Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Quarantining your fortress, step 5: No kids in the tub!

And, no kids beyond the tub either! I've had two children born in the fortress survive to adulthood (in their full nudity) alive now. (The fort is 16 years old, so that's really all the children that have had time to live to age 13 after the first two gigantic spirals of doom wiped the population.) There are about 28 other completely naked children and babies all across the age spectrum. We haven't had any kids die to plague for nearly a decade. That's not to say it can't happen--but here is how to control the kids.

Nutscaves contains a burrow that is bordered by the bathtubs. I named it "Safe Indoor Living". Safe Indoor Living also doesn't contain any dangerous areas, like the magma shaft or the prisoner processing station, or anything in the contaminated or outdoor areas. It doesn't really matter how big or nice this burrow is, as long as it has somewhere for the kids to sleep, food for them to eat, and beer. (Mine happens to contain a lot more than what is needed for survival.) What matters here is protecting the kids. All the dwarven children are assigned to live in this burrow. When an infant becomes a toddler, that's Armok's cue to assign. They're unassigned when they reach adulthood. (I know when they reach adulthood because on adulthood they automatically become a hauler, and I start getting spammed with messages about inaccessible items they want to haul. The items are outside the Safe Indoor Living area.)

Infants cannot be assigned to this burrow because their mothers carry them around. Infants are constantly in danger of infection because of this, but such is the danger of infancy. You could further protect the infants by confining mothers to the burrow as well. I don't do that because it's too micromanagey for me.

Kids will leave this burrow, but what I've found (and that contradicts the information on the magmawiki) is that they will not do it, unless their parent does and they've decided to follow this parent. Almost all of the dwarves in my fortress live and work in this burrow and rarely leave it, and the kids tend to throw a lot of parties to keep themselves occupied within the burrow even if their parents leave. Clearly this setup is not 100% safe, but children rarely go outside the burrow and it seems reasonably effective in keeping the plague at bay.

Only locking them into a safe room until adulthood, and air-dropping food and beer would be truly safe. But I don't care for that standard of living. At Nutscaves we willingly take some risks to live happier lives.

Also, dwarves get happy thoughts from talking to children, and children stay happy by throwing parties and enjoying good meals and beer. So it's nice if the kids' burrow contains meeting areas and a nice dining room.

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