This page presents an example set of tiles for the board of a Caverns set. It’s not necessarily a complete game, because — as you’ll know if you’ve read about the game — you might need to add or change anything and everything here to suit your own needs. These tiles have been play-tested with the example cards on this site, and seem to work well (just about the right balance of dead-ends and twisty passages).
All but two special tiles (the entrances) are just tessalating passages, some containing caverns, that are laid down one by one as the game progresses.
if you have stair markers, then you should place them on the tile as soon as it is discovered
each red spot corresponds to one cavern card
indicated by blue fill
indicated by saw-toothed walls
These are just schematics. Obviously, you can make your tiles as beautiful and scenic as you want.
The game starts with just a single tile — the entrance — where everyone starts (by coming down the stairs in the middle). This tile is twice the size of all the others, which ensures there are plenty of passages to head down from the start. Of course, if there are several players, then sooner or later they will be following each other down passages that have already been discovered. Dead ends and circular passages are all part of the adventure.
It’s possible (although fairly uncommon) for all the exits in a cavern system to be blocked. If this happens, when everyone agrees that no more exploration is possible, place the "second entrance" at least one tile-width away from the current board, and open up exploration from there. Remember that you can move from one flight of stairs to another in one move, so everyone can move from the original entrance to the new one. Play continues. If the second cavern system also gets blocked up (it’s actually very hard to do because there aren’t that many dead ends in the sample set of tiles) then the game can end with no winners, and everyone’s Quests unfulfilled.
The tiles are numbered for two reasons: if you cast an invisibility spell, you can remove your figure and keep track of where you are (and avoid disputes about it) by writing down the tile numbers as you move onto them. But these numbers can also be used to randomly allocate Passage Encounters.
Place a stairs marker on tiles with the stairs symbol on them — you don’t need to do this, but if you’ve made them (little 3-D sets of steps) it makes them easier to see when looking over the board.
Remember that the caverns layout doesn’t grow randomly. When exploring the unknown (that is, laying down a new tile) you must always place it in a way that allows you to move onto it. But other than that constraint, you can arrange it how you like. So you might deliberately join up with another area you’re trying to get to, or even block off another player’s route.
Flagstone and earth backgrounds adapted from the Well-Equipped Thief.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC
license (zip files containing all the card illustrations and tiles are available for download as a jumping-off
point for you to create your own version). It was inspired over twenty-five years ago by two original
games — Sorceror’s Cave and Mystic Wood. Please read
about the game’s origins to understand how it came about.