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

Dwarf engraves pre-internet cat pictures

After 2 caravans and no raids, my second fortress finally gets some migrants – 17 of them – more than tripling my population. In this group was a blacksmith who liked cats.

None of my cats had yet been adopted, so as soon as this blacksmith became situated and comfortable, he adopted all of them but one, which a migrant child adopted. Under my blacksmith’s relations menu, it said he had 7 pet cats, and that his only friend was the child.

That alone was a funny image – the “cat lady” of my game being a burly, muscular blacksmith. But it got better. It turned out I had more use for him, smoothing out walls, so he ended up becoming a skilled engraver. And when I told him to engrave my dining room… well, now my dining room is filled with pictures of cats.

This is majorly entertaining.

Written by Illisid

Picture by Illisid’s brother.

Zombie Whales

I decided to build beachfront property – this was just after the start of the most recent build, so not everyone was aware of the horrors of fish just yet.

And as I settled in for the first winter, the zombie whales came in the night. They don’t sleep. They don’t breathe; they don’t even need water; they simply pull themselves up the beach on rotting stumps of fins. They hunger for dwarven flesh.

There was one brave holdout still barely clinging to life in the spring. He had enough time to shout a warning before he expired- but it was too late for that wave of settlers, who were devoured to the last kitten.

Image by Dan Filimon.

Written by UnseenLibrarian

The Human and the Minotaur

After weeks of doing mostly Fortress mode, I rolled up a few short lived adventurers. Finally I have one that hasn’t died an embarrassing death. What’s more is he has his own tale that’s worthy of Greek myth. The character is an axeman, 75% of points in axe and 25% in shield. I was pretty much wandering the countryside alone and I stumbled on a cave. As I venture in, my confidence is high since I’m doing pretty well against the rat men and ant men and mud men inside so I go deeper and deeper. I’m starting to get the hang of some of the ‘wrestling’ moves too and have gotten myself up to Novice in it.

At the 3rd level I turn a corner and a Minotaur greets me. He has little more to say than ‘prepare to die’ so, as they say, it’s on. We clash and my axe bites deep into his shoulder, and gets stuck. He smacks me hard enough to break my grip on the handle, and at this time I was unaware how to regain possession, so its to be a hand to hand fight since I sure as hell am not going to run from this big goon; he’s got my only axe! I lunge for his hand, he smacks me good with it and knocks me down. Near the hooves of an angry, bleeding Minotaur is not my idea of a good position, so I grab his knee. This time he can’t shake me free. I advance my grip to a joint-lock. He’s battering my back trying to get me loose. With a joint lock I try to break the knee. I sprain it hard on the first try. He’s still attacking, fortunately his blows are glancing away. On the 3rd attempt, the Minotaur’s knee breaks and the beast goes tumbling down!

Sensing the chance for victory my U shaped avatar leaps on the prone beast’s back and goes for a grip on his throat. My first attempt is good so my next turn advances the grip to a choke-hold  The Minotaur must be thrashing about but the choke-hold stays secure and I start strangling the beast. 5 turns of strangling and he passes out. Several more turns and he dies! It takes a moment for reality to kick in. My character killed a Minotaur with his bare hands. Finally I have an Adventure Mode story worth telling that isn’t about a grisly death at the hands of chipmunks.

Maybe making a dedicated wrestling character is worth the mental image of Nacho Libre I’ll have while playing.

Written by Chris Watkins

Endok and the Gorillas

So there I was, working on my latest fort. I’d just finished the final touches on the parapets and catwalks and was working on building the second layer to the outer walls. A happy troop of gorillas was passing by, and a lowly stone engraver, Endok, was out smoothing over some boulders for the main road.

Endok did not care for gorillas, it seems.

Endok did not care for them, at all.

Endok, for whatever inextricable reason, had decided to bring a steel crossbow and quiver of bolts that day. She’d never shot before, never hunted, never trained, never took the life of any living thing. She was as pacifistic as they come.

But she did not like gorillas.

There she sat, chiseling away at that boulder when in the corner of her eye she saw it, those bastard silverbacked beasts. A fury of rage, a stretch of bowstring,


Through the eye, one gorilla down


Two more down, half the troop scattered in fear, two of them charged Endok full force.


Make that one. The other reached her and swiped —


Dazed, the Gorilla stumbled back. Endok’s mind flashed back to those days in the Mountainhome, she lived in a small cave her father had dug by hand. It was in the deep jungles in soft loam soil, dug deep into the shale bedrock beneath. Ever since her mother had died, it was just her and Dad… Until that fateful Thursday, 5th granite, 184, when the Gorillas came.


Endok ducks under a mighty swing from the great ape’s hand, landing a solid upper cut with the front of her crossbow. The beast is down, reeling from the hit. Endok slowly loads one last round.

When the gorillas came, it was with terrible raucous noise, the great thrashing of the waterfalls that lay on the other side of the mountainhome would have been drowned out by the whoops and hollers of the gorillas, and the other animals fleeing from them. Daddy told her to wait inside, so wait she did, in her room on the bottom floor, just a few feet of earth between her and the magma channels that led to the mountainhome and gave her father the ability to work. He had been a metalcrafter, building intricate and tiny things that only a dwarf could appreciate. Little metal things, pretty things which Endok loved, but no more pretty things for Endok. For hours she waited for her father, who had taken that old copper axe that hung over the mantle out, he went to protect the mountainhome from the raiding gorillas. He was not a novice, he had served in the Dwarven Guard for many years, devoting his weekends to train for the event of a goblin or elven siege. “Those good-fer-nuthin’ elfs,” he’d say to Endok, “all they ever got is wood for wood, never ‘preciate true metalcraft…” Endok would not see her father again.Some two days after the hollers quieted, a knock came to the door, Endok had not eaten in those days, didn’t drink, didn’t sleep.

“Hello? Anyone here?”, said a voice, hollow and distant to Endok.


“I– I’m”, Endok struggled for words, “I’m here.”

“Ma’am, my name is Urist Macbaddenews, and I’m afraid I have something for you, it’s not a pleasant responsibility, but…”, he handed her a bloodstained war axe, made of Copper, the same one that fit where the dustless outline lay above the mantle. She choked back a tear and looked up, he pointed her towards a box that lay outside. She knew what was inside, she knew it was her father.

“Now, we are happy to take him to be buried in the grand halls of the mountainhome, he was a brave dwarf, and killed many of those beasts before he was finally killed. The King himself has expressed his desire for him to lie-in-state with the other heroes who fell, but I suggested that we ask the families first, and our Gracious King agreed with my small suggestion. Now Ma’am, would you like your father to be buried there? Or do you have some family plot you’d perhaps prefer? Speaking of… where’s your mom, miss?”

Endok sobbed, she managed to say that her mother had died, and that her father should be buried next to her, in the tomb in the lowest level of the house. Endok left that day for a new home, she vowed never to build a metal thing, never to return, to build a new life somewhere where no gorilla would ever dare go.



Endok’s bolt flew past the ear of the great gorilla. She saw him, lying there helpless, and she saw his little son, off 10 or 20 feet away. She looked at him, and in that instant they knew each others’ life story. She knew his mate had died. Maybe Endok killed her; who knows. She knew that that little gorilla had nothing else, she knew she had become the monster that killed her father, but she wouldn’t let that happen to her.

She fell into a deep depression after that, and less than two weeks later, Endok was found dead, with the tiniest metal thing in her hands, a little gorilla made of silver and menacing with spikes of obsidian. The tiniest metal thing, and an old copper war axe sticking out of her chest.


This, of course, is somewhat embellished, but all the (non-flashback) events basically happened. A Engraver named Endok randomly decided to carry around a Steel crossbow and bolts, picked a fight with a passing troop of gorillas, killed 5 of them, spared one (she missed from 1 tile away, no kidding), walked back, fell into a melancholy and killed herself after retrieving a metal trinket from the stockpile and a copper war axe. I have no idea what sequence of events led to this, I wish I recorded the game, but oh my god, greatest thing ever.

Written by Jfredett.

Sociopathic Dwarves

By Jim Riegel

I want to share with you a quick note on a bug that I found vaguely disturbing though: First, I’m sure you’ve learned by now that dwarves don’t like death. It leads to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Put simply, if they see enough, they flip out and kill something – themselves or those around them. However, certain dwarves are sociopaths. They lack the natural emotional empathy and sensitivity of the proper dwarf. They look just like every other dwarf – they act just like every other dwarf… yet, like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator, they are perfect little emotionless machines. They make excellent butchers and fantastic soldiers. I happened to get lucky and had one of these little soulless wonders as my butcher. I have a policy of making newborn puppies and ponies available for adoption and, if ponies are not adopted by the time they grow up, I send them off to be knackered. It just so happens that I sent out my butcher to round up the herd and thin the ranks one day. I saw ‘Stray Horse (Tame) has been struck down! Stray Horse (Tame) has been struck down! Krazen Ergoblasbit (Tame) has been struck down!’

A sinking feeling hit me. The butcher had just grabbed the wrong horse. He’d somehow found someone’s pet and killed it. I expected a dwarf to go crazy any minute. When I looked at the corpse, I saw that Krazen was marked as being the pet of the Butcher.

I blinked. He’d never owned a pet before. I checked his thoughts. He was ecstatic. He had been comforted by a pet recently. He had adopted a pet recently. The little bastard befriended and adopted the horse while leading him to the block, improved his mood, killed him and had ZERO sense of remorse, guilt or loss. He just didn’t care. I’m starting to think about waiting until he’s asleep, removing his door and replacing it with a floodgate just to give the creepy bastard the Cask of Amontillado treatment.

A Fluffy Victory

So, I’m just wandering along through this forest, looking for a cave where I could maybe kill some dragons or something and get their fat loot. This was shortly after I had gotten my throwing to legendary +2 (remember this).

I came across a cave and thought, “Well, maybe it’ll be filled with giants or something.”


There was a bronze colossus.

He told me his name then proceeded to bum rush down the side of the mountain after me. Tripping over my feet, I tried to run away and disturbed a nest of fluffy wambler bunnies at the bottom of the mountain. They immediately spread forth in a great cloud at my feet. So, I did as any adventurer would do. I stuffed them in my backpack in an attempt to make some money out of this encounter.

Maybe I could sell them or something.

The bronze colossus was coming up from behind when I was struck with the awesome idea to begin throwing these bunnies at the bronze colossus.

The result was astonishing, and I could do nothing but stand up from my computer with my fist held high in the air, because I had just beaten the game.

Written by Discontent

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.