Chapter 5 :: Diplomacy Beneath the Oily Furnace

The fifth installment of my ongoing chronicle of Roomcarnage, the dwarf fortress.

  May 26th, 2014

In the late summer of 1202, and a sizable migrant wave has arrived at Roomcarnage. A quartet of foul fog zombie ungulates guards the entrance to the fortress - an *obsidian door* set into the ice at the base of the northern cliff - against any friendly newcomers. Days pass, and the migrants mill about at the edge of the map, while the undead blocking their path remain standing in place, silent and motionless, apparently imperceptive of the dwarves' arrival.

In the time it takes for me to notice the migrants and decide on a plan of action, two of the dwarves on the surface of the glacier die of thirst or starvation, apparently having arrived a significant amount of time later than the others. One of the newcomers brought a crossbow with them, and repeatedly puts down the corpses as they rise, frozen and rotting, from the ceaseless crimson snowdrifts.

I order a long tunnel to be dug from the fortress to the glacier directly beneath the migrants. I am firmly dedicated to saving as many dwarven lives as possible at this point, especially considering that every dwarf left on the surface is simply another enemy to deal with at a later point in time.

Once the tunnel is completed, the migrants rush eagerly beneath the glacier. I lock the door behind them immediately.

Luckily, the food stockpiles are filling up nicely, and I don't need to worry about scraping around for every last bit of sustenance to feed these migrants. Nevertheless, I have their livestock butchered immediately, except for a couple puppies and a doe rabbit. The rabbit will starve to death, without grass to eat - I sincerely hope that its corpse may be disposed of quickly, before it somehow sets off a tantrum spiral.

There's work to be done - with the fortress population reaching into the high 70s, new accommodations must be dug out once again. I enable the mining labor on several dwarves and order a clutch of freshly forged picks.

In addition to a brand new dining hall, I have a broad flat area excavated, which will serve as the new food stockpiles.

Once it has been dug out, the dwarves haul all food products except seeds from the upper levels of the fortress down into this lower, larger grotto. Roomcarnage delves ever deeper.

I also have a dormitory carved out near the top of the natural passage to the north of the new farms. There will be more beds to put in here soon, I hope, but for now these will have to do.

Late Autumn arrives, and I still haven't constructed a trade depot capable of trapping the foul fog merchants. I sigh, resigned to let another year pass without taking advantage of this opportunity.

Then, I check out the outpost liaison. Wh...what? He's not undead at all! He's alive!

So are the merchants! Shit! I don't have a trade depot... yet.

I unlock the doors to the same passage through which the last wave of migrants entered, and the outpost liaison strides quickly towards the passage.

Ilral Whiptool moves quickly into the heart of the fortress, seeking out Rimtar Gateechoed, the expedition leader of the Momentous Dye.

Meanwhile, I desperately attempt to make preparations for the merchants who are still on the surface. All rough gems are ordered to be cut, and a novice gem cutter rushes to work.

I order a trade depot constructed in the corner of the new dining hall - the wagons have passed by, so I don't need to worry about a three tile wide passageway. The merchants and their pack animals will find their way through the dark, claustrophobic passages of Roomcarnage easily enough.

I am not eager to risk exposing the merchants to the foul fog zombies - not to mention the foul fog itself, which lay in long, oily grey streaks across the sanguine snowscape. Instead, I designate a passage to be dug out of the ice of the Oily Furnace itself, leading to an exit on the south side of the volcano.

The mechants make it inside successfully, and a door is installed in the passage, then locked to ensure that nothing enters through the new entrance. Shortly before the caravan arrives at the trade depot, Dastot Ringmute is taken by a fey mood, and claims a craftsdwarf's workshop.

Soon afterwards, she creates Mutepanted, a native copper figurine of dwarves.

The figurine commemorates the founding of Roomcarnage. Also, a jug. Charming.

The dwarves move quickly, hauling cut gems and high quality stone pots and mechanisms to the trade depot. I don't want to risk the caravan leaving before I have a chance to trade with them, and I don't really have much else to offer in the way of trade goods. I do have prepared food, which is worth quite a bit, but I'm not willing to offer up food in this fortress for anything, at least not while sustenance is a major issue.

I take all the wood they've bought with them, some leather, and plenty of food and alcohol. Initially, they refuse to trade - so I remove all the cheese from the deal.

Cha-ching! Now Roomcarnage has plenty of wood for new beds, and I finally feel content about the food situation. Things will only get better as the farmers increase in skill level, and the stockpile of seeds grows larger.

Meanwhile, the expedition leader Rimtar Gateechoed meets with the outpost liaison. "Our situation? Let me tell you about our 'situation.'"

"Are you writing this down?"

And this is our trade agreement with Titthalisakadil, "The Playful Spattered Walls." Looks like cut gems will be what we aim to make our main export next year.

"A meeting next year? So optimistic, good Ilral."

I finish up with the outpost liaison about the same time that the merchants finally pack up. I'm reluctant to let them back out onto the surface - I really want word of Roomcarnage's prosperity to get back to the mountainhome.

So, I order a crude stone bridge constructed in the cavern layer, connecting a mud-covered ledge from which I collected wood earlier to the rest of the caves. The merchants and the liaison leave through the caverns, taking the safer route through the long darkness of the caverns to the mountainhome.

As the dwarves sort through the newly acquired goods, I order the construction of a memorial to Minkot Zimzon, the dwarf who gave his life to provide a safe source of magma to Roomcarnage.

His soul is laid to rest amidst the very magma forges he helped to power.

A few seconds later, the game comes to an abrupt halt. I always have seasonal autosave enabled (with backups), simply because crashes can and do happen. I've lost multiple fantastic and enjoyable fortresses to sudden crashes and file corruption, long before they had reached their prime.

It is the new year - the early spring of 1203. A new dining hall has been excavated, and awaits the installation of thirty tables and sixty chairs that the manager has faithfully queued up in the mason's workshops.

Dwarves happily guzzle alcohol and scarf raw plump helmets in the rough-hewn food stockpile. Two kitches and two stills, combined with the three large farms producing in the cavern layer above will, I hope, be enough to meet the demands of this fortress. If the cavern returns again next year - and is comprised of living, breathing dwarves, and not undead monsters - they will be bringing with them rock nuts. Once the dwarves have access to quarry bushes, starvation will be a much more distant threat.

Roomcarnage not only endures - it seems, despite the horrific conditions, to be flourishing. It has survived to be two years old. Will it live to be three?

Before the month is out, yet another migrant wave arrives. I hope they brought cattle with them.

They enter the map dangerously close to the foul fog zombies, and nowhere near a previously carved entrance.

Will the migrants survive? Or will they only fuel the necromantic dynamo of undeath that plagues the frigid, gory surface of the Ice of Ghosts? Tune in next time.