Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Just a flesh wound...

The Ecrueagle market (Ironhand graphics set). Yeah, we finally made it there.

After two years of development, Tarn Adams has finally released a major new revision of Dwarf Fortress. (See my previous posts about this incredible - yet free - game here.)

Actually, it's been out for a few weeks, but there are always a lot of bugs with a new release, so I didn't want to jump right in. Even now, after seven or eight bug-fix updates, I figured I'd just start with adventure mode, which tends to be a much shorter game than fortress mode, the real meat of Dwarf Fortress.

(Note that the Lazy Newb Pack is no longer being updated, so I'm using Peridexis Errant's Starter Pack, which is basically the same thing (thus, my "Getting Started" post is still useful). I'm not using any of the utilities in the starter pack - I've never even tried most of them - and for this playthrough, I just picked Ironhand's graphics set at random, pretty much.

(I don't have many screenshots here, though, because the land is still covered with snow, thus it's not very colorful. Not that the graphics are much, anyway, by today's standards - but the game is developed in ASCII, so be thankful there's even this much! Still, I should have taken more screenshots. My apologies for this wall of text.)

My character is a human axeman named Wom Mythwards (the random name-generator came up with that), hearthperson of Nac Councilflax of the hamlet of Trancebolted. It's a cold land, and still very, very early spring.

My lady had a number of guards in The Accidental Lull, so I recruited two followers. Both Doñas Smithhill, who was also an axeman, and Nique Thriftystrings, a swordsman, were eager to be led to "glory and death."

I also searched through weapon and armor supplies at the fort and equipped myself almost entirely with iron armor. Unfortunately, I could find no chest armor of any kind, but both Doñas and Nique wore iron chainmail shirts and were almost exactly my size. (As you can see, I was thinking ahead.)

Then we were off in search of adventure. Now, I'd talked to my lady and her consort, so I had some idea of the troubles plaguing our land - bandits, criminals, and beasts, as well as an army marching on Hideunite. (Note that, from the conversation options I've seen so far, I still don't know if that army is friend or foe - or anything else about it, for that matter.)

However, I really felt that food was my first priority. I started with only five servings of chopped spiny dogfish liver - not my favorite food, and not nearly enough of it. :)  As an axeman with no sneaking or throwing skill, I figured that I wouldn't be too successful hunting for more, either.

So I thought we'd look around the nearby hamlets to find a shop or a market. Unfortunately, we didn't find a store of any kind, piddling away nearly the whole day before I thought to ask someone. It turned out that Ecrueagle, a "short walk" to the northwest, was the market town for the whole area.

Coincidentally - or not - that was also the town we'd heard was infested with criminals. So maybe we'd have a chance to do a little fighting, too.

By then, it was too late to get there before nightfall, when the bogeymen come out, so we stopped at a village along the way and asked permission to spend the night. The next morning, we got up early to fix breakfast, then headed on our way.

Perhaps I should mention breakfast? I built a campfire to warm up our chopped spiny dogfish liver, but I'm wondering if it might have tasted better frozen. (Either way, I was already down to just two servings left.) Our water was frozen, even in my waterskin - even after spending the night indoors! So I had to warm that up at the fire, too.

But as I say, we got an early start, and we made good time. At one point, we were slowed down at a cliff, where I had to go south to find a way down, then travel north at the bottom before finding a way up the other side.

It wasn't until we were up the other side that I realized we'd crossed a river. The ice, like everything else, had been covered in snow. (Even with a graphics pack, it wasn't very scenic.)

Then, as we were traveling through a small town, we suddenly dropped out of the fast travel map. I had a bad feeling about this! (This is how you get ambushed when using fast travel.)

There were five goblins nearby, including a bowman to the north and a crossbowman to the south. Since there was no cover at all in this windswept town, I moved towards the nearest house - and the goblins came closer.

According to the humans in the town, these goblins had been harassing people. ("A bandit gang led by Taviti Hilllaw has been harassing people on the street.") But they weren't overtly hostile to us, and we didn't see any signs of combat.

The goblins told me they were on a mission, but I couldn't figure out exactly what mission. (There are a ton of conversation options in this new version of Dwarf Fortress, but few of them tell me anything I really want to know.)

As we talked, though, they got closer and closer, getting right up in our faces. (The two ranged goblins stayed at a distance, which was also a concern.) I didn't like the situation at all, so I headed off to the east, then north around a house, leading my followers out of there.

Three of the goblins stayed right with us, though. So I tried to talk to them again. I demanded that one of them yield. He called me a coward and demanded that I yield, instead.

At this point, I discovered that my bronze great axe was still in my backpack. Heh, heh. Yeah, I'd put it away in the previous town, because the townspeople weren't eager to talk with a man who looked ready to chop their head off. And I'd simply forgotten to equip it again. (I'd also forgotten the 'q' command, which toggles drawing/sheathing your weapon. I didn't actually have to put it in my pack.)

So I took my axe in hand and things went to hell immediately. In fact, a lot of things happened before I was able to make another move, myself.

(Note: I don't know if that's because it takes a long time to remove a weapon from a backpack, or if I just hit the wrong key while trying to wade through pages of combat announcements. Either way, I wasn't entirely sure what had happened until I went back and read the announcements afterwards.)

I suppose it was my fault, because the goblin crossbowman yelled, "What is happening? Is this an attack?" when I drew my axe. Then he started yelling at my followers to yield. The goblins hadn't drawn their own weapons, but they started punching and kicking my men.

Nique, my swordsman, immediately yelled, "I yield! I yield!" Doñas was made of sterner stuff, though. "Has the tide turned?" he asked. "I laugh at the face of death."

That was the last thing he ever said, because the goblin crossbowman shot him, and when he fell to the ground, the goblin lasher smashed his head in. (Lashers wield whips, which are incredibly dangerous weapons in Dwarf Fortress.)

In explanation, the goblin crossbowman said, "Wom Mythwards demanded submission of me." And so I had. But the shit hadn't actually hit the fan until I drew my weapon. For that, I'm sorry, Doñas.

Nique was still standing frozen in place. He kept saying, "This is truly horrifying." And so it was. But I wasn't going to let the goblins get away with murder.

The goblin crossbowman was to my southwest, right next to me, but just around the corner of a building. The lasher and a sword-wielding goblin were to my north (both lying on the ground, as it turned out, because that was the only way they'd could fit in the same location). So I thought I'd try sprinting and jumping over them, so I could possibly take them from behind.

This is something new to this version of Dwarf Fortress, but it turns out that a man wearing iron armor, with a full pack on his back and carrying a great axe, can't actually jump that high. Go figure, huh? :)

As I made the attempt, the lasher rolled out of my way to the east. The goblin swordsman tried to roll away, too, but unsuccessfully. So I struck him, knocking him to the north and temporarily stunning him.

Quickly, I swung my axe at the lasher and took his head off. Then I did the same to the goblin swordsman lying stunned on the ground. Things were looking up! I was expecting a crossbow bolt in my back, but the goblin crossbowman and my remaining swordsman both seemed stunned by the violence.

So I took a quick step back to the south and knocked the goblin to the ground, then removed his head. The other two goblins - a pikeman and that bowman - were nowhere to be seen.

So I looted their corpses. :)  Ah, poor Doñas. I didn't lead him to glory, but I did lead him to death. He probably didn't expect it to be in his very first fight, though, or that he wouldn't even get a chance to bloody his axe.

Luckily, as I say, he was almost exactly my size, so I had my iron chainmail shirt now. It was rather bloody, of course, but then, everything was bloody at this point. Doñas had a gold coin on him, too, which I figured he wasn't going to need anymore. I thought about taking his iron great axe, but my bronze weapon seemed to be working just fine, so far.

Then I looted the goblins. They didn't have much, especially since I couldn't carry anything too heavy (and I wasn't willing to take their soiled underwear), but at least I had a little something to sell, if we ever found a merchant.

A food store in Ecrueagle. Note the clothing stores to the north and west. And that's a tavern - where all the noise is coming from - to the south.

With only two of us left, I figured it was time to get out of town, so I headed north. But Nique didn't follow me, so I went back for him. He was still standing in the same spot, still staring at the carnage, still muttering about how terrifying death was.

I checked him over and discovered that he had a bruised foot. A bruised foot! That was all. And he hadn't even swung his weapon! Hey, buck up, Nique. Walk it off! I didn't have the conversation option to chew him out as I wanted, or even to demand that he get moving, but when I headed off again, this time he followed me.

And this time I went south, back where we first entered the town. Maybe I was feeling cocky, but I thought the two of us could take out those two remaining goblins - assuming that's all there were, of course. (As it turned out, I came across a human maceman - Atal Wrungfortresses - who also wanted me to lead him to glory and death. So I was back to having two followers before I even spotted the remaining goblins again.)

We saw them both, and I thought I could sneak up on the bowman and get a jump on him (literally). I never saw the goblin pikeman again after that, but I did get close enough to sprint forward and jump at our ranged enemy. Unfortunately, he saw me, too, and stepped backwards, so I didn't hit him. But he was now standing at the edge of a drop-off - not a tall cliff, but not something he'd want to fall down, either.

So I swung my axe at him. He parried with his bow. I swung my axe again, and again he parried. But he also yelled out, "I yield! I yield!"

Now, that was great, but... what was I supposed to do now? He didn't drop his weapon, and I didn't seem to have any conversation options to take his surrender. So, not knowing what else to do, I demanded that he yield.

And he shot an arrow at me! Yeah, I'm standing in his face, swinging a great axe at his neck. But he's not only parrying every attack with his bow, he's actually able to shoot that bow! I dodged the arrow, but it was still quite surprising.

So I swung at him again, and again he deflected the attack with his bow. So I reached out with my left hand (my "lower left arm," technically) and grabbed the bow. I didn't have any wrestling skill, but I thought maybe I could at least prevent him from using the bow, if not pull it out of his hands completely.

But no, I didn't seem to have that combat option. I could release the bow or I could change my grip, but that was all. (I don't remember exactly how that second option was worded, just that it wasn't clear to me what it would do. But when I tried it, the result was, "You adjust the grip of your lower left arm on the Goblin Bowman's bow." Whoopee.)

[Edit: Apparently (my thanks to Migue5356), this was all because I had a weapon in one hand and a shield in the other, thus I didn't have the option to use my hands when wrestling. (I'd assumed that "lower left arm" was just the weird Dwarf Fortress way of saying "left hand." I should have known better.)

[If I'd grabbed the bow with my hand, instead of my lower arm, I would have been able to Interact with it, just like when you get a weapon stuck in an enemy. And if I'd grabbed the goblin with my hand, I would have had more wrestling options, including throwing (though not the option to throw him in a particular direction, I guess). All good to know, huh?]

And when I tried swinging my weapon at him again, he still deflected the attack with that bow, even though I was hanging onto it with my left hand. [Edit: I just noticed a bug-fix today where Toady - Tarn Adams - "Stopped shared/wrestled items from being used for block/parry." Apparently, this should have worked to keep the bowman from deflecting my axe attack.]

So I also grabbed his left arm with my right hand (my "lower right arm"). There was still no option to disarm the goblin or throw him off the cliff, or anything like that. But I had one hand on his bow and the other on his arm.

So he shot me in the left lung.

Yeah, he could still use the bow, even with me hanging onto him. Apparently, the only result was that I could no longer dodge his arrows.

The arrow went through my leather coat (my leather "dress," actually, although that's another thing that doesn't make much sense, since my character is male) and through the iron chainmail shirt that I'd just taken from Doñas. (It hadn't done either of us much good, huh?)

Looking back at the combat report, I see it just "bruised" the lung (and my chest muscle). But "mortal wound" kept flashing on the screen. Apparently, I was dead and just hadn't realized it yet.

So I kept fighting. I mean, why not? If I was dying anyway, maybe I could at least take the bowman with me. But he still parried every attack I made.

Nique was finally moving close enough to maybe think about helping - throughout all this, he hadn't even swung his sword yet, but he was at least braver than our new maceman, who was nowhere in sight at this point - when the bowman wrenched free of my grip and ran off (not down the cliff, but to one side).

I tried to catch him, but with an arrow in the lung, I'd gotten winded, and I was a lot slower than I had been. I don't know what good it would have done, anyway, since I couldn't hit him. (This has been my typical experience with Dwarf Fortress adventure mode. I kill enemies right and left, until I encounter one I can't hit at all. There seems to be no middle ground. Either they're easy to kill or completely impossible - at which point they kill me.)

I still had my mortal wound, and there didn't seem to be anything I could do about that. There are doctors and hospitals in fortress mode, but there aren't even bandages in adventure mode. Technically, there are civilians with medical skills, but they don't actually use those skills for anything, as far as I know. And "mortal" seems rather final, anyway, doesn't it?

But this is Dwarf Fortress. :)  I went to fast travel again - mostly because I wanted to get my death over with - and headed north, just to the other side of town. It hadn't even been an hour, I'm sure, but when I dropped back out of the fast travel screen, I was completely healed - not even a scar to indicate I'd ever been hurt.

I don't know where the arrow went, because I hadn't thought to pull it out of my chest. But maybe, since my chest muscle and my lung were just "bruised," it hadn't actually pierced anything? Still, a flashing "mortal wound" on the screen does seem rather critical, doesn't it? Heh, heh.

OK, my character has "high toughness," which no doubt helped. But I think there's a bit of luck involved here, too. Sometimes, fast travel will cure whatever ails you. But sometimes, you're healed, but permanently impaired (like my crippled peasant here). Of course, if you lose any bits and pieces, amputation is permanent. But I was surprised to recover at all, let alone so completely, from my "mortal wound."

After that, we traveled on to Ecrueagle with no further delays, and there were lots of shops in the town. (No criminals yet, not that I've seen anyway, though we encountered a friendly - apparently - "dwarf marksdwarf necromancer" in the tavern. I tried to recruit him, but I can only have two followers until my fame goes up a bit.)

At the first clothing store, I sold the bloody clothing I'd looted from those goblins (probably too cheaply, but I didn't realize how expensive food would be). Then we bought some good food, so I'm not stuck with that chopped spiny dogfish liver.

In fact, I bought a variety: prepared giant toad brain, prepared elk bird gizzard, and prepared swan intestines. Yum, yum!

PS. Here's the sequel and conclusion to this story.

Note: My other posts about Dwarf Fortress - and other games - can be found here.

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