Headbutting The Coalface: Oilfurnace

We few, we grumpy few, we band of assholes.

Remember Bronzemurder? It was a Dwarf Fortress after-action report told in illustrations by New Zealand artist Tim Denee. You don’t? God, is that smell you? Isn’t it a little early to be drinking? Nevermind. The point is he got commissioned by an Australian mag PC PowerPlay to do another one, Oilfurnace, and it’s now available on his blog. Again, in true Dwarf Fortress style it’s a tale of bravery and ingenunity that nevertheless ends horribly. Go read. And, if you like it, go buy a print. You might as well browse Mr. Denee’s Ten Feats of Ernest Hemingway while you’re over there, too.


  1. robrob says:

    This is pretty cool, that plug method of breaking the aquifer is inspired! Kind of makes me want to play Dwarf Fortress again, did they fix all that stuff in the new version? Last I looked the military was all messed up and there was something wrong with splints.

    • jarvoll says:

      The military stuff is mostly fixed, and I *think* splints are too. Overall it’s much more stable now, and there should be a new release any day now with more bug fixes and world-map farms added in.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, something to keep in mind with Dwarf Fortress is that each major new addition brings a raft of bugs, which are gradually fixed and cleaned up until the next major update hits.

      It’s just the way things are.

    • Junior says:

      If you’re planning on getting back to the game;

      link to bay12forums.com

      Save this link, this pack has everything you could ever need, and with each new DF update they update that post and all the helpful utilities it comes with.

      Once you’ve tried The Dwarf TheRapist, you never go back.

    • robrob says:

      I tried Dwarf The Rapist on my last sally and cannot begin to imagine playing the game without it.

    • MycoRunner says:

      You had me so goddamn confused, and searching for Dwarf The Rapist. Of course, I’ve been using Dwarf THERAPIST all this time. Now I can just imagine my girlfriend is going to sigh and shake her head when she is searching google and sees my history. As if it weren’t bad enough.

    • Seol says:

      I’ll take Anal Bum Cover for $400, Trebek. :P

    • Ushao says:


      I’ve got to ask you… about the Penis Mightier

  2. Longrat says:

    Cool as hell! I wish I were able to make complex mechanisms like that in DF. I can barely manage to make the simple stuff!

  3. Rinox says:

    Great stuff!

  4. Schaulustiger says:

    Every time someone draws something like this, writes a story like Boatmurdered or posts Stonesense screenshots, I’m tempted to try Dwarf Fortress again. I get past the initial ugliness-induced “ugh”, even past the clunky interface, but there’s a point where managing 30 or 40 dwarfs becomes unpleasant, tedious work.

    But it’s good to see that other people have more endurance than me and do all these wonderful things.

  5. Timothy Z says:

    PC PowerPlay is the Australian mag, by the way, and it’s about time it got some recognition!

    • tomeoftom says:

      It’s really quite unfortunate, but the general quality of writing in PCPP is pretty bad nowadays. There’s just not much incentive to pay for it any more, what with RPS existing and all.

  6. Fede says:

    Even better than the first.

    I hate greedy majors. :(

  7. olemars says:

    Uh, although I’m sure Hemingway had his personal demons that kept him awake at night when all was quiet, the title of the book is actually the more mundane Ten *Feats* of Ernest Hemingway.

  8. Tei says:

    The nerd in my is distracted on this one with Plan B not being robust. I don’t see in this one a impeding doom, but more errors from a careless builder. Also, what that lever do? break the entrance? what this achieve other than having mobs inside and outside that door?

    • Kommissar Nicko says:

      The lever is the mandatory self-destruct lever installed in every fortress by all great Dwarven architects.

      When all is lost, and Kharak is burning, you still have the lever…

    • James G says:

      Toady should definitely add a feature whereby invaders will try and pull levers. Not only will it result in lots of fun moving, but it will also allow you to set up effective traps for the suicidally curious invading goblin or Kobold. Besides, what invading force could resist pulling a lever clearly labelled ‘DO NOT PULL.’

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      @James G
      The 2d version had that feature for gremlins, I believe. They were hidden unless encountered by a dwarf and ran around opening doors and pulling levers at random. Fairly rare, though.

      The latest version might still have the tag somewhere, but I’m not sure it’s working. I never saw any monsters use my levers.

  9. LionsPhil says:

    Bronzemurder was a better tale, but this guy is good.

  10. DMJ says:

    Inspiring stuff. Dwarf Fortress is a game that is more entertaining for me to read about than play. Yet still I go back every few months…

    Oh dear, the planets have aligned again and I must check out the latest version of DF.


    I would totally buy a book consisting of this guy’s illustrations telling various Dwarf Fortress tales.

  12. stahlwerk says:

    A fine work in progress dwarf fortress story is being published here. It is written as diary entries by the dwarves and the author does an incredible job at using the weird “dwarven” syntax the game employs.

    3rd Granite 1051

    A quarrel happened when Dett informed me the mule corpse was alive. I bellowed at her: there are maggots. I bellowed again more polite: I am sorry I bellowed, there are maggots. She picked a plump squirmer out of the mule and put it in her mouth and swallowed and she said: I have maggots also. I will not quarrel with this one again.

    12th Slate 1051

    The medical room was ruined! Behem hollowed it in an unscrupulous shape and called it an octogone. I explained to her squares are the art thus to aspire for that. I fixed the medical room but the octogone still haunts me.

    The author updates every two weeks at the moment, but will soon move to a weekly schedule. Additional recommendation points for using a very nice tileset/visualiser and awesome hand drawn art.

  13. Laneford says:

    I think I like reading these much more than I’d ever enjoy battling with this no doubt amazing, but equally no doubt infuriating game.

  14. Pijama says:


    Hire the developer of Dwarf Fortress. Do Valve-Magic. Profit.

    • Bret says:

      Ho-ho-hold on, hold on one second. Uh, you see, there’s this problem.

      Look, this whole Dev cycle is monstrous from either party. You put the together right? So you’re talkin’ about a thermonuclear explosion and “AdiĆ³s, muchachos. They’d never release games again.

  15. JellyfishGreen says:

    The first time I fully engaged with Dwarf Fortress I lost a month. I think it might have been May 2007.
    Fortress Paintrag, which I shall long remember.
    This glorious tale saves me a lot of time. I can’t wait for the pop-up version to read to my kids.

  16. A says:

    Sometimes I think all these odd people would just stop playing DF if it actually had graphics and a visually intuitive management interface within the game that actually made room layouts, dwarf, room and food management easy, comfortable and swift.