Dwarf Fortress: A Wonderful Gem!

Utes the Whisper is a beast forgotten to time, and the only one of its kind. A massive crocodile with a set of external ribs, it shoots web to immobilize its prey. Beware what dwells below the surface.

Sounds like a novel? Nah. This is a randomly generated beasty in one of my favorite games of all time: Dwarf Fortress. Let’s back up a bit.

What is Dwarf Fortress?

Dwarf Fortress is a game that has been in development for over ten years, and isn’t even halfway done. It’s a game set in a tolkien-esque fantasy world, where the world has a whole different history each time, down to each bloodline, piece of art, and mythological figure, no joke. Oh, and did I mention it’s all done in ASCII?

Look at these happy and productive dwarves.

Once it’s done generating a world from scratch, it’s you job to influence it, and you can do so in two ways. You can control a small portion of a civilization of dwarves (called a, you guessed it, fortress), or control a lone hero who explores the world looking for treasure and adventure. I usually choose the former because I find it easier to handle and more entertaining.

The most pertinent issue with Dwarf Fortress is learning to play: it’s one of the most user-unfriendly, completely nonsensically hard to understand games of all time. In the case of Fortress mode, you get dropped off in a place of your choosing in early spring with seven Dwarves. Survive until fall and a caravan will come to give you whatever supplies you desperately need. Be quick about making a home for yourself, lest the dragons, giant animals, and beasts long forgotten get a fine, dwarfy meal.

Dwarves, if you weren’t aware, are the most moody little buggers around. If they don’t have alcohol, they’ll get so upset that they won’t leave their rooms. If they get the idea for a masterpiece, but don’t have enough gems to encrust it with, they go irreparably crazy, often causing harm to their friends and family. And they don’t stop coming. Every month, ten more of the little dudes show up ready to work, like little psychotic and alcoholic ants. But don’t you see, losing is fun.

With Dwarf Fortress essentially boiling down to a fantastic story generator, some of the most fun is seeing a 300 population Dwarven super-city succumb to it’s own inner workings. Sometimes, however, you get everything going so perfectly that you think your city can stand the test of time.

That’s where Utes comes in.

Utes, the aforementioned Alligator, was dubbed the Whisper when he all of a sudden broke out of a tunnel 100 years in the making into a tavern full of dwarves and visitors alike. People tried to flee, but soon the webs had overtaken all. The remaining dwarves and the militia blocked off the tavern, letting it became a lair for this unholy spider/alligator combo. Then, a lone goblin known only as “Puncho” appeared. I later learned he was a veteran of 4 wars, and had a long, deep scar across his left eye. He was missing three fingers on his right hand. He was estimated by our historians to be over 300 years old. Puncho walked into Utes’s lair and slew the beast, before promptly becoming mayor.