If you haven’t heard of the Terraria Drow Elf Challenge, you really are missing out. The basic premise is to live your entire pre-hardmode existence underground. I hear you asking, “but how is that possible?” There are some rules to getting started, and what all is considered “underground” when playing this challenge. I will do my best to explain the challenge, and then provide you with what I would consider to be the essentials early on in the campaign.


When you dig down deep enough, the lights go out, and you will soon find yourself surrounded by darkness. While most living creatures that live exclusively underground have had eons of evolution to adapt to living in complete darkness, you do not have that kind of time. Your first and most important task is to decide how to light the road that lies ahead.

Here are the first rules of the Terraria Drow Elf Challenge. The options for your initial light source are as follows:

1 – Bring a miner’s helmet from another world with you (easy).

2 – Cut down tree, kill a slime, craft torches (limit 10), discard remaining wood (moderate).

3 – Bring 3 torches with you from another world (hard).

4 – Bring or make 1 single torch with you, nothing more (difficult).

I, myself chose to play on the moderate level, and started out by crafting my own torches, and discarding the remaining wood. Since I chose to bring torches instead of a mining helmet, the remainder of this article will be for those choosing to play the moderate to difficult level. How you choose to utilize your torches is up to you, but I recommend that you recycle them, and bring them with you.


The transition between the surface and the start of the underground.

When you first spawn in to your new world, and have your light source ready, the next task is to mine down into the underground, the place that you will call home for the remainder of the challenge. Let’s go ahead and define UNDERGROUND at this point to make sure you will continue to abide by the rules of the challenge. Officially the underground constitutes all areas that lie below the LEVEL SURFACE layer. You will see the background change from solid dirt to a mix of rock and dirt. That change in background symbolizes the boundary between the evils of the surface world, and the safety of your underground kingdom. You’ve arrived….



As you progress deeper in to the ground you will begin to encounter larger caverns, and large blind drops. Make sure you build a means to escape or back track, should you need to. Large drops can also kill you, so use caution when you are exploring and mining. Recycling the mass amount of dirt you will undoubtedly have at this point will allow you to build makeshift staircases or platforms to help navigate some of the larger caverns and drop offs in relative safety. Rule of thumb – Look before you leap.



Now that you are in the underground layer, you can begin to spread out horizontally, and explore any the caverns that you should begin to encounter. These large caverns are going to be the first area you will begin to find the critical resources you will need next. The rules of this challenge state that you should strive to craft a bed as quickly as possible to set your spawn point in the underground. This will require resources, and of course a home to put it in.


Smash all pots you encounter along the way and collect their loot.

Pots will contain money, ropes, torches, arrows, glow sticks, healing potions, and a few other rare items. Gather everything you can for now, and continue mining/exploring. I would recommend collecting any ore you encounter, as it will eventually come in handy. The other thing you will want to collect are cobwebs. These will be used to craft silk later, and will be required for your bed.  The caverns will also contain the life crystals needed to increase your life meter. Since they are rarer, do not waste too much time seeking them out. There will be plenty of time for that later. First we must find a suitable place to build a house. You may also stumble upon random underground chests. Loot them and take them with you. You will want to take the time to kill any jellyfish you encounter, as they will drop glow-sticks, an alternative, but expendable light source. These will help you to navigate further in to the darkened caverns.


Retrofitting an abandoned underground structure.

If you are lucky, you will find the remains of an underground building fairly quickly. If not, continue to explore until you find one. This is a good place to set up operations, as it usually contains a chest with a few goodies inside. Since you will need wood, you can harvest the walls of the structure and replace them with stone. If there is a workbench present, then I would recommend crafting brick to replace the wooden walls. This is mostly for aesthetics, but you can also just utilize any plain stone or dirt if you so choose. Now that you have secured a base camp, it’s time to expand and explore for what I would consider to be one of the more important items early in this challenge, glowing mushrooms.



Your next goal should be to locate a glowing mushroom biome as quickly as possible. They can sometimes be a little tricky to locate, but can usually be found fairly quickly. Listen for the music associated with their presence, and watch for illuminated areas on your screen and mini-map. Once you have located them, begin harvesting the glowing mushrooms. Harvest as many as you can reach, and hopefully you should pick up some glowing mushroom seeds in the process. If the biome is close enough to your base camp, you can terraform the existing biome to be used as a glowing mushroom farm for future use, otherwise, make sure you gather mud, and build a nice large farm closer to your home.


Why am I making such a big deal about glowing mushrooms? Simple. These things are used for a variety of things, and can really help you make some progress in getting yourself set up for success early on. Here are some of the things that make them important to me:

  • They are a renewable resource that regenerates rather quickly.
  • They can be used to craft many things that can also be made out of wood (workbenches, planks, furniture, including a bed, etc)
  • They GLOW! You now have a new light source. You no longer have to worry about conserving your torches as much.


Now that you have a home, you will need to make a bed, and set it as your new spawn point. If you have been collecting ore along the way, you should now have a large collection of either iron or lead on hand. Craft a heavy workbench, and then use that to craft a loom to spin those cobwebs in to silk. Once you have enough silk and glowing mushrooms, you should be able to craft a bed, and set your spawn point. Congratulations, your first checkpoint has been achieved.



With a home base established, it is now time to venture out and explore. You are ultimately looking for life crystals, and other goodies to help you out, but you also want to take the time to build housing rooms for NPCs to eventually move in to. Building large rooms for crafting stations is also advised, even if you don’t have them yet.


Some of the basic items you will want to secure early on are:

MINING HELMET – The need to have a permanent light source is obvious. This item can be found as an item drop or purchased from the merchant for a small fee.

ORE – You should be collecting the various types of ore already, but it should still be said, as it will be used to craft better armor, weapons, tools, and items later on.

EXTRACTINATOR – This may take some time to find, but once you locate one, you can use it to turn slush, silt, and desert fossils into ores, coins, gems, and other rare items.


ACCESSORIES – Any accessory you can find should be picked up. These include but are not limited to: shackles, boots, charms, grapples, etc. One of the more important items is a depth meter. This will help you stay below the vile surface layer.

ARMOR – With all that ore you are collecting, you should strive to craft complete sets of armor, so you can get their associated bonuses.


Due to the nature of this challenge, there are some obstacles that are now present in the game. So far here are the ones I have encountered, or figured out. If there is a work-a-round I will do my best to present it.

METEORITE ORE – Since the impact will more than likely not reach the depth of the underground layer, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to harvest any of it from below. One possible work-a-round might be to mine out sand in the desert biome from below, so that the level surface of the sand drops down to sea level. This would require some tricky mining techniques, and would also require the meteorite to hit in the exact spot you lowered, and spread its impact crater below the level surface for you to be able to harvest. Possible, yes; probable, no. Good luck if you try this. In one of my attempts I was able to get enough through some other method to craft some meteorite shot and some armor. I can’t recall how I got it now, but I think it was an item drop from silt/slush or it was found in a fishing crate? I honestly cannot remember now.

FALLEN STARS/MANA –  At first thought, this would seem impossible right? Well, that’s not true. Yes, shooting star’s only fall on the surface at night. You might get lucky and get deep enough chasm to spawn in the surface world that would allow for that one lucky star to find its way deep enough to be reached from below while staying in the underground layer. The odds however, are so slim, that I would say that it’s impossible to actually happen. So now what?  What I have done is work my way to the edge of the map, where the ocean is, and literally bring the ocean floor to the underground. This required that I

With a lot of patience and some careful excavating, you can bring the ocean down to your level. GOD MODE ACTIVATED

do some very tricky, and time consuming mining, but I now have the ocean floor well below the transition layer. I know it works, as I have already harvested enough stars to boost my Mana level to 4. You may be able to do the same thing in the desert biome, but I haven’t tried it.


THE DUNGEON – Simply put, this place if off-limits, and you will not be fighting Skeletron in this play through, since he can only be summoned at the surface entrance. Trying to enter the dungeon before killing him results in your immediate death, thanks to the Dungeon Guardian. This also means you cannot free the mechanic, so no wired objects can be acquired/used. Guess we will have to go old school on this one.

FISHERMAN – Since this NPC is only found on the surface, you will not be able to acquire him, and participate in his ongoing quest for fish. Who has time anyway? Your objective in this play through is to defeat the wall of flesh as quickly as possible using only what you can scrounge for underground. While you are more than welcome to fish in the underground, and the crates you catch while doing so can contain helpful items, you might be better served to spend your time looking for life crystals, and treasure chests for a lot of the same types of items. You may want to catch a few of the consumable fish and craft them in to the cooked fish item to use during the showdown with the Wall of Flesh. It may not be much of a boost to your stats, but every little bit helps.

GOBLIN ARMY – The Goblin Army is a random Terrarian even that happens primarily on the surface of your world. Even with you being hidden underground, you can still fight off an army of the invading goblins by traveling in tunnels located near ground zero, and waiting for them to appear. The goblins will spawn in the very upper levels of the underground layers, and you will be able to eliminate them. Why am I mentioning this event? Because defeating the Goblin Army unlocks the Goblin Tinkerer NPC who can strengthen your weaponry, and sell you a pretty cool crafting station (Tinkerer’s Workshop).


Fighting any of the additional BOSSES are optional for this challenge, but it is recommended that you do. They drop some pretty important and useful items, that will only assist you in defeating the Wall of Flesh later on. Some bosses, like the Eye of Cthulhu will show up weather or not you want them to, so you may want to build a smallish arena-like area near your spawn point just in case he does show up unannounced.


At this point I think I have yammered on long enough. I am now ready to shut up, and turn you lose to start on your own underground adventure. So I will try to summarize everything I covered above as quickly as possible. For convenience, here is a basic list of what you should look for, and what is important in this challenge.

  • Manage your starting torches wisely, and watch out for drop-offs.
  • Jellyfish are friends.
  • Locate a glowing mushroom farm as quickly as possible.
  • Explore and collect everything you can get.
  • Build a home base and bed
  • Make NPC housing.
  • Continue exploring and upgrading.
  • Fight a goblin army.
  • Reforge your weaponry.
  • Craft complete armor sets.
  • Catch and cook a few fish.
  • Locate the Extractinator and some slush/silt for it.
  • Fight and eliminate as many BOSSES as you can (except Skeletron).
  • Arm yourself to the teeth.
  • Take on and Defeat the Wall of Flesh.
  • Win the challenge.


If you are interested in learning more about this, and other Terraria-based challenges, you should be able to find more information about them on the various online forums dedicated to this wonderful game.

About The Author

Retro gaming enthusiast with an addiction to 'shmups' especially the zaney Japanese ones. I also appreciate modern games. Member of the Retroholics Anonymous Podcast. I have also been known to blog, make stupid videos on YouTube, and can be found live streaming on Twitch from time to time.

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