RustBeard the One-Armed

I was still learning how to make an army, so I simply loaded up on traps and worked on training soldiers and creating weapons as I went. Everything seemed to be working. Occasionally kobolds attacked, but the traps always kicked their asses, so I felt there was time.

Then one smart kobold learned to disarm traps.

The dwarves raised the alarm and ran to the armory, but I didn’t have enough weapons and armor for them all. Armed with chair legs, hot pokers, and anything else they could find, the dwarves bravely ran out to face their invaders. The kobolds, however, broke into two parties and sent a second smaller party down to raid our supplies and steal our weapons, going behind the dwarves’ backs with the hope of mounting a surprise attack.

One unlucky dwarf armed with a table leg was guarding the food. The first kobold to arrive stabbed him with a knife. He struck the beast, sending it screaming into a wall. During this minor distraction three kobolds snuck up on him, pinned him down, then cut off his arm before leaving him to die. The dwarf was pissed as he watched them load up their sacks and walk away. He used some muslin to tourniquet off his arm, then went for vengeance.

Armed only with his severed arm, he ambushed the cocky kobolds, bashing one of their skulls in. The Kobolds wheeled back in shock, slashing his legs. The Dwarf disarmed one kobold by making him stab the knife through the dismembered arm, then stabbed the kobold with the knife-arm until he died. The remaining kobold screamed in panic and tried to flee, but the dwarf tacked him down and found him cowering under a wagon.Dwarf_vs_Kobold_by_MK01 modifiedAll that was left was a smear of blood when that dwarf was done with the kobolds. The dwarf skinned all three, then took the skins to be tanned, feeding the corpses to the dogs.

After that he became known RustBeard the One-armed. As soon as the militia was founded he beat the crap out of the captain I chose, then became captain on his own and proceeded to kick serious kobold ass for the rest of his life. Not a single kobold who ventured near our land ever survived again.

Written by Kitsuneae

Illustrated by MK01

An Indomitable Dwarf

So I dug a deep spiral staircase about 20-z levels deep and was using is as my dumping pit. I dug out some tombs for nobles in the sides and it was generally a neat fixture in front of my fort.

Time passed and I grew bored with my pit and decided to fill it from a river. It almost went off without a hitch (someone vacating the pit as it quickly filled dropped their baby and just kept on running). Other than that, I had a fine dwarfmade pond with platforms over it, with a statue garden and a well.

More time passed and I had my first goblin ambush. I was woefully unprepared to take them on. While the 2nd goblin battalion waited in the woods, I quickly whisked my citizens across a bottomless chasm, destroyed the bridge, and started anew on the other side.

The new fort was a little slapdash, but things were okay, except for one thing — Urist McComplain-about-thirst was thirsty. We were out of water. I knew we had an ample supply of water deep within the earth, but I didn’t know that Dwarf Fortress takes water pressure into effect.

I dug out a wonderful dining hall complete with a central pond I hoped to gently fill from the well. I send my miner in to crack the last wall and readied myself to close the floodgate. But a raging torrent of water sent my miner flying, and within seconds I get the message “Urist McUseless cancels Pull Lever: Area submerged”.

Oh god.

And my miner, my legendary miner… he’s trapped! “Get out!” I shout. But Urist McMiner is no pansy. No. Running would be cowardly, and that just not his way. He picks himself up and walks INTO the wall of water.

indominable d copy

The torrent rushes past him, drowning his friends and filling his finely cut rooms, but it will not… IT WILL NOT get the best of him. He continued up the 20 levels of spiral stairs without wavering. He stood at the top of the well, alone and soaked. His contempt for nature saved him from a watery grave.

Sadly, the goblins were also happy to see him. But let it be known that this fortress did not fall to poor planning. It died a warrior’s death.

Written by Skeletonhat

 

Loyalty

I must start by saying that I am a cold, emotionless man. I’ve seen a lot of bad things, and I usually just give them a “meh”. I won’t cry at a movie and I won’t fawn over cute animals. This made me all the more shocked when I was genuinely moved by something that happened in my fortress, something I feel compelled to write about.

I had embarked on a fairly peaceful spot and for the first five years we had nary a goblin. I did some trading, pierced the aquifer and got a few gems and some silver and plodded along. I had but one squad in the beginning, with Zasit Avedineth, Axe Lord at it’s head. When those wasters of elves showed up with a giant jaguar I was only too happy to take it. It was immediately trained up and put into the service of Zasit Avedineth as a giant war jaguar (what other game has these?).

They trained together all day long, embarked on a few skirmishes and trained up all the new recruits. Anywhere the axe lord was, the jaguar was soon to follow. Everything was just peachy.

Then came Usmza Sadtusnung Obrazongong Sloron, dragon.

Immediately the whole military (about 30 out of 80 dwarfs, with several legendaries among them) was mobilized, but the dragon was too fast. Before he could reach the door of the fortress the drawbridge was raised, blocking the dragon’s entrance, but also locking half the military inside. In a ferocious battle, which involved lots of fire, shin punching and a particularly courageous dog biting the dragon in the head, the dwarfs slew the beast. It was not however, without causalities.

Some of the dwarfs had been caramelized, others had lost limbs, and the particularly courageous dog had bled out. The bridge came down and the survivors limped to the hospital. A couple of enterprising dwarfs dashed to the battlefield to pilfer the goodies of the fallen, but aside from that, the smoky wasteland was left alone. Then I saw As Kizestolon, Giant Jaguar. At first I was delighted – my Axe Lord must be around too. It took me a minute to realize what the reports confirmed. As Kizestolon had been trapped inside, while his master had been first to the dragon. Avedineth had only lost a leg in the scrap, but had bled to death in the aftermath and was dragged back to be returned to the stone from whence he came.

AnADM

Maybe he knew what had happened, and maybe he didn’t, but I shed a tear for As Kizestolon sitting alone in the ash-strewn center of the burning forest, still the pet of Zasit Avedineth.

That’s loyalty.

loyalty_by_mcgormack-d62thz7

– Art by Mcgormack

– Author unknown.

The Fable of Catten and the Eagle

This story is one of many which took place in the legendary superfortress FlareChannel, pictured here:

As a prelude to my favorite story of FlareChannel, I’ll fill you in with the history of Giant Eagles in this fortress. Ever since I noticed the elves brought, occasionally, Giant Eagles with them, it had been a goal to purchase a breeding pair to populate FlareChannel with. After decades of trying to do so, I eventually got a male and female pair within their respective lifetimes, and the first natural-born clutch of baby eaglets was hatched.

Ever since, they have gracefully adorned the halls of my fortress. They tend to hang around the meeting area, but occasionally one can still see them flying elsewhere.
Occasionally they would back up military dwarves in taking down a nearby enemy.

Or even venturing out into the sky to spread their wings a bit, and perhaps scan the landscape for any suspicious enemies approaching.

One eagle even decided to stand guard over the glass dome above the throne room. Why, we will never know. He could have easily flown away, and yet he did not. He stayed steadfast until his dying day, years later. Some say he was standing guard over the weak, watching constantly for those who would prey on lone dwarves. Some say he chose to perch up there, knowing that upon mid-day, when the diplomat would meet to discuss trade agreements, his giant shadow would projected onto the throne room floor. Nothing helps convince a lone human to heed your subtle warnings than what appears to be a 100-foot eagle waiting above.

***NOTE***
I played no part in the events that play out below, except for toggling Catten as a recruit once. This story is recorded as the best interpretation of events that will, likely, remain a mystery forever. Most of what happens I can’t even begin to guess as to how it could have. It seems impossible unless there is secret coding going on for Dwarf Fortress, or features I don’t know about. Regardless, I was as surprised as anyone else at the series of events that follow.
***********

The Fable of Catten and the Eagle

Our story begins 100 years after the first hatchlings wandered the halls of Flarechannel. In the past, giant eagles have been creatures of their own, almost never befriended by dwarves and only then when a rare dwarf who can sympathize with the beasts is born. They are a species of creature who, in the wild, feast upon the sweet alcohol-infused flesh of dwarves for fun. This is their legacy, and every dwarf is well aware of it.

However, Catten and the Eagle are unique. Catten is a dwarf who prides himself in his skills, and due to this has developed three legendary skills in Masonry, Weaving, and Clothing, not to mention a good number of additional skills across the board.

Perhaps he had even earned his smugness, having created an artifact in his youth

He was a prime woodsman in the forest clearing which led to war with the Elves. Truly he is a dwarf of pride. When it came to the local Giant Eagles, Catten had absolutely no opinion on the beasts. It is well known that dwarves must enjoy a creature to be motivated enough to tame it as their own, but Catten couldn’t care less about the masses of feathers, claws, and beaks which flew among the halls and towers.

But sometimes fate doesn’t ask us for our preferences or wishes, and it was such in the case of Catten. Recently born in Flarechannel was one unspectacular Giant Eagle. She was a little larger and hardier than most hatchlings as one always is, but nothing any dwarves were surprised by. Yet already destiny had woven a fate which bound this eagle with threads stronger than steel. As soon as she grew past childhood, this eagle should have waited for a suitable master to come along (which happened so very rarely). She did not. She went out and found one. Catten. This had never happened before in the FlareChannel’s history. Catten may not have cared one bit about her, but that didn’t stop her from picking him as the dwarf she would stand guard over against all dangers. And thus began the story of unrequited love between dwarf and eagle.

At first, it was merely one of the many mysteries of the fortress. Other dwarves would stop and stare and Catten hurriedly passed between jobs. Collect spider silk, weave thread, make clothes, gather rock, construct blocks, make mechanisms, gather plants, plant seeds, finish a few odd jobs. Catten was no stranger to the busy day, and had no time to entertain a foolish eagle that mistook him for her master. What did he care? Dwarves work, and drink, and kill things if possible. Dwarves don’t sit around entertaining delusional creatures, especially not those who have been known to slaughter dwarves by the dozen. A less determined eagle would have long since left Catten to his duties, but not this one. The eagle knew that one day, Catten would find himself in trouble. She would have to be there to protect him. His disinterest was not such a crime that it justified leaving him to the horror which lay in his future.

And like this, a decade passes.

The year is 505. Catten, now an old man, still rushes from task to task with the persistence of a dwarf half his age. He now finds himself clad in the finest silk of his own making. Even after all these years, he occasionally turns to pick up a piece of silk or rock and catches the outline of an eagle faithfully waiting nearby. Catten is by no means an unpleasant dwarf to be around, but nonetheless even he scoffs at the foolhardy behavior of his eagle follower. Assuredly there are more important things to be doing than following an old man who can take care of himself! A dark raincloud loomed on the horizon and Catten retreated back into his workshops, to once again shut out the world in the endless stream of garments he produced now.

The next day, disaster strikes.

For the first time in countless years, death incarnate approaches FlareChannel. Alarms sound, and the military scrambles into action. From the south, smoke rises and a scout gives the report nervously. A dragon has once again taken its eyes to Flarechannel. This time, it is Tusnung Heatedgilds the Spark of Warmth. Luckily, all dwarves are safely inside the walls not even a dragon can pass, and the military assembles on the main bridge, some who have not seen such a beast stand fearful. In the eyes of others one can see the gleaming of latent blood lust in their veins. You can smell it in the air.

As the final few warriors catch up to the group, a single order sends them down the spiral tower to intercept the dragon, which is finishing up slaughtering a lone human pikeman who straggled to long after the caravan left. But the dragon doesn’t head to the fortress proper. He heads East. The military still pursues, perplexed at the change of focus of the beast. When they realize the dragon’s target, shivers run up their spines. It has been decades since a dwarf has been lost to an enemy. Catten Shoraster is the lone dwarf who ignored common sense and remained outside. Stubbornness does come with old age, but this was insane! Only Catten would be so lost in his work that he would miss the alarm bells. The military would have no way to catch up with the dragon in time.

By now Catten had realized what followed him to the silken-laden hills. The screams of the human as he was ripped limb from limb made sure to that. As unemotional as he is when he works, Catten pulls out his axe and prepares to die as any dwarf would choose – fighting rather than running, even if it means death.

But Catten is not alone in his choice. The eagle has also accepted her fate.

Its likely she had accepted it 12 years before when she chose Catten to protect. Destiny had ensured she would be in the right place and the right time. Diving between the dragon and Catten, the eagle attacks with a ferocity that echos through the legends of all dwarven lore. Spending years around the dwarves and seeing many battles had taught the eagle a thing or two. Like the champions of FlareChannel, the eagle dived fearlessly, directly into the dragon, knocking them both to the ground in a stunned daze. Now that the dragon had lost its footing and fallen down a ramp, the eagle knew it had to act quick. Driven by determination that any dwarf would respect, it rose before the dragon could and attacked it on the one place they were in equal footing – the eyes. In a second the eagle had ripped both eyes from the dragon’s face. Rare is the sound of a dragon screaming in agony heard and all dwarves shuddered at the piercing wail. Still the eagle attacked, destroying piece after piece of the dragon’s head until eventually it was able to reach the brain through the now mutilated face, which was promptly mangled.

A wounded, blind, insane dragon is still a beast to be feared, and Catten finally realized – that eagle was the closest thing to a family he ever had. If he left it to die, then what would he have left? Pride? Masterful silk clothes? He had never met a wife, and he was too old now. His bloodline would die with him. Perhaps this was why Catten drove himself out of the real world and into has work. The rare happiness Catten felt was when he got a chance to help another. He had always valued the dwarven spirit in them. But now, he was seeing the dwarven spirit in a mere eagle. No, not a mere eagle. His friend.

Catten rushed in, wielding his trusty axe that had felt the sturdy skin of countless trees. No stranger to the swing, Catten and the Eagle slowly took down the dragon, working together to keep each other safe from any injury. By the time the military had finally caught up, it was already over.

Catten and the eagle both died a few years later, peacefully in dwarven terms. They were buried together, and immortalized in the very spirit of FlareChannel. From that day fourth, eagles were no convenient guests, or bothersome birds that were looked down upon as inferior. No, from that day fourth they were guardians and embodiment of the spirit of FlareChannel.

And what of Catten and the Eagle in their final years? They still went everywhere together, and Catten looked back at her with a smile of comfort instead of disgust. But much of these details are lost in history. What is known, however, is that during the finishing of the Temple to Armok, Catten’s clothes were mysteriously found on the roof, where no path could have possibly led. Additional constructions had to be built just to retrieve them. Some say it was magic, or the joke of some dwarven child. Still, others say that every now and then, on a rare night when others were asleep, Catten would climb aboard his old friend, strip naked, and fly around the towers, admiring the view that no other dwarf was ever privileged to see – laughing as he had only as a child, without a care in the world.

Written by QuantumSawdust

You can see many more pictures and stories from Flarechannel here.

A Letter to the King

Your Highness:

The Baroness has gone mad.

At least she’s had the decency to do it in an appropriately aristocratic fashion. A forlorn, ragged figure, she haunts the byways of our mighty Fortress Alebaldness, clutching her annoying baby, whining endlessly about the Dungeonmaster having a nicer dining room than her, and occasionally screaming with hallucinations as the withdrawal symptoms set in.

The Baron was much more forthright about it. He went mad about a month after his wife, and promptly turned berserk in the ground-level statue garden. He managed to kill one of the war dogs before The Hammerer turned up and put an end to the brief, rather pathetic rampage.

I’m quite grateful to The Hammerer, really. Because I must admit: we do have an alcohol problem in Alebaldness. As you know, the dwarfs you sent here only function properly at a high level of regular drunkenness. Apparently, our fields and farms are too damned fruitful. We have room after room of food storage: piles of prickleberries, wild strawberries galore, oceans of plump helmets… and meat! We have cat meat, dog meat, cow meat, muskox meat, carp meat, sailfin molly meat, rhesus macacque meat, deer meat, goat meat, and some mouldering piles which the cooks assure me are still edible, but can’t actually be identified at this point. Then there’s the plants. We’ve grown them and harvested them. We’ve gathered them from the wild. We’ve processed them endlessly, and now we have so many stocks of ‘plant’ that nobody really knows what to do with them, except stick them in yet more goddam barrels.

And therein lies the problem. Apparently, the brewer can’t actually create any more sweet, sweet moonshiny booze until he has a barrel or two available, and even though I’ve got three carpenters working full time turning out nothing but barrels, the damned food-storage lackeys keep running off with them all, to stuff them full of yet more anonymous plant matter, mouldering meat, and plump helmets. (Note: what, exactly, is a ‘plump helmet’ and why do we eat it? It sounds terribly… metaphorical. Like a coy nickname for an erection. I’m not really sure that sort of thing constitutes a good diet.

In any case, I’ve put a stop to all farming. I’ve even created a Royal Guard, in the hopes that perhaps the few remaining nobles will be suitably flattered, and thus not go quite as insane as the Baroness and her consort. The Hammerer and the Dungeonmaster are actually quite useful chaps, and I’d hate to see them charging about the place, rending their shabby clothing, gnashing their yellow teeth, and baying at… well, the ceiling, what with us living mostly underground.

At least the goblins have backed off for the time being. Now that we’ve got two squads of marksdwarfs and two teams of champion wrestlers in chain mail, they have been taking a much softer approach. True, we still get the occasional snatcher wandering the boundaries, but in general the populace seems quite cheered by the spectacle of goblin snatchers being torn to pieces by mighty champion wrestlers. And now that the perimeter wall is finished, the only ways in are through the gates with the chained war dogs, the cage traps, the stone drop traps, the weapon traps, and the drawbridges which we can close on a moment’s notice, providing the dwarfs in the control room aren’t too fucking drunk to to pull a lever. Still, it can be quite entertaining if they’re a little late. Three or four goblin pikemen racing frantically around the compound, screaming in horror as the dogs and the wrestlers tear them into itty-bitty green and bloody pieces is a bracing spectacle.

The last goblin raid was actually rather helpful. Since we’ve completed the wall and the drawbridges, the greenies have seemingly decided to time their attacks for the arrival of the regular merchant caravans, in the hopes we’ll leave the gates unguarded. Or something. They sent a score or so of goblins with pikes and crossbows, led by a human Axelord. The arriving caravans were overwhelmed so fast that pieces of caravan guard were still raining down by the time the greenies got to the wardogs chained at the gate. I sent three heavily armoured Champion Wrestlers out to greet them, and raised the bridges. Meanwhile, a team of perpetually half-drunk and insubordinate marksdwarfs set up behind the fortifications and supplied some alleged covering fire. They didn’t hit any of the All-Star Homicidal Wrestling Freakshow this time, so I suppose that’s good.

The slaughter was unspeakable. We lost a hunter who didn’t get inside the perimeter in time, and two babies carried into battle by the lunatic leader of the Pleasant Syrups, which is the title our foremost squadron of steroid abusers has taken. The goblins and their axelord, on the other hand, were ripped into so many pieces by the withdrawal-maddened Pleasant Syrups that over a month later, we’re still cleaning up the mess.

The conflict was so horrific that the sole surviving human merchant instantly went stark raving mad. And his dromedary, too. They just stood there amidst the blood and severed limbs and heads and the vomit and the dead babies. Naturally,  I was forced to rescue all the gear they brought with them. We got barrels of free booze, still more plump helmets, a remarkable variety of meats, a range of iron toys, some useful weapons, an entire mule in a cage, and best of all, we got five iron anvils. Five! Added to the four we so laboriously purchased from various over-charging merchant bastards, and we now have more Magma Forges than any sane fortress could possibly use.

Did I say sane? Strike that. In any case, how can you possibly have too many Magma Forges?

The only drawback of the whole event seems to be that the human diplomat went away unhappy. (And how did he survive, anyway? I certainly didn’t see him anywhere near the carnage. Where was he?) Evidently the sight of a goblin army eating his fellow men alive distressed him. Or possibly it was just the fact that we took all their stuff after the event. Which is just tough snot for him. We would happily have negotiated with the remaining merchant, except all he did was stand in one spot and babble meaninglessly. Him and his equally insane dromedary. And you can’t barter with a mad camel, can you?

No, I think the goblins are under control for the moment. And once we complete the Very Long Fake Entrance Hall Of Hideous Trap-Laden Doom With Optional Flooding And Drowning, I think we’ll be fine. So it’s the skeletal mountain goats that really piss me off. They hang around the slopes to the south, where the dwarfs inexplicably go wandering.

Why?  Sometimes they say they want a drink. And yet the fortress abounds with wells and underground canals, all nicely set up for guzzling. Sometimes they claim they’re ‘putting items in stockpiles’. What items? What stockpiles? I have a feeling the dwarfs in question are out gathering up bones and skulls of previous victims of the evil skeletal goats, or even the skeletons of previous evil goats torn apart in hideous training exercises by the demented Pleasant Syrups… so you can see it’s a sort of self-sustaining cycle, and I’m damned if I can figure out what to do about it. Except maybe drink more. And even that’s problematic in Fortress Alebaldness, isn’t it?

Of course, the most horrific problem is the children. There must be something in the water here, or perhaps it’s just the perpetual exposure to heavy metal residues. The children are suicidally stupid. They wander around the magma forges at will, getting in the way of the smithies as they pound molten bronze (oh, how I wish we could find some goddamned iron!)  into chain mail for the Pleasant Syrups and their fearsomely violent ilk. They play games on the edge of the bottomless chasm, which is particularly annoying because nobody else will go there for fear of the skeletal antmen some ten levels down, who are trapped forever and permanently incapable of harming anyone or anything. Nevertheless, I can’t use the chasm as a garbage dump because my dwarfs get scared and run away from the edge whenever they see the skeletal antmen down there, waving their bony antenna in feeble, futile menace.

But the children aren’t scared, are they? Oh no. Nor are they scared of goblins. In fact, they love nothing more than rushing to the forefront of a battleground before the military actually arrives, so that the goblins can dismember them and make a fine, nutritious snack of young dwarf jerky in order to prepare themselves for the upcoming battle. And of course, there are  the babies. Why do the soldiers always breed? And why do they insist on carrying their babies into the battle with them? Why aren’t the other dwarfs whooping it up and producing offspring at the same rate as those hideously fecund champion wrestlers?

Never mind.

Just a few notes to finish up, your Highness. Fortress Alebaldness is short of a few vital things. We can trade for iron (if the merchants survive the goblins long enough to avoid catatonia)  but so far we have no sources of sand with which to make glass, and weve run out of turtle shell. These may sound like small matters, your Highness, but so far two of my dwarfs have been taken by Fey Moods and seized the glass furnace… only to gradually go mad for lack of raw materials. The score for turtle shell is even worse: weve lost three.  Naturally I walled them up until they died, but the stench is dreadful, and since nobody wants to bury the corpses of these mad dwarfs, I’ve had to order them dropped into the Magma Pits for disposal. You can imagine what that’s done to morale around the place, I’m sure.

Therefore, if you could just see fit to include some glass and turtle shell with your next shipment of totally fucking useless nobility, your Highness, we might possibly see another year or two out of Fortress Alebaldness. Only — please, for the love of Armok, don’t send us any more fucking Philosophers. The one you sent keeps changing the prices of goods without warning, and staggering about the corridors muttering “I drink therefore I am,” and giggling to himself in a very disturbing fashion. I think one Philosopher is really all that any fortress should have to take.

Yours sincerely,

Cog  Tosidlar, Town Manager of Mabdugroder (Alebaldness.)

PS: And send more booze. Or at least send us a lot of empty barrels. The goddam elves have demanded we restrict our tree-cutting this year, which makes barrel-making and therefore brewing quite difficult. And if it comes to a choice between the entire fortress going mad from alcohol withdrawal or war with the pointy-eared treehugging hippie stoner bastards, you know which way I’m going to jump, don’t you?

Written by Dirk Flinthart.

The psychotic dwarf who could (swim)

Long long ago, back in the early ages of the world, there was a modest fortress known as Mournriddle the Mortified Armored Beetles of Angels. Now, it is simply known as Mournriddle. After it’s founding in 210, it quickly grew in prosperity. One day, a certain Mebzuth Inkpuzzled had a wonderful idea for armor. Alas! The steel and iron brought to the fortress from caravans had ran out just a week ago when the very same dwarf created a wonderful variety of sheilds and chainmail. Mournriddle’s leader was somewhat inexperienced, and a bit of a packrat, so it only occured to him later to melt down iron goods, but by then it was too late.

Inkpuzzled finally snapped, and started babbling everywhere. He eventually jumped into a small lake after nearly fully stripping himself of all clothing. He began to drown, and everyone wrote him off as dead. But then, something amazing happened. He learned to swim! He quickly became tougher and a better swimmer, and even falling asleep in the water could not prevent him from breathing! He died a year and a half later, after reaching grand master rank in swimming.

At least, that’s what the official records say. Adventurers who travelled to Mournriddle years after it’s downfall at the hands of a massive siege said that, even after clearing out all of the goblins who had claimed the fortress as their own, they still heard the faint paddling of a dwarf, swimming for all eternity to seek solace from his own insanity.

Author unknown. Source

The Quiver of the Gods

Originally posted by Nate on RockPaperShotgun.com


When one dwarf got a mad look in his eye, grabbed a sheet of eagle leather and some silver, and emerged from his workshop three months later with the most beautiful quiver the world had ever seen, I knew it belonged on the back of Nil, the settlement’s legendary champion – a master of four weapons, and getting pretty good at swimming to boot. After a few months of fiddling with doors, Nil eventually strapped on the artifact quiver.

Life was good for a while. Goblins delivered more iron goods than we could ever use. We’d struck a thick vein of adamantine. The larders were full, the merchants looted, the goods organized behind locked doors to protect and control any moody dwarves.

Then a miner uncovered a strange room, covered with engravings, filled with smoke, and with moans of the damned. And the demons came. Spirits of fire, they filled the tunnels with burning dwarves.

Nil picked up his crossbow and gathered his squad of champions. He was fearless. His crossbow was a machine-gun in his hands. Demons fell. But Nil was injured, and the wound… smoldered. And smoldered. Nil left a trail of smoke behind him. At first it was his arm. Then his chest. His endurance failed, and after several weeks, Nil collapsed, and burned into carbon, along with all he carried.

All he carried, that is, except for the artifact quiver that was strapped to his back. This was a quiver of the gods– more beautiful than any dwarf could imagine, tougher than the rock we stand on, and as deadly as any demon. The quiver, of course, was on fire, but no dwarf that laid eyes on it could trouble him or herself with wondering why it was perched on a pile of cinders. One by one, each dwarf claimed the flaming quiver, and one by one, each dwarf in the settlement burned.

They call me “Mad Hammer”

Furnacegleam!

A river flowing from the east, carrying ice at the end of the long winter. A charming valley with deep soil and peaceful animal life.Two years into my embark, the winter caravan found me in an embarrassing situation. My expedition leader had just been ambushed by a goblin thief, and even though my pair of hammerlords managed to defeat the goblin by bashing all the bones that could be broken in his little body, Kivish had gotten a terrible fracture in his right hand, and somewhat lost the ability to handshake with anyone, even the official outpost emissary.

Worse still, the outpost emissary found the leader outside before he could be diagnosed or sutured, and decided the meeting would be conducted immediately, atop my snowy outside defense wall.So, the outpost emissary made my very necessary expedition leader stand outside in a snowstorm, as he was wounded, tired, thirsty, and passing out frequently from the pain.I tried activating the civilian alert. When you make it an “exercise,” the dwarves follow along and stand in the burrows properly – but when you try it for real, they panic and go anywhere but where you want them to. I should have printed that emergency notice.

The wind got even colder, and in addition to the fractured hand, my expedition leader felt like he terribly needed a drink – I cannot blame him for that. Soon, I’d had enough, and decided to send my two hammerlords to bash in the skull of the outpost emissary.At the time it felt like a good plan.

Reg, the first of my hammergirls (did I mention they were both girls?), comes in and starts bashing him so fast the outpost emissary looks like he’s flying. That’s a legendary fighter for you. The second one, Zas, a squad captain, tagged along to deliver the finishing blow — and suddenly gives me a fun surprise.

In an instant she attacks Reg from behind and smashes her skull. For the love of Armok, Zas! What are you doing?I built many theories around this. First, this could have been seen as a form of justice (a bad deed: a beating) – but justice was not aware of Reg. Zas was not in love with the outpost emissary, nor had she any reason to hate her best friend and coworker Reg.

I think what happened is different, and it looks like a deep moral conflict that solved itself in a wrong way (well, she IS a hammerlord, after all). I am gonna try and reproduce a dialog between morality and duty, in Zas’ inner mind.Duty: “Go and kill that fuckin’ outpost guy.” (pressing voice)

Morality: “But this civilization is peaceful. They are our friends!”
Duty: “This is an order. GO KILL HIM.”
Morality: “So … does this mean I can kill friends?”
Duty: “As long as he dies.”

And so, instead of crying the loss of Reg, Zas just got a happy thought:

“Zas took pleasure in a slaughter recently.”

Disturbing. But maybe it explains what happened next.What’s done is done. I lost a hammerlord, but it was all for the leader’s sake. Now we just have to hope this will not turn into that much of a diplomatic incident. Zas goes to the expedition leader to lend a helping hand and carry him to the hospital, but carelessly cracks his head open by dropping him on a stockpile. Then she goes on and starts playing cricket with my five war dogs guarding the entrance.

My best and only efficient soldier has officially gone on a killing spree. This kind of looks bad, mmh?

zas killing things

Zas, leaving a trail of blood behind her.

What disturbs me the most is that Zas seems perfectly sane – she is in a good mood and says she is going back to the barracks to make individual drills. My ass you are.Civilian alert, and AGAIN, my citizens choose to all go outside — ‘A dwarf on a killing spree? I got to take a closer look!’

What a bunch of retards. I take the heavy decision of sealing off the fortress without waiting for the dwarves outside to come back in. It was designed so that the military buildings could be entirely separated from the civilian fortress. This results in two drawbridges getting lifted with dwarves on them, which launches everything on the bridges upwards – resulting in two brewers and a mason taking off for their final flight.
furnacegleam-flight
Melbil, a brewer, taking off with some rat remains.

I carefully observed the phenomenon this time around: they went up ten z-levels or so in an approximately straight line (one tick: one level) before slowing down and falling back on the fortress with appropriate crunching noises.

Thanks to their flashy sacrifice, my civilians remained safe. The ones outside all got butchered by Zas without delay. She goes back and closes in on the military buildings, and then … I remember there are about ten newbie archers in the towers. This is so gonna be a one-sided slaughter. Or is it? I wait and wait in the marksdwarves tower, waiting for the big bad blinking pink nightmare to go up the stairs and start painting the walls red … but nothing happens.Of course not! Zas has found her barracks on the way, and she is making individual drills. For real. Like nothing happened.I save the game and go to sleep.

Written by Kevin T.

 

Unexpected Altruism

Let me tell you a short tale of a goblin wrestler who went against all expectations and surprised an entire fortress. The fortress of Rockanus had three beginnings. The first beginning was the original expedition, which survived five years until their demise came from within, when two members of the infantile military went berserk for unknown reasons and painted the deeps of the fortress with the blood of their fellow dwarfs before they threw themselves into an abyss the miners had revealed earlier on.

The second beginning was when another expedition reclaimed the lost fortress, taking over operations and getting things running once more. This expedition unfortunately befell a terrible fate like its first, and I was beginning to believe Rockanus was cursed. This expedition had only lasted two years before a large goblin ambush appeared suddenly, right on top of Rockanus’ main entrance. The goblins were merciless – everyone was slaughtered. My dwarfs ran for cover in the deeps of the fortress but they were all hunted down and butchered. Rockanus had fallen once more.

Soon though, as if Rockanus itself craved more victims, a third expedition arrived to reclaim it. The geological location of Rockanus was too pristine and perfect for the Mountainhomes to give up – they were persistent to take it. But an oddity appeared when one of the dwarfs in the third expedition did a survey of the surroundings. Goblins! They had remained since they slaughtered the last inhabitants.

But something was amiss – the goblins weren’t hostile towards the dwarfs. There were three goblins: two pikemen, and a wrestler clad in chain with iron weapons. They roamed the area near the fortress’ main entrance. Distrusting them despite their “Friendly” demeanor, the dwarfs dug an alternative route into Rockanus, completely passing by the goblins. Extra security measures were taken and traps now littered all the entrances – the dwarfs would not trust their goblin neighbors after the previous slaughter.

Third time’s the charm, they say, and for a while it seemed true. Rockanus began to prosper once again and soon had a bustling population of 63 dwarfs all hard at work, expanding Rockanus in all directions at a flourishing rate. The goblins continued to loiter the outside of the old main entrance, now long sealed. The dwarfs even began to forget about the strange three goblins that inhabited their lands. And goblins were the last thing on their minds when the peace of Rockanus was shattered once more, when a miner had uncovered something far worse than goblins.

A miner had broken into an immense cave system, several times the size of Rockanus. It housed unbelievable wealths of ore and gems – the dwarfs couldn’t help themselves as they entered and began to build their forwards mining camp into the seemingly endless cavern. A small band of crossbowdwarfs accompanied the miners as a precaution, and for good reason, as several packs of crundles, foul little impish monsters, harassed the miners only to be dispatched quickly. But this was far from the worst thing wihch made the caverns its home.

The miners were suddenly startled, shocked, and horrified when from the depths came a heart-shattering roar. Legends came to the minds of the dwarfs of an ancient creature that was believed to inhabit the depths of the world, but had since been forgotten: Urke the Hollow of Heart was a terrifying entity, a gigantic four legged, skinless beast without eyes. The miners immediately began to flee as the military that had accompanied them opened fire, only to be quickly overcome and slaughtered by Urke’s terrible speed and strength. The miners fled up towards the main fortress, but Urke followed.

Urke made a thunderous entrance into the fortress depths right behind the miners, and with him he spewed pestilence and death. The nobles immediately ordered all the citizens of Rockanus to flee to the guard towers outside of the fortress. A few brave dwarfs would be set to seal Rockanus up forever, and with it, Urke. In a screaming panic, dwarfs flooded the halls of Rockauns and made for the exits, heading for the burrow atop one of the major guard towers outside. Urke was quick to catch the miners who were still several levels down, and ripped them into countless gibs. Urke had no mercy on Rockanus.

The evacuation was halted momentarily for masons to begin the construction of a steel wall to seal in Urke. The materials were fetched from the guard house’s metalsmith workshop as they began to hastily construct the barricade. Urke had annihilated all life within Rockanus at this point, feasting on the lingering few who had remained busied with their own tasks at the time, unaware of death’s approach. Urke’s tremendous speed carried him up and up the fortress until he was fast approaching the exit of Rockanus. But the wall was hardly done yet – a few more segments remained before the dwarfs would fully complete it. All hope seemed lost – Urke would escape and slaughter the inhabitants at this rate. Even the nobles’ predictions became grim. But suddenly, just as Urke approached the last stretch of hallway before the main entryway, something happened that no one expected.

A short, chainmail clad, green skinned individual ran into Rockanus and past the dwarfs hastily constructing the wall. As the goblin wrestler ran in to face him, Urke halted, as if surprised. The wrestler wasted no time in combating Urke, and the beast showered the goblin with a spew of rot and decay. The goblin pressed onwards despite his sickened injuries – he grappled with Urke, immediately breaking one of the beast’s legs! This tiny humanoid had grappled the tremendous horror that Urke was, and held the beast in place as the two fought to the end. Despite this act of unexpected heroism, the nobles knew that construction of the wall could not be halted. Precious moments had been bought, and soon the last block was in place and Rockanus was sealed forever. Behind that last block was the sight of Urke in combat with the goblin wrestler. Rockanus was sealed, and never dug into again. No one ever knew why the goblin acted so altruistically towards the dwarfs that day. The settlement continued, and the guard tower soon expanded into a completely above-ground fortress.

Years later a stonecrafter called out that he had finished his masterpiece, and everyone came to look. On the wall was engraved the image of a goblin and Urke the Hollow of Heart. Urke was in the fetal position, and the goblin was laughing.

Written by Gobbles