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Video Game / Deadly Rooms of Death

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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 many 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:

  • Ability Required to Proceed: Humorous example in Gunthro and the Epic Blunder. At one point Gunthro needs to cross shallow water, and Beethro suddenly remembers he had this ability all along. In the next chapter, Gunthro needs to return to his homeland and deal with some infiltrators. The entrance to their hideout is in a room he passed through before, blocked off by shallow water.
  • 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.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The Smitemaster's Selection Devilishly Dangerous Dungeons of Doom goes crazy with this in the dialogue, as well as the hold title and all level titles.
  • Aerith and Bob: Aurora in Gunthro and the Epic Blunder stands out in a world of Beethros and Vonnifas.
  • Alliterative Name:
    • The Smitemaster's Selection Devilishly Dangerous Dungeons of Doom, and its levels.
    • The protagonist, Beethro Budkin.
  • Alliterative Title
  • 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).
    • The Second Sky 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:
    • Human NPCs and enemies such as citizens and soldiers, as well as monsters when there's a brain in the room, follow very simple pathfinding rules. They blindly follow the shortest path to their target, and simply stop if it's inaccessible, or, in the case of brained monsters, revert to their regular behavior. This usually has to be exploited to solve puzzles involving them.
    • 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. It got to the point that The City Beneath has two achievements for clearing a room without killing a Slayer.
    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.
  • Asteroids Monster: Rock Giants. They take up four squares and turn into four Rock Golems when struck with the sword (immediately killing the one where the sword hit).
  • 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.
  • Big Stupid Doodoohead: At one point, the Critic calls Beethro a "dumb dumb stupidface".
    Beethro: My face is stupid?
    Critic: And also dumb.
  • 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!
  • Bonus Stage Collectables: In The Second Sky, RCS stamps are both the reward for solving first-tier bonus levels and the means of unlocking further bonus levels.
  • Bookends
    • 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.
  • The Bore: In "Interlude: Negotiations" in The City Beneath, the lead Negotiator in 84th's room starts the meeting with a review of the minutes of last session, which is a Technobabble-heavy speech concerning "Zoning Allocations". And the whole time he talks in the slowest, most droning fassion that the player could reasonably be expected to tolerate.
  • 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).
  • Brain Monster: The brain enemy. It just sits there and doesn't attack. The problem is that it gives all other enemies much improved pathfinding, greatly complicating avoiding being overrun by them.
  • 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.
  • Checkpoint: 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.
  • Context-Sensitive Button: The so-called "special command", introduced in the spinoff Tendry's Tale but appearing in the main games from Gunthro and the Epic Blunder onward. It does nothing itself, but the in-game scripting language can detect and respond to it. Most levels don't use it, but (particularly in The Second Sky) there are some Unexpected Gameplay Change levels using it in various ways.
  • 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.
  • Counting to Potato: One of the voices Beethro starts hearing in the Smitemaster's Selection Perfection has this as the whole of its personality.
    Voice 2: This room... such geometric perfection!
    Voice 1: Be quiet! I have to count!
    Beethro: Yeah, shut up so he can count! Gads, why am I taking your side? You're just some kind of figment! I gotta get myself straight!
    Voice 1: Have some food. That always helps.
  • 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.
  • Crossing the Desert: Fire Hotlands in The Second Sky.
  • 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.
    • The Smitemaster's Selection Devilishly Dangerous Dungeons of Doom has an "unscheduled announcement" that begins with an explanation about how it does not appear on the schedule due to being an "unscheduled announcement".
  • Determinator: The Critic in The Second Sky. Nothing, not even apocalypse, will stop her following Beethro to criticise his swordplay, even through time.
    Beethro: Is there any place you don't go? This is getting ridiculous.
    Critic: You're ridiculous.
  • Developers' Foresight: In The City Beneath, Beethro receives the title 256th Slayer from the naming office. Later he attends a Slayer Conference, in which there are exactly 255 Slayers in attendance.
  • 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." Even if he did.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Beethro kills the Pit Thing, which is the nearest thing to a god that exists in the Eighth.
  • Direct Continuous Levels: Possible to script from The City Beneath onwards, and the transition from Infohut to The City at the very start of the game is an example. However, they are very rarely used in the official holds.
  • 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.
  • Edge Gravity: 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.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Pit Thing, which comes naturally when he represents the "noise" to Farrow Child's "signal". He seems to be more abstract concept than real thing, judging by the fact that his Weaksauce Weakness is talking without being cryptic.
  • 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 loses his name. 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 strongly implied to be Halph.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The 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.
  • Explosive Breeder: When a temporal Aumtlich has to choose whether to go left or right around an obstacle, it branches time to do both simultaneously, resulting in two versions of itself. It is, for all intents and purposes, explosive breeding of identical clones.
  • 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.
  • Eye Beams: The Aumtlichs' eyes emit a constant beam of light that stuns any player coming in contact with it, whereupon they approach the victim to kill him/her.
  • 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.
  • Fission Mailed: In The Second Sky, The Turning is not the end of the game. A sequence of events leads to Beethro going back in time and getting another shot at preventing it.
  • Flunky Boss: The Pirate Captain in Tendry's Tale, with no fewer than twelve minions.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Surface Avian Based Emergency Response, or S.A.B.E.R.
  • 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.
  • Genre-Busting
  • Gimmick Level: The City Beneath has a few:
    • The puzzles in the Torture Chambers revolve around getting Mimic-shaped automatons with scripted movement to kill the monsters for you.
    • The two final levels involve builders, who build and destroy parts of the level à la Minecraft.
  • 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.
  • The Goomba: Roaches have no special abilities; they just move straight towards you and allow you to slice them up, though they can be tough to deal with in large hordes. They are the first enemy to appear in every game of the series.
    • Lampshaded in The Second Sky with the achievement "My First Roach".
  • 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.
  • Instructive Level Design:
    • Prevalent throughout the main official holds. New monsters and game elements are introduced one at a time, most having a whole level focused on them so the player can get used to their behaviour.
    • Several usermade holds have taken this approach as well, so that a new player could start with one of these holds without needing to have played all the official holds.
  • 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.
    • Wubbas can only block you in, but Gentryii are invincible to swords, slide along walls, and will eat the player when they reach him.
  • 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.
  • It's Up to You: Usually justified: you're the only one doing anything about the problem anyway.
  • Kudzu Plot: To the point that for most of his quest, Beethro's main goal is just to get some answers. However, the ending of The Second Sky brings everything together to a satisfying conclusion.
  • 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.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: Each room style has unique Exit music, which plays only during the post-level display of stats (time spent on the level, number of deaths, etc). The player will usually exit this display and go to the next level after a few seconds, but the tracks are just as long as the normal level music (and will play in their entirety if the player waits on the post-level display for several minutes). Partially averted, however, in The Second Sky, where Forest's Exit music is used as normal level music in "Chronometric Ruins", giving you the chance to hear the whole thing.
  • Lord British Postulate:
    • Neather is a hardcoded opponent that evades the player, intended to be untouchable. If the player somehow managed to exploit the script and touch him with the sword, the developers congratulate the player for an early kill but mention that he can't be killed just yet.
    • 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.
  • Marathon Level: Many rooms are puzzle rooms with linchpins 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. The longest room in a published hold is sixty thousand moves, taking about an hour of playing time. It's roughly ten times as long as the second-longest published room!
    • 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. At least two rooms are Marathon Levels in themselves. One has you shove mirrors around to create channels for mud towards Pressure Plates. Six of them. In the other you have to transport a blob of mud across a pit. Both rooms require waiting around a lot for the mud to grow, one square per 30 turns. At least you can hold down the Wait key to wait faster.
    • "Ore Refinery" in The Second Sky doesn't have especially long individual rooms — it just has a lot of rooms.
  • Mega Dungeon: King Dugan's Dungeon is the eponymous setting of the first game in the series. It was originally built nine levels deep, but has expanded to fifteen and then twenty-five levels; Beethro's goal is both to clean the dungeon of monsters and to discover the cause of this expansion.
  • 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.
  • Missing Secret: "Seeding Grounds" in The Second Sky has its rooms arranged in a ring. Those bordering the gap in the middle have inaccessible areas that look like entrances to the middle room, but there is no room there.
  • 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.
  • Mook Commander: The brain is an entirely immobile enemy that does not attack, or anything else. However, its very presence in the room changes the pathfinding for all other enemies, making them move intelligently instead of in a straight line.
  • Mook Debut Cutscene: Aumtlich in The City Beneath (a plot-critical enemy type) and Gentryii in The Second Sky (their introduction coincides with Arky's).
  • Mook Maker:
    • Roach Queens lay eggs that hatch into roaches every 30 turns.
    • Tarstuff Mothers expand every blob of tarstuff in the room (except for gel, where only gel directly connected to the mother expands). However, tarstuff can only remain stable if it's at least two tiles wide. Tarstuff that tries to expand into a one-tile passage creates a tarstuff baby instead. With suitable Malevolent Architecture, a single tarstuff mother can create a number of Mooks that's only limited by the size of the room. Every 30 turns.
    • Water Skipper Nests spawn one water skipper every 10 turns.
    • Fluff Vents, when not blocked by fluff, spawn puffs every 30 turns. When blocked by fluff, the vent instead expands that wad of fluff every 30 turns in the same way as a blob of tarstuff, including spawning puffs in one-square wide passages.
  • 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.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: First Slayer. In The City Beneath, Beethro earns this title.
  • Nintendo Hard: Unless you use a walkthrough. Beethro will get eaten. A lot.
  • 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....
  • Noodle Incident: From The City Beneath, Beethro comes across an NPC who tells a tale of a horrible accident involving two serpents, an orb, and a tar baby, which forces him to nail all of the chairs to the ground.
  • 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.
  • Oculothorax: Evil Eyes. They face a particular direction, and wake up when you step into a square in their line of sight. However, once woken, their behaviour is identical to that of roaches.
  • 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.
  • One-Time Dungeon: Despite The Second Sky introducing a Global Airship, there is no way to revisit the sequence of eight levels from "Upside-down Mine Entrance" through to "Experiment of Ages". However, Permanently Missable Content is averted since no collectable items are contained in these levels.
  • 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-and-Click Map: Introduced in The Second Sky, as a "level hub/warp" alternative to an in-game set of staircases or scripted exits. This allows for easy navigation between multiple accessible levels. That said, it is still an uncommon feature and the vast majority of level sets will still use regular staircases.
  • 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.
  • Promoted to Playable: The Negotiator in The City Beneath; and we finally get to play as Halph in The Second Sky. However, these are only brief interludes; Beethro remains the only playable character for the rest of the game.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: The player may occasionally control a female avatar, which works as every other non-combative NPC.
  • Puzzle Reset: There's a key for this. Leaving and re-entering an unconquered room also resets it. The Second Sky turns this into a meta-room mechanic where you have to reset conquered rooms, in order to reconquer them in alternative ways so as to access paths that get closed off by doors upon conquering. Sometimes the unconquering device is located in a Disconnected Side Area, making it a multi-room metapuzzle.
  • 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), which makes many rooms trivial, and others more difficult.
    • Level 14 of Journey to Rooted Hold is basically level 8 from King Dugan's Dungeon with some tar rooms from other levels added, the other rooms being rearranged, the whole thing turned upside-down, and all the tar replaced with mud. In fact, two people are seen making a map of the level in King Dugan's Dungeon, and losing track of which way it should be held. In Journey to Rooted Hold, a Tar Technician and a Mud Coordinator argue over who did it better.
  • 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 Checkpoint 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, guards and Slayers will play this completely straight - their goal is to kill the player, but any monsters in the way will also be killed.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "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 ChuChu Rocket! and Bomberman.
    • In the end sequence of King Dugan's Dungeon, Beethro refers to the 13th level as "a maze of twisty little passages, all alike."
  • Shown Their Work: In Beethro's Teacher, Denfry uses actual techniques that a player with a speed potion might use, before the speed potion was a game element.
  • 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.
  • Sound Test: The Jukebox in one of the bonus levels of The Second Sky. Unlocking it requires seven of the eight RCS stamps.
  • 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.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In The Second Sky, both Arky and the Pit Thing ruminate on the difference between a simile and a metaphor.
  • 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.
    • Another example in The Second Sky's mid-game level, Experiment of Ages: Beethro observes a strange-looking tuning fork placed in a machine by some scientists, and overhears them worrying about the stability of their experiments. In order to solve puzzles on the level, Beethro is required to remove this tuning fork from the machine. Later, this causes the experiment to become unstable. There is no way to put the fork back once you're done using it. To be fair, this would cause a time paradox since the player has already seen the consequences of this disaster.
  • Suicidal Lemmings: In a tribute to Lemmings, the game The Second Sky features Lemmings as enemies in the level "Lemming Beach", some of which have teeth as sharp as Beethro's sword. While they will stop if they reach the boundaries of a pit or some water, should those Lemmings go towards a bomb or powder keg, the results are generally not in the favor of them.
  • 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.
  • Take Away Their Name: 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 loses his name along with his job.
  • 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.
  • Title Drop: In The Second Sky, Beethro claims to be flattered that Arky would build him a deadly room of death.
  • Two-Keyed Lock: A common puzzle type, where the player will have to keep two or more doors open at once to get through a passage. Naturally, there are several variations on this concept, playing with the initial premise.
  • 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.
  • Unique Enemy: In King Dugan's Dungeon, spiders appear only in Level 10. In Journey to Rooted Hold, they appear only in two rooms.
    • The scripted enemies in The Second Sky only appear in one level each.
  • Unstoppable Mailman: The Empire's runners would be this, if they were delivering written messages instead of playing a game of telephone. The Truth Vessels collectively take it to the extreme, tracking down a moving target to give a message to. In the end they warn everyone on the surface about the Turning, though they were actually trying to answer Beethro's question, with a message attached to them.
  • Verbal Tic: The "Infohut" guy in the beginning of The City Beneath. Ask the Infohut!
  • Voice Changeling: The Pit Thing, but he only demonstrates the ability in a single secret room, for the purpose of trolling Beethro.
  • Warp Zone: Possible to implement. There are actual warp rooms in King Dugan's Dungeon and Journey to Rooted Hold.
  • The War Sequence: The City Beneath combines this with The Unfought as Beethro witnesses the battle between the Stalwart Army and the Aumtlich. The Stalwarts are getting massacred, and the player might expect Beethro to step in and win the fight single-handedly, but instead we cut to a goblin named Gristy, who opens a briar trap that easily deals with the Aumtlich.
  • 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?:
    • Gunthro never reappears after Gunthro and the Epic Blunder. The games with Beethro as protagonist take place decades later, so Gunthro may be dead by then, but this is never actually stated.
    • 84th Negotiator and Gristy, the two temporary playable characters in The City Beneath, don't reappear in The Second Sky and we never learn what happened to them.
    • Even in the good ending of The Second Sky, while Beethro does save the surfacers, we don't know for sure if everyone was saved, and we don't see any of the other main characters again, so we don't know what happens to them after the Turning.
  • What the Hell, Player?: When the "cut scene" scripting command is activated, all monsters continue moving as normal, but the player has no control. That doesn't affect much in the official holds, since cutscenes are only used in plot-only rooms with no monsters... with one exception. In The City Beneath, there's a room where a goblin comes towards you, and you're meant to kill it and then approach some NPCs, triggering a cutscene. Leaving the goblin alive and turning your back to it, so that it kills you in the cutscene, earns the achievement "Who Wants to Be the Guy?"
  • Your Mom: Discussed in one of the level descriptions for The Second Sky. The Empire's citizens don't see why this is considered an insult to anyone except the mother.
  • Zerg Rush: Ubiquitous. Especially with roaches. Rooms containing Mook Makers such as roach queens, water skipper nests, and tarstuff mothers (provided the architecture is malevolent enough), usually revolve around either being efficient enough to avoid Zerg Rushes, or crowd-controlling them.

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.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Beethro often uses words such as "greb" "frack" and "Jebus". It might be worth noting that the saltiest thing he's ever said when Halph was present is "flaming fegundo".
  • 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 6: 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.


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