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Dwarf Fortress: oh the dwarfanity!


Dwarf Fortress.
It’s a name I’ve heard peripherally for years now and never bothered my arse to find out anything more about it.

Everything they say about it is true.
It has horrendous dated graphics, a practically unusable GUI and a learning curve steeper than a sheer cliff.

It’s also one of the most profoundly amazing games I’ve ever played.

It’s difficult to describe just how great the game is, as the level of detail involved is simply unparalleled.
From the geologically accurate procedural generation of landscapes, to the intricately detailed History/Legends/Myths that it generates before you even start the game, to the in-depth internal and intra-personal lives of every individual dwarf in your fortress - it appears they have thought of simply everything.

I very quickly became incredibly attached to my Dwarfs, so was equally mortified when roughly a 3rd of them contracted a curse from a wandering WereSloth - and you can guess what happened during the next full moon.
Oh the FUN we had!

Has any other seated and silent been stupid/brave enough to tackle this game?


A remarkable game, that! I played a fair whack of it back when lava-followed-pit-followed-river like so much clockwork, and they hadn’t invented Z-levels yet. Yes, you could argue that we never walked uphill at all in those days. I love it dearly but lately I draw enormous enjoyment just from reading the patch notes.

Although to be fair I have to admit I’ve never been very good at it. It tells wonderful stories even if you can barely get the original group to survive the winter, but all those big impressive structures I see other players build are a mite beyond me.

I think it’s one of those games everyone should try once. It’s genuinely unique. Even if people don’t like it (and many won’t, and fair enough), everyone should try - if you do like it it’ll be your game of forever.


I’ve been wanting to delve into DF since I heard about it–such incredibly mad detail to explore!

My favorite of favorite video games of all time is probably NetHack, which shares something of a bloodline with DF (well, at least the horribly dated graphichs do*). I always loved how there was a whole world to really explore, with its own logic and mythology (though it’s all roughly based on familiar fantasy tropes, of course). Most anything you could want to try, you could–and often there was an unexpected yet connected consequence.

It’s brutal, for sure–I’ve never ascended, though I did grab the Amulet of Yendor once or twice.

DF seems to have a similar appeal–though the gameplay itself seems to be more spreadsheet management than hack-n-slash? Which is probably why I haven’t jumped in. Actually, as I recall, I feel like I did install it once, but bounced off the interface almost immediately.

Though now your post has me steeling my resolve to face the bad UI beast…time to dig in again!

*though old school ascii doesn’t bother me at all–in fact, I feel like it adds a bit for forced imagination into the mix–but to be honest, I mostly have played with the pretty NetHack tilesets.


Interesting NYT article about DF and the Brothers Adams:


I last tackled DF 5 or so years ago. Started from a tutorial on how to handle the interface, a step by step guide to building a fort to teach you how it works, and eventually, for a brief while, I had it down. I had a sprawling multi level fortress with magma forges turning out master crafted arms and armor, halls full of carved, decorated floors and walls. I diverted water from the river to a pond near my fort so that I could send dwarves up into a walled off area to safely fish, and since I already had the canals dug, I used the water and a series of pumps to make a waterfall in my main hall. Similarly my garbage pit was an elaborate construction, a massive shaft reaching deep down into my fort, so once again we didn’t have to go outside to dump garbage, the fumes would just waft up out of the massive pit we dug. It was initially completely open on the surface, until this one goblin raid. My captain smacked a goblin, sent them flying over the pit, where they fell to their death in my garbage pile some 7 z-levels down. I built a wall around it after that.

My main entrance was eventually a massive, wide, winding ramp down from the surface with a closable door, lined with barracks and spots for my crossbowdwarves to shoot invaders from, and then built up around the entrance was a 3 story fort, above ground, made of stone. It was nuts to build, 4 towers, all connected, with the two flanking the actual entrance the ramp connected by a bridge at the second floor, and was home to my military training areas to acclimate my military to life on the surface and once again was lined with spots to fire crossbows from on the upper floors. And ah, the military; it’s sad I can’t remember her name anymore but my captain of the guard was a total badass. With her rather un-dwarfy spear she slew hundreds of foes, was legendary across basically every military and physical attribute, and was basically an unstoppable force. I could send her out alone against goblin raids and she’d have no trouble.

Alas, Dwarf Fortress is very much not like riding a bike, in that every time since I’ve tried to go back it’s right back to being this dense, inscrutable mystery, and I just can’t muster the time to learn it again, which is sad, because it was a lot of fun while it lasted.

@clg6000 It is very much more management than anything else*; you just assign your dwarves jobs(i.e. you’re a miner), and then set up tasks that need to be done(i.e. these squares need to be mined), and then the dwarves figure it all out themselves. When you assign dwarves to the military, you tell them whether they should be training, or patrolling, or order them to go fight; then you set up designated areas where they can train, waypoints for patrols, etc. The interface is pretty tough to get the hang of, because for all they can be smart they can be dumb too(assigning gear to military dwarves is annoying; you can layer armor(i.e. leather under chainmail under plate), but you have to manually have them put on each layer one at a time, or they’ll just slap on plate with nothing underneath).

Beyond that there are a lot of quirks that lead to goofy stuff happening. Case in point, the fishing hole I mentioned above came out of a particular disaster. Occasionally, a dwarf(it can be any dwarf, not just ones who are already crafters) would be struck by inspiration, claim a workshop, demand a list of materials and then get to work on…something. Often you hoped it’d be a weapon or armor, because when they complete this masterwork they get legendary status on whatever the craft is, and Legendary Carpenter just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Anyway, there’s one hitch to this system; if you don’t have one of the materials they ask for, they start getting angry about it. I mean really angry. Psychotically angry. Which is to say if after a certain amount of time you haven’t made the materials they’re after available, they’ll snap and go on a rampage through your fort. How does this tie into my fishing hole? Turtle shell. I had a dwarf who really wanted to make something with turtle shell, but I didn’t have any. And no one who came to trade had any turtles. It didn’t end well, though fortunately my hammerer(basically the sheriff) was right nearby when he snapped and ended things before they got out of hand(which is to say, he whacked him with his hammer until he died). I very quickly after this looked up where you get turtle shell, and embarked on my next engineering project…

*Edit: I should note, there is a rogue-like adventure game mode too, though it wasn’t quite as fleshed out yet last time I looked. The neat thing about it though is, while you can have it auto-generate a world like the normal fortress mode, you can also use a Fortress mode game as the area you’ll explore; you can explore your fort, either populated, or skip ahead years in the future. It’s neat in concept but I never messed with it.


I think the military micro-management may have been improved since you last played, in that now you can assign a uniform to an entire squad (or to individual positions within that squad), and choose a “partial match”, meaning dwarves will gear themselves up as close as possible to the uniform depending on what’s available. You still need to go in and micro-manage the uniform (or just go with the presets) - but I found it no better or worse than all the other micro-management you need to perform in the game.

And the Lazy Newb Starter Pack has made a lot of the more obtuse systems in the game much more accessible.


Man, now I just want to play Dwarf Fortress again. Maybe once The Witcher 3 is done (so in another hundred hours by the time I finish this New Game+ on Death March with both DLCs is done…) I’ll dip my toes in again…


The “This is the best game ever!” moment happened to me the first time I sent a hunter out on their first hunt.
She got into a fight with an Echidna, punctured it’s stomach with an arrow, and the Echidna just wretched and vomited until it died. Then she fled.
I went in to check her stats to make sure she wasn’t injured and noticed a strange status effect. Her left and right eye had a coating of dwarven tears and she was horrified at having witnessed an Echidna corpse.
I immediately fell in love.

She was also one of the first to contract the Curse of the WereSloth.
I was heartborken.


Sadly I just keep bouncing off it. I’ve tried various tutorials and I just can’t seem to learn how it works in a way that holds my attention.


It certainly is a difficult game to actually play (both navigating the interface and actually surviving).

Just the other day, I thought, “I’d love to play some DF right now, but I want something easier”, and then stuck on Darkest Dungeon. It’s completely shifted what I regard as a difficult game.


I played DF quite a lot 4-5 years ago and had a glorious time with it. Been meaning to delve back in now and again but life keeps getting in the way. One day DF, one day.


I just love Dwarf Fortress so much right now.
For years I’ve been saying that computer games were moving in the wrong direction, using all of their processing power to deliver better, shinier graphics, to the detriment of actual content.

Dwarf Fortress is the antithesis of this trend.

The random history it’s generated for my game is actually more interesting than many fantasy novels I’ve read.
In my game, the dwarf civilisation has been routed by prolonged wars with the Goblins and Elves - the last known dwarf settlement fell into darkness 2 years before my game started. The dwarves don’t even appear as a population in my world stats.
It’s given my fortress so much more importance in the world history, as for me, I’m now playing as the last bastion of dwarvenkind - the success or failure of my dwarven settlement will determine the entire future of the dwarven civilisation within my world.


I used to drive through the town where the dev lives all the time. Not really relevant, but on reading the NYT article I learned this. :slight_smile:


A personal story reward authored by Tarn and Zach themselves.
I asked for “Something about war tigers”…

this was their response;

=e]EE.,.T,..T,[email protected]@@@@@@
These tigers were bred for one purpose. The war had dragged on for years and no one was sure that it would ever end. None save for Alvis the elf animal master. The dwarves were cunning in battle, it was true, but they had never faced the likes of Alvis's giant cats. The male was called Nesco, and his hunger knew no bounds. The female was called Toyn, and she was a mighty huntress. Alvis rode behind them on a chariot, pulled by anxious elk.

“There, Nesco,” said Alvis, pointing, “Toyn has already spotted them! Go kill the little monsters.”

The dwarves never knew what hit them. The war tigers pounced, tackling and biting their prey until they stopped moving. One of the dwarves pointed a crossbow, but Nesco was faster, knocking the weapon away, the dwarf’s hand along with it. Alvis’s chariot pulled up after the fight was over. No dwarves survived.

“Eat well,” said Alvis. “Tomorrow we assault the dwarf fortress.”


DF is one of the most ridiculous games I’ve ever played. I generally start up a new fortress about once a year to see what’s changed and poke the ever vicious adventurer mode.

It is without doubt one of the best games for generating amusing and exasperating stories I’ve seen and I think everyone should try it once, even if most bounce off it’s oblique UI. In no other game have I seen the depredations of a werewolf caravan guard brought to such a sudden an abrupt end by having his head torn off by the cart horse.

Also, procedurally generated engravings…


The latest version added Taverns, Temples and Libraries. (along with procedurally generated musical instruments, with multiple parts, of multiple materials, with full descriptions of how it’s supposed to be played, how many octaves it spans and descriptions of the different pitch ranges), along with procedurally generated poetry, music and writing conventions specific to each culture in your game … this also ties in with new Musical Ability/Poetry/Dance statistics for the dwarves, who now perform poems, music and dance as a form of relaxation. And honestly, that isn’t even half of it.

In adventure mode, you can actually compose poems, stories, music and songs - that are then added to the world histories.

They’ve also added BeastMen into adventure mode; so now, like me, you can play as a Rhinoceros Woman who dealt a gelding blow to a lion with their front horn on their first attack of the game after getting ambushed by an entire pride.

I am consistently amazed how what should be a random jumble of procedurally generated events actually coheres into an epic, intricate and evocative story.

Next Update will be adding Magic to the world, so now the artifacts that your dwarf creates in an inspired mood will possibly have magical abilities. The possibilities are endless.


Dwarf Fortress is probably the game in which I have spent the most time. It’s just incredible.

If there will ever be a SUSD bloodline game I heartily volunteer. I’d even start one if there is interest.


I’m guessing it’ll just be me and you - but I’m down for a bloodline.
So long as we’re using the latest Lazy Newb pack 0.42.06 (so looking forward to the Myth Creation update though)

A word of warning though…every Fortress I’ve built has ended in a bloodbath… normally within about 4 years.


Every bloodline game I’ve tried so far has ended in the same way. My friend Elliot takes control, and he drowns everyone. He’ll play.


So, I started a new fortress.
The first tree I felled landed on my expedition leader - mangling his right leg beyond recognition. He’s now immobilised and unconscious on the floor - slowly bleeding out.
He needs a bed STAT!
First I’ll need to build a carpenters workshop, set a miner to carve out the hospital room, build a masonry workshop, build the bed, build a table, build a door, place the bed, table and door.
Then once he’s rescued and admitted to the hospital room, he’ll be bed bound and before I can set his leg, and get him up and walking again on a crutch, I’ll need to make a splint and a crutch, I’ll need a mechanics workshop to make a contraption, and a traction bench, and a chain for the traction table, and to get the chain I’ll need a woodburner to get charcoal, and then a smelter to make some metal bars, and then a metalsmiths forge to forge the chain - and also need to find some metal ore to smelt… and I’ll also need some plaster powder for the leg cast, for which I’ll need a kiln - and some gypsum.
And his leg’s also now infected - so I’ll need to build a kitchen, butcher an animal, rend the fat into tallow, build an ashery, make some lye, build a soapmakers workshop, make some soap, build a farmers workshop, shear an animal, make some thread so I can suture and clean the wound,

… then he should be fine… provided I didn’t forget about anything…
Now what was the first thing?!!!

I’m thinking it’d be far easier just to let him die.