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Anvils are required to build forges, whether conventional or magma powered. Since at least one is absolutely required if your fortress intends to do any metalworking whatsoever, and the only way to make an anvil is with a metalsmith's forge (whether from a strange mood or by normal means), your first anvil must be sourced from outside of your colony, either at embark or through later trading. Anvils require three metal bars to be smithed at a forge - once you have one to begin with. As this is recursive, the origins of the first anvil are hard to discern.*
Anvils may normally be made of iron, steel or adamantine, and smithing an anvil uses the blacksmithing skill. Magma forge anvils in particular must be magma-safe, which is not a problem for conventionally crafted anvils, but may be for legendary strange mood anvils, which are often made out of other, non magma-safe metals (or even non-fire-safe metals such as zinc, which would yield an anvil which cannot be used for any purposes). Otherwise, however, neither the material used nor the anvil's quality affects the performance of the forge: only the skill of the metalworker does.
If your civilization has access to iron ore, a standard (no quality) iron anvil will be included by default in your starting equipment, for a cost of 100 embark points. If not, then your starting equipment will include a steel anvil, for a cost of 300 embark points. Not taking an iron anvil is usually only a component of challenges, but not taking a steel one may be viable, given its high cost.
If you choose not to bring an anvil, you are refunded the 100 or 300 point cost, to be used for other purchases of items or skills. You will then have to trade for your first anvil with the dwarven or human caravans that usually, but not always, carry one or more iron or steel anvils with them (at the same cost as at embark). If this fails the first time around, you may also request one from the dwarven liaison, if you are willing to pay an increased price to guarantee that at least one anvil arrives with next year's caravan.
Tearing down a forge retrieves the anvil used to build it, which can then be stored, traded, melted, or re-used to build another forge. Anvils are considered furniture and will be stored in a furniture stockpile if not utilized in a forge.
The anvil's high value means that it is a tempting target for the first wave of thieving animals, so it is a good idea to create a forge as soon as possible solely for the purpose of keeping the anvil nailed down.
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Since an anvil is required for an anvil to be made, the origin of the first anvil is a complete mystery. The theories of how this occurred are split into two categories:
Correlation does not imply causation: There's another way to make an anvil, and the theoretical time before that occurred is referred to as the era before anvil (BA)
- One theory of the anvil's origin is that a dwarf struck by a strange mood made one of stone or bone (though this isn't actually possible in-game). Another more radical theory put forward by dwarven philosopher Urist McTaggart is that the first one was made of wood in a similar manner. This was deemed a heresy and he was later sentenced to be hammered for being an elf sympathizer by an angry mayor who had a strange fondness for glass.
- Recently unearthed documents seem to indicate that the anvil was the first major tool produced by the earliest dwarven societies. It is generally accepted that humans first created the plow, and oral histories record that the first accomplishment of the elves was the domestication of forest animals.
There are questions regarding the implications of this revelation, however. Skeptics question how the anvil was created without a hammer, how the metal was shaped, and what social, cultural, or environmental pressures could have required the invention of what is, when reduced to its most basic nature, a flat surface used to position objects scheduled to be struck repeatedly.
Dwarven scholars suggest that the first anvils were made of stone, not metal, and were little more than flattened stone blocks, chipped with flint or obsidian. Others suggest they may have been thronesBug:6537. This possibility has sparked an interest among dwarven scholars in attempting to recreate stone anvil replicas, but such enterprises are generally regarded with indifference by dwarven society at large.
- Regardless of dwarven theories some humans believe that there must have been early technologies to produce an anvil without the usage of a hammer or an anvil. While improving the production of anvils through the dissemination and use of anvils over the centuries, the original method was forgotten. Dwarven philosophers argue that dwarven technology has always been driven by perfection from the beginning and nothing was developed over time. Besides, dwarven history never forgets.
Correlation implies causation: An anvil is required to make an anvil
- One researcher posits that all anvils originate from the FirstAnvil. Where does it come from? The FirstAnvil, of course. It's anvils all the way down.
- Other theories include the "Great Anvil" hypothesis, claiming that there exists the "Great Anvil" who rises out of the furnace that he thinks is the most sincere. He rises from said furnace and flies through the air with his bag of anvils for all the dwarves.
- The dwarven philosopher Urist McStotle has recently suggested that the existence of Anvils is evidence that dwarven civilization will eventually develop a method of visiting (or at the very least, sending anvils to) the past.
- A related conjecture proposes that if time is cyclical, the last anvil could be the first anvil. This could also explain the first hammer, the first dwarf, etc. however no evidence has yet been provided in support of this hypothesis.
- The first anvil was given as a gift from the god of smithing. Engraved with the secrets of mineralogy and metalworking, it taught dwarves everything they know of finding, smelting and shaping metals. There is considerable theological debate going on over WHICH god of smithing was responsible. Some believe that such an outpouring of information could only have been a collaborative effort by all gods of smithing.
- The first anvil or anvils are the only remnants of the previous kalpa. Every time Armok the World Eater unmakes the universe, He leaves at least one anvil behind. The dwarves inevitably find one and use it to make more anvils, at least one of which is carried over to the next world, completing the cycle.
- It is unknown at this time how Armok's Anvil of Creation was forged. When questioned by a particularly suicidal dwarf on the subject, he grew very grumpy and quickly unmade that universe.
- Dwarves did not create the anvil. Rather, the anvil created the dwarves. A naked, starving primitive protodwarf discovers a naturally-occurring anvil. Its mind roars with vision of prosperity. This is the beginning of civilisation. This leads to the conclusion that the existence of dwarf civilization is a method of anvil reproduction. Urist McDawkins penned the book, "The Selfish Anvil," on this topic.
- Another, more realist hypothesis holds that Dwarves pre-existed anvils. In this proposal, a naturally-occurring anvil formed in the caldera of the active volcano, Mt. Mood, which was experiencing a fey mood. When a medium-sized glob and a small glob of non-magma-safe metal were coughed up by a small eruption, landing close enough to the magma pool to form a natural anvil and natural hammer, which they called Utharzuntîr ("The First Anvil"), and Utharekastnil Stodir ("The First Safe Hammer of Volcanos"). However, after Urist McBlacksmith incurred an unfortunate smelting accident due to a stray pyroclastic projectile, her daughter, Urist McBlacksmith 2.0, entered a fey mood and forged the first portable anvil, Uthareshimzuntîr ("The First Free Anvil") from the fires of Mt. Mood. The proceeding autumn, a trade expedition was launched, during which the McBlacksmiths transported Utharekastnil Stodir and Uthareshimzuntîr to every dwarven settlement on their continent, loaning the hammer and anvil out to each during the lengthy process of trade goods loading. Because this tour allowed each fort to create their own anvil and hammer, it became known as Nilzuntîr Gomaththatthilnilgashcoz Zuntîr ("Hammeranvil the Legendary Autumnal Hammer-Proliferation of Anvils"). An alternate, more dwarf-centric version of the story holds that nature played no role: Utharzuntîr and Uthareshimzuntîr were the same anvil -- Urist McBlacksmith carved out the shape of an anvil and hammer into the obsidian of the caldera, then repeatedly checked the spot after eruptions until finally, one day, the right liquid metal had settled into the mold. If this is true, then somewhere there must exist a unique anvil made from a unique alloy, and a hammer made of matching stuff. However, these artifacts remains to be discovered...
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