Ransackediron Restored, Part 5: A Dwarf Fortress Story

← Continued from Part 4

25th day of Limestone, 550 years since the Record began,

Stakud “Closebolt” Urolalath, Manager, Head Mason and Bookkeeper for the Expedition Group Anuzlolor, “The Fair Letter”

So it is true: goblins are on the move. Our Mountainhome liason Endok Kuletkoman arrived yesterday and met with Lokum and I to discuss the disturbing news. Submergedmirror, a fortress just to our southwest, was conquered by the goblins of the Witch of Steam. The fortress Shielddike is being sieged right now, by a group of goblins calling themselves The Untoward Curses, led by Sasmar Screamworried. Eleven small groups of dwarves are known to have escaped, but their current fates and the fate of the fortress are uncertain. We all fear the worst.


Every dwarf in our outpost decided, unanimously, that to venture off and search for survivors is foolhardy. A small band of goblins might be thwarted, but a siege army? They would flatten us to the very stones we sprung from. We stay here, then, and make a stand even to our deaths. If Sasmar and the Untoward Curses come this way, we intend to fight on our terms, where we can control the battle. Ideas are being sketched out now, but time may be short. We must work quickly, for our enemy could arrive at any moment.

Endok arrived accompanied with some traveling merchants, but we have nothing to trade with them. I wish we did, for we could use some arms, food stores, anything that could aid us if we were besieged. But there’s nothing to be done about it now.

no depot

1st day of Moonstone, 550 years since the Record began,

Stakud “Closebolt” Urolalath, Manager, Head Mason and Bookkeeper for the Expedition Group Anuzlolor, “The Fair Letter”

Winter is upon us, and we have heard no more news of the siege in the south, nor have we seen any inklings of goblin activity near our site. Despite this seemingly good news, no one here is at rest. Realizing our numbers are simply too small for open combat, and since our battle experience is limited as it is, we have instead decided to fight with what we do have: the very rock we stand on. The plan is simple: lure the simple-minded goblins into a trap–or should I say, traps.

We have created an alternate entrance to our home which opens on level with the vast field. We will make it appear to be our official entryway so as to call the goblins’ attention. If a wide open doorway isn’t enough incentive, the hens have hatched over thirty chicks, so we will have plenty of bait for the bloodthirsty abominations to come after.


Once they are inside, we will seal the gate shut, and the enemy will have to navigate what the men have nicknamed “The Hall of Death.” We will have traps of all kinds waiting for the creatures, ready to crush, saw, maim, dismember and impale their twisted bodies until every last one of them lies dead. If by some miracle they are able to escape these traps alive, a narrow corridor awaits them where we can fire our arrows at them from behind safe fortifications. If any of the enemy should survive all this, then the god Rimtar is against us. May it never be!

Our grandest trap I have designed myself, and although its true target is Siga Gravefatal himself, I will use the goblins to test it. It is a tall platform of towering rubble that will fall upon any creature which triggers a pressure plate on the floor beneath it. I dare Siga or any creature to escape it alive.

Gameplay breakdown

One of the things I’ve always been bad at in this game is defense. The sheet amount of other things to keep track of is daunting, and I always – ALWAYS – seem to forget to make some kind of deterrent into my fortresses. The game makes it relatively easy to have basic defenses: walls, moats, traps, retractable bridges, things like that. This time I want to be ready, not just for the sake of the story, but because now I have warning that the goblins are likely coming soon.

How do I know? Prior to July’s update, ambushes and sieges happened at regular intervals, and the strength of the attacking force was proportional to your fortress’ total wealth. I thought that to keep the wealth down was to keep safe. From what I gather now, because of the “world activation” enhancement to the game, attacking forces are pre-existing bands of enemies that are traveling the map. So when I saw the news of attacks from my liason, and I used Legends Viewer to see where these locations were (close to me!), I immediately changed tactics to a defensive posture. I would love some kind of elaborate obstacle course-like system, but what I am planning will have to do.


While I’m at it, I figured I would construct the weapon which should hopefully defeat the forgotten beast Siga Gravefatal, if I am successful in luring him out of hiding. (It’s the whole purpose of my story, after all.) A few years ago I had created a similar pressure-plate-triggered cave-in trap, and it killed a forgotten beast. I’d love for it to work again this time.

The story continues next week…

If you’re enjoying this story, perhaps you might enjoy my original fantasy novel, By the Light of the Moons, available for download on Amazon Kindle.

Ransackediron Restored, Part 4: A Dwarf Fortress Story

← Continued from Part 3

1st day of Limestone, 550 years since the Record began,

Praise Rimtar for many hands! Our modest outpost has expanded greatly, with everyone working harder than ever. Lokum has, as I feared, become overwhelmed with the duties of leader, and the rest can see it. There is so much to be done, and Lokum is simply slowing us down. While she will retain the now ceremonial title of Expedition Leader, the group has unanimously elected me Manager of Roofloves, and I have taken up my position with great pride. I am not a harsh task master, but I am respected, and because of that we are making incredible progress.

I assigned apprenticeship tasks to the new dwarves and everyone is learning at a quick pace. My junior masons have made the kitchen and still and some doors, and our woodworkers have made beds, barrels, and a retaining wall around our pump.


Pump is ready

Stodir is unstoppable in her excavation! I am now forever in her debt, for she prevented me from making a horrible mistake. I was about to give the order to begin pumping into the cistern when she stopped me – we had not yet dug the well shaft above the cistern! In truth, I had not forgotten it, but she being the experienced miner explained the safety of digging now, before the water is in there. She sketched out her plans for a well, completely underground, accessible only via a long corridor from under our current home. Though I deemed it very sensible and thus conceded, I do fear this has set us back a week or two. Autumn is here; I feel a chill in the air, and I know frost is just around the corner. We must pump before the pond freezes. Perhaps one last touch-up to the cistern is in order: a grate, to prevent small fish that made it through the pump from getting into the cistern.


Black hole = well shaft above cistern (well itself still to be built)

Some mixed news came this morning: the hunting dog gave birth to puppies, which is welcome, but the cats have also had a litter. The last thing this place needs is to be overrun with felines. I wonder what anyone else thinks of grilled kitten.

22nd day of Limestone, 500 years since the Record began,

Stakud “Closebolt” Urolalath, Manager, Head Mason and Bookkeeper for the Expedition Group Anuzlolor, “The Fair Letter”

Two nights ago, despite the pounding hail outside and the raucous laughter indoors, we heard a knock at our entrance doors. Stodir raised her pick and Edem grabbed the tree axe, but Lokum waived them off and went to the door herself. There stood a soaking husband and wife, Lokum (called Paddelglow) and Tirist. They had traveled from the northwest, from a place called Portaltone. They saw our constructions outside, and thought to find a shelter for the night. We welcomed them in, gave them dry clothes, and then they told us what they had seen: a long line of dwarf refugees is pouring from the south. They could not say exactly from where, only that they bore the colors of the The Ferocious Galley. It can only mean that our brothers and sisters have been attacked, and that the enemy is close. Adil immediately leashed the war dog to guard the entrance, and bolted the door.

Thus began the next few days of much talking and disagreement. Most of our newest members want to leave and rescue the refugees, fearing for their friends and families they left behind; some of us wish to prepare for war; still others wish to wall off the entrance and burrow deep below where we won’t be found. We have not yet decided what to do.

All this concern and debate has left us completely distracted from the urgent tasks at hand. This morning, we awoke to a flash frost. I feared the worst, ran to the pump to start it myself, but it was too late. The murky pool had frozen overnight. We will have no water for the next 6 months.


Ice delays plans

Gameplay breakdown

Note: I won’t be creating a separate post for the gameplay breakdown anymore, I’ll just be tacking it onto the bottom of each story part.

Just some more infrastructure building for this round, and nothing too exciting. Stakud was made Manager, but I have not actually used his abilities in that role yet. Got some new areas laid out upstairs and downstairs of the main entrance, and increased the food and drink stores. I do plan to slaughter the kittens, as horrible and as gross as it sounds. Cats will reproduce like crazy if you’re not careful, and can actually slow the game down if there’s too many of them running around. If cats adopt dwarves as pets (you read that correctly), you can’t exterminate them without making the dwarves very sad; so yes, it’s best to kill them young. (OH STOP IT, IT’S JUST A GAME.)

I mainly focused on the cistern and well area, which look very nice, but despite working as fast as I could, I missed my chance to pump the water from the murky pool. I gave the order, but the dwarves were all over the place, and seemed to be ignoring the order. The water turned to ice before my pump operator reached it. Makes for a good story for Rob the author, but it will make things a bit difficult for Rob the gamer. Without access to water, I have to have a large alcohol store or the dwarves will either die of dehydration or will go stark raving mad from thirst. Mad dwarves make other dwarves mad, resulting in the dreaded tantrum spiral (cue ominous music).

The 2 migrants “seeing” the refugees is a bit of creative license because of what I know happened just a little while later when my dwarven liason brought news of world events. (You’ll have to read part 5 to see that, though.) Thanks again to Legends Viewer for providing some context to the situation.

The story continues next week…

If you’re enjoying this story, perhaps you might enjoy my original fantasy novel, By the Light of the Moons, available for download on Amazon Kindle.

Dwarf Fortress Gameplay, Part 3

← Continued from Gameplay Part 2

(This post is the deconstruction of the actual gameplay that occurred in part 3 of the story “Ransackediron Restored”)

Author’s usual caveat: I am by no means a great Dwarf Fortress player. Be kind.

Some more foundational-fortress tasks were completed this round. The food stockpiles were set to forbid eggs, so that the dwarves would not collect eggs from the hens’ nests. This should allow the eggs to safely hatch, giving me a “chicksplosion.” As Stakud explained, when the chicks grow up, I will slaughter all but 1 rooster for meat, and all those new hens will lay lots and lots of eggs. (Eggs are a very good food source in this game.) The alcohol was running low, so I built an area for a still and a kitchen, both of which will need to be built. Outside, I placed a butcher shop, tanner and leatherworks all in a row next to each other, so that Lokum could slaughter the draft animals, tan their hides, and then make some useful leather backpacks and waterskins for a future military.



Looking back, I probably should have instead made leather bags for seed storage; oh well. Lokum also trained the dogs (2 war, 1 hunting), which is something I had actually never done before in the game and had to look up how to do it!

Speaking of never done that before, there’s the issue of the pump. As I said last time, I’ve never built a pump before, and so when I dug a channel I misunderstood where the pump would need to be placed, and had to move it over; so I ended up with a larger trench than was ideal, aesthetically-speaking. Hopefully it will work. I have experience letting water flow into desired locations, so I am quite certain my cistern will work. Here’s the crude side view diagram of the cistern and future well:


The migrants surprised me, as they always do, appearing sooner than I expect. Loving the Legends Viewer utility, though, as it allowed me to see where the migrants came from – these are actual dwarves that existed in the world when I started (they were not randomly created at the moment of embark like my initial 7). That’s how I found out 4 of them were married to each other, and even 2 of the guys were widowers.


There’s a yak calf they brought with them as well as a pet lamb. I can’t slaughter the lamb without ticking off its owner (Shorast the Blacksmith), but if I remember to pasture the yak, he might get enough grazing to survive. I’ll probably forget though.

My next tasks will be to enclose my trench with walls so that the water pumped from the pool won’t spill on the ground (no idea if it would, but I’m being careful), and once the cistern is done being smoothed, grab an idle dwarf and have him/her crank that pump! I have to be quick before the frost comes. Now that I have doubled the amount of dwarves, I also need more beds, another dormitory, and another work area. There’s still the possibility of making a Trade Depot, but I’m not focusing on it. I’m concerned I’m quite defenseless right now, so I’ll at least leash a war dog to the entrance, and make some doors for the entrance that I can lock. I’m almost always attacked before I’m ready, and I’d like to avoid that this time.

Ransackediron Restored, Part 3: A Dwarf Fortress Story

← Continued from Part 2

19th day of Malachite, 550 years since the Record began,

Stakud “Closebolt” Urolalath, Mason and Bookkeeper for the Expedition Group Anuzlolor, “The Fair Letter”


Today I was working in the unfinished cistern, smoothing the stone in preparation for the coming day we start the pump, when Adil came rushing down the channel shouting, “They’re here! They’re here!” Her voice echoed so loud I misunderstood her joy for fear, and I thought that goblins had begun a raid. Praise Rimtar, I was wrong: we have doubled our numbers!

They came from Basementportal, Lensyell, and Squashedropes in the southwest; they had heard of our quest and decided to come to our aid. What good fortune that some salted meat from the slaughtered draft animals is still left over in storage. We feasted tonight!

I drank a mug to Rimtar in thanks, for I am no longer outnumbered among the she-dwarves! Of the eight that have joined us, six are males, and a sturdy group they are. Shorast the blacksmith is aching to forge us weapons of war, and was delighted we had an anvil. Surprisingly, Lokum never took credit for bringing it, but merely said she hoped Shorast could it put it to good use soon. (Why she didn’t rub it in my face, I may never know; she is a mystery, that Lokum.) I have already recruited two of the men, Udib and Uvash, as apprentice masons, and they seem eager to learn the trade. Tomorrow we will return to the cistern, for I fear the autumn is coming quickly, and I don’t want to have the pool freeze over before we pump the water below ground. Once finished, I think I may be able to devote more time to keeping better track of our stores, and leave the mundane masonry tasks to the new men.

Tun is a crossbow maker, but since we have few marksdwarves among our ranks, I suggested he learn some basic carpentry from Edem, for now we urgently have a great need for beds! Ilral the fisherman went right to the ponds and caught us a few frogs to eat, but I would be surprised if he found anything more. I’m planning to ask Lokum that he be reassigned to more useful duties. Ezum is a jeweler and was delighted to see our modest collection of rough gems. We have no work area for him right now, but he seemed happy enough to lend a hand where ever we needed, so I think he will fit in nicely here. Two she-dwarves came along with the men, Sarvesh the Weaver and Tekkud the Dyer. Clothing is not something we need to worry about right now, but I’m sure their skills will be much appreciated in the future. Until then, they have offered to farm some crops that could be threshed and spun into thread later in the year. Lokum agreed, and once we find some more silty clay to farm upon, the soil is theirs. And to top it all off, it was only just a moment ago that the newest she-dwarves revealed that they were in fact wives to two of the men! Shorast and Sarvesh are a couple, as are Udib and Tekkud. How long will it be before there are little dwarflings scurrying about?

In all, our summer has been quite productive. Lokum slaughtered the draft beasts herself, skinned them, and made backpacks and waterskins from the hides. The meat was prepared and preserved (and tonight cooked into delicious biscuits), and then Adil took the bones and created some crossbow ammunition for our future defense sentries. I admire Adil, for she is a cautious one, and always many steps ahead. I can see she fears we are not prepared to defend ourselves, but has not yet pressed the issue–at least not to me. She probably has spoken with Lokum about it, for Lokum has begun training the dogs for war and hunting. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of them guarding our entrance soon.

With fifteen of us here now, I think Adil’s concern is warranted. Perhaps we are nearing the time to start building some defenses. We are sure to cause enough of a ruckus here to draw the attention of someone, and if they be foe, we need to be ready.


Help arrives

The story continues next week…

For a breakdown of the actual gameplay, read on here.

If you’re enjoying this story, perhaps you might enjoy my original fantasy novel, By the Light of the Moons, available for download on Amazon Kindle.

Dwarf Fortress Gameplay, Part 2

← Continued from Gameplay Part 1

(This post is the deconstruction of the actual gameplay that occurred in part 2 of the story “Ransackediron Restored”)

Author’s usual caveat: I am by no means a great Dwarf Fortress player. Be kind.

I’ve definitely gotten better at playing this game, because I was able to perform quite a bit in a short amount of time. Usually I miss a step somewhere along the line and end up kicking myself later. A lot of strategy games have a recipe for a “starting build,” or, the most important things to do first if you are to succeed later. I think I did most of the recommended steps.

Two months of game time is only about 10 or 15 minutes of real world time. In that time I did everything Stakud described in the story: made a modest hole in the hill, with a little fancy rounded design instead of a boxy grid; I set up a dormitory, started indoor farm plots, made a mason work area, various stockpiles were designated, and I constructed 7 beds. I chopped down only three trees. Version .40 (also called DF2014) introduced multilevel properly-scaled trees, which produces much more wood than before, so I have a decent amount of lumber already. But, I still only have a couple dozen trees altogether, and I want to conserve what I have now. In Dwarf Fortress, you need some kind of fuel to fire up your ore smelters, and if I can’t find any coal in the ground, I need to make charcoal from a wood furnace.

I started getting really nervous when I realized my indoor clay spot was small; indoor farm plots need soil or clay to grow on, otherwise you need to grab buckets and muddy the ground. I like to avoid that mud process if at all possible. I was able to squeeze in two 3×3 plots on the clay, so that should be ok to start with. After the thaw, there were lots of plants to pick, so that will help.


EVERYONE gathers plants, even Lokum

My biggest challenge will be the cistern. I was really hoping that the brook was there under the snow, but based on the few tiny frozen bodies of water underground I knew it was long shot. Clean water is important if we run out of alcohol, and stagnant water in these murky pools means I have to pump the water out before it flows into the cistern; that pumping acts a filter, so I’ve read [LINK]. Never tried pumps before, so this will be fun.

I’m expecting migrants soon, and it will be interesting to see what I get. I’m debating on the construction of Trade Depot right now. Autumn is when the first caravan usually arrives, but I wasn’t planning on making anything to trade with, since it doesn’t fit my story. However, I’ve found a lot of rough gems already, so if I get a gem worker in the migration, maybe I’ll cut them up into something more valuable to trade.

The last post was the first real part of the story, and based on that initial starting-build-gameplay I admit it’s a little boring story-wise. It’s always been my favorite part of the game, though. I just love that first mining designation, kind of like being the one who gets to carve into a brand new jar of peanut butter.

Upcoming plans are the cistern construction, butcher the draft animals (yay camel meat), and make nest boxes for the hens.


The home so far