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Video Game / Dwarves Vs Zombies

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Dwarves vs. Zombies is a Minecraft Hack and Slash minigame created by Robert Moran, AKA Rob, or Bruce Willakers. The game is centered around an epic Last Stand of dwarves against zombies, skeletons, and other monsters. Most monsters on the playfield are AI-controlled, but a few are player-controlled. In fact, once a dwarf dies, he/she becomes a monster. The dwarves themselves are very powerful and nigh-undefeatable, are lead by several "heroes", the number of which depends on the number of players in a game. The heroes, named Bruce Willakers, Roamin the Paladin, and Nisovin's Illusion, are all based on characters Rob and his friends roleplay as and appear in his other works. Monsters also have "heroes" or bosses, which are less powerful than the dwarven heroes but are no less threatening. These bosses spawn during "Doom Events", which occur every 900 seconds; the cooldown time can be reduced by monsters who spend their mana.

One of the main draws of this game is the fact that the monsters always win - the game is about trying to prolong the dwarves' inevitable destruction in their heroic last stand.

A central mechanic in Dwarves vs. Zombies is the PROC, or "Powerful Rampage, Of Course". This is a state in which a dwarf can kill almost any monster instantly, and those monsters that cannot be insta-killed are dealt double damage. PROCs are initiated by certain weapons, usually upon killing a monster. Since PROCs are started by killing monsters, and PROCs kill monsters instantly, dwarves can "roll" or chain PROCs, allowing them to instantly kill monsters for as long as there are monsters to kill.

Players can purchase and equip a variety of weapons, armor, and useful items to use as a dwarf in every game using gold earned per game. There are several monster classes, which are unlocked within and persist only within single matches. The Zombie class is the default monster class, and it can be upgraded using Monster Mana earned simply by existing. Special monsters cannot be upgraded, but are very powerful and spawn frequently.

Originally, the game server was only open during scheduled streams, but eventually an automated 24-7 server was implemented. This iteration of the game was originally hosted on Bruce's Gym, where Robert Moran hosted his games. Due to his friendship with GuudeBoulderFist and the Mindcrack team, the game was eventually moved to the PlayMindcrack server, where it quickly became the most popular game there. But Guude and Rob had a major falling out over how the server should be run, and Dwarves vs. Zombies and the other games Rob created were moved to the Buffalo Wizards server, where the game resides today.

This game provides examples of:

  • Action Bomb: The Goblin monster class, being based on the Minecraft creeper, is one. Not only can they throw or place bombs to hurt dwarves and shatter stone, they can detonate themselves in a powerful suicide explosion.
  • And I Must Scream: Some of Bruce's lore comments (found by right-clicking the anvil in the lobby) can be downright disturbing. Even worse is that Bruce seems utterly unfazed by what he's saying.
    • "My bow is made from my dead wife!"
    • "Gnome dirt is much stronger than real dirt... because it's made of gnomes."
    • "Of course I eat baby dwarves! How do you think I got so strong?"
  • Ascended Glitch: Bow-proccing, where a PROC could be initiated by shooting an arrow at a monster then switching to a melee weapon before it hits, was a widely-used glitch. After the glitch was fixed, the Dragonskin Bow, which starts a PROC upon killing an enemy with it, was added.
  • Ascended Meme: Monster players would occasionally organize into "Gobo Squads" or "Creeper Squads" (back when goblins were just standard Minecraft creepers), whereby they would detonate themselve simultaneously. When Doom Events were added, one of the events was the "Goblin Squad", where every monster player spawns as a special goblin with a powerful suicide explosion attack. The item used to initiate the attack is even called "KABOOOOOOOOOOOM! (With Friends)".
  • Area of Effect: The Warhammer dwarf weapon and Bopen's sword have the "Cleave" ability, which damages all targets around the hit monster or dwarf. And the Sword of Sanctification dwarf item damages all AI zombies and the nearest ten player monsters in a radius of 30 blocks around the impact point.
  • Annoying Arrows: Both the dwarves and monsters have archers on their side; in particular, the FlameLancer skeleton shoots a veritable cloud of flaming arrows. These arrows do little damage to dwarves, and usually serve to annoy the heck out of them.
  • Bag of Sharing: Most maps include "Shared Resource Chests", which is an inventory that all dwarves can access. Dwarves who wish to leave or become monsters, or just want to get rid of excess resources can dump them in resource chests scattered throughout the map.
  • Benevolent Architecture: All maps are designed so that dwarves can effectively defend their positions and monsters can effectively challenge the dwarves.
  • Black and White Magic
    • Black Mage: The two Ogre Mages spawn fire around them as well as flaming bats every time they hit a dwarf, making any place they have visited a blazing inferno.
    • White Mage: The dwarves have several magical items to choose from, which are mostly healing items. The hero Nisovin is an actual White Mage, using his magic/Magitek to defeat the monsters.
  • Bottomless Pit: Some maps are built as floating islands above the void, allowing monsters to knock dwarves off the edge of the map. Such maps are not very popular among the playerbase, who see void kills as cheap.
  • Bow and Sword in Accord: All dwarves have both a melee weapon and a ranged weapon, with both weapons often working off of each other. For example, the Dragonskin Bow gives a PROC upon every kill, while its companion sword, the Greater Runeblade, has the ability to roll PROCs.
  • Button Mashing: This is the way to use melee weapons.
  • Cherry Tapping: The Rat special monster has just 10 hearts (20 HP) of health, and deals a tiny amount of damage. Its only purpose is to steal gold from the shrine and to break torches. Regardless, some players use the Rat class in combat, hoping to get the last hit on a dying dwarf and get a "rat kill".
  • Cooldown: Every weapon's special ability as well as some special items have a cooldown...
  • Cool Horse: Bopen, the skeleton pirate monster hero, rides a skeletal horse into battle.
  • Creator Cameo: Rob and his friends appear as the three heroes. And Rob himself occasionally plays on the server.
  • Cycle of Hurting: It's very easy to get caught in a maelstrom of monsters knocking you around, making it impossible to reach the one-block wide exit to safety. Oftentimes, not even a PROC can save you, and you're left watching your mana and armor slowly decrease until you can't heal any longer.
  • Darkest Hour: Every game is one for the dwarves - they are the only members of their race left, and they have just ten minutes to prepare for the inevitable attack. And inevitably the dwarves are annihilated.
  • Dead-End Room: The last shrine is one - any dwarf foolish enough to leave the last shrine is certain to die.
  • Death Cry Echo: All the dwarven heroes get one. With most maps strangely having no indication of player deaths, this is often the only way to tell if a hero has died.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: One of Bruce's lobby lore comments warns dwarves to "Beware of monster dens, jimmy! They're filled with monsters!"
  • Do Not Go Gentle: As the monsters start to invade, Bruce Willakers gives a Rousing Speech encouraging his fellow dwarves to make their last stand, even though death is inevitable.
  • Draw Aggro: Roamin's Taunt ability, which activates every time he hits a monster with his hammer, attracts nearby AI zombies.
  • Drop-In-Drop-Out Multiplayer: During the "Build Phase" of a game, all players who join become dwarves. After the build phase, anyone who joins becomes a monster, and dwarves who leave get to return as dwarves once. After that, they return as monsters to prevent combat logging.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Earlier versions of the game are almost unrecognizable to someone who has only played the newer versions - everything down to the core mechanics has been changed or even removed in some way since the game's inception.
  • Easter Egg: Some map makers add well-hidden cake shrines in their maps. They range from simple creations consisting of just a few blocks to entire elaborate rooms.
  • Elite Zombie: Player-controlled zombies are this. They can be as powerful as special monsters when fully upgraded, plus they have human intellect behind them.
  • Emergent Gameplay: The game's basis in Minecraft allows a variety of defensive structures built by players. The most infamous such structure is the skybase, in which large amounts of stone or EZ-Fix Slabs (items which instantly generate a wall) are placed high in the sky, where dwarves are free to do whatever they want. Skybases inside shrines tend to be excellent places for healers and archers to hang out in.
  • Follow the Leader: Back when the game ran only during streams, a whole bunch of copycats sprung up to provide players a 24/7 DvZ experience. Many of these servers are still up and running, but haven't kept up with the real server's updates. Rob doesn't seem to mind these servers, and has stated that those who want the official server to host older versions of the game should just go to the copies. He's even played and recorded on one such server.
  • Fighting Clown: The Swammie Swarm doom event consists of a swarm of Swammies, which are literally clownfish. It does above-average armor damage, inflicts nausea, and can respawn in place after death.
    • The Barnyard Blitz doom event consists of a variety of animals with the same abilities as Swammies except for the respawn. Whereas the Swammies spawn with some ominous-sounding, the Barnyard Blitz spawns with... a cacophony of dogs barking, chickens clucking, and cows mooing.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Spamming your attacks into a crowd of dwarves and zombies alike won't hurt your side - much to the relief of veteran players, many of whom were around when this hadn't been implemented yet.
  • Gimmick Level: Some maps have minor gimmicks in them - for example, Windy Run River has tornadoes that can fling dwarves and monsters high up, and Magical Mishap has a bottomless pit where dwarves are pushed back up if they fall in.
  • Golem: One of the player-controlled special monsters. Unlike their standard Minecraft counterparts, they are on the side of the undead. They are very slow; in fact, they cannot move normally at all. They must jump to move, which gives them a surprising amount of speed.
  • Healing Potion: The game has several healing items, each of which have different effects. For example, Jimmy Juice automatically heals you, while the Holy Ale heals you and adds six hearts (12 HP) of absorption upon left-clicking.
  • Hide Your Children: If one chooses the Squire dwarf class, he/she is "sent home" (dies) just before the monsters come, as the battlefield is no place for squires.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: Since player monsters are just that - players, their hitboxes are that of the standard Minecraft player, regardless of what monster class they choose.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Slabs are very easily misused by dwarves. It's possible to place down a slab blocking off monsters from a key path - only to find yourself on the wrong side of that slab.
  • Holiday Mode: Usually, the game has some sort of special update for holidays such as Halloween or Christmas. The changes may range from new holiday-themed maps to admin-controlled boss events.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Averted - dwarves have terrible low-light vision, and venturing into a dark spot will blind them and slow them down.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Those wielding the Warhammer count as one, as the Warhammer is literally an oversized tool hammer complete with the claw used to remove nails.
  • In-Series Nickname: Dwarves are also called "jimmies".
  • Interface Screw: The game uses Minecraft's Nausea status effect, which distorts the screen image, when you get too close to the monster spawn, as well as a feature of some monsters' attacks.
  • Kill Streak: Rolling a PROC increases your Kill Streak counter in your stats book, but it serves no other purpose.
  • Knockback: Every attack does some knockback. In fact, there are some monsters whose gimmick is dealing huge amounts of knockback.
    • Knockback Evasion: Dwarf and monster heroes have knockback resistance on their main weapon; however, certain attacks, such as explosions, still deal knockback due to the way Minecraft knockback works.
  • Last Stand: The dwarven race has been reduced to forty or so individuals, but the monsters who annihilated their kin won't stop until their genocide is complete. The dwarves have no choice but to fight to the death.
  • Lethal Lava Land: The Molten Grotto map is infamous for its myriad rifts and ravines filled with lava. Fall into one with a few player monsters chasing you, and you're pretty much guaranteed to never get out.
  • Level Editor: Since this game is based on Minecraft, Minecraft is used to build the maps. In fact, pretty much every map is player-made.
  • Limit Break: There are several examples, mostly operating on cooldowns which can be reduced by killing monsters. One of the most powerful is Bruce's Horn of the Buffalo, which gives PROCs to every dwarf when blown. The cooldown is several minutes long at the start of the game; it goes down as dwarves die.
  • Limited Loadout: Dwarf item loadouts are limited not just by the amount of points available for allocation, but also by the inventory used for displaying the loadout.
  • Limited Sound Effects: Averted - Rob and his fellow developers went the extra mile for the sounds of this game, with many custom sounds for dwarf items as well as voice acting for dwarf heroes and monsters.
  • Mooks: The AI-controlled zombies are the mooks of the game, and fittingly, they are essentially just PROC-fodder - weak enough to be killed in a few melee hits or a single bow shot, and numerous enough to sustain PROCs for many seconds.
    • Elite Mook: Doubling up as Player Mooks, special monsters and player-controlled zombies count as such. The player zombies, in particular, are much more dangerous than AI sombies when fully upgraded.
    • King Mook: Some Doom Event bosses are this; Krungor and the Ogre Mages are the King Mook version of the Ogre special monster, while Bopen is the King Mook of the Pirate special monster. Krungor and Bopen are also literal kings of their respective races.
    • Smash Mook: Golems do insane amounts of armor damage, while Ogres have insane amounts of knockback.
    • Stealthy Mook: The Ghost Blade and Rat special monsters excel in stealth, the former due to its invisibility and the latter due to its small size and its stone-like coloration.
  • Mad Bomber: Goblins are the monsters' explosives experts. They can throw or place "Boom Boxes" to hurt dwarves or shatter stone, and can blow themselves up like the Minecraft mob they're based on.
  • Magic Compass: The Compass dwarf loadout item points to every important resource-gathering location in a map.
  • Magitek Nisovin's magic is implied to be this (previous versions of the game even gave Nisovin a gun-like weapon). Rob's other Minecraft server, Lords of Minecraft, confirms the nature of Nisovin's magic, among other DvZ lore.
  • Money for Nothing: Once you've bought all the dwarf loadout items, there's nothing else to spend your in-game gold on.
  • Multi-Mook Melee: Of the Constant Stream variety. The dwarves battle against an endless stream of AI zombies and an increasingly large number of player monsters.
  • Not the Intended Use: The EZ-Fix Slabs are intended for patching holes in walls and creating instant walls to block off passageways. Of course, players have found other ways to use this powerful item. In maps with a significant outdoor portion, players often use slabs to create giant bases in the sky.
  • Nostalgia Level: The Mt. Willakers and Dogekac Rebaked maps are updated versions of classic maps from years ago, back when Dwarves vs. Zombies was hosted on PlayMindcrack. And many old maps can be chosen in paid custom games, regardless of how well they work with the current game mechanics. The Plains map is also one, as it is an updated throwback to the old "build your own keep" maps of yore.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…: One of the few ways for a good dwarf player to die prematurely is from fall damage. Even an auto-heal item can't stop the damage from a sufficiently high fall.
  • Playable Menu: The game's lobby is a miniaturized and idealized version of a generic Dv Z map, complete with two shrines. Within the keep are store vendors where players can do various tasks. But there's actually very little to do in the lobby; Rob has stated that he doesn't want to add minigames, parkour, or other features of most Minecraft server lobbies, because doing so would distract players from the actual game.
  • Point Build System: Players are allocated 64 points which are used to build their dwarf's loadout. The five premade classes have more than 64 points worth of items, since they are meant for players new to the game.
  • Purposefully Overpowered: The dwarves are overpowered compared to the monsters to guarantee that games last a certain amount of time (30-60 minutes).
  • Randomly Generated Levels: The Plains map is randomly generated using Minecraft's terrain generation mechanics.
  • Recurring Element: The game shares characters and mythology with Rob's other works, particularly Unforgotten Realms Live.
  • Regenerating Health: There are several options for dwarves. There are two healing items (Jimmy Juice and Regrowth Star) which automatically heal you upon reaching a certain health threshold. Another option, affecting both dwarves and monsters, is Minecraft's standard health regeneration, although this is far slower and not at all viable in battle.
  • Regenerating Mana: Both dwarf and monster mana regenerate passively. For dwarves, the rate depends on the state of their armor - the more broken it is, the slower their mana regenerates. As dwarves rely on mana to heal, a low armor health is an almost guaranteed death sentence in the heat of battle.
  • Respawn on the Spot: Player zombies and Swammies get to respawn where they died, but with a catch. Player zombies' respawn is determined randomly, while Swammies get 100 respawns shared with all other Swammies.
  • Ring Out: If a dwarf gets too close to the monster spawn, he/she becomes increasingly debilitiated until finally being killed outright. Similarly, if a monster gets beyond the current dwarven shrine, he/she is instantly killed.
  • Run, Don't Walk: Players may walk, but why would they, when everyone else, including the hundreds of AI zombies, is running?
  • Say My Name: Bruce yells "Old Man Willakers!" upon starting a PROC, and when he dies, he yells a saddened version of the same line.
    • The Doom Event monster hero Krungor announces his arrival with one, accompanied by hard rock music.
  • Scratch Damage: AI zombies are quite weak on their own, and deal Scratch Damage to dwarves. But there are a lot of them, and combined with a large number of player monsters, that damage adds up.
  • Sequence Breaking: A rare intentional example. Usually, monsters are supposed to work their way through each shrine individually, allowing badly injured dwarves to retreat to the next shrine or for dwarves to finish up the interior defenses. Monsters who try to bypass the current shrine are instantly zapped by lightning. But over the years, the game has had monster classes deliberately designed to break this sequence and bypass the current shrine. In the current iteration of the game, Ghost Blades and certain monster bosses such as Bopen can infiltrate the shrines past the current shrine and destroy lights and defenses, as well as severely injure or even kill dwarves hiding back there.
  • Shows Damage: As dwarves take damage, their armor gradually becomes more and more damaged, so that dwarves can tell if their comrades' armor needs fixing. Also, when dwarves are low on mana, they "bleed" or emit red particles.
  • Starter Equipment: The Warrior class is the only class unlocked and equipped for new players. Unlike most examples of this trope, it is a very powerful kit, and is commonly used by veterans and newbies alike.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: "Dogekac" the Cake God is "Cakegod" backwards.
  • Shovel Strike: The Tomb Maker weapon is a fancy shovel. When you dig gravel with it, some stone is placed within the shared resource chests. By itself, it is almost useless as a weapon, but digging gravel after the Build Phase ends starts a PROC. This makes the Tomb Maker surprisingly viable as a weapon, especially when there are a large number of monsters and gravel from destroyed walls.
  • Shifting Sand Land: The Sophanem map, complete with a giant sphinx wearing a golden crown.
  • Spread Shot: Of the Initial Burst variety. FlameLancer skeletons shoot a veritable cloud of flaming arrows, designed mostly to harass dwarves.
  • Super Mode: The PROC ability.
  • Ten-Second Flashlight: Dwarves have horrible low-light vision (implemented as Minecraft's Blindness effect). Holding a torch clears this effect, but dwarves can't fight with a torch. There is a special loadout item called Darkvision which, upon sneaking, applies a ten-second night-vision effect with a cooldown of sixty seconds.
  • The Last Dance: This is the final battle of the dwarves, and all of them are guaranteed to die in the end.
  • The War Sequence: The entire game is one.
  • Unwinnable by Design: The dwarves can never win - there is an unlimited number of AI zombies and the dwarves' stash of gold to repair armor can only last so long.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Some maps have passive Minecraft mobs strewn throughout the map. Though some dwarves choose to spare these innocent animals, many simply kill them with their powerful weapons.
  • Villain Song: Bopen gets an epic one when he spawns in a Doom Event. Of course, it ends with an Evil Laugh.
  • A Winner Is You: After an hour or so of combat, the dwarves have finally fallen, and what do the victorious monsters get? A blown-up shrine, a message in chat, and some gold for purchasing dwarf items.
  • Zerg Rush: The dwarves, however limited their number, are still incredibly powerful. So what do the monsters do? They send in hundreds of disposable zombies to overwhelm the dwarves by sheer numbers.