Let's play Dwarf Fortress: Happy Accidents

In which I play Dwarf Fortress so you don’t have to.

Q: What’s a Dwarf Fortress?
A: This thread covers it more thoroughly than I ever could. It also spans 12 years and 3,800 posts. The short version is that Dwarf Fortress is the apparent lifework of Tarn Adams (also known as Toady One) and his brother Zach (ThreeToe). It’s both a colony management sim (Fortress mode) and roguelike (Adventure mode), featuring dwarves, alcohol, and tragedy in roughly equal measures. It has a reputation for extreme difficulty, but this is mostly a remnant of its early days. As development has progressed, difficulty has been more of a choice than a rule.

For my own part, I regard Dwarf Fortress more as a toy to be played with than as a game to play. “Toy” sells it a bit short, though. It’s a fantasy world and story generator that happens to include gameplay, largely as a means of helping to produce a narrative. That said, it’s also one of my favorite games, and has been for more than a decade.

Q: But what’s a Dwarf Fortress?
A: I’ll be playing Fortress mode, meaning I’ll start with seven dwarves, some pack animals, and a wagon full of supplies. Then, alone in an untamed wilderness, I’ll have to delve deep into the earth, plundering its mineral resources and carving out a living space for my growing population. All this ere the leopards get hungry.

Later will come the fine dining rooms and the fiendish traps and the tavern full of poets. The poets’ deft lyrical stylings will be procedurally generated, because that’s how Toady rolls.

Q: I’m almost positive I’m known among my circle of friends for my passing awareness of alcohol and facial hair and/or my deft lyrical stylings! Can I be a dwarf in your fort?
A: You can, and you should! Anyone craving immortalization in this tragedy waiting to happen should submit a name and any desired characteristics, and I’ll do my best to match you up with a dwarf that suits your needs. Relevant characteristics include everything from profession, gender, and orientation, to hairstyle, beardstyle, and attitude towards a particular type of cheese.

(Matching you to a dwarf based on cheese preference will be challenging at best. Please don’t have a specific cheese preference.)

Q: Is ironic racism against elves cool?
A: No.

Q: What about other kinds of–
A: I learned a lot of things from my grandfather, not the least of which was the proper employment of the phrase “Not only no, but hell no!”

Real talk again (“again” because I obey the laws of time but not space; the first one’s toward the bottom, concerning a bit of the old ultraviolence): Fantasy settings can be a great vehicle for exploring prejudice and stereotypes. They let us step outside of ourselves and our own experiences and environments, and they let us do it in way that might be more comfortable than many alternatives. That’s an amazing thing (and probably a topic for another thread in another part of the forum).

Likewise, the stereotypes surrounding elves and dwarves are ripe for humor. For myself, though, I’ll admit that I’m not completely comfortable the way the DF fanbase seems to glorify “ironic” racism against any group, pointy-eared and sun-loving or otherwise. (But seriously, elves? They’ll give you giant leopards in exchange for a nice assortment of socks. You can’t beat that.) And so, while I’d hate to presume to speak for anyone else, for my family and friends and longtime and respected forum members, I’ll ask that we save that for another let’s play somewhere else. And for myself again, I’ll say–to no one in particular and in the nicest way possible–fuck right off with that shit. We’re better than that. :)

But that’s enough of that for now. Someone left an unspoiled nature full of happy little trees, and it falls to us to do something about it. Our crew shall be motley and full of woodcutters. We’ll be a storied band.

Q: I’m faint of heart and/or not overly fond of grisly fates. Is being a dwarf still right for me?
A: Well… On one hand, your dwarf probably won’t starve to death. Even if the food runs out, we can scrape by on rum-roasted kittens in a pinch. Until the kittens run out. On the other hand, if the rum runs out, and we have a bad case of hippos in the well, dehydration might be a real problem. And then the last dwarf I lost succumbed to exhaustion. He kept stabbing a blind cave ogre in the neck with a wooden spear. For months. It wasn’t pretty.

There are more exciting ways to die, too, not all of which result in eternal rest. But if better-than-even odds of starvation, dehydration, attack by angry and oddly ambulatory horse hides, and picking up all your left lower molars–one at a time–and depositing them in your own silently waiting tomb appeal to you, then, yes, being a dwarf is right for you.

(Real talk, though, if written descriptions of violence aren’t your thing, you may wish to read on only with caution. It won’t be my focus, but the game is unabashedly graphic at times.)

I’ll kick things off properly in a day or so, once I’ve generated a world and found some potential starting locations. Until then, if anyone’s interest is piqued enough to have made it this far, I have seven starting dwarves in need of names, and one nascent fortress in need of a home. Who, then, wishes to strike the earth, and what kind of earth do you wish to strike?

Let’s play Dwarf Fortress!

Current roster (contains spoilers):
Qt3 user Dwarf Current Status Notes/Preferences
Left_Empty Jord Mason Currently drunk
Gendal Gendal Brewer Currently bored
Mr_Bismarck Rith Irerush Miner/Expedition leader Currently bored and drunk
marquac Marquac Cook, milker, cheese maker Has made 1 horse cheese
Lantz Lantz Carpenter Absolutely detests fire snakes
ddtibbs ddtibbs Pump operator Soon-to-be hammerdwarf
Djscman Thufir Pump operator Soon-to-be hammerdwarf
Spock Spokk Scholar Pondering notation
ineffablebob Zursùl Durad Miner Practicing to hit rocks very hard
JonRowe Jon Danger Farmer Planting delicious quarry bushes
ooomalley O’Malley Legendary stonecrafter Crafting all the goblets
Wyndwraith Wyndwraith Waiting for dwarf
anonymgeist anonymgeist Waiting for dwarf
Fifth_Fret Zikâth Bumal-Ish Waiting for dwarf Brother of Zikâth Bumal-Ish
Memorial hall (contains spoilers):
Qt3 user Dwarf Current Status Notes/Preferences
SamS Gary Former carpenter Slain by giant cardinal corpse
Nightgaunt Anan Zisur Former expedition leader Slain by giant cardinal corpse
Fifth_Fret Zikâth Bumal-Ish Former farmer Slain by giant cardinal corpse
wisefool Minesign Former miner Slain by giant cardinal corpse

Happy to see LPs of this here - I name a dwarf Gary.

I’d love to be a dwarf, but I can’t stand alcohol and shave closely (twice, back and forth) daily :(

I will put forward the name “Newhandle” (Rith Irerush), in honour of the most useless dwarf who ever immigrated across my doorstep.

I met Lady Bismarck in a cheese shop, so I’m ok with cheeses of all types.

Filthy Elf! Wait is that ironic racism? Maybe you can rename a visiting petitioner?

Sign me up - Gendal who is fine with random but prefers a blue veined creme cow cheese from a mountainous region.

Okay, since, to my surprise, the Dwarven language in DF has “gaunt” in it, I’ll actually just go with my Qt3 handle in Dwarvish!

Anan Zisur

Just find me a dorf with some quirky characteristic and I’ll be happy!

A dwarf named Zikâth Bumal-Ish, if you please! I’m sure DF will find some weird quirk to assign.

All hope is not lost, @Left_Empty! Liking beards and booze isn’t a strict requirement for claiming a dwarf of your own (although I can’t promise that you won’t end up as the brewer). And we’ll undoubtedly have some non-dwarven visitors petitioning to join the fortress, too. Assuming they survive the journey between map’s edge and tavern. There’s a spot for you if you want it!

Edit: Hurray!

Meanwhile, here’s our current list of recruits:

Qt3 user Dwarf Notes/Preferences
SamS Gary
Left_Empty Jord Strong candidate for brewer
Mr_Bismarck Newhandle/Rith Irerush Does not dislike cheese of any sort
Gendal Gendal Prefers cow cheese
Nightgaunt Anan Zisur
Fifth_Fret Zikâth Bumal-Ish

If I am picked, I’d like to be Jord then!

I’d like to submit “Minesign” as a miner. This is in no way because miners tend to hit legendary first and thus survive better.

I wouldn’t mind being a dwarf. Marquac is fine for a name. I am pro cheese. Other qualities: cloying, weak willed, an extreme willingness to allow others to be the hero while I hide someplace safe.

I would like to be a dwarf. I dislike reptiles, love woodwork,

Is blatant racism toward tree-hugging, pointy-eared forest dandies acceptable? And a deep love of beer?

If so I’d love to be a dwarf of any occupation. Except Broker, so I wouldn’t have to deal with those sun-loving tree freaks.

Sounds great! Please name my dwarf Thufir, on behalf of a Lawful Good dwarf rogue that used to frequent this forum. He would perform pretty well with a hammer and crossbow.

I’d like to be a dwarf. I know I look like an elf, what with the ears and all, but I can wear a wool hat or something to cover them up. I’m open to dwarvish variants on my name, such as Spokk. I would like to be the sort of dwarf who researches science.

I’ll happily be a dwarf, when there’s room in the caves. You can call me “Zursùl Durad” (literally, Chew Beard) and I’m happy in any occupation allowing me to hit rocks very hard.

Jon Danger as a dwarf!!!

Love DF!! I have had the itch to get back into it lately, looking forward to this LP

Feel free to throw in a dwarf O’Malley when you need another name.

I’ll throw my name into the hat too.