Dwarf Fortress Gameplay, Part 1

(This post is the deconstruction of the actual gameplay that occurred in part 1 of the story “Ransackediron Restored”)

Author’s caveat: I am by no means a great Dwarf Fortress player. I make bad choices all the time, and I forget things most of the time. I actually think this is good for my story purposes, but I just wanted to get that part out of the way for all the pros that might read this and say “what the heck are you doing??” My goal is to have a successful fortress with smart decision making, but that may not happen – and that’s ok! Also, there will be design choices based more on aesthetics than efficiency.

After creating the randomly-generated world Anursil, “The Wondrous Plane,” I began the game in Legends Mode first, as I’ve never really explored all that this mode has to offer. I exported all the data so that I could use the amazing utility Legends Viewer which offers the ability to view the world’s extensive 550 year history in a more friendly, point and click interface.

Poking around this immense (500MB) tome, I came across a cool name – the Forgotten Beast “Siga Gravefatal, the Shadow-shaft of Caves” – and I saw that it was still alive. A few clicks later I saw that this beast destroyed and took over the fortress Vudthardatan just 28 years after the world “began,” and it just so happens to be the first fortress the civilization “The Ferocious Galleys” ever made. Amazingly, the game’s history had no one ever attempting to do anything there again, even after 500 “years.” My story was born: a dwarven team tries to take back their very first fortress. (Perhaps a little too similar to the Hobbit, yes, but that was going to happen anyway – we’re talking about a group of dwarves here.)

Once entering the game in Fortress Mode, I realized right away that the game was not going to let me embark on the site of the old fortress. The best I could do was take a spot right next to it. Any hope for an interesting story will be that Siga comes out and attacks me at some point, which should be fun.



Of course, it’s a cold, and somewhat barren place, which means my dwarves may not survive the winter. Luckilly there’s a tiny bit of a temperate biome nearby, so my site might have a few trees, a few plants, and maybe even part of that brook, if it isn’t frozen over. The elevation looks varied, which is always more interesting than flat.



I was surprised that the game gave me 6 females and 1 male; great story fodder. I looked at the randomly created dwarves and tried to give the skills I needed to the dwarves best suited for them (my miner should be someone who doesn’t tire easily, etc). I gave the male all the traits I thought would have made him the expedition leader, because he’s the “hero” of my story. I’m kind of glad I made a mistake, because the story is more interesting that he isn’t the leader. Turns out that the “Judge of Intent” trait I gave the hunter made her the Leader. Interesting.

Another mistake I made was hitting the ‘e’ key accidentally (Embark!); thus the game started before I was able to make sure I had all the right supplies for the situation (hence, why in the story Stakud and Lokum fought over the anvil). Also, because of that ‘e’ stroke, I didn’t get to see what the random name of my Group or my Fortress was. Getting the Fortress name is easy (it’s right there in the next screen), but my Group name apparently only shows up when I engrave walls. So we’ll see if Stakud truly is inspired to engrave something cool. I’ll just fill in the Group Name to my story later when I find it.

When the actual game loaded up, there was my team on the cliffs, snow and silt everywhere, and a handful of trees. The brook looks to be only be a few frozen ponds. These will probably be murky pools once the thaw comes, but that remains to be seen. If so, my cistern plan will need to involve a pump, to “cleanse” the water. I look at what’s in the wagon, and I think I made as good a selection as any. There’s platinum in plain view, but I’m afraid to mine it yet, lest it increase my wealth value too quickly and bring a goblin ambush. I see right away where I want to start the digging.

Let’s strike the earth!


A plan forms…

Gameplay breakdown continues here.

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