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:

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3 thoughts on “Carp

  1. Pingback: Dwarf Fortress: And in the Game | Superlevel

  2. I’ve never had a single dwarf fall to carp. At one point, I was desperate for food, so I sent a novice wrestler to fight several carp in a pond. What’s up?

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