When Megadru the Hammered Pillar was abandoned, the dwarves were not ready to give up on the region, and so a few years later, they launched a new expedition. This one was named Thobost, the Pillar or Girder, but it soon became known as Thobost Gar, Girder of death, due to the excessive number of dwarves who lost their lives building and defending it.
The region, known to the dwarves as the Realms of Dawning, was a mountainous highland plain. Surrounded by peaks, the sandy badlands was inhospitable to all but the most wretched creatures, like goblins, trolls and ogres. But beneath the ground, the layers of stone provided ample veins of precious stones and metals. Deeper, it was connected to the vast linked underworld caverns, and even deeper yet were the fabled magma seas, which the dwarves hoped to tap into for their magma forges. It was too good a site to pass up, and so the fourth expedition launched. They passed by the ruins of Stasis Gem, shaking their heads sadly. They gave Megadru a wide berth, fearing Corpse Dragon who had claimed it for its lair, until they came to the site of the new fortress. This time, they would stand the test of time, and build a bigger, better fortress: Thobost Gar, Girder of Death.
Campaign Note: One of the ideas behind this campaign will be simply FINDING the correct mega dungeon out of the ruins of previous attempts. The Dawnforge region will have at least 3 (hopefully just 3, although Thobost Gar is in a tenuous position at the moment) ruined fortresses and the first goal of the campaign will be to determine the site of the true mega dungeon. Hunting through the ruins of previous failed attempts will be a great low level endeavor, and will include clues to the whereabouts of the true goal, as well as having treasures of their own to uncover, such as the magic elven amulet Fancypresent and a certain magic iron boot named Dancefortress. See the previous article for the plan for the campaign game.
Another expedition broke the ground on the edge of the plateau near a swift flowing mountain stream. This plan called for a preliminary guard station, where the 7 founding dwarves would carve out more or less temporary quarters and work rooms as they delved further. Eventually this zone would become a guard station and have its own tower jutting up at the corner of the walled Pillar. The dwarves, you see, had not given up on their vision of an awe inspiring tower straddling a deep, open central shaft.
The dwarves had learned from their mistakes, and the leader was skilled in mechanics, engineering, and architecture. The expedition leader Kaz, chose to begin work on a waterworks system to bring fresh mountain spring water to the halls from the outset. By fall, the fledgling fortress had running water, and thirst would not be an issue. It was a good thing, because Kaz had seen a vision.
It was of a fortress destroyed by thirst. From 55 dwarves at the beginning of the Autumn Freeze, the dwarves died one by one until only a mother and her dwarf infant remained. Then the mother died, and for a long sad month the baby crawled from dining hall to dining hall over the decaying corpses of its aunts and uncles, searching for its parents. Miraculously the baby didn’t die of thirst, its mother having nursed it even while she was dying, and when the Spring Thaw came, new migrants showed up. But not in time, even as the migrants were trundling down the stairs to their new home, the baby finally died of thirst. It was so sad, and the migrants fared no better. They spent the summer clearing out carnage and had no time to make barrels of beer, or to fill the water cistern, and they too died of thirst. (OOC After this disaster I reverted to a previous save.* Thereby becoming “vision” rather than reality. It was pretty gruesome.)
Kaz knew the devastation of thirst-crazed dwarves and his waterworks system saved them that first year. They laughed as the stream froze solid, while they were still having hot baths and running water in their warren. Good times.
By the spring of the second year, the foundations of the Girder were complete. Another innovation of the engineer Kaz was to dig out a room, then channel out the floor, eliminating the need to dig the room below, and also vastly reducing the chance of a dwarf falling to his death. Five floors of open space, with a massive winding staircase ascending the center was their reward for a years worth of mining.
So far Thoboast Gar was a stunning success. It was however fraught with its own turmoils. These dwarves were fond of their food, and they had brought along cows, donkeys, goats, and lamas to milk and butcher. Fortune smiled on the skilled animal handlers, who were soon swamped with young. Meanwhile, the cook and brewer were spending all their time planting, brewing, and creating lavish meals. They turned milk into cheese as fast as they could, but the amount of cheese they were producing became overwhelming until it began to rot, creating purple miasma.
Goblins were another threat, and after suffering many casualties holding off a small raiding party, Kaz decided it was time to build a curtain wall surrounding their fortress entrance, and immediately set to work. The work of the fortress was demanding, and they had to cut corners to get it built. The military was one such cut, and it led to losses, so when winter of the second year set in, Kaz turned to his Captain of the Guard and ordered 3 squads – 2 of heavy armor, and one crossbow squad. You see he had another vision:
This vision was of a complete curtain wall by spring, right as the Elven caravan arrived with all the wood they would need the coming season. While the elves were overstaying their welcome, another goblin raiding party showed up, but this time they were stymied by the walls. They milled about, not doing any harm, but keeping the dwarves, and now the elves, penned in all summer. Finally Kaz threw up his arms in disgust and ordered a surprise sortie of his crack three squads out to engage the single troop of goblin invaders. It was an ambush! 4 more hidden goblin troops waited just outside the door, and it became a bloodbath.
It would not have been so bad except for one of the dwarves died defending the entrance to the fortress – literally RIGHT in the doorway, and so the doors were stuck open. The three green squads were defeated, the goblins entered the fort, and all dwarves were mobilized to fight for their lives and home. When the goblins were finally driven off, or rather left after engorging themselves and pillaging, barely a dozen of the 70 or so dwarves were left alive. Good thing it was a vision (Revert to autosave.)*
Kaz reminded himself, keep the doors locked AT ALL COSTS! More to come as Thobost Gar begins its third year, the year of delving deeper and training a crack squad of goblin slayers. They need those magma forges!
Updated to add: The fortress was not lucky enough to survive the next season. The goblins could not be held back and they eventually breached the fortress, sending another colonization attempt to ruin.
*A note on cheating. I prefer not to cheat, and only do so when serious tragedy strikes before I am ready to call it another failed fortress. Even then, I have it set to autosave every spring, so if I revert to a previous save, chances are I will have lost hours or play-time. It is not done lightly.