Landseal Dwarf Fortress 2014
This is the story of Landseal, a Dwarf Fortress that overcame extreme conditions not only to survive, but to prevail. In year 125, seven dwarves from a clan known as the Pink Froth decided they would bring civilization to the Mountains of Universal Truth, so they set out with a wagon, a cow, a mule, and a small flock of peacocks to build a fortress to stand the test of time. My dwarves just love peacock eggs.
The area they chose was perfectly situated along the forested slopes of a mountain range, with a wide valley at its feet cut by a fast flowing brook. The dwarves, made up of a pair of miners, two masons, two carpenters, and a cook, wasted no time setting up shop. While the miners began an extensive moat system fed by the brook, the wood cutters stockpiled a massive quantity of wood for future construction, and made a few beds too. The masons began chiseling doors, tables, and chairs, while the cook planted farms, turned the buckets of brought milk into cheese, and began turning the brought fruit into wine coolers.
The fortress was humming along nicely that first summer, and when the trade liaison from the Pink Froth arrived, we had a few goods to trade (mostly mechanisms) for a few bushels of mushrooms. We asked for wood, fruit, metal bars, and beer for next year. The trade caravan left, and the dwarves settled in for a long but mild winter.
The canals outside the mountain home had been dug by this time but now began the more difficult task of digging the canals inside the mountain. Tragedy struck when Lorbam fell into the well he was digging. (Don’t start at the bottom and work your way up, Lorbem! Start at the top and work down!) he was a pile of blood and bones in a deep well, and a wall of water was coming his way as the canals began to fill. His leg and arm were both broken and he was unconscious. Luckily a few migrants had recently showed up, and one of them who had no experience or aspirations other than to raise a family was summarily promoted to chief medical dwarf. He was given a room in the half completed hospital wing, and provided with a bed for his first patient.
Meanwhile the other miner continued mining and discovered that the mountain was riddled with gold veins, hallelujah! Unfortunately, there was no industrial metal found, so everything had to be made of gold. This is good in some ways, but weapons and armor cannot be made from gold, so the dwarves were getting wealthy, but had little to defend themselves.
The hospital wing and initiation chambers
The chief doctor was doing medical testing on Lorbem the miner, and eventually after much surgery and setting of bones, the dwarf was released to bed rest. His wounds developed an infection, but that didn’t stop him, and he needed a crutch. We built him a gold one, the doctor presented it to him, and Lorbem took the golden crutch and hobbled off to work – digging out gold. The dwarf had been through the ringer, and he was tired and thirsty by the time he mined out his first lump of gold, so I gave him a chair at the head of the dining room, which satisfied Lorbem greatly. Six months later the infection was cleared up, he was totally better with two scars and he became the fortress’s most legendary miner.
So passed the first year, but early on in the second year a message popped up stating that a human giant of UNPRECEDENTED size had arrived and that the dwarves must fear for their lives. Landseal had the bare bones of a military, with a squad of axe and hammer dwarves and a squad of crossbow dwarves, but very few weapons and armor to go around. The dwarves were basically a bunch of scantily clad wrestlers at this point, and I did not see it ending well for them or for the fortress. Luckily, it did not come to that, as the giant chased the first dwarf it found right into a cage trap. I can only imagine how this massive giant must have looked stuffed into a little bamboo cage, but it worked! The fortress was saved!
The giant cage was quickly installed in the dining room, and glass-blocks built up around it to insure that the giant wasn’t going anywhere, even if the bamboo failed. About this time, the elves showed up without much interesting to trade except for some fruits and vegetables an a gorgeous red cardinal in a cherry-wood cage, so I installed that across from the giant, and now the dwarves have a menagerie in their dining hall. Incidentally, the giant is not considered a prisoner, but instead a “caged guest” who seems to have no complaints about his situation. That was how year two progressed.
The grand dining hall with the caged giant of unparallelled size
About this time, the legendary miner Lorbem hit a vein of tetrahidrite. Hallelujah, copper and silver! It may not be the best quality, but at least armor and weapons can be made from copper, and weapons from silver – hello silver war hammers. So began the long process of mining and smelting the ore in preparation for building up the military. About this time, we also discovered a large deposit of obsidian, and so our craft-dwarves started pumping out obsidian short swords –crude but deadly awesome weapons.
It was late when suddenly, at the worst possible moment, the goblins invaded. It was a siege! I saved, exited, and went to bed.
All that day I spent my spare time wondering how I would overcome the goblin siege. It is a simple thing, really, to escape if everything has been set up properly, and some fortress aficionados will claim that defense against siege is the easiest disaster to avert. Simply by having the correct defenses in place – such as locked doors, cage traps, and draw bridges, one can effectively funnel the goblins to their doom. Landseal had all these defenses, but such is the nature of warfare that it never takes place under optimal circumstances. Three times I reloaded that save file, and three times the fortress was devastated within days of the siege.
(Note – Dwarf Fortress is not meant to be exited without saving. In other words, there is no easy way to revert to previous saves, other than with third party add-ons. Also, it goes against the spirit of the game to replay mistakes in hopes for a better outcome. However, there are exceptions to every rule, and in this particular case, I wanted to find a way overcome a seemingly impossible siege, and so I used the rarely used command “die” to cause the game to exit without saving. I do not do this lightly, or often.)
The first time, I went for the brute force approach. Hunkering down was not possible due to a single door being ajar. Earlier I had noticed that one of my exterior doors was not the blue color that I favored, and I opted to send a dwarf to replace the ugly red door with a proper dacite door. The dwarf completed the work, but left the red door on the ground blocking the new blue door from shutting completely, thereby allowing an entrance for the goblins. I set up a dump and put in an order for the dumping of the red door. Meanwhile I drafted every able bodied dwarf into the military and sent them to the area where the door was.
Battle at Landseal Bridge
The door never got fixed, and the goblins made it over the moat before the bridge could be raised, so I sent the mass of seventy naked dwarven wrestlers out to attack. It was a bloodbath. The fight took place on the bridge and over a dozen dwarves charged straight into the river like lemmings to drown. When the battle with the 9 invaders was over, only 22 dwarves remained alive.
Exit without saving.
The second time, I had the same door ajar problem, so I set the dwarves to guard it, but did not send them out in mass until the goblins had cleared the bridge. This time the fight looked like it was won with over 50 dwarves surviving, however the last goblin was some kind of hammer lord who slew or injured so many dwarves, that by the time it was over, I was once again down to twenty dwarves when all was said and done. The hammer lord ended up being a dwarf named Ngokang Dreadfuldesserts, who wore a crown of goblin bone, an must have been some type of chief of the goblins. Dwarves were flung all over the yard by this maniac ,devastation ensued.
Exit without saving.
This was looking bad. I walked away. I thought about it. I had dinner.
The third time, I took no chances and raised the drawbridge as soon as I could, while leaving the military inactive so they would have time to do other things – like remove doors ajar! I had hesitated to do this before because there were dwarves outside the moat when the invasion took place and I didn’t want to cut off any dwarves seeking shelter. In the end it worked out, because after the draw bridge closed, the cut off dwarf realized he could climb the slope and jump down into the yard. He did, and escaped, but three goblins followed him into the yard.
Dwarves were going out one by one to confront the three goblins in the yard, and dying. This could not go on. I sent out the army, and they killed the goblins, and I still had 50 dwarves left! It was going to work!
However, the twenty or so dwarves who died caused a huge amount of grief. Dead goblin and dwarf bodies littered the yard in front of the fortress. There were not enough caskets, and so bodies began to decompose. One dwarf became so distraught that he wandered aimlessly, breaking whatever crafted objects he came across.
About this time a fantastic set of events transpired. A peasant rose from the ranks of the unwashed masses to claim hereditary rule over the fortress, and to declare herself the countess of the county of Landseal. It was amazing, and filled the fortress with unbridled joy, and the dwarves all pitched in to give her as much help as possible to make her ascension the miracle it should be. The expedition leader got a fey look in his eye and snuck off to the forge to create the first artifact – a golden scepter, for the countess!
As the countess and her procession made their way through the fortress, they crossed the inner drawbridge to inspect the yard, scene of the epic battle. The angry dwarf who loved to break things reached the bridge at the same time. He was fresh from the gore of the battlefield and somehow managed to destroy the drawbridge, sending the newly minted contessa and her retinue into the moat to drown. O the horror. The fortress could not go on.
Exit without saving.
It was late, go to bed or try again? The fortress was about to be retired, but I thought I might try one last time, with a few tweaks. I loaded up the game, the goblins appeared, and a miracle happened. Just as I was taking every step I could: dumping the red door, locking the outer doors, raising the drawbridge, mustering the army… one little dwarf named Athel, who was not even in the military, wandered out into the yard wielding an obsidian short sword. What was he doing? All the other dwarves were running for the safety of the fortress, but he was leaving?
Even before the command to raise the bridges could be enacted, Athel crossed the outer bridge and confronted the goblins alone with his obsidian blade. One goblin fell, then another, and another! I was calculating in my head how many lives each goblin death would save when I realized all the goblins were dead and Athel fought the evil dwarf Sinisterdesserts. A naked, novice wrestler with an obsidian blade vs warhammer wielding evil dwarf hammerlord goblin-king.
A hero is born.
A goblin-bone crown sailed through the air to land on the banks of the moat. Athel had saved the fortress single handedly without a single casualty! I instantly promoted him to Captain of the Guard and gave him his own squad to command.
The fortress survived!
Save and exit.
Stay tuned for part two, in which I learn that dwarven babies float.
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