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?
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|
|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|
|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|