The Stasisgem Fortress was built to stand the test of time, and for many long seasons it continued to thrive, digging ever deeper as its dwarves greedily mined the mountain of its gems. Earlier the initial fortress, or “Ground Zero” was described, and how it was hewn from the stone of Misty Mountain during that first long winter. When spring finally arrived, Meng and his cronies set about planning the full fortress in all its glory. Level Zero was meant to be the bulwark of defense for Stasisgem, and the true fortress would be spread out on the many levels below. Meng, architect and engineer as well as expedition leader, set out the mining plan for the next seven levels.
The plan for Stasisgem was to dig as deep as possible, in hopes of setting up a magma forge. It was unknown how deep the dwarves would have to dig (level 32 it turns out) and so they planned a newer, larger burrow on level 4. This would be where all the housing, dining hall, cooking and brewing would take place, as well as the Royal Chambers and private treasure vault for the eventual leader, once Meng stepped down as expedition leader to make way for a mayor.
Moving upwards a level, we come to level 3, intended to be the main treasure vaults of the fortress. This massive chamber would contain all the finished goods of the fortress, and its many sub-chambers each housed a specific type of treasure, including one room set aside for nothing but raw adamantium. In addition to the vaults, level 3 also contained an extensive crypt and eventually a rough hewn chamber housed the hospital and recovery rooms as well.
Above the treasure vaults, we have level 2, the workshop. This level of the fortress had outer and inner arcing hallways with many side rooms each housing a workshop and small storage area. Thus the entire output of the dwarves took place on this level, from coal forges, carpentry shops, to clothiers and bowyers, level 2 rang with the sounds of dwarvish industry day and night. As the fortress expanded to two or more of each type of workshop, more looping hallways were added.
Next we come up to sub-basement level 1, or the level directly below the initial fortress. This massive, sprawling series of chambers was home to the main stockpile. Anything not a treasure was stored here, including food, raw ore, and trade goods. Carpenters had full time jobs making bins for this level, which eventually numbered in the hundreds. Of to one side, a rich loamy clay was unearthed, and a secondary chamber was mined out for kennels and additional farming, as well as some underground plant harvesting.
These four levels were the main backbone of the fortress. They were defended above and below, and were intended to be inviolate. Indeed, during the life of the fortress, no enemy ever managed to breach levels 1 through 4. That is saying something about the design, which featured among other things, staggered stairwells. The dwarves learned early on not to use one central stairway for the entire depth of the fortress. With a single step and an enemy can (and will) step out onto whichever floor they want, and this is not good. With this in mind, Ibuilt level 7, the home of the Brazen Hammerers, and elite squad of heavy armor wearing melee dwarves.
Level 7 was built with an up stairway at the south end, and a long l shaped passage leading to the downward stairs. In this passage a ballista was erected, as well as a wall of fortifications, behind which the Hammerers had their barracks and training rooms. No enemy from the depths ever made it through this gauntlet, including some pretty ferocious underworld creatures, including the Gorlak, and the Gorlak’s son.
Levels 5 and 6 were set aside for exploratory mining, as they were primarily marble with lots of gem clusters. Over the life of the fortress, when the dwarven miners were not digging deeper, they would return to levels 5 and 6 and continue digging in a grid pattern to locate the most valuables. While I uncovered much marble, and many valuable gems, I never found any veins of metal other than iron. Gold and silver would have been nice, and indeed my search for gold helped lead to the inievitable fall of Stasisgem, as we will hear about shortly.
Once levels 1 through 7 were complete, the next phase of Stasisgem fortress kicked off – to dig as deep as they could go. Level 13 was important, because here they cracked into a vast underground cavern which included an underground freshwater sea, as well as valuable gem out-croppings, giant mushrooms and other plants, and various denizens of the underworld.
Out of game note: I would have slowed down game play here to get the most out of the caverns, but I was intent to get to the magma as quickly as possible. As I continue to learn more about how the game works, I can see earlier mistakes becoming compounded, leading me to believe this fortress was doomed from the beginning. Activity zones and stockpiles were something I didn’t fully understand when organizing the first few levels, and it led to the dwarves doing much more walking back and forth than they should have.
Drilling down from level 13, we went all the way to level 31, where we discovered aomething amazing. At level 30, we were surrounded by wet stone, due to vast underground water reserves, but found a vein of adamantium, holding out the water. The vein was wide and deep enough that the dwarves built a stairwell inside the protective adamantium and drilled down to level 32, where we found our first magma. The adamantium continued downward, so we kept building stairs ever further, all the way to level forty, where a vast sea of magma opened up, preventing any deeper mining.
Now, on our way down through this adamantium ‘pipe’, the dwarves drilled through water and magma both. As they came back up, they began carving out chambers in level 31 for the magma forges. Here would be the Stasisgem secret forges. Constructed of adamantium, hidden from above, and protected by their own squad, the Still crystals, with their own rooms, dining hall, and food/alcohol storage, level 31 was designed to be almost self-sufficient. Dwarves would have no outside interference to keep them from hammering away on their adamantium anvils. Sadly I did not fully understand the workings of magma.
The Fall of Stasisgem came from three sources. The first was magma. The dwarves had a perfect stairwell , but they could not resist mining out the gems, and when they mined a certain cluster of fire opal, it opened up a crack that allowed the lava to pour through into the stairwell, turning it into a magma chute straight down the the magma sea, and totally unusable by the dwarves, even the ones trapped below when the magma started flowing. This also made it impossible to mine out the floor below the smelters, as a pool of magma (4 deep) is required directly below any magma powered workshop.
Eventually the dwarves found a way to channel out a room below the forges and smelters, and even managed to open it up to the slowly filling magma, but because the stairwell continued to drain, the room was never able to fill to the capacity the workshops needed. It was a tragedy of poor design, that surrounded by magma, my deep dwarves could use none of it, and the secret forges never were fully operational.
Incidentally, when that adamantium stairwell broke through the roof of the vast magma cavern, a message popped up saying that unspeakable evil had been released. However, by turning the stairwell into a giant impassable magma waterfall, Stasisgem may have actually been saved from whatever unspeakable evil was aroused.
The second cause of the fall was a nearby mountain brook, which wended its way along level 3, the treasure vaults. Hearing about how gold is often found in mountain streams, the greedy dwarves dug out chambers, shafts and tunnels near the stream in hopes of finding that gold. They never did, but they eventually broke into the river itself, unleashing a never ending tide of water that began to fill level 3, and eventually everything below. Doors and walls could stave off the water, but the flooding of the crypts, treasure vaults, and hospital was such a blow to the dwarves that they could never recover, especially with what was happening on the surface.
The third major reason, and the ultimate cause of the abandonment of Stasisgem was at the hands of loathed goblins. Two sieges were launched against Stasisgem in 2 years. The first siege was handily repulsed, as I shall describe. At this point in the game I had 3 squads. One, which I forget the name, was stationed at the entrance. The second squad was stationed on level 7, and the third was the private defense of the secret magma forges, on 31. The goblins easily scaled the wall (and open doors) surrounding the hidden valley, and the first battle took place on the valley floor. I had my squad retreat into the mountain, nd the goblins were decimated by my fortress entry fortifications, including cages and stone fall tracks. While 1st squad defended the halls, second squad assaulted out onto the valley floor, and 3rd squad assaulted up out of the valley and to the gates. Third squad was decimated, but they drew the fire of the goblins as they charged.
The sacrifice of 3rd squad allowed 1st and second to mop up their areas, the main entrance and the valley floor, and so together, 1st and 2nd came to the aid of 3rd squad and repulsed the goblins off the mountain. I got enough silver goblin arrows from this siege to begin minting commemorative silver coins.
The second siege, a year later, caught me unawares. 3rd squad had never been rebuilt (due to the tragedy happening down on level 31) so 1st and 2nd squad were all I had to defend. As magma was flooding the lower levels, and the river was pouring into the upper levels, the goblins chose this moment for their second siege, and they gained the walls, and valley before any squads even mustered. So began a long, losing battle in the upper works, that eventually led to the population being reduced from 125 down to forty.
In one glorious moment, old Meng, the legendary miner, and original expedition leader, strapped on the first artifact of the Stasisgem, the legendary iron boot Dancefortress, and with the only adamantine battle axe in the fortress, he waded into the enemy goblins and trolls, striking to and fro with wild abandon. The iron boot sits there still, buried under the bones of dwarves and goblins.
Three things combined to doom the Stasisgem fortress: greed, thirst, and laziness. Greed for gems brought about the loss of the magma forges, while a thirst for clean water caused the river to be diverted into the fortress. Finally a laziness in reforming the 3rd squad, as well as a general lack of consideration for the might of the goblins, was the nail in the coffin. They were trounced so soundly the first time, the Stasisgem dwarves gambled that they would not be back soon.
Farewell Meng and your doughty band of survivors, you will be missed. However, the world continues to rotate on its axis, and another Dwarf Fortress is in the works. The next fortress will be bigger, better than before, and there will be some other unique features that are sure to prove exciting. Stay tuned for MEGA DUNGEON.