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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Smells Like Dwarf Fortress, Part Eight: Sanity on Hiatus

After Christmas and a horrible, unending head-cold, I’m back! Happy New Years – and what an arbitrary date it is! Wasn’t the solstice a week ago? Why is New Years now? Why not February 1st instead – what’s so special about January that s/he gets all the attention? Doesn’t anyone love August? But I digress. Welcome back to Smells Like Dwarf Fortress: Tantrum Spiral edition!

Early Winter, in the Year of the Forks 406

Progress on the shrine has halted thanks to Ishashstumäm, that ferocious Yeti that stalks the glaciers. With Jeremy Banks – friend to all – now suffocating on his own throat, I need to make sure there are plenty of happy thoughts to go around. Statues and engravings are commissioned for meeting halls and bedrooms. With any luck, I can –

Bob Normoyle has gone stark raving mad!

Oh.

That’s not good.

Anatomy of a Tantrum Spiral:

Bob punches Sam Cote before streaking down the halls, doffing his clothing and screaming gibberish.

Sam trashes a magma forge. It deconstructs right out from under Adrian King, who falls into the magma and… drowns? In magma? Smells like Dwarf Fortress.

Death Count: 23

Adrian’s husband Andrew Osborne goes berserk and kills a Peacock, the pet of Tuvorn.

Turvorn gets a strong unhappy thought, as do all the friends of Adrian King. For a moment, I think this is it. Then another ambush catches Bob Normoyle and Oleander out in the open. It couldn’t come at a better time.

Death Count: 25

From here, its ass-over-tits. While the military easily slaughters the Goblin ambushers, Ishashstumäm decides this would be a good time to wander down from the cliffs of the Scintillating Ash and ruin my day, killing an un-dorfed Dwarf.

Death Count: 26

Man, these Dwarves die fast. Good thing I’m pumping out so many useless copper goods, weapons and armours (as training for my metalworkers and smiths) – migrants tend to come in huge waves every time. Otherwise, Zaskidet would be a ghost-fort.

The spiral continues as more Dwarves go berserk. In the end, I sport a Death Count of 32.

Thirty. Two. Thirty-two dead Dwarves in two years. More than half of the Dwarves that have come to Zaskidet are dead, and my makeshift hospital is overflowing with wounded Dwarves. Most of them seem okay, but Jimmy Breau has proven to be a monumentally horrid choice of Chief Medical Dwarf – he keeps misdiagnosing minor flesh wounds. He’s probably amputated a few healthy limbs by now.

I re-dorf those I can, but I’m falling behind thanks to the sudden upswell of Dwarven deaths. Immediately, Bob Normoyle II is possessed. He’ll make a fancy artefact from his mood, but no boost to legendary in any skills. Stupid possession.

Almost simultaneously, the game informs me that I have discovered a magma pool. Zooming in on this pool takes me to an empty part of the second cavern layer. Hmmm… investigation ahoy!

In the meantime, Blllllizard Men! Two of them – plus Ishashstumäm, wandering about. Austin, following his macabre pattern, dislodges one of the Blizzard heads. The severed part sails off in an arc. The other Blizzard Man is soundly defeated moments later, while ferocious Ishashstumäm remains, still wandering the glaciers. He’s preventing work on the Shrine even now.

Bob snaps out of his mood, the possessing spirit leaving his body, it’s mysterious, unknowable mission complete; to create a completely worthless alunite bracelet called Shakethfullut the Torrid Rabble. Let’s take a look at it, shall we?

Holy crap, this spirit really likes alunite!

This is an alunite bracelet. All craftsdwarfship is of the highest quality. It is encrusted with alunite, decorated with two-humped camel leather (glad to see that getting some use!) and encircled with bands of alunite. It menaces with spikes of alunite.

On the item is an image of Thotil Elderchant the human and giant eagles in alunite. Thotil Elderchant is surrounded by the eagles. The image relates to the taming of the Giant Eagles of the Axe of Labours by the human Thotil Elderchant in the year 219 during the Journey of Thotil Elderchant.

On the item is an image of Shakethfullut the Torrid Rabble the alunite bracelet in alunite.

On the item is an image of Shakethfullut the Torrid Rabble the alunite bracelet in alunite.

That is not a typo. On Shakethfullut the Torrid Rabble is an image of Shakethfullut the Torrid Rabble. TWICE. IN ALUNITE.

Why so much alunite?

Actually, the Journey of Thotil Elderchant – particularly the Taming of the Eagles – is a common theme among the Cult of Forks. He’s engraved in the walls repeatedly, and Robyn’s best statues are of the event. I should check him out in the Legends screen sometime.

Here is the floor of the Shrine, finally laid after so very long. Soon, the Shrine will be built atop this gold-and-silver floor.

I need a name for the Shrine. I’ll be taking suggestions in the comments below.

The smiths and craftsdwarves: Foundations of Zaskidet Industry!

Food production and alcohol distilling: Keep Those Bellies Full!

The Pit and its walls: Keeping the Enemies of the Cult at bay!

The start of the Shrineroad, carved into the glacial ice and the stone of the Scintillating Ash: Praise Be to God!

The farms and the first cavern layer: The Hoary Depths of the Earth!

Wait, what’s that near Andrew Osborne? A… Hungry Head? I don’t know what that is, but GET IT AWAY FROM ME! I send the Inky Hatchets and Feral Walls at the vile creature.

It goes down like a bitch (however bitches go down – I’ve never been particularly clear on that one). If only Ishashstumäm would follow suit. Still, my tiny, injured army can do little against the mighty Yeti.

Another ambush comes along, but does little more than kill a few pets. With the recent tantrum spiral though, the fort may just tip over once again thanks to the wanton slaughter of all these Ewe’s and Cavy pups. HOW DARE THESE GOBLINS MOLEST MY CAVY PUPS!

To close out the year, the forts very first party is organized, by none other than Bromgev Foley herself. Happy New Year, you inebriated louts!

Oh wait, parties mean a dozen idle dwarves stuck in a room for entire seasons, doing nothing of any worth.

Progress is slow.

Next Time: Year Three!
 
 

Smells Like Dwarf Fortress, Part Seven: Zaskidet Under Siegeish

Autumn, in the Year of the Forks 406

The fortress faces its first goblin ambush.

After Ice Men, Yeti and Forgotten Beasts, this almost feels anti-climactic.

The invading goblins seem inordinately interested in my Yak herd. So much so that Austin Jones, Justin Currie (the fourth!) and Jeremy Banks close to sword range against the Goblin Crossbowmen. An easy rout. Austin proceeds to thoroughly wreck their shit, killing every single Goblin. He has earned two infinitely perplexing nicknames: Clawarmour and… The Crab of Fissures.

‘Kay.

I can’t seem to take any more screenshots of Dwarf Fortress itself, so I can’t show you the blood and body parts strewn about. They are everywhere. Dwarf bits. Yeti bits. Blizzard Man bits. And now Goblin bits.

A lot of goblin bits. I think every single goblin ended up in at least three pieces. Damn it Austin!

Though I may have fixed the alcohol shortage, I am still without liquid water. And injured Dwarves need water.  I send the Feral Walls to explore the caverns, hoping to find at least a puddle of some kind.

Work on the shrine has begun – sort of.

The observant reader might notice the Yeti that has so rudely interrupted work on the Shrineroad - a bridge and walkway made of solid gold, dangling over the pit of the Scintillating Ash. Looking at it in Stonesense, I realize it looks absolutely odd without some kind of pillared support. It just kind of... floats there. Fixing that is, I suppose, the next step.

Death Count: 19 (More nameless Dwarven workers fall to a Yeti)

Everywhere I turn there are more Yeti, more Ice Wolves, and more Blizzard Men. Dread Ishashstumäm – as the Cult now calls him – wreaks havoc on the building of the Shrine. Why God punishes us for our works, I cannot say. Perhaps more gold is needed to slake His violent jealousy. I shall build the Shrine entire of finest gold! No expense shall be spared!

Nor, it seems, shall we. Ishashstumäm continues his rampage across the high-topped mountains and glaciers around Zaskidet, killing animals and terrifying more Dwarves. The Feral Walls keep their distance – Ishashstumäm seems more fearsome than any faced thus far, and the Feral Walls are exhausted, injured, and hungry. They keep their vigil, attempting to draw the ferocious beast closer to the walls, where the Inky Hatchets – Moses and Jeff Copp – can pelt him with fine iron bolts from their Yak-bone crossbows.

Death Count: 20 (Nelson Lovestrom, torn to pieces by Ishashstumäm )

Fuck. Everything.

Austin Jones is made the leader of the Feral Walls – he and Bromgev Foley are the only two of the original seven remaining. Everyone else has died (at least once!).

Death Count: 21

I honestly don’t know what happened. I got a ‘Tirist Abdoreg has been struck down’ warning. Zooming in on the issue, he is… In his bed. Alone. Rotting. And no one seems to be in any hurry to bury him in one of the many coffins I’ve placed – seeing as there’s been so much death in Zaskidet. Only Tirist’s pet dog seems to love him; it hangs around in his room, soaking in the miasma his body exudes.

Awkward.

Ishashstumäm has taken a terrible toll on the Feral Walls, so I order the retreat. They need medical attention immediately! As Robyn Cross is now quite the skilled mason and stoneworker – but still absolutely unskilled in the medical arts – I set her to work carving statues and wall engravings. Since not one single Dwarf has one single medical skill, I guess I’ll foist the job on some unskilled rube, rather than waste the time and talents of my only worthwhile mason. Who should I choose?

Jimmy Breau! This feels like sound judgement! He promptly gets to work misdiagnosing injuries and suturing wounds that don’t exist.

Please stop being crazy.

In the meantime, I prepare to up the death count once again, but Justin Currie IV fares better than his predecessors and escapes the infinite wrath of Ishashstumäm by falling ass-over-tits down the mountainside. He survives though, the hardy bugger.

The second cavern layer has been breached!

There are underground trees here! With luck and caution, we might be able to start a logging industry and build some damn beds! The fortress has survived on only four of them this entire time. For forty Dwarves. I hope you like snuggling together!

Meanwhile, Jimmy Breau remains a faildoctor, and the Feral Walls remain inside the fort. Ishashstumäm continues to slaughter, not discriminating  between the tame animals of the fort and the wild camels that so infest our glacier. He seems enraged, endlessly howling as he kills and kills.

And Tirist rots and rots. I can’t bury him, I can’t even engrave a memorial for him. Smells like Dwarf Fortress!

Bugbats swarm up out of the depths of the cavern, but they don’t seem hostile. I keep my eye on the tiny buggers anyway, just in case. At least they aren’t Elves.

Snowstorm after snowstorm buffets the fortress as we head into winter. They almost seem expected now, blasé. I do so miss the sun.

While my attention was in the caverns, Ishashstumäm got hold of Jeremy Banks and brutalized the poor off-duty military Dwarf, leaving him a heaping pile of bloody flesh in the snow. The Yeti is driven off by the Inky Hatchets and their expert marksdwarfship, but I doubt Jeremy will survive the season. I visit the poor Dwarf in the hospital – which has recently seen something like a renovation. His head jerks about, gazing blindly at the walls, at passing Dwarves, at any sound that echoes in the rough-carved room.

Ishashstumäm took his eyes. And his left arm. And his right hand. And his left foot. And his upper lip. And his spine.

That last one seems pretty important.

Don’t think this absolves Jeremy of his duties as member of the Feral Walls. There are only forty of us to weather this unending, haunted place. No Dwarf may slack! Bromgev Foley stands over the bed of our butchered friend and says a quick prayer, splashing holy alcohol on his bleeding, tattered body. God will see him safe – in this world or the next. May he imbibe many barrels of ale in the hereafter, and bed many bearded women.

Slowly, day by day, Jeremy loses his breath. His lungs fill with fluid, his breaths come shorter and shorter. He was loved by many, the most social Dwarf of the Cult of Forks. I checked the relationships of my Dwarves, and Jeremy was friends of every single Dwarf in the fort. If he dies, his death may be the tipping point for a tantrum spiral – the Dwarves of the Cult in Zaskidet are… unhappy.

Memorial slabs are commissioned for the dead. Though they rest safe and free of worry in their fine coffins deep in the mines, I feel this does not sufficiently immortalize the actions of my bravest of Dwarves.

The Hall of the Fallen - soon to be adorned with memorials, statues and engravings. In the upper left, you can see the locked door leading to the caverns and the lever used to work the gate.

In the meantime, another caravan!

In the meantime, another ambush!

The combined forces of the Feral Walls, Inky Hatchets, and friendly Dwarves easily shatters the Goblin force, strewing even MORE Gobbo bits all over the glacier. It is serious gorefest on the surface.

Death Count: 22

Jeremy Banks has suffocated.

Progress is slow.

Next time: Tantrum spiral? Tantrum spiral.
 
 

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Smells Like Dwarf Fortress, Part Six: Oh shit!

Summer, in the Year of the Forks 406

And a Yeti!

Fuck. Everything.

 Then Jimmy Breau, his mind overtaken by the obscene circumstances – this monstrous siege of Zaskidet – snaps, falling into a Fey mood. He has been possessed by creatures beyond the veil!

I told you this place was haunted. I told you all. But would anyone listen? Nope. And now we’re besieged not only from the glaciers above and caverns below, but from within our very halls by the spirit-fog that never relents in this evil place! Jimmy takes a Craftsdwarfs Workshop, then runs into the rotten pile of bones and half-corpses that makes up our refuge pile, digging up a Yak bone. He then begins his profane work in mysterious secrecy.

If he is truly possessed by the fog of Zaskidet, he may need to be exorcized, culled from the halls of the fortress for the safety of all. So the Bromgev has declared – so it shall be.

In the meantime, let’s check in on EDI, our friendly neighbourhood Forgotten Beast.

Oh.

So that's Edi. In my fortress. He has Bulding Destroyer, just like the Yeti.

Speaking of the Yeti, let’s see what it’s up to.

Oh.

Here he is, wrecking my front gate.

And here's Moses, directly above, failing to crossbow the Yeti as there is a floor between the two. Balls.

Meanwhile, in the mines below:

Dwarven screams echo through the mines of Zaskidet, followed by the limbs of shorn bodies. Arms, legs, and more than a few fingers and toes litter the dark – and now damp – deep tunnels. Edi  Apufi Cavemi – Edi the Jackal of Servants – tears into the brave, undertrained militia of Crystaltalons, Nelson Lovestrom taking the worst of the assault. Still, he stands firm, piercing his iron pick again and again into the flesh of the twisted creature of the deeps. Not even the crashing of the gates above disturb the vicious  melee. Not even the rage of a Yeti ransacking the fortress proper will end this fight to the death. Screaming aspersion and hate, the Dwarves of the Feral Walls hack and tear into the ancient foe.

Nelson loses his pick in the stiff flesh of the monstrous beast, leaving him unarmed – adding his name to the growing number of Dwarves known to bite their foe in the heat of battle.

The combination of piercing iron picks and heavy silver warhammers quickly cripples the Forgotten Beast, but not before a young Dwarf is pierced through the heart and killed outright.

Death Count: 14 (an un-dorfed Dwarf)

Andrew Osborne, in a display of insane bravery, decides the industry of the fortress is more important that some quaint Forgotten Beast; so much so that Andrew figured stone-hauling was worth the risk of death.

It went very well for him.

Death Count: 15 (Andrew Osborne II)

Am I having !!FUN!! yet?

Yes.

Nelson maintains an unbreakable grip on the Forgotten Beasts… *ahem* … lower body. He remains our most prolific killer – seventeen Wolf kills, plus Failburials. But it is Austin Jones who slays the fearsome Edi  Apufi Cavemi. He’s come a long way since fleeing a goat barely over a year ago. He also has ten other kills.

Poor Justin Currie has only one Wolf kill. It’s time to earn your keep, Justin, or you’ll be left behind!

Jimmy Breau has created Inirmerseth, a Yak Bone Helmet. All Craftsdwarfship is of the highest quality. This object menaces with spikes of Yak bone.

Thanks for the help Jimmy.

Now for that Yeti…

Death Count: 16 (Justin Currie III)

He didn’t even make it to the Yeti before dying of blood loss. Maybe I should pay more attention to my Dwarves needs.

Nah. CHARGE!

Nelson strikes the Yeti down with the aid of Austin Jones and Moses, who, after the Feral Walls drew the Yeti away from the walls of the fortress, managed to land a few bolts in the Yeti’s chest.

Then a Blizzard Man comes along. How quaint. It falls easily to the properly armed Feral Walls, Austin removing its head. WITH HIS WARHAMMER. Damn, Austin, you sure do like removing heads with weapons that shouldn’t remove heads! Ever!

What a mess to clean up…

Speaking of messes, both Austin and Nelson seem to be bleeding everywhere, which is unsightly and an inconvenience to the workings of the fortress. I tell them to stop, but they don’t listen. Instead, they collapse into unconsciousness, the silly Dwarves.

Robyn, my newly-appointed Chief Medical Dwarf – the last one died somewhere along the line – tells me they should receive medical attention, but why would I listen to her? She isn’t trained in the medical sciences any more than I am! In fact, she has no relevant skills whatsoever. Her opinion is promptly ignored.

Sadly, my impromptu hospital from before is still functioning, and the lazy Dwarves decide bleeding in a hospital bed is superior to bleeding in the halls. They track smears and pools of their blood all through the halls to get into those beds

Damn there’s a lot of blood. Shouldn’t that be on the inside? Lazy Dwarves can’t even keep their life on the inside. Yes, they are the Feral Walls, Heroes and Protectors of the Fort – this only makes their failures all the more glaring. Should heroes not be held to a higher standard than the peons of the Cult?

I am adding Jeremy Banks to the Feral Walls – he seems to have at least some training in the use of armour. He can pick the rest up as he goes.

Get it? Pick? Because the Feral Walls uses picks as weapons.

I’m kidding. He’s getting a sword.

More migrants! Seriously people, I need more Dorf names. If you want any name – it doesn’t even have to be your name – leave a comment below. You can even have more than one!

Still no medical dwarf. Looks like Robyn is going to start diagnosing those injured warriors. This can only end well.

In other news, now is the time to begin our first project: the shrine to God atop the Scintillating Ash. First step, digging a stairway into the core of the mountain. Yeti and Blizzard Men abound.

Progress is slow.

Next time: Building a Stairway to Heaven!
 
 

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Smells Like Dwarf Fortress, Part Five: Out of the Ass Pit, Into a Blizzard

Happy New Year!

Spring, in the Year of the Forks 406

Holy crap, migrants! A lot of them. Twenty of them. I suppose word of the hell-hole that is Zaskidet has escaped to the world at large. And Dwarves are anything if not masochistic, as everyone knows. Or maybe these are just too damn sober for clear thought, and decided the barren north would make an excellent summer home. Either way, I lock them out of the fortress; I can barely produce enough booze for my current population. Adding twenty to that number will cripple the fort.

Or I would lock them out, had  the Yeti not destroyed my gates. Migrants come spilling in. Crap.

Not all is lost, however. Among the migrants is a Dwarf named Mosus (now Moses), a hunter and marksdwarf. We have the beginnings of a real military!

That said, this migrant wave brought an inordinate number of animals. Grazing animals. Where on a glacier/desert they are going to find grazing pastures, I have no idea. I have ordered the slaughter of all that are not pets, but this still leaves me with an abundance of animals to feed.

The Walls of Zaskidet, finally raised and repaired. Not very high, nor very foreboding, but walls nonetheless. Lets see those pesky Wolves face the might of Crystaltalons now!

Another caravan! We rush out to see what wares these new friends bring, but our souls sink at the sight of them.

Elves.

Filthy, blasphemous, hippy Elves.

We steal everything they have – even the stuff we don’t want. They get al huffy and leave. Good riddance, and never return you foetid flotsam, you worthless stool-water scars of hells own asshole! LEAVE!!

Ahem.

A Blizzard Man wanders into the recently expanded pastures. Animals now graze over everything that isn’t ice – not much, considering the location. Sparse grasses poke up between waves of black sand. Perhaps I should let the Blizzard Man thin the herds of Yak and Oxen the migrants brought with them. Sadly, these are all the beloved pets of some Dwarf of another, and letting them die would surely tip the balance of this hungry, thirsting, angry population into !!FUN!! and tantrum spirals.

So out go the Feral Walls, as well as my newly-anointed Inky Hatches, consisting solely of Moses the Marksdwarf. Time to see how well they work together. Before they arrive, however, one of the Yak calves suffocates to death, its throat having been ripped out by the Blizzard Man’s claws. VENGEANCE SHALL BE WROUGHT!

Just as soon as Moses stops shooting Nelson in the back.

Austin Jones and Justin Currie, armed now with picks of iron instead of copper, easily reduce the Blizzard Man to chunks of ice. I was going to give them proper weapons, but they are my miners, and this way they a) already have training and b) are always armed.

This also means they do their mining in full armour. Smells Like Dwarf Fortress.

Fun side note: both Justin and Austin punched the Blizzard Man more than they struck it with picks, until eventually Austin Jones PUNCHED THE BLIZZARD MAN’S HEAD OFF. They are so used to being unarmed, they are legendary wrestlers, capable of deconstructing an elemental made of BLIZZARD with their bare hands. The picks still do better, however, and they will be deadly once truly trained. Still; PUNCHED HIS HEAD OFF.

Nelson is lying in my hospital while Robyn Cross removes the lodged copper bolt and sutures the wound. Nothing serious, but absolutely hilarious. Silly Moses.

Summer, in the Year of the Forks 406

THE FORGOTTEN BEAST EDI APUFI CAVEMI HAS COME! A towering feathered chameleon. It has a knobby shell and a bloated body. Its gold feathers are long and sparse. Beware its web!

Oh shit.

Stonesense can't even tell what the name is supposed to be. So great is the terror exuded by the Forgotten Beast that it glitches computers!

Progress is slow.

Next time: Oh shit!
 
 

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Smells Like Dwarf Fortress, Part Four: Mr Jefferson, Build up that Wall!

Late Winter, in the Year of the Forks 405

A pale blue fog drifts through the rough halls of Zaskidet, slipping into every corner and crack. The gibbering screams of an insane Dwarf echoes through the corridors and deserted rooms, the howling of great, slavering beasts above and below harmonizing to strike a chord of madness. The Pit, entrance to the once-hopeful fortress of Crystaltalons is blocked, walled by hasty constructions. Huddled in the cold, the last survivors of the Cult of Forks surround their life-giving Bromgev. Never again shall they doubt.

Never again shall they sin.

They have been tested by God. Those found wanting met their end by savage claw or maddening thirst. The Holy Still churns Dwarven Ale, distributing its life-saving spirits to the weeping survivors. Still cold, still hungry, now they have hope. God-of-Forks has tested them, and they have lived.

The False Prophet – the child Calvin Thompson – did not. The Yeti slew the young Dwarf, and Calvin’s screams were heard throughout the fortress. Some weak hearts were saddened by the death of the child, but most were overjoyed. No longer would they hear the blasphemies of this maybe-prophet.

Death Count: 13

Work began in the smelters and forges. Samantha Cote, Zaskidet’s undertrained metalworker, forged arms and armour from iron. What remained of the Feral Walls – Nelson Lovestrom and Austin Jones – were geared in true weapons. No more picks and fists, but swords. Bruised, bloody and broken, they took Cote’s fresh-forged weapons, donned her fresh-forged armour. No more would Zaskidet fear the Yeti, or the Spider. The Scintillating Ash would be cleansed by the wrath of God.

Suddenly, the wails above went silent – the Yeti, ending its infernal rage. The Dwarves of Zaskidet dared a peek above the Pit.

A caravan of Dwarven traders! What fools – what lovely, blasted, welcome fools – came this far north to make trade with a poor outpost? God truly smiled on the Dwarves of the Cult. The blocking wall was torn from its foundations and cast aside, and the last of the Cult stepped forward into the light. Some covered their eyes. Others, so unused to fresh air and wind, curled into balls, vomiting their last meal, weeping at their freedom. The foreign van looked upon thirteen emaciated, sickly dwarves, bloodied and bruised all, and whispered to each other.

What is this place?

They knew not the glories they passed – had not the words to express what they saw. Zaskidet sat outside the circle of the known. What happened in the fortress of Crystaltalons was not to be understood by those who did not share in the experience. It could not be known. The Cult’s suffering was endless, beyond comprehension. It transcended family bonds the way only plague and famine can – in the way of battered souls holding one another for comfort. They would never again be of the world about them. They forever stood apart.

In silence they watched the caravaners approached. Finally, the Bromgev approached them, bid them empty their wagons and spread their wares. The Cult had little to trade but the clothes of the dead, and what few gems had been smoothed by Justin Currie before his death. Hopefully, it would be enough.

Negotiations commenced. The visitors were immediately frowning as piles of clothes were thrown at their feet, stinking, torn and bloodied. Of the many hundreds of articles of clothing so unceremoniously dumped, a few caught the eye. A bauble here, a silken shirt there. Then the gems were brought forth, and these sparked real interest. A few copper weapons, made to train Blacksmith Cote in her metalworking, fetched fair prices.  Barrels were bought, along with every log these Dwarves brought with them. Zaskidet shall suffer no more.

As Lara Foley and the Dwarven merchant speak, a great howl rose on the wind. The Yeti returned to wreak its terrible wrath on the Dwarves. The merchant guards, alongside Nelson and Austin, charged the beast. Though armed now with hammers and swords and decked in iron armour, the Feral Walls were quickly shown what true warriors could do – the Hammerdwarves of Kulet Am lay the beast low. The terror it eked into the hearts of the Cult at last can be staunched.

Austin, however, did manage one amazing feat. Before the Yeti died, it knocked the poor Dwarf from his feet. Austin, his grip already impaired due to earlier injury, lost hold of his sword. But the Dwarves of Zaskidet are hard, even if they are untrained. And Austin had been with the Cult since its beginning; he would not back down. Not after the horrors of the past month. Blind with his inestimable hate, he leapt to his feet and tore into the beast with his teeth, piercing skin and even snapping the bones of the Yeti’s left hand.

To close out the year, another herd of camel wandered between the glaciers of the Scintillating Ash. The Dwarves of the Cult looked over these strange animals with undisguised hunger, tired of meal after meal of wolf meat.

And finally, finally, the weather cleared. The seven-month blizzard came to an end.

Progress is slow.

Next time: The new year!
 
 

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Smells Like Dwarf Fortress, Part Three: Winter is Coming

Skipping ahead now…

Mid Autumn, in the Year of the Forks 405

The snow has yet to stop. For nearly six months straight, nothing but blizzard after blizzard. Another Blizzard Man comes. Dent, dent, dent, dent, dent, dent dent dent dent dent dent.

I think the fog is creeping into my mind.

Speaking of fog; what should come shambling down from the heights of the Scintillating Ash and it’s glaciers? A yeti!

Yay.

Though many take the Yeti to be violent, demented beasts, some have been tamed (with great difficulty) and even integrated into Dwarven society. This can be attributed to their joyful and cheery nature; often they can be seen playfully tipping over workshops and accidentally crushing anyone working within. Many dwarves admire this warped sense of humour and the Yeti’s obvious love of beer, wine and spirits.

WARNING: The above may be misleading.

OH MY FUCKING GOD-OF-FORKS!

Ice Wolves are devastating. Blizzard Men are hilariously inept – the Feral Walls simply beat the Blizzard Man about the head and neck until he starves to death.

But this? Fuck me! Get everyone inside the fortress now!

I really need some swords!

With that goal in mind, it is time to set up some forges. Though the farms are not yet ready, we at least have food. Alcohol, on the other hand, is running dangerously short. Damn it Adrian! Get to work down there!

What’s that you say? A Giant Cave Spider.

Quote: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! End quote.

Yeti’s above. Giant spiders below. Bromgev Foley has surely led us to our doom.

Some might fear this place. Some might suggest flight, leaving this blasted glacier and its demon-spawn creatures. What are we, Elves? So cowardly we would flee, huddle and weep like babies? To the dissenters, I say we must remember Ulteg Umrek, Dragonslayer, the very Dwarf whose legacy we carry!

In the meantime, LAVA! A Dwarfs best friend!

Here it is, seeping down the tunnel I dug. Soon, it will be below the furnaces and forges, powering Zaskidet industry! Then it will be time to sword, and sword good. I am also moving the meeting area down here. Perhaps standing next to a lava flow will keep my Dwarves warm.

Late Autumn, in the Year of the Forks 405

Aaron Small, whom some of you may remember as my bookkeeper, has, for most of the year, been digging calculations into the stone walls of his room. Finally he has tallied everything in the fort. He won’t stop muttering dark words, and the shivers that run through his body tell of a far deeper cold than that of the ice and snow. He refuses to enter his room anymore.

As I creak open the heavy obsidian door to investigate a wave of air washes over me, like the fetid breath of a great slavering beast. The numbers, carved layer upon layer over themselves, drip with the blood of the poor bookkeeper’s torn fingers. In all the Ice Wolf commotion, I never did get him paper and pen. I look at numbers that seem to delve into the future, peering through the eyes of time. Even the date of Bookkeeper Small’s death is written here, yet still the numbers continue, cataloguing goods we haven’t even made yet. I hear a voice from beyond the walls, speaking of promised souls and damnation everlasting.

What has Aaron done?

(Fun fact: Once your bookkeeper has “done enough work” and stops working completely, even if he dies you’ll never need another one again as the books stay perfectly updated forever. Aaron has done such good work, he knows what stocks will be in the future, and can even take into account his own death. Smells like Dwarf Fortress.)

So far, both the Yeti and the Giant Cave Spider have stayed away from us.  Still, if they don’t bring Zaskidet to its knees, thirst will. Ice Wolf meat, while stringy and unsatisfying, keep starvation at bay, but without any strong farming underway, there is nothing to brew. Our alcohol-dependent little beardies are constantly ‘taking breaks’ as their blood-acohol level drops dangerously low. Soon, it will drop below the dreaded 2.2, and they won’t be able to work at all. To distract them from their impending sobriety, I draft a few more into the Feral Walls and arm them with the copper woodcutting axes I so pointlessly brought with me. At the very least, they might be able to fend off the terrifying Yeti should it tear down the fledgling walls about the Pit.

Thus far, the beast has stayed its wrathful hand. Instead, it pulls a Calvin and stares at the gates, hilariously inept.

Things are getting absolutely desperate on the alcohol front.

Early Winter, in the Year of the Forks 405

If you measure success by the amount of Dwarven blood coating everything, then this month has been hilarious. The Yeti finally decided to make use of his Building Destroyer 2 tag and tear down my gates. Tuvorn, Hildybritches, Jimmy Breau, Justin Currie, Adrian King and Jeff Copp have all died charging the Yeti. There are seven dead Dwarves, but over twenty separate chunks of Dwarf-parts. I locked the Yeti out with quickly-constructed walls. Unlike mechanic Jamie Gib, who nearly let a horde of Troglodytes in from the caverns with his sloth, mason Robyn Cross managed to build up a temporary wall; enough to send the blood-lusting Yeti – once white of fur, but now decked in scarlet red – wandering elsewhere. He’s still up there, snarling and shambling, scaring the Yaks.

Hilarious.

Bob Normoyle and Andrew Osborne have died of thirst. It seems the lack of water is a problem on this glacier. You’d think someone would lick the walls or something, but no.

Death Count: 10

 I am shitting my Dwarven pantaloons as the first of the brewable items is brought up from the caverns. I assign a Brew Drink job.

And all my barrels are full of Ice Wolf meat – no self-respecting Dwarf would put alcohol in anything else, and thus, they refuse, even unto their own demise.

We fought Ice Wolves. We fought Blizzard Men and Troglodytes. We’ve fought Yeti and seen giant spiders. We’ve survived a snowstorm that never ends, even in the height of Summer. All this, only to be undone by thirst.We’ve run out of coffins in which to place our deceased brothers and sisters. Even as I write this, my hands shake and stutter, my eyes grow droopy. Dwarves have taken to opening veins and drinking their own blood. I don’t know if that will work or not, but anything is better than nothing. Goodbye my friends.

Wait, what’s this? Bromgev Foley herself has moved to the still! I quickly assign the Cook Lavish Meal job from the kitchen; waste as much meat as you can, cook! FREE SOME FUCKING BARRELS!

SUCCESS!

 

The first barrel of alcohol does not even make it out of the still before being consumed, but holy shit that was so close oh my fucking God-of-Forks!

 

To celebrate, one of the Yaks gave birth. Yay.

Sadly, it was too late for Chris Picard, who stripped himself naked and ran raving through the halls of Zaskidet. I’ll have what remains of the Feral Walls keep him under watch.

Hah! Mr. Picard wandered into the room of the (now deceased) Aaron Small. Let his madness gaze upon the eldritch writings of our late bookkeeper!

MIGRANTS! Not enough to repopulate, but migrants all the same! I might just survive!

Death Count: 12 (Two migrants ran into the yeti)

 

Progress is slow.

Next time: Crawling out of the ass-pit I’ve dug myself.

(Yes, I realize I am probably playing Dwarf Fortress all wrong. I haven’t touched the game in almost eight months, and everything is VERY different from what I remember. For one, I’ve never run out of booze so fast, and I made sure to embark with extra.  I chose an all-evil, all-savage biome to start from. Without trees. Or water. I set myself up for an ass kicking. But it is so much !!FUN!!)

 
 

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Smells Like Dwarf Fortress, Part Two: Heat Wave – haha just kidding, I hope you like blizzards!

Early Summer, in the Year of the Forks 405

In the dark of the never-ending blizzard comes another pack of Ice Wolves, bent on vengeance! They threaten our Yaks, having already taken our dogs. The Yaks may be our only source of food for a long time - milk and cheese, and perhaps even meat if straights are dire enough. To lose them as well... Send the Feral Walls!

Adrian King arrives first. Which is unfortunate, as he is unarmed. I recall him; though a Yak is frightened and flees up the mountain, the wolf does not chase it. To send Farmer Adrian against an Ice Wolf alone to save a Yak in no danger would be rank stupidity.

Battle lines are drawn at the foot of the Scintillating Ash (so shiny!), while civilians flee the wolf pack. Three Dwarves, two armed only with their copper picks, one totally unarmed, charge the Ice Wolves.

Through the snow and sand they rush, leaping thin grasses and uneven ground. Hares flee their mad charge, dashing from their holes and hiding places. Adrian pulls ahead of the others, tackling the first beast. Nelson and Austin range ahead, chasing down the rest of the pack. Copper lodges in skulls, tears ligaments. The Feral Walls scream their bone-snapping hate, descending upon Wolf after Wolf. Crimson life spills over snow, turning the black sand into a strange, purple mush underfoot. No Dwarf escapes unharmed; Nelson, bleeding but otherwise intact. Austin, suffering from intense nerve pain in his legs, nearly unable to walk.

And unarmed Adrian, alone against his Wolf, escapes with nothing more than a missing tooth. Barehanded, he gouged the Wolf’s eye, heaved and flung its canine body through the air, smashing it again and again against the hard, cold ground. Victorious, his chest heaving in exertion, he stands tall over the pulp that once was a terrifying Ice Wolf.

Another hard-fought victory for the Cult. Praise the God-of-Forks! Zaskidet’s honour remains.

And as they trek back home, exhausted and bloodied, the snows come to an end. After more than a month of unceasing blizzard, the Dwarves of Zaskidet have their peace. Now all they need is warmth, food, and drink, all of which are in short supply.

Mid Summer, in the Year of the Forks 405

We dig and dig, looking for the caverns we know are here. Bromgev Lara Foley says it is so! So we dig and we dig and we dig, endlessly down.

Sometimes, we find something worth diverting our attentions for – hematite for iron ore, or native gold. We will need goods to trade to any caravans that come along – though why any would venture so far north is beyond any of us. Bob Normoyle and Robyn Cross nearly came to blows over the most efficient method of exploratory mining. We do not have the time to be thorough, however; a small series of straight tunnels will have to be enough. I cannot help but fear that we might dig right past the caverns and unearth something more sinister in the bowels of Nûmulshul.

A wave of migrants! How dare these unbelievers stain the snow about the Scintillating Ash with their blasphemous boots! Nelson, you lead – nay, are – the militia! Strike them down with your copper pick! GOD WILLS IT!

Oh. They come to praise you say? Not spread heathen profanity? This is awkward. Fine, let them come, these believers. The Cult of Forks grows, swells its numbers. Perhaps we will not be alone in our endeavour. Perhaps there are some in the Mountainhomes who feel the weight of God-of-Forks on their souls.

Perhaps we can make a Mountainhome of our own.

Our first migrant decided to chillax with the Yaks. There were eight migrants, but this is the only Dwarf to just wander about the pasture. Is he hungry? Grass shan’t provide much sustenance for a Dwarf! Or is he touched in the head?

The migrants walk straight into a pack of Ice Wolves. It seems one of them is a warrior – not that I have any equipment to give him. He is quickly drafted into the militia, and the Feral Walls do battle once again. I can see it on their faces as they walk heavy-limbed from The Pit. They speak of a profound weariness, as if to say what, this shit again? Strange that gruesome battle can become so mundane. I’m sure the bone-numbing hunger is getting to them too. The Feral Walls close with these feral wolves right at the lip of The Pit. Adrian King is grievously wounded when a Wolf takes hold of his head and begins to haul him through the snow, much as he once did to the Wolves. Adrian begins screaming his hateful war-cries even from within the Wolf’s maw. Taking hold of the jaws, he pulls his head free, tearing skin and scalp from his skull. He then proceeds, in his battle-madness, to headbutt the Wolf to death, until Wolf teeth litter the ground about his feet. Though victorious, Adrian King lies broken and bleeding. Still there is no hospital. And even if there were, there would be no beds to place within, nor sutures and needles to care for our crippled Wrestler/Farmer. I know not whether he will live out the season.

Bloody Adrian and the Wolves. He’s the one glowing yellow, surrounded by wolf corpses - though he himself killed only one.

I have turned one of the three bedrooms into a hospital. At least Bloody Adrian can get some rest. There is no water to give him, nor supplies to heal him.

Another pack of Ice Wolves. Adrian remains bleeding on the surface, alone. I send what remains of the Feral Walls to the pack. They stand their ground between Bloody Adrian and the Wolves. Adrian attempts to crawl towards the battle, but by the time he arrives, the battle is over. The Wolves are dead.

And a Blizzard Man comes.

Late Summer, in the Year of the Forks 405

Calvin Thompson, the idiot dwarf wandering about the Yak pasture after the migrant wave, is not an idiot; he’s an idiot child, wandering slack-jawed among the great beasts. One tried to kick him, but he was sadly unharmed. Perhaps he has learned to fear the creatures, for he no longer stares stupefied at animals. Now he stares at walls. That boy is touched in the head, but the migrants claim it is he who led them to this place; his visions, and his guidance. Could he be a prophet? If the Bromgev is any indication, sanity is not merely superfluous to prophecy, it is outright antithetical.

Please stop being crazy.

The caverns! At long last, the caverns! Depressingly devoid of water, but there might be underground trees there, and the mud that coats the cavern floor could support crops!

For those of you unfamiliar with Dwarf Fortress, this is an insanely quick breaching of the caverns. Caverns can be !!FUN!!, though this is only the first cavern layer and thus unlikely to cause balls-tightening levels of danger.

I set Mason Robyn to work building walls. It’s time to lock those Ice Wolves out! Speaking of Ice Wolves, I may have a way to stave off starvation. There sure are plenty of Wolf corpses lying around…

But a new foe comes; Troglodytes boil up from the caverns, intent on rape and pillage. The Feral Walls have been stationed in the cavern mouth until defences can be set up. Meanwhile, a Blizzard Man wanders the surface near The Pit, while the whole fort trembles in fear of another Ice Wolf pack.

The Blizzard Man approaches the pasture, only to be struck down by the herd of Yak. Fierce kicks and rams bring the elemental humanoid to the ground. I leave it for dead. Keep this in mind, as it will turn out to be a mistake. I finally get those levers and locks from Jamie Gib – who nearly cost the fort with his sloth – and set up a fortified door beneath the fort. The Trog’s will never make it through! The Feral Walls return to civilian duty, unworried by the Troglodyte threat from below.

So that Blizzard Man apparently managed to get up after a long coma. Checking his status screen, every bone in both arms is broken, and his torso is, uh… dented. In about four different places. Kind of like Bloody Adrian, actually. Except the Blizzard man is made of ice, and therefore dents are marginally less disconcerting.

Adrian, however, refuses to enter the ad hoc hospital, opting instead to hang out with the rest of the idle Dwarves in the meeting hall. The blood staining his wounds goes well with the frost caking his flesh. He’s the lifesblood of the party, and everyone loves him.

I’m kidding. He’s ‘that guy’; the one everyone else stares at until he goes away, but he won’t so they keep staring and he’s oblivious so he strikes up conversations with people clearly uncomfortable in his proximity.  “Please go away,” they say with their eyes. But Bloody Adrian has gouged so many eyes, he refuses to look at them now. They haunt his dreams. Kind of like he haunts this party; like a caked-on nightmare smelling of rotten flesh. Smelling of Dwarf Fortress.

Please stop being crazy.

This is our meeting hall. It’s just where two walkways intersect. Fancy, I know. The rooms are carved out around the central section, but without beds there’s no point. From the walkway, one can see down to the layer below; I channelled the wing of each hallway, leaving suspended walkways.

It seems I underestimated the Blizzard Man. Having risen from his month-long coma, he descended upon my only unDorfed Dwarf, ripping him apart. Poor what’s-his-fuck, he won’t be missed. There is no time for grief in Zaskidet! But this is an affront I will not abide. Send the Feral Walls!

Death Count: 2 (UnDorfed Dwarf named Cog joins Justin Currie the First)

The great elemental beast stands its ground, waiting for the Feral Walls. It seems Stonesense has no idea what a Blizzard Man is; I like to think it's a humanoid/punctuation ice-monster hybrid.

Unlike the Ice Wolves, this is a sapient creature, and humanoid, though with great scales of ice for skin and sharp icicles for teeth. Its eyes glow red in the fog and blinding snow, but the Feral Walls do not relent. They charge, picks held high. Bloody Adrian is only now dragging his broken body from The Pit. Will he make it in time?

No.

Blows swing wide as the dented elemental flails wildly at Austin, Nelson, and Justin Currie the Second. In its exhausted, crippled state, it can do naught but suffer the copper blows of the Walls – which do little but add to the already numerous dents. This is a fight that cannot be won or lost. It shall drag on to eternity perhaps.

I really need some swords.

I’m getting a metric ass-tonne of cancelled job spam – the Yaks flee the Blizzard Man and leave the pasture, which prompts a Dwarf to dash out. I mean, what is life and limb when there are Yaks out of pasture! “Fuck sanity”, Jamie Gib says. “That shits overrated anyway. Asparagus.”

He then promptly pulls an Austin-and-the-Goat and flips shit, high tailing it out of there. As soon as he gets out of sight, however, he forgets what he was afraid of and, keeping in mind the importance of getting right back on the insanity horse, turns back around to return that fucking Yak to its pasture. And flips his shit again.

Smells like Dwarf Fortress.

The Dwarves, in their unyielding fear of this elemental stalker, have begun whispering a name; Unegostar – Failburial. I’m not sure what burials have failed, but it terrifies me nonetheless.

Or it would, if he didn’t keep falling unconscious under the blows of the Feral Walls.

Finally, Failburials, that haunting – if lacklustre – foe is felled. Investigating the kill records of the Feral Walls, I learn that Justin Currie II, despite his short service, has two Wolf kills.

Holy shit, Austin has ten!

 …

HOLY SHIT, Nelson has twelve and killed Failburials!

If I had medals, I would award them. If I had rooms, I would assign them. I have nothing but my thanks. Thank you, Feral Walls – a militia of untrained Dwarves. Thank you Nelson Lovestrom, for defending our lonely Zaskidet.

 

The fortress safe for the moment, I reassign the Feral Walls below ground, rooting out the Troglodytes and defending my fledgling farms.

Wait, where’s my farmer?

Oh right. Bloody Adrian. He drags his broken body down the hundreds of flights of carved stairs, descending into the bowels of Nûmulshul to get his lazy ass to work.

By the God-of-Forks, could you hurry up?

Progress is slow.

Next time: Autumn! (I promise I won’t do season-by-season! There’s only so much I can do with Ice Wolves – of which there were two more packs during Summer that went unmentioned. Also, over the three months, there was maybe a week of no snow. If Summer is nothing but blizzards, what does winter carry with it?)
 

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