21 January 2010

Tonight, We Dine on Donkey Meat.

I recently rediscovered the delights of Dwarf Fortress, the brothers Adams masterwork. The completely alien and retro graphics, the total freedom to build your dwarven society in whatever way you choose, and the simple humour can't help but draw me back in.


By "freedom" I mean just that: you can basically do whatever you please. For instance, today I noticed an alarming number of donkeys hanging around the fortress (the statue garden, specifically), being asses and breathing up all the air. I also noticed that we were getting low on meat and that I had one especially lazy cook. Pets or no, I ordered the bastard to start butchering some donkeys. Much to my delight, announcement after announcement of "The Stray Donkey Foal (tame) has been struck down" came down the pipes and soon we were up to our beards in smelly donkey meat. Dwarves are evidently not picky eaters; in fact, they're not picky about anything. They drink whatever they can find, eat out of barrels, befriend herds of cows, and sleep wherever the pass out (I recently found one dwarf passed out in a refuse pile, the same one used to house the remains of our donkey-meals). The "sim" side of Dwarf Fortress lies mostly in the random personalities given to your dwarves. It's as if a heaping mountain of random personality traits, quirks, and direct quotes from eHarmony were dumped into the code to be spat back out at random to produce the likes, dislikes, tastes, and relationships your dwarves have. The result is something between Engrish and the Gumbys. I might provide some citations later on.

I've had a few fortresses in my day, some overrun by lava or unleashed fire-demons, some trampled by dragons or orcs, my first fortress survived said dragon attack but is now in shambles because the dwarves don't follow orders and choose to wander outside while we're under siege by goblins. My most successful fort thus far is the Abbeybrew. It's a growing colony of lovable dwarves who arrange lots of parties, drop coins and clothing all over the place, get possessed, and otherwise avoid the work I tell them to do. That said, with a lot of ale and some harsh words from the Hammerer (who I assume works, though there's been no evidence of this) we've created an impregnable fortress built into the side of our little mountain. Siege gates, drawbridges, traps, halls of golden statues, fine living quarters, a nigh-completely delved underbelly of gems, a few siege-towers (yet unused); that's to say, the works. Only a few goblin hordes have come to test our mettle and while a few champions have fallen, mainly the ones who don't listen and charge recklessly into battle, our archers are unmatched and whatever remains after the first set of traps are sprung is quickly shot down. The ensuing rout is hilarious.

The wheels of dwarven industry turn slowly and we have produced mountains of crafts, smelted works, hordes of gem, stores of weapons and bolts for our crossbows, enough food to feed a colony of twice as many folk, enough woodcraft to piss of some elves, and a massive jail of capture gobbos. We are in it good.

Now comes the "endgame" of Dwarf Fortress: simply put, there isn't one. Until a megabeast shows up or a demon possesses your finest champion and ensorcells him into slaying everyone, or worse, your kind of left alone to your own civilization. I was about at the end of my rope; a lack of imagination left me with zero goals in a game that's all about using your imagination to do pretty much whatever you want. I was in need of inspiration so, like all of us, I turned to the source: YouTube. There I found a few videos of what other madmen had done with their own forts. The results were quite similar: build hulking towers from which to dump dozens of unsuspecting goblin-prisoners, or build arenas in which to execute, well, whoever you felt deserved it.

Being a rather visual person, I like to be able to see the work I've done so the magical 3Dwarf Visualizer grants me that ability and sets me free to construct monumental works of dwarvendom. So that's what I'm going to do. Our fortress is built into a mountain on the south side of the map. There is an adjoining mountain to the east that serves as a border for that entire side of the map, separated from our own by a narrow canyon. That seems like an auspicious place to construct a massive, tiered arena, cut in between the two ranges and joining them together. It will also be a nice defensive structures should any baddies get wise and try to attack us from the south, though they mainly opted to come in from obvious locations and go right for my perfectly crafted front battlement death trap.

Initial digging has just begin so hopefully I'll have some screens to post here soon.

Until then, kill! Drink! Dig!

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