The Skull Key is a mysterious and strange-looking item in Stardew Valley. After reading this guide you will know what the Skull Key unlocks, and why it is so important.
You can find this key inside a chest on floor 120 of the Mines. It is no easy feat to traverse the Mines to get to the bottom, where the Skull Key is found. You have to make your way through waves of monsters, and use a lot of energy breaking through rocks and nodes.
After you obtain the key, you can find it inside your wallet on the skills tab of the menu. Grabbing the key from the chest will also trigger the “Skull Key” quest. This tasks you to find what the Skeleton Key is used for.
What does the skull key unlock?
Since the Skeleton Key was unearthed at the bottom of the Mines, it makes sense that the Skull Key unlocks a harder area with even stronger enemies to fight!
This area is called the Skull Cavern in the northwest corner of Calico Desert. The Desert is only accessible by taking the bus from Pelican Town. You can not walk there, similarly to Ginger Island. To repair the bus station, you have to either complete the all of the Vault Bundles in the Community Center or buy the Community Development Project from JojaMart. Though keep in mind that you can only chose one path per game.
If you chose to repair the Community Center yourself, then this is the one bundle room that actually costs more to repair yourself than to have JojaMart repair it! This is because the Vault Room does not have you place in items, but gold itself. In total, these bundles will cost you 42,500 gold. The one good thing is that you will get various rewards for completing the bundles including, 3 chocolate cake, 30 quality fertilizer, a lightning rod, and a crystalarium.
If you chose to go through the JojaMart path, then all you need to do is enter JojaMart and purchase the bus repair Community Development Project from Morris. He can be found at the counter to the right of the door. This project will run you 40,000 gold, which is not much cheaper than the Vault Room bundles and you will not get any rewards from buying the project besides bus repair.
Once you arrive in the Desert, and enter the Skull Cavern there will be a keyhole to place the Skull Key. You will get a message that says “It’s a perfect fit!” thus completing your Skull Key quest.
There are a few important differences between the Cavern and the Mines that make this area very important to unlock.
The first difference is that there is no “end” of the Skull Cavern. The Mines have a hard stop at level 120. On the other hand, you can go as deep in the Skull Cavern as the day allows. It depends on how fast you are in a single day because there is no elevator that saves your progress. Every time you return to the Skull Cavern you are starting from floor 1.
Time also works a little differently in Skull Cavern. Where normally an hour of game time passes in 43 seconds real time, in Skull Cavern it takes 54 real seconds for an hour of game time. This allows you to be able to spend longer traversing the Caverns and reach lower depths. However, in multiplayer games and on Prehistoric Floors the time reverts back to normal.
Benefits of Skull Cavern
The biggest reason you need to go to Skull Cavern is because it is a great place to obtain Iridium. Iridium ore and bars are crafted into numerous different important end-game items, tool upgrades, and buildings. These include iridium sprinklers, crystalariums, deluxe fertilizer, and obelisks that teleport you to various areas of the map.
Another reason to visit the Cavern is you can easily earn 10,000 gold by completing a simple quest in them! Who does not love an easy 10 grand? After you first enter the Cavern, the following day you will receive a quest called “Qi’s Challenge”. This quest calls for you to reach floor 25. After you do, you will then receive your money the following day in mail.
If you want tips and tricks about how to better survive in the Skull Cavern and reach floor 25, check out our ultimate Cavern guide.
Secret Use of the Skull Key
As if unlocking a Cavern filled with endless goodies and baddies for you to fight was not enough, the Skull Key also unlocks one other thing in Stardew Valley. This is the Junimo Kart arcade game in The Stardrop Saloon. Junimo Kart is a cute scrolling platform mini-game where you control a minecart with a Junimo inside. Once you beat all 6 levels of Progress Mode then an arcade system of Junimo Kart will be sent to you the following day in the mail.