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Caves of Qud (CoQ) is a retrofuturistic science-fiction roguelike currently being developed by Freehold Games for PC, Mac and Linux. It launched on Steam Early Access on July 15, 2015, with a full release slated for 2018. The game is set in the Jungles of Qud and its surrounding locales. Taking place in the far future, on an Earth which has suffered an unknown catastrophe, the ground is salinated and the land is inhabited with aggressive flora and fauna. In this world, water is a precious commodity and serves as the primary trade currency. The player begins in Joppa, a small moisture farming village, and is tasked with exploring Qud.

CoQ is often considered a 'true roguelike' insofar as it features ASCII graphics, random environments, exploration, permadeath, turn-based combat, and resource management. Most of which are 'high-value factors' in the Berlin Interpretation of the roguelike genre. The game focuses on 'deep simulation', tracking the individual body parts, political allegiances, equipment and abilities of each NPC and player character. Environments are destructible, and everything in the game is subject to the effects of physics. Creatures and objects can catch fire or freeze; they may be flung across the room, or collide with other objects. This generally leads to unexpected, 'emergent' gameplay. The game also features detailed lore (some of which is procedurally generated); extensive character customisation; a crafting system; a quest system; an overworld map; as well as hunger, thirst and other survival mechanics. The game's complexity could be compared to Dwarf Fortress's adventure mode, albeit with a very distinct tone and different systems.

Player Characters

CoQ features two overarching character types: 'Mutated Human' and 'True-Kin'. The former have been subjected to the hostile environment and generally have inferior stats, but can leverage over 70 potentially useful mutations. Conversely, True-Kin come from sheltered eco-domes and have much higher statistics, but do not have access to mutations. Instead, the player selects an 'Arcology' (city of origin), and 'Caste' (class), which dictates starting stat bonuses, equipment and skills. True-Kin, however, gain the ability to equip cybernetic implants.

This system permits high levels of customisation. For example, mutants may have extra limbs to hold additional weapons or torches, some characters can even control their adrenal glands to gain an agility advantage at this risk of exhausting themselves. Flame or frost hands allow the player to deal massive elemental damage in exchange for being unable to equip gloves. The player may even choose to be photosynthetic, forgoing the need for food but losing the ability to remain underground for long periods of time.

The mutation system is governed by 'mutation points' (MP). 12 points are allocated at character creation, and 1 point is granted for every level gained. 1 point may be used to 'advance' the mutation, amplifying its effects, while 4 points may be used to acquire a new random mutation, which may or may not be useful. Not all mutations can be improved, since some are strictly negative and others are fixed physical mutations (two extra arms is enough!) Since they lack mutations, True-Kin are less customisable. They are generally easier to play, however, and still have access to a large selection of skills and equipment. Depending on their caste, they may have a few unique abilities as well.

All characters, mutated or otherwise, have access to the skill system. Skills range from combat oriented (weapon skills and mobility), to survival (wayfinding, butchery) and tinkering (identifying artifacts, and crafting). Access to these is restricted by Skill Points (sp), which the player receives at level up. Many skills also have prerequisite stats and/or skills.

CoQ's equipment system is extensive as well; most characters will have around 12 equipment slots in total, not accounting for modifiers like severed limbs or hook-feet. Some gear can rust, rendering it useless. Some items will have special abilities, like a suit which reclaims water that can then be consumed again.

Important Locations


Joppa is a small village inhabited by vinewafer farmers. It is located on the edge of Moghra'yi, the great salt desert, and to the east are the Jungles of Qud. Joppa serves as an early game questing hub; several useful NPCs reside here: Argyve, who sells tinkering supplies, Tam, a Dromad merchant who offers a variety of goods and Ctesiphus, a ray cat who provides the player with a short-term illumination buff when petted. Most of the game's early quests are found here, and will guide players toward the Red Rock Cave to the north, and the Rust Wells to the east.

The Waterlogged Tunnel

The waterlogged tunnel runs beneath Qud, connecting Joppa to the Red Rock Caverns to the north. In the tunnel, it is likely that players will stumble across entrances to the much larger cave networks beneath Qud.

Red Rock

A short distance from Joppa, this is likely the first dungeon players will visit. It is relatively straightforward, featuring only four levels typically inhabited by Snapjaws. Girshlings and a glow-wight will always spawn on the fourth level. The player can find 'weird artefacts' to give to Argayve here, without exposing themselves to too much risk.


Kyakukya is a village where dwellings have been carved into the stems of giant mushrooms. Yurl, a 'sentient cucumber vine', is the main trader here. The other NPCs sell a limited selection of goods, and the village Warden will offer the player a quest.

The Six Day Stilt

The Sixth Day Stilt is a large religious centre. Many of the NPCs here are randomised traders who sell a wide variety of goods. Sheba Hagadias, who resides in the central cathedral, accepts donated books and offers experience in return.

The Grit Gate

The Grit Gate is a large structure which extends 19 floors underground. It hides an underground settlement inhabited by albino apes, who will only allow the player access to their town after they have completed one of the quest chains available in Joppa, and fulfilled a request. It features three trader NPCs, two of whom sell a wide variety of technology. Otho, the steward of the Grit Gate, offers a quest that sends the player further north to Golgotha.


A dungeon located beneath the jungles of Qud. An ancient industrial facility accessible only through risky vertical shafts, Golgotha is filled with various hazards: toxic sludge, electricity and fire among them. It is dangerous, even for high-level characters and may be a death sentence for characters without a ready means of escape.

Asphalt Mines

Another dangerous dungeon that extends hundreds of floors underground. It is located at the northwestern edge of the map. As the name implies, asphalt is the primary hazard. The player, as well as enemies, are liable to get stuck. Asphalt can easily catch fire as well; a common game ender.


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