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Lets Play / Boatmurdered

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Engraved on the wall is a masterfully designed image of an elephant and a dwarf by 'Sankis' Gatinbromek. The elephant is striking down the dwarf
I take a look at the maps, and sure enough, this outpost is stuck out in the middle of nowhere, smack in the Smooth Points of Pride. "Boatmurdered" they call it, a name which doesn't bode well for much of fucking anything.


In the year 1050, the dwarven civilization of Kinmelbil, "The Oaken Tomes", exhausted the last of its mines. Driven by lust for gold and rumors of the priceless and all but mythical metal adamantine, a team of seven colonists was dispatched to build a new home for the dwarves of Kinmelbil in the Smooth Points of Pride. The first year of diaries from the ill-fated foreman of the mine were recovered, giving some hint as to the beginnings of the fortress that once stood there, if not its mysterious and presumably gruesome fate...

So begins the tale of the dwarven settlement of Koganusân, better known as "Boatmurdered," a tale horrific even by Dwarf Fortress standards.

The game started innocently eno... actually, no, from the very beginning the poor dwarves were plagued by murderous elephants. Then came the food shortages. And the goblins. Then the floods. And then the lava. All of this was compounded by the usual problems of a succession game, with leaders at odds over how to run the settlement, half-finished and forgotten projects, an increasingly labyrinthine fort layout, and outbreaks of megalomania and supervillainy.


Like all Dwarf Fortress games, the Let's Play ends violently. By the end of the thread the fort is in ruins, but everyone agrees that they've created the root of evil in the dwarven universe.

Perhaps the Let's Play for Dwarf Fortress, Boatmurdered was a Succession Game played in one-game-year turns by Something Awful members that quickly became the stuff of legends.

You can find an audio adaption of Boatmurdered here.


The Boatmurdered saga provides examples of:

  • Apocalyptic Log: The whole LP is essentially the story of one town's damnation. It lightens up in some places, but the elephant sieges, and especially the last foreman's entries, are pretty grim.
    • On a related note, the "Journal of Kith," a sort of Spiritual Sequel. It also provides an example of a Madness Montage in the form of the various amulets the narrator crafts.note 
  • The All-Solving Hammer: Eventually, project "Fuck The World" is used to solve a wide variety of the Fortress' problems. Although given that most of the Fortress' problems stem from enemy invaders or wild animals from the outside, dumping vast quantities of magma on them is a rather practical solution. It becomes less so when a human caravan appears...
  • Arc Words: Count the number of times a craftsdwarf makes a work of art described with the phrase "The elephant is striking down the dwarf." Spoiler alert: it's a lot.
  • Ax-Crazy: StarkRavingMad's username says it all. "I've started project 'Fuck The World,' a top secret attempt to funnel magma to the outside. I'll kill those elephants. I'll kill all those fucking elephants."
    • Near the end, mariguana unleashes the magma on a human caravan, the only allies the dwarves had. In a bit of karma, the smoke from the burning bodies provides the catalyst for the fort's collapse into madness.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: TouretteDog's former ruler, during Bremen's reign, becomes an insanely powerful combatant who's maxed out in every skill.
  • Basement-Dweller: Unknowing gets kicked out by his mom for being one of these. Despite this, he actually proves to be a reasonably competent ruler.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Unknowing consults his dice to see if a goblin siege will succeed. When he rolls a one, he goes to unlock the gates for the invaders.
  • Becoming the Mask: Bremen's character eventually becomes this. Bremen started as an opportunistic hobo who found Ral Swaeringen's real successor's body and the invite to become a leader of Boatmurdered, and took the opportunity to go there and get the money Bremen thought being a leader entailed (which ironically didn't happen because it wasn't until Bremen's reign that Boatmurdered became a capitalistic economic force.) Eventually, Bremen learns to respect the Dwarves under their command and takes measures to undo the problems Ral Swaeringen's reign brought in the form of Elephant sieges, starting up an elite crossbow taskforce that they join at the end of their reign.
  • Black Comedy: By the wagon-load.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: As Mystic Mongol puts it on two separate occasions.
    Mystic Mongol: (reacting to his death) Right. Just like the Bookkeeper, after making someone's leather supplies super valuble, mysteriously died in an attack. Just like the unpopular Baron stepped on a rusty nail. Just like how the tax collector was found in his bed, mysteriously crushed to death by elephants.

    Mystic Mongol: You need an aqueduct.
    The aqueduct needs to be made of stone.
    You just murdered dozens of our BEST TRADING PARTNERS, YOU BASTARD.
    You could also dig a new channel down south, so we could flood whichever hemisphere angered us.
  • Breather Episode: Doctor Zero's reign of the fortress. Nothing bad actually happens, and he even repairs relations with the elves...before Mariguana's second rule causes everything to spiral out of control...
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The list of fortress overseers has included a stereotypical DnD nerd who was kicked out of his mom's house and a university student expelled for smoking pot one time too many. Somewhat unexpectedly, neither of them managed to destroy the fortress.
  • Butt-Monkey: Every dwarf inside the fortress, and everything outside the fortress when the two-keyed Dwarven Doomsday Lever is pulled.
  • The Caligula: The director Mariguana. (Who is a separate character from Mariguana's first director, since canonically Melor is already buried in her tomb) He is the penultimate director for good reason; he tried to make a tough-guy persona, became the mask, and issued a policy of no mercy against the Elves and Elephants after Doctor Zero worked hard to bring Boatmurdered out from the depressing spiral he had found it in. This had the effect of driving Mariguana mad with power, leading to the overuse of Project 'Fuck The World' to deal with literally every problem outside of Boatmurdered. When he used Project 'Fuck The World' a third time, however, he only realized at the last second just how much he fucked up when he burned friendly humans to a crisp...and caught the Siege Engines on fire with the smoke from the human remains that had not seen use since Project 'Fuck the World' first saw use. Turns out in his fervor to kill all Elephants and Elves, Mariguana never realized he could potentially put the rest of the Dwarves ''inside'' at risk.
  • Captain Obvious:
    Sankis: Our coin vaults finally finishes. It contains the fortress's supply of coins.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Siege Engines. They were initially made to kill Elephants that were making it through the cage trap hallway that created a moat at the south end of Boatmurdered. After Project 'Fuck The World' was completed, they were completely forgotten for a decade. No one ever though to get rid of them, move them, or, well, do anything with them. During one of Mariguana's uses of 'Fuck The World,' one of the catapults caught fire, and the smoke lasted for weeks, driving the Dwarves inside Boatmurdered insane and paving the way for Boatmurdered's destruction.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Unknowing, a diminutive human booted out of his house by his mother and passes off as a dwarf only through his stature and beard. He's also an obsessed with Wizards and Warlocks fanboy who tries to recreate chambers from the game as rooms in the fortress and (unsurprisingly unsuccessfully) casts non-existent magic spells at enemies.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: StarkRavingMad and Major Failure's logs. Apparently, the latter was based directly on the character of Al Swearengen.
  • Corpse Land: An ASCII-based form of this graces the exterior of the fortress once they start magma-cannoning all their troubles away, since no one bothers to clean up the remains. Fanart tends to go a little overboard, depicting a massive wasteland of trashed goblin equipment and elephant bones.
  • Crapsack World: Even from the start. Boatmurdered sits right in the middle of the territory of a huge horde of elephants. The elephants are a constant, impossible-to-get-rid-of problem until the magma tunnels are completed and the outside is flooded with molten rock. Later, Boatmurdered turns into a complicated mess, with nobody knowing what does what, and nothing being managed or completely fixed until the eventual fall of the fortress.
    • As far as scenery, before PFTW is complete, the predominant things to see in front of the fortress are rampaging elephants and dead dwarves (and the dead dwarves' stuff, which is unusually popular...). Afterward, there's the fields of charred grass and dead ground, and heaps upon heaps of skeletonized elephants and goblins as far as the eye can see.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: When one of his miners accidentally digs into a water main (and subsequently floods the whole fortress), Sankis makes the desperate decision to save the fortress by triggering the trap that will fill the tunnels with lava in the hopes that the two will cancel each other out, the lava evaporating the water and the water extinguishing the lava. Against all logic, it actually works.
  • Creepy Child: Dodók Sabrefrenzies, who while Boatmurdered was tearing itself apart in a haze of ash and flame, happily spent her days playing in the bonehoard. "In all cultures, both name and place will come to elicit hushed tones and ultimately grow to be synonymous with doom of the very soul, itself."
  • The Dandy: Cross Quantum writes his character as something like this, having an interest in art history and improving Boatmurdered's interior decor.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Guerilla Medic, who by the end was ecstatic despite surviving a tantrum spiral that left only 25 dwarves alive. "He doesn't really care about anything anymore."
  • Disaster Dominoes: As expected of Dwarf Fortress, this is how Boatmurdered dies, with a chain reaction of murders that leads to hospital patients attacking each other in their beds while the fort burns down around them.
  • Dishonored Dead: Bremen runs out of coffins, then runs out of graveyard space, and has to improvise. "Most of you are spending your eternal rest in the garbage dump."
  • Doomsday Device: Project Fuck The World, which floods everything outside the fort with magma.
  • Downer Ending: This being Dwarf Fortress, you know it. Parts of the fortress catch fire and it soon turns into an inferno. The population of Boatmurdered is driven insane by a constant fog of smoke, causing a killing spree, and many dwarves to simply walk into burning sections of the fortress. There are soon only two dwarves left, the ruler and a child, and the ruler abandons the settlement, and the child.
  • Driven to Suicide: Not uncommon throughout the Let's Play, mostly due to routine fey moods. Later, smoke and miasma cause a lot of dwarves to "wander into the flames." DF players like to say that there is some kind of secret suicidal fire cult in every fortress, as this is a common ending to a fortress.
  • Due to the Dead: An attempt to build a necropolis for former rulers doesn't really pan out.
    Locus: Well at least we're resting peacefully in our tombs. In spirit. Probably underneath elephant remains, in the physical sense.
    Bremen: I ran out of coffins. Then I ran out of designated graveyard space. Most of you are spending your eternal rest in the garbage dump.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Made all the worse by the fact that it's a succession game, with each new overseer effectively coming in blind.
    StarkRavingMad: Room full of levers, I don't know what any of 'em do and I'm not going to try and figure it out. With the way this place is set up, any one of them could make the whole place collapse in like an accordion. Armok help me.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Sankis' first order as director of Boatmurdered is to cancel all current other projects and begin construction of a giant deathtrap to flood the outside with magma.
  • Evil Is One Big, Happy Family: During an impromptu elephant siege, a force of goblins shows up to join the party on the dwarves' doorstep. "I think they're starting their own little town in there, elephants and goblins living together in peace and harmony, joined only by burning hatred for dwarves."
  • Foregone Conclusion: It's Dwarf Fortress. It will not end pretty. It's a fact of life.
    StarkRavingMad: Seriously, there could not have been a more appropriate end to the saga of Boatmurdered than a gigantic flaming apocalypse for no apparent reason.
  • For Want of a Nail: Bremen's efforts to protect the fortress from an elephant siege are sabotaged by a literal Butterfly of Doom that flies into the locking mechanism and gums it up, keeping the gate from closing.
  • From Bad to Worse: Boatmurdered's history in a nutshell. "And you know, sometimes you think it really can't get much worse... and then it does."
  • Gone Horribly Right: When a flood traps a number of dwarves outside, Sankis decides to use Project: Fuck the World to evaporate the water. Instead this ends up scalding the dwarves to death. The water, however, is successfully evaporated.
  • Got Volunteered: StarkRavingMad's starts his section as an innkeeper with no plans to change. Then a group of guards tell him he has the great honor of being appointed governor of Boatmurdered, and turning down such an honor would be ill-advised. He has a sneaking suspicion this has something to do with his recently discovering gold.
    • Toward the tail end of mariguana's second reign, Amused Frog suggests that new "migrants" are actually adventuring parties who get kidnapped and Press-Ganged into joining the fortress.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: The effect of ludicrous amounts of miasma that build up, thanks to the un-dealt-with corpses. This contributes directly to the tantrum spiral following the loss of Sankis's masterpiece.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The rulers' constant use of the Doomsday Device, especially near the end, eventually leads to the fort's doom - one of the lava releases sets alight a catapult that leaves a constant cloud of smoke that drives most of the dwarves insane and leads to them either killing each other or throwing themselves into the fire.
  • Hope Spot: The third to last ruler Doctor Zero enjoys a peaceful, productive reign. Relations with both the elves and humans improve, and the "Fuck the World" lever is not used at all. It begins to seem like Boatmurdered may be able to outlast its doom a little longer ...only for everything to spiral out of control soon after.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: As lampshaded in the page quote.
  • If You Die, I Call Your Stuff: StarkRavingMad loses a lot of dwarves to this because of Artificial Stupidity. Some dwarves died to an elephant siege. The rest of the dwarves were safe inside, but rushed out into the midst of the elephants to loot the corpses, and were promptly trampled to death themselves. More and more dwarves followed until StarkRavingMad has to lock them in so they wouldn't rush out to their deaths. Making matters worse, the elephants were actually trying to go away, but the dwarves running out aggro'd them again, resulting in them going back towards the fortress.
  • Incendiary Exponent: Sankis' final rampage is made all the more awesome by being on fire while during it.
    "Did I mention he is on fucking fire!?"
  • It's Quiet… Too Quiet:
    Keyboard Fox: Things have been rather quiet recently... I'm starting to worry that something's about to happen.
  • Kill 'Em All: Only two dwarves survive Boatmurdered, one a death-seeking veteran, the other a completely insane little girl.
  • Kill It with Fire: The magma flooding device is used to this effect frequently.
  • LARP: Unknowing plays his character as a Wizards and Warlocks-obsessed nerd who stumbled into Boatmurdered after being kicked out of his mother's house and was mistaken for an actual wizard. He tries to cast "spells" during battles, but laments that he fumbles all his attack rolls.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The final use of Project: Fuck The World obliterates some friendly humans as collateral damage. It also ignites one of the long-forgotten Siege Engines and starts the firestorm that ultimately causes the end of the fortress.
  • Laughing Mad: mariguana descends into this during his second reign after realizing he unleashed Project: Fuck The World just as a friendly human caravan is coming by.
  • Let's Play: The go-to example for Dwarf Fortress LP's.
  • Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!: mariguana decides to devote the entire fortress workforce to building a monument to himself. He runs out of time and succeeds in constructing the bottom half of a giant lizard.
  • Mad Artist: Sankis, once retiring as ruler, becomes the fort's premier engraver, creating reliefs of flaming goblins, elephants murdering dwarves, burning dwarves, burning humans, cheese, or other reliefs of cheese. After one of her masterwork engravings gets destroyed by magma, she throws a tantrum and beats another dwarf to death while on fire.
  • Madness Mantra:
    • "All burn..."
    • And in the epilogue: "Any place is better. I must press on."
  • Malevolent Architecture: The fortress rapidly becomes this, thanks to each new ruler coming in with extreme, reckless and often mutually exclusive ideas for construction projects that only succeed in making everything messier and more complicated to deal with for the next guy, until the whole place looks like a lava-flooded version of the Winchester Mystery House.
  • Meaningful Name: The players frequently Lampshade how disturbingly prophetic the Fortress's title turned out to be. Though boats never came up.
  • Mis-blamed: StarkRavingMad appears to blame Locus for the stupid design of the big wide hallway without proper supports, but in actuality that was Keyboard Fox's doing. Locus even complained about it himself later in his rule. invoked
  • Mordor: After an accident involving an accidental water flood and the release of lava, Boatmurdered's environment became this.
    "I love that Boatmurdered has turned into some sort of horrendous evil eyesore on the continent. I'm picturing groups of hardy adventurers gearing up to assault the place just based on the barren ash- and skeleton-filled landscape in front of it."
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Sankis, despite what the rest of this page and the character page will attest to, started as a well-meaning but bored-out-of-her-skull director for Boatmurdered. She felt that taking up Ral's Project Fuck The World would do wonders for Boatmurdered. It does stop a flood that would have stranded Boatmurdered indefinitely, but also ends up killing dozens of Dwarves and a dog. The trauma of it all starts Sankis down her Mad Artist path, as immediately after she creates her first engraving; a dog burning to death.
  • Never Suicide: Mystic Mongol throws himself into the river and drowns for no apparent reason. It is strongly implied that he was "helped" along.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Boatmurdered is an unsafe working environment.
  • Only Sane Man: Among the early players, Locus, who actually manages to keep the Elephant population under control through liberal use of traps. StarkRavingMad and Bremen proceed to drop the ball.
  • Paint the Town Red: "Hope you like miasma!"
  • Pointless Doomsday Device:
    • First developed in Keyboard Fox's rule. "A note to my successors: Don't pull the switch near the chasm. It causes everything past it to die from magma."
    • Project Fuck The World in all ways sounds like a Pointless Doomsday Device (it works by flooding the entire playable area with lava, no joke) but is extremely practical for getting rid of elephants.
    • A few of these arise purely by accident, due to abandoned and re-purposed projects. "In looking for the lever to the farm, I found something that might be it nearby. It might also flood the siege workshop, but I'm not exactly sure why that would be a good thing." It does indeed, because originally, that's where the farm was planned.
  • Pregnant Badass: "A few more war dogs ran out and attacked. I have to say I'm slightly terrified by them. One of the bitches actually gave birth while she was attacking, and her puppies joined in on the carnage."
  • Press-Ganged: It was theorized by Amused Frog that towards the end, namely during mariguana's second reign, the "immigrants" were actually adventurers who came believing Boatmurdered to be a lair of evil and were then shanghaied into working.
    Amused Frog: The immigrants coming now are actually adventuring parties. They just get drafted as soon as they appear on the horizon.
  • Pride: Keyboard Fox's entire rule reads as though he is completely full of himself and sees himself as better than all previous and future rulers. This all appears to have been the point.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • Keyboard Fox sets up a wide array of traps, and Locus goes further by laying a vast trap field for the Elephants. Ironically, StarkRavingMad accuses Locus of having some sort of Elephant issue, but ultimately laxes on the traps, which sets off the fortresses' long-standing issues with the Elephants.
    • Bremen. "I've taken steps to make sure the elephants never menace this fortress again. The others think I'm paranoid, but they're all fools. The elephants will return, and unless we're ready they'll trample every last one of us to dust!" He was right. Unfortunately, his preparations failed spectacularly.
  • Redshirt Army: As demonstrated under Bremen.
    Bremen: The recruits (minus all those drinking, eating, and sleeping) let out a mighty shout and charge! For the glory of Boatmurdered! No one can fault their bravery... Only their results.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: At one point a force of kobolds shows up, takes one look at the place, and immediately leaves.
    • StarkRavingMad ends his turn by paying off some guy to pretend he's him, digging an escape tunnel, and running into the night. The next LPer does a Call-Back to this by accidentally entering the fort through the same tunnel. It collapses behind him.
  • Shout-Out: Diablo III features the obsidian Axe of Sankis as a legendary weapon. Naturally, it's on fire.
    An obsidian axe wielded by the mad Sankis as he turned on his own men inside their fortress. Even as he burned to death himself, he would not stop his attacks on those he had once ruled.
  • Shmuck Bait:
    A note to my successors: Don't pull the switch near the chasm. It causes everything past it to die from magma.
  • The Siege: To quote StarkRavingMad, "The place isn't a total loss, just so long as you, you know, don't open the front door." Once the magma tunnel is completed, however, sieges stop being an issue.
  • Siege Engines: This is used early on as a defense against the Elephants but proves mostly ineffective and is later overshadowed by project "Fuck the World".
  • Spanner in the Works:
    But the door is stuck open! Sabotage! That Elephant sympathizer! That traitor! That Quisling! That...

    ...Monarch butterfly?

    Apparently, showing incredible coordination, a monarch butterfly flew into the door workings just before the time of the attack and jammed it open. With all the bodies and items left by the elephants, no one is doing such a low priority task as cleaning up bug remains.
  • Skewed Priorities: Unknowing is more concerned with writing his novel and LARPing than keeping the fortress safe.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The dwarves, of course. An elephant kills a dwarf and starts to walk away, but then a bunch of other dwarves rush outside to loot the body, thus provoking the elephant and beginning the cycle anew.
    • Former ruler "Emperor Sankis" gatinbomreknote  spends a few months trying to drink from the magma river (actually the result of a bug), but snaps out of it and goes back to making horrifying engravings.
    • Another dwarf somehow falls down a well and begins to die of thirst. All of his friends are able to get water around him while the stuck dwarf dehydrates.
    • During the ruling of Sankis, one of his swordsdwarves tries to get a drink not by going to the well or drinking from the edge of the river but by wading out into the middle of the river and trying to drink from around him. Against all odds, he manages to survive.
    • In character, one of the later overseers throws out the documentation of the fortress's various Pointless Doomsday Devices. This ends about how you'd expect it to end.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: Several times, the successive rulers have to hurriedly slap together an army in a panic by arming the inhabitants of Boatmurdered and sending them out to fight. This happens more than once because the actual "trained soldiers" tend not to last very long.
  • True Art Is Angsty: In-Universe example: much of the art produced by the inhabitants of Boatmurdered focuses on elephants killing dwarfs, or the results of magma floods.
    • Unknowing's character is trying to write the next fantasy epic between managing the fort. "The halls echoed with a cacophony of screams from the unspeakable atrocities the dwarves endured before succumbing to the sweet embrace of death. On the positive side, progress on my novel has increased exponentially."
    • "That boy needs counseling."
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: In-Universe, much of the rest of Boatmurdered's art is either renditions of cheese or homages to renditions of cheese, for no explicable reason.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    Sankis: Asides from the wounded soldier lying unconscious, starving, and dehydrated in the main hallway, the remainder of the summer remains uneventful.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Near the end about a third of the population are nobles, who do nothing at all but lock up the only skilled citizens around for failing to follow impossible orders.
  • Welcome to Hell: StarkRavingMad's conclusion in summing up the state of the fortress: "WELCOME TO FUCKING BOATMURDERED! Hope you like miasma!"
  • Wave-Motion Gun: Project: Fuck The World.
  • Weaponized Offspring: "A few more war dogs ran out and attacked. I have to say I'm slightly terrified by them. One of the bitches actually gave birth while she was attacking, and her puppies joined in on the carnage."
  • When All You Have is a Hammer…: Once the magma flooding device is in place, it becomes the standard response to threats. Rampaging elephants? Pull the lever! Horde of goblins? Pull the lever! A Colossus? Pull the lever! A human caravan? Pull the l- wait no DAMMIT!
  • Xanatos Gambit: Sankis traps former ruler Mystic Mongol in a separate room and pits him against an elephant, which he wrestles and sends into a trap, sustaining only an injured leg. However, Sankis planned for him to win all along.
    "He now lies useless in his room. I did not wish to kill him as that would merely lead to a replacement. He will suffer in his room until his own kind forget about him, where he will slowly starve to death alone."
    • Sankis posted: Out of seemingly nowhere Mystic Mongol, Judicator of Boatmurdered, throws himself into the water and drowns.
  • Zerg Rush: The early days of the fortress have hordes of mandrills terrorizing the fortress until dogs can be trained to dispatch them. Then come the enraged pachyderms, to which the dwarves respond by conscripting the entire fort's population and charging.

Thus ends the official written history of the fortress known as Boatmurdered. May their tortured souls rest in peace.