Saturday, June 9, 2012

Dwarf Fortress: Summitspear 254

Summitspear trade entrance. Bridges can trap enemies in a killing zone, while three ballistas (southeast corner) will fire down the road through fortifications in the wall.
(click image to embiggen)

Year 254 has just come to an close in Summitspear, my current Dwarf Fortress game. My previous postings (they begin here) were all in first person, but nothing much happened in my fortress's fourth year. So I thought I'd step outside of the game to make a few comments.

One reason why little new happened is that we received very few migrants in 254 - just 10 dwarves arrived in the spring, and none at all in the summer and fall. Well, if you remember the previous year, we were besieged by goblins when the dwarven caravan was scheduled to arrive. It never showed up, and word apparently got back to Mountainhome about our troubles.

Note that we'd also lost a number of dwarves to that waterfall, and a couple to goblin bowmen. Those kinds of things impact immigration (which you must admit is pretty neat). Naturally, dwarves don't want to migrate to some fortress that's unsafe. But this meant that we didn't grow much.

We ended the year with 140 dwarves, vs 126 to start. In addition to the ten migrants, there were four babies born in the fortress. Now babies are born with the same random characteristics as everyone else in Dwarf Fortress, but I had to laugh when little Tobul Shakeboulders, only minutes old, was already described as "incredibly tough and very strong."

But that paled next to little Mistem Merchantrelease. Imagine giving birth to this prodigy: "She is tough. ... She has an amazing memory, great creativity, a natural ability with music, very good focus, a very good feel for social relationships, a good spatial sense, good intuition, and an ability to read emotions fairly well."

This image is misleading. Only male dwarves are bearded (though that includes infants).

Unfortunately, it will be 12 years before Tobul and Mistem grow up and can contribute to the fortress.

As you can probably tell, Dwarf Fortress is procedurally generated - proper names included. Sometimes, a name will seem eerily appropriate; in other cases, positively hilarious. But although they're random, I'm frequently tempted to see some kind of meaning in a name.

For example, take the tundra titan, Aweme Swampdash the Mirthful Tulips, which attacked my fortress in the fall. At first, the titan just loitered along the west edge of the map. I was beginning to wonder if it was even hostile.

Then it made a beeline to my fort's southwest entrance, as I expected. There was a pond in the way, and instead of walking around it, the titan just walked right into it. And never emerged out the other side.

Yeah, apparently it was amphibious, because it stopped and waited a bit at the bottom of the pond. Aweme Swampdash? I know that's just random, but it did seem appropriate. And what was it doing down there?

I wondered if it was setting up an ambush, waiting for the caravan that was currently trading with my fortress. But I don't think Dwarf Fortress creatures are that smart.

And in a little while, it turned around and went back to the edge of the map again. What the hell? That's when I started wondering about that "Mirthful Tulips" part. Was it just screwing with me? :)

A Dwarf Fortress titan?

After waiting awhile, it charged into the pond again. By then, I had my military ready, but I really needed to watch the situation, while the titan waited at the bottom of the pond, just as it had before. (I closed the north gate, so it wouldn't surprise me from that direction.)

But after awhile, this time, it charged out of the pond towards the southwest bridge, and my marksdwarves quickly shot it dead. Unlike some titans, this one apparently wasn't made of any unusual substance, and there was no indication that it was poisonous or carried any nasty diseases, either. Rather anticlimactic, in fact.

But the young marksdwarf who put a crossbow bolt through its heart got a new name from it (and also, maybe, from the four goblins she's killed). She's now listed as Monom Razorcontest the Skinny Stranger of Phrasing. Heh, heh. Yes, there are some strange names in Dwarf Fortress.

Soon afterwards, we had a few goblins ambush the fort - six bowman and a maceman leader - but they were quickly dispatched, too. And that's it. Really, it was a peaceful year. I didn't lose a single dwarf all year. I didn't even have one injured.

Typical dwarf behavior.

We've still got four vampires locked up, and one of them keeps getting elected mayor every summer. (My dwarves don't actually know that they're vampires, since no one saw them at a kill. See this for the full explanation.)

One of them, a skilled armorer, went into a strange mood this year. Bembul Tickspaddled withdraws from society. (Yeah, she's been locked away without food or drink or companionship for two years. You can't get much more withdrawn from society than that!)

If I'd done nothing, she'd have gone insane. I don't know what trouble she could have caused, since she was already locked up, but I was curious what she'd make. So I built a metalsmith's forge in the neighboring cell (empty), then knocked out the wall between them.

I kept her confined until she commandeered the forge, then let her out (locking her up again once she started work on it). Well, she ended up making "Strapsclean," a lead gauntlet, decorated with glass and stone, and adorned with hanging rings of alpaca wool and llama bone. Lovely, huh? Well, I guess it's kind of what I'd expect a vampire to make.

And it joins other bizarre artifacts my dwarves have created, like "The Root-Sandal of Wetting" (a llama wool miniskirt), "Autumnhailed the Grasp of Coincidence" (a stone table, with spikes of rock salt and skunk leather), and "Tickruled" (a cave spider silk head veil).

And that's about it for 254. We spotted another "forgotten beast" in the caverns - a gigantic humanoid composed of tiger iron. Beware its hunger for warm blood! A stone creature would be very hard to kill, but it can't get at us, and we're not going in. At least, not right now. So it was a relatively peaceful year.

That's likely to change next year. Certainly, we're likely to see an upturn in accidents, since I've been working on a couple of long minecart routes to the bottom of the map.

Summitspear magma forges, smelters, and kilns, 161 stories underground. Note the minecart tracks (still under construction) leading up ramps at the bottom of the screen, starting the long journey up to the main fortress. There are natural caverns on both sides, and a magma sea directly underneath.

Note that minecarts were released in a recent Dwarf Fortress update. (I'd been waiting for the Lazy Newb Pack to be upgraded, so I spent most of year 254 playing an earlier version.) There are a number of changes in the new version, and I might have designed this fortress differently if I'd known. But I think I'll be OK. Indeed, I've been preparing for the new version for awhile. Still, I know that minecarts can be very dangerous. So I guess we'll see.

At the very least, maybe year 255 will be more exciting than this one was. Oh, I had a great time, still. But it would have made a very dull first-person report (and maybe it still is).

Dwarf Fortress in a nutshell.

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