Seven dwarves set out from Mountainhome to forge a new civilization in the wild mountains far from home. They travelled in their wagon for many weeks before they found the natural wonder that would become the centerpiece of their new fortress. Three peaks came together where a mountain river flowed down one tall mountain into a great crack through its center that led to an underground lake by way of a thousand foot waterfall. Two rivers led out of the mountain from the underground lake, encircling it in a defensive embrace. Rich in all the necessities a burgeoning fortress would require, it was the perfect place for a fortress, and the picks were unsheathed at last. They named their new home Fresh Rope.
Early 2012 saw a new release of Dwarf Fortress in over a year. Besides numerous tweaks, bug fixes, and minor updates, the new release also introduced new undead and monsters. Necromancers, vampires and lycanthropes add a new dimension to the game. By dimension, I mean a new way to lose and fail. The new features, coupled with the fact that taking any kind of break from the game invariably results in having to re-learn the basics, interface, and commands, is sure to result in FUN (=losing.)
The new fortress began in an auspicious way, with a dwarf sacrifice. The dwarves decided to park their wagon on the extreme edge of the thousand foot cliff, and the first dwarf to leap out, leapt to his instant death far far below in the cold dark water. Within seconds of arriving, one dwarf was dead, and the remaining six were preparing to go the same route! I instantly gave the command to start chopping and gathering wood in the OPPOSITE direction of the waterfall’s cliff face. This seemed to work, but to make sure, I dismantled the wagon right away (to keep the dwarves from hanging out by it, and by extension, near the cliff edge. Then I had them use the first wood they gathered to build a wall along the nearest, most deadly cliff edge. A second dwarf was lost to the cliff during the erection of the wall, and with only five dwarves left, a month of spring gone, and no fortress, the dwarves knew they were in for a rough summer of hard work, and a long winter of sacrifice. And so it came to pass.
The dwarves, fond of labor, began the construction of a small wooden tower at the top of the mountain. Within its protective walls they set their trade depot and dug out a small cellar beneath, for storage of food and supplies. While the tower was being constructed above, the lone surviving miner descended to the base of the mountain and put his pick to work. He sought the base of the waterfall, to the bones of his brother, and dug a fine, straight corridor into the heart of the mountain, only stopping when he saw the light of day scintillating through water and mist.
At the base of the waterfall, just above the surface of the lake, he dug out a “misting chamber” that became the nexus and pride of the fortress. Not only were dwarves contented every time they walked past and through the waterfall, but they and anything they were carrying was cleaned of filth! The chamber was set off so that all dwarves had to walk through the chamber to get to the workshops, housing, or the grand dining hall. In time, they set up green glass grates so they could walk right under the falls, which became very popular. It also proved helpful when we were attacked by our first mega-beast, composed of filth and grime, beware its filthy spittle.
Five years passed, and the dwarves dug deeper and prospered. Trading with humans, elves, and their own Mountainhome, they became rich, and known for their fine cuisine, such as their savory Great White Shark Eye Roast. With access to copper, silver, and iron (but sadly without the flux stone needed for steel) the dwarves soon had a sprawling metallurgy plant powered by coal and charcoal.
During this period, a murderer was discovered among the populace, having snuck in with a group of migrants. With many eye witnesses, Daton the Silver Hammerer made quick work of the criminal. About this time a feral child was discovered living on the top of the mountain, preying on dwarves who went out alone into the wilds. The feral child was apparently a changeling, and was never caught, though eventually his depredations ceased, about the same time as the first goblin invasion.
Also during this period, the deep dwarven miners passed through a cavern deep beneath the earth, and came to a second, deeper cavern, whence two oozing magma pools oozed up through an underground sea. The metallurgy plant was dismantled and massive new magma forges became slowly operational down below, with a shadow city rising around them. The search for better metal went on, fruitless.
Right as the sixth year dwarven caravan showed up, the Fresh Rope had its first goblin invasion. The wretched villains were easily dispatched, and a great battle took place on the silver drawbridge in front of Fresh Rope, for all of the dwarves to witness. Many Axe and Hammer lords rose to glory in that battle, and the caravan was so impressed, they accepted the loot from the failed invasion as a gift and took back stories of wonder to Mountainhome. With them went a letter from the mayor, inviting the king to come.
Come the king did. In year 7 he showed up with his entourage just as another goblin invasion launched. With four times as many enemies, Fresh Rope was caught off guard, and the invaders found a weak point – a rarely used side tunnel that led across an underground river by way of a copper bridge, and into an adjacent mountain. The copper bridge should have been raised, but wasn’t, and the goblins made a bee-line into the main fortress, being held off at great cost of life. The goblins fought to within one chamber of the famous Misting chamber, even as the king was making his triumphant march through the same room.
The goblins were pushed back, the hotel, overlooking the underground lake with a row of green glass windows, was soon full of the dying and injured. All in all, over forty dwarves lost their lives. The King, however was impressed with the fortress as well as the dwarven tenacity to see it survive, and he announced plans to stay! In fact, Fresh Rope was named the new Mountainhome, capital city of the Dwarven clan who called themselves the Sacks of Leaves.
The glory was short-lived. Another goblin invasion came on the heels of the last, three times as big and featuring a squad of ogres as well as cave crocodile riding goblin marksmen. They descended upon Fresh Rope from all sides. The goblins up top slew an incoming elven trade caravan, littering the summit with debased dead elves and despoiled elvish goods before pouring down the mountainside like a flash flood of blood. The squad of ogres pounded towards the front gate and the silver drawbridge, while the crocodile riders found the side tunnel with the copper bridge. The dwarves had a plan though, until tragedy struck. The copper and silver drawbridge were hooked up to a new imechanical contraption called a lever. When it was pulled, the bridges would draw up, leaving the invading army with nowhere to invade.However, no one ever pulled the lever, and the invaders poured into the fortress from two directions, the main entrance and the side tunnel. The king was caught between the armies, and with no armor or weapons, he ran back and forth between the two invading forces, trying to keep one step ahead. It was this action that inevitably saved the fortress.
As an added precaution, copper cages were installed above all major doors and important hallways. These would drop onto invaders, but they could only stop one invader per cage, and the numbers were on the goblins side. As the goblins tore through the weakened and injured army, reducing the population further from its height of 203 dwarves down to 125, they burst through into the main hall. At one end was the grand entrance – milling with ogres. At the other end, cut off by goblins on crocodiles, was the misting chamber and all the unarmed dwarven wives and children neyond. The king ran towards one army, and when they started to chase him, he led them into the copper cages, trapping a few. He would then run towards the other army and trap a few of them in nearby copper cages, trapping them one by one, until miraculously, the goblins called off the siege and began retreating. The king suffered no more than a cut on his cheek.
Fresh Rope was saved! However, the destruction was so great, with almost half its population brutally killed, it would take them over a year to scrub the blood from the walls, and the despair of so many lost loved ones might still prove too great a burden to the life of the fortress. Time will tell if the Sacks of Leaves will be able to pick themselves up from this latest tragedy, but the king is alive, long live the king of dwarves. He saved Fresh Rope.