The Legacy of Nakuthcatten

After my entry on Gnomoria, I realized that, even though I was enjoying the game, there was literally nothing it did that Dwarf Fortress didn’t do (and usually better).  My gnomes met a horrible fate that was likely precipitated by expanding the value of my fortress (attracting ne’er-do-wells) before figuring out how the military system really works, so I decided to start up a proper Dwarf Fortress and compare the two.

What follows is the telling of the fortress of Nakuthcatten, legendary Dwarf Fortress in the world of Udon Tamun.

Things had been going well!  The first merchant caravan arrived and the dwarves from the homeland admired the work that had been done already.  The workshops were efficient, every dwarf had a delightful private bedroom, and the throne room and offices had been completed.  The miners were sinking test shafts deep below the earth, searching for new kinds of metal, while the detailers were finishing up their work on the great hall.  The stoneworker’s skill with the chisel had been honed to a legendary degree while learning how to smooth out the stone, and they already had ideas for what sort of engraving to decorate the hall with.  The expedition leader had set up a trade agreement with the homeland, and the crafts they had managed to produce were already enough to stockpile enough food to carry the fort through the winter.  A makeshift military was just getting rolling, with one of the new offices slated to be handed over to a sheriff.  Work had just been finished on excavating a medical center to accommodate the professional diagnostician who had arrived with the last migrant wave.  It looked like Nakuthcatten was well on its way to becoming a fortress of legends.

Apparently the caravan took word back to the homeland, because shortly after their departure, a migrant dwarf appeared.  “Is this Nakuthcatten?” he inquired, and the dwarves assured him that it was.
“Great, we’re in the right spot, then!” the migrant exclaimed, and signalled to his companions.  Dozens upon dozens of dwarves began marching over the hill to the entrance, carrying all of their worldly possessions.  The expedition leader’s jaw dropped as he scanned the horizon for an end to the marching column of migrants.  He turned to his assistant and said “Tell the miners to excavate more bedrooms.  Now.

As the new arrivals settled in, concern turned to the food supply.  They had excess from the trading session with the Mountainhomes, but their sustainable food production would quickly be stripped by this many mouths.  The farmers were scrambling to build more fields, but things were not looking optimistic.  As if on cue, an elven caravan appeared!  They, too, had heard of the fledgeling fortress and wished to set up a trade alliance.  The dwarves gleefully carried their crafts to the market stalls, preparing to strip the elven caravan of every last morsel of food that was offered.  The elves parked their caravan at the stall and began unloading their goods.  With the food items and animals the elves had to offer, the dwarves should have more than enough means to sustain their sudden population boom.

But the rejoicing was cut short as a terrible cry filled the air.  A yak in a nearby pasture dropped dead, a spear protruding from its neck.  As the body slumped to the ground, a goblin spearman was revealed, grinning maliciously.  It signalled the attack.

Caravans are no strangers to combat, and the elves prepared to defend themselves.  The dwarves had only just set up their smithing workshops, so their armory was meager at best.  Many of them thanked the timing that made the goblin attack coincide with the armed merchant caravan.  Some dwarves hurriedly armed the stone-fall traps which guarded the entrance, figuring that a hasty retreat that forced the goblins through the booby traps would help to thin the ranks, if nothing else.

Any glimmers of hope were quick to fade as the elves were cut down like blades of grass.  The market stall and outer walls of Nakuthcatten were liberally painted with blood as the goblins rampaged.  The traps did their work and many goblin corpses filled the entrance, but it was not enough.  No one was able to re-load the traps once triggered, giving the goblins free passage to the interior.  They charged in and killed the remaining dwarves who cowered in the workshops.  A quick sweep, and a few parting blows to the remaining livestock in the pasture, and it was done.  The goblins departed, cackling gleefully about their victory.  Nakuthcatten had fallen.

The dwarven bedrooms were buried deep within the earth, with the many layers of dirt and rock acting as natural insulation against the noise of the workshops above.  The insulation apparently worked quite well, as the only noise to break the silence in the ravaged fortress was a slight rustling as a single dwarven female rolled out of bed and stretched.  She shuffled out of her room and up the grand stairway, wondering why it was so quiet today.  She stopped to clean a patch of blood, muttering about how disrespectful and careless some people could be.  Dwarves are violent creatures and blood spattered walls are not necessarily unusual, but her first inkling that something was seriously wrong was when she discovered the first corpse.

It was a trying day for the only survivor of Nakuthcatten.  Having apparently slept through the downfall of the entire fortress, she busied herself with cleaning the blood and moving corpses and items out of the halls before they could rot and spread disease.  Every new corpse had the potential to be a former good friend, making her more and more miserable as she began to realize the odds of finding anyone else alive were becoming slim.  When she found the corpse of her husband, she fell on the ground with grief.  She pulled herself together and carried on with her tasks, half expecting to be slaughtered by a stray goblin at any moment.

The cleanup of an entire fortress is a daunting task for a single miserable dwarf, but she had made quite a bit of headway over the next couple of weeks.  Word of the assault had not reached the Mountainhomes (and how could it, unless the goblins ran over there to tell them!) and another batch of hopeful immigrants came looking for a home in the up and coming fort.  They were horrified by the sights, but she was overjoyed to have some company again.  With many more hands, the work began to progress quickly.  It wasn’t long before someone started moving items out of the market stall and into the fortress storerooms.

“Wait…” she thought.  “I don’t remember us having all of this stuff before…”

With a flash of surprise, she realized what had happened.  The merchant caravan had been wiped out.  But all of their goods were still sitting in the market stall, unclaimed.  Nakuthcatten had accidentally inherited the entire wealth of the elven caravan.  The dwarves gleefully packed their new wealth inside, picking over the goods and holding up choice treasures.

Things were beginning to look bright again.  New leaders were chosen and new hands got to work at learning old jobs.  The engravers were preparing to inscribe the great hall with the history of the siege and subsequent recovery, so that all may know the strength of Nakuthcatten.  With the sudden increase in wealth provided by the caravan, it wouldn’t be long before more migrants came to fill out the population of the fort.  In the meantime, they had more than enough supplies to prepare the fort to sustain a large population.

But something had not yet occurred to the dwarves.  The elves knew a caravan had set out, but no one had survived to send word about why it had not returned.  Upon investigation, the elves would discover the final stop of the caravan was at Nakuthcatten, which now had possession of the caravan’s entire contents with nary a living elf in sight.  There would be only one conclusion to draw from this discovery.

The elves prepared for war…


Okay so I didn’t do much comparing yet but fuck yeah Dwarf Fortress can be so awesome sometimes.  I mean, assuming you like losing in epic and catastrophic fashion and have the imagination to enjoy it.  I do have a few comparisons between DF and Gnomoria, if you’ve bothered to read this far and still care.

One thing Gnomoria does much better – when you try to build something, it queues the bits you need at the other workshops.  If I try to build a door in Dwarf Fortress, it will go “You need a door.” then I have to go to the mason, tell it to make a door, wait for it to be made, then go build the door.  In Gnomoria, I can queue up 80 doors and they’ll eventually crank them out and build them.  I like the smoothing out of micromanaging, although it does have the potential (and it’s something I DID shoot myself in the foot with) to let you go crazy nuts and bog down the gnomes with orders they can’t possibly fulfill in a timely fashion.

Second thing Gnomoria does better – also related to micromanaging – you have to kind of keep on top of your dwarves and make sure they keep doing things.  Gnomoria does this too, but it seems a little more streamlined in a lot of places.  Like farms.  I build a farm to grow X in Gnomoria and the farmers kept planting and harvesting X.  In DF, I build a farm plot, tell it to grow X, and then once the season is done it stops growing anything until I go back and set it again.  Not ideal.

And of course, graphics.  Although I tried a tile set this time just to see how much it changed DF.  Using the “Lazy Newb Pack” it was simply a matter of clicking a button and having it install it for me, so the setup was easy.  The tileset seemed to have some graphical glitches though which made things a bit weird.  Particularly on the noble and military screens, it kept flickering and made it hard to read the text.  Gnomoria’s graphics aren’t exactly stellar, but it’s designed to work with them so they work well.  I did NOT like the isometric view in Gnomoria though.  DF is top down, but in gnomoria, the bottom corners of the rooms are hidden by the bottom walls.  It makes it kind of confusing to figure out where all the rooms are.  Also I found targetting things a bit wonky sometimes, like I’d be targetting above it or on a different level.  Practice would help with that and it seems kind of ironic to peg Gnomoria with “confusing” when comparing to DF…

One thing that was driving me nuts in Gnomoria though… when an event happened, it would snap to it.  DF does this too, except in Gnomoria, it didn’t seem to pause the action I was doing at the time.  I was trying to plant a grove of trees when it snapped to my bedrooms.  Since it coincided with my “complete this action” click, it merrily laid down a redwood forest worth of seedlings through all of my bedrooms and hallways.    Then I had to spend 5 minutes or so going through and cleaning all of them up.  Annoying.  So I dunno… it’s probably a familiarity thing but despite the friendlier interface in Gnomoria, I actually felt like I had more control in DF over things like that.

It doesn’t change my opinion of Gnomoria much.  I still think it’s a great game and good for those who are intimidated by DF… but things start to look a bit less rosy when you consider the price tag comparisons.  DF is a much better game, developed to a point that will likely be un-matched, and it’s free.

About tagracat
I am not a professional, I don't get paid to review shit, I am just opinionated and I seem to have some sort of disorder that results in spewing my opinions onto the internet. I enjoy writing long-winded posts about things and sometimes I like to pretend people want to read them, so a blog seemed an appropriate place to stuff it. But mostly I just like writing about things.

2 Responses to The Legacy of Nakuthcatten

  1. Pingback: Gnomoria | Tagra Reviews Things

  2. Jatta Pake says:

    Enjoyed your DF story! I started DF but the learning curve is too steep for my available time. It is an amazing game though. I will have to check out the Lazy Newb Pack.

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