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Dark fortresses are sites created by goblin civilizations. They, along with dark pits, take the form of simple towers surrounded by sprawling networks of trenches. The starting dark fortresses are marked as Π, while subsequent ones are marked as Π on the world map.
Most of the population of a dark fortress is found at the top of the towers. The towers also have downward stairs, which lead to the underground part of the fortress, consisting of so-called "pits" (not to be confused with dark pits). These pits come in two variants: "living pits" consisting of corridors and small rooms, and "work pits" consisting of large halls which may contain trolls, goods and goblin skeletons. Supposedly, the living pits are used as dwellings, while the work pits are used as industrial areas and burial grounds.
The main difference between dark fortresses and dark pits is the presence of a fortress structure in the middle of the site. Dark fortresses tend to be more developed and populated sites than dark pits, leading to more trenches, watchtowers and more interconnections between the towers through underground areas. Dark fortresses may also be built around a certain structure of foreign origin.
The central dark fortress structure contains a throne room on the top, a few maze-like floors leading up to the throne, the ground floor and 2-4+ subterranean maze-like prison floors that may contain children who were snatched. Often, some of the up/down stairs between prison floors are hidden under switches. Like dark pits, the structure and the areas near the entrances may be host to a number of trolls and beak dogs.
Visiting well-developed dark fortresses and pits in adventure mode can result in extreme lag because of the masses of denizens that can rank in the thousands. This is presumably a bug.[Verify] The lag and impact on FPS can be drastically reduced by sleeping in the fortress (or outside) until it's nighttime and most of the creatures are asleep. Changing to a faster gait will also help because it reduces the amount of calculations other creatures make before it's your turn again.
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The initial dark fortresses Π have an underworld spire below them, connecting the tower to the underworld itself. These fortresses were created in a time before time and are constructed out of slade instead of a common stone type.
A huge open circular stairway makes up most of the spire. This stairway is generally split into two or three multi-level floors, but sometimes up to six or seven. Sometimes these glitch open to the caverns or magma sea. Below the stairway are the underworld entryway levels. If there is an underworld gate it will be here. Sometimes it is glitched into a wall of slade. After the underworld gate come the very lowest series of rooms, which eventually open up directly into the underworld. There are lots of up/down stair mazes before you reach the actual exit to the underworld.
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