Dwarf Fortress

and it's unique storytelling


Isaiah Castillo, Staff Writer

Have you ever wonder what games would be like if instead advancing in graphics, it was the technical aspect.

Dwarf Fortress is that “what if” game. Instead of focusing on today graphics for its main features it instead boasts very complex gameplay and story telling that is different with each playthrough.

Released as a project in 2006 as a free to play game, it’s made by two brothers who work on it full-time living on the donations. Currently, at the time of writing the patron states, they’re given $5,777 a month. It’s still being worked on today, which each update making the game more stable or adding to the already vast amount of complex features. Their ultimate goal is to make the game into a fantasy world simulator in which it is possible to take part in a rich randomly generated history, and take on a variety of roles in the game.

The graphics are not great by today’s standards (or yesterday standards) using ASCII graphics to show what’s going on. Which will end up turning most people from the game, but if you get around that, you can have a very enjoyable experience.

So what exactly is Dwarf Fortress?

It’s a colony simulator game in which you control dwarven outpost, or if you wish a lone adventurer. Each world that is generated, has a unique history, world, wars, factions, and race. Allowing for a unique rich story each playthrough. Some players spawning stories out of them. 

The Fortress Mode, allows you to play as a starting dwarven outpost or fortress. You will have a small amount dwarves to start with, and began to gain more as your fortress flourishes. You will be subjected to sieges, raids, natural disasters, illness, wildlife, and the supernatural as you attempt to establish a fortress. Each dwarf has their own needs and wants, always their own thoughts and feelings about things. They will develop relations with others and will develop their own ideas about how the fort should be ran.

Screenshot from a popular story about the fortress “Boatmurder”



The Adventure Mode allows you to create and customize your adventurer in many ways, not in looks, but rather what social class they are, or if they’re a deity or not. How skilled they’re with a sword, if they’re good in social situations, what they’re beliefs are, and what they aspire to be in life. The game will play like a standard RPG. However, this part of the game isn’t too flesh out in the terms of what you can do. Originally made for when you lost in Fortress mode, allowing you to explore the ruins of your fortress in a dungeon crawler style of gameplay. Combat in this mode is very detailed allowing you to strike certain parts of the body down the enemies fingers (If they have any.)   





What makes Dwarf Fortress a unique game, is how deep and complex the game’s feature is. From commencing, politics, to even physics and down to the biology of the creatures who inhabit your world. Tarn Adams (The programmer/designer) and Zach Adams (The Designer) state when adding a new feature to the game such as boats they take care into researching thoroughly about the physics on how a boat floats, and they’re not alone. The community also comes together to help improve the game along with them, giving advise on what features they should focus on, and how they should go about it.

As of writing this the game is still being currently worked on fulltime by the brothers. Currently on 0.44.10 version of the game.

It’s definitely a game worth your time, and you can pick it up free from their website. It’s a game that you have to experience to fully understand just how great of a game it is.

If the graphics turn you away from the game, you can get “tilesets” for the game that will make the game a little easier on the eyes, but nothing too major.

Also there is a wiki for the game on a guide to getting started in Dwarf Fortress if you need it.