Not to mention some of the things you can use when throwing in adventure mode; the game is perfectly fine allowing you to use a limb from a being made of magma or something seemly hazardous to hold as a lawn dart.
Absurdly Sharp Blade: Swords, axes or spears made with Adamantine, a super-light and absurdly durable metal. Because it's so light, any warhammers or maces made out of it fail miserably.
Adoring the Pests: Dwarves might have rats, cockroaches, or flies as their favourite animal.
The Alcoholic: "...S/he needs alcohol to get through the working day." Every dwarf, except in Adventurer mode. From birth. Dwarves will only go sober if hospitalized, or if there is no alcohol available (and this will cause their productivity and mood to drop precipitously).
All Myths Are True: There's always supporting-to-conclusive evidence to be found for any event of the Age of Myth: razed hovels, plundered hoards, injured victims, surviving eyewitnesses, and the beasts themselves. The exception is a few mythical beasts, magical creatures, and gods that are flagged to appear in procedurally-generated art but will not appear in any world.
All Trolls Are Different: The creatures simply named "troll" are big, hairy brutes that goblins use to tear fortifications apart (and shear like sheep), but the Night Trolls best match the old troll mythology. They're even procedurally generated so no two are alike, with a penchant for taking human mates and transforming them into beasts like themselves, and a taste for human (or elven or dwarven) flesh.
The All-Seeing A.I.: Goblin sieges use a pathfinding AI that automatically knows the fastest way into your fortress. The players, of course, abuse its quirks mercilessly (particularly regarding avoidance of locked doors).
The famous "Goblin Meat Grinder". Lock down your fortress but leave a single way in. This way is littered with infallible reciprocating pointy sticks. As soon as a creature approaches the end of the corridor, one door locks and another opens. Now the only way in is on the other end of the corridor. Which is provided with the same mechanism. This keeps the oh-so-clever AI terminally walking the walk of pointy pain.
Ancient Tomb: The 2012 update added elaborate burial tombs where sentient creatures born and died during world generation will be interred. It makes for excellent Dungeon Crawling in Adventure Mode, and a source for necromancers to summon their armies from in Fortress Mode.
Angst? What Angst?: Since happiness/sadness is quantified in-universe as a simple sliding scale, it's possible for a large number of minor pleasures to completely cancel out tragedies that would normally be expected to cause a Heroic BSOD. The DF Wiki features a quote describing dwarves as being "strange creatures who balance out at 'happy' because on one hand their wife was eaten by elephants and on the other they just ate in a REALLY NICE dining room."
Animalistic Abomination: The Forgotten Beasts, while procedurally generated, start off with some creature type as a "base" and add random features from there. The result is something that resembles a known animal, but has several unique and horrible characteristics that no other beast like that has.
Animal Wrongs Group: Elves, but for trees (they still eat and tame animals.) They will be horribly offended when presented with anything made from wood or charcoal. They can't tell steel made with charcoal from steel made with mined coal, so they'll take either; but any glass but green glass needs wood ash to turn into pearlash, and beds and bins must be made of wood, so elves are notoriously unpopular. This is taken to new extremes when a single wooden decoration will turn an otherwise saleable (and "buy out the whole caravan" valuable) steel craft into grounds for packing up and leaving (and probably laying siege later), and you can't readily tell that this is the case unless you examine every single trade good you offer in minute detail.
Particularly infuriating is the fact that they themselves sell wooden items. Not only that, but they'll even get offended when you sell them back the stuff you bought from them!
According to Threetoe's Stories, this is because elves use magic to make trees and plants grow into items.
This will be reflected in-game in the next update.
Annoying Arrows: Thanks to the ridiculously granular combat system, well crafted arrows and bolts made from good quality materials are one of the most deadly weapons in the game, due to their ability to easily penetrate and puncture vital organs, making them the bane of most creatures which work on conventional biology. However, there are creatures based on Bizarre Fantasy Biology that may not have vulnerable organs or require blood to live. Undead are particularly notable examples of this.
When the rendering engine was rewritten, a UNIX-only command line display was added. It's not used much, except for screencasting; using a terminal to watch someone play DF takes a lot less bandwidth than streaming video, and is easier to host.
Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: How most goblin sieges develop: after seeing some of their companions (or their captain) beaten, the invaders will quickly turn tail and take their leave.
Ascended Extra: No dwarf is inherently more important than any other dwarf. As such any dwarf that manages to get favored by a player, or even the community, is this.
Author Avatar: In community (the player posts what is happening in a particular fort, and the community writes about it) and succession (same as a community fort, but the save is passed from player to player) forts, it is common to name dwarves after participants, and many people will request a 'dorfing' just because.
Author Catch Phrase: Toady often uses "he he he" in development posts after mentioning something particularly grim.
One well known character was known as Cacame Apebalded, The Immortal Onslaught, providing both an awesome name, and a Fail O'Suckyname. Being the Elven King of the Dwarves made his full description, 'Cacame Apebalded, The Immortal Onslaught, Elven King of the Dwarves' a surreal combination of awesome, weird, and what-the-hell.
Some players use the Elvish language version of his name, making him "Cacame Awemedinade Monípalóthi, Elven King of the Dwarves".
Badass Bookworm: In previous versions, even the skills as far a way from combat as possible trained physical attributes. If you ordered your bookkeeper to take the most accurate inventory of your stocks possible he, a weak, unassuming social dwarf, would proceed to lock himself in his study, and work silently for roughly a season. Eventually, he would re-emerge, and after all those hours of updating the records, will have acquired the character notes 'Ultra-Mighty', 'Perfectly Agile', and 'Superdwarvenly Tough'.
Bare-Fisted Monk: The Wrestling skill. Rather than Eastern Martial Arts, everyone engages in pankration.
Now that the throw command actually throws your opponent, much fun can be had. Your dwarf adventurer can now fling his goblin opponent off the mountain. Your Bronze Colossus adventurer, on the other hand, can throw his goblin opponent so far and hard that he hits a tree on the other side of the map and explodes into limbs, meat, and skin.
In previous versions, champion wrestlers could be terrifying, capable of punching a charging knight's warhorse out from underneath him, hard enough to punt the animal back 40 feet and have it explode into gristle on impact. The 6-foot-tall, heavily armored, highly trained knight will then rapidly find all his limbs snapped by a short, blood-and-vomit-encrusted psychopath, leaving him crippled and helpless whilst being slowly stomped to death through the protection his armor still offers against normal attack.
Battle Trophy: Immigrant dwarves might arrive with jewelry made from the bones of creatures they've killed.
In the case of especially prolific warriors, this can consist of dozens to hundreds of items of bone jewelry.
Beneath the Earth: Since DF 2010, practically all areas now have several layers of extensive underground caverns complete with giant mushrooms and creatures such as giant cave spiders.
Berserk Button: Every single Dwarf has one. You just need to push the right buttons. Thankfully, players are rather good at that.
Bling of War: Most players don't bother to, but it's certainly possible to decorate your militia's uniforms and equipment. You can even make gem-encrusted crossbow bolts. In Adventurer mode, decorated armour is quite a common sight.
Blood Knight: Dwarves gain positive thoughts from engaging in slaughter. And that's before insanity drives them berserk.
A possible explanation for Dwarves that end up getting into acts of absurd cruelty while still behaving otherwise civilized.
The player base can get involved in arguments over whether to keep a group of friendly kobolds safe or use them as a meat shield against invaders, meanwhile slaughtering kittens and throwing dwarf children into pits full of angry dogs without a second thought.
Body Horror: Often a result of randomly generated Forgotten Beast syndrome. Includes the "Kitten Rot", which as the name implies causes the skin of the infected to completely rot off, leaving behind a horrible mass of living miasma. In its most basic form.
Evil biomes have rain and fog banks that induce this on anything unfortunate enough to be caught under them.
Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Personal descriptions of dwarfs string together happy and sad events with no distinction for either. To wit:
Breaking and Bloodsucking: Vampires prey on your dwarves this way. When vampires go on "break" they will hunt for a sleeping dwarf to feed on.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: This would be the Dungeon Master in a nutshell. This Dwarf loves cloaks so damn much that he will collect and wear thick stacks of them to the exclusion of any other item of clothing except socks—because every dwarf loves their socks. However, this dwarf will also tame and train the most powerful, exotic and badass beasts you can catch; giant eagles, elephants, dragons, and monkeys.
Cast of Snowflakes: Each dwarf has his/her own personality traits that influence how they respond to certain events and how they go about their day. DF2010 adds even more details, now including what each creature looks like.
And in DF2012, each migrant that arrives to your fortress has a history, family, and possibly even previous kills!
Cats Are Superior: Cats choose whether they have an owner, not vice versa. Cats are also the only creatures that can kill vermin for you and are vital to protecting your food stocks.
Though if you're not careful, they can out breed everything around them. This is referred to as a catsplosion, and if allowed to continue can cause severe lag. And once it's started, culling them back down will make the cat's adopted dwarves very unhappy. Two favorite solutions are 1: to cage each kitten as it's born, then use it for meat, 2: to keep the breeding individuals in cages, eat the female kittens, and let the males roam about.
Clock Punk: Dwarven technology tends toward this. You can build Turing-complete computers out of Dwarven clockwork.
Children Are a Waste: Eating your meals and drinking your booze for 12 years without doing or learning anything useful. Leading to things like...
Experiments in "Dwarven Day Care", aka locking a small child in a room full of crowded animals so that the violence of fighting for their life every day would harden them to tragedy and cause them to develop combat skills. It was pronounced a partial success when one experiment resulted in a child taking a permanent change to mental attributes — aka, permanent mental scarring.
Colon Cancer: The full title is Slaves to Armok: God of Blood: Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress: Histories of X and Y, where X and Y are synonyms of "greed" and "hard work", selected randomly each time the title screen is loaded.
Color-Coded Stones: The game has diamonds of five colors as well as clear, and also blue, clear and pink garnets in addition to red, and so on and so forth. It assigns the standard colors to emerald, ruby, sapphire, amethyst, topaz and quite a few others, though.
There really is no limit to the absolutely horrible things the player can get up to. Check under Video Game Cruelty Potential for a partial listing.
Contractual Boss Immunity: Large creatures cannot be killed by smashing them with a drawbridge because they keep them from lifting or closing. Forgotten beasts, titans, and demons are all immune to traps.
However, if you manage to stun an enemy (by, for instance, putting giant cave spider webs on cage traps), it cancels the effects of the TRAPAVOID tag. A few minutes of this shows why Contractual Boss Immunity is a necessary game mechanic.
Convection Schmonvection: The game has a complicated temperature system, yet dwarves have no problems working right on the edge of a magma pit, in workshops made of ice.
Better yet, the game currently does not check temperature for constructed things at all. Forest fires can burn around compounds with walls built from wood. Likewise, magma hot enough to melt rocks and burn bone can be held back by a wooden wall... or an ice wall.
Only applicable to constructed walls. Natural ice will melt from lava. That's right, Dwarven Engineering is so unspeakably Bad Ass they can even make unmeltable ice walls!
Owners of weaker computers also tend to turn the temperature off entirely to save the resources. It is not usually purposefully used for exploits, however it sometimes leads to badass moments.
Crapsack World: Evil biomes include poisonous rain, deadly clouds and the probability of any corpses rising from the dead. Even joyous areas are likely to wind up Crapsack Worlds as invoked by players. (See: virtually every other trope on this page.)
Death World: Depending on "wildness" grade. Nothing says Fun like raining filth that makes your dwarves blister and vomit, fog banks that kill everything they envelop in horrible ways or try to start a Zombie Apocalypse and discarded body parts and skins that refuse to stay down and try to kill your dwarves every time they rise.
Eyes Do Not Belong There: Staring eyeball is a kind of grass found only in evil biomes that is made out of eyeball. Cows can still eat it, though.
Rain of Blood: This is a regular occurrence in evil biomes, when it's not raining disease inducing slime.
Zombie Apocalypse: Evil biomes may feature clouds of highly detrimental substances. Some of them condense on everything and dust versions contaminate everyone in melee with a victim or carrying the corpse. And some turn victims into nearly unstoppable life-hating husks/thralls. So if the cloud was made of thrall-making dust, "FUN" is more likely to have the fort than the other way around.
May count for migrants, too. They keep a trinket for each non-sentient animal they kill.
Critical Existence Failure: Averted by the extremely complex combat and damage system which tracks damage (or mangling or removal) of all body parts and internal organs separately, and even takes care of layers of skin and certain veins and nerves.
With even more complex body system modeling and medical options in the latest version, a dwarf (or other creature) can survive having had most or all of their limbs removed, skin burnt off and eyes gouged out with sufficient medical care to clean and stitch them up before they die from blood loss or infection.
Whether such a dwarf will be able to walk and work again is another matter. Nerve damage is impossible to recover from.
Cruel and Unusual Death: If you're a character in this game and you're lucky, you might die from being shot by an elf and slowly bleed to death as your hometown is burnt to a cinder. If you're unlucky, a Giant Desert Scorpion will rip your axe from your hands and hack you to death with it.
Some monsters can exude, spit or bleed poisons that can, as just one example, cause only your hands, feet and eyes to rot away before causing your lungs to bleed until you die of suffocation. And that's if you get a lucky combination that kills you outright versus only rotting all your skin off.
Some rather creative traps qualify, namely one which pumps water into an exposed corridor which freezes instantly, killing the victim and encasing their stuff in ice for your dwarfs to mine out later. A similar situation can happen if the temperature is turned off, by mixing water and heat-less magma, encasing the victim in obsidian.
Legendary Wrestlers in either mode are fond of inflicting these. Anything not wearing adamantine armor will probably be reduced into a pile of broken bones and bruised organs, best case scenario. Worst case scenario, people get thrown across maps so hard that they end up in chunks of gore splattered against walls.
Cycle of Hurting: Big monsters have a tendency to use charge attacks and bowl you over again right before you can stand up, which is even more likely in Adventure Mode.
Darker and Edgier: Unfortunately for dwarves, every update involves adding many horrible things to kill them and all they love:
The .34.01 release gives us such wonderful additions as necromancers and their undead armies, werecreatures and zombies that can turn your dwarves into dwarrowwolves/zombies, evil clouds and rains that can have the same syndromes as forgotten beasts and evil lands that transform the living into Life-despising Husks.
Dark Is Not Evil: In Adventurer Mode, its quite possible to become a night creature (a werebeast or a vampire to be precise) and pick up necromancy. You lose no control over your character, allowing you to be as kind or vicious as you please, and in fact its recommended — night creatures are Made of Iron while necromancers have an easy supply of allies.
Deadly Disc: The dwarves can forge large serrated discs, a type of weapon that can only be used in weapon traps. Up to ten discs at a time can be placed in a single trap, and due to the way weapon damage is calculated, they are one of the single deadliest (and messiest) conventional trap types in the game, capable of tearing a victim into each of their component pieces.
In Adventure Mode, these same discs can be used as melee weapons with pleasing results, and with high Throwing skill... you get the idea.
Death of a Thousand Cuts: In the current version, being in contact with magma for a short time will cover dwarfs or other fleshy creatures with tiny cuts that causes them to leave a huge trail of blood behind them as they bleed to death. Bronze colossi on the other hand, apparently can't be killed with any number of blows from hammers or weapons of weaker materials than bronze, as the only way to kill them (in combat) is to dismember them.
Department of Redundancy Department: The rather complete fortress-naming system allows for enormous amounts of redundant names among the almost limitless possible names, for example, "Goldenforest the Forest of Gold".
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Yes, the dev team is basically one guy (plus his brother as co-designer, but still only one coder). One guy who, it has been joked, intends to keep going until he has a perfect simulation of reality down to the quantum level. Despite the Good Bad Bugs, it's still worryingly accurate. What other game will simulate fluids, temperature, political decisions, population growth, mass-migrations, genocides, entire wars (down to what each individual did in that war and where they were injured), geological erosion processes, ants, beehives, rainfall patterns, spiderweb and insect waste creation, weapon-and-armour physics and even basic physics simulations simply for the sake of fleshing out the background?
Devil but No God: The gods of the world are worshiped, and occasionally holy wars are fought in their names, but do very little themselves aside from handing out curses to those who defile their temples and sometimes creating the slabs from which necromancers learn their arts. Demons are found ruling over populations of humans (typically by posing as the aforementioned silent gods) and goblins (who can be controlled by brute force), and their numbers in hell are limitless.
Didn't Think This Through: More often than not, a good chunk of "fun" comes from things the player didn't think through, such as drainage for a water (or magma) device. Or digging through an adamantine tube.
Dug Too Deep: One of the many ways a fortress can be destroyed. The game's opening animation even depicts an instance of it.
Elemental Crafting: In the new version, materials are indeed important, but in different ways: a silver war-hammer will do more damage than one made from steel thanks to its density, but makes a poor thrusting or slashing weapon as it does not hold a fine point or edge under wear. On the other hand, the shear values (which determine how fine an edge can be) make steel a better choice for cutting edge technology. On that note, adamantine is a very rare metal and is extremely effective in bladed weapons (an admantine sword can slice limbs off a bronze colossus with ease), yet is almost completely useless for blunt weapons, because its density is comparable to Styrofoam.
There's a reason it's called "cotton candy."
Elves Versus Dwarves: This is invoked more by the players than the game itself. While Dwarves and Humans have the most in common, Elves are far more often allies than enemies of Dwarves. At least until their diplomat demands that you stop cutting the wood you need for bed, barrels, and charcoal. Or until you accidentally offer their traders the wooden box your trade goods are in. ...You know what? Screw You, Elves!.
Given how elves regard dwarves during diplomatic meetings, it's a wonder the two races don't go to war more often. The 'short jokes' are rather uncalled for.
Remember to establish good trade relations with elves. Lead goblets make great gifts!note Though they don't poison anybody. Yet. Or even better, anything made of pitchblende.note A form of uranium ore, also containing radium and lead
Another wonderful trade good: magma. Lots of it. But don't worry about packaging it; just pour it into the trade depot, seal it off to keep your dwarves from stealing it, and let them choose their own.
(The Fortress of Boatmurdered takes no responsibility for fatal immolation caused by its magma exports. Magma is used at your own risk and the risk of everyone around you. Do not taunt magma unless you have modded in bauxite clothing.)
Emergency Weapon: Annoyingly averted in Fortress mode. Soldiers or hunters equipped with projectile weapons can only use them as blunt instruments, not very effectively; buffing the crossbow's melee damage is many a player's first modding project. Others make their crossbows out of steel and cross-train their marksdwarves extensively as hammerdwarves to compensate.
Oddly, the current version has certain situations where crossbows are more damaging than warhammers: bludgeon crossbows have a much greater surface area than warhammer, which makes attacks less likely to damage through armor but more likely to damage a vital when they do.
Endless Game: There are no actual winning conditions as of yet. Earlier versions had the potential to end in a Lord of the Rings-esque "you Dug Too Deep and unleashed a horrible demon" ending, but the latest versions let you play with essentially no time limits. (Though it is still quite possible to dig too deep..)
Epic Fail: The best games end like this. The forums generally consider the only "winning condition" to be to fail so spectacularly as to prompt forum members to declare that you've won the game. Case in point: Boatmurdered's inexplicable fiery apocalypse and ensuing tantrum spiral.
Feel No Pain: NOPAIN is a token often found in more alien creatures. You can sever or shatter every limb a Night Beast has and gouge out their eyes, leaving them with nothing but teeth to bite into your inside, but they'll keep going. Turns out that's enough.
Fog of Doom: In the latest version the surfaces of evil regions have a variety of clouds of randomly, scarily named materials ("execrable soot", "accursed gloom", etc) which cause randomly determined symptoms, ranging from mild dizziness to all of your internal organs rotting to becoming a zombie.
Foreign Queasine: Dwarves will butcher any edible non-sentient, and they will eat any part of the body that can be made edible.note This includes not just meat and fat, but brains, intestines, lungs, eyes... Elves will eat anything, including defeated foes. Adventurer Dwarves will butcher and eat sentients if they get hungry enough.
Fork Fencing: Slicing forks are surprisingly good weapons due to having an incredibly tiny contact area.
Funny Animal: Dwarf Fortress knows a good number of sapient anthropomorphic animals, from "Tiger-Man" over "Snake-Man" to "Cave-Swallow-Man". Modders can make any animal bipedal, give it hands, and mark it with the CAN_LEARN tag (among others).
Some of the _______-Men are just downright creepy, made even weirder by their nondescript ASCII chips. Slug-Men, for instance, have no bones, and have inedible flesh. Luckily, they don't seem to be very enthused about defending their space, and sort of just slither around the overworld area aimlessly. Rat-Men, on the other hand, seem to exclusively live on the edge of volcanoes.
From Bad to Worse: Every game. If something goes bad, it's safest to assume that it can only get worse.
Game Mod: By editing the raw .txt files, many aspects of the game can be added to or changed. The mods created by the community range from minor bugfixes to Fallout, Zombie ApocalypseandMy Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic total conversions and everything in between. The game is highly mod-receptive, and Toady has stated that he wants a high level of end-user modification ability, which will have its own high-level programming language that's trivial to pick up and start using.
You can make bears (already trainable) rideable. In other words, war bears..
The number of parameters controllable by the raw .txt files can lead to some bizarre mods, like one where a certain type of rock has its burning temperature set to below freezing, making it dangerous for a miner to uncover that type of rock (this was actually used in a certain Let's Play).
You can even modify a current game by saving it, editing the .txt raw files, and restoring the saved game (though the extent of possible modifications is limited compared to a regular mod). For example, if a giant eagle is harassing your fortress, you can edit the creature definition for giant eagles to increase its body temperature to the point where it bursts into flames, remove the ability of giant eagles to fly so that it plummets to the ground, and so on.
You can modify chickens so that, instead of laying eggs, they lay live bees. Dwarf Fortress: crimes against nature simulator.
Global Currency: Played straight in Fortress Mode, as all traders use the same currency. In Adventure Mode, each civilization has their own currency and you can only exchange them outside of their civilization of origin by selling the coins themselves (which are literally worth only the material they're made of.)
Gods Need Prayer Badly: The only way gods interact with mortals is by cursing those that profane their temples. The only way for them to have temples to begin with is to have enough followers in a town. A god without any temples is effectively powerless, a god without any worshipers to spread their name at all is doomed to eternal powerless obscurity.
An update added the ability for certain deities (generally death-themed) to create slabs engraved with knowledge about necromancy. It still requires a reader to have an affect on the world, though.
Gorn: Yes, in ASCII text: the combat system describes the slashing of throats and gouging out of eyes with worrying relish.
Later versions have tissue layers and individual ribs and teeth. Just... wow.
And, as mentioned under many other entries, well-equipped hammer-users can turn just about any enemy into an exploding mess of body parts, which will splash around the area of impact, turning it red and leaving chunks that can be "examined" to get details of what's on that tile, such as "partial Goblin Wrestler torso" or "Urist McUnlucky's left arm.". A weapon trap with ten serrated disks tends to do this too, especially if they are high-quality and/or made out of steel (or adamantine...), and can splatter blood for several tiles.
There was a report on the forum of a dwarf who suffered an abdominal wound in combat that caused his guts to pop out. The dwarf was taken to the hospital and actually recovered, but his guts weren't put back inside in the process of sewing him up. Now the ASCII representation of the dwarf actually has a pair of red "~" characters trailing him wherever he goes to depict the intestines he's dragging around behind him. Toady One thinks of everything.
Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: Quantized movement often makes it seem this way, units that move or dodge off a ledge hanging in the air for a tick before plummeting.
Grim Up North: Or Grim Down South, depending on the case. While this does not happen all the time, it is highly likely that a large Evil region will be generated in the glacial areas during world generation.
Guide Dang It: The game has no instructions or tutorial. Learning to play at all, and learning to build a sustainable fort even in friendly environments, all but requires one to find online guides.
Accidentally destroying your fortress or killing your adventurer in the most stupid of ways might as well be a coming of age story, whether it be flooding your fortress with pumped lava or water, or accidentally jumping off a mountain.
Hard-Coded Hostility: Any civilization with the [BABYSNATCHER] tag is automatically and forever hostile to any civilization that lacks the tag. Only goblins have it by default, but you can mod in as many hostile races as you like.
Hard Head: Averted in that even with maximum toughness most direct hits to unarmored heads are instantly fatal. But decently armored dwarves can survive getting their skulls shattered without any lasting effects.
Helping Hands: With the latest release, body parts severed from the undead can be easily reanimated by necromancers and mummies. They can even do this to body parts severed from living beings, so adventures can find themselves in the unlucky circumstance of having to fight their own severed arm.
Hollywood Healing: Averted in that individual tissues have their own rates of healing (nervous tissue doesn't at all), and tissue can become permanently scarred. Played straight in adventure mode where quick-travelling, sleep, or waiting for any amount of time instantly heals essentially anything that can heal. Also played straight by a bug in the current version where eyes can be heavily damaged but not completely destroyed, and grow back very quickly (truer than you'd think) to full functionality (as unlikely as it sounds).
I'm a Humanitarian: Elves are okay with eating any creature, sentient or not, even one of their own race, if they defeated it in battle.
Some players tend to mod dwarves to have this trait, so they will butcher corpses of fallen sentient enemies for the sake of good old pragmatism (hey, no meat, bones or skulls should come to waste), or just to spite a hated enemy (like butchering elf corpses, making crossbow bolts of their bones, and then killing more elves with -elf bone bolts-.)
I'm Melting: This is generally the way fire hurts a unit: tissue of living non-plants don't really burn when caught on fire, it just melts and keeps the fire going. Also, a bug in the 2010 version in semi-rare cases caused dwarfs and other creatures to melt when caught in the rain.
Implacable Man: The Bronze Colossus, unlike other megabeasts, will suffer no status effects from pain or nausea, cannot be stunned, and will continue fighting even after its limbs have been bashed off. Trying to Kill It with Fire can make him even more "fun"; he will incorporate the molten metal into his attacks long before the fire eventually destroys him.
This also applies to any creature that is coded with the tokens NOFEAR, NOPAIN, and, occasionally, LIKES_FIGHTING. This means that (duh) they don't feel fear, or pain, and will actively search for something to kill, regardless of whether it needs to eat or not, and once it finds something, won't stop until it's opponent dies or has run far enough that the pursuing creature finds something else to stalk and kill. The most feared of these creatures (asides from the Bronze Colossus) is the Giant Cave Spider.
Everything in many evil biomes will rise again after a while. Dismemberment will only result in the individual parts coming back for revenge. The only ways to prevent this are to butcher the offending corpse and tan the skin so it doesn't risenote Except dwarves will never butcher sentients, and that band of goblins that ambushed you just happen to be made of sentient creatures. Oh Crap indeed., throwing the thing into a pool of magma, or pulverizing it with a drawbridge. Spilling magma on them while they're animated is a bad idea, as it will set themon fire.
Certain evil biomes feature "husks", which normal creatures get turned into when caught in a creeping cloud. Though they can be killed, they're far stronger and tougher than animated corpses, feel no fear or pain, have no hunger or need to breathe and possess a singular hatred of all life. The only way to kill them directly is to decapitate or bisect them.
To quote the game's creator: "I think I made the fish too hardcore." (At one point, any physical activity buffed your stats for all physical activity. Carp are always swimming, so they became invincible in battle.) Carp are still hardcore, but they have been replaced at times with elephants, and later, unicorns. There have been entire wars fought against unicorns.
This also applies to several of the weapons: in the current version, due to the combat system accurately representing contact area of attacks but not the amount of force one would be capable of putting behind them, dagger stabs and whip lashes are absurdly good at penetrating armor.
Badgers are the new carp. The regular badger is a snarling, furry ball of anger who will enrage and attack your dwarves for no reason other than they exist. Giant Badgers are ten-foot-tall, snarling, furry balls of anger who will enrage and make Ludicrous Gibs of your dwarves for no reason other than they exist. On the other hand, an army of trained Giant War Badgers is enough to cut through just about any siege like a hot (snarling, furry and angry) knife through butter.
Giant sponges are the new badger (and the new carp!). Not only do they move and attack your dwarves, but they literally cannot be killed in combat.
If you ever see a cloud drift by on an evil biome, you'd better hope it "just" kills you instead of producing zombies as strong as a Bronze Colossus.
Occasionally a titan or forgotten beast, which are normally very powerful, will have a body made of a material with almost no ability to maintain shape (such as a liquid, or fire) causing their body to fall to pieces from the slightest touch.
One memorably pathetic titan was composed of snow and ended up being cut in half by the first crossbow bolt fired at it
Or an Forgotten Beast will show up in unexplored sections of your caves—since your dwarves aren't aware of them, there's no arrival message, but resident creature-men can fight and kill them there, and even earn names and titles for doing so. You may often notice this when, on the units screen, there is a Forgotten Beast listed as dead.
Improvised Weapon: Dwarves can actually forget to grab a weapon when going into battle, leading them to do battle with whatever they have at hand, whether it be rocks, helmets, backpacks, babies....
Kevlard: Fat realistically serves as a layers of tissue that may take damage from an attack instead of a more important body part. More bizarrely, in Adventure Mode you can repeatedly set yourself on fire and put it out after a while to remove all the fat in your body. If you survive you become effectively fireproof because heat does not kill you through burning, it kills you by melting tissue (which except at very high temperatures is usually fat) to make you bleed to death.
Kill It with Fire: Fire monsters are the most dangerous sort. A burst of dragonbreath can cause incredible amounts of trouble. On the flip side, nearly all enemy creatures are vulnerable to fire.
Ironically, Forgotten Beasts made of fire, ice, and many other "elements" are laughably easy since they come to pieces on the slightest contact.
This being Dwarf Fortress, players have created systems to trap goblins in a flooded room, then retract the roof to expose and freeze the water. Advanced versions prevent freezing by keeping magma behind a wall until the whole room is flooded and then removing the magma, thus being resettable as long as pumps are powered.
Killer Rabbit: Carp were infamous for this. With the introduction of aimed attacks, large fish have gone back to being deadly. Sturgeon are still like this to an even greater degree than carp, as they can easily bite off limbs.
Then there's the Undead Carp, its like a normal Carp, but actually listed as "Evil", very hard to kill and it swims on land...
Giant sponges will kill anything that approaches them. Not bad for an animal that's not supposed to even move.
In a game where the majority of people wield axes and warhammers and crossbows and swords, wrestling sounds like a hilariously underpowered form of attack. At least, until you see what wrestlerstendtodo to people they fight.
Lava is Boiling Kool-Aid: Magma spreads out just as quickly as water (and behaves exactly the same when pumped), but is unaffected by pressure and thus is difficult to get to flow up. If you turn off temperature in the init file, your dwarves can swim in it.
Lava affects creatures ever so slightly less in DF2010, which for example can give your dwarf miner enough time to run away when breaching a magma pipe. Not much more than that, though.
In previous versions, bauxite and raw adamantine were the only magma-safe rocks, while all other stone items would melt when exposed to lava; some user modifications added realistic melting and boiling points to each type of stone, allowing them to be magma-safe, and the latest version actually made all of these official.
Legendary Carp: A thing of the past in the new version, but the legends (and page quote from Toady himself) still remain.
Lethal Joke Item: Occasionally, dwarves will equip items that are... not usually defined as weapons. A particularly well-known bloodline game, Headshoots, featured a dwarf that spent most of the game wielding a satchel. This was used to uppercut one goblin and kill three more before the first hit the ground.
Inverted with adamantine warhammers and maces, which sound deadly but are basically indestructible wiffle-bats.
Life Will Kill You: It doesn't matter how many dragons he's slain single-handedly, how many towns he may have leveled, or how many civilizations hail him as a hero, your adventurer or legendary axedwarf can (and probably will) still fall into a lake and drown, or die to a runaway minecart.
Loads and Loads of Loading: Code optimization and multi-threading support are among the many, many things that Toady One is still working on. Be prepared to wait for a while if you're generating a huge world.
Low Fantasy: There may be dragons and elves, but there's hardly a drop of magic to be found.note Yet. It's just you and your dwarves, struggling to survive in an untamed world by means of industry, alcohol, and cold, hard, steel.
Ludicrous Gibs: The game's health system is very in-depth, keeping track of every part of every character's body down to eyes, internal organs, individual fingers and toes and skin-, fat-, muscle and bone-layers. Gibs, represented as red '2's—or green, or grey, depending on whether it bleeds blood or goo—will litter the surrounding environment if enemies are dismembered, disemboweled, hacked in two, or thrown into a wall with enough force to blow apart. It gets even better in adventure mode, which lets you take control of a single adventurer. This mode includes a blow-by-blow account of every fight, and the ability to pick up and throw the severed bits of enemies: or anything else, for that matter. Thrown objects- even socks- will often hit with deadly force, breaking bones, damaging organs, or splattering brains across the floor. Ludicrous gibs indeed.
If an axedwarf is sufficiently experienced, he/she can eviscerate goblins so spectacularly the goblin's left leg ends up in a nearby tree. Meanwhile, if a mace- or hammerdwarf gets a sufficient velocity on his goblin, the goblin can explode into every single one of his components. "Where did that guy's arm go again?"
Something similar can happen to your dwarves at the hands of goblins. Sorry, that should be "at the hands of goblin wrestlers".
A basic Dwarf recruit who hasn't had time to go grab a weapon can still beat up kobolds so spectacularly that the kobold's left arm ends up in two pieces.
Even kobolds get the opportunity to do this. In Kobold Camp, a modification for the game, champion level kobold soldiers, using bone armor and copper weapons, can easily knock the limbs off goblin raiders, who use iron armor and weapons.
It doesn't stop at melee combat. When something is burned ludicrously, you get to pick through the burning corpse. You see such awesome things as "xx!!cat brain!!xx" (The !!s mean it's on fire, the xx meaning there's not much left of it.)
This can come back to bite the dwarves in the ass when in evil biomes, as every severed part reanimates as an individual enemy. As a result, you might find an entire army of angry limbs besieging your fort if you rely on sharp weaponry a bit too much.
Mad Artist: Strange Moods causes dwarfs to produce something incredibly valuable, but defying any logic and sometimes laws of nature. Like a gold anvil or earring so engraved it would require nanotechnology to fit all this engravings on them.
Made of Iron: Neither internal bleeding nor cumulative damage are implemented in the current release, making it possible (in theory) to pound on an enemy with a blunt weapon for days or months at a time, crushing every bone and organ in their body without killing them. In practice, a crushing blow to the skull, which will ram it through the brain and kill the target, is common.
Made of Plasticine: It's not uncommon for creatures to get their heads punched off, or shot in half with an arrow. Items such as socks and backpacks can also be used to inflict impossibly severe injuries, and snowball fights can be deadly◊.
Magic is Evil: Development on the DF magical system has begun—the first type of mage to be introduced was the necromancer.
Interactions, files added that can be used by creatures, are the source of "magic". This means the Dwarf Fortress users can add their own magic. It hardly needs to be said that the magic will be used for evil and cruelty. There is already a spell to crush your opponents lungs at a thought. It can get far, far worse.
Mars Needs Women: The reason Night Trolls kidnap mortals of the opposite gender.
Martial Arts and Crafts: Picks, despite being mediocre weapons, can be pretty dangerous in the right hands. The skill to attack with a pick is Mining, and busy miners train up that skill far faster than military dwarves with mere sparring. Guess what happens when some critter jumps on a Legendary miner?
Minecart Madness: In newer versions you can create minecarts complete with physics simulation to haul goods (and other fun stuff). The "madness" part is obvious after this, given the nature of the game. They are proving to be a very, very Fun. Among other things, they move fast enough they become hard to hit... and allow attacks from a cart.
Toady One: "I set a hauler to ride a minecart to its next stop. That happened to take the dwarf down eight ramps and then up a launch ramp into an open cavern. High up in the cavern there was a wide ledge and on the ledge there was a goblin, chilling out right where I had created it. I activated the dwarf's squad, and he had just enough hang-time at the top of the flight arc to get a punch in. The goblin struck back but the dwarf jumped on to the ledge, where they continued to fight as the cart fell down into the darkness."
Necromancer: Who, as expected, lead armies of zombified creatures (or their severed parts) against their foes.
Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: While vampirism and werecreature curses are mutually exclusive, adventurers can still become one of those as well as a necromancer and sort of ghoul called a husk. The severed parts of werecreatures raised as undead will still transform regenerating into a full body with a full moon. It's quite possible for a fortress to be swarmed by a growing horde of clones of the same person. There are also reports of werecreature ghosts; worse yet, there are necromancer ghosts who, to the horror of many, can still raise corpses (including their own) despite being dead.
Nigh-Invulnerability: Enemies without brains, other internal organs or blood are almost literally unkillable with blunt weapons alone. This includes certain kinds of undead and megabeasts like the Bronze Colossus.
If the Random Number God really hates you, you may get a Forgotten Beast made of some extremely tough material such as a magma-proof stone, hard gemstone, steel, or—Armok protect you—adamantine.
Nobody Poops: Played straight, which is noteworthy considering that pretty much everything else is in this game. Toady has stated that even though he's fine with fertilizer and sewers, adventurers and fortress dwarves having to go to the bathroom (on top of so much existing self-maintenance) would be a needless distraction that breaks immersion.
See also the Lord British Postulate entry above, which explains why a majority of the fanbase (whose attention to detail is normally acute) is fine with playing this one straight. Nobody, even the few players who didn't mind the whole Mermaid Farming thing, wants the forums inundated with ingenious design concepts for a raw sewage drowning trap.
North Is Cold, South Is Hot: When the world-generator is set to create an island continent, the position of the "hot" hemisphere and the "cold" hemisphere is randomly chosen. Larger worlds have an equator and two poles.
The Oath-Breaker: Oath-breaking is one of the ethics tracked by civilizations. In-game this generally only affects mandates, resulting in your dwarves being punished for not making an item a noble orders to be produced (even if it's impossible to make.) Mind you, dwarves as a race take this as a pretty serious offense, worthy of jailtime or a couple of possibly lethal hammer strikes.
Odd Job Gods: The game may, for instance, generate a god of salt. Sometimes these deities can get Flight, Strength, Heart as well; it's perfectly plausible to find a god of death, war, murder and... rainbows.
Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Dwarf Fortress is technically a sequel to the defunct Slaves to Armok: God of Blood, making it Slaves to Armok: God of Blood Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress: Histories of X and Y.
Oh Crap: If you haven't had one of these, you're probably playing the game wrong.
Urist McHapless cancels Fell Tree: Interrupted by Bronze Colossus.
Urist McLegendaryArmorsmith cancels Taking a Break in the Caverns: Interrupted by Giant Cave Spider.
"What is that magma doing there? What are these 'dangerous terrain' cancella... oh my god, there's a baby on fire."
A vile force of darkness has arrived! "Oh no, I have no military or traps or anything to defend myself!"
One-Man Army: With enough training and good enough weapons and armor, a lone dwarf can reduce entire hordes of Goblins to literal pulp. 1 dwarf VS 100 goblins ? It's even possible to curbstomb the 100 goblins with one entire dwarf.
Nothing's preventing you from having several of these in your fort. Hell, you can even have a whole army of One Man armies.
One Steve Limit: Averted, unless you use the nicknaming feature to distinguish your dwarves. There's a reason 'Urist' became a reference for the generic Everydwarf. In your fortress, it could be Malfol or Domas...you think Bomrek is a distinctive name? Well, you get four of them in your next migration wave.
Only a Flesh Wound: People of all races will ignore severed limbs, their entrails hanging out of them, and arrows sticking through everywhere in their body. In fact, legless/armless/quintuple amuputee warriors tend to move faster, for some bizarre reason.
Open Secret: The 'Hidden' Fun Stuff, which just about everyone finds out about from reading Lets Plays well before encountering it themselves. This is unlikely to change as the game has a very high bar for entry, and only by reading about how interesting the game can be are most people willing to learn. It doesn't help that the game has no instruction guide, and learning to play all but requires use of the wiki.
Still, some players try to hide certain facts (seriously or jokingly) by calling demons "clowns", adamantine "cotton candy", hell "the circus" and demonic fortresses "circus tents".
There's nothing to stop the player subverting this a bit, of course. Want to build a community of dwarves who live in wooden houses on the surface and specialize in dressmaking? Nothing much to stop you.
Our Elves Are Better: Elves are extremely protective of forests, to the point where they may even declare war against a civilization that harvests too much. They also occasionally devour enemy combatants after battle.
Our Monsters Are Weird: Forgotten Beasts, Titans, and demons are randomly generated, and the results are very, very strange. More consistent, but still bizarre, are the many-tentacled Sea Monsters, and the various creatures such as Pond Grabbers, Green Devourers, and Cave Crawlers that live Beneath the Earth.
Our Vampires Are Different: These are mortals cursed by a god to wander the night searching for blood. They are effectively immortal, can go without food, sleep, or water, and regenerate damage quickly, especially when well fed, but otherwise act like the living. A fortress can be infiltrated by a vampire in the waves of migrants, who will feed off sleeping dwarves (preferably when no one is looking.) They will even try to accuse other dwarves of being the vampire to throw attention away from themselves. Any mortal that drinks the blood of a vampire becomes one themselves, including the Player Character in adventure mode, and dwarven citizens if their blood happens to contaminate the water supply.note Needless to say, this latter fact is routinely abused by the player base to make all-vampire fortresses.
Our Werebeasts Are Different: Much like the vampires, they are created when the gods curse a mortal, only this curse makes them turn into the form of a beast every full moon. This can be any beast, be it a turtle, rhino, or even gopher, among many others. Every time they transform all of their wounds are healed (even missing limbs), but they also drop all their items.
Our Zombies Are Different: The new combat system uses organ damage/bleeding as a significant factor in determining death. Zombie and skeletal creatures are rather lacking in organs and blood, so they wound up nigh impossible to kill. Well-trained dwarf militia could fight even minor skeletal creatures for several months before the game would decide they had been bludgeoned enough to be considered "dead." Subsequent releases patched in better damage calculation for undead creatures, but it's still extremely difficult to kill a skeletal undead with blunt weapons only.
The latest version adds many more zombie options, including necromancers and evil biomes that cause all corpses to rise as undead. This applies to body parts as well, so long as at least one has a GRASP tag (mouth, hands, pincer, etc.). Chop up a zombie and moments later you could be fighting the remains of the zombie's corpse, his left arm and head. Depending on circumstances, they will keep rising until you dump them in magma.
The latest version also introduces "husks"—undead beings with a singular hatred for all life and much stronger and tougher than they were in life. Living things covered in cursed dust become husks, and the dust covering one husk can spread to curse more if it isn't washed off. This can quickly lead to an unstoppable Zombie Apocalypse.
Palette Swap: The fact that the game's done in ASCII graphics makes this a justified case.
Patchwork Map: Averted completely in that the world generator takes weather effects into account to always create a realistic map, though you can tweak it to make one on purpose. This trope does however apply to veins and clusters of metal ore for Rule of Fun and balance reasons.
Perpetual Motion Machine: The mechanical energy needed to pump water up one story is only one tenth the amount generated when the water comes back down and powers a water wheel (although the wheel itself draws another 1/10, and the machinery connecting the wheel to the pump will probably take somewhat more). Power the pump with the water wheel, prime it once with manual labor, and it will endlessly generate power.
Perpetual-Motion Monster: The result of combining the tags NOEXERT, NO_EAT, NO_DRINK, and NO_SLEEP, often found on inorganic, undead, or especially strong monsters.
Physical Hell: Yes, you can dig to hell now. Just don't expect to win the resulting battle, as there are literally billions of demons and some don't even have organs to destroy, making them Nigh Invulnerable. Additionally, they are all flying, magma-proof, drowning-proof building destroyers, so once freed, odds are you won't be able to contain them again. It's possible, though: several players have succeeded in colonizing Hell. Including putting civilian quarters down there just for the sake of "tonight we dine in Hell" jokes.
Pointless Doomsday Device: Dwarven Physics, coupled with constant threats and lots of creative players, lends itself to this.
One of the most famous examples is Operation: Fuck The World, from Boatmurdered: a lever that, when pulled, released a flood of magma across the plains. In practice, however, FTW proved to be more of a standard Doomsday Device, ruining the surface world and its hordes of rampaging elephants, while only tangentially starting the fortress' fiery downfall by setting off a host of other issues.
Post-Modern Magik: Dwarven Physics tend to result in unusual uses of old fantasy tropes. The Forgotten Beasts, especially. Beware the fearsome Werechinchilla!
Puff of Logic: Procedural Generation of a world can occasionally result in things that make sense from the world map but are impossible with the more detailed simulation from actually being in a place, leading to things like land collapsing the second after it is observed.
Punched Across the Room: Happened a lot in earlier versions, toned down considerably now. However, it's even deadlier whenever it happens now, as the minecart update made skidding across the ground a bone-shattering experience, even with a "weak" one-square flight.
Purely Aesthetic Gender: Not even aesthetic, because of the simple graphics. Well, no stat (or even anatomical) difference, but female Dwarfs can have babies.
Not so much having babies but dropping babies out of their wombs. Pregnant dwarfs don't get any motherly leave and just keep working. So it's not that uncommon one of your miners pop out a baby while in the middle of digging out a tunnel. Same with animals. Happened more than once dogs giving birth to puppies while in the middle of battle. And then those puppies joining in the battle.
Also, dwarven women will carry their children into battle, if they're young enough. Even if they are warriors. Even if they are warriors trained primarily in wrestling. This may result in a domino anger-death spiral when the baby is almost inevitably impaled on something.
Not only that, but dwarves will wear clothing items regardless of gender—thus, you can see men wearing, among other things, a skirt, a dress, a pair of trousers, a loincloth, and several other items.
In fact, having a female/male/genderless-only race only affects how many of them there are (with, you know, the inability to make more children a factor).
Animals (but not dwarves) can become pregnant even if the males and females are kept physically separated. This has led to the widely-accepted theory that creatures in the game reproduce via spores.
Purple Prose: Books written by necromancers can be described with "the writing is excessively ornate". Often suggesting over-elaborate, flowery writing about the author himself or analysis of his previous works.
Raised by Orcs: Goblins actively kidnap children and raise them. Goblin-raised entities act exactly like ordinary goblins, and can be seen snatching more children and participating in raiding parties. Even more horribly, snatched dwarves will adopt goblin aesthetics and shave their beards.
In a bit of a twist, their snatching tendencies mean that, after a few centuries, the original goblins often end up outnumbered by snatched elves, dwarves and humans/the descendants of same. Goblin-raised elves have the natural high stats of elves, with none of the culturally-imposed wooden equipment, making them far more deadly than regular elves or goblins.
This works both ways. It's rare but not unheard of to get a goblin envoy from the nearby Dwarven civilization. If they are second generation "Dwarves," they will even get a Dwarven name.
Under rare circumstances, during world generation, a demon may conquer a nearby civilization which will nonetheless remain friendly with you. Very, very occasionally you may have a fort that gets visits from a demonic diplomat from a nearby human or elf civilization. Or even a Forgotten Beast.
Raising the Steaks: Evil-aligned, "haunted" areas are full of zombie and skeleton animals, which are ridiculously hard to kill. Skeletal enemies lack vulnerable internal organs, so piercing weapons — normally the fast track to a One-Hit Kill — are a lot less effective, and undead enemies cannot bleed out or be overcome by pain or exhaustion. A Hit Point system was implemented until exactly what was keeping them moving becomes more developed and thus easier to deal with.
Now that corpses and even individual body parts that aren't processed into stacks will actually come alive in those places, basically the only way to survive is to go vegetarian (with both food and items).
Undead sea creatures can travel over land. This can range from slightly embarrassing, when your starting party is slaughtered by a school of skeletal carp, to downright terrifying when the nigh-unstoppable zombie whales come to visit.
Rasputinian Death: The ultra-buggy first release of the 2010 version of Dwarf Fortress features plenty of these. Creatures lived through an enormous deal of torture before dying, including major organ damage. Nonliving opponents such as bronze colossi were very nearly invulnerable; the only way to kill them was to completely disassemble their bodies (very difficult because their bronze tissue absorbs a great deal of damage, unless you make their own weight work against them by dropping them from a great height) or to dump magma on them until they've been reduced to a puddle.
Reality Ensues: When the game's physics isn't hilariously buggy, it can produce some of this. For instance, adamantine items are ridiculously valuable, don't bend or break under any amount of stress once formed into items, can be sharpened to an incredible edge... with density akin to balsa or Styrofoam. This means that while adamantine plate armor gives you less weight than the chainmail of other metals with much, much more of the strength and edged weapons are capable of producing a One-Man Army in skilled hands, adamantine maces, warhammers and projectiles are a joke.
For that matter, while the armor itself is nigh-impossible to penetrate, non-rigid adamantine objects still provide little protection from blunt force, meaning you can be hurt by a bronze mace even when wearing adamantine chain-mail.
You also cannot go around kicking ass with your bare handsand no armor, as even the most skilled wrestlers are still highly vulnerable to any armed opponent.
Real Time with Pause: In fact you need to pause to give any order. The game would've been completely hopeless without it. Then again, it is completely hopeless anyway, at least for your poor Dwarves.
Red Baron: Sentient beings that starts racking up kills have bestowed upon them a badass title such as "The Awe-Inspiring Warrior Ram". Otherwise-unnamed monsters who do the same will eventually pick up a nickname as well.
However, if the Random Number God decides to entitle you, "The Towel of Slapping," you may prefer to simply be called "Urist."
An in-canon example would be the fluffy wamblers — chibified humanoids (like an elemental, but composed of fluff and pudge and kitten-sized) with eyes and nose. Food-gnawing vermin that appears only in good aligned biomes and apparently so adorable dwarfs won't butcher them. And we're talking about a race who will gleefully butcher a newborn puppy should the need, want, or thought arise.
Screw You, Elves!: A pretty standard response to the Elves arriving is something along these lines - unless, for some reason, your fortress is in need of cloth. One particular thread was dedicated to constructing a giant artificial tree out of blocks of charcoal and decorating it with Elves in cages. Most everyone else's method of getting rid of them is like everything else in the game; magma.
Shown Their Work: Regarding geology; the game has dozens of types of rocks, sorted by the geological formations they're most likely to appear in. This is not to mention the accurate distribution of flora and fauna in those geological formations.
Silly Reason for War: The wars in world-gen history can be like this, especially if elves are involved: "The War of Ignition was waged by The Imperial Fells on The Council of Lances. One of the most significant causes of the conflict was a dispute over the treatment of plants." Elves do not like it when plants are mistreated. And you Can't Argue with Elves.
Space Compression: A dragon takes up one square; so do dwarves and cats. The only thing that doesn't (not counting buildings) is traders' wagons.
This can and will lead to rather hilarious geometric paradoxes — a tile is large enough to contain a dragon, but not large enough to contain two kittens without one of them crouching. A tile can theoretically contain 1,000 dragons as long as 999 of them aren't standing up.
Pretty much anything can be stored on a single tile and remain usable with just a little micromanagement. Fan Nickname: "Quantum Stockpiling".invoked
Likewise, you can fit your fortress's entire animal population into a single cage, including 5 elephants, two cave crocodiles, three dozen cats and kittens, 15 dogs, and a partridge in a pear tree.
Story-Driven Invulnerability: Randomly generated megabeasts, like Forgotten Beasts and Titans, are invulnerable during world generation, that they may wander the world and shape history through their actions. They only become vulnerable once the player has an opportunity to interact with them, otherwise they might get killed early on and the player will never see them. This is especially true of random megabeasts that are made from materials that would otherwise be particularly delicate and would never have survived otherwise.
Subsystem Damage: For practically every living creature, the game keeps track of the health of individual body parts, down to fingers, toes, internal organs, skin and tissue layers, teeth, and individual bones. It also monitors what kind of damage: bruise, cut, puncture, break, etc. Nausea, pain, exertion, and blood loss are also tracked. A framework for poisons, venoms, and diseases also got installed. The system doesn't quite yet work for The Undead, so they also have Hit Points to prevent them from being Nigh Invulnerable.
An Arm and a Leg: Slashing weapons (particularly weapon traps full of serrated discs) will sever arms and legs and send them flying. This is amusing but creates a huge mess to clean up. Dwarves with missing limbs lose the ability to carry some items, to walk without crutches, or even to do any work. You may find yourself killing off your veterans just to make the "cannot pick up equipment" messages go away.
"Eyelids clean the eyes so you don't have to soap them off, but if an eyelid is torn off, I think they might soap the eyes."
Also, wrestling. "Gouge left eye with right hand"
The *wooden bolt* hits the goblin swordsman in the left eye, breaking it. An artery is severed!
Syndromes can affect only certain body parts. It can and has happened that a randomly generated syndrome from a Forgotten Beast does nothing but cause your dwarves' eyes to rot out. (They don't seem to mind all that much as long as they get medical help. Being constantly drunk probably helps them cope.)
Individual extremities can be targeted, including fingers, toes, ears, noses, and teeth, and aimed attacks in Adventure Mode will allow you to break or cut them off one piece at a time.
Succession Game: In both Adventure Mode and Fortress mode great accomplishments are recorded in the 'Legends' mode. You can also visit former Forts in Adventure mode, and they become a dungeon crawl full of beasts and monsters.
A popular form of play amongst the player community. Individuals take turns running a dwarf fort for a set amount of time and passing on the save to the next players. See Boatmurdered, Headshoots, and Syrupleaf entries mentioned above.
Suicidal Overconfidence: The puny Troglodytes or any other aggressive but weak creature will always attack any Dwarf they spot. Even if the dwarf is a legendary warrior, or clad in full steel plate and armed to the teeth.
Technically Living Zombie: Whereas normal undead start as corpses, husks are created by exposing living beings to assorted evil weather. They gain immunity to all the usual vulnerabilities save decapitation and bisection, as well as the normal ways to render something Deader than Dead (drawbridges, cave-in abuse, etc).
Teeth Flying: Arrows can occasionally target and remove teeth, sending them launching with the bolt. More spectacular blunt mouth trauma can throw the entire set of teeth out at once, spewing them out of the poor creature's mouth in every direction and just generally creating a headache for clean up.
Turns Red: Dwarves can "enter martial trances" when severely outnumbered, while many species (including dwarves) can become "enraged" in a pitched battle. How likely any given character is to do either is heavily affected by their randomly-generated mental traits.
Unbreakable Weapons: For now anyway, though the obsidian weapons are supposedly going to be particularly susceptible to this.
Unicorn: Part of the fauna in good lands, and occasionally ridden by elves. Their horns pack a mean punch if you get in a fight, but goods and food made from their remains can fetch a very nice price.
Universal Poison: Previous to DF2010 basically how poisons worked. With DF2010, syndromes can have one or more of over a dozen different effects, each of which may affect one or more body parts or subsystems and have values determining chance of resistance and recovery time, if any. Beasties can bite, leak, breathe, spit, ooze and bleed toxins that can be inhaled, injected, received on contact or contracted through ingestion. Depending on the particular combination, they can range from a temporary minor dizziness to causing your arms and legs to rot off, your skin to blister, excruciating pain over your entire body followed by full neural paralysis resulting in death by suffocation.
Medical procedures can potentially do surgery on infected body parts before the syndrome can spread or cause further side-effects like infection.
Worse in that poisons can now spread like diseases through contact with infected blood.
The 2012 update averts this even further by adding syndromes that fundamentally change the affected creature's stats and behavior. Evil fogs that turn creatures into angry, Nigh Invulnerable thralls are one of the most memorable of these.
Unobtainium: Adamantine is even important enough to set off a major event in game.
In the 2010 version, there's a second kind of Unobtainium known as "Slade", which is unimaginably heavy and impossible to even scratch. Even with Adamantine picks, you cannot mine it out. Someone did find a way to obtain single stones of it (by digging a ramp up underneath a slade floor), but it is nigh unusable in dwarf mode. If you hit up the arena though, you can spawn creatures wearing slade armor wielding slade hammers. They're as effective as you think they would be.
Unfortunately, you can't actually make anything with it in Fortress Mode. (See Upper-Class Twit below for why this can be bad.) Similarly, some dwarves will like impossible animal materials, like oriole tooth.
Unstable Equilibrium: Letting too many dwarves get upset will cause everyone else's moods to go down, and if not caught quickly, can result in an uncontrollable tantrum spiral. And keeping dwarves happy requires a lot of work producing items for them to admire.
Unusual Euphemism: Demons are referred to as clowns, hell is called the circus, to try to avoid spoilers for new players.
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Vampires are supposed to garner suspicion in world gen from feeding on people, but it's currently bugged to the point that a vampire can consume thousands of people in one village without getting caught.
Likewise, there can be a dozen witnesses to a vampire feeding on and killing a sleeping dwarf and none of them will do anything about it, other than accuse the vampire of murder.
Upper-Class Twit: It can be difficult to tell whether your nobles know anything about anything. It's not impossible for dwarves to die in droves because your Baron keeps asking for random items regardless of which materials are available. In earlier versions, they could even request items made of slade, a material which cannot be mined and which they should not even know exists.
Vendor Trash: Crafts, totems, toys, musical instruments and mugs can be used for two things - selling to the seasonal caravans and: once the economy starts. shop stock. On the other hand it's a great way of getting rid of the average fort's mountain of stone.
The non-meat, non-metal portion of goblinite becomes this. Until industries pick up, a Goblin Christmas is a windfall, but after the inferior loot piles up, it becomes such a chore foisting it on the caravans that players come up with more selective disposal methods.
And now that clothing deteriorates and dwarves get bad thoughts from wearing old clothes, after a couple of years, your fort will start getting littered with old clothing that dwarves trade in for newer stuff. Atom-smash it, toss it in magma, or sell it to caravans and tell them it's "vintage."
Video Game Caring Potential: Feel like a benevolent ruler? Want to keep all of your dwarves in an eternal state of bliss or make an Utopia with them? It's not only possible, and even doable without too much fuss!
Let's put it this way: the only limit to the number of different death/torture traps you can build is your capability to make the subject X and the object Y collide at high speed. And then some.
One of the accepted ways to grind wrestling is to choke an enemy unconscious before breaking every single bone in their body with various grabs, throws, breaks and pulls. The end result is usually an unstable biomass vaguely resembling what it used to be, either for Wrestle Dwarves in Fortress or Wrestle Adventurers in Adventure mode.
A way to try and make super soldiers (or any useful Fortress-bred dwarves at all), known simply as "Dwarven Daycare", is to lock a baby in a tiny room with a bunch of dogs. Before soon the dogs will grow aggressive because of overcrowding, and the child will be forced to defend itself. A steady supply of dogs is ensured. This is repeated until the child matures into an adult at age 12. An upgraded approach includes precisely burning the child's subcutaneous fat off its body, making it fireproof.
There's also the Danger Room method of training dwarves in Fortress mode. A room filled with spikes moving in-and-out of walls at dangerous speeds, combined with a bunch of soldier dwarves with little to no armor and shields until they learn how to dodge or block dependably. The mortality rate is usually high, though less so if you use wooden spikes. In that case, the only thing to die are babies carried by mothers, which, sadly, many players consider to be a "feature" and not a design flaw.
"Live training" involves capturing invaders in cage traps, stripping them naked, and carefully releasing them for your fully armed and armored dwarves to butcher. More dangerous creatures like trolls can be dropped into pits and used for target practice by marksdwarves.
Viral Transformation: Night Trolls are able to create mates for themselves by transforming villagers. In the newest version, vampires and werebeasts will transfer curses through their bites and blood.
The Virus: Venom from Forgotten Beasts is sometimes transmissible, potentially leaving your entire fortress poisoned.
.34 adds the ability for vampirism and lycanthropy to be contagious, as well as the framework for any other contagious interaction the inventive player can think of.
Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Dwarves can get Cave Adaptation if they spend too long underground, which causes them to vomit when they are aboveground. Creatures who have taken significant damage will vomit from pain. Send a well-trained squad of Cave Adapted dwarves up top to brutalize a goblin attack and you wind up with both sides spending as much time vomiting as fighting and a technicolor battlefield.
One of the most common symptoms of the evil rains from the 2012 release is nausea. If you embark in an area with this type of weather, it's virtually guaranteed that your entryway and halls for dozens of tiles away will be covered in pools of vomit.
Weaponized Offspring: Thanks to the detailed simulation and Wide Open Sandbox nature of Dwarf Fortress, it's completely possible, even with a vanilla version, to use quickly reproducing non-pasture animals such as turkeys or peafowl as an infinite source of ammunition to blast off lava cannons onto enemy hordes. The trick is to set the ammo on fire prior to launch. And of course, you probably have some dwarven kids running around as well, contributing nothing and learning nothing while depleting your booze stock for nine years...
You Are The Translated Foreign Word: Sometimes names are listed in one of the in-game languages and sometimes they're translated, with relatively little rhyme or reason which is used. This variation is occasionally used as a compromise, such as on the blurb shown on embark.
Artistic License - Physics: Also known as "Dwarven Physics." It's not only possible, but easy, to build a perpetual motion machine, and melting a metal item only allows you to recover one third of its original mass. The same unit block of stone can be used to make a one-tile wall, three mugs, or as little as one toy boat, with no waste material in either case. Some of these will probably be fixed eventually.
The perpetual motion machine issue actually arises from trying to apply the laws of physics too accurately, while simultaneously trying to bend them in the name of the Rule of Fun. The flow rate of screw pumps is two orders of magnitude greater than it should be for the power applied due to using a one dimensional quantity (liquid depth) as if it were a three dimensional one (liquid volume). Correcting this "bug," however, would result in the pumps either moving liquids so slowly they would evaporate before reaching a depth greater than 1, or require 100 fully powered water wheels per pump (assuming tiles are 10 x 10 liquid levels in size, as their power generation seems to indicate for a given liquid flow rate). Choosing not to try to think too hard about it seems to be the best compromise for the sake of gameplay, at least until flow rate calculations can be rebalanced.
You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Dwarves and humans have standard hair color, but elves will occasionally have white or green hair, and goblin hair colors are mainly shades of purple, with pink and red on the extreme end of their relative spectrum.
Zerg Rush: Due to a bug in 34.01, giant mosquitoes tended to show up in swarms of over a hundred, killing FPS and dwarves alike. Thankfully, this was fixed in the subsequent release.
In addition, necromancer towers are filled with zombies that can easily overwhelm an adventurer.
This is what happens when you break into hell. One demon is enough to grind a fortress to fine powder, but they come in swarms of hundreds.
This is the staple tactic of goblins: generally being not as well-armed as dwarven soldiers, they make up for it in numbers.
List of tropes specific to each Mode:
Fortress Mode Tropes: A-D
And I Must Scream: Creatures in cages can never die of anything but old age or escape on their own, and the cage will last forever. You could theoretically lock an elf (or other immortal creature) in a cage, put the cage in the center of a mountain, collapse the path you dug to get him there, then forget the elf forever. He'd be there forever.
It's also possible for horribly injured dwarves to be bedridden the rest of their lives, with their motor and sensory nervous systems destroyed. Euthanasia is recommended, not just to end their suffering, but also because they'll be a tax on your water and food reserves and take medical staff's time.
You're actually rewarded for doing this to vampire dwarves: even though they feed on other dwarves, they still count as members of your fortress and thus you don't get a Game Over even if all you have left is one vampire dwarf. Since they don't hunger or age, you can just seal one in a room forever and your fortress will never die, even if the vampire goes insane from being naked. That is, until the ghosts come to pay him a visit...
Anvil On Head: Falling anvil traps have been worked out, and due to the peculiarities of how the game handles physics, they're about as dangerous as in a cartoon (IE: likely to stun and that's it.) Dropping arrows or seeds this way is much more lethal.
Particularly painful example from the old version: you, the supreme overlord, have mandated that no-one goes above-ground because of an army of besieging goblins...so dwarves march out to do a job, cancel whatever it was they were going to do, and then just loaf around and catch some rays until the goblins kill them. They had it coming, too.
You can assign specific uniforms to your dwarf soldiers, and if there is not exactly what you have assigned, they will grab the next best thing. Now let's say you're holed up because of a full-on siege but one of your soldiers dies for the above reason. He has better equipment than one of your other military dwarves, who will now try to head to his corpse because there's a really nice pair of boots out there. Then he dies and another dwarf thinks, "You know, his crossbow was better than mine..."
Urist McOblivious gets thirsty; Urist McOblivious goes to nearby pond; Urist McOblivious fails to notice that the pond is surrounded by bits of his fellow dwarves that have been torn apart by deadly carp; Urist McOblivious takes a drink; various pieces of Urist McOblivious join the various bits of his fellow dwarves. Urist McDumbasabrick gets thirsty....
There is a workaround on the wiki specifically to prevent your dwarves from sealing themselves in the room when they install a floodgate onto the only entrance. This is apparently a common enough act to have received its own shout out in a World of Warcraft expansion.
"The cyclops then proceeded to chase the kitten around for 10 IRL minutes before squishing it. However, after it squished the kitten it ran into a murky pool and drowned itself."
Will eagerly pass through rooms with the whole floor burning (lignite/graphite grates, little magma washing) — "the mere fact that a location is on fire will not stop them from walking through it. On the plus side, goblins are just as stupid."
There are numerous stories on the forums of Legendary warriors battling far weaker opponents only to dodge a weak attack right off a bridge, stairs, cliff, into a lake, down a well....
It's common knowledge that a dwarf being chased by an enemy will never run towards the heavily-trapped and fortified entrance to your fort, but in some other - inevitably fatal - direction.
Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Once either population or accumulated wealth is big enough, they will come. They can be killed with a lot of training and some luck... but don't think simple doors can stop them. Although cage traps can stop most of them dead.
See also Disaster Dominoes. To the community, it's known as a "tantrum spiral" and has been known to kill many a fort.
At times it seems that the entire population is balanced on the axe-edge of utter insanity.
If they are extremely unhappy, a dwarf may occasionally be inexplicably overcome by a "fell mood". From the wiki:
A dwarf that goes into a fell mood will always take over a butcher's shop or a tanner's shop. If neither are available, any other workshop will be used instead. The dwarf will then murder the nearest dwarf (bonus if it's a noble), drag the corpse into the shop and make some sort of object out of dwarf leather or bone. Once the artifact is completed, the fell dwarf will become a legendary bone carver or leatherworker. Strangely, none of the other dwarves seem to mind the murder.
Awesome, but Impractical: Perhaps the crowning example would be turning your fortress into a Turing-complete fluid logic computer. Building it will take in-game years and a ridiculous amount of space, resources, and dwarfpower. Operating it will tax your system to the limit and require approximately an in-game week to complete a single opcode. On the other hand, you've built a computer. In a fantasy game. In a cave, with a bunch of rocks!
Bamboo Technology: Abstractions like levers activating arbitrarily remote machines built out of stone cogs apparently by infinite-distance quantum entanglement, and bugs such as perpetual motion machines made with water wheels and screw pumps allow for some amazing things. See the community page and CMOA page for details on the most impressive achievements, but even run-of-the-mill fortresses make use of magma-based wave motion guns.
Beneath the Earth: Where you'll be spending most of your time. However, If your dwarves stay underground for an extended period of time then come back onto the surface, they will become nauseous, and vomit all over the great outdoors.
Bizarrchitecture: Quite possible if you try hard enough. 'Dwarf physics' is very forgiving in a lot of ways.
Booby Trap: Anything from mostly single-use "trap" tiles, like weapon and cage traps, to player-designed deathtraps, which can spread magma around dozens of tiles. And then dump water on it, freezing survivors in solid rock and drowning the rest.
A somewhat popular pastime is to then order your stone workers to sculpt statues from the freshly-formed obsidian rocks containing your enemies (or nobles, as the case may be) and put them on display around the fortress. While such undeath is not implemented (yet) in the game, it's still fun to imagine.
Unless you get fifty statues of elves with broken toes or humans taming eagles.
With the newly implemented ghosts, dead sentient creatures have a chance of doing assorted things to harm or annoy your little dwarfs. The way you fix that is to bury the corpse, or carve out a memorial in a stone. Nothing is more satisfying than encasing Elves in stone, then stopping their ghost from pissing you off by turning the rock their very bodies are in into the local Elven ghost prevention mechanism.
Booze-Based Buff: Without alcohol, your dwarves will begin to take more and more breaks, and your fortress will slow down to a snail's pace. Dwarves literally slow down when deprived of alcohol.
Bottomless Pit: Generally considered to be a boon to your fortress. The latest version removed these, though you can still "discover a deep pit" within the caverns, leading to another, deeper cavern layer.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The Dungeon Master is an adept animal trainer, grants you the ability to tame unusual creatures, and is talented at running a furnace and blacksmithing. He or she also often wanders around the fortress wearing only gloves, socks, shoes, and a thick stack of capes.
The Caligula: Nobles often qualify as this, making absurd demands and ordering anybody who doesn't comply severely punished.
Cap: Population caps and FPS caps, FPS acting as a measure of game speed.
Which can thankfully be raised -or lowered, since a fortress that reaches the default population cap can bring a high end gaming machine to its knees- with some trivial config file hacking.
On the Fun side, it creates potential for flooding if the sewer system below it fails, "job cancelled" message spam if it hoses dorfs trying to clean the grates from all this dirt and can significantly drop framerates on slower computers. Pressure plates based automation can reduce these issues (as long as it doesn't fail due to a butterfly, guppy or crocodile, of course), but not quite eliminate them.
Previously, if there was a waterfall on your map, dwarves had a strong tendency to cross the river at the point at which the water falls over the cliff, getting washed down and either being smashed against the bottom of the cliff or floating around until they drowned. Other dwarves would then try to claim their stuff, ad infinitum, until a whole fortress could be found floating face-down at the bottom of the falls.
Command And Conquer Economy: Though there are ways to reduce the amount of micromanaging required, generally you have to order everything to be built.
As Matt Boyd once found out, if the source of these cats is a pair owned by fortress residents, their refusal to give up their pets can force this down a road not dissimilar to the Shoe Event Horizon that took place on Frogstar B; basically, dwarf society reaches the Kitty Event Horizon and their entire socioeconomic structure starts to revolve around keeping the population in check.
Fortunately, both Crazy Cat Dwarves and their pets can be disposed of with a simple room that involves a long hallway with spikes in the floor, and a lever at the end that operates them.
Decontamination Chamber: Theoretically, dwarves try to clean both themselves and dirty floors. More likely, they will not only walk in goblins' blood and vomit, but contaminate the whole area with germs or poisons quickly melting a dwarf into puddle of pus which does the same to others on contact, if they can possibly find any on the map. So once the player can afford this, entrances into habitable areas tend to involve something like a waterfall or "Dwarven Bathtub".
Alternately, there were also recommendations of building a tunnel that linked hell directly to the nearest elven settlement. As well as a recommendation of building a cafeteria there so people "dine in hell" literally.
Community forts have finally managed this. The ongoing fortress Deathgate pulled this off.
Difficult but Awesome: It could be argued that the entire game is this trope, what with the steep learning curve◊ but the awesome things that can happen. This◊ outlines the bare essentials needed for a self-sustaining fort. Note that it does not mention that getting a muddy cave often requires mechanisms and floodgates or an early expedition into the cave layers, which could as well be a source of quick Fun. Here◊ is a similar diagram for getting your military operational.
Disaster Dominoes: Often what kills your fortress when it isn't simply massacred by goblins or drowned by accidentally tunneling into the river. One unhappy dwarf irritates fifty others, and within five minutes every single dwarf in the fortress has gone literally Ax-Crazy. Considering the quote for the page explains how you're most likely to have Fun in Dwarf Fortress, this shouldn't be much surprise.
Disproportionate Retribution: If there is a kobold civilization nearby and your dwarves notice the kobolds, your civilization menu will say that exports from the kobolds are "petty annoyance" while offerings to the kobolds are "death."
Also, while "Dwarven Justice" does cover legitimate crimes such as vandalism or violence, these things rarely happen except in a fortress which is rapidly heading towards oblivion (see Disaster Dominoes); said Justice is more often administered because a noble demanded a certain item be made, a bismuth bronze cabinet for example, and nobody built it because your current map doesn't contain the materials to make a bismuth bronze anything. The recipient of the justice is a randomly chosen dwarf with metalworking skill. And while it is possible to build "official" jail cells, there exists a dwarf noble called the Hammerer, whose only purpose is to administer Dwarven Justice by means of a large steel war hammer.
Players themselves are often more than willing to dish this out. Many Nobles have bedrooms that come complete with traps that will fill the room with magma, just in case they get too demanding.
Currently inverted with vampires - Punishment for a vampire sucking the blood out of a dozen of your fort's dwarves may only be 50 days in jail, or even just a punch in the face by the captain of the guard if you don't have restraints built. Not like it matters, however, as vampires are Made of Iron and will probably survive their own execution with nothing but some bruises and one very tired hammerer.
Dissonant Serenity: Reviewing the dwarves' descriptions after they die can reveal a number of them in varying stages of happiness at death. Some reasons:
Waterfall create mist. Dwarves for some reason love mist. In this case death is by drowning, of course.
Driven to Suicide: Melancholy dwarves, and other creatures, will attempt to throw themselves off a cliff or drown themselves (in lava or magma) - or, failing that, by simply starving themselves to death.
Due to the Dead: An actual gameplay mechanic. Failing to give dwarves a decent burial, or at least a memorial slab somewhere, makes their next of kin very unhappy. It can also result in the deceased appearing as a ghost, with consequences that range from merely annoying to potentially disastrous. Nobles also get unhappy about not having an assigned tomb that befits their status in life.
Since the 2012 release, this has gone somewhat meta. Remember those Ancient Tombs mentioned earlier? You can embark right next to one. And move in. As long as you don't disturb the coffin in the middle, which has consequences that can readily be imagined, the only thing stopping you from filling some poor schmuck's final resting place with drunken bipolar midgets and covering it in blood and vomit and inexplicable masterwork engravings of cheese is your own conscience.
"Horrifying screams come from the darkness below!"
Fortress Mode tropes: E-H
Eat the Dog: Often considered to be the ideal solution to the "catsplosion" problem. Dogs and cats are also the most cost efficient source of live meat at start-up, costing nearly 3/4 less per unit of meat than cows.
They also produce a steady supply of skulls for totems, which can be traded for goods, and bones, which can be used for a variety of things, but the most common and useful is making training ammo for your military.
Explosive Breeder: Dwarf Fortress has cats, which breed quickly: it's up to you whether you choose to see this as an annoyance or as a plentiful supply of meat and leather... (or trade goods if you don't feel like indulging in Video Game Cruelty Potential.)
You can also go into the raws, change cats' body temperature to be hot, and for bonus hi-jinx, give them the [SEVERONBREAK] flag so that their body parts fly off when damaged. This results in every cat on the map exploding into flamingchunks of gore, and is known as a thermonuclear catsplosion.
Since their addition to the game, egglayers, especially birds, have become even more spectacular at breeding than cats, since they can produce 10+ young at a time and unhatched clutches don't count toward the species population cap, allowing them to surpass it with ease. This is usually known as a birdsplosion.
Saltwater crocodile. 3 years to mature, but lays up to 70 eggs at once, becomes valuable after a year and such slaughterbasts when tamed make better guards than even war-trained dogs. Same for Cave crocodile, but up to 60 eggs, more valuable materials and a bad habit of tearing down wooden buildings.
Fluffy Tamer: The Dungeon Master in earlier versions, who let dwarves tame all sorts of strange and horrible creatures, ranging from dragons to crocodiles to Giant Cave Spiders. 34.06 removed the dungeon master and now lets you tame almost any animal right from the start. The catch is that without knowledge from the parent civilization or a really good animal trainer... well, to quote Toady, "your fort might end up like a Fatal Attractions episode."
For Massive Damage: With the physics derived combat damage calculations introduced in the 2010 update, weapon traps with purpose-built weapons (giant spiked balls, corkscrews, large serrated discs, etc.) do considerably more damage than equivalent material hand-held weapons used in the same type of weapon, especially when up to ten of them are packed into the same trap. This may also result in Ludicrous Gibs flying everywhere if an unwary foe steps on really full one made with good materials.
Fungus Humongous: The Tower-Caps, mushrooms so large they can be made into beds. The new version adds many more varieties growing in the expansive underground.
The game treats such fungus as a form of wood, and anything that can be built from wood can be built from such fungus. A particular breed of fungus found in the deepest caves has triple the material density of the other breeds. Thanks to the game's material-based combat system, this makes ballista bolts made from such wood three-times more massive than usual, resulting in a huge net damage boost to an already powerful weapon.
Full-Frontal Assault: In some earlier versions, dwarves didn't mind if they were clothed or not, so there have been numerous instances of them going into battle naked. The success of this is varied. Version 34.06 reintroduced unhappy thoughts from being naked, as part of the clothing bug fix.
Hell, the everything. Without a guide, the only way to figure out which stone is magma-safe is by losing fort after fort by trial-and-error.
Hide Your Children: Averted. There are many many many stories of women giving birth, WHILST IN BATTLE. Babies in fact make good shields for mothers who run into battle.
Not to be confused with hiding your children because a goblin snatcher showed up to try and abduct them.
Horse of a Different Color: There's a bunch of exotic mounts... Goblins sometimes drop in riding things like Voracious cave crawler (building-crushing carnivorous centipedes) and Cave crocodile.
100% Heroism Rating: Dwarves love their history, and if your adventurer has done anything noteworthy within range of a fortress embark, they will canonize the player in artworks. As of 3.18, an adventurer acquires renown for slaying beasts and bandits within a single civilization, and will be greeted with respect, even awe if they have high enough reputation to get quests directly from region rulers. As your reputation goes up, you're also capable of recruiting more people to fight with you at once, getting as much as 9 1/2 times as much as a reputation-less adventure could.
The Hypnotoad: Cats. Dwarfs don't adopt cats as pets - cats adopt dwarfs. This is the cat's primary defensive protection against bloodthirsty butchers who can't slaughter animals who are someone's pet.
Fortress Mode tropes: I-L
I Call It Vera: If a dwarf gets sufficiently attached to a weapon, they will bestow a name upon it.
Instant Birth, Just Add Water: A female dwarf keeps right on working or fighting throughout pregnancy. Giving birth causes a one-turn "maternity leave" while she picks up her child... if it isn't skewered or snatched away by a nearby goblin.
Interface Spoiler: An attempt was made to avoid this, but it wasn't completely successful. While in development, Toady realized that vampires would be unable to infiltrate the player's fortress without the UI giving them away. So, he modified the UI and a few game mechanics to accommodate stealthy vampires, including:
Dwarves disappearing and anonymous crimes. In the old system, you are informed when a dwarf is attacked or killed and told who the culprit is. Now, you are only informed if there is a witness to notice the deed. Dwarves who haven't been seen recently are quietly added to a list of missing units, crimes will likewise be silently added to the justice screen if there are no witnesses. So dwarves can turn up dead and you won't know who killed them, but if you're attentive you'll know they vanished. Vampires can also frame other dwarves for their crimes.
Migrant skills. Vampires were given old, unused skills before other migrants were. So, the vampire was the only newcomer with a half-forgotten trade. All migrants can have old skills now.
Fake identities. Previously, you knew almost everything to know about a dwarf by reading his bio. Now they can assume false identities to hide their real age and potentially lengthy kill records. Their relationships can hint at their identity: a spouse not present in the fortress or armies of relatives suggest a vampire. This is were problems creep in: if the dwarf worships a god then that deity will be listed as a relationship. The deity's history can be viewed, providing a list of worshipers and curse victims, and listing a vampire's original identity. If you assign a nickname to a dwarf, the list will display the nickname rather then the assumed and real names. Thus, vampires can be spotted via the UI by nicknaming all newcomers, because giving Urist McCheesemaker the nickname "Doofus" results in the god's history reading "Cursed 'Doofus' McStonecrafter to prowl the night in search of blood".
In-Universe Game Clock: The game keeps track of how long your dwarfs have been at the fortress, and things like weather, available crops, and arrival of traders are tied to the season.
Inventional Wisdom: As any given game progresses, the chances of something improbable and absurd happening because the player forgot precisely what a certain lever or pressure plate does approaches almost certainty.
It Gets Easier: Dwarves have a psychological trauma stat. As it increases, they're less affected by negative thoughts.
Kill It with Fire: Flooding a map with magma. Dropping critters into magma. Dropping magma onto critters. Floors made of lignite or graphite grates set on fire. Flamethrowing critters from fire imps to dragons plus some machinery to restrain and/or protect them... you get the idea.
Kill It with Water: It's not unheard of for players to have drowning traps and/or drowning chambers to provide an unpleasant fate for goblins. Or anything that needs air to live, for that matter. Should the player make a mistake somewhere in the design or construction, it's quite likely to end up with the entire fortress becoming submerged.
This is occasionally combined with the aforementioned Kill It with Fire example, as when magma and water are combined, they create obsidian. Rarely you will find a player who has constructed a death chamber with access routes from both water and magma with the express purpose of encasing whatever comes in to that room in obsidian.
Additionally, pressure can cause finding an underground river at the wrong spot and with the wrong fortress layout to flood everything.
King Incognito: Striking adamantine before the dwarven king would normally arrive makes him come in the guise of a migrant. This doesn't stop him from demanding lodging fit for his job, though.
Lava Adds Awesome: Rivers of magma flowing through your fortress ranks high on the cool-o-meter. It's also useful as a free infinite source of heat for forges and kilns, as well as particularly fiendish traps.
The Lava Caves Of New York: As noted just above and below, you can deliberately engineer this, and it is very useful (and potentially extremely "fun") to do so.
Lava Pit: Players love these. Boatmurdered's arguably most famous bit was the attempt to completely wipe out the local elephant population with magma streams.
Let's Get Dangerous: Goblin attacks work this way. At the beginning of your fortress they only send small and weak raiding parties, but once you hit 80 population and get more wealth they up the ante. Goblin sieges can now include larger goblin squads led by weapon master, building-destroying trolls, trap-avoiding master thieves, cavalry mounted on Beak Dogs and leaders on flying mounts who can bypass all of your carefully constructed ground-level walls and moats. Those attacks will continue, getting worse each time, until you either really have fun, or you just burn the entire fortress area with lava.
Plans for future updates indicate that this will only get even worse; there are already plans to incorporate miners into sieges, who will dig their way to the inside of your fortress if you don't stop them fast enough.
Climbing has been all-but-guaranteed for invaders in the next release. Thought those 5-unit-high walls were good enough? Think again!
Let's Play: A popular pastime in the community thanks to the game's flexibility and unpredictability. It's customary for famous dwarves to be named after the participants in the thread, and the audience to have a say in the fortress' policy.
Succession forts, where control of the fortress passes to a new player every ingame year, are also popular. Miscommunication and differing playstyles are a prominent source of Fun.
Boatmurdered, a long and storied succession game held by the Something Awful community, was many people's introduction to the game. It illustrated a lot of the game's elements, with a recurrent emphasis on those associated with madness and death.
Luck-Based Mission: Versions include a lot more useful information about the region you're preparing to build on, but the spawn-point of your starting settlers and their wagon is as close to the center of the center-most embark-map square as possible. This can occasionally be a nuisance if you're the wrong side of a river from a good site to dig in and haven't got much in the way of materials, and occasionally causes a Total Party Kill thanks to a bug caused by the way freezing and melting works.
Also, selecting 'Embark Now!' rather than 'Prepare for the journey carefully'. See below.
Luxury Prison Suite: Because Dwarves are rarely ever thrown in jail for reasons a player would deem legitimate (usually it happens due to the capricious whims of a noble), it's generally suggested to make your prisons (assuming you do have one) as comforting as possible so the (probably wrongfully) imprisoned dwarf doesn't become too unhappy, and/or dead from not being provided food or water.
Fortress Mode tropes: M-P
Mad Artist: Every now and then, one of your dwarves will be so stricken with inspiration for an artifact that he'll simply drop what he's doing, take over a workshop, and demand items to work with. Success produces an awesome and valuable artifact and may promote the Artist to Legendary in the appropriate skill. Failure results in the dwarf either throwing away their clothes while running around babbling madly until they starve to death, being Driven to Suicide, or going completely Ax-Crazy.
In fact, depending on the Mood that takes them, some of them laugh maniacally, grab other dwarves, drag them into a workshop, murder them and make their corpses into stuff.
One particularly memorable result: Planepacked, a statue with the entire history of the world written on it. Including 73 pictures of itself.
The LP of Headshoots featured a dwarf struck by inspiration while lame. He would try to crawl to a workshop, but dwarves tasked with tending to the wounded automatically dragged him back. This happened for long enough that he went insane and committed suicide.
Made of Indestructium: Artifact furniture can't be destroyed by trolls and other building-destroyers, but they'll still make a bee-line to it and try. This makes artifacts very useful to bait building-destroyers away from your fortress (and into a field of traps.)
Malevolent Architecture: It's more or less possible to make your fortress invincible by rigging it to reduce any invader to a fine paste. It's just as easy to accidentally flood your own fortress - or the entire world - with water. Or, slightly more difficult since it doesn't flow up as readily, magma.
Even more fun in succession games (and occasionally in your own) where someone has set up mechanisms with levers located close to each other. One raises the drawbridge in order to repel a goblin invasion, the other opens the floodgates that keep your fortress from flooding with magma. Neither of them are labeled...
Miscarriage of Justice: Entirely possible, especially if a noble is upset. Vampires are especially cunning about diverting unwanted attention from their bloodsucking antics. It's even possible for a victim to be convicted of the crime that was committed against them.
Mordor: Really evil biomes have special plants and horrible things like eyestalk and finger "grass", showers of blood and cursed mist with similar symptoms to forgotten beasts. And corpses tend to spontaneously animate as zombies.
Mundane Utility: Bottomless Pits? You now have a garbage disposal. Unicorns? Delicious, and products manufactured from their bodies fetch a fine price. Magma? Invaluable.
Farming merpeople is no longer economically viable in un-modded games. Toady One found the thread and Squicked hard enough to mod the value of mer-bone to the bare minimum. Previously, it was comparable to dragon bone in value.
A whole lot of elaborate mechanical Pointless Doomsday Devices can be used like this. Pumping magma up to a more usable level? Melt your enemies, or use it to make magma-powered forges more accessible. Combine it with a water pump to encase goblins in obsidian? You now have a way to mass-produce a valuable stone. Cage trap caught some otherwise-dangerous creature? Install the cage as furniture for your dwarves to admire, keeping them content.
Nintendo Hard: Not only is the game hard to master, it's also hard to learn..
The community made more than a little noise over the fact that Tiny Pirate's Dwarf Fortress book was not published by a publisher as Brady or Prima, known for their game guides, but by O'Reilly, known for publishing technical manuals.
No Hugging, No Kissing: Adult dwarves automatically get married with no ceremony or notification. Wives will also regularly get pregnant, even if it's physically impossible to get to a bed or have any physical contact with their husbands. Ditto for female animals as long as at least one male of their species is on the map somewhere.
Non-Human Undead: Any kind of living creature can have a zombie or skeletal version, including monsters like dragons, giants, and imps.
Giving rise to such hellish creatures as skelephants, skeagles and skarp — or gods forbid, husks and thralls. See Killer Rabbit and Made of Iron, above.
Nothing Is Scarier: The Unobtanium Slade (which is found only in Hell) is ominous, mysterious, and utterly useless. It cannot be dug out note though some playersmanaged to find a way, and even if you do manage to get some out, you cannot make anything out of it at all. It is incredibly heavy and char-black. Hell's caverns, made of this stone, might count as well (at least when it's not spewing forth countless demons). No plants or trees grow there, and the only distinguishing features are eerily glowing Bottomless Pits.
One Drink Will Kill the Baby: Straight out inverted. Pregnant female dwarves still need alcohol to function properly, and so do their new-born babies.
One-Hit Kill: There are some very nasty random weather effects out there. Waterburned, our own succession fort, has some downright homicidal "evil glooms" that just kill the hell out of anything they touch. Of course, since this is Dwarf Fortress we're talking about here, a cloud of instant death isn'tthe worst weather effect possible.
Paint the Town Red: You'll end up with blood all over whatever godawful fields of traps you set up in front of your fortress, and in the latest version, buggy mechanics for bathing will leave a giant pool of the stuff around your well when your dwarves come to clean themselves off.
One of the biggest complaints is that blood in water multiplies infinitely. One blood spatter in a puddle and every one of your dwarves that walks through will get a coating of that blood, tracking it everywhere, without ever diluting into nothingness.
Some players love having a map covered in the blood of their slain enemies, others find it annoying as hell that it gets tracked everywhere and never goes away. A later release added a toggle to turn it on and off, satisfying both camps.
Pointless Civic Project: Building at least one is traditional, the more gratuitous, the better. The forum even ran a contest to see who could build the best tower out of soap, in a game where soap is surprisingly hard to come by.
Powered by a Forsaken Child: Dwarves sometimes go into "fell moods," where they go out and kill the nearest dwarf they can find (hopefully a noble or someone else you don't mind losing), butcher them, and make an awesome artifact out of their flesh or bones.
Taken to literal levels when the mood affects the mother of a baby dwarf. To quote a certain player:
"Miss Dwarfette, hereforth referred to as Casey McAnthony, was nursing another baby, a five-month old dwarfette named Litast, and only child after the miscarriage. And she was taken by a fell mood. (...) I didn't realize she would go for the nearest member of the fort. (...) Maybe I got lucky and she murderificated a vampire before it could do harm. (...) NOPE. IT WAS HER FUCKING FIVE MONTH OLD DAUGHTER. SHE KILLED HER DAUGHTER AND TURNED HER INTO A PICK. A GODDAMN PICK. WHERE DO YOU EVEN GET ENOUGH BABY FOR A PICKAXE? THERE ISN'T ENOUGH BABY."
Power Glows: For a loose definition of 'power.' Dwarves who reach Legendary in any skill will cycle from their sprite's normal color to a slightly brighter shade of that color and back every second or so. This is basically the dwarven equivalent of going super saiyan, as any dwarves who reach legendary will likely also be Superdwarvenly Tough or Extremely Agile or some such thing.
Pressure Plate: The cornerstone of all Dwarven automation. Can react either on liquid levels or weight of a creature or minecart.
Fortress Mode tropes: Q-T
Quicksand Box: The game doesn't come with a tutorial. Some aspects of the game have complex and undocumented requirements. The wiki — or failing that, a geology textbook — help out a good deal with both points.
Respawning Enemies: Area and site specific enemies re-spawn every year; as does magma, which is technically part of the terrain, but can certainly seem like an enemy if your design relies on that vent you drained being permanently drained.
Rollercoaster Mine: Minecarts were added in an update to DF2012. Carts transport 5x more than wheelbarrows, can be filled with anything (up to magma, if the material allows, without frying the driver) and dumped automatically at the pre-rigged point without slowing down. They also easily accelerate to great speed, which makes them derail on the next turn, grapeshotting their contents at dangerous velocities. And, naturally, easily ride down anyone not shy of the tracks' "low traffic" status, be it a cow, goblin or tired dwarf homing on the closest bed no matter whose.
Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts: Well, more like "Rube Goldberg loves your guts splattered all over this needlessly-complicated deathtrap." A favorite pastime is the invention of various elaborate ways of dealing with pests such as nobles and the like.
It took thirty dwarves six years to build, uses more than a hundred mechanisms, twenty pumps, a dozen pressure plates and seven floodgates, refills and resets itself automatically, slams the gates shut and activates when an enemy steps on the pressure plate ... and accidentally floods your entire fortress with magma.
Schmuck Bait: Building destroyer monsters crush anything they can break. Including the only support standing between them and a major cave-in. Or floodgates reservoirs of magma which they may or may not escape — if a magma-proof pressure plate seals the exits with bridges, a tough and otherwise untrappable creature undergoes magma-frying, and if it survives that, room-wide obsidian encasement.
This, of course, is used by cunning players to trap or kill building destroyers.
What Does This Button Do?: Gremlins will happily pull any lever they can find — whether it floods the whole map with magma or does nothing except trapping or killing anyone who pulls it.
In adventure mode, any place that has loot laying on the ground is either a trap, surrounded by nasty monsters, or belongs to someone, and if you take it, Losing is Fun.
"Curious underground structures", otherwise known as demonic fortresses. Basically, they're giant dungeons full of undead, with a masterwork adamantine sword lying somewhere on the bottom level. Taking the sword opens a gateway to Hell.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Goblin sieges tend to rapidly run out of steam when they hit heavy resistance and/or ridiculously long passageway of weapon traps, and the last few survivors begin discreetly marching in the other direction.
Death of a squad leader will cause an invading squad to bug out. If the leader of the siege is killed, the entire siege panics and tries to run away.
Self-Imposed Challenge: This fortress will never trade! This entire fortress will be sober! This fortress will be nude! And so on and so forth.
The story that immortalized the name "Urist" was a challenge game to make an entire fortress with a single dwarf (i.e., killing off all the others).
Spikes Of Doom: Dwarves seem to love making things that menace with spikes. There are also "menacing spikes" which can be linked to pressure plates, installed into weapon traps, or also be placed at the bottom of a pit to increase the damage done to anything that falls into it.
Stink Bomb: Any corpse left to rot for a decent period of time will start emitting Miasma, a thick purple smog that gives dwarves extremely unhappy thoughts. Zombies that aren't completely rotted tend to be a walking version of this.
Certain toxins/poisons can cause immediate rotting of body parts without first killing the dwarf suffering from the syndrome. You wind up with walking Stink Bombs stinking up the whole fort, giving bad moods to all your dwarves, and generally clogging up the hallways with opaque miasma.
Supreme Chef: Let a dwarf make enough meals and they will eventually become a legendary cook, producing gastronomic delights worth a king's ransom out of lizard tripe and yak intestines.
Tantrum Throwing: If a dwarf becomes depressed enough they might start smashing or throwing things. One is fine, but if the dwarf pisses off other dwarves (or worse, kills them), other dwarves may start other tantrums and generally end Up to Eleven in a fortress-ending tantrum spiral.
That Poor Cat: Cats are given to wandering freely, including plenty of jaunts in the fresh air outside your fortress, and aren't too concerned with such trifles as an order to get the hell inside the fortress, that horde of goblins and trolls are not cat people! On the plus side, they do a great job of delaying invaders, who will chase them single-mindedly (often straight into traps) while you get your defenders in position.
Training from Hell: One very efficient method of training your military dwarves is to make them train in a room filled with spear traps set on repeat. They'll constantly be getting experience from dodging and parrying the spears. Of course, should they fail to parry or dodge even once, horrible injury may result. Wooden training spears will cut down on the injuries, but pets (like war dogs assigned to your troops) and babies/children will take damage as if hit with actual spears and die rapidly if they enter the training room.
Trap Door: Retractable bridges are often used this way. As well as floor grates, bars and hatches, though they aren't so unbreakable.
Too Dumb to Live: Dwarves have a bad tendency to cancel their job at the worst possible time to do some useless action. Like when Urist McSoldier decides that getting drunk is a way better idea than protecting the fortress against the goblins that are right outside the front door.
Tunnel King: Dwarves being Tunnel Kings is a central mechanic to the game.
Tunnel Network: Dwarven fortresses tend to be underground. You do the math.
Fortress Mode tropes: U-Z
Underground City: A large enough fortress can become a self-sustaining city. Assuming it survives that long, of course.
Understatement: While people laying siege to your fortress are known as "Invaders", megabeasts are appropriately noted to be "Uninvited Guests."
Unusable Enemy Equipment: Humans and Kobold clothing and armor is the wrong size for your dwarves. Understandable, as they are vastly different size compared to dwarves.
With DF2010 you can now equip those exotic weapons whips, pikes, and bows. Also, any weapons can be used in traps.
Useless metal items can be melted down for metal bars.
Victory Is Boring: Once you've gotten past the learning curve, making a completely safe and secure fortress is actually relatively easy, but most players consider this to be removing all the "fun."
Video Game Caring Potential: Varies, but with each dwarf having an astonishing degree of personality built into the game, players can get damned protective of a few favorites. They still die in droves though. It's common practice to take better care of the original seven dwarves. This can extend past the grave, with many players taking the Egyptian approach, and sacrifice huge riches into their tombs.
War Elephants: Can be trained as of the 2010 version. Keeping them trained is another matter, though, as elephants (and a few other grazers) are bugged and starve faster than they can eat. The usual solution is editing the raw files to decrease their grazing requirements or just turn off grazing for them altogether.
What the Hell, Player?: Most of the cruelty you can inflict on your dwarves will go unnoticed, but if a crime is reported and you choose to convict a different dwarf than the one that numerous witness are accusing (or worse, a child, a baby, an animal, or someone who was dead at the moment of the deed, or the victim him- or herself) everyone will be understandably shocked.
With This Herring: Of the extraordinarily large number of skills and items available to take with you when starting a new fortress, only a relatively small percentage of them will increase your chances of living to see the first caravan. You will have this brought home to you very rapidly the first time you select 'Embark Now!' instead of 'Prepare for the journey carefully' when starting a new fortress.
Worst Aid: Training a new medic will involve a lot of incidental malpractice. One notorious misdiagnosis by a skill-less dwarven idiot led to a minor cut on the arm being misdiagnosed as rotting lungs which were then removed surgically. "Oh. They weren't rotting after all. Let's take a moment of silence for Urist McLearningExperience."
Also contributing to the removal decision was the matter that stacks of coins did not get re-stacked after being separated, leading to an ever increasing burden on CPUs.
Zombie Apocalypse: Quickly becoming the easiest way for a fortress in an evil biome or within the vicinity of a necromancer's tower to die, due to corpses and body parts spontaneously rising up to attack you and refusing to stay dead.
Tropes specific to Adventure Mode
Always a Bigger Fish: It's been the case for many adventurers where an ambush or attack is suddenly interrupted by a swarm of wild animals which often turn the tide of battle.
Apocalypse How: With enough wrecked fortresses and berserking adventurers, especially in a small enough world, civilizations will eventually deteriorate and crumble. You can then proceed to cause the extinction of all sentient races. Then that of every single living being in the world. And because The Toady One Thinks of Everything, your world will acknowledge this by entering the Age of Twilight/Death/Emptiness.
Badass Boast: Legendary enemies who are capable of speaking will tell of their feats as soon as they can see you.
Bag of Holding: Your adventurer can carry around a dozen dead wolves, three barrels of booze, a massive supply of food, and 800 million fistfuls of sand in his backpack, but the weight will still slow him to a snail's pace.
Carrying a giant will slow you down significantly. Picking up a second will slow you down significantly less. There's no difference between carrying three giants in your backpack and carrying thirty.
Death Seeker: "I will agree to travel with you if you lead me to glory and death." — Said by some NPCs upon joining the party. Although they don't specify whose death.
Though some will specifically ask to lead to a warrior's death when asked about their profession, often after describing the sheer boredom of their profession in their hometown
Dump Stat: Adventurer creation started letting you lower attributes below average to free up more points in late DF2010, but some attributes currently serve no purpose in Adventure Mode (Creativity, Linguistic Ability, Patience) or at all (Musicality). Also, Analytical Ability is only used for knapping stones, which is something that essentially only done for Stat Grinding purposes.
Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: No direct difficulty levels, but in Adventure mode there are three tiers for the level of ability and attribute points you start with, the latter of which also decides your maximum attributes: peasant, hero, and demigod.
Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Certain races (like goblins) will leave impaled enemies around their fortresses. Meaning that if your adventurer dies against them, you can come back with a different one and see his impaled corpse. And use it as a weapon.
Improvised Weapon: In Adventure Mode, everything is a weapon. Including skulls, fistfuls of sand, vomit, socks, and your opponent's severed leg. This is mostly due to a bug that makes thrown items ludicrously deadly, to the point where you can cave someone's head in with a lucky throw of a sock... or even a fluffy wambler, killing no less than a Bronze Colossus. Entire builds have been made around thrown bones and ballista bolts.
Kleptomaniac Hero: As of version 34.01 you can take anything lying around not marked as being for sale without angering anyone, including gear lying around in keeps and stockpiled goods in warehouses. Except for stuff in cabinets, which can't be opened because of a bug.
MacGyvering: The sword is stuck in the enemy's leg? What weapon to use now? What about the ripped off arm over there, or throw some blood, mud and vomit.
Man Bites Man: With aimed and chosen attacks implemented, adventurers are now free to attack by biting completely at will instead of only when their arms are cut off.
News Travels Fast: All you have to do to let an entire city know that you killed the monster is tell one person.
Nintendo Hard: Even more than Fortress Mode! Dying by being surrounded by a wolf pack after traveling out of your home is incredibly common.
Previous Player-Character Cameo: You can meet your own retired adventurer. Better yet, you can recruit him, too! Or break every bone in his body and gank his stuff. Or loot his long-dead corpse.
Rated D For Dwarf: So very much, bordering on Testosterone Poisoning sometimes. There is not much to do but explore, kill stuff, or take quests which are about killing stuff. Which is already pretty manly, but add the numerous Good Bad Bugs, especially in earlier versions of the game, and you suddenly have the potential to become superheroically badass.
There is a special screen just for legendary enemies telling you what they have done, which can be quite a list.
Retired Badass: Retirement is the only way play a new game in the same region without killing your current adventurer. Better make sure you didn't retire any of your past legendary+++ swordsmen adventurers in the town you're about to rampage through...
Sacred Hospitality: Thankfully something given by members of any civ you haven't committed a crime against, otherwise you'd be screwed when night comes and you're alone.
Shoplift and Die: It used to be that if you stole anything in Adventure mode, you would automatically be acknowledged as an enemy by everyone in the civilization, who would then immediately proceed to attack you. Toady has stated that fixing this is on his to-do list; part of enabling the "Thief" Adventurer Role means having thievery make the townsfolk attempt to sleuth you out (which you can counter by changing your appearance), then arrest you alive if you surrender.
Currently downgraded to 'Shoplift and Get The Silent Treatment' — no matter what your reputation with the faction, you're instantly branded Criminal, and no member will speak to you. This means they won't give you quests for which they weren't going to reward you for anyway, but more importantly they won't let you stay in their houses overnight forcing you to hide from bogeymen in mountains, lairs, and beaches.
Sssssnake Talk: The serpent men, when you speak to or as one in adventure mode. This is caused by the [LISP] tag the species has.
Talking Is a Free Action: Currently all conversations follow are very formulaic and only one-on-one, but the stated eventual goal is to get to the point where the adventurer can regale a growing audience with tales of his heroic deeds.
Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Inverted. In some situations, cruelty is rewarded: if you find a small, defenseless creature (like a groundhog or monkey), you can use them to raise your wrestling skills significantly. You can go up several levels in a very short time, provided you're willing to be unnecessarily cruel to your opponent. Especially if you're playing a creature like a bronze colossus, who is capable of pinching off body parts. Start with the fingers and toes, then pull out the teeth, then ears, eyes, nose, any other extremities you can target, then finish off with a pinch to the head. If you want to finish him. You could always just leave the poor guy to bleed to death, if he's still alive when you're done.
Sometimes it plays out very straight: while gladiatorial "Dwarven Child Care" works as training, the most "successful" experiment so far ended up with one mental attribute noticeably degraded — the discovery that these aren't constants being the "success" part here — while one physical attribute was noticeably raised in process. However, it dropped back soon after the end, along with another mental attribute. In exchange for meager skills that could be trained with minimal risk upon puberty, the test subjects received psychological damage.
Walking the Earth: Adventurer Mode becomes this, over the course of a long-lived adventuring career. If your character comes from a particularly uneventful corner of the world, then it begins this way.
When asking a child his profession: "You look like a mighty warrior.""I'm four!"
It's been slightly expanded:
"You look like a mighty warrior!" "I'm a thresher." "You look like a mighty warrior!" "No, I'm a thresher."
Wide Open Sandbox: Taken to an extreme in that there is no way to finish or win the game, and the only goal is to not lose ... lose interest in whatever weird thing you're doing that non-dwarven lawyers would surely advise against (mostly because you're not following the live long and prosper model).
World of Badass: Indeed. Everything that ain't hardcoded to flee will fight you to the death. Even the children, even the harmless pets. Also, once you reach a fleeing creature it will stop flying and attack you, and only unconsciousness (or death) will stop him. Are you a legendary swordswdwarf and is your enemy a toddler who was just born ? Doesn't matter, toddler throws itself into the fight with reckless abandon.
In one reported fight between a dwarf mayor and a berserk sword-master, the sword-master had just finished chopping off all the mayor's limbs when the mayor bit the sword-master's head off.
Any Military dwarf that earns the right of a *Insert-Weapon-Here* Master or lord. They can dispatch goblins like nobody's business.
Badass Army: If you train it and take care of it well, your militia will become one of these. Future developments include the sending of your very own armies around the world.
Badass Adorable: Because of a hilarious incident exploiting throwing mechanics in Adventure Mode, fluffy wamblers are now memetically notorious for being the only natural enemy of bronze colossi. In addition, various forts and/or adventurers that breach Hell often find baby animals and/or wild birds entering the fray with the unholy inhabitants. The Deathgate community fortress actually had a random duck earn the unofficial title Darkwing the Netherfowl after it managed to kill two demons by itself.
World of Ham: At least all your enemies seem to be hammy. Even the NPC's go on that way sometimes.
Worst News Judgment Ever: Dwarves carve the legendary events and histories of their fortress into the walls. Sometimes these will be of great epic battles or the forging of legendary artifacts; but they have an unfortunate tendency to do things like focus on the deaths of random animals, uninteresting yearly trade agreements, or particularly well-made wheels of cheese.