Verum, Storm Humbert. The black market narcotic of choice is “verum”, a tailor-made substance that induces dreams in the user. Our protagonist is a mixer of verum, and indeed the first who produced mixes that induced dreams greater than the unimaginative output of the “porn barons” his product displaced. But this mixer is growing old and feels a younger competitor nipping at his heels. This is a solid lead story that focuses on the relationship between the two mixers, their experiences and desires, and the lurking threat of betrayal and violated trust. The worldbuilding is just enough though it’s unclear why verum is a black market substance, save that the story demands low-output mixers who tailor their product for individuals.
When last we left Roughrewards my starting seven were still hewing living spaces from our endless supplies of mountain chert and swapping stories of the one time everybody punched that alligator a lot. It’s been suggested that a shrine be constructed in the pool of alligator blood to memorialise this founding event, and honestly I can’t think of a more appropriate thing to do in Dwarf Fortress. We’ll get to that at some point.
First, though, I need to get this
shithole mountain home functional at a basic level.
Last year I was posting reading notes on Interzone short stories as I caught up on a backlog of magazines that built up during my relocation.
This was part of a personal aspiration to read a short story and an essay every day. Achieving something so simple is sometimes harder than it sounds.
Sharing those notes here fell by the wayside due to holidays and work, but COVID-19 is inadvertently providing a little time to redress this…
The Realitarians, James Warner. Apparently part of a series of tales about “feline sleuths”, this one features a woman with a tendency to get mixed up with bad sorts luring a physicist into a kidnapping, following which things rapidly unravel. She’s not a good person, and nor are any of the humans around her. Are the cats? Well, one of them at least might be a “realitarian”. An off-kilter story with an easy humour that left me wanting to read more about these feline sleuths.
It has come to my attention that in the previous instalment I neglected to name my fortress. Welcome back, therefore, to as-yet unglorious Roughrewards, newest colony of the Sunken Attic.
If you’re thinking the fortress name is pretty good and the civilisation name is a little underwhelming, you’re not alone.
When last we left our brave and stupid dorfs, they were busy attempting to punch to death a fully-grown if unconscious alligator and making little headway against its thick scales.
After a few weeks of watching YouTube Let’s Plays (mostly by Kruggsmash) and re-reading diaries (mostly Glazedcoast and Onionbog) I decided it was time to actually play the game. Last time I tried it didn’t go so well. Dwarf Fortress’s interface is famous for two things: being extremely difficult to get on with, and being functional and logical once you’ve become accustomed to its many idiosyncrasies. It is an interface that flies in the face of contemporary ideas about user experience. The game also uses pseudo-ASCII art so, like, who cares?
After generating a new world and searching for the recommended newbie embark site – soil or clay, shallow and deep metals, serene or calm surroundings, some woodland or trees, and most importantly no bloody aquifer – I embarked with the default loadout. Strike the earth!