Cramped Caves

rating: +20

22 votes (+21, -1) 4.7★

rating: +20+x

Level Classification

Difficulty 4/5 Flooding, native hostile entities.
Entity Count 2/5 Occasional arachnid colonies.
Chaos Gradient 4/5 Constant flooding and changes in entries make its geography impossible to reliably map.
Basset-Frazier Index 3.333/5 Habitation is impossible: the Cramped Caves is purely transitory.

Description

cramped

fig 1.0 Partially flooded floor in the Cramped Caves.

The Cramped Caves is an expansive solutional cave system that is gradually flooding with water, continuously pouring through the holes and conduits from The Flooded City. Water pours at a steady rate, regularly surpassing the height of its entrances. Flooded entrances no longer connect to The Flooded City. These connecting points instead “shift" to a similar point further up the cave system. While exit pipes to The Flooded City exist, nearly all of them have been sealed from the other side.

Each cave is extremely narrow, averaging one meter in width and half a meter in height, or three feet per one and a half feet. Narrower caves are very common, occasionally becoming impassable. Vertical passages are an uncommon blessing, allowing wanderers to quickly escape the rising waters and gain life-saving breathing room.

The rate of rising water can vary depending on the shape of the cave, or if pressure between structures varies. A narrow cave may surge water upwards in many feet per second, while other caverns may fill up by mere meters every hour.

Certain sections of the Cramped Caves are different in composition, containing other rock types and, most commonly, quartz formations. Within these formations are unique soluble crystals formed from other substances ubiquitous to the Backrooms, among them crystallized water, carpet fluid, and more rarely, firesalt.

A unique species of brown-colored spider — commonly known as Itsies — inhabits some cave passages, weaving dense and resilient webs that partially or completely block transit. Only slightly larger than one centimeter (or half an inch), their natural coloration makes them hard to see. Their slightly larger egg sacs house hundreds of newborn spiders, which quickly swarm disturbing wanderers.

They are also known for webbing proportionately large "bubbles" of air, which they use to float and breathe when water levels exceed them. These bubbles, however, do not have any other role in their life cycle: even the diminutive prey they eat, small worms distressingly similar to leeches, choose to stay outside of the water. This leads some to think that the spiders and their single prey used to be water-borne at some point. We believe due to rising water contamination (see "On the Composition of Water", below) both species have avoided staying submerged for long periods of time, and have instead adapted to remain entirely on dry land.

The poisonous bite of these spiders is not lethal in small doses, but the pained disorientation it causes is almost certainly worse. Wanderers have described it as a spinning sensation, closely followed by paranoid uncertainty of one's direction. Together with the urgency of finding one's way upward, the ensuing panic is almost certainly a death sentence.

Around thirty bites are sufficient to accumulate enough poison to kill a healthy person. Thus, webs and egg sacs must be avoided at all costs, even if it means coming back the way one came.

In especially rare occasions, wanderers have come across entries to stone corridors, from two to three meters in height and one and a half in width, or six and a half to ten inches in height and five in width. These winding corridors, rarely documented, are non-linear and regularly shift in structure. Navigating them - while easier than scaling the cramped caves - should not be attempted: none that have entered them are known to have returned.

Other Observations:



Communities

Permanent habitation of the Cramped Caves is impossible: the constant rise of water, its cramped spaces, and the absolute absence of any nutrition prohibit even the most flexible of nomadic lifestyles.


Entrances and Exits

Entrances

The Cramped Caves can be entered through holes in the walls of some of the buildings in The Flooded City, and from its sublevels.

Additionally, this level may also be entered via specific holes and cracks in the ground of the Spaced-Out Ranges.

Exits

By digging up through patches of earth found in the ceilings of some of the caves one can enter the Almond Fields.

More Levels:

Restless Restaurant - (+20)

The School - (+17)

The Sub-Basement - (+14)

Starlit Cinema - (+14)

Bloodpool Catwalks - (+17)

The Darkness - (+18)

Zenith - (+7)

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