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To the east of the fortress gate there is a cliff, dropping vertically to a small brook. To the west there is a cliff, rising to the gently rolling top of the wooded hill. My fortress is inside the hill, currently taking up about half of it by volume, and extends deeply through the metamorphic upper layers to the intrusive igneous layer beneath. I've struck native copper, gold, platinum, silver, as well as opals by the dozen; I once struck diamonds; the only thing I lack is magma. To the east, down in the river valley, there are tribes of snakemen and olm-men. I have no idea what an olm-man is except that they have a paralysing touch. I am a favoured trading partner of the humans; I get along acceptably with the elves. My population is about a hundred, although it fluctuates as I shall here relate.

As dwarves become better miners they leave more spoil behind when they mine. I have but two miners, but they are legendary heroes among their kind. They move through soil as fast as other, lesser dwarves walk. When it comes to rock - they don't so much tunnel through it as loosen it a bit in a way that allows passage. Every hallway they excavate has a bit of stone on every tile of floor. They are mystified when I ask them if they want the stone removing. I shrug and order all the stone left where it is. The lower levels of my fortress, and all new construction, resemble a spoil heap.

I build a barracks and draft an army. They are unhappy about it right up until I give them their masterwork axes, leather armour and shields. For want of anything better to do they train.

Gah! Training incurs nearly as many injuries as combat! I hereby name my barracks the Infirmary, due to the number of injured guards and soldiers that pretty much live there. The engravers will be along shortly to decorate it with relaxing pictures of slaughter, artifacts and cheese.

My dwarves are complaining about the poor quality water I am supplying them from the pond on top of the hill. I obligingly dig down to the brook, divert a little water inside my fortress, and build wells to bring it up to what I shall henceforth refer to as The Party Room. While the well is under construction, my thirsty dwarves take it upon themselves to run, run I say, downstairs and outdoors and to dive happily into the brook. There they frolic until the snakemen find them; I have to impose martial law to get them inside, and then build and lock several doors before they stop trying to go out to retrieve the corpses of their friends.

Winter comes; the brook freezes. My dwarves take advantage of the frozen moat downstairs to run, run I say, out to recover the valuable clothing from the bodies of the fallen. I deploy my army and take down the snakeman tribe with but a single casualty - my plate-mail clad sherriff wades into the three snakemen surrounding the fallen dwarf, hits one so hard he goes flying twenty yards into the cliff, cuts another one in half with a single blow, spins round and stabs the third one through the throat. Fortunately, the seriously injured dwarf dies on the way to the infirmary. The usual mad rush to recover snakeman bodies, dwarf bones and ratty equipment follows; I eventually admit defeat and order all dwarves back inside for winter. To add insult to injury, I take advantage of the frozen brook and use up some of my spare stone building a wall across it. The wall remains when the brook melts, suspended by cunning dwarven craftsmanship.

One of my dwarves becomes depressed at all the death and destruction and jumps down the well. Luckily his rotting corpse does not foul the water or cause a flood of dwarves to dive in trying to recover it. His bones will remain there long after this fortress is abandoned, I think.

I stud the eastern cliff face with catapults. The only thing they have ever hit is a giant toad, but the dwarves seem to like them and while away many a happy week throwing spare stone at the other side of the river valley.

My fortress grew to 50. My kickass sherriff, who once faced down three snakemen without a scratch, decides we need a town guard and becomes the Captain of the Guard. Three months later, I find my new fortress guards sitting around drinking beer and not doing any guarding. When pressed, they explain they have no Captain. I round on my Captain of the Guard; she explains that she hadn't thought to put herself forward for *membership* of the fortress guard despite founding the organisation. I examine her for brain injuries and find none.

My farms have reached a level of efficiency where I can feed 100 dwarves on the labour of about 10. My craftsdwarves are making stuff as fast as they can, most of it good only for trading with the humans for carp leather and kapok wood. My catapults are in permanent operation. And unemployment is still about 30%. Luckily, my dwarves have a taste for partying. The well room (The Party Room) is the site of almost-permanent revelry, as dwarves mill around admiring solid gold statues and carvings of dwarves beating the crap out of one another.

A young, up and coming metalsmith retires from society, drags wood and bronze and coal into the forge, and emerges sometime later wearing an artifact bronze ring. He then moves directly to the barracks, where the off-duty soldiers are sparring. As far as I can tell, what happens next is that he stands in the way of a mace blow which hits him so hard in the groin that he suffers a brain injury. He is carried the six feet to the infirmary, and there he remains. He has been ecstatic for a very long time now, possibly because he's in a coma. Injuries are colour coded for 'broken', 'flesh wound', 'deep wound', 'severed'. His brain is 'broken'. Update: His brain injury actually healed, after a year and a half in bed. He made a miracle recovery and is now crafting platinum statues for my deranged nobles.

A young dwarf assigned to the training battalion makes the mistake of wrestling with the Captain of the Guard. He is thrown across the room and lands on the above metalsmith, suffering a possibly crippling lower back injury. As he is already lying on a bed in the infirmary, they don't move him to another bed. The vegetative metalsmith doesn't seem to care that he's got a soldier lying on top of him, anyway.

My miners announce they have struck native aluminium. I give them a very funny look. I show it to my smelter, who is also bemused. Nobody knows what to do with this strange substance.

I assign a dude to Broker because I notice he has a nascent talent for appraising things. I set him to maximum accuracy and give him a one-square office consisting of a single chair nobody else was using. He starts keeping records obsessively, interrupting this sacred duty only to eat and sleep. Occasionally he falls asleep in his chair. Six months later, I find him again. He has become A BUREAUCRACY NINJA. He is the most agile dwarf that it's possible to be. He is superdwarvenly good at accounting. Apparently, appraising items gives lots of XP, and setting someone to do it constantly makes them into a ninja in about half a year.

The dwarves elect one of their number Mayor. Fine, says I. But it looks like this particular dwarf was unsuited to the job, because power goes to his head. He immediately turns round and demands a personal dining room, engraved walls in his quarters, an office and a large amount of furniture. Sigh.... *accedes to demands* Right. The Mayor then notices and becomes worried by the lack of a jail in the fortress. In fact - the Mayor becomes so worried by this that he commits a crime - assault on a fortress guard - just to make a point. He then orders himself clapped in irons for this crime, except, wait, there's no jail! Ha! You need one now, don't you! *sigh* Yes mayor, whatever you say. So the Mayor throws a screaming wobbly because nobody is punishing him for his crime and starts laying about himself with his fists, at which the Captain of the Guard knocks him over with the flat of his sword. This is the final insult for the dwarf's overweening ego, and he snaps and tries to kill everything around him. He is put down like a rabid dog and interred in the catacombs. This whole episode took about a month.

They elect a new Mayor. It's the bureaucracy-ninja. Wah! He's the hardest dwarf in the fortress, including the guard captain. If he goes insane for stupid reasons it'll take my whole army to cut him down. I assign a squad to guard his office, for his own 'safety'.

A Dungeon Master arrives and immediately builds a pure platinum statue in the metalwork shop. Apparently he's a dab hand, although not quite as good as our comatose legendary smith. I put it in his bedroom and he waxes lyrical about its completely sublime nature. And builds another.

A Hydra appears! It chases one of my fishermen in circles for a while before attempting to gain entry to the fortress. I lock the back door and it sits patiently outside it. I contemplate building a door the other side of it and leaving it to starve to death. Eventually it bashes down the door. A brave dwarf rushes forwards to try and get on with his woodcutting; the hydra bites the top of his head off and then leaps forward straight into a falling-block trap, which stuns it. My axedwarves charge the dazed hydra and savage it so viciously that when its body is butchered we find only one intact skull remaining.

Later that year, a Titan appears! It bats aside my fortifications and enters the back door. My somewhat enlarged, better trained, platemail clad army stands there in trepidation, the other side of a door. The Titan approaches my traps. *clang*. Silence. A foolish dwarf pokes his head around the door. The Titan set off the cage trap! I now have a Titan in a cage. I have no idea what to do with him. The dwarves won't put him in the caged-beasts stockpile and he's not available on the list of things my dungeon master can train. I plan to sell him to the elves.

I build a new dining room. It's six times the size of the old one and seats 50. I have the engravers cover it in carvings; most of them end up being carvings of food, or science fiction - "This wall bears a masterful engraving of a well-designed image of two suns by Ber Rastufod". There are 36 masterwork stone statues in this room. Even my unemployed dwarves are now ecstatic, except for the injured fortress guard who nobody likes and the peasant who has set his bed up in the middle of a public thoroughfare.

A brief aside about mining. The most efficient way to mine is in a pattern of long parallel shafts, with two spaces of rock between each shaft. This is how the first four levels of my mine look. The fifth and subsequent levels, I discovered that you can use a mouse for designating areas to be mined. They now look much more like mines, with a radiating pattern of interlocking tunnels that follow the mineral veins and sniff out gems. Alternatively, they look like a child's drawing of a spider. If the child was of the age to use a fat crayon grasped in a pudgy fist. It's *really hard* to draw parallel straight lines with a mouse.

I have struck diamonds! My craftsdwarves take it upon themselves to use them to adorn some of the fifty or so marble statues I have cluttering my masons' yard. This gives me an Idea; I begin working on a throne room for the inevitable arrival of the dwarven nobility proper. So far, this throne room is covered in masterwork engravings (mostly of violence and artifacts) and contains two diamond-encrusted masterwork stone statues, one statue of solid gold and one of solid platinum. The throne is gold, the desk in front of it is silver. Shame I have nothing better than wood to make a bed out of. All the furniture in that room will be gem encrusted or made of precious metals.

About 12 goblins turn up and give siege. That is, they start trooping up the road to the fortress. I deploy my battle-hardened plate mail clad army. Or, rather, I attempt to. The only dwarves who appear are the three youngest recruits, none of whom rate anything higher than leather armour. One of them barely knows one end of his crossbow from the other. They stand there grimly in the defensive dogleg structure. And wait. The goblins squabble for a while, then advance. Suddenly, it becomes clear they have entered the territory of the fortress' first line of defence - the cats! My bemused army watches as the fortress cats form up into a solid phalanx and charge down the road at the goblins, with predictably poor results. The goblins march on. Their leader leads from the front, and walks smack into a stone-fall trap I don't remember building. Splat: dead goblin. Their leader gone, their nerves in tatters from the relentless rain of cats, the goblins' nerve breaks and they flee. I give the order to give chase, but goblins run remarkably fast. Huzzah! My first siege is an unqualified victory. It even thinned out the cat population so I didn't have to.

Another 6 goblins spring from ambush! It turns out they were probably the most stupid goblins in the world ever; they sprang from ambush *inside a forest of traps*. I barely had time to sound the alarm by the time the ceiling had fallen on the three that had escaped the whirling blades of death. The cats are avenged!

Apparently it's possible to place stone-fall traps even in places without a ceiling. I'm imagining 'decorative' archways.

Update on the Titan. I have constructed a new room, the Taunting Room. It's well-engraved, like the rest of the rooms any dwarf of mine spends any time in. The Titan is now taking pride of place in the centre of this room, and the unemployed dwarves organise regular Taunt The Titan Parties.

I build mazelike fortifications to defend the fortress's upper entrance, complete with a crossfire of catapults (how can that possibly go right). My mechanic is now working constantly to create mechanisms, and all my dwarves are made happy by 'admiring a finely crafted Trap lately'.

I am invaded again! 15 or so goblins and six trolls lay siege. Well, I say 'lay siege'. I mean 'walk into my forest of traps'. The trolls, in a cunning pincer movement, force my front gate while the goblins go through my traps. I deploy my troops. The goblins don't even make it as far as the stairs into my fortress - mostly because of the suicide charge by peasants and haulers bent on recovering the valuable weapons off the first gobbos to die. I send out my army and take the goblins out. Meanwhile, it's one hammerdwarf and two marksdwarves versus six slightly stunned trolls. The hammerdwarf tanks; two trolls go down to crossbow bolts. The situation looks grim - and then my fortress guard arrive led by my kickass sherriff. The first troll takes an axe blow so hard it goes flying out of the fortress (a good 20 squares); the others are minced in a few short combat rounds. Meanwhile my army run the goblins down and cut their legs off.

My clothier withdraws from society. He claims the tailor's shop. In go silk and plant-fibre cloth, thread, dye, and STEEL BARS. After a week's work he has finished his masterpiece. A SOCK! A green plant-fibre sock, which menaces with SPIKES OF STEEL. I have the manager slap him upside the head and set him back on making silk clothing.

My baroness is now happily ensconced in the throne room. I plan another room for the next higher-ranking noble to arrive. It's twice the size of the old one (well, four times the area), and every other tile bears a masterwork engraving. Having already detailed every major work of the fortress, my engravers are running out of material - most of the pictures of dwarves are of dwarves creating masterwork engravings. There are fully sixty stone statues in this room, three of them covered in diamonds and garnets. I've just struck a bit more gold, so the furniture in here will all be 18-carat gold. I set my miners to finding some more gems - I will need gems to decorate the bed. Yesss.

The above fortress was going too smoothly. I shall hereby create another one. One with magma and hopefully iron ore too.

I've chosen a site with magma, probably iron ore, definitely an underground river, and a Super Secret Thing that I might find if I delve too deep. It has been dubbed Faircrystals. Strike the earth!

...Ye gods, how did my dwarves GET here? It's the top of a frickin' mountain. A goblin infested mountain. With lava tubes sticking out. And I practically have to *mine* the trees, I'm three z-levels above the treeline. There are camels. CAMELS. sigh. Let's get digging. ... oh, wait, they're goats not goblins.

My tree mine is functioning. I have installed stairs as a shortcut down the cliff. Hopefully my dwarves will be cured of their quixotic fascination with the outdoors very soon. I have sent a miner off in search of the river that lurks at the far end of the map. I hope he makes it.

So-oooo. Yes. Where to start. I found the river. Eventually. And I tried to get to it with a canal. And I STRUCK MAGMA. Luckily I hit the top of the pool and didn't fill my mine with magma. Unluckily I had to dig around it, and brick up that entrance in case there were fire beasties in the magma tube. Luckily I made the connection to the outside a bit more competently than the last time I tried this. Unluckily the canal was so bloody LONG that it's going to take literally years to fill. And my dwarves are complaining that there's not enough water in it to fill the bucket. ><

Then I went after magma to give my dwarves something to do. Oh, and a mine. Boy were those two decisions mistakes. The dwarf who tapped the magma pit for the channel was incinerated instantly. Two other dwarves have since become depressed and gone magma swimming - possibly aided by the ramps left over from when I built the channel. Also, my mine was accidentally one rather than two levels down from my magma channel. MY MINE IS NOW FULL OF MAGMA.

I will continue this fortress as long as it goes, but it is doomed. Doomed, I say.

Starvation and depression and magma took their toll. Abandoned.

New edition of Dwarf Fortress! Let's see what I can do this time.

Ooo, the new edition lets me choose my geography including magma channels. So, magma pipe and flux stone for me. I also get sand into the bargain. Strike the earth!

The place is named 'Burncities'. That's a good start. I'm on the side of a gently sloping mountain with a babbling brook and ravening wolf packs frolicking happily among the thick vegetation. AAAH! WOLVES! *digs furiously*

Now I am safe. My fortress is dug in stone and earth, and I am protected by a door and a simple trap. No wolf or kobold will get in here! I have built a deep cylindrical refuse pit, and eventually I'll wall it up sufficiently that it will stop smelling.

I've planned some above-ground fortifications, because my initial staircase had an insufficiently defended passageway leading to the rest of the fortress. Better get them built and roofed over before my dwarfs start complaining about the evil daystar. I hope stone roofs block rain.

I have plans involving a light-filled statue garden, but they will have to wait until I'm sure wolves won't fall in by mistake.

I have struck the following: magnetite, chalk, bituminous coal. I see steel in my future. I have also struck bauxite and native platinum (!). While dwarven technology is insufficiently advanced for electrolysis of molten bauxite, I think it will stretch to building heatproof items out of this stone. Now if only I could find the promised magma tube.

Highlights of this Loss:

The brook was quite some distance from the fortress. I dug a tunnel towards it and then led channels down several levels into a deep reservoir, into which my well would dip. I breached the wall of the brook and the water flowed merrily into the reservoir; for a season or two all was well. Then spring came. The brook, swollen with meltwater, flooded. Mostly into the access shaft I'd cut to let the dwarf who dug my water channel get in and out. A wall of water made its inexorable way down the shaft and into my break rooms and pond areas. And someone had accidentally dropped a stone in the doorway to my main stairwell from that level, wedging the door open. The first I really notice that something's wrong, is when my miners start coming to me and congratulating me on the nice, comforting mist that they are encountering as they mine. Investigation reveals a waterfall down the main stairs. The mine is flooding. But apparently dwarves *love* waterfalls, even as they are swept eight storeys down what was once the main access shaft and is now a waterslide.

Luckily, the water washed the stone out of the doorway. A lone dwarf wrestles the door shut and locks it against the water. I watch the well room with trepidation - it's only six levels down from the well to the bottom of the reservoir, and the water might come up - but luckily it stops about ten feet below the top of the well.

I strike warm stone. Knowing better than to go straight in to a magma tube, I retreat a good distance and build a vertical shaft up so I can find the top of the thing. What a mistake that was. The magma tube is mushroom-shaped. The miner just about has time to warn me that he was scared of the imps living in the lava, before it cascades down the staircase in an endless sticky flow and immolates him and his apprentice. I just manage to save the other miner from the magma by giving him a crash course on magma safety - Do not stand in the fire! Do not pick up items from the fire! Do not go near the fire! Do not enter the mine! - but the damage is done; my very extensive mine is filling up with magma. Ordering my metalsmiths into overdrive, I churn out enough steel bars for a solid, probably magma-proof bauxite and steel wall across the mine entrance. It quickly becomes red-hot due to the magma the other side, but it holds.

With two magma-filled mine levels, one water-filled mine level, a well that floods every spring and no defences to speak of, the fortress is given up on as a bad job.

So. Dwarf Fortress 2010, eh? Let's give this a shot.

I strike the earth with a bunch of medical supplies alongside my usual food and tools, restraining the urge to embark with a team of professional crutch walkers. Aside from that I have a fairly standard expedition: miners, a tree-hating carpenter with an axe and a calculating expression, an award-winning mason and engraver who once took a course on home brewing, a jeweler who claims to be able to cook, a manic fisherdwarf, and a funny-looking guy called Urist who's a dab hand with a filleting knife and does amazing things with scrimshaw. And two each of the dogs and cats which are so crucial to a happy fortress.

Praise Armok! The site's a paradise. We're right on the treeline, near a mountain stream complete with spectacular waterfall. The woods are haunted by the odd wild goat. We dig down and immediately strike a rich seam of coal; a little further and a massive deposit of magnetite. The carpenter runs screaming off into the woods with his battleaxe and comes back a little while later lugging the first of a score of wooden cots. "Where's the dormitory, then?" The miners look embarrassed: they've been distracted with their impromptu coal mine. A short flurry of activity later, the coal seam has been converted into a makeshift dormitory.

Move on a couple of seasons. Workshops have been established in a massive earthen cavern that I insisted on the excavation of to give the miners some time to get back into their profession, before I set them loose on valuable mineral seams. The hill has been honeycombed with small rooms, into which maybe 75% of the carpenter's beds are carefully installed. Doors will come later. The original entrance has been cursorily fortified, with a dog chained either side to deter thieves, and a trade depot installed. The refuse heap around the fortress entrance keeps growing and growing, fed by the cats that will one day keep my fortress clean of vermin but for now are contenting themselves with keeping the surrounding area clean of vermin. Did I mention this was a vermin-infested wilderness?

We have struck gems. The miners clean out a seam every time we get one. Opals, rubies, some of them starred, a plethora of precious and semiprecious stones. My jewelcrafter keeps up for a while, and then suddenly goes very quiet. He retreats into his workshop and walls himself off with some sedimentary stone, some of the leather we got from the traders and a crapload of gems; a month later, out he comes bearing a gem-encrusted cage. Its name, "The Good Library". Apparently he has learned new mastery within the hidden arts of gemcutting. He sets about the heaps of rough gems with a will. This shall be his task forever, by the looks of things; we're finding gems as fast as he can cut them.

Immigrants arrive and farming begins. I start the mammoth task of refining enough coal to start steelmaking, and the bars begin to stack up. By the dictates of dwarven fashion, paragraph 17 subsection 3, it is my aim to forge an axe and mail-coat for every dwarf in the fortress before I start on the furniture. Axe to population ratio: 0.05.

Urist, who's taken up engineering, comes to me with a proposal for a garden. I look askance. No, he explains, a *statue* garden. With an ingenious mechanical waterfall. I compare his plans to those in Appendix C of the Lay of Lost Fabled Axetwines and tell him they are far more likely to flood the fortress than provide him with the mist he so craves. But on the other hand, there is indeed a NATURAL waterfall RIGHT THERE. Can he work with nature rather than upon it? He looks at me as if I've entered a strange mood. But he redraws the plans. Let the gardening commence! Axe to population ratio: 0.1.

A staircase is bored down beside the waterfall, and the brook below the waterfall roofed over with jet blocks. Glass grates are placed, at significant personal hazard, to allow the water to continue to fall as before; pride of place is given to a beautifully carved marble statue of an eagle. The whole thing is open to the sky; proposals to have it decently roofed over apparently 'miss the point'. This is to be a healthful area for ablutions of the body and mind, open to the sky to allow healthful rains to pass within. Relaxing engravings of violence, politics, wildlife and history cover the walls. A well tower is built to allow the dwarves to partake of the unique health benefits of water that has been lifted more than twenty feet in a bucket. Immediately the place becomes the gathering point for the fortress's cats: far from hating this water, they seem to revel in it. Axe to population ratio: 0.15.

Surprise! Migrants! My citizens now number thirty-nine, and the axe to population ratio has plummeted! I draft ten of the unemployed into a part-time military; they can have the old dormitory as a dojo; they can use the axes when that lazy ass of a blacksmith stops complaining about the lack of fuel long enough to make some. The dwarf I've put in charge starts a near permanent litany of complaints: first he doesn't like the draft, then he doesn't like training for hours, then nobody will turn up to his training, then he doesn't like guard duty, then he doesn't like being relieved of guard duty. I daren't demote him or he'll go on an insane rampage. I assign him part of my corps of fanatically loyal war dogs; they will tear him apart if he so much as thinks of violence against the fortress' inhabitants. He works out his aggression by doing individual kata in the dojo. The others join him when off-duty. Soon the ten of them are doing nothing but training obsessively - one month they train because they're ordered to, one month they train because they like it, one month some of them stand guard while the others train. Ah well: at least I'll have a well trained military. Axe to population ratio: 0.15.

Further surprise! The miners' exploratory shaft breaks through into a massive, muddy, damp, mushroom-filled, fishman infested cave. Fishmen? The miner runs, screaming. Fishmen? The fishermen must have misheard; they advance towards these as yet unfished waters. I order a general mobilisation of the military to save the intrepid and stupid fishermen. There follows the closest I've seen to a pitched battle: the axedwarves charge in shoulder to shoulder, and they cut a swathe of death and destruction through the lightly armed and poorly skilled fishmen. No martial trances or heroism required here, just the methodical hewing of axes against fishman flesh, smashing of shields into fishman faces, bouncing of fishmen on their fishy heads and generalised destruction in the dark. We kill them and take their land: it's far superior down here, much more fun than the surface. No killed, four wounded. And the roots of Operation Moria are sown. Axe to population ratio: roughly 0.2.

A child is born! The code of dwarvish law clearly states that no fortress with a population of forty or greater shall assign equipment randomly to its warriors, instead relying upon 'some suitable noble or other person to apportion panoply according to experience and skill'. No matter that there is a rack of newly crafted and gleaming axes and a pile of glittering chainmail: until the quartermaster has signed off on it it ain't equipment. The quartermaster is furnished with a tiny office next to the stockpile, and a chitty is signed absolving him from any other work. Axe to population ratio: 0.2 exactly. Wait! Migrants! Curses. Axe to population ratio: hovering around 0.15.

A while onwards, and my population now numbers over sixty. Unemployment is under five per cent, military enrolment 20%. Axe to population ratio 0.3, thanks to some trading. I am attacked from beneath by A GIANT TOAD! It sends fisherdwarves scurrying in fear, before being cloven in twain by the axedwarves on guard. I build a statue in its honour and furnish the mayor's office with it. Then I read the axedwarves' report. It involves a lot of shield bashing, punching, kicking and biting. Biting? Where were their axes? Sheepishly they present axe-free hands. I check the axe stockpile: no axes. I check my records: fortress owns 20 axes, army numbers 15; all dwarves to carry one axe, steel, one jerkin, leather, one mail-coat, steel, one arming cap, leather, one helm, steel, one shield, leather or wooden. So why are these fine warriors axe-free? I round up the rest of the axedwarves.

Axedwarves: 15, in three squads of five. Axedwarves armoured: 15. Mail shirts worn by axedwarves: 15. Axedwarves wearing mail shirts: 10. Axes carried by axedwarves: 19. 19? Yes, there they are, all signed for. Axedwarves carrying axes: 10. Hmmm. *examine axedwarf* HOW many axes is he carrying? Four? And two shields. And three mail shirts. How many arms does he have? Two. Apparently he has four axes in his right hand and two shields in his left, and is somehow wearing three coats of mail over a leather jack. Sigh. Of course. Clang has come to my fortress.

The miners delve deeper. They have no real reason to beyond a desire for magma power: we have coal, precious metals, gems, and all the magnetite and haematite we can eat. They break into a vast dingy cobweb-filled labyrinth through the ceiling; having learned their lesson from the fishman incident, they bore their shaft down inside good solid rock, carve a decent guard-room, trap it to hell and back and carefully cut into the cavern from the side. With a squad of (armed) axedwarves at the ready. Waiting for us, a horrible, a ravening... elk-bird. It flutters past and there is an impromptu chase scene before somebody finally gets the thing by an ankle and knocks it on the head. There's good eating on elk-birds, but given the effort there's better eating on almost anything else. Axe to population ratio continues around 0.15. Must forge more axes. Must acquire magma forge: steelmaking on a coke-burning smelter consumes coke at a massive rate, and with only the one smelter it's painfully slow.

An apparently unskilled, layabout migrant who insists he's really a high master weaver builds a workshop down near the cobweb cavern and starts collecting cobwebs. We ignore him until he starts turning back up with bolts and bolts of spider silk cloth. The clothing industy can move from hessian to silk, much to the delight of the fortress's young waifs (who have up to this point been mostly clothed in what amounts to hessian sacks). Axe to population ratio falling: on inspection this is because the furnace operators must go further and further to gather coal and ore. I order some of the great washed (they would be the great unwashed, but their chosen congregating spot is underneath the waterfall) to haul ore up from the mines to make the round trip smaller.

We carry on down. The exploratory shaft is narrower now, so we can go faster. Down a thousand feet (1). Twelve hundred; we break into the ceiling of a gloomy underground forest full of strange red trees we cannot identify. That's a troll wandering past. We cut away the last ten feet of staircase and continue down inside a vast pillar. Fifteen hundred. The quest is taking its toll; the miners, though dedicated and motivated and happy, begin to complain of thirst. At seventeen hundred and fifty feet below ground level (2) the miners strike warm stone: at last! We excavate a large cave to serve as a buffer zone in case of unpredictable flow, and prepare to retreat upwards at the slightest sign of collapse; we then slowly, slowly excavate downwards. The third test pit breaks into the wall of a vast underground river of fire. Praise Armok! We carefully channel off the smallest amount of magma we can get away with, and preparations are underway to set up forges, smelters and a glass furnace.

It's currently a third of a mile straight down from the dormitories to the new forge (and nobody will use the old one now). The temporary option is to stockpile materials by the forges and live with the commute to and from work, leveraging the great unemployed masses to lug ore to the forge - I've found no deep deposits of iron ore or coke, though I can get flux from the limestone through which the underground river flows. The long-term options are twofold and at the moment I can't decide which is better. One: Project Moria. Move everything down to between the Underdark forest and the magma, farming in the Underdark forest, keeping an army permanently on guard there, and digging a vast spiral ramp to allow traders and their caravans into my fortress. Two: Project Prometheus. Leverage my water supply into a vast mechanical apparatus for pumping, link up a massive battery of bauxite pumps and pump magma up to the top of the hill. I may put it to a plebiscite.

I have chosen Project Moria.

ATTACK! A forgotten beast, some kind of giant gunge-breathing ten ton beetle, sweeps up from the Spidery Cave. General mobilisation leads to a confrontation. The beast charges my mayor, who dives to the side; it hits its head on the wall and is stunned. The mayor has removed two of its limbs by the time it gets up, and breathes a cloud of terrible ({forgotten beast extract}) all over the guardroom. The rest of the army get there in time to see it ow the mayor across the room, leaving his right hand and axe in its mouth; they fall upon it and it is destroyed utterly. The mayor receives treatment and surgery. The body is slowly lugged to a butcher's shop and dismembered.

ATTACK! A goblin army sweeps in from the overbright. I withdraw my dwarves to quarters and deploy the army; score 22 to 5 in my favour. Five dwarves lost, their pets left to join the fortress's crowds of stray animals, their axes passed to those that remain. Must forge better armour. On the plus side, the first to die is the dwarf who never stops complaining.

(1)Arbitrarily I decide a z-level is ten feet.

(2)Yes, my magma is on z-level -176, where my entrance is on level 0.

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