Dorf Fortress (AKA Dwarf Ortress, Dorf Ortress, Dor Fortress, Dwar Fortress, Door Fortress, Dwar Ortress, Dor Ortress, Dorf Fort, Dwarf Fort, Dorf Ort, Dwarf Ort, Dor Fort, Dor Ort, Dwarf Fortress, AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!!!!! or suicidal tendencies) is the best game in the world. It was created in the dawn of time by Toady One. The ostensible objective of the game is to manage a dwarven fortress, but the usual result of playing the game is hilarious failure.
Unlike most sane games, Dwarf Fortress does not actually have a winning condition. Every fortress, no matter how successful, is doomed to a hideous death at some point - in fact, in older versions of the game, the simple act of mining a certain extremely deep and rare ore would start a hidden timer condemning your fortress to certain destruction at the hands of a balrog standin, with the game sadly informing you that your dwarves dug too deep, but keeping your fort going long enough to strike that ore was an achievement in and of itself. This inevitability has lead to the fan base's rallying cry: "Losing is Fun!" In fact, in discussions on the topic, the word 'Fun' (especially with capital 'F') is entirely synonymous with 'Hideous Demise' and the things that are likely to cause it, in particular the 'Hidden Fun Stuff' described below.
The gameplay has an exceptional and frankly obsessive depth of detail. Despite being (by default) ASCII-based and extremely obtuse, like the old roguelikes from which it draws inspiration, huge amounts of information are tracked and considered for just about every aspect of the game - down to minute details such as the exact location and severity of injuries (first joint on left little finger slightly bruised, for example). Combat is complex and messy - a typical dwarven battlefield will be full of bloody stains, severed limbs, discarded weapons and crossbow bolts, and the vomit of the unforunate recipients of abdominal injuries. After-action combat reports give detailed and often hilarious or epic blow-by-blow accounts of the fights that take place, and the player even has the option of entering adventurer mode to explore their world and get in fights themselves, presuming they enjoy being shot by archers off the edge of the visible area.
Dwarf Fortress is still in alpha and under development, but will soon be released on Steam and itch.io for purchase. The
official classic game's ASCII-based display of inscrutable letters and symbols confuses the shit out of fucking casuals, but an unofficial tile graphics version is available here. However, it does have a few minor quirks since that version does not yet fully support tile graphics. The consumer version will feature its own unique tileset, so casuals don't have to deal with ASCII.
Creatures of Dwarf Fortress
Nobles are the bane of the land. They require ridiculously luxurious apartments and develop the weirdest fetishes possible, then require you to make items out of materials neither you nor merchants can provide. And they jail the most skilled workers for not fulfilling their every desire.
Killing nobles in the most spectacular way possible is one of the most well-known and lulziest entertainments in Dwarf Fortress.
Dwarves get so-called "Strange Moods" once in a while. When in this state, they will claim a workshop for the job they are most proficient in, get some (often obscure) materials and start working on them. Artifacts can be quite literally any craftable item type in the game; examples include millstones, gates, boots, backpacks, and of course weapons and armor. Once completed, you can 'view' your artifact; If you choose to do so, a page describing the attributes of the artifact and its name will appear. For example:
"Trailmachines the Fellowship of Right"
This is a adamantine plate mail. All craftsdwarfsmanship is of the highest quality. On the item is an image of Landslantern the fire imp and Kib Clinchworks the dwarf in Adamantine. Kib Clinchworks is striking down Landslantern. The artwork relates to the killing of the fire imp Landslantern by the dwarf Kib Clinchworks in Headshoots in the early autumn of 107. On the item is an image of a dwarf in Adamantine.
The name of the artifact's creator and the date it was created will also appear.
If a dwarf does not get the materials he needs in time, he goes mad and starts biting. If he does, he will create some hilariously described items.
Dwarves have strong affection to fire, magma and generally anything that burns. The hotter it is, the better.
The only rational reason behind it can be some suicide fire worshiping sect.
Elves (singular: elf) are cannibal treehuggers whose only use is elven bone bolts. Their only role in life is offering to trade with you before their diplomats inevitably bitch about how many trees you've been cutting down. You must open your magma death trap and kill them all, or you will be EAT BY ELFS. Elves insist on using only wooden weapons with only rare exceptions, the latter usually due to being raised outside of elven society.
The only proper dorfy elf to ever exist is Cacame Awemedinade, an elf soldier serving in a dwarf-owned city who became king through a hilarious clerical error, then proved his worth killing things with a warhammer.
Cats are the bane of your existence. You must slaughter all of them before they outbreed you and cause you to suffocate since all the air is filled with cats (catsphyxiation?).
Artist's rendition of a "catsplosion;" from beginning to devastating end.
Forgotten Beasts are badass motherfuckers. Some of them would make a Tarrasque look like a crying little girl. Their main prey is Dwarves. If any dwarf draws near a cavern, they are immediately at risk of being consumed by the horror. If you see Forgotten Beasts, WALL OFF ALL OF THEM IMMEDIATELY OR SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES.
Elephants used to be demonic creatures of the plains. They mercilessly killed your Dwarves and then killed the Dwarves that rush out of the fortress to loot the body of their fallen comrade. Elephants never forget, and never forgive, and they never sleep. They spend every moment of every day plotting the downfall of your fortress.
Eventually elephants were turned into much more peaceful beings in the newer versions of the game, so now you can settle near savanna and have your revenge. The vacant place of dwarf-murderer was taken by the vicious carp.
In a strange turn of events thanks to the latest update, Elephants have fallen from the noble title of "bane of dwarves" to a creature that literally starves to death while eating 24/7, thanks to some coding...flaws. Ironically, despite the game making them more peaceful, real-life Elephants are most like the original "train of pachyderm death" portrayal (particularly the African elephants, which are bigger, more aggressive and have longer tusks than the Indian ones).
A recent addition to Dwarf Fortress, the giant sponge has become more feared than even the carp. A giant sponge can easily wipe out an entire army of dwarves with a single charge, which is rather peculiar as they are completely immobile. And they're virtually invincible, as their lack of any organs or blood allows them to harmlessly absorb blows that would kill anything else several times over. How they are able to kill anything with their soft, squishy bodies is a mystery nobody is willing to risk trying to solve. Unfortunately, the most recent update led to the slaying of a giant sponge via crushing it with a maul.
While common Giant Sponges can "drown" out of water, undead Giant Sponges are fucking immortal. Setting it on fire will just create a giant torch of undead death. If you see one, say your last farewells to your
crazy stupid brave dorfs.
The good news is now giant sponges are now hilariously vulnerable to getting flattened by mundane attacks. They're still just as lethal, so they're glass cannons now. And since undead are now vulnerable only to getting pulped instead of randomly dying after enough hits, undead giant sponges are basically normal sponges, only amphibious.
Hidden Fun Stuff
If you dig below the lava oceans around the bottom layer, you may discover the Hidden Fun Stuff. Down here is the circus, where you can find clowns and their much sought-after candy. Dig deep and see what awaits you!
The Cat Paws and Liquor Bug
Given how detailed the game is, some very weird bugs can show up. To give you an example:
The dwarfs can have cats, to keep the rodent population down and for companionship. After one update, cats were suddenly dying randomly, sometimes after vomiting. The developer realized the cause of this bug, which goes as follows:
- Cats have paws, which can have substances on them.
- The AI for Cats is programmed to occasionally lick their paws, among other things.
- Dwarfs, if they're drinking when ordered to do something, drop their beer on the floor and immediately go do it.
- This spilled beer was being absorbed by the paws of cats when they walked over the spilled beer.
- The game was accidentally treating this as if the cat had drunk their body weight in alcohol, rather then the small amount they would in a proper simulation.
- Cats were progressing immediately to lethal alcohol poisoning upon licking their paws, with some of them making a brief stopover in "nauseated vomiting".
Notably, only the quantity of alcohol being ingested by cats upon licking their paws was considered a "bug". The bug was fixed by changing the contamination system to take into account liquid volumes. Cats can still get mildly buzzed after walking through spilled beer.
That's how insanely detailed Dwarf Fortress is.
The chief problem with Dwarf Fortress, from the perspective of marketing, is that the interface is so goddamn hard to understand. Thus, a few developers have got it in their head to make "Dwarf Fortress, but playable by mere mortals". Here are a few identified so far:
- Gnomoria. While many long-time Dwarf Fortress player despise Gnomoria for stealing a dragon's-hoard-worth of features from Dwarf Fortress and subsequently departing from the Roguelike genre, it does have redeeming qualities. Namely as a Dwarf Fortress lite. It has a point-and-click interface (more so than DF), an isometric view, full-color GUI, a (relatively) simpler economy and production system, in-game explanations for several gameplay elements, and less options in general. However, there is a project ongoing to give dwarf fortress isometric graphics. (It costs about 8 bucks on Steam currently, so it isn't free, but that's the price you have to pay for being a namby-pamby prissy little princess who needs training wheels on their Dwarven experience the first few go-arounds.)
- Rimworld, a game which is basically DORF FORTRESS IN SPESS, almost as detailed, though it features no dwarves (or considering it's in space, no squats). Available on Steam, and has a thriving modding community which does everything from basic changes to incredibly handy utilities to overhauls. There's a WH40k mod on Steam; so instead of your usual colonists dying horrible deaths, you can have your usual guardsmen dying horrible deaths.
- The legend of Boatmurdered.
- Kobold Camp
- Goblin Garrison
- Space Station 13, which is kind of like this, but IN SPAAAACE, and you play as one of the dwarfs.
- Minecraft, because that game is so similar.
- Unified_Setting/Dwarf for how /tg/ can summarize the little beardy buggers.
- Some old journal written by a dorfan explorer.
You can find instructions on using it in the recent releases on the Discussion page of this article.
- Download the unofficial graphical tileset here
- An version with a graphical tileset already installed
Boatmurdered is the most famous dwarf fortress ever to exist.