The Fall of Bekarlogem – Dwarf Fortress

764 words.

I imagine if you draw a Venn diagram of “people who play Dwarf Fortress” and “people who are programmers,” the two circles would overlap quite a bit. Unfortunately for me, I’m a programmer, so I think I’m more vulnerable to this DF sickness than most people. Playing the game is quite a bit like using a text editor, considering how much you use the arrow keys to select things in rhythmic patterns. Anyway…

You might not be able to tell but this is a grim scene of grisly massacre too disturbing to show in most media publications. Look away from the horror.

Bekarlogem (dwarven for “Dippedpainted”) is technically my third game in Dwarf Fortress, though in many ways it’s my first “real” game.

In my *actual* first game, I played the vanilla version of Dwarf Fortress only long enough to see that I had no idea what I was doing, so I quit and installed the Lazy Newb Pack. In my second game with a graphical tileset and DFHack and whatnot, all I did was watch the dwarves to see how long it would take them to starve, and play with the building options. They made it about halfway through winter before dying mainly of dehydration. That’s apparently how many supplies you arrive with in the cart.

So I started a new game and decided to try to keep the dwarves alive. Bekarlogem was born. They lasted about three years.

Seven dwarves embarked in the middle of winter. Because when you start a new game in the same world map as the last game, you also start at the same *time* that your last fortress died out. It didn’t deter them, though, and they were fine trudging through the snow. (Though they complained incessantly about it.)

Years passed. Tunnels were dug into the hillside and, after much study of wikis and video guides, deep down into the andesite rock. (I have no idea what kind of rock “andesite” is but it’s really common around Bekarlogem.)

Migrants arrived in droves-dwarven men, women, and children, along with all their animals, streamed into the fortress. In a couple of years, Bekarlogem had 102 dwarves living there, and a pasture full of ducks, alpacas, horses, and “cavys,” whatever *those* are. Most of the migrants were farmers and fishers. There was only one little underground farm in Bekarlogem growing plump helmets (mushrooms, because dwarves apparently love to eat and ferment them), and there were no fishing locations. So most of the migrants milled around a tiny room designated as the meeting hall, stepping all over themselves, wandering around bored until boulders needed to be moved or plants needed to be picked. Until…

One day the unthinkable happened: A werelizard attacked. Bekarlogem had no defenses whatsoever, and only a meager, unskilled military with almost no equipment. (Getting dwarves to fight competently in Dwarf Fortress is just as complicated as everything else, and still beyond my skill set.) The werelizard killed a fisherdwarf outright, and wounded an engraver. Then it switched back to human form and ran away. But the damage had been done.

Because I already knew from Kruggsmash and his YouTube videos that every time a werecreature hurts someone, it infects them with lycanthropy. So, the next full moon, the engraver, who survived the werelizard attack, turned into a werelizard himself and started attacking dwarves in the fort. He was killed, but not before wounding several more dwarves, spreading the lycanthropy even further. Next full moon, four dwarves turned into werelizards, killing and maiming more dwarves, right in the middle of the dining hall. And so on, and so on. It wasn’t long before the number of dead outnumbered the citizens.

I gave up and retired the fortress.

What you’re *supposed* to do, I suppose, is isolate all the dwarves that are injured by the werecreatures from the rest of the population somehow. Unfortunately I don’t have enough skill to know how to do that yet. It’s not like you can just click on a dwarf and use the “quarantine this dwarf” menu. You have to make a cell and try to get the dwarf to walk into the cell and lock the door behind him, or something like that. Or I guess exile them or just plain old kill them off.

Anyway on to the next fortress. Maybe. Maybe I should get out while I can. But now that I know how to dig downward, and smelt metal (another wiki- and video-guide-studying proposition), I have learned nearly 0.02% of the systems in this game! No turning back now!

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