Anecdote generator: Dwarf Fortress’s agents already sparking fun tales

A bard, a prophet, and a petty criminal walk into a tavern and they all become friends, each blissfully unaware that their two drinking pals are – just like them – undercover agents sent by rival factions to pump townsfolk for information. That’s the sort of delightful unscripted situation to expect from management sim/anecdote generator Dwarf Fortress [official site] as developers Bay 12 work on its agent system to support its artifact system to support its creation myth system to support its magic system. Dwarf Fortress! That’s an anecdote Bay 12 shared in a recent dev blog, by the way.

Artifacts, see, are much-coveted items whose histories are remembered and whose locations are not necessarily known, getting fuzzy with time and sources. Factions will fight over them, loot them, quest to get them back, and so on. Artifacts will tie into myths and magic and things later but, for now, they’re items people want. To help find them, factions will send out agents who can adopt undercover identities while they snoop around.

That led to this tale, as told by Bay 12 yesterday:

“The last agent I looked at involved a human town on the border of two separate evil lands that was itself half-goblin by year 50. The demons could send in goblin agents to collect information that arrived there without much suspicion (they’d use humans for the towns farther from the border).

“Kutsmob Dentblack decided to assume the identity of a prophet of Oled the Gleeful Healing, the god of justice, and wandered around town shouting about the impending doom of the world. Over the years, he befriended a human priest as well as the gangster boss that hung out at the Fragrant Brunch tavern. The friendships are stored asymmetrically — they thought of the ‘prophet’ as a buddy, while Kutsmob considered them information sources.

“At the same time, a human from a civilization to the south had infiltrated the town pretending to be a petty criminal, and a goblin from the other evil civilization, pretending to be a bard, had made it in as well. Kutsmob’s tradecraft was lacking, and he was ‘befriended’ by both of these agents, though neither of them knew that Kutsmob was also an agent — they just thought he was a good information source — and Kutsmob himself simply thought he had a few buddies to help him pass time during his assignment. It was fun to load up the world and see them all talking together with the ganglord at the Fragrant Brunch.”

Smashing stuff.


  1. Eraysor says:

    The applications for this system are pretty great.

    It would be an incredible tool for Dungeons and Dragons; instant backstory for any sidequest.

  2. teppic says:

    I’ve never played this but have watched a couple of youtube vids lately to look at getting into it.

    I think if you used some of the tile based graphics instead of the basic character set it’d help people feel less scared of it :)

    • Kyzrati says:

      But it’s so iconic! Anyone who fears this image will probably find it difficult to get into the game anyway (for other reasons, e.g. learning curve, UI :P), on the other hand those whose curiosity it sparks…

      • bluenote says:

        Dwarf Fortress has a bunch of different graphics mods which take it out of ASCII, as well as tweaks to make it more forgiving, all in one pack – just in case anyone didnt know

        link to

        • Michael Anson says:

          Many of us would argue that the DF Starter Pack is less “makes it more forgiving” and more “essential to play the game at all.” Mostly for Dwarf Therapist, which is really necessary for managing large numbers of dwarves.

  3. Alberto says:

    Two of my favourite Dwarf Fortress players are Marcus Aurelius LP and Dastactic.

    They take their time to read the background of their citizens and put light on the mostly obscure motivations of the individuals and civilizations at play.

    Also, both have a strangely soothing laughter when things go dwarfortressy and disaster happens.

    • Reefpirate says:

      Das is the man. He was the one who finally pushed me over the edge to get into DF. I also loved his stuff on Dominions and some other more obscure games. Nice, calm and measured approach to complex games.