Beards, Fear & Incompetence: A Dwarf Fortress Diary (Part 4)

Spring

Spring had sprung, the grass had ris’; I did not know where father is. (Don’t ask me, my Grandad used to say it.)

Spring was an interesting season for all involved in this sorry tale: both for the inhabitants of Plaitedhatchets (for reasons that will soon become apparent) and also for me as it allowed me to finally see Dwarf Fortress in its true, grotesque, pulsating form.

Here’s a shortened version of what happened in Spring, for those with short attention spans:

“Oh, that’s awful”
“What th-”
“Oh, for f-”
“AAAAAGH”
“…”

What happened? Well, I’ll tell you.

As you may remember, other than Plaitedhatchets discovering we had our own little child prodigy among our ranks, Winter was a largely uneventful season that revolved mainly around trying desperately not to starve to death.

Spring, on the other hand, was somewhat more eventful – in fact, it was so eventful I didn’t notice Summer starting, or indeed Autumn, but more on that later.

Spring opened in that cheery way that only a DF Spring can: with a Dwarf dying of thirst.

“Oh, that’s awful”, I said.

I’ll be honest and say I was a little bit annoyed by this turn of events, because there was booze in the stockpiles when this happened, and only injured Dwarves particularly need water. My only guess is that the dwarf was injured and as such could only drink water, which had of course been frozen all winter – it turns out unless you go looking, you won’t know about any injuries to any of the bearded idiots in your employ.

Anyway, how he died isn’t massively important (though try telling that to a judge) – all that mattered was that he was dead, and what that meant for the fortress. See, when a Dwarf dies, any Dwarves that they have relationships with get (rather understandably) upset and this can lead to them throwing a tantrum (especially when the food supplies are as low as mine had been) – which can involve starting fights with other dwarves.

Which results in injured Dwarves.

As you might remember, injured Dwarves need water; water that I don’t have. Thus, they die.

GOTO 10.

In simple terms, shit hit the fan.

“What th-” said I.

At this point, what can only be described as a “Fuck-You-Tsunami” washed over the fortress. Dwarf after Dwarf threw tantrums as their brethren died of thirst or of fist fight wounds, starting what DF players call a tantrum spiral, because each tantrum is pretty much all the impetus another Dwarf needs to start their own hissy fit and begin smashing up the furniture.

Plaitedhatchets had broken down. Anarchy reigned. The entire fortress was fighting with one other, children fighting with their parents, grown adults kicking goslings in the head (I swear to fucking god that happened) and spouses braining their loved ones.

From this point on, the game came to life like some evil Ventriloquist’s puppet in an RL Stine novel, screaming in the face of terrified, innocent onlookers as they wonder when it all went so wrong.

You’ve read those Godawful creepypastas about haunted games that want their players dead? Well, Bay 12 have made one.

The fortress was doomed to slowly fall apart, torn asunder by infighting and mental illness if I did not act.

I paused the game and set to thinking, adjusting my fortress commander’s uniform (or “underpants”) and pacing the room as I began to consider what I could do to save my tiny, boozed up, beardy little brethren.

So obviously, what happened at exactly the moment that I formulated a plan to save Plaitedhatchets was a Goblin force arrived outside the fortress. The greenskinned army did not take long to find my livestock pens, and within seconds the green tide had murdered all the animals I was keeping outside.

“Oh, for f-” was as far as I got before it got worse.

With the livestock slaughtered, the vile beasts obviously needed something else to better slake their thirst for blood.

It was a dark day in the halls of Plaitedhatchet when the first green flood came.

In short order, they found their way over the drawbridge into the Fort (turns out the entire complex was too busy kicking itself to death to bother pulling the lever that would raise the bridge, thus rendering my one useful security measure… well, not so useful), where they indiscriminately murdered a few Dwarves; soaking the stone in their thick, boozy blood before pissing straight back off the way they came… straight into the newest piece of bad news to hit Plaitedhatchets.

A piece of news so terrifyingly bad that I had to look up what it was before realising just how bad this bad news was.

Really fucking bad, if you’re interested.

This particular piece of bad news was called (deep breath) Kekath Thatthilrikkir Amud Uthir, Autumnwhisker the Thunders of Searing’s Forest Titan. It was a giant insect type thing and it was coming my way, and it shredded the marauding goblins like fingers in a waste disposal unit. I swear DF does this just to take the piss.

Titans are fucking horrible, as things go. They’re giant creatures with a fuckload of hitpoints and their arrival isn’t fantastic news for any fort, much less a fort that is currently brawling itself into oblivion, knee deep in the blood of their fallen brothers and sisters like some Brazilian gang run prison. The Dwarves hadn’t even finished wiping the bits of their friends and family off the walls after the Goblin invasion (mainly because they were busy rioting and punching each other in the brains, don’t forget) and now they were expected to deal with an oversized exoskeletal embodiment of death that fired sticky webs and had a name like a keyboard had fallen down the stairs. Good thing I’d shut that bridge, eh?

Oh no, wait. I hadn’t shut the bridge, because everyone in the fort was too busy smacking each other around the head with bits of broken furniture to actually try and protect each other or do anything that I asked. That’s right.

A frankly hilarious display of murder ensued.

Obviously, at this point I realised that I was going to have to create a militia; whether Plaitedhatchets was worth saving or not was dubious, but while there was still a question to be asked, I figured it was worth a try.

Of course, you remember how well my last militia did.

Armed with the indispensable Dwarf Fortress Wiki I managed to turn five of my most expendable cretins into some kind of fighting force, equipped them with pointy sticks and helmets made of turtle shell, and sent them to what would undoubtedly be their final moments in the game. Their mood was, understandably, described as miserable.

My mood was described as “AAAAAAAAGH”.

The Titan was spraying webs everywhere that slowed the progress of my tiny, stupid, suicidal militia, but those five brave soldiers trudged through the goo, marching practically unarmed towards the titan like only Dwarves with a deathwish can do; ready to throw down their lives in the name of a fort that once made a nice crown and was now in the process of tearing itself to pieces.

Each of those little shirts represents the clothes of a dead Dwarf. Notice there are a lot of shirts.

Then do you know what happened?

What happened next, while my army were bravely throwing themselves into the jaws of death to protect the cursed Plaitedhatchets, was Kivish went insane.

“…”

Kivish, you might remember, was a Miner who had been in the fort since day one. She was pretty damn handy with a pickaxe, as you can probably imagine, with all that mining, and pickaxes can be used as a weapon.

You can probably guess what comes next.

Within moments the fort was full of dismembered body parts as children and animals alike were rent asunder by the insane miner. She tore ten citizens apart in incredibly short order with her copper pick before her reign of terror was brought to an end.

She died in the way that all brave Dwarves want to go: punched in the head and her brain cleft in twain by a child.

That child likely spent a short moment considering a career in Mixed Martial Arts. Before punching another hapless adult in the ears, of course.

Immigrants arrived. I looked forward to them immediately being punched in the nose by any one of the mentally deranged children who stalked the halls of the complex, haunted by the ghosts of their kin. Fuck you immigrants.

Someone was taken by a Fey mood. They got punched to death before they got to the workshop. Fuck you Fey Moods.

A child threw a party, which lasted a femtosecond before someone else went berzerk and chased them out of the dining room. Fuck you parties. Fuck you Children.

The militia had taken down the Titan, it transpired, but by this point the fort was so full of blood, teeth and pieces of children, it was barely worth saving. God knows what the immigrants thought.

In a way the fact that there was nothing left to save was lucky.

As what was left of the militia (Not bloody much) dragged the giant insectoid remains of the great Titan inside the fort, kicking aside shinbones, jaws and teeth as they went, another mob of rampaging Goblins arrived. This time they had Trolls with them of course, because obviously the last lot that turned up didn’t fuck me up sufficiently enough apparently. I can only imagine they were upset when their last band of psychopaths didn’t return back to the ritual burning pyre with heads and legs in bags, and in an incredible display of misplaced credit, figured that they’d been killed by my cowering soldiers rather than the insane insect Goliath which now lay dead and stinking in the dining room.

The people of Plaitedhatchets didn’t stand a chance.

The halls ran red with Dwarven blood once more, and for the final time.

Plaitedhatchets had fallen.

Fuck you Dwarf Fortress.