Thursday, August 21, 2014

The rest of the story

Dwarf Fortress, Ironhand graphics pack.
Here, the snow has melted, though the river remains frozen.

Note: This is the sequel, and conclusion, to Just a flesh wound, my first play of the new Dwarf Fortress 2014, version 0.40.08, in adventure mode. Make sure you read the beginning of the story first. (And please see my other posts about DF for information on how to install and play the game.)

In a tavern in Ecrueagle, we met an unusual figure - a marksdwarf (dwarf crossbowman) necromancer. Kib Mastersabres looked as old as the hills, with white hair, sunken eyes, and wrinkled skin.

In fact, I actually accused him of being a night-creature! But he just laughed. Well, if you'd seen him, you'd have understood the mistake (particularly since he was wearing jewelry made from elf bones).

Quickly, I made a decision. I fired Nique, my swordsman follower who'd been so completely useless, and asked Kib to take his place. I wasn't sure if he'd accept - or if I could completely trust a necromancer follower - but he agreed, if I would promise to lead him to glory and death.

This was probably the worst decision of my life.

Anyway, my plan was to head south "about a day's travel" to Jreekus, a camp in the Drab Winter, and clear out a bunch of thieves. "Skulking villains" didn't sound too tough for our small group, right?

But halfway there, we were ambushed by a pack of wolves. Kib was closest to them and took the brunt of the assault, but as I moved up to help, Atal, our maceman,... ran away. In his panic, he ran right through the five wolves, but they ignored him completely. Cursing, I turned my anger on the wolves.

(It used to be that followers in adventure mode would charge right in towards an enemy. Now, they don't even make good meat-shields, because they just run away from every fight. This is part of a new morale character setting, apparently, but I'd say it needs work!)

Kib was nearly surrounded by wolves, and getting chewed up badly. But I figured I could lower the odds quickly enough. After I killed the first wolf, I was shocked to see the corpse stand back up and rip the throat out of a former pack-mate. Maybe having a necromancer on my side wasn't such a bad thing!

Or maybe it was. It turned out that the zombie wolves didn't much care who they attacked. They didn't appear to attack Kib, but they did snap at me if I got too close. Luckily, two of them were just re-animated heads - since I'd decapitated both wolves - so it wasn't hard to stay away from them.

(Actually, the other one was just a re-animated wolf neck - at least, according to Dwarf Fortress. It was actually the wolf neck which ripped the throat out of that other wolf. Nice trick, huh? But when I hit it with my axe, the record indicated that I'd killed a zombie wolf.)

When the pack was finally put down, I was a little worried about the remaining zombie wolves. Specifically, I was worried about what Kib would do if I attacked one of them. They weren't friendly, but they were his.

And my dwarf follower had become enraged, which also made me hesitate. But after he shot one of the zombies with his crossbow, I figured it was OK to step in and help, so I quickly... re-killed each zombie wolf or part thereof.

Kib was really a mess! One wolf had completely ripped off his lower lip, and he was chewed up pretty badly elsewhere on the face and hands, too. None of his wounds looked fatal, but he was even uglier now than when I'd first met him. The best you could say was that he... looked like a necromancer.

We had to track down Atal. I was really disgusted with him, but I still didn't want to leave him out in the wilderness all alone. Then we butchered the wolves and ate our fill of wolf meat. I took the skins, too. I figured they might be worth something (but I never found out).

A quick stop at The Luxurious Risk

We continued on, and Kib's wounds scabbed up pretty quickly. (In fact, they were just scars by the time we fast traveled a bit.) Then, we got to Jreekus, which turned out to be a kobold camp.

But there was already a battle going on. Several reindeer corpses were rampaging through the camp, killing the kobolds. We watched as a bull reindeer zombie smashed a kobold to bits, then quickly turned to charge towards us.

Atal, of course, immediately turned to run. Kib just stood there. Our necromancer didn't seem to be worried about the undead reindeer charging towards us - he never even fired a bolt at it, nor at the two undead reindeer cows which followed.

I tried to fight. That zombie reindeer was fast, so I hoped to slow it down, to cripple it, so we could get away. But it was quite agile, too. It kept jumping out of the way of my attack. And soon, the other two reindeer corpses joined him. I couldn't win this fight - certainly not all by myself!

So I started running. As the saying goes, you don't need to be faster than reindeer corpses, you just have to be faster than your companions. And I was.

Kib was still just standing there, doing nothing. As I ran on past him, so did the zombie reindeer. Maybe he didn't have anything to worry about.

To his credit, Atal had stopped running. He even seemed to be debating coming back to help. But it was far too late for that, now. "Run, you fool!" I yelled, as I swept past him. And he tried, but the dead reindeer were on him almost immediately. He didn't even get a chance to swing his mace before he was dead.

I thought I was dead, too, because I didn't have much of a headstart, and those reindeer corpses could really move! And there was just no cover at all - no trees, just windswept, snow-covered plains. I kept running, because that was all I could do. But I didn't expect it to be enough.

It worked, though. I don't know if those zombie reindeer turned back towards Kib, or if they were just distracted by poor Atal's dead body. But I soon realized they hadn't followed me.

I was on my own, now. I didn't know what had happened to Kib, but it would have been suicide to try to find out. Still, all this had happened to the north of the kobold camp, and I didn't expect there were many kobolds left. So I thought it might be safe enough to loop around to the south and approach it from that direction. If it looked too dangerous, I could just run away again.

Unfortunately, it didn't look very dangerous at all. There was only one kobold left alive, and he didn't look to be armed. He was east of the camp a ways. It looked like he'd run when the reindeer corpses had attacked his buddies.

Right now, there just seemed to be a lot of loot, completely unguarded. Oh, there was a corpse of a peregrine falcon - an animated corpse, which made me pause - but like those wolf heads I'd fought previously, it didn't seem to be able to move.

So I quickly picked through the bags and chests at the camp, collecting whatever was both light in weight and valuable. I checked the kobold bodies, too - they were wearing giant cave spider silk clothing!

But just as I turned to leave, Kib showed up - running towards me from the north like a bat out of hell. Only it wasn't Kib. It was Kib's corpse!

I suppose those reindeer zombies had killed him, after all. Something had, at least. And something had then raised him as a zombie. Unless, maybe, that's automatic when necromancers die? At this point, the question was academic. I just needed to get the hell out of there!

I ran to the south, but Kib's corpse was far faster than Kib had been. Like the reindeer corpses, he was faster than I was, even when I was sprinting as fast as I could (and I could move pretty fast, myself).

I did get a little ways south of the kobold camp before I turned to fight. I was just hoping that was far enough away that I wouldn't have reindeer zombies joining the battle, too!

It was a long battle. Kib no longer had the intelligence to use a weapon, but he seemed to be immensely strong, as well as supernaturally quick and agile. But I could still hit him with my axe. He dodged pretty well, but he couldn't dodge all of my attacks.

Unfortunately, it didn't seem to make any difference how many times I hit him. With a powerful blow to the stomach, I gutted him completely, but it didn't even slow him down. I chopped at his neck, over and over again - powerful blows, doing real damage - but I couldn't cut his head off. I couldn't even cut off his leg, though I tried, oh, I tried!

I could, and did, chop zombie Kib into hamburger, but it didn't even slow him down, let alone seem to bother him in any way. He was already dead, so he didn't feel pain, and bleeding wasn't an issue. He wasn't actually healing his injuries, but no amount of damage seemed to cause him any problem.

If I could have chopped his leg off - or his head - I could have run away, at least. But I couldn't. Heck, I even tried to start a fire, hoping to burn him up. But I couldn't do that, either - not in combat.

(This is a different kind of invulnerability from what I've encountered before. I've noted how, in Dwarf Fortress, I'll do just fine until I encounter an enemy I can't harm at all. But normally, that's because I just can't hit them. Like that goblin bowman who deflected every attack, if you can't hit them, you can't harm them.

(But I could hit Kib's corpse, and I could damage it. Badly! But it made absolutely no difference. I got damage reports that indicated I was inflicting horrendous wounds, but they didn't even slow him down.)

So I died.

As the battle went on, and on, and on, as I chopped at the zombie with increasing desperation, I'd been dodging every attack, or blocking it with my shield. Every single attack. That was the only way I could survive, and I was doing it.

Until I missed one. I failed to dodge fast enough. I missed the block. So Kib's corpse grabbed me and smashed my hip into splinters. Then he battered my head in.

RIP, Wom Mythwards.

Note: My other posts on a variety of computer games, not just Dwarf Fortress, are here.


Dan Gilboa said...

LOL Bill, you made me lough so hard and really want to try playing that.
If I had the slightest doubt I'd have any gaming time I would have downloaded DF right away. Unfortunatly, I don't.
Thanks for that.

WCG said...

Thank-you, Dan. I'm glad you liked it.

I started a new character yesterday, a bowman. But I was just going to mess around a bit, rather than blog about him, so I didn't take notes. I'm half regretting that now, though.

My first follower was a goblin spearman who just happened to be traveling through the area, and he'd apparently made a name for himself before we'd even met. (Thus, he's a lot stronger than the average fighter.)

Early morning, just before dawn, we were ambushed by a goblin elite crossbowman vampire as we traveled through a town. Now, an elite crossbowman is a very dangerous foe, anyway, let alone one that's also a vampire.

But when this guy saw my goblin follower, he turned and ran away. My follower ran after him, and both of them were faster than me, even when sprinting.

I gave up and stopped running after they were out of my sight, and just then, this bizarre night-creature burst out of a nearby house (where, it turned out, she'd just slaughtered all of the residents) and attacked me.

My other follower was the usual coward, so he was nowhere to be seen. (In fact, I never did see him again.) So it was an exciting time. :)

My goblin buddy eventually came back. Apparently, he hadn't been able to catch the vampire. And I've been selling all the loot I've collected. Right now, I've got so much gold, it's weighing me down. I wish I had something to spend it on.