A Metal Dwarf Fortress

The idea was to create a fortress inspired by Metalocalypse. To start, I chose a site situated on a frigid, barren mountainside. There was no water, and no trees, only constant snowstorms. My plan was to dig down, to find a cavern with water for farming, and a cavern with magma for forging tools, weapons and armor. I stocked up on supplies, knowing my dwarves would be living off what they brought with them for many months while the miners searched. I named my expedition “Deathclock” and the site “Murderhowls” (which was the closest I could get to Dethklok and Mordhaus in the limited vocabulary of Dwarf Fortress).

I named the starting seven dwarves after the band, their manager, and their producer: Skwizgar, Toki, Nathan, Murderface, Pickles, Ofdenson, and Knibbler. All arriving migrants would be numbered Klockateers. (later I also named the chef Jean Pierre and the doctor Dr Roxxo).

The first order of business was to get underground. My miners (Skwizgar and Toki) were tasked with digging out a temporary shelter in the side of the mountain. As soon as it was dug out, all provisions were moved inside, and the entrance to the shelter was walled up, to prevent wild animals and goblin ambushes from attacking the defenseless dwarves.. Ordinarily, embarking dwarves bring a wooden wagon which can be deconstructed and made into beds. However, a wagon could not be brought up the mountainside, so they had not a single plank of wood. There would be no beds (or anything wooden) until an underground forest could be located and secured.

The miners at once began exploratory shafts, looking for caverns. While they were digging, the other dwarves busied themselves with smoothing and engraving the temporary shelter. Also, a masonry workshop was set up so that stone tables and chairs could be constructed. Then, they waited.

The first cavern that was found contained no water, only wild animals, so it was quickly sealed up again. After about six months, just as the supplies were running out, the second cavern was located, and it had plenty of water. The task was now to create a farm, so food could be grown and booze could be brewed. To create an underground farm, dwarves must first flood a plot of land with water, muddying it. Then, after the water evaporates, they are able to plant mushrooms in the mud. A system of canals and floodgates was constructed to accomplish this, and planting began in earnest. That was when dwarves started dying of thirst.

I had forgotten to keep tabs on the booze supplies, and many of the dwarves hadn’t had anything to drink in weeks. As soon as the first dwarf died of thirst (Murderface), I ordered the construction of a well they could drink from. Unfortunately, three others died while the well was under construction (Pickles, Nathan, and Knibbler). The temporary shelter was converted into a catacombs to house the dead, and the beginnings of a proper fortress were set up around the farm and well. A large dining hall was set up, along with kitchens and stills. Also, various workshops were set up, and an office for Ofdenson. No bedrooms were made since there was still no wood for beds.

A few migrants arrived, and the wall sealing off the shelter was temporarily deconstructed to allow them entry. One of the new arrivals was a miner, so he was set to exploratory digging as well. There were new migrants every few months, each group arriving from a different direction. Tunnels were dug to each arriving group to allow them to enter the mountain without having to navigate the dangerous mountainside. Over the years, dozens of Klockateers arrived this way. One of them, Klockateer 48, in a fit of dwarven inspiration, created Sanctumrusts, a perfectly cut red spinel gemstone. Engraved on it was an image of cave spider. It was a very metal artifact, and it became one of the legendary treasures of Murderhowls.

The third cavern, containing magma, was eventually located. Again, channels and floodgates were set up, but this time, to feed magma to forges and smelters instead of water to farms. Work began on sets of steel armor and steel axes. The cavern that had the water also had an underground forest (full of giant, tree-like mushrooms), but it was full of troglodytes, so I needed some armed dwarves to deal with them before they could start logging.

By this time, about five game years had passed, and my dwarves were happy, even though there was not a single bed. I decided that I needn’t bother ever setting up bedrooms. When 30 steel plated axedwarves were ready, they cleared out the troglodytes, and my woodcutter dwarves went to work. I ordered the construction of some beds, and placed them in the barracks, dormitories, and hospital. Dwarves didn’t get individual bedrooms, but at least they didn’t have to sleep on the ground anymore.

After 30 more steel-plated axedwarves were ready, I set my three squads of axedwarves on a rotating schedule (with three more squads as reserves), guarding the fortress entrance that was being constructed on the surface. The guarded entrance would allow merchants and migrants to enter the fort safely and immediately, instead of having to sneak into a hastily opened (and quickly resealed) tunnel. Right after the permanent entrance was set up, an Ocean Titan made of lace agate (a type of stone) arrived. My military was ready for him, but since he was made of stone, their axes had little effect on him. My own steel-plated dwarves were quite resilient also, but no matter how many times they chopped at him, they could not kill him. It was basically a stalemate, and since dwarves don’t know the meaning of the word ‘retreat’, I had to load a previous save game (from right before I opened the entrance).

As I wonded how I would deal with the indestructible stone titan, a forgotten beast made of rock crystal showed up in my water cavern. Now I had two indestructible beasts to deal with! I soon came up with a plan to trap them. I ordered the construction of a long hallway next to the (not quite completed) surface entrance with a few wardogs chained at the end. Then, I ordered a retractable bridge and a stairway to the surface installed at the other end. Then, I waited for the Ocean Titan to attack the wardogs. When he did so, the dwarves retracted the bridge, and he was trapped. Finally, the fortress could be opened to the surface world. When it was, the Klockateers spent many weeks gathering the bodies and possessions of merchants and migrants that had not been able to enter the mountain, and had been killed by wild animals or the Ocean Titan. The catacombs filled with the bodies of the fallen, so I ordered construction of a larger one immediately below it. Also, the stockpiles filled with many valuable items.

I ordered construction of a similar trap to deal with the Forgotten Beast in my water cavern. Again, the dwarves constructed a long hallway, with wardogs, and a retractable bridge. This time however, the retractable bridge run the whole length of the hallway, and a deep pit was dug below it. The idea was to retract the bridge while the beast was on it, and it would fall to its death before reaching the dogs, so the dogs would not have to be sacrificed as the were for the Ocean Titan. Unfortunately, That’s not quite how it worked out. The dwarves attempted to retract the bridge as the Forgotten Beast was halfway across the bridge, but nothing happened! Apparently, he was too heavy, and the bridge could not be moved while he was on it! Only when he reached the dogs and began fighting them were the dwarves able to retract the bridge and trap him. Alas, the dogs could not be saved. There were now two great monsters trapped at Murderhowls, Bostu the lace agate Ocean Titan and Nguslu the rock crystal Forgotten Beast. Both unable to leave, both unable to die.

It was not long after that that the fortress began to come unravelled. The dwarves were all nominally happy, but sanity is really only a temporary condition for any dwarf. If a dwarf becomes too unhappy, he will throw a tantrum or go berserk. The dwarf usually has to be violently subdued by the guards when this happens. If the subdued (read: killed) dwarf had close friends, they too may become unhappy and and violent.

I’ll never know exactly what started it, but soon the tantrums were spiralling out of control. It seems that all of the dwarves were good friends with each other, since they slept communally instead of in individual bedrooms. As soon as the first tantruming dwarf was put down, a dozen more began to rampage.

I don’t know why the first dwarf began to tantrum. Perhaps one of the bait wardogs was a pet? Perhaps he got into an argument with another dwarf? Perhaps one of the engravings in the dining rooms offended him? In the end it doesn’t matter. The fort was a powder keg ready to go off at the slightest provocation, so the tantrum spiral was inevitable. It was quite a spectacular event when it happened. Sixty armored axedwarves and sixty unarmed civilians, all throwing tantrums and brawling. Killing each other, breaking furniture, and defacing engravings – each action upsetting even more dwarves. It was one giant dwarven riot.

The life and the death of the fortress were both quite metal, so I consider the whole thing a complete success.

edit: you can explore the fort at the DF Map Archive: http://mkv25.net/dfma/map-9026-murderhowls

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