Chapter 7 :: Delve Greedily, Delve Deep

This is the seventh chapter in an ongoing series chronicling the expoits of the fortress Roomcarnage, and those dwarves foolish enough to be caught within it.

  June 3rd, 2014

The Oily Furnace, visible from miles away across the Ice of Ghosts. A landmark sought only by those foolish enough to believe that they might have a bright and successful future in a distant dwarf fortress. The fortress sought by these fools is Roomcarnage, and their future holds only misery and unlife.

It is the 17th of Malachite, the mid-summer of 1203. Two and a half years after the first chambers were hewn from the haunted ice volcano, many of the dwarves of the Momentous Dye still cling to life here, in Roomcarnage.

The surface has been forsaken. Across the drifts of frozen elf blood, dozens of undead abominations creep silently, or mindlessly careen after the few unfortunate migrants that have been left locked out of Roomcarnage. I cannot afford to expose the fortress to unnecessary danger, now that the population is reaching critical levels.

While it might appear as if the dining hall of Roomcarnage is a bustling center of activity, it's actually quite the opposite. Most of these dwarves standing around are idlers, or worse: partygoers. They are spending their time chatting with others - in other words, they are building relationships. This is bad. It will be difficult for me to contain a zombie outbreak, but at least the spread of undeath can be contained, at least temporarily, by locked doors. A tantrum spiral, once underway, is nearly impossible to contain.

The farms, at least, are producing food in surplus. Respective stocks of alcohol and food haven't dipped below 300, thanks primarily to a small army of planters and brewers. I've supplemented the stockpiles of raw plump helmet spawn with tallow and meat roasts produced by my cage-trapped butchery.

Still in the height of summer (not that one would be able to tell, here in this bloodsoaked hellhole), the weaponsmith Libash Stakeamazes is taken by a fey mood! Armok smiles upon Roomcarnage.

Libash occupies the magma forge and claims several different materials. Of course, copper is the only metal available, so whatever the mood turns out won't be particularly impressive under any circumstances...

...but here in Roomcarnage, I take what I can get.

"An image of a tundra titan." Curious. As procedurally generated creatures, there is no typical tundra titan. With the production of this artifact, Libash Stakeamazes is now a legendary weaponsmith. It would be a shame to let such skill go to waste - but before I go about forming a military and crafting masterwork weaponry, I need to fix some stockpiles.

I dig out two new chambers so that they might be used for stockpiles. Two separate chambers, so that they may both be protected with doors. I've been careful to enclose as many parts of the fortress with stone doors that might be locked in the event of a zombie outbreak.

These new rooms are boring and square (from the dwarves' point of view, at least). Stockpiles are designated, and the fort's collection of armor and weapons is hauled into the southern chamber, while bricks are piled in the northern one.

Lastly, some extra beds are placed in the vacated chamber adjacent to the first farm. I've selected this location for a barracks, primarily because the up/down staircase at its eastern end leads out of the currently inhabited part of the fortress - in both directions. Go up, and one arrives in the portion of the fortress directly beneath the frozen surface, where a deep shaft still holds the animated corpses of a few undead livestock. Go down, and one reaches a series of tunnels where the rock-melting heat emanating from below cannot be ignored.

With a squad of ten dwarves armored and training, I turn my attention towards Roomcarnage's first mayor, Nish Metaldied. Nish demands a mayoral suite and issues her first mandate, the construction of toy hammers. While the arrangement of "unfortunate accidents" is a time-honored tradition amongst Dwarf Fortress players dating back to its earliest days, there's already more death circulating around my map than I am comfortable with. I queue up a bunch of rock toys to be constructed by the craftsdwarves, then set about arranging the construction of Nish's quarters.

I designate the mayoral suite to be dug out of the rock immediately to the east of the dining hall.

Once dug out, I have most of the furniture hauled into place, and order the walls and floors to be smoothed.

As the engravers chisel away at the raw stone (with their beards, right?) the last bits of furniture are installed in Nish's quarters.

At about the same time, I notice that the newly appointed captain of the guard has certain requirements as well.

The captain is Obok Girderflares, a migrant with a degree of combat skill and competence with a mace.

Obok wields Mirroredstalkers, the legendary copper mace that was crafted only a few weeks prior.

I designate a small suite to be dug out partway up the northern cave passage, a short distance below the dormitories.

Soon, the captain's suite is furnished and ready for habitation.

Late in the summer, a migrant wave arrives at the southern edge of the map.

A zombie horse is there to greet them.

At first, I am sure that the migrants will be scattered throughout the map, driven across the Ice of Ghosts by the lifeless surface dwellers. However, once the zombie horse has left the area, chasing after an unlucky newcomer, the remaining migrants stand about the edge of the map, idle and waiting.

Against my better judgement, I unlock the door placed upon the south side of the volcano. Many of the migrants make it inside, including a few skilled warriors who are immediately drafted into the military. Not everyone reaches the door in time, however, before I lock it, indirectly sentencing them to death upon the glacier of undeath.

As the number of undead plaguing the surface increases, the amount of time it takes for them to run down and slay dwarves left above the ice grows ever shorter.

As promised in my previous update, I make arrangements to demonstrate the effect of magma upon reanimated corpses. From the northern antechamber, I dig a small tunnel to the south, overlooking the surface of the lava lake.

I place an activity zone at the precipice, and order one of the monsters captured in the butchery to be tossed into the volcano. All I had to demonstrate at this point were reanimated skins and horrific monstrosities of unholy animal hair. In the future, I'll try and capture a more "complete" specimen, but for now this bit of undead ram wool will have to do.

The undead ram wool is led uneventfully through the entire fortress, from the dining hall to the level of the surface. Nobody reacts - least of all, the ram wool. When being moved from place to place, even the most violent of creatures is reduced to a docile temperament.

This is the view of the caldera, as rendered in Overseer, from the point of view of the dwarf as it tosses the undead ram wool out the tunnel.

Same POV, looking up at the spires of ice that form the jagged peaks of the Oily Furnace.

With a single push, the dwarf chucks the undead wool into the volcano.

The ram wool drifts slowly, unharmed, down the entire height of the volcano shaft. Finally, it reaches the bottom of the magma sea, where it comes to rest atop the semi-molten rock. Then... nothing. It simply sits there, apparently immune to the obliterating heat and pressure of the magma sea. It doesn't even catch fire. If magma is the blood of Armok, then these creatures are truly anathema.

My attention is called away from the fireproof zombie wool and to the main part of the fortress. The mayor has just ended a mandate... which means I failed to meet it in time. Without cages or chains, the only justice available at hand is an old-fashioned beating. I hold my breath as Obok Workerringed, a member of the fortress guard, navigates through the fortress to administer the punishment.

The criminal is Adil Glazephantom, the tanner. I have no idea what a tanner has to do with the production of rock toy hammers. However, it is not my place to question the judgement of the nobles - only to handle the consequences of their decisions. Obok administers the standard beating - ten strikes - before turning around and calmly returning to his combat training. Adil is left retching in the corner of the dining hall, alive.

In mid-autumn, a gem cutter is taken by a secretive mood and claims a jeweler's workshop.

Another crown? Now I have two.

Looks pretty, though. Too bad it's totally useless.

In late autumn, the caravan arrives. I haven't yet made preparations to handle their arrival, but it doesn't matter, this year. Both the caravan and the outpost liaison arrive covered in a layer of foul fog. I might be able to deal somehow with the increasing number of undead on the surface - including the periodic zombie caravans - but all my plans seem to require the application of magma. Magma-safe pumps require magma-safe materials, of which I have access to none. None, save a certain ore that lay hidden to the eyes of mortals... do I dare delve so greedily, and so deep?

With the surface forsaken, the dwarves of the Momentous Dye are rather safe in Roomcarnage, even considering the everpresent threat of rampant undeath. Their living needs - food, drink, and bedding - are thoroughly cared for. A colonial government has been established. These dwarves are quite safe, barring the inevitable future accident that will kill them. In the meantime, their safety translates to my safety... from losing. Losing is fun.

I order a new series of exploratory tunnels dug out of the deepest bedrock, immediately above the magma sea. Stairs lead down from points along these new passages, breaching the ocean of molten rock from above and revealing huge portions of the core of the earth to piercing, greedy dwarven eyes.

I waste no time, and boldly order the uppermost levels of the adamantine vein to be hollowed out. Delving blindly and greedily into the mythical cyan ore is a good way to end a fortress, and normally I take time and many precautions when collecting it in other fortresses. Roomcarnage, however, is a tightly packed powder keg, ready to detonate at any moment - even the threat of what might lay beyond the deep spires doesn't particularly worry me, compared to what the dwarves of the Momentous Dye have already faced.

Bomrek Craftfresh, one of the founding members of Roomcarnage, carves his way through the adamantine spire like a !!copper short sword!! through a +cat tallow roast+. Mercifully, Bomrek discovers nothing but priceless ore. I designate a new stockpile in the fortress above for the freshly liberated ore - as much as I dare collect, for now. Then, I set about continuing my exploration of the magma sea.

Praise the miners! Two more veins of adamantine! What fortune!

It is the 6th of Moonstone, in the early winter of 1203. As Roomcarnage approaches the end of its third year, the dwarves of the Momentous Dye grow ever closer to their final, grisly fate. With the discovery of adamantine, the dwarves have unlocked one of their greatest weapons, but with its excavation comes a greater curse: as the material wealth of Roomcarnage skyrockets with an infusion of raw adamantine, more and more migrants will begin to arrive at the accursed volcano - and following them, the ravenous, immortal beasts of the world's youth, lured to the Oily Furnace by the promise of dwarven treasure.