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Lets Play / Battlefailed

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"This is why we can't have nice things in Battlefailed, someone will just wind up filling it with corpses."

One of the more recent Lets Plays of Dwarf Fortress, making the lofty (if rather accurate) claim of being the Boatmurdered of DF2010, Battlefailed has spawned three sequels and a side story.

What began as the (seemingly) coincidental combination of a genocidal plot by the Jerkass Human-Queen of the Dwarves and the curious gambit of an incredibly ancient body-surfing Sorcerer. Seven dwarves ended up on the hellish coastline separating the Plains of Ooze from the Blueness of Malodors. Halfway through the first year, most of the original settlers and a good chunk of the new arrivals were either dead or dying. Ten blood-soaked years later, the fortress was an Escher-like nightmare of tunnels, shafts and stairwells leading nowhere, under constant assault from goblins, trolls, forgotten beasts and hordes of undead grazing animals. Eventually, parts of the fort started leaking water or magma for no apparent reason, occasionally in places that it should not have been possible for water or magma to be. Extinction-level events that would kill up to half of the population became not only frequent but regular.


When Battlefailed fell, there were attempts to reclaim it and continue the awesome. They failed, the fort was flooded beyond belief and deemed unrecoverable. The sequel, FailCannon: Super Happy Fun Beach, picks up where the previous fort leaves off, and has lived up to the Battlefailed name, albeit with a slightly different style at a slower pace. An intricate Meta Plot has formed out of the players' writings and the actions of the dwarves that continues to frame the gameplay.

Several months after Failcannon began, Battlefailed was reclaimed, FAILCANNON rigged to work properly, and everything cleaned up.

Failcannon fell on the aptly-named Failday, when the Faillever was pulled to unleash an army of ghosts (and water from the sea) on the fortress. Now, Hellcannon has been started as the third fortress in the series. Whether or not it will live up to the reputation of its predecessors remains to be seen, but Hellcannon is already a hideous abomination rife with death and danger, so there's that.


And now, the fourth fort has started, Horrorfailed the Battle-Cannon of Hell.

You can grab the most current archive here.


  • After-Action Report: LordSlowpoke's detailed report of Failcannon's Flooding of 529: note 
  • All Just a Dream: One of the early turns gets reset because the fortress floods and the dwarves murder each other, with the lampshade being this.
    • Also, Battlefailed's breach of Hell.
  • All Your Powers Combined: The Gods tend to do this when they wish to do something to another God.
  • Anyone Can Die: It's Dwarf Fortress, so it's only to be expected.
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: One of the players had this idea for dealing with a forgotten beast in Horrorfailed. He ended up knocking it down and walling it in a room.
  • Atomic F-Bomb: After returning from a long hiatus, Andreus took one look at the current state of affairs and sort of... lost it.
  • Ax-Crazy: Spending most of his on-screen time bisecting things, Kubuk is some kind of this. At least to elves.
  • Big Bad: The Foul One.
  • Big Rock Ending: FailCannon song.
    Big purple cloud over on the horizon
    Miasma from a couple thousand corpses risin'
    Half a dozen ghosts are hauntin' the kitchen
    admirin' the door (which is totally bitchin')
    Over here we tried to drill a hole in the ocean
    just another mad overseer's ludicrous notion
    Carved into the gold of the famous sign
    the words "welcome to Failcannon, where gods come to die"
  • Bilingual Bonus: In Battlefailed, Robocorn says a few phrases in goblin that actually translate with the DF goblin language.
    • "Gu ek us dotom Mokgaru!" becomes " ___ many goose bloody Whoreanus!"
    • "Obu os-usp, emxa-los!" becomes "Hail Death-god, dung-creature!"
    • In Hellcannon, a dwarf is named Kar Puwuncobi at some point. Lord Slowpoke revealed that he gave the dwarf its name and that it translates to something in one of the DF languages. It is from the human language. Kar is Lord. Puwun is Slow. Cobi is Poke.
  • Bizarrchitecture: By the time it ended, Battlefailed was an absolute rat's maze of chambers, tunnels, shafts and caverns, interconnected and interlaced, some of which were rapidly flooding with water or magma.
    • The fortress of Failcannon is arguably more convoluted. Even the dwarves have trouble navigating the place, let alone the players.
    • By the time Failday rolled around, Failcannon was such a mess of tunnels that it broke the Forgotten Beasts' pathfinding.
    malkomk:"Pathfinding in Failcannon is like fighting a bronze colossus with your bare hands. Only more so."
  • Black Comedy: In Failcannon, Fetus Head Smash Day. And, judging by one of Queen Led's letters to Cappstv, she seems to prefer using dwarven fetuses for the head smashing. Also, the forumgoers basically treat the Eldritch Locations that the fortresses became for laughs.
    • Justified when it is later revealed that the reason for the festival was to summon Ura into the world with an offering of "the lives of a thousand unborn".
  • Body Surf: The dwarf bearing the player Andreus' name died in the first turn. As a joke, Robocorn wrote a short journal entry about how another dwarf was being taken over by Andreus' ghost. The joke stuck, and turned into a major part of the Meta Plot.
  • Breather Episode: Those happen from time to time. The last one, as of this writing, was in Turn 20 of Failcannon, where, thanks to the invading goblins and FBs having No Sense of Direction, a pair of dwarves actually managed to survive outside the Fortress for three entire months without major incidents.
    Darvi:"The only thing that happened in general was the death of 71% of the fort, and that wasn't really worth mentioning."
    • Hellcannon's third year started with fortifications being erected, a massive migrant wave, and the discovery of a magma pipe which jump-started metal production. Then some skeletal muskoxen killed an elven trader.....
    • Hellcanon's second try at its fourth year wasn't interesting enough to warrant journal updates.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Lur Thiefwitch.
  • The Chessmaster: ThatAussieDwarf, despite having been originally introduced as a Vizzini Gambitter, has eventually been interpreted as a memetic mastermind who is behind everything.
  • The Corruption: The so-named "loyalty cascade" that nearly destroyed Failcannon
  • Corpse Land: This Succession Game involves Terrifying (Evil/Savage) surroundings. Naturally (and unnaturally, too), it receives even more FUN than usual.
  • Council of Angels: The Gods are portrayed as such. They spend far more time discussing and observing events than interfering.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: Do not share drinks with Queen Led, especially if you're a known Philosopher.
  • Diner Brawl: A distinctly lethal one erupts following a forced community meeting that results in several deaths and over a dozen fatal injuries, leaving Seth Creiyd thinking he'd made a mistake. note 
  • Door Stopper: The full text of the saga is currently more than 1,000 pages long.
  • Eldritch Abomination: An occupational hazard at Battlefailed. Everyone in the fort was eventually killed by a colossal mutant fly known as Stuzang.
  • Eldritch Location: The Accursed Arena saw two miners trapped in a kind of hellish temporal stasis.
    • The Ocean of Slime, first encountered in Battlefailed, was an underground sea that became tainted by noxious secretions of a turtle monster.
  • The General's Daughter: The Queen's Daughter is the reason Robocorn got sent to Battlefailed in the first place.
    • The Queen's Daughter is also her only Heir, so you can't blame her. Still, the fact that the princess is willing to don a beard and fool around with a dwarf can hardly please the viciously racist Queen.
  • Goddess Of Evil: Ura.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Played straight. Queen Led Shakeoars, human monarch of the dwarves. She worships a number of monsters and gods of death and is implied to send dwarves to the fort as a form of genocide.
  • Grand Theft Me: Andreus' dwarf dies before his turn; the result is Andreus possessing one of the other dwarves, changing him into "Andreus II".
    • It actually became a Running Gag that Andreus liked so much he continued using the plot device in all the other succession fortresses he played.
    • Since then, several other players have begun following his lead.
  • Genius Loci: Hellcannon itself became this after the last dwarf was killed; for some reason, the fortress didn't fall,note  and the players just ran with it.
  • Haunted Castle
  • Have You Seen My God?
  • Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!: Joked with. When a player using Linux couldn't open the save for HorrorFailed on his turn, everyone joked that the save file had become sentient, hated Linux and wondered what they could do with it.note 
  • La Résistance
  • Mad Scientist: Andreus II has some elements of it, with his crazy magnetic mad science lab beneath the fortress. (It is later repurposed into a tomb, providing Robocorn's page quote.)
  • The Man Behind Everything: That Aussie Dwarf.
    • -> "That would explain why we didn't get killed by the sieges during our first months in Failcannon. Y'know, when TAD and I couldn't get into the fort. Dude bribed the goblins."
  • Master of Disguise: That Aussie Dwarf. And because they're dwarves, Wig, Dress, Accent works marvelously.
  • Meaningful Name: Battlefailed.
    • And later, FAILCANNON.
    • Hellcannon almost counts after the attempt to fire demons out of a cannon.
  • Mêlée à Trois: During the loyalty cascade, there were, according to CatalystParadox, (technically) four factions: "The 'loyal' dwarves, the Enchanted Labor insurrection, the Sword of Boots counter-revolution, and the demon-possessed "fuck everything" dwarves"
  • Me's a Crowd: Everyone turning into The Master in Hellcannon. We see what you did there.
  • The Millstone: Whenever Meng, fake doctor, fake chief engineer, Etc., was involved with something, results tended to be disasteriffic.
  • Name's the Same: Stozu is a popular name for goblins.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Blueness of Malodors, Plains of Ooze, Ocean of Slime, Failcannon, Battlefailed...
    • Hellcannon
    • Taken to ridiculous extremes with the most recent installment, Horrorfailed the Battle-Cannon of Hell.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Every. Single. Administrator. Every. Single. Turn. Although this only works for an extremely liberal definition of the word "hero".
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villains: A loose example of this can be found in the reclaim of Battlefailed, where the various poisons and dusts which permeated the old fortress became the new fortress's best defense; while the poisons killed all of the dwarves livestock and any dwarves dumb enough to take off their shoes, it stopped countless barefooted Kobold invaders and about a dozen forgotten beasts.
  • Omniscient Morality License: Deconstructed somewhat with Catalyst, the psychic overseer who may have saved the fort, but in the worst way possible - as keeping ANYONE alive meant letting/making more than 90% of the fort die. Then completely inverted when the demonic mind-plague she was attempting to save the fort from in the first place took her over as well, turning her into a dangerous, heavily armed, murderous psychopath.
  • Our Demons Are Different: It was planned to use them as ammo for the aptly named Hellcannon. Unfortunately, the device failed to fire any demons, and caused the eventual downfall of the fort.
  • Pointless Doomsday Device: FAILCANNON. Sadly, it lived up to its name.
    • Specifically, two fundamental design failures, the first being one tile of missing wall in the stack assembly and the other being poor positioning of the source pumps meant that FAILCANNON could not draw enough water to maintain consistent pressure, and a lot of the water it did deliver leaked out of the side. In addition, due to a previous overseer's maintenance work on its power supply that hadn't been finished when Andreus attempted to fire it, he had to activate it manually.
    • FAILCANNON PRIME, which was only in the early stages of design when the entire fortress was destroyed by a rampaging Eldritch Abomination.
    • The fortress Failcannon was named after the device above. Its doomsday mechanism 'Faillever' was possibly the most pointless one ever, being built for the sole purpose of providing a suicide switch for the unholy abomination that is Failcannon. Rigged up to destroy all coffins and gravemarkers it was planned to release an enormous army of murderous ghosts to kill all living things. While its use flooded part of the fortress and allowed an army of Eldritch Abominations to enter, Failcannon proved to be unkillable.
      • In the reclaim of Battlefailed Failcannon Prime was completed and fired. Due to a fatal design flaw, it wasn't particularly impressive.
    • Gizogin made one of these during his run of Hellcannon, and then handed the fort over without providing any details as to its operation. At time of writing, several of its uses have been discovered, including flooding several areas of the fortress, shooting random spikes out of the floor, and dropping a chunk of ceiling on a major meeting area.
    • Also in Hellcannon, the numerous attempts to create the fortress' namesake - eventually culminating in an utter failure of a megaproject which did nothing but release the legions of Hell into the fortress.
  • Psychic Powers: The Old Man makes extensive use of precognition, telepathy and teleportation.
    • Andreus can communicate telepathically, at least when he's a ghost.
    • Catalyst can 'feel' the thoughts and emotions of others in the fort, and later uses her psychic powers to survive death by jumping bodies and possessing the minds of others to act as her vessels.
  • Running Gag: Selling the clothes of the dead for supplies.
    • Rebuilding/Moving the Trade Depot during one's turn, though this is becoming a Bay 12 tradition.
    • Andreus getting killed in a variety of ways.
    • Requesting a dwarf while declaring how likely they are to be killed quickly.
    • Real life events preventing people from playing their turns.
  • The Stars Are Going Out
  • The Undead: Skeletal elks (or "skelks"), among others.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: One particular dwarf - Kar Puwuncobi, El Presidente - was killed forty-one times, resurrecting himself and leaving a naked corpse behind each time, before being erased from the unit list altogether. It took almost 100 posts for anyone to actually realize this had happened, and almost nobody commented on it at the time.


Example of: