Environmental death

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Aye, what just happened?
The Demoman on exploding pumpkins

A death caused by a map element, commonly known as an environmental death, can take many forms depending on the various hazards in each individual map. Hazards can be used as a weapon or deterrent against the enemy team, and almost all map hazards grant a tactical advantage to those mindful of them.

Instant death hazards

The following hazards cause instant death regardless of the player's health. They also affect players who are under the effects of invincibility, such as Bonk! Atomic Punch or an Übercharge (with the exception of one).

Saw blades

Saw blades found near the middle point of Sawmill.
Main article: Saw blades
Killicon saw blade.png

Saw blades are neutral entities that were officially introduced on Sawmill, and would later appear on a number of custom maps, most notably Trainsawlaser. They move back and forth along a designated path and instantly kill anyone that comes in contact with them. Cosmetically, a saw blade gets permanently coated in blood if it kills someone, which persists until a new round starts.

Maps with saw blades


A Train on one track within the middle point of Well.
Main article: Train
Killicon train.png

Trains are neutral entities that will instantly kill anyone who stands in their path. The arrival of a Train is usually signified by flashing lights at each end of the track and a bell sound playing, which can be heard if players are close enough. In addition, Trains often sound horns immediately upon arrival, most likely as a final warning for players to get off the track. The train appears to be an EMD GP38-2, and its paint scheme strongly resembles Southern Pacific, which once operated these.

It should be noted that touching the sides of a train will not damage players; in fact, players can safely stand on top of trains. This is more prominent on Freight, as trains on said map tow multiple carriages which act as occasional blockages. The carriages come in two variations: shipping containers the same size as the train itself, or flat carts which allow players to jump on top of them.

A notable variation of sorts is "Lil' Chew-Chew", the unique, rideable cart on the map Frontier. If escorted by three or more BLU players, it will "chew" and instantly kill any unfortunate players standing in front of it, regardless of team.

Maps with trains


The Pit on Upward's Terminus.
Killicon skull.png
 Soldier fell to a clumsy, painful death

A pitfall is an environmental hazard that causes fall damage, but acts as an instant kill; there is no chance of survival, not even if the player is under the effect of an ÜberCharge. This is the result of falling into an area that is far beneath the rest of the map. It should also be noted that after a cart explodes, falling into the resulting crater will result in a Pitfall death.

Certain key items are treated differently since they cannot be collected once they fall into a pitfall. The intelligence will be reset if the player dies in a pitfall while holding the intelligence, which also applies to the bomb in Mann vs. Machine and the Australium package in Special Delivery. Credits that fall down pits are considered collected and are immediately credited to the players.

Pitfalls kill players by way of a trigger_hurt entity, which constantly and rapidly deals damage once within its area.

Maps with pitfalls

Payload Cart explosion

A Payload cart exploding in Badwater Basin.
Main article: Payload
Killicon skull.png

During the final (or sole) round of any Payload or Payload Race map, the Payload Cart will explode either when it reaches the final point, or shortly after, triggering a Payload Cart explosion, which will cause all players in the surrounding area to be killed. In some maps the resulting explosion creates a crater; falling into it will result in a pitfall death.

Maps with Payload Cart explosions


The gate of DeGroot Keep.
Killicon skull.png

Crushing causes instant death to any players unfortunate enough to be trapped between two hard surfaces.

The gate of DeGroot Keep, which opens when points A and B are captured, closes after a certain amount of time, provided the last point isn't captured. This is approximately 60 seconds after the gate opens or when capture progress has run out, whichever is longer. This also resets the first two points, making them available for capture again. If a player is standing underneath the gate when it lowers (or is too close to the gate when it opens), they will be crushed to death.

On Stage 3 of Dustbowl, if the BLU team captures the first control point, the spawn gate in the left spawn leading out to the first control point will crush all players unlucky enough to be caught underneath.

On Doomsday and Carnival of Carnage, the platform that raises the player up to the rocket hatch (or ticket lock) can crush the player if one is unlucky enough to be standing under it if the Australium (or ticket) carrier is knocked off, or after the rocket is launched (ticket is captured).

On Egypt, all gates open and close slowly, and may crush players. Additionally, on Stage 1, there is an interior room on the path from the RED spawn to point A in which the player may get stuck between two doors if the BLU team captures the first control point. A short while after the capture, the ceiling of that room falls slowly and crushes all players unlucky enough to be underneath.

On Hightower and Helltower, if one team can prevent the other from pushing the cart to the top of the Capture platform, the platform will fall down and crush any player below it.

On Carnival of Carnage, if a player walks over the red strongman button, the giant hammer is swung down on top of it, crushing any players too slow to move away in time. The hammer strike also causes a shock wave that launches nearby players into the air, possible causing a death by fall damage.

In Mann vs. Machine, the Tank Robots can crush any players that are unlucky enough to be caught between it and a wall or prop as it turns.

On Snowplow, the large device used to damage the train can crush players standing below it.

Maps with crushing

Cauldron fire

The BLU team's Cauldron in Foundry.
Killicon skull.png

The cauldron is an environmental hazard specific to Foundry, located next to each team's first spawns. Any player who steps into it will be instantly killed while aesthetically on fire. A player that manages to push an enemy into the cauldron will receive the Terminated, Too achievement.

Maps with cauldron fires

Rocket exhaust path

The Rocket exhaust path after taking off on Doomsday.
Killicon skull.png

The map Doomsday features a path where, at the end of the round, the exhausts of the rocket will push a player into a pit located at the end of the route. A player from the winning team that manages to push an enemy into this pit will receive the Lift-offed achievement.

On Steel, if RED successfully defends point E until the end of the game, the rocket above the final point ignites and kills anyone underneath its exhaust.

Maps with Rocket exhaust paths


The grinder seen on Mannhattan.
Killicon skull.png

The Grinder is an environmental death that happens when a player gets sucked into a grinding machine. Players killed in this way will cause one of two loud sounds of flesh being crushed to play.

On Mannhattan, this death can also happen to Robots, which causes one of three unique death sounds of grinding metal to play. Additionally, the Manhattan grinder features an inconspicuous banana peel positioned near the machine; stepping on it causes a slipping sound effect and pushes players (and robots) directly into the grinder.

Maps with Grinders


The lasers seen on Asteroid.
Killicon skull.png

Lasers are an environmental death specific to Asteroid that move up and down along a designated path. Players who come into contact with them will let off visible "sparks" and are killed instantly.

These lasers are notably the only instant-kill hazards that can be safely touched while under the effects of an Übercharge.

Maps with Lasers

Non-instant death hazards

These environmental hazards do not kill players instantly, but can eventually cause death.


Torches and braziers at the BLU spawn point on Egypt.
Killicon skull.png

Environmental fire is different from Flamethrower fire or other fire damage produced by players, as it doesn't result in an afterburn effect. Instead, environmental fire slowly damages player's health only while the player stands directly in the hazardous zone.

Maps with environmental fires


Water corridors on Well.
Main article: Water
Killicon skull.png

Players under deep water (water which the player is completely submerged in) have a period of approximately 12 seconds before they begin to suffocate. Failure to rise above water will cause them to continually lose 5 health every second until they drown. Any health lost by suffocation will slowly regenerate at a rate of 10 health every 2 seconds as soon as a player reaches the surface. Going back underwater, however, will cease health regeneration until the player surfaces again.

Maps with deep water

Bosses/Event-specific Hazards

These environmental hazards are unique to Halloween event maps.

Pumpkin bombs

A Pumpkin bomb on Harvest Event.
Main article: Pumpkin bomb
Killicon pumpkin.png

Pumpkin bombs are special objects found only on Harvest Event, Eyeaduct, Mann Manor, Ghost Fort, Helltower, Carnival of Carnage, Hellstone, Gorge, Moonshine, and Sinshine during Halloween events (or on servers running those four particular maps). They are rigged with explosives and detonators visible on their exteriors from certain angles. Additionally, their detonators will occasionally glow.

Once a Pumpkin bomb receives any amount of damage from any source, or is hit by a projectile which would not normally damage anything (for example, the Rocket Jumper's projectiles and Mad Milk), it will trigger an explosion, dealing heavy damage to all players near it. This does not cause instant death; any class with enough health or who is under the effects of invincibility can use these bombs for an explosive jump.

Pumpkin bombs should not be confused with Halloween pumpkins. A simple way to tell them apart is that Pumpkin bombs do not move, whereas Halloween Pumpkins will rotate similar to Health packs or Ammo crates. Pumpkin Bombs will always spawn in the same spots, while Halloween Pumpkins will spawn when the player kills someone during a Halloween event.

Pumpkin bombs should also not be confused with Pumpkin MIRV, a magic spell used on Helltower.

Maps with pumpkin bombs

Horseless Headless Horsemann

Main article: Horseless Headless Horsemann
The Horseless Headless Horsemann.
Killicon horseless headless horsemann's headtaker.png

The Horseless Headless Horsemann is an enemy boss that appears in Mann Manor. As the undead form of Silas Mann, this character will rise out of the currently contested control point after a pre-determined amount of time, and proceed to hunt down and kill players on both teams. Due to his immense size and strength, the Horseless Headless Horsemann is capable of dealing heavy damage to any player or building that he strikes. He will continue his massacre until killed by a player (or players). All kills by the HHH count as environmental deaths and trigger the relevant achievements.

On Carnival of Carnage, the Horseless Headless Horsemann appears during the "Bumper Car Soccer" and "Falling Platforms" bumper car duels, wielding a gigantic blood-spattered Necro Smasher. While he can be killed as usual, he is unable to directly damage players, and can only knock players back with his swings in an attempt to send them into the map's pitfalls.

Maps that feature the Horseless Headless Horsemann


Main article: MONOCULUS
Killicon monoculus.png

MONOCULUS is a boss that appears in Eyeaduct, and takes the form of the RED Demoman's missing eye, haunted by the Bombinomicon. MONOCULUS will spawn out of the currently contested control point after a pre-determined amount of time, which also instantly kills any players unfortunate enough to be standing on the point at the time. MONOCULUS will then proceed to kill players on both teams using rocket-like eyeball projectiles, which are always critical hits and can kill any class (apart from the Soldier and the Heavy) with a direct hit. Such rockets can be reflected by a Pyro's compression blast. MONOCULUS will continue until it is killed or its time is up. Despite naming the killer as MONOCULUS, any death caused by MONOCULUS is classed as environmental.

The boss MONOCULUS should not be confused with "invokum monoculus", the magic spell.

Maps that feature MONOCULUS


Main article: Underworld
Killicon underworld.png

The Underworld is part of the Halloween-themed map, Eyeaduct, and is usually only reachable through portals that are created when MONOCULUS teleports or is killed. If the player gets close enough to the portal before it closes, they are restored to full health and transported to one end of a chain of small islands in the Underworld. Players on the islands suffer a health drain similar to bleeding, afterburn, or drowning, which continues as long as they remain there. The damage inflicted per second on each player increases over time, making it impossible for a player to stay in the Underworld indefinitely. Waters of the Underworld are also hazardous, and will kill instantly on contact with a player. The health drain, hazardous waters, and explosion all have the same kill icon.

Maps that feature the Underworld

Loot Island

Loot Island, while technically part of the Underworld, is slightly different in its hazards. While on Loot Island, players do not suffer the Underworld's constant damage effect, though they can still fall into the water. If players remain on Loot Island for too long, an explosion will engulf the island and instantly kill anyone caught in it.

Maps that feature Loot Island


Main article: Merasmus
Killicon merasmus.png
Killicon merasmus2.png
Killicon merasmus3.png
Killicon merasmus4.png
Killicon fire.png

Merasmus is a boss that appears in Ghost Fort; he is the former roommate of the RED Soldier on a vendetta since the Soldier ruined his home. Merasmus will spawn near the control point after a pre-determined amount of time, and proceed to kill players on both teams using a variety of spells and attacks. Merasmus will continue to rampage until he is defeated or his time runs out. Despite naming the killer as Merasmus, any death caused by Merasmus is classed as environmental.

Maps that feature Merasmus


Main article: Skeletons
The Skeleton King.
Killicon skeletons.png

Skeletons appear in Helltower. They are animated skeletons that can appear in varying circumstances. Green skeletons attack everyone and appear every second Witching Hour (stroke of 12 on the Helltower clock tower), while team-loyal ones can be summoned by Magic spells. They come in different sizes, from tiny ones, medium-sized skeletons which split into smaller ones when killed, to the huge and durable Skeleton King who is guaranteed to drop a rare magic spell upon death. Any death caused by neutral (green) Skeletons is classed as environmental.

Maps that feature Skeletons

Related achievements

Leaderboard class scout.png Scout

Fall Classic
Fall Classic
Cause an environmental death or suicide using the Force-A-Nature's knockback.

Foul Territory
Foul Territory
Cause an environmental death by stunning an enemy.

Leaderboard class demoman.png Demoman

He Who Celt It
He Who Celt It
Use the Sticky Launcher to kill an enemy player via environmental damage.

Leaderboard class medic.png Medic

Medical Intervention
Medical Intervention
Save a falling teammate from dying on impact.

Pumpkin.png Scarechievements

Attack o' Lantern
Attack o' Lantern
Cause the deaths of 5 players by exploding nearby pumpkin bombs.

Backpack Full Head Of Steam.png Foundry achievements

Terminated, Too
Terminated, Too
Kill a player by pushing them into the cauldron fire.

Doomsday icon.png Astro-chievements

Push a player into the rocket's exhaust path at the end of the round.

Halloween_achievements#2013:_Bereavements Bereavements

Helltower: Mine Games
Helltower: Mine Games
Perform 17 environmental kills in Hell

Halloween_achievements#2014:_Merasmachievements Merasmachievements

Carnival Of Carnage: Bumper Crop
Carnival Of Carnage: Bumper Crop
Kill 30 enemies by bumping their bumper cars off the tracks.

See also