Saturday, September 6, 2014

Geshud Cabnul, the Fortress of Fools

Our arrival in the Hills of Singing [Spacefox graphics pack]

Note: I'm playing Dwarf Fortress 2014, the recent release (version 0.40.10, right now), in fortress mode. Please look elsewhere for information about this game. This is just the story - rather uneventful, so far - of the first year of The Fortress of Fools.

We call ourselves Nabotad Udril - "Two-Hands of Oxen" - but they call us fools for our appreciation of 'undwarven' architecture. Not for us burrowing underground like frightened moles. We think we dwarves should stake our claim to the surface world, too. So we pledged to do so.

Of course, there might also be some petty sexism involved, since we were six females - 'Doc,' 'Bibs,' 'Archie,' 'Cogs,' 'Cookie,' and 'Poindexter' - while our leader, Urdim 'Boss' Steelpracticed was male. [I'm using nicknames in an attempt to remember who does what.] Let them sneer. We'll show them!

We're not much different in appearance from anyone else in the Helpful Fair Chamber. We're a small, thin people - scrawny even, for dwarves - with auburn hair. Of the females in our group, only 'Cookie' has plumped up to any real extent - from sampling her own cooking, no doubt.

Our boss carries some extra weight, too, which gives him rather a distinguished look - sleek and self-satisfied. He's a miner by trade, but that shouldn't surprise you. We did plan to mine, of course. That's what dwarves do. We just intend to live on the surface, as much as possible.

So we headed to the Hills of Singing to stake our claim. It was still very early spring - the 15th of Granite, 250 - when we arrived, but it was already rather warm in this latitude. The area was tropical woodland, not quite a jungle (a bit too dry for that), and we chose a low bluff overlooking a pool at the intersection of two small rivers.

[The river to the east is at a higher elevation, so there's a short waterfall where it pours into the pool below. Note that, thanks to the weird fluid dynamics of Dwarf Fortress, this means there's an increased risk of flooding my fortress, if I'm not careful, since water taken from the river will naturally rise to the level of the upper river.]

There were hippos in the river, and alligators, and carp, so we planned to stay above the river and avoid the shore. [Carp are notorious dwarf-killers in Dwarf Fortress - or they always used to be, at least. Let a dwarf get near the river, and carp would rip him to pieces.] As time went on, we spotted rhinoceros, giraffes, and lions, as well.

The palisade was completed by summer.

So we immediately went to work building a wooden stockade around our small settlement. Wood is not the most secure building material, but it was readily available, and - absent dragons - it would probably do.

Our priority was to wall off the cliff, to keep our people from slipping off the edge and becoming carp food, and somewhat to our surprise, we accomplished that with no fatalities. We put bridges over the river, to the northeast and the south, and another bridge over a moat at the north end of our camp. Then we worked to extend the palisade to the west, as well.

We'd almost completed that, leaving only a couple of openings where we could cut timber, when a bull rhinoceros wandered into camp. Our war dog (we'd stationed one war dog at each of four openings in the stockade) took one look at the huge, bad-tempered beast and ran off in terror.

To our great good fortune, we had no one working nearby. So the rhino calmed down after awhile, browsed a bit, then went back to join the rest of his crash. [Yes, a group of rhinos is apparently called a 'crash'.]

We'd dodged a bolt, but we probably wouldn't be that lucky a second time. So we quickly walled up both openings to the west, abandoning the lumber we'd already cut there. (The dog made it back safely, too.)

By late spring, we were needing stone, so 'Boss' dug down from the center of camp. The surface layer was quite sandy, but there was claystone below that - with considerable iron and coal deposits - and marble deeper down. We'd chosen our location well, apparently.

Nine or ten levels below ground, we broke through into an extensive cavern system. But we weren't nearly ready for that, so we walled up the opening and started mining the claystone and marble. (We thought a marble road would look sharp, and it would do well for the more opulent parts of our castle, too, while the claystone would suffice for our walls and fortifications.)

Initial stonework [shown via the Stonesense utility]

In mid-summer, seven immigrants arrived, doubling out population. (None had any useful skills, but what do you expect in a brand-new settlement like ours?) Specifically, they were two couples, each with one young daughter, plus one older woman on her own. We were now up to 11 females and 3 males.

We welcomed both families, though the children were a bit of a burden. But the lone woman was rather worrisome, since she was a stranger to everyone. (We do have to fear vampires, after all.) However, she seems to have fit right in.

In early autumn, a caravan arrived from home - well, from the Helpful Fair Chamber, I mean. (This is our home, now.) It didn't bring much that we needed, but then, we didn't have much to trade, anyway - just some gourmet meals, packed to store well, which 'Cookie' had created. (Admittedly, she is a fine cook, so those meals sold well.)

In return, we picked up another anvil, a couple of water buffalo cows (just because they were available), some leather and some raw foodstuff. Mostly, we wanted to encourage further trade, so we didn't bargain very hard. I think they left happy (and impressed with our trading setup).

Our paved roads dip underground at the trade depot.

(Thanks to our hard work, we had a paved road - marble - coming into our camp from the north and from the south. From both directions, the road dipped underground when it got close, with the trade depot itself built into the first rock layer below the surface. It was a nice layout, we thought.)

After the caravan left, more immigrants arrived - eight, all adults, evenly split as to gender. There were lions in the area when they arrived, which could have been disastrous, but they scooted past safely, if just barely.

Again, most of those people were unskilled, but Ezum 'Digger' Sternchannels was a competent miner and Avuz 'Greenjeans' Splashwhips was a pretty decent farmer - both quite useful to us.

Risen Hairypaged said he had experience with wax-working, of all things, but upon further conversation, it turned out that 'Sarge' was also a highly experienced swordsdwarf. We're certainly going to need a military, eventually, though we put him to work hauling stone until then.

Winter was little different from the rest of the year. We're going to miss the seasons, I think, but the good weather meant that we could keep working nearly every day. We've still barely begun, but we're proud of how our 'Fortress of Fools' is coming along.

Starting to build upwards. (Note the wooden henhouse - blue peafowl, not chickens - at the top, farm plots to the left, and pastures to the right. The main building does extend below ground, mostly through necessity, at first.)

We still don't have any real defenses - just a few cage traps (which did catch us a giraffe, just before the year ended). But we can raise bridges to keep enemies out, if necessary - well, unless they can fly or climb well, at least.

Our war dogs have been useless - they ran in fear from the giraffe, too [Edit: I was wrong about this. After finding rhinoceros blood in our camp, I checked the combat logs. Our dogs did fight the rhinos and the giraffe, at least for awhile.] - but they'll do better against goblin or kobold thieves, I'm sure. [This is part of the new morale system in Dwarf Fortress. We can no longer expect dogs to sacrifice themselves for their dwarven masters, apparently.]

It's spring again now - we've been here a year, already - and so far, so good. But we have a lot to do yet. And pretty soon, we're going to need to take some dwarves off building, so they can start training as soldiers. Well, maybe we can get some more immigrants this year.

Yeah, uneventful, as I warned from the start (and as is usually the case in the first year of a new fortress). However, I did want to document our construction progress. The wooden stockade encloses the entire hill, or nearly so, with bridges which can be raised to prevent most enemies from entering at all.

Of course, we need to let trade caravans in. So there's a stone wall in between the paved road and the rest of the fortress, with more bridges which can be raised to block off the road and the trade depot, if necessary.

My original design for our castle wasn't large enough, so I've started extending that to the north. But the lower floor is for the cook, the butcher, the brewer, the miller, and others who need close access to farms and pastures.

The raw materials for these professions are stored one level down, underground. Prepared meals and barrels of booze will eventually be stored one floor up, just below the dining area.

First level underground, with farms (certain crops grow only underground) and temporary bedrooms. Near the river is a room with two wells (not very fancy yet). The trade depot is one level further down.

Eventually, we'll have bedrooms above that. We'll also have towers and other fortifications for our marksdwarves (crossbow-wielding soldiers).

Mines are underground, of course, and that's where most of our crafts will be produced, close to their raw materials and close to the trade depot. (Admittedly, most of our trading will probably continue to be of prepared meals.)

Note: You can find all of my posts about this and other games here. As you can see, I rarely ever finish a game. But I plan to tell the story of this fortress until... I don't. :) Well, as long as I keep playing it, I'll probably keep posting about it. (No guarantees, but with any luck, this will get more exciting later.)

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