Friday, September 22, 2006

Your Dwarf Fortress Stories (2)

Here are some more terrific stories about Dwarf Fortress from you guys. Thanks.

I think one measure of a game's impact (and greatness) should be the stories that people tell about the game. Great games generate great stories, and Dwarf Fortress is certainly in the forefront of that category as well.

First off, a fantastic story from Nick Youngblood (who is a terrific writer as well):
This story takes place in my second fortress. My first fortress starved to death in the very first winter, because I misunderstood the summary screen. I thought that the food I had in the "Other" category was actually edible, and so while it seemed like I had enough, in reality I began to starve days after winter began. I still remember the sinking feeling I got when it rained at the beginning of spring, destroying the road I had built for the human traders. That caravan was our only hope, and when the road became impassable, I knew that all was lost. But I digress.

On the fate of the second fortress: I had perhaps 24 dwarves in my fortress going into autumn, and I was confident that we had more than enough food. It would be a lean winter, but I was confident that we would make it through without going hungry. However, days before winter began, I was visited by a group of migrants. Now, apparently my fortress had become known as some sort of greatly sought-after dwarven vacation spot, because in one group of migrants I went from around 25 dwarves to just over twice that amount. Twice as many mouths to feed and not enough food to fill them. Horses and dogs were slaughtered wholesale to make up the lack, but partway through winter we began to starve.

Things were very desperate at this point, but I had learned from my previous mistakes and made sure my road was in good repair. Then, I began to plant crops as fast as I could. Every dwarf I had was assigned to this task. I was sure that if we could just reap a single harvest, we could survive until the humans came to help us. For a time it seemed as though my plan might work. The two plots were almost sown, and soon we would have food enough to survive. I knew that some would die, but we would make it.

I then see this on my screen: "Olav Eitherok has gone stark raving mad! Olav Eitherok has destroyed Plot! Olav Eitherok has destroyed Plot!" I gaped at the screen. One of my farmers had gone mad with hunger, and in his senseless rage destroyed the city's only chance at life.

I knew now that we were doomed, but I had one last task that I would finish before the end. On the spot of those farms I constructed a stone sepulcher decorated with the finest stonework I could create, four statues at the cardinal points. When Olav finally succumbed to starvation, I had him interred within those walls. I imagined that in their final moments my dwarves carved the story of the fall of Glas Galak upon those stones, so that for all time those who visited this place would know of the infamy of Olav Eitherok, and how his reckless madness had doomed an entire people.

Only the dead inhabit Glas Galak now, but I find some small comfort in knowing that the name of the traitor Olav Eitherok will be cursed for all time, and that though he is dead, he will never be at peace.

Good grief, Nick is a freaking amazing writer. And what a story.

Next, from Russ Harvey, both a story and a recommendation:
Not sure how far along your fortress is now, so I won’t spoil anything here, but eventually you’re going to come under siege, and it’s going to be painful.

Painful, that is, unless you have patiently hollowed out an auxiliary tunnel from the edge of the mountain all the way to the lava river, bridged the river and chasm with aqueducts, constructed a channel to link it all together, situated a floodgate at the end of the channel, and linked said floodgate to a doomsday lever hidden within your main fortress. Then when the trouble arrives, you merely lock the front doors, cackle madly, and order the lever pulled. Describing the flood of lava which sweeps out to engulf the world as “gratifying” doesn’t really do it justice. You’ll be giggling for hours at the sight of the besiegers (and those slower-of-foot dwarves that didn’t make it inside) vainly attempting to flee from the spreading pool of death.

I lost around 30 dwarves in its construction. The results were worth every smoking corpse.

Russ Harvey: evil overlord for hire. Reasonable rates.

Next, from Kel Woodbury:
So I'm going along and things are going well. People are busily preparing food and drinks for the first winter when all of a sudden lizardmen attack! Since at this point I didn't really know what I'm doing, I just observe to see what happens. My 2 war dogs attack them and take down a couple and then die. So much for this settlement having dogs. The lizardmen also get into a fight with some dwarves and the miner and carpenter handily cut them down.

I check things out after the battle and see bits of lizardmen and dwarf on the ground and someone's... lower left leg?

Then I see the poor guy and he's in a lot of pain, so he hobbles off to a bed where he remains mostly unconscious for a year.

Then it happens: he's taken by a fell mood.

Not sure what this is about, I curiously watch him hobble down the hallway to the workshop area and take over the butchery. He then proceeds to hobble around the base looking for what I don't know. Then, suddenly, he kills someone. I am laughing so hard because here's this guy possessed by who knows what hobbling down my corridor and then he kills someone as they run by. He proceeds to take their corpse to the butchery and begins working on something. What the heck is he making out of another dwarf? Unfortunately, the crippled guy is in so much pain he falls unconscious a lot and works during his short conscious periods. It takes him about 2 YEARS to finish the, erm, dwarf bone chain armor. And now he is a legendary bonecrafter. He walks back to the bed and collapses, where he remains there for another year till he dies.

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