Posts Tagged ‘Dwarf Fortress’

Dwarf Fortress Alignments

November 2, 2009

In D&D, alignment is a trait of your character that you use to help decide how he reacts. How he feels about things. A Good character will do good things. An Evil character will do evil things. Defining this simple split has been done only imperfectly by thousands of years of philosophers.
But now you’ve got D&D’s Chaos / Law axis as well.

In all, the system allows for nine separate alignment combinations. But these are often vague and similar to each other. And defining what each alignment axis means can be difficult. Instead, what if you chose or rolled character traits on a table?

Dwarf Fortress features characters who, rather than alignment, have a long list of personality traits.

These include Man vs. Man things like “finds helping others rewarding”, Man vs. Nature such as “is entirely adverse to risk and excitement”, and Man vs. Self such as “often feels discouraged”.

The full list of traits can be found at the wiki here.

Anyway, the sum of these, plus preferences in items, materials, and creatures, along with chosen faith and level of piety, becomes that character’s alignment.

Effectively, instead of a two-word alignment to act as a guide for behavior and feelings, you get a more complex character with a guideline for each type of decision he might need to make. Basically you get an alignment system with 30 axes instead of 2. Obviously this is too complex for normal play.

It may be worthwhile to note only those traits that fall outside the middle range, and weight the roll to give more results to the middle range. That way each character would have to note only 5-6 of the 30, assuming all the rest are “normal”.

I’m prepared to ignore forever the question of what constitutes a “normal” level of modesty 😉

Using Dwarf Fortress to make a regional map

October 15, 2009

Bay 12 Games is basically one programmer creating awesome things every day. He used to be a mathematician but turned to game programming full-time and is supported by community donations.

Dwarf Fortress is an ASCII game, a roguelike, but a rather different one. You randomly generate a whole continent with mountains, rainfall and drainage, coastlines, etc. Then it generates a history with multiple civilizations where people live and die, deforest the areas around their towns and build roads, and send armies against each other. 200 years or so later you can play in the world with an adventurer or embark on a small site with seven dwarves to build a fortress. Hence the title.

The worlds created are diverse and beautiful. It does not look repetitive in the slightest. Every place you could choose to embark, on every generated world, will look very different. Although if you embark in the middle of a forest you should expect it to look a little bit boring. But it’s still more interesting than I would have come up with. And there’s the trick. You can export the world map you generate as a .bmp, convert it to .png, then edit it to get a world map.

Raw map output: This is what the game looks like on the world map, incidentally, though on the local level you’re dealing with individual dwarves and stone mugs instead of whole mountains.
Mostly done painting: I opened the image in Paint, shrunk it a bit, then started painting. This is what it looks like almost finished.

It helps to play the game a little to identify what each symbol means. The two wavy lines could be water, sand, or magma. But on the world map you don’t see magma. And if it’s blue, it’s definitely water. If it’s red or yellow it might be sand, but if there are rivers flowing into it it’s almost certainly a body of water. Why are the colors funky? The color includes the alignment of the region. Purple areas are haunted. The red and yellow seas are full of skeletal fish and zombie whales. Did I mention how great this game is?

My method was to start with a palette. I stole mine from the old Greyhawk map. Then I made map icons like hills, desert, etc. that look like the Greyhawk map.

Then using the paintbrush (circular dot 4 or 5 pixels wide) paint the border of the water leaving the coastline intact. Smooth the stroke a little as you go so you’re not drawing a bunch of jagged squares. When you have the body of water outlined, paintbucket the black spaces between symbols. Then use the filled square tool to block out large sections of symbols. Go back around and clean up the edges with the largest size paintbrush.

After that, do the mountains. The high mountains (solid triangle) I had a separate mountain image for, so I left those magenta for later change to mountain-brown. The low mountains (sort of a hollow triangle with squished-in sides … I cannot find the ASCII symbol!) I outline at this stage with the brown.

Now you can look around and pick out the forests. At this point I decide whether the forest will be deciduous, evergreen, bamboo, or jungle. I base my decisions on whim and proximity to other terrain, but you could try to remember what each tree symbol means if you wanted. Then I do hills all around – I have a “dry hills” and “green hills” here. But my “green hills” use the same color as the deciduous forest, so I use a nasty bright green placeholder until I get the map symbols in.

Sand is, as I said, the same two wavy line symbol as water. It can be grey or dark grey too. But the “square root” symbol and V / U are used for deserts and badlands. I don’t make a distinction yet, but will later.

The quote marks, lowercase “n”, period, comma, and weird little “y” shape are usually plains / grassland. But based on color and position they could be tundra or desert. This is why you kind of need to play the game to understand the map.

The solid blocks at the north end are glacier. Blue lines are rivers, brown lines are roads. I leave these alone until the end when I can draw in more winding, natural-looking roads and rivers.

The Pi symbol is a goblin fort. The yellow town symbols are elves. The Omega symbols are dwarves. The # and * are humans. Other map symbols that I left alone are usually ruins.

But there’s a good question. Why would you go through this much effort? Well, check out the complexity and general awesomeness of the edited map. I couldn’t come up with that on my own, it would look like I drew it. This has the impartial and realistic feel you get from copying an old Dutch map.
And you can set world generation variables. Want higher mountains? More erosion? Less drainage? More volcanism?

Right now you may look at this as too much work. And maybe it is. I know I’m getting burned out and I’ve done only a few of these maps. But keep an eye on Dwarf Fortress and its programmer Tarn Adams. One day you may be surprised at what the world generator will spit out.

And you know what? I feel like an idiot. You can use a custom tile set for the game. Why didn’t I just replace the tile set to one that had the images I’m replacing them with?

Because I’m working alone and if I were in a team someone would have pointed out how much time I was wasting :/

I’ll post an update when I can speed the process up a bit more.