Chapter 1 :: Springtime at a Haunted Glacier Volcano

A modest chronicle of the first two and a half months or so of my newest fortress, Roomcarnage. I don't expect this one to last very long, for various reasons... which is good, because the new version is going to be released soon!

  May 10th, 2014

I tweaked the worldgen parameters a little to provide me with a small island world with high volcanism, low temperature, and lots of evil. I aimed to create a world with the prime conditions necessary to find a volcano in a haunted glacier - a particularly challenging embark, even for an experienced player such as myself, and definitely unique. After a few rejected worlds, I found an embark that not only matched my conditions, but exhibited curious features in the embark screen.

The volcano appears to tower over the surrounding glacier, which is otherwise flat and featureless.

Looks like we're on our own.

Thanks for the warning DF, but I've planned ahead for this. In order to hopefully offset any FPS hit for a large embark site, I reduced the number of caverns generated in this world to one. In past experience, this has had some buggy side effects, but it usually reduces FPS problems significantly.

We embark only with the bare essentials. A few picks and an anvil ensure we can make full use of the magma at the site. I go with a safe amount of food, 100 units each of drink and food, in varying flavors. Seeds for planting, and a few dogs for basic protection and food. I pray to Armok that the biome doesn't have a reanimating effect. I hit the embark button...

Welcome to Roomcarnage.

This is where the dwarves stopped the wagon.

Scrolling down, the individual pinnacles of ice that surround the caldera become clear.

Further down, they join at the edges to form the jagged rim of the caldera.

Sheer cliffs form in the four cardinal directions, with ramps extending out diagonally.

The surface of the glacier is as I expected - a barren and featureless plain of snow. This place is dead.

Surface level.

And just below, the surface of the lava tube.

This is a view of the whole volcano in Stonesense, taken shortly after embarcation. It is known as the Oily Furnace amongst the dwarves.

I waste no time. A small passage is designated into the northern cliffside, leading to an antechamber stairwell going down into the stone. I plan on installing rock doors here as soon as dwarvenly possible, as a kind of emergency hatch. There's no telling what kind of horrors are waiting just beyond the edge of the map - not to mention the supernatural weather - so I figure it's better to dig in and get everyone inside sooner rather than later. It won't last against building destroyers, but I can only hope that they don't show up within the first few months, before I've gotten a proper entryway set up.

The starting seven - I had planned on digging being an early key to success in this embark, so I brought three miners. Everyone else is either a farmer or a stoneworker.

Beneath the glacier, my dwarves hollow out the first of many rooms. Normally I spend some time designing the overall fortress layout, giving myself a framework within which I can add modular bits of fortress architecture, keeping sprawl to a minimum. Here in the Ice of Ghosts, aesthetics go right out the +rock door+ in favor of unbridled haste.

Once the chamber is finished, I have my dwarves move the food and alcohol inside first.

Before the end of the first month, a weight is lifted off my shoulders. The dwarves will still gain unhappy thoughts when caught in the freakish weather, but compared to some of the procedurally generated horrors I've dealt with in the past, elf blood blizzards look like a fluffy wambler infestation.

Besides, an active volcano comprised entirely of ice and coated in crimson snowdrifts of frozen gore? Fucking metal. I love this game.

I don't wait up to admire the scenery for more than a few seconds. There's work to be done. I have the dwarves dig out a few more chambers, separated by single tiles for more doors - in case of a zombie outbreak, it might be vital to the fort's survival that portions of the fortress are able to be sealed off and quarantined. But just to make sure, I need to safely test to see if the Ice of Ghosts has a reanimating effect.

I dig a shaft about six z-levels deep and connect it via a stairwell - protected with locked -obsidian doors-, of course. Then, I order the water buffalo to be thrown down the pit. If it dies and nothing happens, the corpse can be butchered for food. If it reanimates, then it is thankfully at the bottom of a fucking pit, and not in the middle of the dining room.

The initial drop doesn't kill the water buffalo. Hmm.

Well, at least it's right at the bottom of the shaft.

I order a bunch of stone boulders to be thrown down the shaft, showering the stunned water buffalo with heavy rock.

This little guy is tougher than I thought. Time for another strategy...

Finally! It only took throwing the thing down the shaft a dozen or so times. Now, we lock the doors and wait.

A week passes with no sign of movement at all. Reluctant to let good meat go to waste, I order a butcher's workshop and tannery to be constructed. The doors are unlocked, and a farmer runs to collect the corpse for slaughter.

In this instance, "Job item misplaced" translates to "Job item turned into shambling undead horror the moment it is in the heart of the fortress."

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. Lock that door, Urist!

When this occurred, I was in the process of digging out new passages, connected (of course) to the previous ones. I hadn't gotten the new doors installed just yet, which means that the dining hall and wood/furniture stockpiles are now completely unprotected.

I resist the urge to immediately draft everyone into the military - if a dwarf dies, it could result in a chain reaction that would totally destroy the infant fortress. I designate a burrow in the chamber containing the food stockpile, which is also protected by doors.

I then create a new alert, commanding my dwarves to retreat to this area.

As the corpse stumbles about in the next room, the dwarves consolidate in the burrow. Here, I queue up a few more doors for my mason to construct, and I set about with switching my miners over into militiadwarves, wielding their picks as assigned weapons. This can take a little time, so it is good that they are safe behind locked doors.

What happens next? I'll continue to chronicle the fates of the dwarves of Roomcarnage. For now, I leave you with this image of the Oily Furnace in Stonesense, post-freakish weather. Visible through the transparent ice is the lava itself, and you can clearly see the tiny entrance to the fortress. It is the 9th of Felsite, Late Spring in the year 1201. A little over two months have passed... what will the dwarven caravan find, come Autumn? Tune in to find out.

Bonus: While screwing around with the settings in the Stonesense .init file, I got some pretty cool effects going on in the visualizer. This is my favorite - how I imagine the Oily Furnace might appear when one of the rare natural blizzards sweeps across the Ice of Ghosts, blessing the slopes of the volcano with drifts of pure, white snow.