Mapmaking 101 – Secret Passages and Caves, Part 3

Secret Passages and Caves

Part 3
By Kolja Silvani
Adapted to English by Jayhawk

The original article can be found here

So you want a complete new level to play on? Well, let’s see what we can do.

Picture 8: Here’s some mountainous terrain, a large battle is about to start
But where..?

As you can see in the next screenshot, two armies are getting ready to do battle deep within the caves. (The image is using the leveled view to show you what’s going on.)

Picture 9: Preparing for battle.
Making a cave such as this is fairly simple, although it can take quite a while to get it done nicely. However, a true ‘cave friend’ won’t mind the effort to seriously enhance the amount of playable area. Let’s look at how it’s done, shall we?

First we make a secret passage which we expand like a chessboard
(see the green tiles). You can pick your own size and shape for your resulting cave and use any kind of entry you like.

Picture 10: Your basic cave
Using this system, you can put a cave underneath a large part of your landscape and even underneath your castle.

Of course you don’t have to leave the cave floor simply barren. Just like above ground you can add lots of terrain features to enhance your cave. The next image shows some examples.

Picture 11: Cavern scenery

  1. You can add resources to a cave. This simple example shows you a working ironmine in the depth of the cave.
  2. Putting in solid sections of higher terrain work like stalagmites or rockpillars.
  3. Like the inside of passages you can use pebbles, shrubs and other terrain features.
  4. Adding a section of low height squares instead of minimum height ones, will add another level to the cave. Normally this would be inaccessible, but with bits of enemy wall, laddermen can open up access to them. When it’s partially demolished it looks even better. Having ladders or staircases on the other side of such an ‘inaccessible’ barrier, allows your soldiers to get down and continue their explorations. An army following this path looks stunning.
  5. You can use water to make bits of the cave inaccessible. Adding falling water (or foam) will make the water show up on the surface as steamy springs.
  6. Of course you can also add bits of ford, which look even better than just clear water. It has the added realism bonus of watching your units wade belly-deep in the water.

This article highlights just a few of the things that you can do with caves and secret passages. If you think up any new and spectacular ways, please drop me an email.

Also don’t forget there’s still a world outside and on top of the caves that can be used regularly. You can even place buildings (which will result in a column in the cave below).
In short, using caves greatly expands the playing field.

And when you add the low plain…you have a third level.

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