Coffins are objects found in the game which, when opened, release one of three things:
Spelunkers released from Coffins have the same AI as Hired Hands. Coffins can be opened by attacking them with the whip or any other weapon, in some cases, the Coffins might be opened by traps or explosions off-screen and whoever was inside them will probably die.
The person who comes out of the coffin will get a brief period of invulnerability to most sources of damage, so if the coffin is shot with the Shotgun, additional pellets may not harm the person who comes out, but it's possible to open the Coffin with the whip, and hit the person with it before the whip animation is over.
A Coffin will also do small hops every now and then, which can damage enemies, potentially killing anything that is within range of the Coffin, additionally it can be moved by multiplayer ghosts or explosions.
Coffins during single player are generated in adjacent rooms to the main path, and sometimes may require two free rooms to generate, multiplayer Coffins will be generated inside the main path.
It's important to note that only one character can be unlocked during a run, and most of the time only one Coffin can be found per run, but there can be more than one in some situations, because of this, going to The Haunted Castle will prevent the Robot from spawning in the Mothership, and going to The Haunted Castle from a Rushing Water level means Viking will be found inside the Castle's Coffin if Viking's coffin generated in the previous level (or Viking is still not unlocked).
It's also possible for Coffins to be opened by environmental items, explosions off-screen or other elements, normally resulting in the person inside the coffin dying.
In the case of coffins containing Spelunkers, some odd rules apply. There are two type of coffins: Normal and Special.
The Normal Coffins are placed into normal levels randomly, no more than once in a zone per run.
If the player opens a Normal coffin, one of four Spelunkers, randomly chosen -namely Purple, Cyan, Yellow, or Lime- will come out. After this has happened, the zone that the coffin was found in will no longer have normal coffins in it, and the Spelunker that was inside will not appear in normal coffins afterwards. This means that you must open normal coffins in all four areas in order to find all four random Spelunkers.
When the player has not unlocked any of the four random characters, they must find the first in the Mines, the second in the Jungle, the third in the Ice Caves and the fourth in the Temple. Coffins in later areas will not generate if the previous area's Coffin hasn't been opened, therefore is not possible to unlock the Temple character before the Ice Caves character.
The chances for a Coffin spawning on every area are different, and they are the following:
- The Mines:
1/max(51 - playcount, 9)(Max of 1/9 at 42 played runs)
- The Jungle:
1/max(101 - playcount, 9)(Max of 1/9 at 92 played runs)
- Ice Caves:
1/max(201 - playcount, 9)(Max of 1/9 at 192 played runs)
- The Temple:
1/max(301 - playcount, 9)(Max of 1/9 at 292 played runs)
Based on this it's always possible to unlock the four random characters, but the chance of getting a Coffin in an entirely new save file is lower, since spawn chances increase as play count is higher, and the highest chance of spawning is 1/9 for all the Coffins.
It's important to note that these rules only apply to the four random Spelunkers, other Coffins are not affected by these constraints, other than only being able to unlock one character per run.
These type of Coffins are found in special places, and each special coffin will only have one particular Spelunker in it, which can be read more about on the Spelunkers page. After the coffin has been opened, it will usually not appear again, with some exceptions, such as the one in The Haunted Castle. In the cases where the coffin does not disappear, opening the coffin a second time will yield a Hired Hand.
While The Mothership and The Worm contain characters to be unlocked, the Coffins in these areas do not look like the rest of the Coffins, and the one in the Worm will be attached to the wall and can not be moved through any means.
If for some reason, the Coffin can't be generated in that level, then the character will be found in the next level, allowing the possibility of having a Robot spawn after The Mothership or another Spelunker outside of their normal spawn location.
Since Special Coffins are tied to level feelings, it's possible to get more than one Coffin in a single run if the player encounters two levels with the same level feeling during the same run.
In multiplayer runs, Coffins are used to revive deceased teammates. When a level is entered with at least one character dead, the game will spawn a Coffin somewhere along the main path of the level. When it is opened, the player who died least recently will be revived, and their ghost will be sucked back into their body.
It's possible for a Special Coffin to not be generated in the level it was intended to, in which case it will most of the time generate in the next level, but it can even take two levels for the Coffin to spawn.
Multiple coffins might generate if multiple levels with the same level feeling are found during the same run. Additionally, Cyclops is able to spawn in Normal Coffins during the run it was seen, regardless of whether he was unlocked or not, even if Cyclops does not normally spawn in a Coffin.
It's important to keep in mind that this only applies to characters unlocked in the same run, a character that has been unlocked will never appear again inside a coffin.
- In the XBox version, players will be put in the revival queue when dying with the Ankh, even if they are still alive, and will cause the player to die and respawn at the Coffin if this one is opened, dropping their held items and losing most of their inventory. More information in the Ankh page.