Roburky’s Dwarf Fortress Diary

By RPS on June 14th, 2009 at 8:40 pm.


RPS chum Robin “Roburky” Burkinshaw is fast becoming something of a celebrity PC gaming diarist, with his recent Sims 3 diary blog attracting enormous attention from across the gaming sphere, and even from mainstream media. We, however, asked him to write something that definitely won’t get into Entertainment Weekly: the journal of a Dwarf Fortress campaign. What he came back with gives you some idea of just how insanely detailed the Dwarf Fortress world really is, and how much an incomplete simulation is likely to land hapless dwarves in trouble. Tales of fish dissectors, rivers of vomit, and doomed architectural improvisation follow.


Dwarf Fortress is a management game from another world. So detailed is its simulation of harsh and bloody dwarven existence that reading the creator’s development log is like reading updates from a deity as it puts together a new planet.

22nd May 2008: Handled talking to babies.
9th November 2008: Remembered to make ribs internal.
3rd January 2009: Wrote up organ strikes, but it keeps crashing when I hit the spleen.

You’ve likely already come to a conclusion whether you’re a person capable of delving beyond the alien interface to meet this amazing game for yourself, but before you make any further judgments, allow me to tell you a story of a band of dwarves who left their dwarven city, and established a new settlement that they called ‘SquashedBrains’.

I started this game shortly after Dwarf Fortress’ introduction of the third dimension, back in 2007. It was an exciting time for those who had played the previous versions, with lots of new features to experiment with. One of these was the ability to build constructions. Previously, you could only mine out the rock and create rooms out of what you left behind. Now you could build walls, and potentially make buildings of your own on the surface.

I felt it was clear that I should start a Tower of Babel project as soon as possible. How high could we go? Was there an upper limit to this world? What would happen if I reached it?

We began the construction next to our main fortress entrance. It was five tiles wide, and five tiles long, with a staircase in the corner. It was fiddly work, as constructed walls and floors had to be designated one tile at a time, but things were nevertheless progressing well. I had a team of very highly skilled masons working on it full-time. On the third floor, however, all of my masons got themselves stuck. They had chosen to build the walls before the floors, and had walked along the top of the walls of the level below, built a new wall on top of it, and left themselves no route back to the staircase.

I assigned some peasants to be emergency masons to try and finish the floor to let them out, but their unskilled hands were not working fast enough. My stranded dwarves were starving to death. Drastic measures were called for. I designated the wall they were standing on for demolition.

The result? Massive structural collapse. The screen is entirely obscured by clouds of dust and smoke. But it’s a kind of success. The masons were now lying on the grass outside the tower, unconscious but unhurt. The only casualty was my fish dissector, who died in the middle of the collapse, according to the message log. I presume he got hit in the head while passing by underneath, but I couldn’t really tell what happened with all the smoke.

It wasn’t until a whole game year later that I noticed what the single teal coloured stripy square was on every level of my fortress. Using the ‘look at’ command that gives you detailed information on the contents of a tile, I discovered that symbol meant ‘open space’. It seems that much of the tower had collapsed onto a single square, and punched a hole through my entire goddamned fortress. There is a gap in the floor of my tomb, my prison, my mighty statue party room, the mayor’s bedroom, and several stairways. Seven levels below the ground, beneath all of the holes, there is an almighty pile of stone and a pool of blood. That, I suspect, was the resting place of the fish dissector.

My dwarves are a practical people. We used the hole for an elegant solution to our stone clutter problem. Whenever you expand your mountain home, there is always the question of what to do with all of the stone that gets mined out. Once upon a time, we would create an enormous stockpile outside and carry them out one by one and stack them in orderly rows. Then I changed to ordering my masons to build stone blocks out of it all, which took up much less storage space, and could be used to construct higher quality buildings. Over the years, however, it still took up too much space.

But thanks to my failed career as a skyscraper architect, we now had a handy garbage chute on every level of the fortress. Some quick setting up of rubbish zones over the gap, and then designating some rock for dumping, and all the useless clutter in our home gets chucked down the hole to join the fish dissector’s bodily fluids at the bottom. A new age of efficiency for the fortress began.

Then the hydra came. Which was rather inconvenient. With all the ambitious construction projects going ahead, I hadn’t actually got around to developing a military to deal with the monsters that Dwarf Fortress throws at you.

I called all of my dwarves inside, forbade them from leaving, and prepared to press them all into emergency military service. The hydra sprinted across the map, directly towards my fortress entrance next to the collapsed tower. It forced its way through the front door, and was caught by my single cage trap as it charged across the entrance hall.

I was honestly surprised to see that work on a giant monster. My fortress was saved, but I now had the problem of an enormous multi-headed mythical creature in a little wooden cage. It was sitting in my animal stockpile alongside the cows and camels. I dug out a room a little way down the cliff from my fortress entrance, and put the hydra in there, surrounded with engraved pillars. It would be a shrine to the fortune of SquashedBrains.

As soon as this was done, however, a titan arrived. It entered the map behind a visiting dwarven trade caravan. Their armed guard immediately sprang into action, and the most unbelievably epic battle that I have ever observed – through the medium of textual wound and status readouts – took place.

The dwarves piled on to the approaching titan, but it rapidly killed the majority, and sent the remainder fleeing for their lives. This left a single caravan guard to fight the colossal text entity on his own. This axe-dwarf was described as ‘unbelievably agile’, and was fighting the giant creature bare-handed, his weapon having been irretrievably lodged in the titan’s shoulder early on in the struggle. This duel went on for days, possibly months of in-game time. They were both tired and over-exerted, and would occasionally slip into unconsciousness. The titan was dripping in dwarf blood from head to toe. There were steel axes sticking out of his arms and hands, and he was trying to beat down the dwarf using a steel helmet stolen from a dwarf corpse. Eventually, finally, brilliantly, the dwarf was victorious, and the titan fell.

My one actual, trained soldier slept through the entire event. All he got to see of the titan was its bones being made into crossbow bolts as the saviour of SquashedBrains and his caravan went riding off into the sunset. Having only narrowly avoided destruction by two different giant monsters by sheer chance, I decided that I needed a military. I drafted almost half of my population into the army and set them training. They didn’t manage to get much training done before another calamity struck: a goblin horde arrived, and was going to besiege the fortress. Could my luck possibly hold?

Back in 2007, there was a bug with Dwarf Fortress that meant that goblin sieges often didn’t actually attack your fortress. If they didn’t see a dwarf, they would mill around on the edges of the map, and eventually go home.

These goblins did see a dwarf, however, because most of my untrained army decided to launch an attack on the legions of mounted goblins and their superhumanly tough human swordsmen leaders. Needless to say, the eager dwarf combatants were cut to pieces without landing a single blow. Attempting to mitigate the destruction, I marked their bodies and equipment as forbidden, which would prevent the civilian dwarves from coming out to retrieve them. By the time the goblin army left, there was was a field of rotten dwarf corpses spread out in front of the fortress. I decided, with the enemy gone, that it was probably safe to let the other dwarves bury the poor bastards.

But Dwarf Fortress is designed for even this eventuality. It turns out that dwarves react to walking out into a battlefield covered in putrified blood and rotting corpses by vomiting in horror. There’s far more spew out by the river now than there was blood in the first place.

Not all was bodily fluids and horror, however. One of my soldiers had been looking after a baby, which survived the siege. Her soldier friend then adopted the child, and then later had a baby herself. So she was soon carrying two babies with her everywhere. Needless to say, she really wasn’t getting a lot of soldiering done. I decided I would turn her back into a civilian until the kids grew up a bit.

In fact a lot of the dwarfs that died had friends. Friends who had to pick up rotting chunks of their former buddies off the ground, and have consequently been incredibly miserable. They’ve also been periodically getting angry at the world and smashing random stuff in the fortress. One dwarf lost one too many friends in the battle for him to recover. He went mad and threw himself 13 levels down the garbage chute. He’s now lying unconscious at the bottom with his legs smashed to pieces. Nobody wants to help rescue him.

The aftermath of war is horrible. And in the game.

With so many dead, incompetent, war heroes, I needed a proper place to bury them. I had recently found an underground bottomless chasm, and I decided a mass tomb overlooking the edge would be a fitting and impressive location. Between each coffin was a pillar lovingly engraved with images of cackling goblins and dying dwarves.

When it was finished, I started digging channels on the layer above, to divert water from a nearby river closer to the main fortress so I could make a well. But I accidentally cut the channel into the tomb. The river is now flowing through the tomb, creating a waterfall into the chasm.

One dwarf was caught inside when it happened, burying her friend, and she has been swimming against the flow for a season, now. She’s going to die, but at least she’s improving her swimming skill, and has been “comforted by a lovely waterfall”.

War was bad. But fantasy fauna would be worse.

A dragon arrived.

I suppose I survived the first two giant monster attacks through luck, and situations outside my control. SquashedBrains was out of luck, it seems, and no random occurrence was going to make this dragon attack easier on the fortress.

I had, of course, made some preparations for monster attacks. I had removed what was a very easily accessible stairway direct to every floor on my fortress, and instead put the western entrance to my fortress inside my lead tower of towering doom. On the first floor down I had set up a barracks and an archery range, so my remaining marksdwarves-in-training would never be far away from an attacking beast. They were still entirely untrained, but it was the best we can do that this stage.

Ramul Kortilrane the dragon swooped down straight towards the base of my tower. I called the dwarves back inside, and locked the doors. He arrived and stood there between the decorative statues by the gate.

I wasn’t going to be bullied off my own land. I sent the marksdwarves out to the ground floor of the tower. I had cut some fortifications into the walls on this level so that my crossbow-armed dwarves could shoot out at nearby targets. They marched up the stairs, … then cowered in the back corner away from the dragon. The dragon got very excited by this. He knocked over a statue, and began breathing fire all over the tower. Then he leapt straight up to the windows and melted the dwarf standing furthest forward.

I unlocked the door and instructed cowardly marksdwarves to get back outside. There was no point risking lives if they weren’t going to use the fortifications properly. I don’t really know what happened next, as everything was obscured by smoke. But it must have been a truly heroic battle, because, when it cleared, both the dragon and all of my marksdwarves were dead.

Of course, there were quite a few things on fire, too. And that fire was spreading. A fire spreading in ASCII. I lost an additional nine dwarves before I even realised what was happening. Developer Tarn Adams has created some amazingly detailed systems for temperature and fire in this game, but teaching dwarves how to react to those conditions is still on his to-do list. For all the intricacy and cleverness of the dwarf simulations, they had no way of dealing with a burning fortress. Soon another goblin army arrived to siege the fortress. Their work would not be difficult. The entire thing was ablaze, and my sixteen remaining dwarves were all bedridden, incapacitated with severe burns.

And that is how the tale of the fortress of SquashedBrains came to an end.

[Get Dwarf Fortress here, and check out the video tutorials here.]

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148 Comments »

  1. Ed says:

    Damn, should refresh more often…

  2. roBurky says:

    I think the pretty world map was something I exported during world creation.

  3. Serondal says:

    I know when I export my world map durning world creation it looks NOTHING like that :P Looks more like the one just below it only a lot more space covered.

    My current world has a really nice civilizations of humans living on a coast in a nice non-hostile area. So non-hostile the mayors don’t even have missions for me :P One of the leaders is the founder of a tribe called “The Gem Girls” It was kind of quick in leaving that town.

  4. Bobic says:

    Actually a bit too easy for me, I’ve never been attacked in all the months I’ve played it.

  5. Serondal says:

    You may be picking places that are so remote that no goblins can reach you :P I’ve never been attacked in a such a way that I could not survive. NEVER had an epic monster show up on my door step. The worst thing that ever happened to me was a goblin seige and I never had any trouble with those. I generally go for building some sort of wall around my entrance that allows archers to fire down on goblins then spend all my resources training those archers to epic levels. Last time I played it was ontop a volcano in the desert so it was kind of hard to come by bolts until I got metal production going but still. Eventlly got board and diverted a near by water source into the mouth of the volcano just to see what happened. Rather interestingly the highest level capped with obsidian and burning death steam filled my fortress then the water backed up and flooded my entire fortress kill all the dwarves but 2 who were up on the surface the time ( the rest where at the bottom level digging and building their own tomb which they were sealed in when the water worked its way down 10 Z levels worth of up/down stairs lol)

  6. Moorkh says:

    start -> legends > detailed map -> standard biome & site map did the trick. Thanks folks :)

  7. Serondal says:

    I’ll have to try that when I get home :) Learn something new about DF every day

  8. Admiral Dread says:

    Great story, always amazes me to read of the fun times that dwarf fortress offers.

  9. El_MUERkO says:

    i’ve started my game and two seasons have passed, i’ve gotten some people to move in and i’ve dug some big caverns in the ground, got a shit lot of rock lying around thou and i cant work out how to get rid of the farm i made :/

    all good fun though, one of my hunters is a mega archer but he managed to get mauled by a racoon, it’s not looking good for him :(

  10. malkav11 says:

    The other thing about ASCII graphics is that whenever new creatures, objects, etc are added, it’s waaaay simpler to represent it than if it were graphical.

    That’s why games with modelling this complex (okay, nothing else is as complexly modelled, but other Roguelikes, at any rate) are nearly always ASCII-based.

  11. TinyPirate says:

    Anyone looking for a complete, and detailed, play-along tutorial could come check mine out:
    http://afteractionreporter.com/2009/02/09/the-complete-and-utter-newby-tutorial-for-dwarf-fortress-part-1-wtf/

    I give you the files and save game and then you can play along, click-by-click.

    I’m having trouble hosting my file.. if the share sites don’t work you have to grab the file which is listed as a PDF and then rename it to .rar. Annoying I know.. but try the share sites first.

  12. karmuno says:

    This article made me go back and give DF another try, and after several hours of fiddling/tutorials, I now have a semi-functional fortress. Interestingly, the ASCII text just looked like gibberish to my mom when she saw it, but when my five-year-old brother saw me scrolling around the map, when I went inside my fortress, he said “no, go back out to the wilderness and the water.” It seems having the hyperactive imagination of a five-year old helps.

  13. David Christie says:

    Fantastic, fantastic.
    Of course like many here I can’t actually play the game, but I love reading good stories aout it. (just like eve!)

  14. Tei says:

    Finally!… I was able to learn how to play!. Well.. the basic, I still have to learn how to farm. My older post is wrong, the game don’t need a new interface.

  15. H says:

    I know it’s me, I know I’m a hopeless, miserable case, but I just could not get into it without spending hours and hours learning how to fiddle and dabble and learning the ascii. I just found myself wanting to hop, skip and jump before I could toddle.

    I absolutely love, I mean really adore, reading all about the game. I can’t understand why someone hasn’t gone to the trouble of producing a “proper” graphical interface to it. Or would it absolutely lose its charm?

    Reminds me of the discussions about ZangbandTK and the like; if you spend too much time and money on it you have to have something which can show a profit. But seriously, if a bunch of the great mod-makers went at it and produced a better looking version, I’d be up for that.

    I’m not even a fan of eye-candy; I just like to know what everything is at a glance.

    I’m hopeless.

  16. TauQuebb says:

    @H there are installable tilesets and graphics sets that make everything easier to understand, Have a look at the Wiki.

    But yes this game takes up most of my free time now, even TF2 struggles to get a look in. My last fortress got destroyed by tenticle demons, on cornered a dwarf and didnt kill it for years…not a good mental image.

    Definitly worth learning the interface to play it.

  17. pierec says:

    Today I discovered that there’s a Linux version of Dwarf Fortress. A happy day indeed.

  18. Tei says:

    FUN FACTS: DF is a OpenGL, the actual real text console is probably slower than rendering OpenGL.
    I am typing this with Lynx, since .. for some reason… I can’t connect with chromium.

  19. El_MUERkO says:

    i’m now reading through the saga of BoatMurdered, it is awesome! damn dirty elephants!

    “Come on guys, we have a nice settlement, why didn’t you stick around? Was it the ashen wasteland? The bloodstained gates? Was it the screams of madmen or the stench of death? We’ve got awful nice engravings of some fucking cheese here, come the fuck on in!”

  20. jarvoll says:

    A tsk upon those who are scared away by text. Seriously, all you need to know is that pressing ‘k’ and then moving your cursor over a tile will tell you what that thing is. It takes like 5 minutes to learn the basic ASCII building-blocks of the world, and the rest are just as easy to pick up after that. The interface is convoluted, sure, but it *tells* you the keys for everything. It’s not like you have to learn what each key does, then; you just have to learn how each command actually affects the game-world. The only ‘difficulty’, thus, comes in learning how all the different game mechanics interact, but

    a) that’s the whole point of playing
    b) it’s no different to something like Civ 4, which is presumably well within the reach of most RPSers.

    It’s not the interface at all that makes this game more difficult to pick-up-and-play than others (though it clearly stops people from picking up in the first place; their loss), it’s just that it’s a completely different kind of game to everything out there. My friends have asked me numerous times, “What’s this Dwarf Fortress thing you keep ranting about?”, and the best answer I can give is, “it’s kinda like a procedurally generated fantasy simcity/caesar/sims/dungeon keeper – meets rogue/hack/diablo/daggerfall”. You’re not struggling to learn a “bad interface”, you’re struggling to learn a genre-less game.

    IMO.

  21. Rei Onryou says:

    Understanding DF must be like being able to read the Matrix. One day, when there’s nothing else to distract me, I WILL learn to play DF!

  22. Ian says:

    If a ‘tsk’ is what I get for not being drawn in by something that looks utterly impenetrable then so be it.

    I shall at least try a tileset for learning how the thing actually hangs together even if I then revert back to a more barebones/standard look once I know roughly what’s going on.

  23. Azazel says:

    Taking the time to descipher ZangbandTK + tileset is as far as I am ever going to take this ASCII adventure madness. Some might say that was far enough.

  24. Serondal says:

    @EL_Meurko Every time I read that line I laugh myself half to death. I love that one and the ode to a picture of cheese that some dwarf engraved. He didn’t engrave a picture of cheese, no, he engraved a picture of a picture of cheese :P

    As for those saying that DF is utterly impenetrable which is something I hear a lot, it isn’t! It may LOOK that way from the outside and you keep thinking that way you will fail if you try to play it.

    The game IS The learning curve. Learning new things about the game is half the fun of the game itself. The interface is NOT Bad so much as expansive. There are so many diffrent things you can do in the game there is just no easy way to display all that info. I’m sure some day(don’t hold your breath) Toady may redo it but I personally can’t imagine how it could be done better. Yah maybe you could use the mouse or something but personally I’d rather not, the way it works now is perfect.
    Just incase you don’t know holding down shift and moving the arrow around makes it go a lot faster (screen by screen instead of tile by tile)

    Hitting V lets you look at dwarfs personal menus which can allow you to recruit them into your squads (army) change their jobs and see what they are doing as well as look at their thoughts.

    Hitting Q allows you to look at buildings, change their production ect. Farms are considering buildings so you can highlight a farm in this mode and change what is grown on it and I believe destroy it as well. If you want to build farms above ground in wet areas (not the desert for example) you can have one of your dwarfs forage for stuff until he finds seeds which can be planted. Once you get a few things planted the dwarves will continue to eat them and produce new seeds for you to plant more stuff above ground. Also trade caravans can arrive and trade you seeds for above ground plants (normally humans) but they don’t always carry this stuff. You can request it sometimes but you have to wait until the following year to get it.

    Hitting D allows you to designate things to happen like digging/cutting trees/ect. But it also has option X for removing digging orders and another option in there to bring down walls if you don’t want them there any more.

    K is like your spy glass it lets you know everything about the square you looking at. But you can’t really do anything from that level.

    Z brings up a fortress managment screen that tells you a LOT about your fortress. You may notice the food stores are all ???? at first. This is because you don’t have a book keeper or if you do he doesn’t have an office. To give him an office dig out a 3×3 room (if you want to be nice) put chair and a table (dwarves sit in stone thrones, which can be produce by a mason) Then hit the room button (can’t remember what it is but it says it on the list of commands) and move the X over the chair, NOT the table. This will allow you to set an office. Then assign the office to your book keeper dwarf. I believe from the noble screen you can go in on the bookkeeper and set him to keep better track of the stores. This ends up with him sitting at his desk all day, but at least you know EXACTLY how much of each kind of item you have. Also his skills get better and better as he continues to do this job so its a win for all ;)

    With the same key you used to make an office you can turn tables into dining rooms, cages into zoos, statues into statue gardens, wells into meeting halls, beds into bedrooms ect. I Think ahead and made a lot of bedrooms right off the bat and assign each room to a certain dwarf. For farmers I create bedrooms next to the farm so when they get tired they don’t have to go far to sleep, and even give them their own dining room connected to the bedroom!

    To be most efficent I do this for all the dwarfs. I build work shops on 1 z level, above the workshop I build a home with bedroom and dining room and a place to store food (kitchen if you will) then a Z level below the workshop I add a place to store input and output for that work shop.

    Remember it is easier to dig up and down stairs than to build them. You designate this from the D key instead of the B key , set an area to have up/down stairs dug that has not already been highlighted to be mined and it won’t cost you any extra stone and your mason won’t have to do it, your miner will do it on his own.

    I know this all sounds kind of complicated but it really isn’t that bad. You’re kind of like the dwarf overlord, you only have to tell them what to do and then watch them do it for you. You don’t command each dwarf to do a certain thing, you just give general orders and they work it out themselves. You just have to make sure that at least one of your dwarves has the job you want done turned on and he will do it. YOu may want to consider going into the labor menu for each dwarf and specializing them so labor intense jobs that you want done right away don’t have any hauling jobs turned on. The worst thing is to have your dwarf off hauling stones when he should be digging your book keepers office :P

    One last thing! DON’T build giant stockpiles for your dwarves to haul stone to. They will spend the rest of their lives filling these stock piles! I know you may not like having stone littering the floor but for the most part it has no effect on the game! If you really want it gone then I suggest digging a channel, mark it is a trash pit then having dwarfs dump the stones into it. That way it won’t take up a lot of space, only one dwarf will do it at a time, and if you need the stone you can dig stairs down into the pit so the dwarves can go get it once you remove the forbidden flag from it.

  25. El_MUERkO says:

    dammit i have three huge stone piles, i’m not normally a neat freak but the stone is driving me mad!

  26. Railick says:

    You are doomed to maddnness El-Muerko LOL. Here is the way I took care of this problem. Take your mason dwarf and make him a stone crafter. Create a stone crafting station and set it to make crafts and repeat. The mason will take all the free stones you have laying around and turn them into valuable trinkets to sell to the carvans. Another great thing about this is that these goods can be mass stored in bins and take up less space over all. If you find your goods piles are full of loose trade goods have your carpenter station build wooden bins to store them. The dwarves will take care of using the bins by themselves.

    WARNING when elves come to trade do NOT offer them anything made of wood or animals. they will get REAL angry and leave. This includes wooden bins, just offer them each individual piece of stone craft by itself. With other traders you can sell them the entire bins at the same time (Though this may not be a good idea because I persoanlly want to keep my bins)

  27. Railick says:

    Woot, I just finished wriitng my story Chroniciles of Clan Stonemane and will post it up on the bay12forums when I get home and have a chance to edit it. This will be the first draft of course but I enjoy letting the community read it as it is being written :)

  28. Shoe says:

    I really love the exhibition forts. One of my favorites is Mountainbanners, built for the Canyon Challenge. It’s a giant bridge built across a canyon. You can find the fort here. Note the guided tour at the left. I recommend first looking at this forum post though, it has a nice little fiction blurb and a nice 3d view of the fortress.

    On that note, there is a utility that exports dwarf maps to 3d. All you can do is look at your forts, but some of them are rather pretty.

  29. PJ says:

    OMG shoe. Just OMG that is the coolest thing!

  30. H says:

    Damn you Serondal, you’ve persuaded me to try it again. Damn your eyes, sah.

  31. Serondal says:

    Wow I finally got the rest of my story posted into the forum, it took a LOT longer then I expected, I was up to 5:00 am O.o Then Armok over there didn’t like it :(

  32. El_MUERkO says:

    to get rid of my extra stone i made a monster fucking wall outside, now the raccoons can fuck off!

  33. Serondal says:

    You know El_Muerko that if you build a up/down stairs next to your wall your dwarves can get ontop of it. I would suggest making it 3 levels thick giving your dwarves a 2 tile wide walk space, then adding walls ONTOP the last layer of walls or building fortifications on that last layer to allow your crossbow dwarves to shoot out at those dang racoons when they get close by. Also in 3d dwarf mode it will look kewl You may have to build floors or something ontop of the wall to make it look just right but probably not really needed.

    What I end up doing is building an extra line of walls about 3 or 4 tiles away from my first wall, making it about 5 tiles long. Then I build a draw bridge connecting them on the next Z level up, and make ramps going up to the draw bridge on both sides. Then I connect the draw bridge to a lever. This allows human caravans into the fortress but if you get sieged you can raise the draw bridge and NOTHING but a flying monster can get to you then.

  34. Serondal says:

    Oh and it will most CERTAINLY get rid of all your extra stone and make your mason a freaking legendary worker.

  35. El_MUERkO says:

    playing some supcom tonight but i already envision a great wall scenario :D

  36. Serondal says:

    I’ll probably end up playing supcom too. I was wanting to play it last night while I was posting my story but there just wasn’t time :P Now if only I could make a defence in supcom as sure as the my defence in DF I’d be set, sadly every time I get close to the ultimate defence my computer can no longer handle the insane amount of flak fire that errupts every time a spy jet flys over my base :P

  37. Wisq says:

    Regarding the unreadability of DF:

    The single biggest thing you can do to improve the “ASCII barf” problem, I find, is to turn off “varied ground tiles” in the init.txt file. Having all ground be periods rather than some five different things makes it a hell of a lot easier to see when something isn’t just plain ground.

    It also helps to turn on the “engravings start obscured” option. Maybe some people like seeing random symbols everywhere that only vaguely depict what an engraving is about, but I don’t.

    @Jonathanstrange:

    The best caravan-saving solution I’ve found is to dig a tunnel that leads from your trade depot to an edge of the map, then a little ramp up to the surface, then surround it with statues / walls / channels to ensure the caravan only spawns on that exact spot and immediately takes the ramp down into your halls. Now they’re safe from ranged attacks. Then line the halls with traps, or put a drawbridge immediately after the ramp, to taste. Now they’re safe from goblins that might follow them in.

    The most impervious system I’ve come up with so far is to have all my fortress entrances be like that, even if it means a long trip to get to the surface. Also, all the passages converge to a blind drop into a pit of war dogs, which forces all kobold thieves to retreat or die. And then you pass through the barracks, where someone is probably sparring (if they aren’t already on guard because you’ve killed a bunch of war dogs to get there). And then, only then, do they finally reach the trade depot.

    Cage traps are imbalanced at the moment. Not only do they avoid friendly fire (unconscious dwarves), but they also stop just about anything, even glass terrariums like I use.

    The main weakness of cage traps? Elves. They show up on horses, and the elf and horse each get a separate trap. Elves are the main reason I put a couple rows of weapon traps at the end of each of these tunnels.

    Also, cage traps require you to either keep producing more cages, or else start combining and storing / executing the victims. Combining requires armed guards, since dwarves are frankly terrible at moving live creatures from one cage to another. But I guess that’s not terribly unrealistic either.

    Of course, the all-trap defense gets a bit boring. You also start to accumulate more crap from the invaders than you can possibly sell off fast enough. I may just start taking anything metal from invaders and dumping the rest in magma or something.

  38. Serondal says:

    Or you could just USE magma to kill them that way all they’re crap would be burnt up in the process of killing them.

  39. jarvoll says:

    @Wisq: Wouldn’t that make normal ground look exactly the same as viewing ground from 1 z-level above (e.g. viewing z-level 1 from z-level 2)?

  40. moeity says:

    To get rid of all the stones, have your masons make rock blocks. These are stackable (in bins) and can be used to make all the standard mason type stuff – walls, floors, workshops, etc. Plus, they give additional value to these things because they’re not considered ‘rough-hewn’.

  41. EyeMessiah says:

    Ok, I take it back. The Mayday tileset is officially OK!

  42. Serondal says:

    @Moeity and that gives your mason practice. Of course if you have a location where wood is hard to come by bins can be very important for keeping things uncluttered.

  43. Wisq says:

    @Jarvoll: I haven’t looked recently but I don’t usually have that problem. Granted, I use a large font where the centered dot of ‘ground below’ looks different enough from the regular period of ‘ground here’. And the long lines of terrain ramps, plus the big square blocks of ‘tree below’, tend to make it clear.

  44. Wisq says:

    @Serondal: Using magma as a trap is a lot harder these days than it used to be in the 2D days, when magma was infinite. It’s still technically infinite if you have a magma pipe, but it takes too long to refill. Also, it takes a long time before the hall is safe to collect stuff, and I don’t know if it irretrievably destroys metal stuff or just melts it to slag. That’s metal that you do actually want for melting, particularly if you already have magma to fuel the smelters.

  45. Serondal says:

    Not so hard, You could just put a long retractable draw bridge over a magma pit and dump them in it when they’re walking across, just have to be a bit more inventive then flooding the entire world lol

  46. Funky Badger says:

    This might be useful…

  47. Snall says:

    Possibly the best game ever made, waiting eagerly for the new updates. (And trying to live in an undead zone)