Why Can’t I Break Demon Altars in Terraria?

Terraria Demon Altar
A Demon Altar found underground

If you’ve come across a weird purple claw or spike thing that you can’t seem to mine or destroy while exploring in Terraria, there’s a good chance you’ve found what is called a Demon Altar.

Demon Altars are crafting stations found in Terraria worlds that begin with The Corruption, and share their many uses with Crimson Altars, counterparts found within worlds that begin with the Crimson.

Unlike most other items found within Terraria, you can’t actually mine, craft, pick up or place these altars, and they can actually do a lot of damage to you early in the game if you try.

So how exactly does one break one of these altars?

A Demon Altar or Crimson Altar can only be destroyed in a Terraria world that has entered Hardmode, using any Hardmode hammer with at least 80% hammer power, such as the Pwnhammer.

Terraria Demon Altar Pwnhammer pre-hardmode
Seriously, don’t try to break a Demon Altar Pre-Hardmode. I get the scars so you don’t have to.

As you can see, trying to break a Demon Altar or Crimson Altar in a world that has not unlocked Hardmode, even if your hammer would normally be up to the task, will inflict a lot of damage to you. Many sources suggest this to be half your health, but as you can see here, I only lost a little over 40%.

Still, not an experience I’m eager to repeat.

So why would you bother to track one of these Demon Altars down? What purpose do they serve? There are actually several answers to these questions, and their relevance actually comes up long before you would normally consider destroying one.

Where Can I Find a Demon Altar in Terraria?

Demon Altars can be found in or near naturally occurring chasms within The Corruption, a biome that can be easily identified by its distinct purple color and spooky music intro. They spawn randomly with the creation of your world, and you can neither create them nor interact with them in any way except by crafting near them or destroying them.

Terraria Crimson Altar
A Crimson Altar in the Crimson

If your world began with the Crimson instead, you’ll be looking for Crimson Altars, which appear as red crafting stations with eyeballs across the top. Both altars allow you to craft the same items, and frequently allow different recipes for biome-specific materials.

As with Demon Altars, you’ll be looking for naturally occurring chasms within the Crimson to explore. The Crimson’s biome is red (shocking, I know), and has a musical intro that is considerably more ominous than The Corruption to set the mood.

Demon Altars and Crimson Altars aren’t strictly limited to their special biomes though – if you explore the Underground layer of your world, you will periodically stumble across whichever altar your world is capable of spawning there as well.

Can You Break a Demon Altar or Crimson Altar?

Absolutely! Demon Altars and Crimson Altars can be destroyed under the following conditions:

  • The Wall of Flesh has been defeated in your Terraria world, unlocking Hardmode
  • A Pwnhammer or another Hardmode hammer with at least 80% hammer power is used

Fortunately, the Pwnhammer is always dropped after you defeat a Wall of Flesh, so acquiring a tool capable of destroying Demon Altars and Crimson Altars is a very seamless process. This also means that if you bring a character with Hardmode gear into a new Terraria world, you won’t be allowed to break an altar until you defeat the Wall of Flesh.

This raises another question though – why would you want to destroy these crafting stations?

The short answer? To get access to Hardmode’s ores. The first altar you destroy will generate Cobalt or Palladium Ore throughout your world, the second will generate Mythril or Orichalcum, and the third will generate Adamantite or Titanium.

Each altar you destroy after the 3rd repeats the type of ore it creates in a cycle, but you only get 1/2 as much for the second set of 3 altars you destroy, 1/3 as much as the original altars created for the 3rd set, and so on.

These ores will be essential for helping you craft weapons, armor, and tools that are better suited for dealing with the massive difficulty spike Hardmode brings to your world.

Cobalt and Palladium will be the most common among these ores, Mythril and Orichalcum are a little rarer, and Adamantite and Titanium are quite rare, often requiring you to dig almost all the way to the Underworld to find sizable deposits.

It’s also worth noting that there are differences in the gear each type of ore is crafted into. In terms of statistics, these differences are relatively subtle, but some abilities, like armor set bonuses, can be very different. This doesn’t matter a lot as you outgrow these tiers of gear, but will impact your experience during the early hours of Hardmode.

In addition to generating new ore in your world, a destroyed Demon Altar or Crimson Altar will spawn 1-2 Wraith enemies, and there is a 2/3 chance that a random Stone Block in the Cavern layer of your Terraria world will be changed into an Ebonstone Block (Corruption worlds), a Crimstone block (Crimson worlds) or a Pearlstone block.

These blocks will quickly spread Corruption, Crimson, or Hallow to their new locations, making them considerably more dangerous to explore than their original counterparts. For those looking to keep the spread of these biomes under control, consider picking up a Clentaminator from the Steampunker NPC before you start smashing altars.

You should also think about how many altars you want to destroy. Demon Altars and Crimson Altars are still going to be very relevant crafting stations in Hardmode, so you’ll want to keep at least one near your primary base of operations, and possibly others throughout the world so you have convenient access when the need arises.

I usually don’t destroy more than 9-12 in my worlds, as the diminishing returns make destroying more a lot less worthwhile. This may mean I have to do a little digging to find obscurely hidden altars that are further from my base, but the tradeoff of being able to quickly craft a Night’s Edge, Void Bag, or Hallowed gear is very worthwhile when it comes up.

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