There is a lovely wooded, clifftop walk excitingly close to my home. Most days, I walk our dog, or run, the path which is part of the South West Coast path. The local section is called Bishop’s Walk, because a bishop–Henry Phillpotts—created it for his daily constitutionals and contemplations.
Where I regular walk, a few small caves stud the cliffs. I once heard a local story that some children found hidden treasure—the proceeds of a bank robbery—in one of the caves back in the 50s or 60s. I have no idea if the story is true, but it certainly gets the creative juices flowing. What a great “origin story” for an adventurer.
I’ve always been struck by the caves. The entrances are small and very difficult to enter, but who knows what lies beyond? Do the caves link to a deeper network? (They lie under half a mile from the world famous Kent’s Caverns).
In game terms, goblins or kobolds could lurk within. Such cave entrances are eminently suitable for small creatures. I mean, imagine trying to squeeze into the cave above (or below) wearing heavy armour while fighting the its denizens.
Mud is slowly filling this cave mouth, this photo was taken at shoulder height, but a determined explorer could still crawl inside. A really determined—and patient—explorer could dig out the mud.
The Game Bit
Cave entrances aren’t always 5-foot-wide and accessible to human-sized creatures. Certainly, this is more convenient for adventurers (and adventure designers) but not representative of real life.
Adding verisimilitude to your game is a rewarding process. Making the world seem real helps your players suspend their disbelief and immerse themselves in the adventure.
In this instance, it also adds an interesting challenge. How should the party get inside? Should they look for another entrance? In this way you can add challenges to your adventure that aren’t just more combats. Give your players the opportunity to come up with inventive solutions to the environment—your game will be better for it.