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.



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

50 thoughts on “The Hamlet of Tyranny

  1. I’ve read this story seven times over the last three days.

    I’ve wept more intensely with each reading.

    This is the highest art imaginable.

    Fuck you Ebert.

  2. @Gianni

    Fun fact: split infinitives are just fine. I wouldn’t dare change a word of this story just for a throwback to Latin.

  3. @Wow: You would be surprised at what happens in this game. I once had a warrior, i forget his name at the moment (i cant believe i did because i promised myself that i wouldnt)… well, he was my commander of the guard and he single handedly took out 7 goblins (near the beginning of the fort) and the rest ran for it as fast as they could. I outright quit because of the depression that came after the next goblin attack where not only did the goblins kill his wife (who was picking plants) but they shot him to death as he charged them. They all had bloody crossbows, all 15 or so of them!!!

    and as for demon attacks, one time i broke into the pit and four pages of demons appeared right below. I had no legendary fighters in my fortress at that point.

  4. I’ve told this story dozens of times to people as a way to explain how amazing DF is. No one believes that any game could create so epic a story.

  5. @Gianni, there’s two. Two split infinitives that do nothing to hurt the narrative, and are likely to have been included in the original verbal telling of the story. Go be a grammar nazi someplace else.

  6. @wow

    Oh I can assure you this can and does happen. Just not in this detail. You have someone who knows how to play DF and a friend who can tell an amazing story. All this does happen he just added some flesh to the story.

    o/ will read again!

  7. Someguy: Rules about splitting infinitives are only for written material, you wouldn’t think it abnormal if someone split their infinitives while speaking. Yes, this is written material here, but it’s a story, as told by the author’s friend, so it’s an exception. In any case, most English grammar rules were made up by two guys who wrote one of the first English grammar books back in the 1600′s. Most of it’s bunch of crap, you prescriptivist. If you really want to show off how intelligent and educated you are, why don’t you learn some actual linguistics instead of just repeating what some old lady with a small pay check told you when you were 10?

  8. Why split hairs over split infinitives when you can split Demons instead? Split infinitives aren’t very dorfy. Split demons are very dorfy.

  9. Oh, and @wow, this does happen. Sometimes. Other times, you pull your wagon up next to a river and your doctor gets eaten by crocodiles before you can blink. Your swords-dwarf dodges straight into the water-and he can’t swim. The rest make a run for safety. Fearing to go back near the crocodiles, they are unable to get to their booze, and all end up offing themselves in a fit of depression. Dwarfs 0, local fauna 7.

  10. This is one of the most brilliant stories I’ve read, and inspired me to start really learning how to play Dwarf Fortress. Thank you for the great read!

  11. Dwarf Fortress pisses awesomeness. This story is a testament to that fact.

    As for Daneken… that guy’s got to be the Chuck Norris of Dwarves. Wait, no… he’s better than that. Chuck Norris is old-hat anyway. Daneken is DANEKEN. He needs no comparison to some old bearded actor.

    Henceforth, Chuck Norris is the Daneken of mankind.

  12. Dude, this is EPIC!

    You should go in there in Adventure mode. Maybe you guys could make the world available online somehow so we can download it and go adventure in it?? That would be super awesome.

  13. I read this story of Daneken. He crosses a lone bridge in the centre of a cavern, pursued by a legendary fire demon. he defeats it by plunging it into the depths, and he himself soon follows. I can only imagine that Danekens last words were ‘YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!!’ before throwing Balrog– i mean ashmalice–into the abyss.

  14. The great stories of DF are relayed in summary. Legends Mode (the history book of your world) lists summaries: 200 Elves, 30 War Elephants, 10 Giraffes attacked. 150 Elves lost, 30 War Elephants lost, 10 Giraffes lost. 50 Dwarves defended. 2 Dwarves lost. <- This is your average battle report. But you have to do a little cross-checking and embellishment. It often occurs that 1 dwarf will defend a mountainhome against 500 invaders, and then when you look into that dwarf's history, you learn that she's a hammerdwarf, raised by the king, her father died when she was 3 from a goblin attacked, and she killed a cyclops when she was 13. The rich history is there, you just have to look for it. It's not painted on the walls like your average RPG game (though it's often engraved) but it is very real, and it is very amazing.

  15. This could make a freaking movie. All of it.

    Sil sacrificing himself so that Daneken doesn’t fall to his death, followed by the demon charging at Daneken, only to have his wing clipped off at the last second and a stab to the heart which sent them both falling below.

    The remaining demons looking to one another for guidance. Silence throughout the cavern.

    And then “Tink, tink, tink” from below, as Sil engraves the event with his dying breath.

    Truly epic, and what a finish.

  16. That was the most beautiful thing I have ever heard. The dwarfs sacrifice themselves to seal away the demon king and his hoard from the surface. Brilliant. This story is at least 1000 times better than twilight. Just wow. Best fantasy game ever. I am now going to try this game.

  17. @cidus – Seconded. Would love a feature to DL saves that an author could optionally upload. Basically, I want to reclaim this fort.

  18. Wow.

    DF makes other video games look like junk food, just entertaining you temporarily and filling you up, while it’s more of a series of *Lavish* meals. You use your imagination and fill in the details and visuals, invest a hell of a lot of time and effort, and it pays off. Man, does it ever. I’m only on year 6 of my first moderately successful fort (I haven’t had “fun” yet), but I’ve spent a few sleepless nights with these little guys, and the story just gets more and more complex. I can’t wait until the stakes are raised, and I accidentally break through to hell.

    DF + imagination = incredible

  19. I take it there was no hope of a new migrant wave? DF players should be in charge of making movies, Telling the tales of Dwarf Fortress.

  20. Pingback: Hamlet of Tyranny – una historia sobre el Dwarf Fortress « Fortaleza Enana

  21. Pingback: Bloggification « The Modern Storyteller

  22. Pingback: Ashmalice’s Last Stand: Derek Yu’s Tribute to Dwarf Fortress | VENUS PATROL

  23. This would be an awesome story on it’s own, but the fact that it was procedurally generated in a Video Game make it AMAZING.

  24. In terms of utter stupidity, I may have one for you. I enbarked to conquer the wilderness, da-dee-da-dee, and the game placed the wagon on the river which happened to occupy the center of the map. However, it was frozen at the time because of the climate,so it didn’t need to be a problem…so I mined a magnificent fortress complete with traps, fortifications, etc.. All was well until an onslaught of a mighty, invicible foe. It’s name was… summer. Five of my dwarves died right there, as they were drinking and/or eating at the wagon,one went insane and drowned herself to death, and the last died of starvation,as there were no plants to gather and my crop didn’t grow in time.

    Upon reclaim, the murderous spirits of these souls killed my whole company of seven. I have yet to give it another attempt, and after a while that region went from serene to haunted.(I choose serene to use that fortress as a tutorial for my younger brother, so the irony has never been lost on me.

  25. I already played dwarf fortress before reading this. I did not, however, consider writing stories about it.

    I shall do so now, but I shall know I can’t do as good as this.

    I’m also posting to facebook.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>