Video Game: Deadly Rooms of Death
Deadly Rooms of Death is first and foremost, a puzzle game
, created by Caravel Games. The game is about halfway between Exactly What It Says on the Tin
and Non-Indicative Name
- there are certainly rooms that are deadly, but the plot extends far beyond this simple dungeon concept.
The game's central concept is an idealized version of the dungeon crawl - enter a room, kill all the monsters, then go to the next room. However, it's a turn-based game, so the main player moves, then each monster gets to make one move. The puzzles come from many different features - all the monsters move in predictable fashions, there are dungeon fixtures such as doors and switches, one-way arrows, bombs, and other benevolent
or malevolent architecture
to make the job tougher.
As a puzzle game with an editor, there are several different level sets and stories available, but the main releases so far have centered around one man, Beethro Budkin
, who works as a dungeon exterminator under the Smitemaster's Guild. Kings, lords, and other dungeon owners have a recurring problem of their dungeons becoming infested with monsters and nasties, and will hire experienced smiters to go kill everything and return the dungeons to usable status. There is an ongoing question of how seemingly enclosed dungeons become infested or reinfested so quickly, but the standing answers are typically "job incomplete (unintentional)" or "monsters come from inaccessible places" or "it's a fact of life, they get reinfested every now and then if they aren't supervised". Beethro's adventures lead him towards answering this question, but he gets himself into problems and circumstances far more complicated and sinister than he would have planned.The game's history
is extensive, but here's a simple list of all the main releases:
Here's how the game works in terms of money: Each game has a free
demo version, containing only one room style and the first three levels of the official hold; but the demos have full functionality as regards editing and playing user-made holds. Caravel Games makes money selling the full versions (as listed above; each game includes the hold of the same name) which have more graphics, canonical
plots with voice acting, and generally a high level of quality. The games are multi-platform
as well, with versions for Windows, Macintosh and Linux available. This means you can download the game, the user-made styles and the user-made holds, all for free, which will last most people for years, and you just have to pay for official Caravel releases.
The games are downloadable at Caravel Games' main site
. New players are recommended to begin with Gunthro and the Epic Blunder
, which is easier than the other games, designed to be accessible to newcomers, and is a prequel whose ending ties in nicely to the beginning of Journey to Rooted Hold
Spoilers ahead. If you don't want anything about the setting or storyline spoiled, play the games.
Tropes in the games:
- Achievement System: Introduced in The Second Sky, and referred to in-game as Challenges. Most are awarded for completing individual puzzles under Self-Imposed Challenge conditions, but some are just for progression in the storyline. After the release of The Second Sky, Caravel have gone back and added achievements to the earlier games.
- Aerith and Bob: Aurora in Gunthro and the Epic Blunder stands out in a world of Beethros and Vonnifas.
- Already Undone for You: If NPCs are roaming in the same area that the player is, expect this unless the architect is careful.
- Ambiguous Syntax: Throughout Journey to Rooted Hold, Beethro overhears some Runners transmitting the message that he is dangerous and the Slayer needs reinforcements. One of the Runners words this as "The Slayer's after this delver. He's important. He's cunning. He needs some help before he gets to the Empire." At the end of the hold, a bewildered Beethro meets a Runner who seems to think that he needs help!
- And Now for Someone Completely Different: Possible to implement. There are two levels in The City Beneath that temporarily follow other people.
- Anti-Frustration Features: Vision tokens, available from The City Beneath onwards. Normally, an Evil Eye watches all the tiles in a direct line in one particular direction (which may be diagonal), and tracking which tiles they watch in your head can be annoying (particularly in rooms with lots of eyes). The vision token marks their lines of sight for you, as well as revealing spiders (monsters that are often invisible).
- DROD 5.0 adds Puzzle Mode (default key: F3) which enables similar vision features to the vision token, and also overlays grid lines on the entire field so you can more easily draw diagonal lines or count distances over pits or non-checkerboard floors.
- Arc Words: "The Grand Event", first appearing towards the end of Journey to Rooted Hold. The series gradually reveals that this refers to the Turning, a complete gravitational reversal that would cause every object on the surface to fall into the sky.
- Artificial Brilliance: The Slayer has perfect swordfighting AI. In an even fight, it's impossible to kill him, and he will always kill you if he has the chance, so you'll have to move very carefully to evade him. (At least, this is how he's meant to come across, though in reality... see Lord British Postulate below.)
- Artificial Stupidity: In an uneven fight, the Slayer's AI is easy to exploit. One early level in The City Beneath has a Slayer fight you on hot tiles. He will fry himself as soon as he gets close.
Beethro: Well, I think I know who got the brains in that family.
- Stalwarts and soldiers are not nearly as careful as the player, and so are often overwhelmed by roach gangs.
- Backtracking: Possible or necessary in most cases, since the stairs to the next level could be anywhere. In most "straight" holds it's not necessary to backtrack to previous levels.
- In The City Beneath, Beethro returns to the Hub Level, "The City", several times, and at one point must backtrack to the Infohut, the very start of the game.
- The first level of Tendry's Tale has an Easter Egg you can only reach with the Grappling Hook, obtained on Level 7.
- Badass Boast: It's off-canon, but Beethro has an awesome one in the usermade hold Odd Jobs. Sergeant Tark tells him that the inhabitants of Volcano Island are dying from heat exhaustion because the sun is scorching hot.
Beethro: I'll take care of the sun.
- BFS: Beethro Budkin's sword is called The Really Big Sword.
- Big Damn Fire Exit: Not a fire, but typically whenever the player has to escape from anything collapsing or some other sort of danger, this is the result (although there will be puzzles in the way).
- The most dramatic example may be the Big Damn Briar Exit in "Under the Library" (The City Beneath). Nearly every room on the level has briars behind blue doors (which open when you've solved all the rooms), so that backtracking becomes a mad dash for the exit before the briars grow to cover the entire room. Each room is configured so you can only just make it.
- Block Puzzle: It's possible to implement a straight one with mirrors, pressure plates or other elements, but most commendable examples will involve the player doing a lot of other stuff. General consensus is that DROD is not and should not be Block Puzzle: The Game.
- Bonus Level: Secret levels or secret rooms count as these, as well as any rooms or levels hidden behind a Master Wall or only accessible in the editor.
- The Second Sky has about as many bonus levels as it has main levels!
- Book Ends
- Between the last two levels of The Second Sky, the player must return to the first level, Older Holding Vats.
- The last level of The Second Sky is King Dugan's Dungeon: First Level, the first level of the entire series.
- Boss Battle: The 'Neather in King Dugan's Dungeon. 39th Slayer in Journey to Rooted Hold. Halph in The City Beneath. Cyril, the Tuenan Captain in Gunthro and the Epic Blunder. First Archivist in The Second Sky.
- Journey to Rooted Hold is arguably one big boss battle, since the Slayer pursues you throughout the hold. Only at the very end do you fight him, though.
- Tendry's Tale has a larger number of boss fights, and a Bonus Boss, ( the Archivist).
- Brutal Bonus Level: "Tar Recycling Annex" and "Arcane Laboratory" in The Second Sky.
- But Thou Must: The last room of King Dugan's Dungeon. Having cornered the 'Neather, when you approach him with sword in hand, he begs for his life and the game asks whether you want to spare him. If you do, he opens a door at the wrong moment and makes the room unsolvable. Some players found this to be the hardest room in the game because they couldn't accept that there really was no option but to kill him.
- Call Back: In the epilogue to King Dugan's Dungeon, when Beethro is telling his nephews the story of his adventure, after one of Halph's interruptions, Beethro says he is his least favorite nephew. This is referenced in Gunthro and the Epic Blunder, when Beethro is again telling Gunthro's story to his nephews, and after one of Halph's interruptions, says that he is the nephew he likes telling stories to the least.
- Character Portrait: Beethro's ugly mug has been present since the earliest versions. Starting with Journey to Rooted Hold and the introduction of NPCs, other character portraits can also be present to indicate who is speaking or who the player is.
- Check Point: A room element that can be placed just about anywhere. Community consensus is that all but the smallest or simplest of rooms should have at least one, and rooms with multiple sections, especially long rooms, should have several.
- Chekhov's Gunman: In The Second Sky, The Guardian is mentioned long before he becomes relevant.
- Completion Meter: On completion of every hold, you are told what percentage of secret rooms you have found and solved. Attaining 100% Completion is termed "mastering" a hold, and often unlocks additional content.
- Control Room Puzzle: A very common type of puzzle, since there are many game elements (orbs, fuses, mimics, fegundos...) that can affect the room while the player is confined.
- Controllable Helplessness: You might have made the room impossible to clear three hundred moves ago, but until you die or restart you can still try to do anything else until you give up.
- Corridor Cubbyhole Run: Possible to implement, but since the game is turn-based they usually aren't very challenging unless mixed with something else.
- The citizen puzzles in "The City" in The City Beneath consist entirely of these.
- Crate Expectations: Averted. Although crates can be present in dungeons (a reasonable expectation) their only function is as immovable obstacles, and cannot otherwise be interacted with.
- Cryptic Conversation: Nearly everyone underground is, in one way or the other, incapable of answering questions normally. This drives Beethro to truly insane feats as he tries to find someone that will talk to him properly.
- Cut-and-Paste Environments: Averted massively most of the time, since there are twelve official and several user-made graphical styles, and each hold will typically have tens or hundreds of different, original rooms. However, there are some exceptions. Cutting and pasting is possible in the editor, and in hub levels where connecting rooms are unimportant, rooms can look identical. In addition, there is an idea usually called Constant Room Templates, based on King Dugan's Dungeon Level 6, where the level contains several rooms that look almost the same, but behave differently and have different solutions.
- Many secret rooms are harder versions of other "regular" rooms.
- Cutscene: A feature implemented in The City Beneath. Mercifully, an engine feature allows the player to press the space bar to speed up or skip any cutscene.
- Death Cry Echo: The default state of the Slayer's death cry. Your mileage may vary as to whether it's awesome or annoying (especially if you're killing a lot of them).
- Department of Redundancy Department: The series title.
- Determinator: The Critic in The Second Sky. Nothing, not even apocalypse, will stop her following Beethro to criticise his swordplay.
- Dialogue Tree: Limited to "yes/no" in Journey to Rooted Hold, but fully implemented and very possible to script in The City Beneath.
- Did You Die?: In the epilogue to King Dugan's Dungeon, when Beethro is telling the story to his nephews, at one point Halph asks "Did you die?" in all seriousness. Beethro just responds, "No, I didn't die."
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Beethro kills the Pit Thing, which is the nearest thing to a god that exists in the Eighth.
- Disc One Final Dungeon: Nethlekempt Farrows in The Second Sky.
- Disconnected Side Area: Journey to Rooted Hold has several of these. For example, to get one secret room on the Tenth Level, you have to come back up after reaching the Twelfth.
- Do Not Drop Your Weapon: Beethro has a pretty bad case of this - he absolutely positively cannot put his sword down no matter what, even when it would be to his advantage to do so. Averted in The City Beneath with the introduction of Disarm Tokens and Oremites, which finally let the players see Beethro swordless.
- Perhaps more inverted than averted. Beethro can ONLY drop or pick up his sword on a disarm token.
- Empty Room Psych: The presence of secret rooms and passages means this is always a possibility with any seemingly only decorative or connective room.
- Endless Corridor: Akandia in Gunthro and the Epic Blunder. To progress, you need to find a clue in another level telling you how many rooms west and south to move; get the number wrong and you get stuck in an infinite loop.
- Event Flag: The City Beneath has some examples, and variables used in scripting allow anyone to include these in their level set.
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep:
- The Goblin King in Journey to Rooted Hold, The City Beneath and Tendry's Tale. Because he's only referred to by title, we never learn whether it's the same Goblin King or another king of another tribe. In the first two cases, the Goblin King survives. In the third, Tendry kills him.
- Similarly, the Pirate Captain in The City Beneath and Tendry's Tale. And again, if it is the same one, Tendry finishes what Beethro couldn't.
- Averted with First Archivist. When he gets replaced, Beethro nicknames the new First Archivist "Arky" to distinguish them. (Because in the Empire, one's name and one's job are the same thing, the old First Archivist becomes The Nameless. He's still referred to as "First Archivist" by the fandom and on this page.)
- The 'Neather (from "beneather", one living Beneath the Earth) in King Dugan's Dungeon and Tendry's Tale. Definitely not the same person this time — the former was killed by Beethro. But the use of the title hides the fact that the 'Neather in Tendry's Tale is very likely to be Halph.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Brutal Bonus Level "More Fluff" in The Second Sky.
- Excuse Plot: Definitely King Dugan's Dungeon and most user holds, but averted with Journey to Rooted Hold, The City Beneath and some other user holds, where the plot is actually important and affects what kind of rooms show up.
- Exposition Break: A typical way of providing exposition: having puzzle rooms, and then having otherwise empty rooms with cutscenes or exposition so they don't get in the way of the puzzles.
- Extra Turn: In a typical game turn, Beethro gets to move once, and then everything else gets to move once. From The City Beneath onwards, once Beethro takes a speed potion, Beethro gets to move twice, and then everything else gets to move once.
- Fandom Nod: The Raygun. Back in 2004 (before even Journey to Rooted Hold), Caravel had a forum (which still exists) for Feature Requests. Several users suggested game elements that were inordinately complex or just out of place in the DROD world. The Raygun was a parody of such fanciful suggestions, and became a fandom in-joke. Ten years later, in a non-canonical bonus level in The Second Sky, Beethro finally gets a raygun.
- Faux Action Girl: Aurora Bladeseeker in Gunthro and the Epic Blunder. The other teammates refer to her as a hero and won't continue without her, but all she actually does in the game is explore some roach pits so you have to go rescue her.
- Final Boss: Subverted. First Archivist is set up to be this, but his Boss Battle is halfway through The Second Sky rather than at the end. It's also an Anticlimax Boss.
- First Episode Spoiler:
- Journey to Rooted Hold: The Rooted Empire exists, and they want Beethro dead.
- Gunthro and the Epic Blunder: Gunthro witnesses the King's assassination. (Though it's not until the end that it becomes clear that this is in fact the "epic blunder" mentioned in the title).
- Flunky Boss: The Pirate Captain in Tendry's Tale, with no fewer than twelve minions.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: No matter where Beethro goes, he always has to clear a level of monsters and drop a blue door before he can progress. It's particularly noticeable in places like "Pirate Hideout" in The City Beneath... Beethro has just accepted a mission to journey to Rasarus and deal with some pirates who are vexing Glorthorred. The first thing he does? Clear the pirates' base of monsters for them.
- Gameplay Automation: The "combat auto-resolution" type is present in DROD RPG. Since combat is entirely deterministic, it always has the same outcome as letting events play out the slow way.
- Global Airship: The RCS (basically a Shinkansen) in The Second Sky. It appears earlier in the game, but only at the end do you have full access, allowing you to visit anywhere on the map and tackle the optional levels.
- Golden Ending: In The Second Sky, this must be achieved by going through a series of increasingly difficult optional levels.
- Gravity Barrier: Beethro's "smitemaster reflexes" keep him from moving into a pit and dying, and indeed no monster will ever move into a pit and fall. However, The City Beneath introduces platforms, which can move out from under things and drop them into pits.
- Heroes Prefer Swords: There's nothing in the game engine that says that the player's weapon has to be a sword (and some player characters go without), but most weapons in the setting are swords. The main exception is the Slayer's hook, and they're typically villains.
- In Tendry's Tale, the Hook is one of the weapons available to the player, for the first time in the official holds.
- The Second Sky provides a host of new weapon choices, and some puzzles simply can't be solved with the sword. However, the sword remains Beethro's default weapon, which he will return to after completing a level or room requiring a different weapon.
- Hub Level:
- "The City" in The City Beneath.
- Averted in The Second Sky. Levels like the Patronage and Archivist Headquarters that were part of The City are now accessed directly from the overworld map, giving the impression that they are hundreds of miles apart.
- Invincible Minor Minion: Wubbas are completely immune to swords. However, they also can't harm the player. This means they just usually tend to get in the way. However, they can be destroyed using Benevolent Architecture.
- It's Up to You: Usually justified: you're the only one doing anything about the problem anyway.
- Involuntary Group Split: There are a couple of examples in Journey to Rooted Hold between Beethro and Halph, mostly for plot reasons or for puzzle reasons if having him around would be too convenient. This can also happen in-room with any of your doubles or other resources.
- Joke Level: Two of the bonus levels at the end of The Second Sky fall under this heading: Beethro's Mansion and Raygun.
- Level Editor: DROD: Architect's Edition introduced this feature. There are now hundreds of user holds and tens of thousands of rooms available to play.
- Video Game Long Runners: Five main-series games and 20 years of development. Not quite enough to make it into the list, but a record in the indie market.
- Lord British Postulate: 39th Slayer. You're not meant to be able to defeat him until the final level of Journey to Rooted Hold, but the fans have discovered ways to kill him in every room he appears in (except a few storyline rooms where you can't interact with him anyway). Because each room is a separate puzzle, if you kill him in one room then he's still there in others.
- Magic Franchise Word: "Linchpin", referring to the central insight that a solution depends on. Rooms that involve these are generally considered the most satisfying type. It's always misspelled "lynchpin", both in the games and by the fandom.
- Marathon Level: Most rooms are puzzle rooms with lynchpins or specific manipulation that might only take one hundred to five hundred moves to solve. Some hack and slash rooms might go from three hundred to seven hundred moves, depending upon the room. However, some rooms in user-made holds can take one thousand or more moves to complete.
- There is a list on the forum of the longest rooms to complete, sorted in descending order of the least number of moves anyone has beaten them in.
- There was a contest where the goal was to make the longest single room possible. The current record is about 1.7 x 10^45 moves. This may epitomize the Marathon Level:
The architect of "Eternity 4": At the rate of ten moves per second it would take five and a half sextillion years to complete.
- As for levels in the official holds, "Abyssian Fortress" in The City Beneath is themed around making tarstuff grow to favourable places. Nearly every room on the level is a long haul.
- Metroidvania: A limited example: in any typical hold, there are usually several rooms available to play at once, but levels must be completed in order. Depending on the architect and the specific level set, gameplay could be anywhere from completely linear to completely open-ended.
- The MetDROiD series is notable for being true Metroidvanias made with the 2.0 and 3.0 engines.
- Mini-Dungeon: The Second Sky has a couple of examples:
- "Upside-down Mine Entrance" is the prelude to "Shattered Mine"; it introduces the pickaxe and powder kegs, which are the main puzzle elements in the latter level.
- From early in the game, it's been hinted that the climactic confrontation will take place at Nethlekempt Farrows. To draw out the player's anticipation, the approach to Nethlekempt Farrows consists of two mini-dungeons ("The Scorching Path" and "Fire Hotlands") followed by a full dungeon.
- Mirror Match: The Slayer is meant to evoke this, since he is a body and a sword just like Beethro, and can do almost everything that Beethro can. However, knowledgeable players know the differences in their behavior and properties.
- Monster Clown: Slayers seem to exclusively dress in this manner, although details in appearance vary.
- Monster Mash: Giant roaches, goblins, golems, serpents, and fegundos (phoenixes) are all present and accounted for.
- Monsters Everywhere: The usual state of affairs. In order to cross any stretch of wilderness or reach any underground location, you'll have to kill some monsters or solve some puzzles.
- Multi-Mook Melee: Possible to set up. Some rooms (labelled "hack and slash") can have the player killing hundreds or thousands of monsters of varying types.
- Multiple Endings: Present in The Second Sky.
- The Nameless: In the Empire, one's name and one's job are the same thing, so citizens with no job have no name. Beethro meets some of these at the beginning of The City Beneath, and in The Second Sky, First Archivist becomes this.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: First Slayer. In The City Beneath, Beethro earns this title.
- No Campaign for the Wicked: All official Caravel releases so far have followed the "heroic" aboveground faction. User holds can certainly use Villain Protagonists, however.
- Averted in The City Beneath with two "Interlude" levels, one of which follows one of the Empire's negotiators and the other of which follows a goblin.
- No-Gear Level: The disarm token or oremites enforce this within one room, and there's also a scripting command that will permanently remove the player's weapon until another scripting command gives it back.
- Non-Indicative Name: The games seem cursed with this.
- The series title Deadly Rooms of Death doesn't suggest that it's primarily a logical puzzle game.
- In King Dugan's Dungeon, most of the dungeon was controlled by the Neather and goblins.
- In Journey to Rooted Hold, Beethro doesn't reach Rooted Hold.
- In The City Beneath, Beethro twice returns to the surface, and significant portions of the game take place there.
- DROD RPG is a mathematical puzzle game with RPG Elements. It's not an RPG.
- Finally, in The Second Sky, the world of the Eighth wraps around in all directions, so if you fall far enough into the second sky....
- Nostalgia Level: King Dugan's Dungeon: First Level in The Second Sky. It's considerably harder than the first time Beethro was in there!
- Notice This: Possible to implement with overhead lighting from The City Beneath onwards, and present in some puzzles in the official holds.
- Now, Where Was I Going Again?:
- Usually averted with the help of the in-game map and restore functions, but very possible with managing all of your holds or trying to find secrets or keep track of event flags in one hold.
- In The Second Sky, when you reach the end of the game and unlock the RCS, there are still a couple of required levels to go, but at the same time a host of optional levels have opened up. It's extremely common for players to start the printing-plate quest, do some optional levels, tackle Ore Refinery (the level that gives you the printing plate) and then forget where they're meant to be taking it.
- One-Hit-Point Wonder: Almost everything: the player and most monsters. The only exceptions are some larger monsters which split or shrink under conditions (usually something attacking them with a sword).
- Averted in spinoff Tendry's Tale, where the player and monsters have multiple hit points.
- One-Hit Polykill: Explosions serve as this, destroying many objects in any squares they hit.
- One-Man Army:
- Beethro. They don't call him "First Slayer" for nothing.
- Tendry, in the spinoff game Tendry's Tale. This is lampshaded in the song he sings in the secret ending, about how many monsters he has killed throughout the game.
- Only Smart People May Pass: Essentially the entire game. This is the only security system anyone has.
- Pressure Plate: Introduced in The City Beneath, and a common puzzle element.
- Point of No Return: General consensus is that they're not inherently bad but can be used in bad ways, and that allowing backtracking at most points is best. However, since most levels are self-contained, holds like King Dugan's Dungeon will only allow the player access to the current level. On the other hand, the Restore function allows the user to "go back in time" to any point he ever visited, at the cost of any forward progress, so it's possible to make different choices and then pass the point of no return.
- Post-End Game Content: After completing a hold, it's time to go back and find all the secret rooms you missed. Once you've got them all, the Master Wall drops, often revealing a new Bonus Level. From Journey to Rooted Hold onwards, all the official holds have included Master Wall areas.
- Programming Game: The Robolab, in the usermade hold Gigantic Jewel Lost. Beethro must move onto certain squares that are scripted to write a program, which an "auto-delver" then follows. The task in each room is to find a program that smites all the monsters within the limit of 33 instructions.
- Purely Aesthetic Gender: The player may occasionally control a female avatar, which works as every other non-combative NPC.
- Random Event: Completely averted. The game engine is completely deterministic. However, it's possible to create events that are unpredictable by any reasonable player. Even with that, though, a player with editing rights can later open the hold in the editor and look for what triggers those events.
- Remixed Level: "Frozen Wood" in The Second Sky is a remixed version of the earlier level "Woodland Glade". The only difference between the two is that Beethro has his sword back (Woodland Glade was fought with the dagger).
- RPG Elements: Tendry's Tale has HP, Attack and Defence stats, together with items that power them up.
- Ruins for Ruins' Sake: "Forgotten Shrine" in The Second Sky. Beethro passes through with no explanation of why it's there or who it's a shrine to.
- Save Point: The Restore system makes it possible to go to any room at almost any point in time, so walking into a new room or using a Check Point serves as one of these. In addition, you can just quit the game and reopen it later without losing any progress either.
- Scoring Points: Averted in-game. However, there is a metagame scoring system where you can earn points by solving rooms with fewer moves.
- Tendry's Tale has a scoring system, using a formula based on your character stats.
- Scripted Event: A whole scripting language was introduced in Journey to Rooted Hold (and expanded with each subsequent game), making it possible to create NPCs and other story events, including cutscenes. However, most puzzle rooms will do without any of these, and many architecture contest entries include no scripting.
- Self-Imposed Challenge: What usually happens if a room provides too many resources or if players get bored or think a level set is too easy. There is an entire Challenges board on the forum. Highscore optimization also counts as this.
- Sequence Breaking: On most levels, a blue door blocks access to the staircase, enforcing completion of all rooms on the level. However, in Journey to Rooted Hold's Seventh Level, the staircase is instead guarded by the Slayer, and the blue door blocks an invisibility potion, which you're meant to use to get past the Slayer. It's possible (but difficult) to get past him without the potion, allowing the player to skip the entire level. This causes a plot hiccup, as the level contains Beethro's first encounter with the Pit Thing.
- Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: Usually averted, but the Adder and any other sworded monsters will play this completely straight - their goal is to kill the player, but any monsters in the way will also be killed.
- "Lemming Beach" and "Save Our Surfacers" in The Second Sky are both tributes to the game Lemmings, in different ways.
- Gentryii (a type of snake appearing in The Second Sky) are inspired by Chain Chomps. The developers' commentary (unlocked by mastering the hold) confirms that the similarity was deliberate.
- The post-mastery level of The Second Sky contains two rooms using DROD elements to recreate Chu Chu Rocket and Bomberman.
- Sidetrack Bonus: In Journey to Rooted Hold, some of the secret rooms contain humorous extra scenes with the Pit Thing. In The City Beneath, a few secret rooms provide extra story snippets (including the first appearance of Tendry).
- Sinister Scythe: A Slayer's Weapon of Choice is the Hook, which may evoke this image.
- Sliding Scale of Turn Realism: This game is all the way over at Turn By Turn.
- Space-Filling Path: Sometimes necessary in order to make sure time passes if the player wants to go from point A to point B, but usually frowned upon in otherwise empty rooms.
- Speaking Simlish: Usually averted. Speech can have voice clips attached with actual English (or other language) use, or can just be present as text boxes in-game. If you want any gibberish to be played in-game, you'll have to create sound files of it or record people actually saying it.
- Spoiler Title:
- The title "The City Beneath" spoils a surprise at the end of the previous game, Journey to Rooted Hold, and similarly, the title "The Second Sky" spoils a surprise at the end of The City Beneath. Unfortunately for anyone new to the series, all the game titles are revealed on Caravel's website.
- The level title "Teaming with Tendry" in The Second Sky is a huge spoiler, as it reveals a character's unexpected return. For that reason, this level is referred to by initials only on the Caravel forums.
- Stable Time Loop: In The Second Sky, Beethro travels back in time and meets the Young Pit Thing, which explains how the adult Pit Thing knows who he is, and so eventually leads to the Pit Thing sending him back in time.
- Stealth Mentor: The Pit Thing. Through The City Beneath and for most of The Second Sky, he guides Beethro by directing him to where he can make discoveries, without ever explaining things directly. In fact, he can't — he finds speaking clearly excruciatingly painful.
- The Second Sky reveals that he's also been acting as a Stealth Mentor to Halph behind the scenes.
- Story-to-Gameplay Ratio: Varies, but the game usually has more gameplay than story. The gameplay will also usually take more time than the story, due to the difficulty of the puzzles.
- Stupidity Is the Only Option: One particularly infamous example is in Journey to Rooted Hold Level 3: Beethro walks into a room with an obvious trap and two characters watching him. One of the characters says at the start that delvers are stupid and don't think ahead. To continue with the level, you have to trap yourself, at which point the Slayer will make fun of you. You get to wriggle around a little, and then the Slayer will release you from the trap and let you continue with the level.
- Super Drowning Skills: The only things that can swim are waterskippers. Anything else — the player, monsters, other room elements — will be killed or destroyed when dropped into water, no matter how close dry land is.
- Gunthro and the Epic Blunder introduces shallow water, which lets the player sneak around like a medieval Rambo.
- Surprisingly Easy Mini-Quest: "Interlude: Negotiations" in The City Beneath. You play as a Negotiator, who has no combat ability at all. Fortunately, every room on the level provides you with a Fegundo, an exploding and regenerating bird you can fly into enemies to kill them.
- Teased with Awesome: Possible to implement. Since various helpful things like potions, bombs, fegundos or friendly soldiers will only stay in the room they're placed in, you have to solve each room with the resources that are available, so you could have fifty doubles in one room but have to kill a horde of goblins all by yourself in another room.
- The Verse: Most canonical and fanonical holds take place in a world setting called The Eighth. There isn't exactly a Universe Bible, but there's some more information here, in the following section of this TV Tropes article, and the forum community can usually figure out what the verse does or doesn't contain.
- Three-Quarters View: Since the entire game is laid out on a grid, this is the art style most of the in-game entities and room features go with.
- Time Trial: Highscoring is all about this — solving rooms in the least number of moves possible.
- Unexpected Character: Tendry Dimpalm appears in only one scene in The City Beneath, making him an unexpected choice for the protagonist of the following Spin-Off.
- Unexpected Gameplay Change:
- King Dugan's Dungeon has two. Thirteenth Level is a pure maze, with no logical puzzles, and no monsters except the single roach marking the goal. Twenty-Fifth Level introduces an antagonist who opens and closes doors to obstruct Beethro.
- Journey to Rooted Hold, Twenty-Second Level. Instead of clearing all monsters in a room, you are just trying to get through them and survive.
- The Second Sky has a level of Nonogram puzzles, and the bonus levels at the end include a Tower Defense mini-game.
- There are many user-made holds that use DROD elements and scripting to implement well-known puzzles.
- Warp Zone: Possible to implement. There are actual warp rooms in King Dugan's Dungeon and Journey to Rooted Hold.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The Pit Thing's weakness is speaking clearly. He finds it excruciatingly painful, and it's what eventually kills him.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Gristy, the goblin in The City Beneath who was a temporary playable character and defeated the Aumtlich army by herself, never appears again in the series.
Tropes in the setting:
- Alien Geometries: The Eighth, the game world, can be best described as a pocket universe the shape of a pizza slice: walk onto another "slice", you're back where you started. Walk off the outer edge, you implode back into the center. Dig down far enough, you fall into empty space and land back on the surface.
- Armor Is Useless: Smitemasters explicitly go without any meaningful armor, trading it for speed and mobility. For all the armor any friendly or enemy soldiers have, they are all One Hit Point Wonders too. However, some monsters (wubbas, intact fegundos, segments of serpents) have invulnerability to swords, averting this trope.
- Beneath the Earth: The default setting for most dungeons, but from Architects' Edition forward it's possible to create settings that are more and more convincing aboveground locations.
- Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Fegundos are always referred to as such in the game and forums, but they're clearly phoenixes.
- Clock Punk: The technology level is mostly medieval-level with some advances in mechanics, city planning and architecture.
- Gonk: "The Fat Guy With The Big Lips And Pimply Nose" describes Beethro exactly. Beethro is ugly both out-of and in-universe.
- Low Fantasy: There isn't anything explicitly magical in this setting, but with orbs and Pressure Plates that shoot lightning at doors to open them, regenerating fegundos, and potions that, when drunk, cause a double of a person to appear out of thin air, there's some stuff that nobody's yet explained with science.
- Schizo Tech: The surface kingdoms are in the Middle Ages, but the Underground Empire canonically has radios and advanced genetic engineering available.
- You Are Number Six: Everyone in the Rooted Empire. All names consist of a profession and a rank within that profession, for example 39th Slayer. If you don't have a job, you are The Nameless.