground world, along with a sample cavern that includes many of the features included. 60+ stat blocks for creatures that are CR 1 to 13. Nearly 30 ready-made encounters EL 4 to 12. Whether you use the different features described here, the NPC stats and the various encounters are great to have in your bag of tricks for the occasional improvised adventure scenario.

And Raging Swan does a great job of making things easy to find. Even though there's no index, there are multiple tables designed to get you to the page you want to go to... Random encounters? Check. Roll a d100 on an appropriate table (or pick randomly) and run with the encounter given. Designing a quick cavern for your next session? Roll d100 to see which features might add a bit of spice to the night. Of all the random tables however, it's the "Cave & Cavern Dressing" table that's my favorite. Little things that will drive players insane or give them hope that things will turn out all right... "A faded chalk arrow on the wall points in the opposite direction to the PCs' travel" or "Faintly carved into the cavern wall is the Undercommon word for danger. The last letter of the word is missing and a smudge of dried blood on the ground hints at the carver's fate..."

As with all Raging Swan products, there's a lot of detail here. The book starts with a brief lesson on the difference between Primary (big, with few obstacles), Secondary (smaller tunnels off the big ones that may lead to communities of underworld denizens), and Tertiary tunnels (only the skinny or suicidal explore these tunnels with many dead-ends, rivers, and worse lying in wait). Each has slightly different difficulties and things to watch for. And then you get into the various things to watch for like areas with bad air, water hazards, deep darkness, and worse. Plus you never know what may be living in the tunnels waiting to snack on unsuspecting explorers.

That's where the encounters come in, covering everything from the good old Drow and Purple Worms to Duergar, Trogolodytes, giant insects, and worse. Each encounter offers stat blocks for any monsters or attacking NPCs, plus descriptions of the area, any tactics that may be used, additional obstacles, plus how to scale and adapt the encounter for more or less advanced groups. I like the Drow and driders, but was more impressed with some of the other folks living in the dark like the Blind Jann Monks in the "Cavern of Echoes," the Darkmantles waiting to pounce from the ceiling in "Death from Above," and the Morlocks (love the Time Machine reference) in "Degenerates." There's a little bit of everything.

My one issue with this book, as I have with some of the other big supplements like this from Raging Swan, is the lack of a fully fleshed out cave system to explore. Yes, Caves & Caverns includes a sample cavern called "The Roaring Caverns" with a map and a few pre-selected features, but the map that's provided doesn't really show where any of those features are, nor does the sample provide any hints on placement of particular features or encounters for the best effect. If you're going to provide a sample, go all the way with a mini-adventure in the book itself or refer to another product that has a more detailed example.

But that's one nit and you get a lot of bang for your buck here folks. If you're planning on doing any underground adventuring with your group, Caves & Caverns is a no-brainer to pick up to add more inspiration to your preparation.

(This review first appeared at my site Game Knight Reviews here on January 30, 2012: http://www.gameknightreviews.com/2012/01/supplement-review-caves-caverns-pf rpg-by-creighton-broadhurst-and-david-posener-from-raging-swan-press/)


Contributor

Now available!

Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

Liz Courts wrote:
Now available!

As Liz says, now available at the Paizo store! If you want to check out the free sample encounters hit this link.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

Creighton, have you given any more thought about doing a print version of this? I've been holding of purchasing this just in case. The sample art you have up looks fantastic! And you know how much I love duergar :).

Dark Archive

I have started reading this, I liked the early stuff on light, darkness etc the rules for adventuring deep underground. Then of course it gets to the encounters.

Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

John Benbo wrote:
Creighton, have you given any more thought about doing a print version of this? I've been holding of purchasing this just in case. The sample art you have up looks fantastic! And you know how much I love duergar :).

Yes, I have been strongly considering doing a print version. I wanted to give it a month of sales to see how it has done before making the decision. I should have the answer in a couple of weeks. (I expect I will do a print version - I like print)

Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

Dark_Mistress wrote:
I have started reading this, I liked the early stuff on light, darkness etc the rules for adventuring deep underground. Then of course it gets to the encounters.

Check out The Last Nail encounter - I think it's my favourite!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

Creighton Broadhurst wrote:
John Benbo wrote:
Creighton, have you given any more thought about doing a print version of this? I've been holding of purchasing this just in case. The sample art you have up looks fantastic! And you know how much I love duergar :).
Yes, I have been strongly considering doing a print version. I wanted to give it a month of sales to see how it has done before making the decision. I should have the answer in a couple of weeks. (I expect I will do a print version - I like print)

Cool, then I'll hold off a little longer.


Reviewed here, on DTRPG and sent to GMS magazine. I'll also include it in a future RPGaggression-post.

Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

Endzeitgeist wrote:
Reviewed here, on DTRPG and sent to GMS magazine. I'll also include it in a future RPGaggression-post.

Most marvellous! Thanks for such a great review, End! I really appreciate it. You've made me want to write another one! Am I right in thinking that a similar supplement focused on high-level challenges would be welcome? I expect I'll have to restrain David from coming up with some really cool, wibbly stuff!


I can only speak for myself, but yeah, I'd love a high-level Caves & Caverns II. With weird stuff! A lot of it! :)

Dark Archive

Nice review End.


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Again, the reviews are forcing me to purchase this!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

If you like this supplement, be sure to check out Duergar of the Obsidian Citadel when it is released. While the DotOC can complement "Caves and Caverns," in true Raging Swan style, they'll have their own unique tribal feel different than other duergar. After all, you can never have too many duergar!


Thanks for the kind words, everyone! :)


Endzeitgeist wrote:
Thanks for the kind words, everyone! :)

I'll pile on here, and also give my thanks for the great review!

Dark Archive

reviewed.

Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

Dark_Mistress wrote:
reviewed.

That's marvellous! Thanks very much indeed! I'm very glad you liked it.


Wow, I totally, whole heartedly agree with the reviewers. What an awesome tool for fleshing out an underdark or cavern crawl. The ready made encounters were terrific and very complete. They make random encounters way more interesting and cool. Just having various underdark denizens like drow, trogs and others stated out for patrols or ambushes is worth it. I liked the environment rules and the way the whole book was laid out. Top notch third party work. A very fine resource. I will definitely have to look at other RSP products. My all time favorite is the maggot lake, disgusting and fun.

Contributor

Now available in dead tree version!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

What point buy are the NPC's in this product.

Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

The NPCs in Caves & Caverns are built using the elite and nonelite arrays as appropriate. I hope that helps!

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

Is now available in print and a PDF/print bundle!

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

Thanks very much DM Jeff for the review! I'm delighted you enjoyed Caves & Caverns so much!


I picked this excellent book up during RSP's most recent sale, I just finished it today, and it's an outstanding resource. It definitely makes GM'ing easier. It's like a DM's Guide to cool cave diving, it'll certainly get a lot of use during my games. This flows seamlessly with RSP's other products, such as: 100% Crunch, Dungeon Denizens, Dungeon Dressings and So What...series of supplements. This 3PP company is a high quality gem.

Creighton keep those sales coming...I've picked up 32 of your products over the last few months, it's hard to beat your sales and the quality is second to none.

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