This month in Dwarf Fortress: the birth of art. Adventurers can now become performers of music, dance, stories or poems, conceive original works, and acquire personal reputations to match.
Even better, the new focus on composition has seen developers Tarn and Zach Adams attend to the souls of their ASCII citizens more broadly. In-fort philosophers can pass down their values for the benefit of future generations, and tiny historians have begun asking the question: what if?
Philosophical study in your fortress will yield written works that allow great thinkers to pass on their learnings to individual readers – and disseminate them more widely via copies in a library. If a culture hasn’t yet developed the prose of philosophy, that’s not necessarily a problem – those values can sometimes be spread through poetry.
“This doesn’t impact specific ethics yet, so you won’t have to worry that an elf-written book will make all your dwarves start eating dead bodies,” said the Adams brothers. “But such a thing is now threatened for a later date by these changes.”
There are new sorts of writing – cultural histories, genealogies, atlases, chronicles and biographies – each containing more information than before. Once historians have got their head around the concept of alternate history, for example, they might start to write books about what life would have been like if that antelope man hadn’t slaughtered half the town.
“One [in-game] historian wrote a book considering how things would have been if the author had remained an architect instead of becoming a historian a decade before,” said the Adams – adding that books will “occasionally push a value agenda when the author and form is capable of it”. Pro-elf propaganda, anyone?
Now that Dwarf Fortress is on Patreon, donations toward the free sim’s continuing development have picked up. $5520.39 went to the cause in June, up from $4058.53 in May. When was the last time you played?