So what’s been happening in the fortress? Well, the military is properly up and running now, and has seen off several threats with some casualties. If a dwarven fortress is a mountain range, then a well-run military has to be one of the peaks: it requires a great deal of different mechanics to be carefully thought through and meshed together: civilian cross training with unattached pumps to get some rudimentary strength training, mining for useful minerals, smelting of ores and creation of fine weapons and armour, and of course training the squads themselves to be as useful as they can be.
With that in mind, some of your dwarves are taking part in the process. Egghebrecht, for example, is the house weaponsmith, and one of his masterwork steel swords (masterwork, behind artefact, is the highest level of normally producible quality) was used to slay an exceptionally dangerous beast recently, and was thereby given the name Dolil Thukkan, the Lock of Amber.
Army of One and Big Tree are both military dwarves, and some of our best fighters. Big Tree and a couple of other dwarves (including the wielder of Amberlock, Nish) slew a forgotten beast called Damid. Unfortunately, while the sword was named during the process, all three of them shortly melted afterwards. Damid had a ‘deadly gas’ attack which got under their armour and activated a few minutes after his death. While this is obviously a great pity (losing three of the force’s best fighters was an annoying blow) the subsequent success (in attacking a different forgotten beast) of the recruit team, known as The Crazed Trainees, means that they are replaceable. Though they will remain forever in our hearts, and in a pool of forgotten beast extract at the bottom of the underdar, a series of caverns that stretches below the world and is currently thickly forested. Lots of dwarves die in Dwarf Fortress, as has already been seen. It’s a pity Big Tree had it, but that’s life. Or death, if you prefer.
While Big Tree melted a few seconds after killing Damid, Army of One wasn’t covered in deadly forgotten beast extract, so he went and slew a Jabberer single-handed in the caves with three strokes of his axe: one to a foot, one to a leg, and one to behead it. He might also have bit it in the chest: I can’t quite remember, but he was pretty quick with his attacks and it didn’t last long. He is my military ‘Champion’, appointed by the leading aristocrat to train all squads, not just the one he’s in. A very useful noble and fighting dwarf. For an explanation of what a Jabberer is, read on!
Architect Reepicheep II as captain of the guard (best described as justice secretary) has been having a rather boring time of it. There was a murder, but for some reason he decided not to prosecute: perhaps he thought there were mitigating circumstances, or that no foul play was involved? All I know is that a dwarf was found dead, but not drained of blood, and without any recorded fights. Either he died of old age or of self-inflicted injury, but whatever the case we know it’s not a vampire, which is quite a positive.
Chief Sitting Bull started his tenure as an animal trainer. Caged creatures (which are obtained through a series of traps) can be fed to gain their loyalty, and he has slowly been improving his skills in that area. Our fortress has a training programme for Keas, a type of parrot that occasionally flies by to thieve, and Rhesus Macaques, an adorable sort of monkey that produces a reasonable amount of meat and leather. We also have the more standard war dogs, which are useful for guarding the entrance from kobold thieves and goblin snatchers. However, Chief Sitting Bull had his time enlivened by a sudden mood, with which he produced an artefact rock coffer, Ancientjudged the Cross Ripper, which has a fantastic picture of a single moment in a siege (a moment I watched! Amazing!) recently, where a macedwarf (now sadly departed) decided, even though he’d just had his hip fractured, to take down a full-grown troll on his own. It was an awesome moment, and it’s such a cool thing to see captured in stone. There’s also a couple of other pictures: one of the foundation of the fortress in 257 (we’re at 265 at the moment), and another of a different troll-slaying, this time with a human shooting a troll with a crossbow. Perhaps he’s making the point that while humans mess around with crossbows, real dwarves do it up close and personal? The point is slightly spoiled by the fact that in the next siege my marksdwarves shot all the trolls instead of charging into them (there were more and I’d improved my defences), but either way the choice of imagery and the usefulness of this, despite its relatively low 40,000 value, makes this one of the best artefacts I have ever seen. Well done! Chief Sitting Bull became a legendary miner through this (making an artefact gives a big experience boost in the relevant skill).
Seer, another miner, has been keeping the books. Nothing exceptional has happened, but the miners did collectively help create some tunnels to cavern edges to gain a more complete idea of the size and shape of them, as the engravers carved peep-holes into the sides once the tunnels reached the area. They also expanded the hospital from 6 beds to 16: each bedroom has a door which can be locked to prioritise the treatment of particular dwarves if necessary, or to keep one patient locked away until death in the event of serious risk (they might be a werebeast, vampire, berserk, etc).
Fabis II, with the masons (and mason-mechanics, a general class of unskilled dwarves who do grunt labour like reloading cage traps, shifting stone into fortifications, and so on…Fabis is one of the most competent masons, which excuses him from mechanics duties), has been helping to massively expand the surface defences of the fortress. Along with walls that stretch almost to the edges of the map, two layers of battlements have been made, so that marksdwarves can intercept enemies both from a curtain layer of fortifications on the ground and an upper layer. This gives them maximum chance to shoot at the enemy without the enemy shooting back: a worthy improvement for the fortress as it faces larger and larger sieges of goblins.
Dr Amber Pyre, high master wound dresser and diagnostician (thinking of making her Chief Medical Dwarf) has, in a stupendous twist, been working at the hospital and hauling stuff around generally. She’s the most skilled in the medical team and has helped fix up the odd dwarf injury, generally from combat. Dwarf medical treatment, while free, is not simple: dwarves with injuries constantly require evaluation and must then go through a complex series of stages for any given wound. For example, a recruit was recently lashed in the hand by a goblin with a silver scourge, causing him to temporarily lose the ability to grasp. He got to the hospital and had to be evaluated (diagnosis skill), cleaned (no skill, but soap making is a task in itself and must be done to help avoid infection), sutured three times (suturing skill, with diagnosis inbetween), have the wound dressed (dressing wounds skill), and then evaluated again before he could go. Depending on the wound, he could have also needed surgery, bone setting, being fed or watered, being given a splint, a crutch, or a cast, being secured in a traction bench, being hauled over to a table to be operated on, etc etc. It is complicated, but when it works it is beautiful, and Amber Pyre is a part of that.
With Chief Sitting Bull making an awesome artefact and taking up mining, I’ve hired another trainer. Guitarguy, otherwise a legendary gem cutter and maker of Foldedache, a bracelet made from a single amethyst (it is beautiful, and pretty valuable too), isn’t employed with that work all the time so he helps with the animal training. Description of what that involves is above: I think it also includes chaining up prisoners, which is important for helping the military dwarves get trained up: live training is best training. Like I said, a mountain peak. Domesticating dragons would be another one, but you need dragons for that. Perhaps if I’m lucky I will be able to create a herd of tame jabberers, giant war birds that live in caves (think Spirit Terrorbirds, but twice the height of a human and even more beaky). Frankly, most cave creatures are tough enough to provide either really good training or pretty impressive pets, or useful siege accoutrements (blind cave ogres vs trolls, who will win?!).
You know how Egghebrecht’s been making the weapons? Well, Sobend is in charge of the armoursmithing. There are 5 specifically forge related jobs: furnace operating, weaponsmithing, armouring, blacksmithing, and metalcrafting. My count (yeah, my Baron’s been promoted now) keeps mandating battleaxes, and my mayor keeps asking for mail shirts, so I’ve been making those out of steel. Conveniently, this also lets me expand the military at a fairly organic pace, so there’s that too. None of my smiths are legendary yet, but they’re training fine.
Bwauder, my bone carver, hasn’t had much to do. In the past, we culled a lot of badgers that came in, so he made scepters and crowns out of them. They were all masterful or exceptional, and we sent them off to the mountainhome for the king to look at (presumably part of the reason the count was promoted from Baron).
Micael Fatia has carried on with engraving masterfully, trading wonderfully, and being cool. Not much more to say there: the latest project of the engravers was of course carving the peep-holes into the caverns and engraving the tombs (there’s a big series of catacombs for this, as we have quite a few dead dwarves).
KAMIL has been part of our local team of 3 brewers. He’s in the middle of the group in terms of skill, but it’s a decent job he’s doing, as an expert brewer. Dwarves don’t drink water unless they absolutely have to, ie are hospitalised, so running out of booze can mean a tantrum spiral that results in the destruction of the fortress. As such, the job is important. Most of the fortresses’ booze is wine, made from pressed plump helmets (baby’s first plant, a purple growth that produces a fresh crop underground every season and makes tons of produce as a result). We also buy in booze from the caravans that’s rum, ale and beer…and it’s possible we make some of it ourselves too, but I haven’t paid a lot of attention there. We certainly grow some of the ingredients. Human plants allow other drinks, like river spirits, sewer brew, and so on, which are surprisingly popular, while elves (hated by the dwarves, and which I so far haven’t seen on this world) grow the ‘sun berry’, which can be brewed into Sunshine, the best alcohol in the game.
If you’ve read this far, please nominate a salmon to become the Count, currently Founder Cerol, the only surviving founder, a legendary miner (by hard work, not an artefact) and meeter of diplomats. You can’t nominate yourself, and you can’t nominate someone already in this fortress.
The humans recently paid us a non-caravan visit, sending us their deity, a giraffe twisted into human form, to come as a diplomat. He had his guards, and although I kept my guards in the same room as the count in case of an altercation, nothing happened. He constantly made threats of torture and death, while at the same time noting that “it’s such a pleasant place you’ve carved out for yourselves”. The conversation was short, but worthwhile: seeing a giraffe demon deity first hand was something not to be missed. All deities in Dwarf Fortress are demons, I think that’s just the mechanic of it, and they lead human civilizations sometimes (it depends on the randomly generated history of the world, which I really must look into in Legends Mode, I want to know more about the Barbs of Sand all the engravers keep referencing). Although I wanted to kill the human diplomat, since they never bring anything interesting to trade and another war would be quite fun, I’ll wait until they come round again before I do that. Demons might be tougher to take down than I expect.
EDIT: Dammit, I missed Dr Mitchell. Sorry about that. Would have been a perfect fit for the medical team.