Archive for July 17th, 2011

The Hidden Mountain Valley of Stasisgem

The Stasisgem dwarves were so named for their unquenchable lust for precious stones. They refused to trade or sell the gems with such fervor that they eventually earned the strange name. this eventually led to turmoil in Mountainhome, and so the leader of the Stasisgems, Meng, chose to strike out and form a new stronghold where him and his seven allies could mine gems to their hearts content and never have to sell or give them away. After mulling over the world map for many long nights, Meng stabbed his finger down to a spot in the Misty Mountains and said “here will be our fastness.”

With a wagon full of mushrooms, barrels of ale, peacocks, and a goat, they began a trek of many weeks that at last found them in an idyllic spot. Near the peak of a forested mountain, they found a small valley surrounded by crystal clear lakes, with a swift flowing brook far below. One wall of the valley was made of red clay, while the rest was hard stone.

Meng knew the stories of previous colonists. They invariably starved, died of thirst, or were destroyed by enemies known and unknown. He was determined that this fate would not befall the fortress of Stasisgem and he had measures to prevent it. Eggs, milk, and mushrooms should provide their sustenance through that first deadliest of winters. Little did Meng suspect that there are other dangers that can befall even the best prepared pioneers.

Stasisgem, Fortress of Dwarfitude

The first thing, after sighting the region and picking out the optimal place to begin digging, was to set up shelter. While his pair of miners began the task of digging into the side of the mountain, he sent the rest out to forage for wood and plants. One miner drilled a shaft due south into the mountain. This long hall would be the main entry, and Meng was already planning for its defense. Long and straight, it would eventually be full of traps and fortifications. Halfway down the hundred foot long hall he cleared out two rooms, one on each side. Eventually these would be staging grounds for the door guards, but that was a long way off. For now, one chamber would be a combination workroom housing the carpenter and brewer, while the other would be a temporary storage depot. As soon as the rooms were complete, he ordered everyone off the mountainside and into their new home.

While this was happening, the second miner was digging into the soft red clay, clearing a room perfect for mushroom farming, right near the mine entrance. He then set about cutting a channel from under the nearest lake to flow out into the valley of the dwarfs. By this time plant harvesters had returned with many mountain strawberries, and so a strawberry farm was planted between the fresh water channel and the mushroom farms, under the sun. The dwarfs brought the animals into the valley and penned them up. So far they had no luck producing eggs, but the milk and cheese were a boon.

With the beginnings of a farming system set up, it was important to turn inward. As all dwarfs know, stone is good for just about everything except making beds. Too hard. So the carpenter was put to work crafting seven beds. He could have gotten away with fewer shared beds, but Meng tries not to skimp where comfort and luxury are concerned. After beds, barrels are the next top priority. Mushrooms and strawberries both produce dwarf alcohol, and this had to be stored in barrels. In fact, most everything is stored in barrels or bags. Or bags in barrels. Or bins. Or bags in barrels in bins. I’m confused.

Besides barrels, dwarfs need comfort while they eat and drink. This means a dining hall, and Meng planned to have the grandest dining hall of all. A table and chair for every dwarf was his motto during the election, and he put his carpenter to work to make that dream come true. As the carpenter toiled, the farmers farmed, and the brewer sat around getting drunk. The miners bit into the hard rock of the mountain to carve out a vast pillared dining hall, surrounded by private bedrooms for each dwarf. At one end of the dining room was the long entry hall. At the other end were stairs. These stairs would one day lead downwards to ever greater glory, but for now, they were merely symbolic of what future seasons would bring.

By this time an elf caravan showed up wanting to trade at the new trade depot constructed in a hollowed out cavern open to the outside, and right next to the kennels, bee hives, and nesting boxes. Apparently elves do not like dwarfish woodcrafts, and were so insulted by the injuries done to their precious trees when we showed off our brand new oaken screw press, that they left without a word. This was not good, as they held many interesting things for the dwarves to covet. They better not get haughty! But now was not the time for conflict, and so our worthless broker had no chance to give away our goods for a song. He couldn’t even tell what our stuff was worth, much less the foolish elven goods. No worries, karma would see that he never brokered another trade, but we are getting ahead of the story.

Summer was coming to an end, and a few immigrants showed up, bringing the colony to a respectful 12. The farms and brewery were buzzing with activity, unlike the beehives, as the dwarfs prepared for winter. A cold hand of doom gripped each of them as they thought of the long cold winter, but Meng looked with pride on his stocks. He had food and booze enough to ride out the longest winter, if little else. A few more workshops sprang up, including a masonry. This masonry was the pride of the fledgling community and the stone mason began cranking out stone doors to keep out the drafts. Doors, chairs and tables were his forte, while the carpenter mastered the art of crafting barrels and bins.

As the first snows fell, a plant gatherer was struck by a fey mood. He rushed to the masonry and took over the shop, kicking out the mason, and working on some secretive project. Meng thought no more about it, excited to see what this young dwarf might come up with. He instead spent his winter cajoling the brewer to make more brew and the carpenter to keep the community supplied in barrels. Where do all the barrels go? It was touch and go for awhile, but winter had to end eventually.

Suddenly a scream echoed down the halls. The young dwarf Ing had lost it. He spent all winter fretting over the right piece of stone to carve, and never found the one he was looking for. The perfectionist in him would let no other stone suffice, and so the poor dwarf eventually went insane. Even as the first birds flew overhead to mark the coming of spring, Ing went berserk and turned on his fellows. So began a month of chasing, stalking, slaying, and fleeing into the mountains that eventually ended with three dead dwarfs at the hand of insane Ing. Checking the logs, it turns out Ing died of thirst after slaying 3 dwarfs, 2 donkeys, and a yak. What a maniac.

Stasisgem was down to 8 dwarfs, but Meng comforted himself by knowing that the survivors were tough as nails. One more thing of note happened while the berserk Ing was out fighting through his troubles. Another quiet dwarf was struck by a fey mood and took over a crafting building. Thankfully He did not go mad, but instead created the Stasigem dwarfs first legendary item: an Iron boot named Dancefortress. What a boot!

Stasisgem recovered over the long spring and summer. Check out the next episode, where the Stasisgem dwarfs decide it is time to delve deeper.

A note on mods
I am using the Lazy Newb Pack for my modded games. I don’t change any fundamental rules (or cheat, in other wods) but stick to graphical mods. I am using Ironhand graphics pack for the game, and the awesome isometric views are taken using Stonesense, and incredible piece of software that allows you to watch your dwarf fortress in 3d. In addition, I have recently started using Dwarf Therapist, arguably a cheat, but it is the most efficient way to handle dwarf professions I have found. In fact, the program is almost a necessity, since it is so hard to do using the game interface.

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