Friday, May 29, 2009

D.F., scene-creation, and other thoughts

So here's what I'm thinking: the creation of each resource node, and new chamber in the Fortress, for that matter, is an opportunity for a scene. Using a node or a chamber is also a chance for a scene.
For that matter, friendly visits from merchants, immigrants, and invaders are always, guaranteed, instances for new scenes. As in, I'm thinking you have to have a scene here. Merchants can be instant conflict/interest - if you need something from them, to help a dwarf in a Strange Mood, they will take you to the cleaners over the necessary item. Or, they might try to take advantage of the ravages of the local clime: in a desert, wood and stone will be dear to purchase; on a muddy plain, maybe gems and ore are tough to come by. Ah, and let's not forget an easy way to stir the pot in the original game: low-balling a merchant to the point of causing insult.
Dwarves might have orders from the Crown; elves are pretty easily offended in general, and humans ... well, maybe they're likely to try and exploit your situation.
It occurs to me that, doing admin-type stuff for the Fortress, you could consider yourself to be in "Fortress Mode" (to go along with "Battle Mode" and one of the motifs of the computer game), and, ha, the times when you're actually running scenes should totally be called "Adventurer Mode".
For those who don't know what in gods' name I'm talking about - in the Dwarf Fortress computer game, there are three modes of play available from the title screen - Fortress, Adventurer, and Legend. Sadly, at this point Legend Mode is merely a sort of "read through the history of the game world" exercise, in which you have exhaustive lists of all the events the computer has "crunched" while putting together the randomly-generated world, based on a few specifications you've given. It might sound cool, but I don't think it is, in the current incarnation.
Anyway. I think declaring different modes would be cool, as things work pretty differently in Battle Mode, and differentiating Adventure vs. Fortress would be a good "background" bit of info to draw attention to scene-framing as a Technique of play.
What I'm curious about is what people would actually *do* in a game of DF. I'm trying to avoid the niggling little voice in my head that says "Story Now!" because, honestly, I don't think there's enough "meat" to what's happening in the game world to really find themes or a Premise or anything to really, um, work with. The game is about resource management and survival; not much explicit moral conflict. So, we'll see.
Kobolds would be fun - scrappy little thieves who are fairly easy to kill, but certainly liven things up. Goblin baby-snatchers are a good time, too.
You know what? This game totally needs a relationship web of some kind. Births, marriages, and friendships (as well as dwarves who just don't get along!) are all an important part of the original game - happy (or unhappy) dwarves will greatly affect life in the Fortress. For that matter, decorating and the creation of trinkets, furniture, and the like are all other contributing factors to dwarven un/happiness.

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