Colossal Cave Adventure: The Card Game is based on the 350-point ADVENT computer game created by Will Crowther and expanded by Don Woods. As that game is in the public domain, this adaption is placed in the public domain as well.

The game captures the spirit of the first text adventure: the feel of exploring, mapping, and navigating a new world, while trying to find the items that will solve the puzzles.To setup, you deal location cards face down to form 3 levels of the cave: each level is a 5 by 5 grid. The entrance chamber is placed in the center of the first level and players’ pawns start there.

From a location card, players can only travel in directions indicated by the location, moving to one permitted adjacent card and exploring that location. Sometimes they encounter obstacles (“A fierce green snake bars the way!”) and have to turn back unless they have the current item; typically they encounter new regions of the cave (“You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. [Lose a turn!]”), some of which allow them to choose from an item deck (“There is a shiny brass lamp nearby”). The cave is confusing and complex – often you can’t simply return to a location you recently left, but must plot a course through other regions or levels to get there. Magic words will take you up and down levels of the cave.

To win, players race to be the first to score 100 points in items collected and puzzles solved or solve the end game puzzle before anyone else.