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Booze, Bards, And Ballads: Big Dwarf Fortress Update

An early Christmas present has arrived. On December 1st 2015, one of the largest and most complicated works in the history of the realm known as EarthDwelling received new embellishments. The work known as Dwarf Fortress [official site] has been upgraded by master craftsmen and now contains designated leisure zones, performances and procedural art forms, unique to each civilisation. And that’s not all. Details below.

Few games can claim to have added procedurally generated stories, poetry, music and dance, and then go on to state that those features are just a small part of a larger update. Dwarf Fortress is one such game. This is version 0.42.01 of the preposterously detailed settlement management game / historical fantasy generator / life sim, and it’s one of the most exciting versions I can remember seeing.

The bulk of the changes relate to the art forms that are now sprinkled across each new world. Books can be made (from three types of material), scholars can work within fortresses, scribes can make copies of great works, and taverns, temples and libraries can be designated as areas (or appear in adventure mode). The expected activities will take place within those areas and this is the result of a change to the way fortresses function.

“The flow of fortress life is quite a bit different now — specific breaks and parties have been replaced by taverns and performances and needs and inebriation. You can designate a tavern, temple or library from a meeting area zone, bedroom or dining room using the new Assign Location option. The location list (‘l’) will let you know what sort of furniture and items you need, and you can set tavern keepers, scribes and other occupations there as well. You’ll need to set up a drink stockpile and a chest for goblets in taverns for drink service to work properly, but dwarves can still drink without a tavern as before. You can assign multiple rooms/zones to a single location.”

In theory, that should bring a little more order to dwarven lives, as they flock to specific places to fulfill certain needs.

There are other changes that should make life a little easier and it’s great that most of the additions will function in Adventure mode as well as Fortress mode. That’s to say, you’ll be able to stumble across performances and books, or carry out a performance of your own, when playing as a wanderer in the more traditional roguelike mode. I haven’t had a chance to generate any stories of my own yet but I’ve found some delights over at the DF Subreddit.

How about an elven scientific tome proposing the possibility of a heliocentric solar system? Or a murderously bad poetry recital? Or this lesson in hubris? Borges fan though I am, this seems a much more interesting infinite book generator than the Library of Blabber.

My first new character will dance across the world in search of a good book. Then he’ll kick back in a tavern and drink himself stupid. Or worse.

“Alcohol causes inebriation, erratic behavior, unconsciousness, death”

I like that the update notes casually mention the fact that children can now play make believe. “Yes, the characters in this simulated world have simulated imaginations now. What of it?”

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Adam Smith

former Deputy Editor

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