The fort is, as you might guess, rather far from efficient Ė dwarves routinely walk 300-500 steps to the dining pod, or the stalactite apartments, or the ship, and gods forbid if they ever need to go outside. Each project was given a lot of space, primarily so it would look good in visualizers Ė as such, Iíll be ignoring in-game screenies except for two spots; if you want to see more in-game stuff there are plenty of POIs on the DFMA maps. Why donít we start with the exterior?
Mountaingate is the name I gave to the hollowed-out spire mountain that serves as an entirely-ornamental entrance to the fortress. When I embarked, I had intended on making the entrance directly in the mountain range, but upon seeing the spire, I decided to make the spire the access point and build a bridge to connect to the true entrance. I carved away several nearby layers of mountain in order to give Mountaingate its own moat as well as make the approach look more formidable and impressive. I also opened up its entrance to have a big semi-circle cave opening for coolness effect. Within the spire is a lake, with a long ramp moving upwards to the bridge. The large arch and bridge in front of the mountain houses my rather small 7-dwarf military, who are the sole defense measure of the fortress.
I tore down the arch just for these shots, as as nice as it was it blocked the view of the mountain (not sure why the water in the VF one froze, temp is off).
We enter the mountain, follow the walkway up, cross the bridge, and follow the tunnelÖ
Öand end up in a small water-filled cavern. The tunnel forks and heads farther downwards here, but weíll come back to that later. For now, we cross this cavern and enter the main
I am immensely proud of this cavern, which was the first thing I visualized when getting ideas for Undergrotto. The above view is from a mid-level alcove that the previous cavern connects to. Weíll start by going to the right and will eventually make our way around the entire cavern.
Heading down a slope we find ourselves in a large tower-cap park. There is an artifact statue hidden among the mushrooms that turns the entire plateau into a statue garden for dwarves to relax in, and traffic orders over a decade or so caused the caps to grow thicker in some areas and thinner in others, making a pleasant path for dwarves to stroll through. To create the park I had to build scaffolding below the plateau in order to build walls Ė I was very picky about what would get muddy and what wouldnít. I donít harvest any of these trees Ė thereís a separate tower-cap farm elsewhere.
From the park there is a small entrance to the archives Ė 360 tiles are engraved per year, and a new level is dug annually. I mistakenly thought DF months had 30 days instead of 28 when I planned it out; I pretend the extra 24 engravings are like Ďthe best of the yearí kind of thing. Neither of my preferred visualizers show engravings yet, unfortunately. We exit the archives and stroll back through the park, following a ramp off the plateau and to the lakeshore.
The lake is probably the centerpiece of the grotto; itís only 2z deep, but is rather large and peaceful. Itís fed through a three-pump-wide stack drawing directly from the underground riverís waterfall source tiles, which refill near-instantaneously and can feed pumps faster than aquifers. In the center of the lake is the shrine to Armok. Unlike many other places of blood worship, this one is rather small and simple. It makes up for its plainness in function, to be showcased later.
Over to the side is the beach, where the Rummy Dodger is anchored. The beach is one of the few things about the grotto that is artificial, as will be explained later. The Dodger is a sail-less ship that serves as the alcohol warehouse for the entire fortress. I like to image the dwarves drunkenly rock from side to side in time with the ship. Capín Flask is in charge of the ship, but I thought it was more appropriate to give him the custom profession of Drunk rather than Captain. He does have a gear assembly that he plays with like a steering wheel sometimes though. Shipís 100% wood aside from the gold-bar railings.
A cave in the side of the cliff face leads down a short tunnel away from the beach and into the graveyardís chamber. Mort, the undertaker, has a small shack here from which he accesses each tomb (heís the only one with the Burial labour). I give each deceased dwarf or pet a mound with a coffin underneath; occupied mounds are marked with obsidian statues as headstones.
Returning to the beach, we pass under a small arch and arrive at the Industrial Plaza. As of right now, there is absolutely nothing my dwarves need, and as a result Iíve mostly removed the stockpiles and workshops. I developed an industry theory a while ago that you can seperate dwarven industry into organics, metal, stoneworking, wood/glassworking, and cloth, and are able to follow each of these industries from raw resource into final product in each of their sectors, along with a misc. sector for stuff like jewelry, alchemy, and siegeworking. To put the idea to use, I gave each industry a spoke on the gear. It worked pretty well in practice, except I gave too much space to the workshops and not enough to storage. I usually only have one or maybe two dwarves who do each workshop labour, anyhow.
Through a small tunnel here we have the old abandoned minerís guild. Back when I needed a lot of miners, there were 32 regular offices and a larger office for Sickle, the head miner. Unfortunately I no longer need more than two active miners, so the guild was dissolved. When Sickle died, I turned her old office into a tomb for both her and Pickís coffins. These two miners are the still the only two of the starting seven to die; the former was frozen during a winter aquifer excavation and the former died in a cave-in accident while hollowing out Mountaingate.
Returning to the beach then back up to the park, we follow an arch up to the social sectorís plateau. Shortly weíll be heading to the central square, but first, letís go to prison!
At the top of the slope on a lonely plateau sits the Undergrotto penitentiary. It has a mere twelve cells, two floors of six, but also has offices for each of the fortress guard as well as a watchtower, an armoury, and an illegal still (which explains a lot about dwarven justice Ė besides, even guards can get Ďhammeredí
Below the penitentiary lies the Hammererís dungeon. Two platforms, one shaped like an axe and the other a hammer, make up the cavern, which is coated in cages containing helpless and insane humans and elves. The platforms and thin outcroppings rise up form water far below. The hammerer enjoys sitting at his desk between torture sessions, listening to water trickle down from above as his prisoners cry quietly to themselves. I forgot to take VF screenies of this and donít have access to a computer that can right now, but you can go take a look for yourselves later.
Leaving the jailhouse and descending down the slope we pass the hospital, with four cozy rooms and a private well for recovering dwarves (and a helipad), and end up in the town square. Here there is a lighthouse, with a small pond beneath it for reasons I no longer remember, the mayoral manor with many fine rooms, and the zoo, with two giant olms, a sasquatch, and a dragon on a platform surrounded by water. Until the Rummy Dodger was built, there was a pub here, but it didnít have nearly enough space to hold all the fortís alcohol.
We continue past the social sector down a small slope to the magma caldera. Though completely useless and ornamental, the caldera was one of the first things in the grotto Iíd envisioned. Later, while looking for somewhere to build the DMís dungeon, I realized how perfect it was, and created a tunnel downwards. The dungeon has lava running all along it, with grates connecting the platforms. All animal training is done here, and I even created a private swimming pool for my titan, Cerol. He swam for a decade until he became a level 62 swimmer with 8 strength, 10 agility and 9 toughness.
Cerol was recently moved up from the caldera dungeon to the Crescent Arena, where he is to do battle with the hydra Thicivi. The arena isnít as nice as I had wanted it to be, but with a small glass dome over the arena itself I think it does the job well enough. Itís named after the moon-like shape the audienceís area took on once Iíd made the arenaís circle take up some of the entire buildingís circle space. Thereís a very handy bridge system that allows you to prepare very dangerous critters without fear of job cancellations, escape, or them destroying your bridges.
A winding path rises from the arenaís plateau, but we wonít follow it up just yet. First weíve got to finish our lap around the cavern, so letís go down and follow the path around to the trade depotís post, resting towards the center of the cavern. The cage, a small structure around the depot, is what I came up with while trying to think of how to make the depot impressive. Itís appropriately named as I routinely catch trading humans and elves, and is built entirely out of copper, with the depot in black bronze.
A small square hole in the wall near the depot leads down to a very large room with water crisscrossing across the floor. This is Engineering. The current setup generates a mere 4000 power, but I could easily adapt it to generate 5000, or expand it much more if I wanted. Mostly it just powers the huge pump stacks I have running. The original system drained from the brook above and poured into the underground riverís chasm, but a tower cap grew in the system so I blocked it all up and now it feeds itself. On the catwalk above, all my engineers have impressive green glass offices with their own private workshops. The head engineer, Gear, has an aquarium office because I thought it was cool.
At the back of engineering there is a complex path of bridges. This is an elf trap Ė as elves donít bring wagons, they instead path to this much-closer depot. While walking through the trap to it, I pull the switch and they all fall onto the below cage traps. Itís a pretty fun system.
Thereís another path back here that leads upwards into a small wooden cabin. This is Hermitís house, and the back entrance to the fort. The cabin sits in the center of a dwarf-made lake, and has a drawbridge to the mainland thatís operated only by Hermit, the bridgekeeper. Thereís an iron fence set up so that even in winter itís protected.
Going back through engineering and back in the main cavern, we see to our left a large pool. I had hoped to train all my dwarves to legendary swimmers here, but 3/4 was too low to give experience and 4/7 was too high to get them to path in, so all I got was dangerous terrain spam. Now it just adds colour to the grotto. We could continue past the pool down to the alcove where we originally entered the cavern, but instead weíll go back to the arenaís plateau and head up that winding path... in the next spoiler!