The Sorcerer's Cave

The Sorcerer's Cave

Infobox Game
title = The Sorcerer's Cave
subtitle = A game of exploration, magic, and adventure
image_link =
image_caption =
designer = Terence Donelly
illustrator =
publisher = Ariel, Philmar, Gibson
players = 1–4
ages =
setup_time = 1–5 minutes
playing_time = 1 hours
complexity = Simple
strategy = Low
random_chance = High (Dice, card drawing, luck)
skills = Dice rolling
footnotes =
bggid = 1202
bggxrefs =

"The Sorcerer's Cave, a game of exploration, magic, and adventure" is a fantasy board game designed by Terence Peter Donnelly and first published in 1978. It was inspired by the fantasy role-playing game "Dungeons & Dragons". [ A memoir by the designer of "The Sorcerer's Cave" and "Mystic Wood"] from BoardGameGeek] The players take the parts of members of a group of adventurers who enter a randomly generated maze, fight monsters, meet allies, find treasure and ultimately escape with their riches or find their doom.


The players start by choosing several generic character types, such as Man, Woman, Dwarf or Giant, differentiated by their Strength and Magic abilities to join their party based on a points system. Once selected, a marker is placed on the central "Gateway" tile. The party then explores the cave by drawing cave tiles. If the tile is a chamber, the player then draws a number of smaller 'encounter' cards depending on the cave level they are on, and encounter the cards there.

The encounters can range from treasure and artifacts (which may help the player defeat monsters) to monsters themselves. In the case of strangers, they are first tested for a reaction, which may be friendly – in which case they join the party; indifferent – in which case they do nothing; or hostile – in which case they attack. Combat is resolved by rolling a normal six-sided die and adding the number to the parties total strength or magic characteristic depending on the nature of the creature. Multiple enemies are dealt with by splitting the party as the player sees fit to fight the monsters simultaneously.

The winning player is the one who escapes the cave with the most treasure.

Rules for both solo play and competitive play are given, with several variations, based on "The Lord of the Rings" and the Greek myth Orpheus, which have appropriate victory conditions.

Inspiration and intentions

Donnelly wrote that, after trying "Dungeons & Dragons", that "while I had enjoyed being a participant in a fantasy role-playing adventure, I wasn't ready to do the work needed to set one up... if only the concept could be translated into a format that would require no laborious set-up and no referee—a game that could be taken out of the box and played instantly, yet be different every time." (similarly, "Talisman" creator Bob Harris wrote that, after being introduced to "Dungeons & Dragons", he "had it in mind to come up with a way we could have all the excitement of a role-playing adventure without all the hard work of creating characters and drawing maps.") [ [ "Talisman", the background by Bob Harris] from his author's website]

Critical reaction

Ian Livingstone said of the "Sorcerer's Cave" "As a family game, for the hour or two playing with the kids type market "The Sorcerer's Cave" works, and works well, but real Fantasy buffs will be disappointed by its simplicity when compared to "D&D" and the like." [cite journal
authorlink=Ian Livingstone
journal= White Dwarf
title=Open Box Review

Computer versions

Donnelly has created a version of "The Sorcerer's Cave" for "Microsoft Windows" computers, which is available from his website. [cite web
title="The Sorcerer's Cave" computer game for "Microsoft Windows" from Donnelly's website
] The ZX Spectrum computer game, "Goblin Mountain", by Martin Page (from "Sinclair User" 63 - Jun.1987) also has clear similarities (especially the Friendly/Indifferent/Hostile reactions by strangers).


An expansion set called "The Sorcerer's Cave Extension Kit", containing 30 extra cave tiles and additional cards, was published in 1980. "Mystic Wood", another somewhat different randomly-generated maze game designed by Donnelly, is a spiritual successor to "Sorcerer's Cave" set in a forest with each player having their own specific quest. [cite journal
journal=White Dwarf
title=Open Box Review

Games designer David Whiteland has developed an unpublished open-ended game called "Caverns" based on childhood memories of Donnellys original. []


* [ Computer and Video Games] review of "Diggles" computer game which uses "The Sorcerer's Cave" as a reference and describes the game.
* [ Home of The underdogs] review and download of the computer version.
* [ Inform Fiction - The Reliques of Tolti-Aph] interactive fiction inspired by "The Sorcerer's Cave" which describes the game.

External links

*bgg|1202|"The Sorcerer's Cave"|3930|"The Sorcerer's Cave Extension Kit"
* [ Computer version of the game] created by the author
* [ The Type Fantastic] page with download of "Goblin Mountain"

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