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The Tale of a Doomed Colony.

It’s not over until everybody’s dead.

As part of my twenty four hour gaming binge, I spent a little time with RimWorld. RimWorld is an indie space colony management game developed by the Montreal-based developer Ludeon Studios. The game let’s you play as three survivors from a space craft that has crashed on an unknown planet, and your main goal is to make sure they survive and prosper. RimWorld is very much inspired by Dwarf Fortress, and freedom and deep simulation are key elements.

I’ve tried to come to terms with Dwarf Fortress several times, but the ASCII user interface has broken me every time. When you learn it properly it’s like looking straight into the matrix, but the learning curve is pretty much just a massive brick wall you run into. RimWorld, on the other hand, gives you much of the same experience as Dwarf Fortress, but with a graphical user interface us mere mortals can learn to use without our brains exploding in the process.

One of the most interesting side-effects of deep simulation games like Dwarf Fortress and RimWorld is the stories they create. The fable of Boatmurdered, an epic tale of incorporating hordes of belligerent dwarf-eating elephants, floods of biblical proportions, and flaming puppies, is among the better known that Dwarf Fortress has spawned. Inspired by the story of Boatmurdered, I decided to scrawl down a few notes as I played to see if my first experience with RimWorld could result in something that would be worth reading.

(Fredrik, you can safely stop reading now.)

Prelude

The three survivors lay on the ground, bruised and battered, but still alive: Katten Costa, a 76-year-old female housemate. She hates her ex-husband, Yuudai Hood, a 54-year-old cook. He happens to be the second survivor. Hood has a lover, Kesa Vinxon, a 46-year-old miner. She is the third survivor. Of course she is. This does not bode particularly well. But we can’t let a lover’s quarrel take the focus away from what’s most important right now: Survive on this godforsaken piece of rock.

I command the three to gather resources and material from the crashed ship, and start to build basic housing so they are able to keep warm at night.

6th of Spring 5500

Costa, Hood and Vinxon have successfully built a small house with a storage room, some beds, a table, chairs, and even a roof. Costa also installed a standing lamp he found among the wreckage, but there is no power source yet, so right now the lamps only function is being an obstacle they can trip over in the dark.

It might not look like much, but it keeps them alive.

It might not look like much, but it keeps them alive.

7th of Spring 5500

Food is already running low, and to get some meat on the table, I tell Costa to kill an arctic fox that has been hanging around the compound for a few days. She takes out her knife and promptly stabs the fox in the head, which kills it. Then she goes ahead and gets depressed because they had bonded socially. Well, at least now we know that Costa doesn’t question orders, but I would have appreciated a heads up from at least one of the three idiots when I told Costa to kill the fox.

None of the survivors seem to enjoy sleeping in the shared bedroom, and our starstruck lovers, Hood the Cook and Vinxon the Miner, want to sleep in the same bed together. I order them to create two separate bedrooms so Costa doesn’t have to watch her ex-husband have his ways with his new lower – which happens to be 30 years younger than her.

8th of spring 5500

We are not alone, there are other humans on this planet! A trader comes to visit, and we could sure use some steel1. We’re lacking steel to finish a solar panel so that the lamp can finally shine. Unfortunately, the trader has none. Instead, we buy some nutrient paste meals to eat if we run out of fresh food. That way, we don’t have to kill any more of Costa’s friends to stay alive.

9th of spring 5500

Even with the delicious nutrient paste meals we bought from the trader, I’d prefer it if we had some fresh meat around, so I send Vinxon outside with a gun to kill an emu. It takes her about 40 shots, but it eventually bites the dust. As she is dragging the emu carcass back to the compound, a local hare goes mad, and starts attacking everything in its path. Unfortunately for Vinxon, she is one of the mad hare’s (many) victims, and she gets bitten in pretty much every single body part below the equator.

In what must be a moment of insanity, Costa decides to go outside, and the hare jumps up and bites her in her shoulder. Both women run inside, leaving the mad hare outside, where it’s banging its body against the steel doors. Hood rushes out from his bedroom to help his lover Vinxon, and casually leaves his ex-wife Costa to bleed on the floor. We need to take care of the hare menace before it ends us all, and I order Hood go outside to kill it with his knife. With one effective stab, he saves the day.

At least now we have some hare meat.

10th of spring 5500

Patricia Best, a depressed 29-year-old wanderer joins the colony. I’m not sure if we need more blue people crammed into what is already a very confined space, but she’s claims to be a top notch researcher, and we welcome her with open arms and the promise of hare meat.

Vinxon finds a good vein of compacted steel while mining in a nearby mountain, and our steel-worries are over for now. With the steel, we finally manage to complete the solar panel, and a butcher’s table is being built so we can actually skin the emu and hare carcasses that are decomposing in the storage room.

11th of spring 5500

We’re being warned that a raid on our compound is imminent! It turns out there is only one guy, a nude fella armed with a wooden club. He walks right past two recently installed traps, which seem to be placed rather inefficiency. Instead, Vinxon dispose of naked-club-guy with one shot from her pistol. Turns out she’s much better at shooting people in the face than she is at killing emus. The corpse is stripped, and left outside in the sun as a warning to other raiders.

To celebrate her kill, Vinxon proposes to Hood, but he rejects her. They are no longer in a relationship – good luck updating your Facebook status from here – and now Vinxon is depressed as well. She is our only capable miner, so I sure hope her mental state doesn’t affect her ability to crush and haul rocks.

12th of spring 5500

Best, our newly arrived and not-so-bright, scientist, decides to attack a boomrat out of the blue. The rat explodes, Best is severely injured, and catches fire. Instead of rolling around on the ground it put out the fire, she runs through the forest outside the compound. The entire thing catches fire, and I have to send Costa to put out.

I’m beginning to suspect Best is not a scientist after all.

13th of spring 5500

Our miner Vinxon is crushed to death by a roof collapse. At least now we don’t have to listen to her complaining about her failed proposal to Hood. And we no longer have a food shortage. We are, however, in some serious trouble when it comes to building materials: Vinxon was our only competent miner, the rest of these people can’t tell a pick from a shovel. But we need someone to bring home the steel, and I’m assigning Hood to mining duty, hoping he’ll learn on the job.

Strangely enough, none of the other colonists seem to be bothered by Vinxon death. Instead of mourning, Best goes outside and tries to tame a turkey. She fails miserably.

Late in the evening, there is another raid, and this time, there are two radiers. Vinxon effectively killed the first guy who tried to steal our stuff, but ever since she was crushed under tons of rocks this morning, she’s been less than helpful. Her pistol was crushed as well, and we sure could use both her and the pistol now. Fortunately, Hood steps up. He kills one of the raiders, and the second one runs away after seeing his friend get a knife planted through his heart. Hood’s heroic effort almost costs him his life, though.

Once again our traps proves ineffective. I need to tell someone to move them somewhere else.

14th of spring

Our solar generator and battery setup is working well. We have lights inside, and a working stove to create fine meals on. Hood is in a poor mood, mainly because he has three gunshot wounds from the raiders and is bedridden until he heals. I’m assigning Costa to doctor’s duty in an attempt to get him back on his feet quicker.

Best tries to tame another turkey. This attempt also fails, and I tell her to stop trying.

Vinxon’s death and Hood being badly injured are major blows to the colony, but around noon, Hood is fully healed again. Looks like Costa did a fine job of patching her ex-husband back together. Hood decides to cook and eat a fresh meal, before he goes outside where he is attacked and injured by one of the turkeys Best has tried to tame. Back to the medical bed he goes.

Amazingly, Best has finished researching stone cutting, which means we can build a stone cutting table and use all the rubble outside the compound for something useful. But we’re running low on steel, and need to mine some to build a stone cutting table. Hood really needs to get some mining done, it would be great if he could stop getting himself injured all the time.

1st of summer 5500

A squirrel has somehow managed to get self tamed.

We’re warned that another raid is coming soon, but I’m not sure how well prepared we are. This time there are three raiders – I’m beginning to suspect a pattern – and they have their fearless leader, Priscilla, with them. I’ve moved the traps since the previous raid, and the new location works much better. One of the raiders steps right into one of them and gets himself killed. Our new friend, the tame squirrel, heroically attacks Priscilla the Dessert Queen, and I send Hood out with his knife to stab her in the back while she’s busy defending herself from his tiny teeth.

The tame squirrel, a true hero, attacks Priscilla the Warrior Princess.

The tame squirrel, a true hero, attacks Priscilla the Warrior Princess.

Together, the squirrel and Hood manages to take down Priscilla, and the third raider steps into the second trap and gets his head cut off. The squirrel is badly injured, and goes into shock. I’d love to save him, but we have no animal beds and no material to make it from. Not having a dedicated miner is a real bitch, so I terminate Best’s current color lights research project and send her outside to mine some material for a comfortable steel squirrel bed.

In the middle of the night, Hood wakes up in a bad mood, goes on a food binge, and eats all the fine meals in the storage rooms.

2nd of summer 5500

A pack of alphabeavers approach from the East, and I’m advised to dispose of them as quickly as possible to prevent them from ruining all the tree in the area. Hood is given the task; killing some beavers will hopefully help on his bad mood, and prevent him from eating all the food again.

The alphabeavers don’t go down without a fight, however, and Hood once again returns to the medical bed.

3rd of summer 5500

The squirrel has miraculous healed itself! It’s rear right leg has been ripped off, and front right paw is crushed, though. The sight of it moving around is not helping Hood’s poor mood. On top of that, he comes down with a brain infection caused by a bite from one of the alphabeavers.

A lightning strike sets fire to some of the vegetation just outside of the compound. I send Costa to put it out.

Hood’s infection spreads to one of his arms. It looks like the beavers messed him up more than I thought. Sending our cook out with a knife to fight a pack of rabid beavers probably wasn’t the finest idea I’ve had. Costa treats him as best as she can. The deformed squirrel is lurking in the shadows.

4th of summer 5500

Hood’s mood is deteriorating quickly, and he is becoming severely ill from the infections. There’s a good chance he’ll die soon, and we’re running out of medicine to treat him.

A solar flare has knocks out all the electrical equipment inside, and it gets pitch black. We need to light a fire, but in an attempt to make the inside look a bit more welcoming, I had Best lay down wooden floors everywhere a couple of days ago. If we light a fire now, the entire compound will probably burn to the ground in an instant.

In the afternoon, Hood goes berserk. He stabs his ex-wife Costa – who was doing her best to treat the poor bastard – with his knife. In hindsight, I might have done everyone a favor if I’d confiscated it from him when he got really ill. Costa and Best run for their lives, and evacuates to the North of the compound. Luckily, Hood falls unconscious to the floor before he can do any more damage. Costa finds her way to another medical bed, and I tell Best to take care of both Costa and Hood.

Hood goes berserk and attacks his ex-wife with a knife.

Hood goes berserk and attacks his ex-wife with a knife.

What a mess!

Some time during the night, Hood dies from his infections. I wouldn’t be surprised if the death of her ex-husband will have a terrible effect on Costa’s mood, considering she got depressed by the death of an arctic fox she’d known for a few hours.

To lighten the mood a little, I order Best to start a brewery research project. Hopefully, the alcohol will make the colonists forget their troubles.

5th of summer 5500

We’re joined by another adventurous wanderer: Jesse Chapman, a nude novelist. That’s exactly what we need now, a guy who writes books!

A rare thrumbo comes through the area. My advisors tell me that people will pay good money for its fur. I ignore their warnings that thrumbos can get very dangerous if attacked, and send Costa to kill it. The thrumbo promptly stomps her into unconsciousness. It also decided to take its anger out on some poor visitors to the colony that happens to be around at the time. Our writer, Chapman, runs outside to rescue Costa while the thrumbo is busy crushing our visitors to death, and drags her inside.

The thrumbo stomps on a poor visitor.

The thrumbo stomps on a poor visitor.

6th of summer 5500

The thrumbo is still lurking around outside. Like elephants it seems it never forgets. It almost managed to break through the compound’s steel doors to the north, but Chapman was able to repair them before it was too late. The south door is blocked by our own unfortunately placed traps, so we can’t get out that way. Our only option is to kill the thrumbo, so I’m command Costa outside again to end the beast’s life.

For some reason I can’t comprehend, Chapman goes outside to tend to the potatoes. The stupid idiot is knocked unconscious by the thrumbo. The same thing happens to Costa while she tries to recover her rifle. Her right foot is torn off. Now both Chapman and Costa are laying on the grass outside the compound, with Best injured inside, trying to sleep and recover in a medical bed.

Suddenly, Best rises from her bed, gone berserk because the growling thrumbo disturbed her sleep. She grabs her rifle and heads outside to kill it. Not surprisingly, she is thrown to the ground by the animal, her right eye torn out in the process.

Our only hope is that the thrumbo will wander off, and that one of the colonist will follow the tame squirrels good example and heal up while laying in the grass.

7th of summer 5500

Both Best and Chapman are hit by infections, and I’m informed that another raid is imminent. It’ll be interesting to see if they manage to handle the damn thrumbo. Unfortunately, it leaves before the raiders arrive, and they are now free to plunder. Their loot of choice? They run off with Best, who was laying unconscious on top of a pile of potatoes with an infection in the brain. With a little luck, the infection will make her go berserk and kill them all.

8th of summer 5500

Chapman dies from blood loss. I’m also getting reports from the raider’s village that Best has died in captivity. My final hope now is that the 76-year-old, one-legged housemate, Costa, survives. But it all ends 6 hours into 8th of summer, when Costa also succumbs to blood loss.

In retrospect, trying to kill the thrumbo was a bad idea. But my only regret is that I didn’t get to teach the tame squirrel any tricks.

It's all over. Everybody's dead.

It’s all over. Everybody’s dead.

Footnotes

  1. This was my first game, so I didn’t realize I could change what materials to use for a lot what you can build in RimWorld. Because of this, I ended up building everything out of steel.

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  1. I really enjoyed that – please make more stories like it :) Next time, maybe send down colonists with less emotional baggage for a happier outcome..?

    And, if Dwarf Fortress still calls to you as it does to me, but the ASCII keeps putting you off – try a starter pack with a nice tileset. I like PeridexisErrant’s Starter Pack myself, with the SpaceFox tileset. http://lazynewbpack.com/
    It doesn’t make the military screen less of a mess / maze, though.

    • The amount of emotional baggage was a curveball RimWorld threw my way, and I didn’t really mind – I suspect it spiced up everything quite a bit.

      Even if Dwarf Fortress might be playable for new players with the starter pack, RimWorld gives me the adventures I need, so I think I’ll stick to that for now.