The Crimson Pyramid

You know, I’ve run a fortress like an Aztec cult before.

I don’t know how it all got started. Maybe it was when I noticed how fun it was to drop  an elf invader 20 Z-levels and watch the explosion paint the walls red, sending little peasants scurrying to clean up the gore. Maybe it was when I renamed my philosopher’s profession to “Priest” and then “High Priest.”

I definitely know where it went. Some urge made me create a sort of sacrificial pyramid that stretched fourteen Z-levels to the heavens over the rest of my fortress. Each section was engraved with all sorts of horrific events, as the local legends seemed to revolve around the wounding of some dwarf when he tried to fight a cyclops and got his arm ripped off or something, not to mention all the inhumane atrocities committed by the little buggers. Needless to say, when the temple was finished, it was covered from top to bottom in pictures to rival any glowing pit. I was quite content with my little megaproject.

red crimson pyramid aztec dwarf fortress

But that was only the start. Now, to understand this setup, you have to understand the layout of the fortress itself. The temple was constructed at the center of this open-sky fort, where I had also designated the meeting area. Around this, there were several nobledwarf’s and legendary’s houses and a few grand dining halls and such. A small wall separated this section from the larger, more industrial area of the city, and finally open-air farms ringed the walls that were a good 3 levels high and patrolled by 2 squads of marksdwarves. The lower class living quarters, which consisted of 2×1 squares with a door and a bed, the magma-fueled steel foundry and the barracks were all underneath the city, where the miners toiled all day long and the noise and heat were unbearable. Mind you, these hellish subterranean apartments were located just below the grand temple.

Now, one day, I decide that I want to see an goblin explode in the middle of the town square, so I order that a cage be dumped at the top of the temple (which, of course, had a 3×3 notch in it designated just for that purpose). So my will be done, a little metalcrafting immigrant dwarf climbs to the top, releases the doomed prisoner, and watches as the goblin’s guts spray all over the 10+ idling dorfs.

He immediately goes insane, and produces a steel-gold-silver-aluminum monstrosity of a chair that’s worth millions of dwarfbucks. Apparently, Armok was pleased with my sacrifice.

So I test the system. Every time a peasant gets sick of the hell-pit they live in and goes berserk, I sacrifice an invader. Every time a dwarf screams for shells and crystal glass, I sacrifice. Every time a noble mandates a steel-plated bedroom, I sacrifice.

And it works. Like a charm. A bloody, gored-smeared charm.

Soon, I realized the necessity of these near-weekly offerings, and how the sadistic dwarves seem to love them. I installed grates to allow the blood and guts to splatter down into the lower levels, staining the living quarters crimson. The king bathed in carmine near-daily, spending all his time in the meeting area. The subterranean river runs red with gore, and the nobles demand mandates of ruby and bauxite and hematite to visually satisfy their thirst. The engravers are going mad with all sorts of demonic pictures, and the temple itself is stained.

I loved it. I loved every siege, for it meant more sacrifices. I murdered the human caravans so that they might fall into my traps. I provoked the wildlife into my snares. I would have Armok be exalted by my worship.

Soon I realized the madness, soon I realized the sanguine path on which I tread. I watched as the streets ran red with blood, as the mines flowed with red rivulets and dwarves went berserk with bloodlust. I realized what I must do.

I saved the game, removed an old 512 mb USB drive from my desk, and copied the file to its barren memory. I then deleted the original from my hard drive, took the stick to my back yard, and buried it.

As far as I know, it remains there today, slowly polluting the ground with its thirst.

– Author unknown



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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.

Âsax Masterjails, The Most Awesome Cave Swallowman Ever

About a year or so into my most recent embark, I received a message informing me that Rusmo Ômourog, a forgotten beast, (specifically, a shelled hippopotamus with external ribs and curly emerald hair) had been struck down.  Which was strange, since I was still dallying about on the surface, still paranoid from my last fort being annihilated by a fire-breathing pterodactyl thing.  Not long thereafter, I found out the cause:

“Âsax, Cave Swallow Man Spearman has bestowed the name Mudoung upon a tunnel tube shield!”

“Âsax, Cave Swallow Man Spearman has bestowed the name Zosbagnaxob Spug Akul upon a fungiwood spear!”

Unfortunately, it would appear Âsax either could not make up his mind, or was exceedingly forgetful; the blighter began renaming his weapons thereafter, at an alarmingly high rate, pausing the game and zooming into the unexplored blackness of the earth each time.  So I placed a note at the place I was forever being dragged to, and had my miners dig there. Âsax had to die.

There were two odd things when I found him at his camp.  Unlike his kin, Âsax was “friendly,” not “hostile.”  And he was a bit busy.  Specifically, he was locked in combat with Ejem Itvidsiñur Ipizocul, a massive, poison-spitting blob of ash. He apparently didn’t think killing one forgotten beast with a wooden spear and shield was enough.  And Âsax is winning; Ejem had a tail at one point, but Âsax has lopped it off, and Ejem’s body is red (mangled) at the time of writing.  Âsax, although “tired,” is unhurt.

I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do about Âsax.  I can’t let his obsessive renaming grind my game to a halt, but since he’s not hostile, I can’t attack him.  And the fact that he’s killed one and a half forgotten beasts to my zero makes me think that might not be wise.  Perhaps his obsessive renaming is related to his combat with Ejem; I’ll see if I can help him hasten the beast’s demise.

OK, this is getting ridiculous.  While waiting for some source of leather to make a quiver (for some reason, I’ve not seen a single caravan), Ana showed up.  Ana is “a great quadruped composed of coral” with three tails, a “gaunt appearance,” and deadly spittle.  Since it couldn’t reach me, it went straight for Âsax, whose third toe on his right foot is now broken and smashed open.  This is the only damage Ana and Ejem (who just won’t die despite being in the red) have done.
Let me re-iterate: he is trapped between two poison spitting Forgotten Beasts, and that’s all they’ve managed to do to him.  Maybe it’s a bug…

 

This is insane.  Lacking any major source of magma or water, I figured I’d just have my miners cut open an alternate route, and then hack Ana and Ejem, into pieces.  I mean, tearing a creature limb from limb will kill it eventually, right?

I soon found out this answer was “wrong.” As soon as I pierced through on ground level, Âsax decided he wanted to see the sky and flew like a maniac out of the cavern, with Ana and Ejem close behind.  I eventually managed to lure them into a side tunnel and seal the two forgotten beasts in (along with a fish dissector dwarf I’d used to distract them); my very own Hidden Fun Stuff.

Though no longer fighting the beasts, Âsax is still doing the obnoxious renaming every few minutes that started this whole mess.  My dwarves are ignoring the kill order; they have it on their job list, but are hanging out in the barracks instead.  They’ll obey other kill orders, though.  Since I don’t have any magma, and very little water, I can’t think of how to eliminate Âsax… or at least get him to shut up.  He’s presently chilling in my main hallway, showing benign interest in my dwarves’ activities.

I found out how to make the game not react to Âsax’s obsessive renaming; it had risen to twice a minute.  Now that that problem is solved, I’ll let him roam freely throughout my fort.
This was by far the weirdest series of events I’ve ever had happen to me personally in Dwarf Fortress.

Also, when sealing in Ejem and Ana, I forgot to seal their escape route back into the depths.  They’re back down there, beating up reptile men.  Whoops.  Well, as long as I dig carefully, not my problem…

…I can’t believe it.
There was a goblin ambush.  Master lasher Atu Wraithwhipped managed to do what three of the most appalling abominations in all of creation, two of them immortals, failed to do; kill Âsax.  Âsax defended the fortress as nobly as any of my actual soldiers, but evidently, his specialty was in dealing with freakish behemoths, not armed, armored goblins.
Those gobbo bastards managed to kill two of my most popular and useful dwarves as well; I may be looking at a fatal tantrum spiral thanks to them.
What a strange little tale.  Atu Wraithwhipped… I’ll remember that name, and if the fortress falls, I’ve got a goblin to hunt down in Adventurer mode.

Well, I made a copy to look at the legends mode:

571 artifacts are listed, all of them just different names Âsax gave to his fungiwood spear and tunnel tube shield.

Not much on the painfully unremarkable Atu Wraithwhipped.  He was born to unknown parents in 803 (present date is early 1055), and he’s a member of the Blotted Incest.  He has no home listed, and his only kills are Âsax and a stray cat, also in my fort.

Âsax was born in 1042, and his life was completely unremarkable until he slew Rusmo Mournfulcackled.  (Rusmo failed to kill a single creature before Âsax slew him in early 1053.)  Âsax, for his part, never stopped considering himself a member of his nameless tribe of cave swallowmen.  Due to Âsax’s efforts, said tribe is now listed on the legends screen, though it has no symbol or name.  Its history only records Ejem, Ana, and Atu Wraithwhipped becoming its enemies.

Oh, and I found out why no caravans, and only a smattering of migrants, have come.
My settlement, Reignstake, has truly been well named. The entire reign of dwarvern civilization is indeed at stake.

It is the last dwarvern settlement on the entire planet.

Just when I thought this game could get no stranger…

As soon as is possible, Âsax will be getting a shrine; I intend ensure that his remains and weapons are given a place of honor.

This will have to wait until the dwarves’ current tantrum spiral wears off. Until then, I plan to set up a far more brutal series of traps and surprises to deal with the Blotted Incest, involving cage traps and guard dogs.  I can’t exactly expand my military, though.  It consists of two dwarves, one of whom has been struck by melancholy.  The rest of my dwarves are needed for their non-military skills.  (Oddly, the melancholy dwarf has not committed, or sought to commit, suicide; he has been obsessively practicing in the barracks, but has refused both food and drink.  He’ll no doubt be dead soon, at any rate…)

Then again, I’ve got a nice little subterranean ecosystem going, independent of the bloodthirsty fiends of the underworld.  Now that I know why the Mountainhomes haven’t been sending caravans (because they’re dead to the last dwarf), and why the humans and elves have been ignoring me (because according to their records, I don’t exist), maybe I should just close up that bridge and be done with it.  Then I have only to deal with the abominations of the underworld, should I inadvertently break back into the subterranean ecosystems.

I’m down to fourteen dwarves now, including the aforementioned melancholy dwarf, and the ones not actively suicidal are mostly pretty close.

In short: I cannot dare dig too deep, lest the undying horrors below tear my people asunder.  I cannot sacrifice even the least of my people, for even they are needed to repopulate my nigh-annihilated people.  The rest of this world either cares nothing for my fate, or seeks to hasten the extinction of all dwarfkind.  The only glimmer of hope my people have ever borne witness to, an eccentric cave swallowman, lies dead by a goblin’s lucky strike.

This is the most Fun I’ve had in a long time.

Here is everything worthy of note from his legends description:  (Âsax is goblin-tounge for Masterjails, by the way, since the underground peoples use goblin as their communication language.)

Masterjails was a cave swallow man born in 1042.  He was of unknown parentage.

In the early autumn of 1053, Masterjails mortally wounded the forgotten beast Rusmo Mournfulcackled, who suffocated, with Squareluck the Tones of Safety in Reignstake.

[Yes, Âsax was 11 years old when he killed Rusmo.]

In the early summer of 1054, Moroserivers the Decent Salve received its name in Reignstake from Masterjails.

In the early summer of 1054, The Cyclopean Tar received its name in Reignstake from Masterjails.

[So on and so forth for many pages…]

In the early spring of 1055, Masterjails bled to death, slain by the goblin Atu Wraithwhipped with a silver whip in Reignstake.

Yeah, that’s pretty much his entire life according to legends mode.  It misses the months spent fighting undying abominations of ash and coral, though, dodging attack after attack, without suffering anything worse than a broken toe, but there isn’t much to say about him.  He only had thirteen years of life, though with them, he achieved more than the average elf does in a thousand.

I think the sheer ordinariness of him makes him all the more awesome.  He wasn’t chosen by some mighty god, or born to some ancient lineage.  He did not wield mighty artifacts or arcane magics.  He was a cave swallowman with a fungiwood spear and a tunnel tube shield, who dared to challenge the unspeakable… and won.

Written by KillerClowns

 

Carp

Stories of murderous carp have been a part of the Dwarf Fortress lore ever since they were introduced. Here are just a few of those stories:

 

I just recently started playing the 40d version. There weren’t any carp in the version I used to play years ago.  I thought the claims of murderous carp decimating dwarves were exaggerated, until I lost my entire embark party to a single carp…

– Kraega

Once I lost my seven dwarves to a river full of carp and immediately reclaimed. The game gave me 70 dwarves. It turned out that even they weren’t enough.

Do not underestimate these foul riparian beasts!

– darkflagrance

I remember this one carp, that had killed over 100 dwarves, by sitting in a pond and eating them while they passed to get their pig tail sock. It got to the point where I was sending out my whole army, only to have them pulled in and drowned. In retrospect, my mistake was not using crossbow dwarves, but still. In the end, I decided to boot up the companion, overpower a dwarf, give him 100 swimming, strip him, throw him in, and let them do battle. THAT is the only way to injure a carp.

– Randomonioum

I lost my first fortress to carp.

They killed a hunter who was walking around. Then they killed the peasant who came to claim his garb. Then they gravely wounded the next peasant. At this point I’d finally figured out what was happening, so I made their items forbidden and cut my losses.

Except that I hadn’t dug a well yet. Dwarves kept coming to the river for water to treat the injured peasant and ended up dying or getting seriously hurt, which in turn caused more dwarves to get more water and… you see where this is going. I didn’t figure out how to make zones until it was far too late, and the resulting tantrum spiral caused my dwarves to descend to a level of barbarism that played out much like Bioshock under the Mountain.

So I guess the lesson is to build wells and flee from the terrifying carp.

– monk12

I literally stopped playing the game for a year due to the unkillable supercarp in every source of water available. They swam in the channels I dug, they muscled their way through the grates, and they killed my dwarves dead with their giant carpy teeth (thus polluting the drinkable water).

At some point it got so bad that in order to get fresh water, the dwarves had to go a bit upriver. Then they got devoured by carp there, thus polluting the water.

So they had to go a bit more upriver to get fresh water (ignoring the pond I built and closed off with an actual floodgate this time; I’m still not sure why they ignored it); at which point they got killed by a carp, thus … I’m sure you can see where this is going.

At that point, the strewn out chain of dwarves trying to get past the waterlogged corpses to fresh water was attacked by goblins and hacked to pieces. It was one of the most ridiculous chains of events I’ve ever experienced.

– Marcin

My dwarves worked vigorously for years on an impressive underground canal system unmatched by anything save Roosevelt’s TVA. The final step in its construction was the channeling out of the thin strip of rock that separated the canal from the river. By itself it was a precarious task, as it required building stairs two z-levels down a cliff face. The river happened to be embedded in sheer walled canyon. But that’s not all; the river was swarming with sadistic carp. Fears aside, this canal needed completion, so the first miner goes down the stairs and begins channeling. The first channel is dug out, and the river back floods into the canal, sucking the water, and incidentally the carp, toward it.

Instantly the river flares up frothing white as the carp surround the miner on all sides and go absolutely mad. Chunks fly everywhere and the miner disappears in the bedlam. The site is now more dangerous than a room full of berserk goblin hammer lords as the carp are sucked up against the grate of the canal entry in worrying numbers.

However, the show must go on, and three more miners are sent in, each meeting the same fate. It is then that I notice that that most recently fallen miner has a child, and that child became apparently curious of the whereabouts of her mother. Before I can do anything, the child is already at the channel entry, investigating the puddles of blood and floating bodies stuck to the grate. The carp have at her, and instead of running, she sits down and cries. I watch in horror as the child defiantly manages to avoid be pulled into the river, and is slowly nibbled and bitten to agonizing death by the insidious carp. The child dies in place after having every limb removed one by one.

I threw up in my mouth a little bit, and sent in my legendary super-agile miner to finish the job. He dug that channel so fast the carp didn’t even notice his presence. A hatch cover was placed over entrance to the stairwell and forbidden, forever. The child’s bones can still be seen in a pile on the banks of the mighty channel—now named in her honor.

– Joel Clark

Further reading: http://dwarffortresswiki.org/index.php/40d:Carp

The Hamlet of Tyranny

Originally from /tg/, a 4chan gaming board. Author unknown.

I was visiting a friend of mine earlier today. So it happens neckbeards flock around neckbeards, and he was currently deep into a game of Dwarf Fortress. As I stepped into his room he motions me to quickly check out his monitor.

On it was the largest demon invasion I’ve ever seen. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before you hear the end of the story, you will have to hear the beginning as relayed to me by my friend.

Having started as your standard fortress, the Hamlet of Tyranny was uneventful by /tg/ standards. Sure there would be caravans and immigrants and occasional (though unusually rare) sieges, but there was a dark and DEADLY secret buried beneath the hills. And his name was Ashmalice.

Ashmalice was a fire demon of legendary status. Not only had he existed in the prehistory of the fort, but he had over 550 kills – which included 2 entire tribes of goblins, a handful of elves, and a terrifying amount of dwarves… one of whom was the king of the mountain-homes.

Fast forwarding to the present time, major construction was underway of the fort. Many many immigrants had arrived over the years and times were good for the dwarves. Having many legendary carvers and warriors my friend grew lax in his defenses. And his dwarves paid the price when a miner unearthed a glowing pit deep below the dungeons carved into the mountain.

Within an hour my friend’s fortress was besieged by a nearly unending horde of demonic horrors. Ill equipped to deal with the threat immediately, the population of the Hamlet began dropping exponentially. Not even a panicked redirection of the river into the lower levels was enough to staunch the influx of demons, only enough to slow them long enough for the major walkways to be collapsed to buy some precious time.

Luckily (and cleverly) my friend had built his fortress in such a way that if any large section had collapsed, then all escape routes would lead out into the wilderness and on a path far from the fortress and defensible by collapsing the ceiling via lever to flood seawater into the tunnel. Though no dwarf was alive on that side of the map, or able to reach it to pull the lever, my friend had bought the dwarves much needed time, though when Ashmalice made himself known all seemed futile. Even more so when Stuvok lost his mind with rage.

Stuvok was one of the founding 7. He was an ex-miner turned blacksmith of legendary status. He was a monster of a dwarf that all dwarves aspired to be. And he had just lost his wife Doken (another of the starting 7) to the demon Ashmalice. His sorrow was felt by the surviving clan as he tore through them one by one unopposed. Only when he ran into his workshop and was locked in did his rage abate.

Morale was rock bottom. Several dwarves commit suicide in this dark hour. And of the handful who remained of this once great fortress, few were willing to do anything at all, except the only other remaining dwarf of the founders: the engraver Sil. In the months that followed, the floors were carved with graven images of his follow brethren. All hope seemed lost. But this was not the end for the Hamlet. Not just yet…

In his grief and mourning, Stuvok opened his heart to the spirits of the dead. And one day they came to him in spirit. In his possessed mood he plotted and planned and (ironically) with the materials available to him, crafted an artifact clearly in homage to his wife: Endless Death of Tears – a sword with an image of a dwarf holding a piece of glass – glass that his wife used daily in her trade.

My friend had been content to just flood the map with lava and end the game after such losses. But upon seeing this artifact his neckbeard overtook him and he knew that Doken, the dwarves, the king, must all be avenged! And thankfully for me, he decided to continue. Fast forwarding again to the present (the time at which I had come in to see him play) my friend had safely excavated what he could of the fortress and moved all activity to a small corner of the interior. When all levers were erected, dwarves armed, and preparations complete, he un-paused the game for me.

A few dwarves made suicide runs to the bottom of the dungeons and collapsed them – which in turn lowered the debris above into a sinkhole that breached a large hole for the demons to pour from back into the fort. A few more dwarves valiantly fired into the oncoming tide of hate, but they were nothing but fodder that bought precious moments for the true plan to kick in. A masterfully placed lever that had yet been un-pulled brought down the entire mountain through the legendary dining hall ceiling; crushing almost half of the intruding horde.

As planned, the demons made a bee-line through the side hallways through rows of blade traps. Demons were chewed up by the blades, but still they came. And so did “He.” Ashmalice not only avoided the fatal cave-in, passed the slicing blades, and bypassed the numerous flooding-trap chambers, but he and a squad of equally lucky frog demons carved and scorched their way into the final defensive line. Among their victims was Stuvok; unable to avenge his beloved. And the last handful of dwarves were quickly reduced to 2 – Sil the engraver and the legendary captain of the guard, Daneken.

As respected and powerful as Stuvok had been, Daneken was that and more. He was a god among his clan, and had once in his long career single-handedly repelled a goblin siege led by a cyclops, and had helped wrestle a dragon to death. And now armed with his dead friend’s artifact sword, he was seeing red. Daneken had been stationed at the edge of a chasm (my friend’s map had a pit AND chasm that had been unearthed, but it was amazingly only filled with tiny spiders that were easily dispatched in the early years of the fort). A single bridge had been built to span the chasm, and would have been later expanded as housing. But that plan was no longer. And this was it. This was the end of the dwarves of the Hamlet of Tyranny. But they would not go quietly.

As the demons approached Daneken threw himself at them in a rage. Ashmalice blasted him with demonic flames, but Daneken was imbued with the collective rage of his people and carved through the frog retainers with little signs of stopping. Ashmalice, however, had seen the death of a king and was not impressed with the antics of a lowly dwarf and sent him hurtling back onto the bridge – coincidentally knocking Sil over the edge. With his flesh scorching and his blood boiling, Denekan crawled to his feet just in time to see Ashmalice hover over him. With but a single push the fortress would be claimed by demons. But to my friend’s and my own utter jaw-dropping amazement, it was the dwarves who claimed him.

Daneken, in a testament to his dwarfdom, slashed off one of Ashmalice’s arm/wings and plunged Endless Death of Tears into his evil heart. Such was the force of the blow that the demon was hurled backwards off of the bridge and sent spiraling down into the unending darkness; spouting curses the entire way.

The Slaying of Ashmalice

With his clan and his king avenged, Daneken himself tumbled from the bridge. But… one dwarf remained?

Awestruck by what had just happened, I urged my friend to quickly find the survivor! The menus opened, the tabs clicked, and we see that name. Sil. Sil? But he fell into the chasm! What was going on? With the battle essentially over and the remaining demons blocked from further intrusion by an unchecked flood of river water, we peer into the chasm. Several Z-levels down, on a tiny 2-square ledge, lay Sil – broken and bleeding, but alive.

With no way to save him, and with his entire clan residing in the afterlife, we debated how this should end. Should we just abandon the fort outright? Should we try and kill him somehow? What? In the end, however, we decided to let him create one more carving – one last testament to dwarfkind. This decision did not come lightly, as after such an epic climax, anything less would seem an insult. After all, maybe he would draw a picture of a plump helmet or something equally random. But still, we left him to his work.

What did he draw? Moments before he bled to death? Alone on a cliff? The last gesture of the dwarves of The Hamlet of Tyranny?

A picture of a demon and some dwarves. The demon was in a fetal position. The dwarves were laughing.