Saturday, December 19, 2009

Finally! Progress on a Dwarf Fortress RPG

I've taken a totally different direction with things - I'm not even going to get into the wonkiness that was my previous design idea.

Anyway, here's a sample example from the rough draft:

A quick example – you're playing a dwarf named Urist. His key phrases are “I left Mountainhome to strike the earth” and “What I do, I do for power”. You've been rolling terribly, though, and Urist hasn't contributed much to the Fortress; he's seen as pretty useless by his comrades. It's your turn to roll again, and your best skill is a 4 in Mining. You roll, and get two successes! You cheer, finally getting a chance to describe a cavern with actual features! You spend one to establish a cavern, and one to give it an ore vein.

But then another player clears his throat and says, “So your dwarf ...”. You wonder what he's up to. You give him the go-ahead, and he adds, “So your dwarf, Urist, finds a new cavern, but he doesn't notice the platinum vein it holds,” you groan, “until one of the other miners reports it to him.”

Curses! Urist won't get any credit for this discovery! Unless.... You announce Urist's options to the table: either he lets the other dwarf be lauded by the tinkers, when it should really be him instead, or he kills the miner, and takes what's rightly his.

You decide to take a new Desperation: “I am willing to kill those who get in my way.” Scowling, you bury your pick in his head, to the surprise of everyone present (they all get -1 Mood)1. Rolling 2 Threaten,2 you add +1 to the result, thanks to your new key phrase, and get one success. Turning to the huddled, terrified miners, you bark, “I'll kill the rest of you, too, if you don't do what I say. It was me who found the platinum, and one of you swung your pick without looking and killed him. Is that clear?

Ah, how happy and fun! They dutifully stay silent on the matter, although the miner's friends are quite upset to hear of his untimely death. But the Fortress still gets the platinum, and another player, in awe of your cruelty, picks up the dice and makes a Tinkering check.

If, instead, you swallowed your pride and took a point of Anger, you could get one extra reroll the next time you're confronted by your Passion.

1You can off a nameless NPC dwarf as part of a Passion dilemma without even picking up the dice. Named NPCs must be killed the hard way -with Scene Skills.

2Assume these dwarfs have no Mood buffs to mess with your roll, in this example

So that's a little of what I have, so far. You basically portray the more deranged or obsessive members of your Fortress, contending with your darker urges while trying to keep the place running, and it's all in the shadow of an inevitable goblin invasion.

Losing is fun! ^_^


  1. That sounds really fun. I'd love to see what you do with it. Feel free to drop me a line if you want to talk about it at all.

  2. Thanks!
    I will e-mail you what I have at the moment; I should warn you that, while this post will probably remain a relatively intact example of play, a lot of things in my notes are going to change a lot, to accommodate player agency and eliminate useless dice-rolling, unless play-testing tells me otherwise.