The Small Cave is a popular place to start the game. It contains one very useful guaranteed item and often contains other non-guaranteed desirable items. The guaranteed items in the Small Cave are a scroll of information, a scroll of warning and a waterproof blanket. The scroll of information simply tells how many paces away the waterproof blanket is. A dungeon square seems to be roughly two paces by this measure. The blanket itself is found in one of the farthest squares from the entrance in an east-west direction. The scroll of warning gives some advice about tactics for the small cave. It reads "Time is working against you!" This is true. When the PC enters the small cave, monsters are generated on the level as is true of any dungeon level. As the original monsters are killed off, new monsters are generated. The new monsters are generated differently than on any other level in the game. They have approximately double the experience level of the PC. As might be imagined, this quickly gets very difficult to cope with and is the basis for the eternium man challenge game (see the challenge games section). This offers a way to quickly gain experience levels, but as a rule, PCs should get out of the Small Cave by experience level 5 at most.
The Small Cave also contains a down staircase which leads to the Unremarkable Dungeon. The Unremarkable Dungeon is normal in terms of danger and monster generation. It is also essential to enter the Unremarkable Dungeon at some point if the PC plans to try a special ending.
Out of depth weapons are sometimes found in the Small Cave. Eternium two-handed swords and halberds of defense are examples. Artifacts can be generated in the Small Cave, but this is rare. Altars can also be generated in the Small Cave.
Less interesting items are virtually guaranteed as well. The Small Cave always seems to contain some type of cloak, one or more quarterstaves and a shield of some type. These items are typically of low quality but useful in the early game nonetheless.
The general strategy for the Small Cave is to get in, find the waterproof blanket as quickly as possible, optionally find the down staircase and get out. Getting out can be via descent through the Unremarkable Dungeon or ascent back to the wilderness.
Note that the monsters generated in the Small Cave are in general common types: goblins, kobolds, bats, rats and the like. Making a first kill in the Small Cave is not a good idea if a special ending is planned (see section 0.9.1).
22.214.171.124 Should PCs descend through the Unremarkable Dungeon?
After retrieving the waterproof blanket and locating the down stairs in the Small Cave (easier said than done), PCs may choose to descend through the Unremarkable Dungeon. As mentioned, it is essential to go through this dungeon in order to complete a special ending. If the PC chooses to do this, the Kranach quest will be lost, since the PC will be greater than experience level six by the time the Unremarkable Dungeon is traversed. The chance to complete the puppy quest successfully will also be lost, since the four day time limit will expire by the time the PC manages to get back to Terinyo. Despite the fact that monsters are generated in the Small Cave at twice the PC's experience level, it is possible to leave the Small Cave and reenter it later in order to gain access to the Unremarkable Dungeon. One way is to use invisibility. The monsters generated are high level relative to the PC, but they are not in general "special" monsters that have the ability to see invisible. Thus a high level PC can use invisibility to make a quick dash through the Small Cave and descend to the Unremarkable Dungeon. Items that grant invisibility are by no means guaranteed so this strategy is not available to every PC. Many players will descend through the Unremarkable Dungeon every time if possible.
Alternatively, a higher level PC can attempt to avoid killing anything on his search for the down staircase. This is sometimes impossible and risky in any case.
126.96.36.199.1 The nature of the Unremarkable Dungeon
The Unremarkable Dungeon is (probably deliberately by TB) misnamed. It is quite remarkable. It generally contains more special features - altars, pools, forges, herbs, shops and the like, than any other dungeon in the game. These are all nice features. The Unremarkable Dungeon also seems to contain more door traps than any other dungeon, which is not so nice. The bottom level of the Unremarkable Dungeon, UD: 8, contains two up staircases. One of the staircases leads to the High Mountain Village.
188.8.131.52.2 The High Mountain Village - introduction
The High Mountain Village is an interesting wilderness location. It contains a shop and various NPCs who are mostly useful to chaotics and essential for those PCs attempting a special ending. One significant problem is the possibility of meeting a Stone Giant Lord upon entering the High Mountain Village. This monster is very difficult to defeat for a relatively low level PC that has descended directly from the Small Cave through the Unremarkable Dungeon to the High Mountain Village. The Stone Giant Lord is not generated every time, but the possibility is an argument against entering the Unremarkable Dungeon directly from the Small Cave with a low level PC. If that is the plan, enter with full HPs and Coward tactics. It is possible to lure the Stone Giant Lord, and monsters in general, to the right side of the map, leave and reenter from the left. The High Mountain Village contains a hidden exit to the northern central part of the wilderness map. It is found from the inside of the western village wall. This means that the PC need not go all the way back through the Unremarkable Dungeon and the Small Cave in order to exit.
More on the High Mountain Village is found in section 2.21.