Freehold Games, LLC
Based in South Bend, IN and Berkeley, CA
Original Beta: December 2010. Steam Early Access: July 2015. Full release: 2023.
iOS / Android (coming later)
Freeware ASCII-only version (out-of-date) - Windows (zip)
|Desktop Early Access
|Desktop Full Release
|iOS / Android
Caves of Qud is a science fantasy RPG and roguelike epic steeped in retrofuturism, deep simulation, and swathes of sentient plants. Come inhabit an exotic world and chisel through a layer cake of thousand-year-old civilizations. Play the role of a mutant from the salt-spangled jungles of Qud, or play as a true-kin descendant from one of the few remaining eco-domes: the toxic arboreta of Ekuemekiyye, the ice-sheathed arcology of Ibul, or the crustal mortars of Yawningmoon. Decide: is it a dying earth, or is it on the verge of rebirth?
Caves of Qud is a project of epic proportions that's been in development for over a decade (since 2007). It began as the science fantasy roguelike dream of co-creators Jason Grinblat and Brian Bucklew, who released the first beta in 2010. In 2015, the game was launched on Steam in Early Access. Since then, it's accrued a few more contributors who have enriched the project by helping to add visual effects, sound effects, an original soundtrack, a new UI, new game systems, new lore, and half a world of content. The game has grown into a wild garden of emergent narrative, where a handwritten story weaves a path through rich physical, social, and historical simulations. The result is a hybrid handcrafted and procedurally-generated world that's alive in a way few game worlds are.
- Assemble your character from over 70 mutations and defects, and 24 castes and kits — outfit yourself with wings, two heads, quills, four arms, flaming hands, or the power to clone yourself; it’s all the character diversity you could want.
- Explore procedurally-generated regions with some familiar locations — each world is nearly 1 million maps large.
- Dig through everything — don’t like the wall blocking your way? Dig through it with a pickaxe, or eat through it with your corrosive gas mutation, or melt it to lava. Yes, every wall has a melting point.
- Hack the limbs off monsters — every monster and NPC is as fully simulated as the player. That means they have levels, skills, equipment, faction allegiances, and body parts. So if you have a mutation that lets you, say, psionically dominate a spider, you can traipse through the world as a spider, laying webs and eating things.
- Pursue allegiances with over 60 factions — apes, crabs, robots, and highly entropic beings, just to name a few.
- Follow the plot to Barathrum the Old, a sentient cave bear who leads a sect of tinkers intent on restoring technological splendor to Qud.
- Learn the lore — there’s a story in every nook, from legendary items with fabled pasts to in-game history books written by plant historians. A novel’s worth of handwritten lore is knit into a procedurally-generated history that’s unique each game.
- Die — Caves of Qud is brutally difficult and deaths are permanent. Don’t worry, though — you can always roll a new character.
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- "There’s a sense of magnificent history to dredge from its depths."
- Chris Priestman, Kill Screen
- "Caves of Qud is one of the best roguelikes in years, packed with evocative prose and featuring a captivating world of arcane secrets to explore."
- Heather Alexandra, Kotaku
- "Narratively, this is one of the most compelling game stories that I’ve seen in a long time."
- Charlie Hall, Polygon
- "Caves of Qud has a particular kind of New Wave science fiction imagination that just can’t be beat."
- Cameron Kunzelman, Paste Magazine
- "It’s a world brimming with mystery, brought to life by sparkling prose, and rooted in a diverse RPG where you can shoot lasers with your mind."
- Steven Messner, PC Gamer Top 100, #40
Caves of Qud: A Decade of Worldbuilding
Jason Grinblat's talk from Narrascope 2020 on what it's been like to worldbuild for a single game over the course of a decade. youtube.com.
Dungeon Generation via Wave Function Collapse
Brian Bucklew's talk from Roguelike Celebration 2019 on generating Caves of Qud maps using the cutting-edge Wave Function Collapse algorithm. youtube.com.
Jason Grinblat's talk from PROCJAM 2018 on meaning and generative systems. youtube.com.
Procedurally Generating History in Caves of Qud
Jason Grinblat's design-focused talk from GDC 2018 on procedurally generating history in Caves of Qud. youtube.com.
Caves of Qud Live Let's Play 2018
Jason Grinblat and Nick DeCapua return to Roguelike Celebration with another live Let's Play performance of Caves of Qud, this time with the added developer commentary of Brian Bucklew. youtube.com.
Caves of Qud Live Let's Play 2017
Jason Grinblat and Nick DeCapua collaborate with the Roguelike Celebration audience on a live Let's Play performance of Caves of Qud with developer commentary. youtube.com.
Procedural History in Caves of Qud
Jason Grinblat's player-focused talk from Roguelike Celebration 2017 on procedurally-generated history in Caves of Qud. youtube.com.
Markov by Candlelight
Jason Grinblat's talk from Roguelike Celebration 2016 on generating books in Caves of Qud. youtube.com.
AI in Qud and Sproggiwood
Brian Bucklew's talk from the 2016 International Roguelike Developer Conference on AI in Caves of Qud and Sproggiwood. youtube.com.
Collaborative Storytelling through Procedural Generation
Jason Grinblat's talk from the 2015 International Roguelike Developer Conference on authorial voice and procedural generation. youtube.com.
Data-Driven Engines of Qud and Sproggiwood
Brian Bucklew's talk from the 2015 International Roguelike Developer Conference on the entity component architectures of Caves of Qud and Sproggiwood. youtube.com.
About Freehold Games, LLC
Freehold Games is a tiny indie studio founded by Brian Bucklew and Jason Grinblat. We make games built on two design pillars: 1) Bizarre, baroque, original settings. We share an eclectic love for the natural and humanistic worlds and it compels us to sculpt immersive settings out of their varied clays. 2) Generativity. Emergence is fascinating to us; we love to be surprised by what we make. So we build complex systems then let players collide them, and together we observe the results.
More information on Freehold Games, LLC, our logo & relevant media are available here.
Caves of Qud Credits
Music and Sound
QA and Additional Design
QA, Additional Design, and Additional Programming
Additional Writing and Design
Cyril van der Haegan
Laura and Jeff Bucholtz