Dwarf Fortress dwarves can now mull over their long term memories


Life in Dwarf Fortress was hard enough before the devs gave its denizens the ability to remember what had happened to them. After giving those dwarves the ability to remember their spouses being crushed by boulders, I’m pleased to report that the devs have softened up a little.

Now those memories get a tad less painful over time, and reflecting on them lets dwarves grow as individuals: “there are now little character arcs for the dwarves”.

Those dwarves have update 0.44.11 to thank for their expanding memories, which also lets the player interact with the wider world via expeditions to “prosperous fortresses”. You can read about that in more detail on the devblog, though I’m going to tell you about the memory stuff because it’s way more interesting.

As explained in the patch notes, “this release should also improve the issues dwarves were having with negative thoughts, and they can also now experience permanent changes in their personalities and intellectual values due to events in their lives.”

A similar experience can shape different dwarves in different ways, but it sounds like they’ll usually become slightly better people. Here are more specifics from a devblog entry early last month:

“Memories will also change in nature after a year or two; the associated emotion will change to something less extreme, and as this happens, dwarves can undergo permanent changes to their personality facets and intellectual values. When this happens, it’ll be indicated in the personality readout with a bright magenta clause that doesn’t go away when the thought goes away, so you’ll be able to catalog what has happened easily. It’ll tell you which way the facet/value changed, as well as the event that caused the change and the year. For instance, a dwarf that was mortified after their clothes rotted off their body might later reflect on this incident with amusement and become slightly less interested in decorum and less bashful, while a different dwarf might react with unease remembering a similar event for the rest of their life, but also develop some empathy. Overall, that means there are now little character arcs for the dwarves, which should be pretty fun, though there’s a lot more to do there.”

The dev (either Tarn or Zach Adams) also mentioned that he was “planning on toning down the memories from seeing little corpse bits like teeth which can now traumatize people for the rest of their lives”. Sure enough, the recent path notes state that they’ve “changed horror calculation from seeing a dead body”. How considerate.

If the idea of shaping virtual dwarven personalities by deliberately traumatising them appeals as much to you as it does to me, you can download Dwarf Fortress for free from its website.


  1. corinoco says:

    If there is one place where a sentient AI with feelings is likely to emerge – then that one place is Dwarf Fortress.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    I really miss the old, emotionally unstable dwarves. Nowadays tantrums basically don’t happen unless you run a miserable hellhole for 50 years.

    That said, it’s still fun to see more stuff being added. I don’t care for expeditions, but the already absurdly long dwarven thoughts page getting absurdly longer is all the better if you ask me.

    • Iamblichos says:

      This was true until .44.10. The last release basically ensured that you would always have tantrums and chaos as soon as the fort had been around long enough for a sentient to die. Seeing dead bodies caused instant PTSD to every dwarf, and it wouldn’t go away. This latest patch addresses that, so hopefully we’re closer to the old days and neither joywiring everyone to be permanently happy nor ensuring a spiral of horror and despair just because the military took out some goblin raiders.

    • Seafoam says:

      The last patch changed that. Although everyone getting scarred for life from seeing a goblin tooth was bit too hardcore to me. Glad that’s toned down.

    • Dervrak says:

      I always found it rather amusing that Dwarfs, who in most fantasy literature are portrayed as rather unemotional and controlled, are in Dwarf Fortress unstable, temper tantrum throwing drama queens. The mental image of a bearded Dwarf sitting in a corner sobbing because an elephant trampled his favorite pet cat never gets old. Then to make it worse, he proceeds to carve an image of the elephant trampling the cat on his table and becomes an emotional train wreck every time he looks at it.

  3. melancholicthug says:

    Maybe our universe started with some dude dicking around in his computer.

  4. vahnn says:

    I want to this game, but I can’t even.

  5. Obojo says:

    So anyone been watching Westworld this season get a bad feeling about this?

  6. chuckieegg says:

    So when a dwarf sees his spouse crushed beneath a bolder, I’m deeply curious about what positive life message is going to come out of that.

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      phuzz says:

      Maybe they realise that life is fleeting and that every moment should be cherished?

      • Seafoam says:

        The mythology update preview showed that Toady plans to add religions resembling buddhism into the game. Perhaps they realize all the suffering of living beings and become a monk, bringing peace to others in the same situation. Like “kisa and the mustard seed”.
        Hell, dwarves turning to religion after trauma is something that should happen, so many interesting potential stories and characters.

    • Slazia says:

      A new spouse is but a bolder away?

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      Drib says:

      Cut your beard, lift your hammer, and decide you don’t really care about anything anymore?

      Then, go put your hammer to use forging dead goblins.

    • Shinard says:

      More beer for me then!

    • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

      Getting crushed by a boulder is just becoming one with the stone, right?

      (Also, the mechanisms currently used for dwarves choosing subjects for art could probably be adapted reasonably neatly to allow them to engage in free association during psychoanalysis. Not sure if dwarves go for that sort of thing, though)

  7. upupup says:

    But does it support multicores yet.

  8. Mindkontrol says:

    My Dwarf Fortress has the sexiest goblin dancers.

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