Splatterwine: A Story of Bloodshed and History

Splatterwine was one of my best attempts at making a FUN fortress, simply because of the way the world was made.

It was supposed to be a suicide fort, a way to have a hilariously short and brutal game for that cathartic mad scramble to survive up until the bloody end, and I found the perfect place: The intersection of a savage jungle, fairy forest, and sinister swamp, placed at the ford of a central river, and the foot of a goblin fortress. I geared up my seven dwarves, and sent them to their demise.

It went about as expected; frequent harpy raids were set to the backdrop of an ogre tribe that watched hungrily from across the river. The fortress lived up to its name, as blood-rain came weekly and set half the map awash in the vitae of man. Eventually, the ogres crossed the river, and the fortress was destroyed in a futile attempt at defense. The last dwarf, a farmer, was beaten for three straight months by a pair of sock-wielding brutes, a scene which would be commemorated time and again by artifacts within the fortress.

The goblins never arrived, so I resolved to continue to reclaim the fort until it attracted a proper goblin army. Their capitol was right there! So, a squad of seven recruits, armed and armored in copper with a contingent of war dogs, were shipped to Splatterwine.

When the game started, an ogre was already in the wagon. No one survived.

The third attempt at a fortress was more of a success. The reclaim squad dealt with the ogres one by one, and used what supplies and burrows were already in place to begin the new community in earnest. Eventually, the harpy clan was driven off for good, and immigrants came, despite the danger.

Blood became as water to the dwarves; a life of constant violence beneath the perpetual deluge of crimson. A castle was built, with parapets and gatehouse, moat and traps, which was ever painted red. The first stone layer had both iron and coal, and steel ran in rivers from the forges. The dwarves sharpened their axes, and built strong their walls, and prepared for a time when the goblins would come. Artifacts came in three varities: weapons, armor, and doors.

But the goblins never came.

What was meant to be a FUN little adventure had instead grown into prosperity, with a full two years and hundred dwarves coming to pass before I realized the absence of our sworn foe. For a time, I suspected they were ever just a season away, and continued as I had. Then, while checking the civilizations screen, I noticed that the Dwarven General was no dwarf, he was a goblin! I immediately backed up the save and delved into Legends Mode…

The world was only 250 years old, but what bloody years they were. Fitting. The first 50 years of existence were a time of growth and expansion. The Elves were untouched in the southern reaches, while Man, Dwarf, and Goblin were cramped between the northern mountain ranges and the Sea of Ghosts. Violence came easily between them, but always had a trend: Man and Dwarf killed Goblin. This habit grew in momentum until in the year 82 it erupted into open war between the goblins and their neighbors. This conflict lasted over a full century, and in that time, the goblins won just two battles. These two fights were led by who must have been a great commander, General Malicehammer. He routed combined dwarf/human forces twice in defense of his hometown, only to be shot and killed near the end of the second battle.

Crushed between the strength of Man and the steel of Dwarf, and devoid of heroes, the goblins’ cause was hopeless, leading to the annexation of all their border states. Most of the conflict, however, was only raiding. It seemed to be a monthly sport for the “civilized” factions to raid and slaughter goblins in their heartland, but never conquer them.

That’d spoil the fun.

In the year 190, a demon emerged, who took leadership of the goblin nation. I suspect that a century of horror had forced the goblins down desperate paths, and that the beast was summoned intentionally. It acted quickly, rallying the goblin military, and led a massive force to battle against the human/dwarf coalition. The resulting bloodbath was a stalemate technically, but the armed forces of both sides were fully destroyed in the conflict. In the wake of such devastation, a peace was brokered, and recovery began.

For a decade, things were calm, but Man and Dwarf were wary of the new goblin overlord. They feared its power, and all that its existence implied, but they were too weak to challenge the goblin state as it was. Convenient, then, that an elven hero and known Titan slayer appeared and killed the demonic overlord.

By the end of the year, the violence against goblins began again. This time, however, there would be no recreational raids, no allowed shadow of a goblin government, and no mercy. Every goblin site that didn’t join Man or Dwarf was razed. Every goblin that didn’t submit to capture and slavery was killed. So it was that the dawn of the second century saw the death of goblinkind as an independent people.

Now I knew why no invasions ever came. The dark fortress my settlement was built near was just a charred husk of its former glory, the warrior people that inhabited it broken and destroyed. The goblin that now led the military of our civilization had a rather unremarkable service record, but some spark of the fighting spirit and tactical ability of the goblins of yore had surely kindled a talent in him. Splatterwine would grow fat during this age of (ironically bloody) peace, eventually becoming a capitol. It has a storied life that continues to this day, but I can’t help but feel that whatever I do, I will never live up to the past.

Written by Lord Navry

If this story inspired you,
Learn to Play
with Peter Tyson's new book.

The Tale of Ingish Pillarspeak

I found a kidnapped dwarf in Legends mode called Ingish Pillarspeak, who ended up being the sole defender of his adopted goblin civilization, killing over two hundred dwarves, including his own mother, father, father in law (he married another kidnapped dwarf, she was killed by dwarves early in the war), brother in law (dueled him five times), several brothers, and a sister. He was at war with his original dwarven civilization from the year 30 to 70, armed with a crossbow and presumably a knife.  He liked to rip off the third toe of his opponents. Oh, and he ate the dwarves he killed (never his own family, at least).

He was the victor of his final battle against his original dwarven civilization, but still (somehow) lost the war. He joined the new civilization and later died of old age, wandering the wild.

When I visited the now-dwarven dark fortress he’d defended for so long in Adventure mode, there was a goblin priest in the temple. Every dwarf I talked to had a relative who’d been killed by Ingish Pillarspeak.

I imagine the war was ended when Ingish was shown his own kill list, and it was explained how many of his own family he’d slain in battle. I imagine Ingish negotiated amnesty for the goblin priest, who may have been the only other surviving member of his adopted society by then.

Late in his life Ingish began worshiping a rampaging giant he’d seen battle his goblin kidnapper while still a prisoner. The giant passed through his life kind of like Halley’s comet, right at the beginning and just before the end. The list of gods and demons he’d worshiped and the various entities he’d claimed membership in made me sad: he fought so hard for so long, and for what? His dwarveness, his goblinness, his marriage, his nation, his sense of who his family was and who he had to protect, as it all kept shifting and changing around him. He was a dwarf constantly in search of something to believe in, and his capacity for belief gave him a terrible power. If that didn’t alienate him from his fellow dwarves, I’m sure the fact he’d personally killed (and occasionally eaten) everyone’s grandparents did.

I deleted his whole world after I realized I’d spent 40 hours researching his history in a week that I worked 50 hours, and was still accruing more detail. When I found out he’d shot and killed his youngest sister I cried. Dwarf Fortress creates epic stories.

Written by melkorp

The Legend of Tholtig Cryptbrain

This is the tragic but inspiring legend of Tholtig Momuzidek Lelumdoren, “Tholtig Cryptbrain the Waning Diamonds,” and the bloody century and a half-long war with the elves that she was born into and died within. It is long, for it chronicles the epic of an entire dwarf civilization.

I discovered her story while I was browsing legends mode, tracing the many wars of the era. I happened to notice her name appear over and over, throughout the decades. She was the fifth and last ruler of the dwarven civilization known as the Bronze Orbs, and ruled the mountainhome of Circletower.

Her grandfather Meng Emetmistem Tirdugzodost Urrith, “Meng Freshportal the Brutal Rot of Scarring,” had been the first of their line to rule Circletower, after the previous queen, the only daughter of the first ruler since time immemorial, who had died childless, slain by a titan after ruling for only less than a year. Meng had earned the throne after he himself stepped up to duel with the titan, driving it off but receiving a heavy wound to his lower body in the process.

It was Meng who had started the war with the elves, incensed over their devouring of sentient beings. In the year 81 he led ten of his best dwarves against fifteen of the elves of the Steamy Winds, slaying five of them in exchange for two of his comrades. Several dwarves who would go on to earn fame and honor earned their first kills in that first conflict, among them Goden Leafybridges the Talon of Shooting, the elder, dispossessed son of the first ruler of Circletower (294 kills), his wife Tosid Stockadefortunes the Lined Friend (146 kills), and Goden Routedgates the Jade Planes of Braving (23 kills).

However, Meng had picked as his foe a powerful elf civilization on the rise, known as the Steamy Winds. During the same years as they fought with the dwarves, the Steamy Winds declared war on the humans and a goblin tyranny ruled by a demon.

It was a world war of unimaginable scale. Cities and forest retreats were stained with the blood of literally tens of thousands of the dead, settlements were razed repeatedly by all sides as they fought over them, and the fortunes of empires often turned on a single battle. By the end of it all, over 250 years later, the great elven forest that once stretched across the map was reduced to scattered outposts – but this was long after the passing of Meng and his daughters.

Meng died forty years after claiming the throne in the year 113, and the skulls of 91 elves decorate the mausoleum where he was laid to rest. He had outlived all but one of his children, the rest having been slain (but thankfully not devoured) by elves.

The only survivor, Metthos Rodercatten Notlith Am, “Metthos Baldedchanneled the Ruin of Speaking,” (101 kills) ruled for only seven years before her death while leading the Bronze Orbs to victory against a force of elves that outnumbered the dwarves more than 6 to 1. The throne passed on to her only daughter, the aforementioned Tholtig Cryptbrain, who had just turned 30. There had been no other children because Metthos’ husband had been slain by elves two years after Tholtig’s birth.

The odds would only get worse after her death.

As soon as she could raise a hammer at the age of twelve, Tholtig had joined her parents and grandparents on the battlefield. The dwarves had no choice, for their losses were so great that they needed every pair of hammer-wielding arms they could find. By the time she ascended the throne in 121, she had slain 48 elves and a cyclops, but the amount of dwarves left capable of wielding a weapon numbered less than ten. Nonetheless, she led them to victory in her first assault against the elves, but it was a Pyrrhic victory that saw the deaths of two of her children, including her eldest son.

The war saw the rise of numerous heroes and their offspring: among them Alath Pageplaited the Circular Tongs (60 kills, slain by a hydra in 103), Olon Orblabors the Fenced Sandal of Shadow (Alath’s brother, 118 kills, who became a diplomat halfway through the war and stopped going into battle), Unib Lancemet the Way of Boiling (the sister of Alath and Olon, 8 kills, slain by an elven arrow), and Mafol Drilledhammer the Violence of Forests (Son of Tholtig, with a mere 5 kills before death by an arrow.) Many elf heroes of the wars with the humans and goblins, flouting long titles earned by the lives they had ended, met their end at the hands of Tholtig or her brothers and sisters in arms. A typical battle might see 281 elves arrayed against a mere 4 dwarves, only for 96 elves to perish with all 4 dwarves surviving, yet this continued year after year.

There was an elf leader who met each of the dwarf heroes in battle multiple times for eight years and escaped, before Tholtig finally killed him in their third duel. However, as time passed, the elves only grew more numerous, while the dwarves, their numbers decimated by constant warfare and their children dying without offspring, only grew closer to ultimate defeat.

Tholtig married Logem Uthmikmelbil Gosterudosiddor, “Logem Shaketomes the Hoary Men-larks,” son of the heroes Leafybridges and Stockadefortunes from the first battle between the dwarves and elves, and brother of Alath, Olon, and Unib. Unlike previous rulers of the Bronze Orbs, Tholtig and her husband had many children, numbering ten in all.

However, fate was against the Bronze Orbs: eight of Tholtig’s children died at tender ages shortly after taking up arms against the elves, and even the two who survived the wars met misfortune elsewhere. Her youngest daughter, Urist Joinedrings the Permanent Scars, who had slain 176 elves and survived countless battles, was killed by a hydra, but most tragically of all, Tholtig’s eldest daughter and heir, Erush Racktoned the Rough Miseries of Quiescence, having slain 1007 elves, was killed at the age of 90 by the same titan that her great-grandfather King Meng had driven off to claim his throne, which had suddenly returned 100 years later to plague the Bronze Orbs.

However, time was a foe that even legendary force of arms could not overcome. In 200, five years after Tholtig mourned the passing of her last heir, an adventurer slew that same hydra that took the life of Tholtig’s youngest daughter, and brought an end to the Age of Legends.

By then, only three dwarves remained to defend Circletower: Queen Tholtig, her husband Logem, and Obok Willbolt the Drinks of Ruining (a venerable dwarf, great-grandson of the heroes Goden and Tosid, who had witnessed the rise of Tholtig’s grandfather and the beginning of the war a century ago, and amassed 1654 trophies.) Also present was the diplomat Olon, who by then must have been regretting the pacifism which had cost him equal glory.

Lacking children to carry on and therefore hope, the remaining dwarves slowly slipped away, Obok in 227, Logem in 237, and finally Olon the diplomat in 242.

For nearly ten years, from the year 237 onwards, Tholtig Cryptbrain defended her ancestral home of Circletower alone. Each of these years saw one hundred or more elves lay siege to the empty halls where Tholtig’s entire clan lay sleeping, only to be driven back in bloody defeat.

Alone she stood, hammer in hand, the only force between her home and fiery conquest. Despite the injustice of fate that had taken away her children and the inevitability of defeat, she held her ground until at last in 246 when old age struck her down, something no mortal weapon could have aspired to. And so fell the last dwarf of the Bronze Orbs – and with her death ended their entire civilization and history.

Tholtig had lived for one hundred and fifty-six years, all of which had seen no peace for her, and outlived all of her children, her friends, and her husband Logem, who had died with 1955 kills.

The kills of Tholtig Cryptbrain the Waning Diamonds, Last Queen of the Bronze Orbs and Ruler of Circletower:

2341 kills.

I imagine that Tholtig considered her final end glorious, for she did not die an ignominious death, or fade away at the end of an age, but passed on at the height of her glory in the midst of war, hammer in hand, bringing down with her a great elven civilization, all the while proving her invincibility.

So passed the very last dwarf from the world.

Illustration by Burningpet

Written by Darkflagrance