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dwarf-fortress
“There’s always more to do, but we’re pretty much done with what we’ve found we need to do before the first release, so we’ll go ahead with that release in a few days!” so sayeth Toady One, progenitor of Dwarf Fortress, the game of cruel and undwarfy punishment.

This new version is much anticipated after a long hiatus and will lead to more dwarfy stories, like previous games:

Dwarf Fortress is the Hardest Game Ever
Stasisgem- A Dwarf Fortress Conceived to Stand the Test of Time
The Descent and Fall of the Stasisgem Dwarf Fortress
The Dwarf Fortress Mega Dungeon Campaign Megadru the Hammered Pillars

Megadru the Hammered Pillar, A Dwarf Fortress Year 1
Another Dwarf Fortress Crumbles to Dust – Toppling the Hammered Pillar
Thobost Gar – the Death Girder – a Dwarf Fortress inspired Mega Dungeon Campaign
Diamond Vise – The Red Tower
Countess Thobthiket and the Fall of Diamond Vise
What Fresh Rope is this? Dwarf Fortress 2012
The Short Happy Life of the Ringmartyr Dwarf Fortress
Dwarf Fortress 2014 – the magnifitude of Landseal
Dwarf Fortress 2014 – Poor Fleshy Arches

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dwarf-fortress

After reading an update on the ongoing development of the explored universe’s most difficult computer game, Dwarf Fortress, I realize it must immediately be added to lore of all dwarves, everywhere. He spaketh thusly:

I decided to go with a stepladder tool. Dwarves can build them, carry them around and climb up on them to access an extra 3x3x2 block of potential fruit above their heads (not including whatever is sitting around in the 3×3 on the ground). When a dwarf is standing on the ladder, they appear one z-level above it, and they have a hold on it in a way which’ll hopefully translate to things like climbing statues or standing on tables in the future. I allowed reach from the ladder to go up 2 levels since many trees don’t end up with fruit-bearing branches 1 level above the ground (and the higher fruit will still be inaccessible even with this system, though you could build a platform or something). I still have a bit more to do to keep the system moving quickly and allowing dwarves to retain the ladder between jobs if they aren’t returning with their fruit haul.

Yes, and so it was envisioned, so it shall be. All dwarves build and carry their own custom step-ladder, allowing them access to areas otherwise unreachable to them. The ladder can be foldable, integrated into the dwarf’s clothing, or simply slung over a shoulder, each in preference and skill of the owner. Some ladders might even be built of, or inlaid with the bones of their ancestors. The step-ladders are made according to the wealth and prestige of the dwarf, being invariably built of the finest materials attainable, and the higher a dwarf can step, the higher in dwarven society he will climb.

Needless to say, there is little indignity worse than stepping on another dwarf’s ladder. Ain’t it always so?

Hmm…

I suppose there could be a counter-culture of dwarves, say dwarf druids perhaps, who forgo the cultural norm of step-ladder envy, but instead they are measured on their ability to construct quickly and efficiently as possible, a step-ladder right there on the spot, whenever one is needed. Interesting how so many of these “rebels” always seem to have a bundle of twigs tightly wound with twine nearby.

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Landseal Dwarf Fortress 2014

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 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

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

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 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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df2012

So a new version of Dwarf Fortress has released, after a two year wait since the last update. We are now on version 0.40.05. Yes that is a zero at the front. 9-12 years in and we are almost halfway through the aplha phase of development! This game takes stamina.

Fleshy Arches was a short-lived Frotress that looked like it would go places, but was quickly doomed over the ourse of a few months due mostly to stupidity. I shall not spend too much time on this prefix of a fortress, but its downfall is worth noting.

It started out between grasslands and mountains, with a brook meandering through. There was not a tree to be found on the entire map, and I made do with three wagon-wood beds for the first year of existence. There were upwards of 80 dwarfs hot-bunking it by the end. I finally got some wood when I reached the caverns below, but the giant mushrooms gave out paltry amounts of usable lumber.

The other strange thing about this site were the forest gnomes. the site was lousy with them, and at first I didn’t even notice, until they started stealing booze. Then an angry dwarf got mad at a gnome and smeared his carcass across the drawbridge, and whenever another dwarf saw the carnage they became horrified. This was new, the horror of the dwarves. The forest gnomes were more like gremlins, and I found them to be the root cause of many of the ills of Fleshy Arches. They were very easy to kill however, and horrific gnome corpses began turning up all over the place, horrifying any dwarves who stumbled upon them. It is as if the dwarves couldn’t believe that one of their kind would treat a fellow bearded fairy in such a manner, yet each of them had their own personal tale of tearing a gnome to shreds over some stolen trinket or prank.

While digging out fortifications in the mountain above the entrance, two legendary miners fell to their deaths. That was almost impossible to overcome, and due totally to my stupidity. It is too risky to trench over open spaces! Why do I continue to do it?! Never again. I thought it would be okay since there was a moat below to soften the fall, but they drowned. We need dwarf life guards.

And then the trade caravans never came. The gnomes were stealing more and more booze, even though I had none, and I discovered the remains of a human trading party, with all their goods scattered about. I thought at least I had hit the jackpot with some free loot, but none of it mattered when what I really needed was booze and food, of which those damned gnomes had taken everything.

Although Fleshy Arches never received a full trade caravan, the dwarf liason brought a tale of woe for two years, of a civilization called “The Elven Cobra of Gazes” who were on a rampage of invasion. The Snake Elves might be the reason we were receiving so many migrants, as the entire world was being overrun.

But back to our own trading woes, how the forest gnomes managed to slaughter a human trading caravan I will never know — when my dwarf cook could kill one simply by rolling him up into the dough and flattening him out (horrifying every dwarf in the kitchen) — but it was the first and last caravan to ever arrive at Fleshy Arches, which meant it was cut off and there was only one way to go. I dug deeper, hoping to find magma, because I had no fuel for forges. I thought I found riches beyond wildest belief, and broke open a tube. It led straight down. All the way down.

The fortress was destroyed to the last dwarf within days. It was sad watching a handful of dwarf children (who do not count against population) running back and forth looking for a way out, while the last dwarf standing, the mayor, tried to get to them. His last words:

Kikrost Akrullimar, mayor: Can it all end so quickly? This does not scare me.

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"All that wood felled by a single golden axe."

With the sudden destruction of Fresh Rope the dwarves of the Land of Wonder knew it was time to build a fortress using all they had learned to ensure its successful continued existence. And so the Ringmartyrs were chosen, and they laid out a plan for a fortress that was guaranteed to succeed no matter the location or circumstance.

(The Fresh Rope game ended due to a bug – it kept crashing, a real problem the longer a fortress survives, especially when a new release is going through its growing pains. Version 34.05 had been released and I was still using version 34.02, so I figured it was a good time to pull the Rope.)

They envisioned starting small and poor, and staying that way for as long as possible while the outer defenses were built up. The Fortress of the Ringmartyrs was founded on a forested plateau in a warm climate with year-round rain, and lots of small lakes. Unlike most fortresses, there was no mining the first year, in fact, the dwarves lived without any stone at all for over a year while they set up their site plan.

While the carpenters chopped the massive amounts of logs needed for the all-wood above ground fort and stockade, the miners put their picks to work digging trenches to connect the nearby lakes into a wide, murky moat. Within this ring, the carpenters built up a huge wooden fortress, housing the Trade Depot, carpenter’s shack, and a craftworks station, along with all the necessities for the food industry – kitchen, still, farmer’s workshop, butcher and tanner. This large building also housed a few beds tucked in corners and some tables and chairs, and eventually the entire compound was roofed, at the cost of thousands of trees. It is amazing how much wood putting on a roof can use. (I solved this spectacularly in my current glorious fortress, Shootflukes, which should get a write up eventually.)

After two years of enforced poverty the central fort was walled and roofed, and a stockade wall circled the inner circumference of the moat. The miners finally breached the ground and began digging out the level just beneath the fortress. Hemmed in by the moat, this level became a series of large store rooms. Then the miners delved deep and began digging out a massive centrally open grand hall, about 10 levels below ground. Around this central hall, corridors led off into a new unique layout of workshops, small stockpiles, and housing. Yet the workshops sat idle, as all hands were put to work hauling, chopping, or digging, rather than building and increasing the fortress’ wealth. The second year, no migrants arrived at all, due to the lack of the finer things dwarves have come to expect in their fortresses. For the seven – now 16 – original Ringmartyrs, simple meals, beer in great quantities, and an above ground dormitory were all they needed.

That is, until one of the dwarves entered a strange mood. He demanded metal bars, and I did not want him to go mad, so I set up a wood furnace, smelter and forge for the express purpose of melting down the few nuggets of ore so far uncovered, one of which happened to be solid gold. The dwarf took the gold, and made the coolest golden battle axe of all time, with a picture of a cacao tree on its blade. This axe, worth over a hundred thousand dwarf bucks, increased fortress wealth one thousand percent, and suddenly the Ringmartyrs gained celebratory status. 25 new migrants immediately arrived, nearly tripling the population. And they were not all…

I worried that the sudden, vast increase in wealth would cause an unsavory element to look toward the Ringmartyr’s fortress with envy, so I needed to prepare. The walls, moat, drawbridge, and cage traps would thwart any invasion, so no military had been set up due to the high cost of weapons and armour, but the golden axe had ended the Ringmartyr’s subsistence living with a single whack. So the newly built forge was put to work outfitting a single squad, as usual with silver war hammers. This was done in the nick of time, not for an invasion, but because of a single stranger who came trundling towards the Ringmartyrs from the east.

He was a were-tortoise, and the moat did not stop him; he paddled across with leisurely ease. Nor did the cage traps thwart him, when he transformed into normal looking dwarf. The were-tortoise ran amok through the fortress, before being chased out and all over the map by the squad. They chased him for weeks, all over the place before eventually the golden axe managed to hew through the shell and destroy the forgotten beast. As the exhausted and wounded (bitten) dwarves trudged back to the fortress, night fell, and a full moon came out. No less than half the squad then transformed into were-tortoises and commenced slaughtering the populace.

Weeks passed as the dwarves and tortoises fought through the darkened halls. The population dropped from a high of over forty dwarves down to nine survivors by the time the lycanthropy had run its course. The were-beasts had decimated the fortress, but somehow, due to the golden axe, no doubt, dwarves still sought out a new life in the fortress the Ringmartyr’s built, and so the population began to rise again. Blood scrubbers, undertakers, and coffin makers were in great demand.

After the decimation, things started to turn around. A chamber was set aside for the victims of the were-tortoise, and it held over 60 coffins, many of which were for children and babies, the most fragile of dwarves. (Babies and children are not counted as population, so while the population was listed at 43 at the time of the lycanthrope infestation, the total population including kids, must have added another twenty, judging by the high number of short caskets.

The rain quickly washed away signs of the struggle, and after the mausoleum was completed and stocked with the dead, the fortress began to pick itself up. Forges rang out day and night outfitting the dwarves in iron, while the craftworkers worked overtime to have a big selection for that year’s trade caravan. When a small goblin band of ambushers arrived, the dwarves went about their business with little fear of attack. They were secure by moat, walls, and cage traps, which would easily hold the goblins at bay.

Being safe from invasion, however, id not prevent the conniving little brutes from causing trouble. They continuously ran about trying to catch any dwarf who ventured across the moat – for wood, fishing, to collect a dead dwarf from the garbage heap for burial, or just out for a walk, and so I determined to lure the goblins to their demise. The reborn fortress needed freedom to rebuild!

It would be a simple matter to let down the drawbridge, and allow the goblins to cross and trap themselves in the cunningly concealed falling cage traps installed just inside the main entrance. To be sure nothing went awry, I stationed the squad of dwarves on the other side of the bank of cage traps, so they could deal with any goblins who made it through the gauntlet. It would be a turkey shoot.

The bridge dropped, the dwarves moved into position. The goblins noticed the way was open and streamed towards the bridge. There were more than I thought, and there weren’t enough cages for them all, so it was a good thing the dwarven squad was waiting for them.

The goblins hit the bridge. The dwarves saw them coming, and ran past the waiting traps to meet them on the bridge. NO! A furious battle took place, and all 10 members of the squad were slain, and the few remaining goblins made it into the fortress from a small sortie door wedged open by the corpse of the captain of the guard, golden axe locked in his stiff dead fingers.

Soon all that remained of Ringmartyrs were the ghosts. It was a great experiment gone terribly awry. That damned golden axe cursed them all.

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Mount Fresh Rope with its Wagon Wood Wall Memorial

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.

Behold The Grand Halls of Fresh Rope

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 Grand Halls and Waterfalls of Fresh Rope


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.

Bloody, bloody business

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.

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The Red Tower of Diamond Vise

Momuz Thobthiket was the dynamic dwarfish leader that led the expedition to found Diamond Vise. Building on the mistakes of her ancestors, she determined to succeed where they failed, and she achieved great success by making Diamond Vise into the greatest dwarf fortress to rise from the Realms of Dawning.

Momuz was the expedition leader responsible for founding the fledgling community, and she oversaw the creation of the first 13 or so levels of this, the greatest of Fortresses to straddle the Realms of Dawning. Her Red Tower proudly guarded the passes leading into the realms, and her foundation was stable enough to overcome the many obstacles of the treacherous country.

3 years after its founding, the dwarf High King granted the lands surrounding the tower a barony, and the dwarves unanimously nominated Momuz Thobthiket (who lost the mayoral race) to the status of nobility. The baroness was so excited about this, that she began spending more and more time outdoors surveying her lands. Goblins were in the vicinity, and more than a few snatchers were caught in traps set up on either side of the silver drawbridge.

So the baroness was outside picking flowers when a real siege by goblins began. She was pierced with arrows, one in each limb, and a silver arrow in her chest, piercing her lung. It did not look good. The captain of the militia had to choose between sending out the military to try and save the baroness while fending off the goblins, or to pull up the drawbridge and sentence her to death. He did the noble thing, and sent 3 of his 4 squads after the goblins, while he sent the newest squad to station where Momuz Thobthiket lay in the bloody grass.

The plan worked, and the squad got to Momuz while the rest of the army held off the goblins. Momuz was carried inside to the hospital, by members of squad 4, while the other 3 squads destroyed the goblins handily. The only survivor was one goblin archer who fell into the pit under the drawbridge.

Next, a call was put out to the surgeons and doctors, who suddenly found that their burrow consisted of the hospital. Surgeon to surgery STAT! In a tense few minutes of running back and forth looking for buckets and clean water, Momuz was stabilized and over the course of the next 3 months she remained hiospitalized and underwent multiple surgeries. Even as this was happening, the first adamantine was being pulled up from the depths, and Momuz was lucky to have her wounds sewed up with adamantine stitches. The lung was repaired with adamantine staples, but she will forever have a silver arrow sticking out of her.

One day, while in surgery, a letter came from the king, raising her up from baroness to countess. She would have celebrated had she been conscious. Eventually she regained consciousnees, and then her ability to walk with a crutch. After many long months, she wanted to get back to work (as a mechanic.) so she issued a mandate requiring 3 traction benches built. She then demanded that Diamond Vise not trade traction benches away, and taking up a crutch, she hobbled over to the new mechanics shop built right next to the hospital to build her beloved traction benches. The Countess was happily recuperating after a harrowing close call with death.

Meanwhile, the lone goblin archer had been making a nuisance of himself, scaring the dwarves who crossed the bridge, even if he couldn’t hurt them. Apparently dwarves hate the sight of goblins, and just seeing them was enough to get them to drop everything they were holding and back away. This was slowing down productivity and causing the drawbridge to become messy and unusable, so the captain of the guard ordered that the stone wall separating the pit from the barracks be turned into a fortification. This would allow the crossbow marks dwarves a little target practice eliminating the pest. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as planned. After turning half the wall into fortification, it was open enough that the dwarves could catch a glimpse of the goblin lurking within, and the stone mason was too scared to continue. Then more and more of them got caught up in the scare, since they had to go past the goblin to get to the main stairway, until practically the entire fortress was lined up in the room, refusing to walk past the goblin, and productivity ground to a halt.

Since the fortification was only half-built, the goblin had a corner to hide in, and the marks dwarves couldn’t get to him, so a cycle of hiding, then leaping out to scare dwarves started that literally brought the whole fortress to a standstill. The countess Momuz Thobthiket heard about the goblin and promptly hobbled on her cane steadfastly upwards to take care of the problem. First, she decreed the drawbridge raised – for the first time! – and when it happened, she was waiting there with a silver hammer for the goblin to emerge.

Bang bang, Momuz’ silver hammer came down upon its head, and two hits made sure it was dead. The Countess Momuz Thobthiket had saved the day! If only the story ended there, but little did the dwarves know that they were living the last golden days of their lives. Even as Momuz was solving problems up top, the miners were collecting all the adamantine they could 153 layers below the surface. They dug too deep.

It is too painful to relate the gory details of what was unearthed, but the adamantine pipe they were following led to a vast cavern, and the horrible screams echoing up from that bleak place echoed through the fortress, chilling dwarvish blood.

The countess was no coward and her last act was to confront a demon of the underworld with her silver hammer. She died, and her fortress fell in much the same manner as herself. Of the army of darkness that was unleashed upon Diamond Vise, the dwarves will be remembered for having slain a single demon, at the cost of their entire population.

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