Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Nutscaves is proud to announce- (Part 1)

-that eight and a half years after the fact, we have completed the excavation of the flooded main stairwell, and recovered and buried all of the bodies! For the first time since Spring of the year 250--the year seven dwarves set out on an expedition and four were encased in ice--our fortress is clear of ghosts!

We have also constructed a proper dwarven bathtub, and assigned our brave janitor to keep it clean. He seems immune to the forgotten beast stuff, and if he's not, I believe our newly redesigned cleaning system will only allow one dwarf to catch it at a time. (Unless another forgotten beast comes.) In that event, there should be adequate reaction time to force all doctors out of the hospital while the patient wastes away.

Out of a maximum population of 173 dwarves, and with over 300 filled coffins, only 35 dwarves remain. All of them are happy except for a few rigidly upright citizens, who are increasingly upset about the delayed punishment of the criminals currently occupying all positions of power in the fortress. They didn't sign up to become a critical part of a murderous criminal operation when they decided to migrate to Nutscaves years ago, apparently.

"Adapt!" Armok shouted down to them. "It's not going to change! If I get rid of all these murderers, there would only be about seven of you left!"

I hope they heed his/her words.

In community news, our particularly murderous (eight dwarven kills with a Bronze Short Sword) chief medical dwarf, Asen, has fallen in love with a fellow murderer. I expect they'll get married in our statue garden soon.

Speaking of the statue garden, it's my new Tantrum Control Chamber. I have built a huge room full of statues, all with one tile of space between them in each direction, throughout the entire room. Statues block passage so the dwarves have to move through them in single file, and a dwarf is always adjacent to at least one statue. I have also built a convenient (lever-operated) cage of war animals near the middle of the room in the place of one statue, where the dwarves seem to prefer to cluster a bit more (though clustering isn't really possible with the statues getting in the way). I believe the Tantrum Control Chamber has a healthy share of responsibility for stopping the tantrum spiral earlier. Here is how it works.

When dwarves tantrum, they like to bust up anything they can reach . My crowded dining room helped increase the scale of the recent disaster, because as dwarves started tantrumming, the only things in close reach were other dwarves, children, and beloved pets. As the dwarves started dying, the tantrummers moved on to the heavy stone chairs and tables, picking them up and hurling them at each other across the open room, and breaking many bones in the process. This sent more people to the hospital, which was still contaminated with plague at the time. And so the contamination spread even more rapidly, and more and more people died, and more and more people tantrummed.

Next they started breaking the glass windows behind the tables in the dining room, and the control room levers. The glass windows were keeping The Stern Handles' artifacts visible but not touchable in the dining room. Artifacts were starting to get within tantrummers' reach. Armok felt very worried. Potentially losing an artifact of our group is very bad!

As Armok realized what was going on, (s)he quickly undesignated the dining room as a meeting hall, which sort of helped stop people from clumping up in there, and spread out the damage more toward the farms (where gentle wooly farm animals absorbed a lot of the violence. Sorry, gentle wooly farm animals.) Then Armok had the few remaining miners dig out a huge room for the statue garden, and set one mason to make rock statues (while all the others still obedient to Armok built coffins). Builders set up the statues in the Tantrum Control Chamber and Armok designated it as a statue garden. Dwarves began to flock in there and do three things a bit differently:

1. Topple the fortress' crappiest statues instead of "toppling" other dwarves

2. Slam into statues at high speed while trying to charge other dwarves, knocking themselves unconscious in the process, and buying time to calm down while the target escaped (if the target wasn't tantrumming too...but Asen, a.k.a. Captain Murder, still killed a few guys in the statue garden).

3. While not tantrumming, they'd get happy thoughts from gazing at all the low-quality statues. There are so many statues in there that it's quite likely any dwarf can find one of something he likes. (When a dwarf likes a subject, the statue's perceived quality is much higher than its true quality.)

And so as our lowest-quality statues were toppled or pounded to dust, Armok casually replaced them. Armok should have built this room much sooner.

Don't get me wrong--it didn't stop the tantrums. Armok is still tearing down statues in there that are completely covered in blood or have severed limbs and stuff up on top of them, out of reach. And the janitor is still mopping up the blood pools. And we're still herding war animals back into the blasted cage. The Tantrum Control Chamber just seemed to be a reasonably good damage soak, and it got some of the tantrummers out of the nearby bedrooms, where the bloodshed was second only to the dining hall.

Armok would have built a mist generator too, but Armok was worried (s)he might make a mistake under pressure, and drown some of the remaining highly-disciplined soldiers who were maintaining order as well as they could.

Anyway, I don't think anybody else is going to go down to the plague, and I doubt another tantrum spiral will start. (Unless something else unexpected and awful happens, of course.) But there is still a huge mess to clean up. 138 dead dwarves makes a lot of clothes lying around. And the tantrummers threw food and all kinds of other objects all over the place, and broke a lot of furniture and most of the control room levers. (Thank Armok their locations were all labeled.) The 33 adult survivors are mostly quite new to a lot of the jobs they're doing now, too. They spend more time on a task to do less, with much lower quality results.

But at least there aren't as many people to feed, and to prevent from getting sober. (Before the disaster we were shaving it a little closer than I'd have liked on food and beer--we were only ahead by 1-2 seasons instead of what I prefer, which is a full year.) We still have about 400 of Meng's masterwork roasts to feast upon (about 1.3 years of dining at the current population level, if I don't need to trade any of them away). And Meng doesn't care anymore that we're eating them. He's too dead.

Anyway we finally got rid of those dratted ghosts, and the future looks brighter too. I just hope we get some migrants, because I'm not very comfortable with labor at a population of only 33 adults. I can't spare anywhere near as many masons, soldiers, mechanics, carpenters, or haulers as I'd like for various big jobs, for example.


Dwarven bathtub: This is a design where a ramp leads down into shallow water, and another ramp leads back up. The walls surrounding the entire thing are engraved with high-quality engravings, causing janitors to prioritize keeping the area clean.

A DF2010 fortress should be designed so that dwarves walk through these "bathtubs" whenever they may be crossing from contaminated areas (soil layers, caverns, hospital) into the fortress proper. Walking through the shallow water removes contaminants from the dwarf and anything (s)he is wearing or carrying, replacing the contaminants with a water coating.

This is the shape of the dwarven bathtub from the side view. The shallow water goes in the trench.
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