This was the thread that inspired me to pick up Dwarf Fortress after a long hiatus, so I thought I'd share my experience with a fortress I just lost. I took this challenge to the extreme, playing on world generated with virtually no metal, giving my dwarves the [WOOD_WEAPONS] and [WOOD_ARMOR] tags, and generally editing things to ensure that metal and it's production were virtually unknown. Then I embarked on the harshest wintery hell hole the world had to offer, a glacial shelf infested by polar bears and wolves (and also lots and lots of elk, but... well, those aren't as frightening) to encourage myself to get the heck to the caverns. My team consisted of a miner/mason, a miner/carpenter, a doctor, three spear dwarves, and a leather worker/stonecrafter. Thanks to the game defaulting me to a pair of ultra-expensive steel picks, which I had traded in, we had plenty of supplies. Tons of food, booze, leather, cloth, and wood... all of which I realized almost too late I was going to have to find room for.
Things started off a little rough, as it took my miners some time to actually reach a cavern level. I managed to completely bypass the first level and go straight to the second. While they cleared out a space, my other dwarves were at work getting my military equipped as The Black Guard, giant bat-leather armored soldiers with black-cap spears and shields, wearing white silk cloaks and face veils. This trio would prove their worth to the fortress on multiple occasions, taking their seemingly puny spears up against everything from blind cave trolls to giant olms and dispatching them all.
After my first two waves of immigrants bumped my fortress population up to 18, I supplemented them with a trio of part-time crossbowmen. A rather puny militia with completely mismatched equipment consisting mainly of Black Guard cast-offs. I had found the first cavern shortly before that wave arrived and discovered a tribe of hostile snakemen who I would have mined straight into had I been one-tile over on my initial stairway. The fortress experienced it's first loss around then too, when an immigrant tanner wandered into the first cavern and was killed by a pair of troglodytes. The Black Guard made short work of them and the newly arrived dwarf had no friends or family to mourn him, but I wouldn't realize until later how much I would miss the loss of that tanner, because he was the last immigrant I would ever receive. My fortress population would never exceed 17 in it's entire existence.
Physically, my fortress was fairly secure. The only direct entrance was a trio of doors that actually opened up onto a small gap I had to bridge myself and the well I had built onto a section of stone that over hung the massive lake that made up most of the second cavern. I eliminated the snakeman tribe, a slaughter despite the help the snakemen got from a massive swarm of krundles and a cave alligator, and plundered their camp. Their captain had become a Legendary fighter in the effort and to honor him I gave the squad a much needed break from training and combat patrol. Unfortunately, this was where things started to go wrong, as shortly afterwards he was ambushed and killed by a giant cave spider. I rushed the rest of my military out to avenge him, but in the battle another of the Black Guard was killed, leaving one dwarf, Oddom.
Oddom became something of a legend for the fortress in it's final year. After I was certain his mood had stabilized (he had been friends with one Black Guard and the captain's lover, so losing both really hit him hard) and that he would not go insane and butcher the fortress, I appointed him to the position of militia commander. The militia by this point consisted of he and the three other dwarves and Oddom was the only one who was kept as a professional soldier. He spent time between drills hunting down cave crocodiles and often killed them in one blow. Between he and the farmers, we had plenty of food and the low population made it easy to keep plentiful booze on hand. Despite set backs, things seemed to be going well.
When the first Forgotten Beast arrived, I didn't even attempt to confront it but tried to order my dwarves to hole up in the fortress. Unfortunately, one of the farmers decided it was better to first finish picking mushrooms not more than three tiles of the beast first and when he ran, he lured it straight for my fort. Figuring by then I had nothing to do but go out in a blaze of glory. I activated the militia and ordered they and Oddom to assault the beast. It was a massive scorpion made of stone and I fully expected a complete slaughter. However, when I activated the militia, the farmer who had until that point been fleeing abruptly turned and engaged the beast. I had forgotten he was on the militia and rather than being torn to pieces, he managed to wrestle it across a few tiles, slowing it down long enough for Oddom and the others to arrive. The crossbowmen were useless, not landing a single bolt on the thing, but Oddom personally tore the beast away from it's current fight and proceeded to duel it alone. The combat log was a massive string of reports about Oddom stabbing, kicking, punching, and even biting the beast while it in turn was unable to strike him a single time. In the end, Oddom drove his spear through it's head and destroyed it's brain.
Then he named his spear 'Glowfire.' I have no idea why.
Another Forgotten Beast, this one a massive lizard with poison spittle arrived soon after and within a few months of that a second, this one a flying snail with paralytic dust. The first beast seemed content to keep well away from the fortress, but the second charged straight to it and flew up through my well, immediately setting upon and killing my expedition leader. It reached the hall and began to slaughter my other dwarves as well. I threw my soldiers at it desperately. The three militia crossbowmen actually damaged it slightly, before they were all rendered paralyzed. Oddom, however, lunged for the beast and killed it in a single blow of Glowfire. Unfortunately, he was caught in a cloud of the dust and paralyzed as well. Sadly, none of the soldiers would recover, suffocating within the hospital while my doctor began to tantrum from his friends, Oddom and the expedition leader, dying.
The doctor, who doubled as my butcher just for the sake of macabe humor and because I had nothing for him to do, continued to tantrum, eventually killing another dwarf. By this point, I had 8 dwarves left, a sad and ragged lot who were more occupied in putting the dead to rest in their tombs than with anything else.
At the eve of my fortresses downfall, the doctor's wife had a child, his tantrums ending and the mood across the entire fort seeming to briefly lift. Then, a door was reported destroyed. The final Forgotten Beast had come. It began to slaughter everyone in sight, catching two dwarves in the open, one of them the doctor. The doctor actually tried to fight it, wrestling with it for several moment before being killed. Those moments allowed me to seal his wife and new born child into a bedroom, while the Beast chased the rest into the dining hall where they were ordered to go in an emergency. With nothing left to lose, I tried to get the five survivors to the surface. The Beast followed them, picking them off one by one as they went up the stairs. The last dwarf made it to the surface, into the snow storm that awaited him, and sealed the hatch behind him. The Beast merely bashed through, killing him with a blast of poison spittle to the face.
As it drifted away from the stairwell and began to wander the surface, I finally released the doctor's wife from her room. She wandered towards the dining room, stepped inside, set her child on the floor, and threw herself down the well. The baby remained, sitting in place on the floor...
... and then my game crashed and now the fortress and it's history does not even show up in the Legends.