[playtesting] Dwarf Fortress skills - projects vs. harvesting

If you're playing a game my sweet new Dwarf Fortress game, and your character has a guild/trade/profession, would it make more sense if:

1- it limited what sort of supplies you could gather or produce for the fortress (harvest crops, supply tools and weapons, cut gems, mint coins, etc.), but you could do any sort of special project on top of that, like forging a sword, building a throne, installing a pit trap, etc.
2- it limited what sort of special projects you could do, but you could get any sort of supplies for the fortress
3- it limited both what you could supply and the type of projects you could work on (the planter must keep everybody fed AND is the only one who can cultivate a special medicinal herb; the metalworker must keep all tools and weapons tip-top AND is the only one who could forge the king's new ax).
4- you can do any of these things, but you're particularly good at one sort of thing because of your guild/profession

I'm kind of inclined towards either #1 or #4, but I want to use the option that makes the most sense, both in its "internal logic" and in niche protection. The problem I ran into before, when I used option #3, was that some characters like soldiers and doctors didn't have much to do, early on, when nobody was injured and no one needed to be injured.

My concern about #2 is that it makes particular shortages less of an issue - I was envisioning someone patiently waiting for a particular sort of skilled tradesdwarf to show up in the next batch of migrant workers, like in the game, but it may be that #4 provides the most flexibility and the least irritation.



  • I can't opine without knowing more about the game.
  • edited November 2010
    Posted By: Zac in DavisThe problem I ran into before, when I used option #3, was that some characters like soldiers and doctors didn't have much to do, early on, when nobody was injured and no one needed tobeinjured.
    Can the dwarves have multiple skills/professions? This is fairly normal for dwarves in a starting out fortress (at least when I was playing the video game) since you only got 7 and you had a lot of things that needed to get done.
  • Christopher,
    Is there anything in particular you'd like to know, or should I email you my current .doc, or...? Happy to provide more info!

    I am debating whether dwarves can have multiple professions. I don't see an inherent problem with that, though.
  • The first thing I need to know -- which I am only assuming to be true: is this an RPG based on the computer game? Also, what's the structure of the game? What kind of play is it supposed to produce? Just that kind of overview stuff, really. It's an interesting idea.
  • Hey, thanks for taking an interest, Chris! :)

    Okay - so. This is an RPG based on the computer game... no, inspired by the computer game.

    The structure of the game is in seasons. Each season, every player can gather supplies, vote on whether or not to Open the Gates! (basically, to let the outside world in, for good and for ill), and work on one commissioned project. You *can* do any of these things; gathering supplies is pretty important, but you don't have to do it, if you're okay with the consequences.
    Gathering supplies is resolved first, and then everybody votes on whether to Open the Gates!
    Then we take 2d6, assign one die as "good fortune" and the other as "ill fortune". Higher is usually a more intense result - so higher good is better, higher ill is worse. Double sixes means you've found a tunnel to the underworld, which is chock full of monsters, gems, rare metals, and natural phenomena.
    If you want to work on a commissioned project, you can decide to do so at any point in the season.

    Free play comes between each of these things. It figures into these various checks and rolls like so:

    The consequences for a bad supply check can put your character's friendships in jeopardy (long hours at work - where you been, man?), but if you don't do it at all, you're guaranteed to have shortages. A good supply check can net you a surplus in a particular thing, like safety, food, ore, or living space.
    A good commission roll means the thing you made is really great, and will give you one lucky break, one time. A bad commission roll means the project is Doomed, and the GM can unleash a terrible thing, one time, on someone or through someone using the thing, whatever it is (a bridge collapses, a sword kills someone's wife, etc.)
    Open the Gates! introduces new characters, generally - be they merchants, refugees, nobledwarfs seeking to commandeer the fort, skilled tradesdwarfs, goblin raiders, kobold thieves... or maybe your scouts stumble on a nearby human- or elf-town while out ranging! A double-six, as I mentioned, means you locate a cleft that leads to the underworld.

    That all said, the type of play I'm trying to produce is basically frontier-town survival fiction, with hard-pressed relationships, scarcity all over, and constant background threats of violence and loss of autonomy.

    Hopefully that helps! It certainly helps *me* to see it all laid out like that - it's looking pretty good! :)
  • Neat.

    My first thought is that it would be cool if characters had an affinity for a certain particular kind of basic work -- the resource gathering part, and when you choose to act in accord with that affinity, you gather more/better/faster, whatever. It would be neat if that affinity were luck of the draw. On top of that, you'd have a trade (probably a single trade would be best) in which the character was trained that you choose. And when you work on a commissioned project that fits your trade, you produce more/better/faster. On top of that, maybe some kind of Great Work becomes available as your commissioned project but only when you have a certain level of mastery over your trade skill and/or a mood takes you. So I guess, I'm in favor of option four, but with pretty severe benefit for working inside your specialties.
  • Sounds good, Chris.
    And by "severe benefit" do you mean "a lot of benefit"? I'm guessing yes.

    Just as an aside, at this point the resource gathering and the project-commission...ing are both handled with a d4 roll. I'm debating whether to increase the size to d6, to allow for more factors (and for less stinginess with the bonuses! +1 on a d4 means a lot).

    Great Works, strange moods, and artifacts haven't actually made it into this design - maybe something like "spend a unit of surplus appropriate to your profession, and work long hours, to the detriment of one relationship" could turn a commission into a Great Work/artifact. Gotta think on this one... this begs the question "What do Great Works do?"
  • edited November 2010
    This Hocus move from Apocalypse World is intriguing:
    Fortunes: fortune, surplus and want all depend on your followers.
    At the beginning of the session, roll+fortune. On a 10+, your
    followers have surplus. On a 7–9, they have surplus, but choose
    1 want. On a miss, they are in want. If their surplus lists barter,
    like 1-barter or 2-barter, that’s your personal share.
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