Pickrag – A Dwarf Fortress Story

Pushing Back Against the Goblin Menace

This tale takes place in the Land of Legends, on the continents of Leading, that this tale takes place. Goblins have conquered the lower portion of the continent and swept north east, surrounding the necromancer tower in the center of our world. It’s there they wait to spread.

The southernmost dwarven kingdom, the Pick of Exaltation, is made up of only two strongholds.  They hold the goblins to their west at bay, but not for much longer. In order to establish a foothold, the only other dwarven kingdom, the Dye of Controlling, has decided to form an anchor northwest of the necromancer tower. They, too, have few to spare.

The fate of this expansion, led by a group of mongrels calling themselves the Decent Bell, will determine the fate of this continent. A mason, carpenter, organizer, crafter, and a few peasants set off for the northwest planes to establish Pickrag – roughly translated into English low-tongue as “the savior of dwarven civilization.” And so, they struck the earth.

Wait, alligators?


The seven set off with a handful of picks, two pigs (Porkchop the sow, and Roast Beef, the boar), a cat or two, some ducks, and rations of booze and preserved fish. The dwarves had precious little training in dwarven construction between them, but on arriving to their new spot on the Dwarven hills, each took his turn pretending he knew how to build a fortress. A leader, the organizer Udil, was eventually chosen after a few days spent collectively in the rain.

Now unified, the Decent Bell managed to carve out a homey cave to keep themselves in, and to temporarily store their stock. Farms were to be made, and crafts shops to be built, and some farms and a few rooms – all in time for the first migrant wave.


Well, it’s out of the rain at least.

On the upper floor, the miners dug softer dirt quickly in the beginning of the summer, both to form space for the mushroom farms and to learn which was the proper end of a pick. That determined, they carved a meeting hall and temporary storage and meeting location in the loam and figured out where to flush their trash. The surface seemed the only place to put it – much better than underground. When asked why, Urdil said, “You wouldn’t believe the rats,” wide-eyed, as he took a long drink.

Speaking of drinks, they put together a hazardous looking still near the farms and got the mushrooms brewing. One of our less… gifted miners was “randomly” chosen to become craftsdwarf, so he’s still probably figuring out how to hollow out stones for the booze even as we speak. The farmer was deemed also the brewer, and so he took to residing in the cave where his crops and still were. He became… eccentric.

He even LOOKS eccentric.

Getting just the living quarters up was no shy project, taking all of the first season. Bedrooms were formed organically below the surface, taking no particular plan but following the flow of the rock. A large cavern for the dining hall, some shops, and storage were carved out in the north east. By the end of the season, the mason, carpenter, miners, and peasant (now hauler) managed to put together a living space in the stone.

The labor continued until midway through the season, when they struck something… different. The mason had enough sense to put together what it was, but with little idea what to do with it.

“That’s iron,” he said. “That’s iron.”

Revelation settled among the miscreants, and for the first time that season they felt hope.

Not bad for a season of misfits.

As spring turned summer heat, the Decent Bell reasoned that as they were theoretically a “fortress”, they should probably get together a theoretical “military.” No one had any sort of military experience at all, nor did they have the knowledge on metallurgy to make use of the iron ore deposits. They believed they had a lot of iron, but having never dealt with it before were unsure what a lot or a little of iron really looked like.

So, it was decided that the next group to migrate would be conscripted into military and metal roles. As they waited for migrants to enslave, stone doors were installed liberally throughout the fort, including on the main entrance of the great cave containing the dining room and main shops. Udil noted simply that doors could be locked.


More migrants appeared than expected, and by His grace one was familiar with blacksmithing and another with smelting. Of course, the original Decent Bell pretended they were just too busy for metal.

Avuz, a passionate miller, who mistakenly spoke of his old days as an axe-carrying “chaperon” at political parties, was immediately deemed king of the army and gathered a quite motley crew of the migrants into a small force of “soldiers.” They set about wrestling one another, and drinking. For whatever reason, the squad named itself the Symmetric Cloisters.

Another migrant claimed to be a very talented clothier. It was kindly explained to him that he was now a very talented hauler, until they figured out how to feed and defend themselves. All remaining hands went to work on the metal industry.

After the miners put together a room near the surface to fire coal, the metal workers announced they needed information, and so the miners went down and dug outwards in cardinal directions. Not much iron was found, but Zulban the blacksmith said it was enough to get by. Udil noted that this metal operation was going to be ongoing (as long as there was “shit to burn and rocks to melt”), and so plotted out a nice room of furnaces and forges in our exploratory shaft. At this point, the dwarves are beginning to miss mugs.

The metalworkers keep insisting on a probing operation. The newly elected and under-qualified medical dwarf was confused.

It was busy indeed, and as Udil scribbled down oddly fortuitous positive numbers (extra food and booze?), the dwarves built more bedrooms and space for expansion. By the end of summer, they were still unvisited by outsiders, disease, or famine – and the metal industry was ready to begin. Udil ordered a commemorative anvil, and 10 full suits of iron armor to be completed by fall.


It was halfway through fall the Turdel, the thus-far uninspired mason, began to become unwound. His need for sleep disappeared and he was found dabbling in his shop – the one by the main steps, in the cave this now budding commune was founded in. At first it was believed he wasn’t receiving enough alcohol (the suterer making the assessments of metabolism was the nearest to a specialist they had), his ration was bumped up.

Still, a few weeks after the shipment of migrants (immediately “urged” to join the military or find a pick), his strange behavior continued. He was speaking out loud to himself, frequently, he never slept, and he babbled continuously about the “problem.” Finally, just as the final leaves fell from the trees on the surface and the dirt grew cold, he snapped and¬†locked himself in the mason’s workshop, shouting. He managed to drag some mudstone to the shop, and didn’t leave it for even food or alcohol for months.