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Periodically, individual dwarves are struck with an idea for a legendary artifact and enter a strange mood. Dwarves which enter a strange mood will stop whatever they are doing and pursue the construction of this artifact to the exclusion of all else. This will be based on a particular skill that creates a finished end product that can have a quality, rather than intermediary material such as bars of metal or raw food. They will not stop to eat, drink, sleep, or even run away from dangerous creatures. If they do not manage to begin construction of the artifact within a handful of months, they will go insane and die soon afterward.
A dwarf will only be struck by a mood once in their lifetime. Upon completion of their artifact they will usually become legendary in that skill, and will then return to their normal life in the fortress with their newfound skill. A fortress can have at most one dwarf in a strange mood at any one time.
The entire process can be summarized as follows:
- Strange moods can only occur when the below necessary conditions are met. Babies and activated Soldiers with military skills cannot enter moods, nor can nobles, but any other dwarf can, including children.
- The game will pause, center on a dwarf, and announce that the dwarf has entered one of five different types of strange moods. The types of moods are listed below. While in a mood, a dwarf will display a blinking exclamation point (see status icons).
- For the duration of the mood, the dwarf will claim a workshop related to the skill that the mood affects (not all skills are eligible), kick out any dwarf who was using it, and render it otherwise unusable until the mood has been resolved. If a moody dwarf does not claim a workshop, it is because the appropriate workshop does not exist. (See skills and workshops below to determine which workshop(s) might be required.) A moody dwarf will not be available to build a needed workshop; another dwarf with the appropriate labor designation must do so for them, if one is necessary.
- After claiming a workshop, the dwarf will set about collecting the required materials for their artifact. If the dwarf remains idle inside the workshop, it's because they cannot find the right material. Reference the demands section to determine what may be required.
- Once all materials have been gathered, the game will once again pause and center, and the moody dwarf will begin construction. Upon completion the dwarf will create a semi-random artifact related to the skill affected and gain legendary (or higher) status in that skill (unless the mood type is possessed). See the skills and workshops for information on which skills can be gained, or the artifacts created section for more details on the artifacts themselves.
Artifacts are generated with a randomly generated name, though 1% of moody dwarves (unless Fell or Macabre) will name their artifacts after themselves.
 Types of moods
For each of the following types of moods, the first message is how the mood is announced; the second message appears in the dwarf's profile when he or she is viewed with the key. All moody dwarves will have "Strange Mood" listed as their active task.
- <dwarf> is taken by a fey mood!
- Has the aspect of one fey!
This is the most basic strange mood. Fey dwarves will clearly state their demands when the workshop they are in is examined.
- <dwarf> withdraws from society...
- Peculiarly secretive...
Secretive moods are the same as fey moods, except a secretive dwarf will sketch pictures of their required materials instead of clearly stating their demands if they cannot find what they need. Descriptions of all these secretive requirements can be seen only by viewing the workshop that the moody dwarf has claimed, with , and then only while the dwarf is waiting inside it. More than one "picture" is likely; these will cycle through the entire list automatically if any one is not available. (Since materials are gathered in order, it's quite possible that only one of a long list is needed to allow the moody dwarf to continue on their project. If the dwarf has gathered some of the materials (seen as "tasked" when looking at the workshop with ), then the next in the list is what they are looking for.)
- <dwarf> has been possessed!
- Possessed by unknown forces!
Possessed dwarves have cryptic material requests, and have the unfortunate distinction of not receiving any experience upon successful construction of an artifact. It is unknown if controllable circumstances lead to a possessed mood instead of one of the more desirable fey or secretive moods. Possessed dwarves will mutter the name of the artifact they are working on once they have all the materials they need.
A possession is the only mood that does not result in a jump in experience.
- <dwarf> looses a roaring laughter, fell and terrible!
- Has a horrible fell look!
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, 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. Only unhappy dwarves may enter a fell mood.
Aside from the potential loss of an important dwarf in the wrong place at the wrong time, there doesn't seem to be any downside to a fell mood. The end result is always an artifact and a legendary craftsdwarf. Since the only ingredient used (a dwarf) is available in abundance, a fell mood will only fail if the fell dwarf is completely isolated from other dwarves, or if the proper workshop does not exist.
- <dwarf> begins to stalk and brood...
- Brooding darkly...
Macabre moods are similar to fell moods, but the dwarf will not murder a fellow dwarf. A macabre dwarf may require bones, skulls, and chunks/remains; if you do not happen to have any, you will have to "make" some, or let the moody dwarf go insane. Like fell moods, only unhappy dwarves can enter macabre moods.
Once a workshop is claimed, the dwarf will begin collecting materials. Each artifact will require between one and ten materials to complete - 1-3 "primary" components and up to 7 additional items based on your fortress's population (up to 1 per 20 dwarves eligible to enter a mood) and previous moods (up to 1 per artifact successfully produced). If the moody dwarf remains idle, then the necessary materials are not available. Pressand highlight the workshop to receive a series of clues about what the dwarf needs. Hints that stay active for longer than 2 seconds mean that multiple pieces of that material will be required; each single demand will be displayed for 2 seconds, so if it says "gems... shining" for 6 seconds, 3 gems are demanded. Materials will always be fetched in order, so if at least one item has already been retrieved (the items will show up with "TSK" ("task") next to them when the workshop is viewed with the context menu), it will usually be possible to tell what item is required next.
Note though that if a dwarf has a demand for a specific item, such as a bar of metal, raw gem, or shell, then that item type will be required. For this reason, it is usually a good idea to keep an example of each item type on hand, particularly cut and raw gems, shells, bones, leather, raw glass of every type, both silk and plant cloth.
The various demands are translated here:
Material Fey Secretive Possessed <dwarf> screams "I must have <demand>!" <dwarf> sketches pictures of <demand>. <dwarf> mutters "<artifact> needs <demand>..." Wood wood a forest tree... life Ore the correct ore an ore mine ore... particular ore Gems (rough)
rough gems rough gems rough... color Stone the right stone a quarry stone... rock Metal bar metal bars shining bars of metal bars... metal Gems (cut) gems cut gems gems... shining Stone block the proper surface to work on square blocks blocks... bricks... Bone bones skeletons bones... yes Shell a shell a shell a shell... Leather leather stacked leather leather... skin Plant cloth
cloth stacked cloth cloth... thread
Demands for Ore or Metal bars are always for a specific material, while demands for rough stone or blocks merely require that the stone be gray, light, or dark. Demands for rough gems may be for a specific type of raw glass (unlike in later versions, there are no special messages), a specific gemstone, or any type of gemstone. Demands for cloth can be for either plant fiber or silk cloth, and all other items (wood, cut gems, bone, shell, and leather) will accept any type of item. It is generally a good idea to keep as many types of material on hand as possible, including the three different kinds of glass.
The primary component of the strange mood will typically be based on the dwarf's preferences:
- A moody stoneworker will require gray stone, light stone, or dark stone based on his preferences - for example, a dwarf that likes Limestone will demand any light stone. A dwarf without any stone preferences will pick a type at random.
- A moody weaver or clothes maker who likes any type of plant fiber will demand plant cloth, while one that likes any type of silk will demand silk cloth. With no cloth preferences, the dwarf will pick either type at random.
- A moody furnace operator, blacksmith, or metal crafter can demand malachite, cassiterite, galena, hematite, native gold, or native platinum, according to material preferences. If you have not dug far enough into the mountain, then iron/gold/platinum are disallowed, even if preferred. In the absence of preferences, a metal type is chosen randomly.
- A moody weaponsmith or armorsmith will demand either malachite or hematite, based on preferences. If you have not dug far enough into the mountain, then iron is disallowed. If neither metal is preferred, one of the candidates is chosen at random.
- Not surprisingly, a moody adamantine worker (of any type) will demand raw adamantine.
- A moody jeweler will require the specific gem they happen to like; if they have no gem preference, they will use any gems you happen to have.
- A moody glassmaker will require the specific type of glass they happen to like; if they have no glass preference, they will pick a type at random.
- A moody bone carver who likes any type of bone will demand bones, while one that likes any type of shell will demand shells; with no preferences, one is picked randomly.
- A dwarf in a macabre mood will randomly select either bones, remains, or a skull.
The remaining "decoration" items are selected as follows:
- Possible item types:
- Wood logs of any type.
- Metal bars of a specific type - iron, gold, steel, electrum (or silver, if the Dungeon master hasn't arrived yet), platinum, silver, copper, bronze, brass, or tin. If you haven't dug deep enough, the first 5 types will be ignored. Metalsmiths will never decorate with metal bars.
- Cut gems of any type. Gem Cutters and Gem Setters will never decorate with cut gems.
- Rock blocks of a specific color - gray, dark, or light. Miners, Engravers, Masons, and Stone Crafters will never request blocks.
- Metal ore of a specific type - hematite, native gold, native platinum, galena, malachite, sphalerite, or cassiterite. If you haven't dug deep enough, the first 3 types will be ignored.
- Rough gems of any type
- Boulders of a random color - gray, dark, or light.
- Cloth of a specific type - plant fiber, or silk.
- Raw glass of a specific type - green, clear, or crystal. Glassmakers will never decorate with any type of glass.
- Decoration items will never be the same type as the primary mood material, and some types of moods will additionally refuse to use specific item as decorations as noted above.
- Gem cutters and gem setters have a 50% chance of only gathering a single rough gem and nothing else - when they do this, they produce a "perfect gem" with a single decoration.
- Dwarves in macabre moods will replace 50% of their decoration item requests with skulls, bones, or vermin remains.
- Stone blocks will not actually be used to make decorations - the dwarf will merely use them as a work surface and destroy them upon completion of the mood.
Dwarves in macabre moods will list their demands in the same fashion as those in fey moods, though with them brooding "Yes. I need <item>." instead of screaming "I must have <item>!". Requests for 'macabre' items are stated as "Leave me. I need... things... certain things."
Once all materials have been gathered, viewing the workshop withwill display a special message depending on the type of mood:
- Fey - "<dwarf> works furiously!"
- Secretive - "<dwarf> works secretly..."
- Possessed - "<dwarf> keeps muttering <artifact>..."
- Macabre - "<dwarf> works, darkly brooding..."
- Fell - "<dwarf> works with menacing fury!"
 The mechanics of moods
When a fortress is started, an internal counter is set to 1000. Every 100 frames (12 times per day), this counter is decremented by 1, running down to zero in about 3 months. When the counter would ordinarily be decremented when it has already reached zero, there is a 1 in 500 chance that a strange mood will strike. This means that, once all conditions are met and the clock is ticking, while there is approximately a 2.4% chance of a strange mood per day, or very approximately a 50% chance of a strange mood per month, there is no guarantee when a mood will strike - might be sooner, might be (almost) never.
In order for a dwarf to be struck with a strange mood, three conditions must be met:
- There is no currently active strange mood,
- The maximum number of artifacts is not met,
- There are at least 20 eligible dwarves (see below).
If all three of these conditions are true, the game may trigger a strange mood according to the frequency.
 Maximum number of artifacts
The maximum number of artifacts in any one fortress is limited by the lower of:
- The number of items created divided by 100.1 It is not clear exactly what counts as "item created", but all methods which count toward mandates appear to be included.
- The distance you have mined into the mountain divided by 20. Consequently, no fortress can ever have more than 18 artifacts, and getting that many requires digging past the Eerie glowing pits (but does not require mining any raw adamantine).
- 1 - actually the sum of all items by type and by type+subtype+material+matgloss, divided by 200.
The deciding factor for eligibility is a dwarf's actual profession. (Note that "custom professions" have no effect on this!) Thus, dwarves may enter strange moods regardless of what skills they have or don't have, so long as they are of an acceptable profession. Dwarves who have already created an artifact are not eligible to create another, and since every mood ends in either an artifact or death, every dwarf may enter at most one mood. Dwarves who have obtained one or more legendary skills without creating artifacts may enter strange moods.
Only dwarves with the profession Miner, Carpenter, Mason, Trapper, Metalsmith, Jeweler, Craftsdwarf, Fisherdwarf, Farmer, Mechanic, Recruit, Peasant, or Child may enter a strange mood. Nobles, trained soldiers (other than Recruit), and babies are not eligible for moods.
When determining who will have a strange mood, each eligible dwarf is put into a weighted lottery. The odds are assigned a higher or lower weight based on the dwarf's profession. The default weight is 1, but some professions are more likely to enter a strange mood than others.
|16||Metalsmith, Jeweler, Craftsdwarf|
|1||Miner, Mechanic, and all other professions|
- Example: What this means is: if you had 21 dwarves, made up of 20 eligible farmers, furnace operators, miners, woodcutters etc. (with 1 chance each) plus one Armorer (with 16 chances), that one Armorer would have a 16 in 36 chance (20 dwarves x 1 chances each = 20 + 16 chances more = 36 total) of the mood striking them. That's 4 in 9, while the other 20 have a 1 in 36 chance each. The odds are still against the armorer, but much better than for any other single dwarf.
Note that not every profession is from a moodable skill. A Fisherdwarf or Trapper can be taken by a mood, but that will not make those skills legendary.
 Skills and workshops
A dwarf will claim a workshop according to their highest applicable skill, and upon completion of the artifact, gain 20,000 experience in that skill (excepting possessed dwarves). This will give the dwarf a legendary-level skill (specifically, "legendary+1" or higher, depending on the dwarf's initial skill level) and a number of attribute gains. The table to the right describes all applicable skills and their potential workshop requirements - there are only 25 skills that determine the workshop and that can be affected by a mood (sometimes referred to as moodable skills.) If a dwarf does not possess at least one of the moodable skills listed to the right, they will take over a craftsdwarf's workshop and gain one of bone carver, stone crafter, or wood crafter skills, producing an artifact craft.
When selecting the desired mood skill, only the level itself is checked, and if the highest level found is shared by multiple skills, then one will be selected randomly.
Below is a list of all non-moodable skills; if all of a dwarf's skills are found on this list and none from the table to the right, then they have no moodable skills and will construct their artifact at a Craftsdwarf's workshop, producing an appropriate craft as described above:
This fact can be utilized to maximize the possibility of getting a dwarf with the specific legendary skill you want: since non-moodable skills are ignored, when ever possible make sure that each dwarf's highest moodable skill is one of those you want*. Have all your peasants, farmers, non-professional military and other dwarves without any moodable skills do a tiny bit of work in the skill(s) you most want; if a "dabbling" skill is the highest moodable skill they have, that is the skill that will be used.
- (* Armorsmith, Weaponsmith/Bowyer, Metal crafter, or Metalsmith are possibly the most-desired legendary skills, but much depends on your fortress, your current mix of skills, and your play style. The 4 adamantine-related skills are exceptionally valuable due to the limited time available to train them, but the likelihood of actually getting such a mood is so low as to be almost nonexistent.)
 Artifacts created
The type of artifact created will depend on the skill selected for the mood and will be selected from the table below. If your dwarf does not have a preference for any possible items, the game will randomly select one from the list. Entries with "any" are treated as a single item which will randomly select a subtype which your civilization is capable of making, while "each" is treated as multiple entries, one for every possible subtype - this explains why bowyers and clothiers regularly produce foreign artifacts, while weaponsmiths do not.
|Mood / Skill||Artifact type|
|Adamantine extractor||Figurine, amulet, scepter, crown, ring, earring, bracelet, chain, flask, goblet|
|Adamantine weaver||Each equipment item with [SOFT] (coat, shirt, cloak, tunic, toga, cape, vest, dress, robe, trousers, loincloth, thong, skirt, short skirt, long skirt, braies, glove, mitten, shoe, sandal, chausses, cap, hood, turban, mask, head veil, face veil, headscarf), backpack, quiver|
|Adamantine worker||Each equipment item with [HARD] but not [SOFT] (plate mail, chain mail, greaves, leggings, gauntlet, high boot, low boot, helm), any shield, any weapon, any trap component2, door, bed, chair, table, statue, coffer, bin, armor stand, weapon rack, cabinet, anvil, coffin, floodgate, cage, barrel, bucket, animal trap, instrument, toy, mechanism|
|Armorsmith||Each equipment item with [METAL] (plate mail, chain mail, greaves, leggings, gauntlet, high boot, low boot, shoe, high boot, sandal1'), any shield|
|Bone carver (bone)||Each equipment item with [BARRED] (leggings, greaves, gauntlet, helm), any shield, any helm, instrument, toy, door, bed, chair, table, statue, coffer, bin, armor stand, weapon rack, cabinet, coffin, floodgate, chain, cage, animal trap, figurine, amulet, scepter, crown, ring, earring, bracelet, any weapon, any trap component2|
|Macabre Mood (bone)|
|Fell Mood (bone)|
|Bone carver (shell)||Each equipment item with [SCALED] (leggings, gauntlet, helm), figurine, amulet, crown, ring, earring, bracelet, chain, cage, animal trap, instrument, toy|
|Bowyer||Each ranged weapon (crossbow, bow, blowgun)|
|Carpenter||Door, bed, chair, table, statue, chest, bin, armor stand, weapon rack, cabinet, coffin, floodgate, cage, barrel, bucket, animal trap|
|Clothes maker||Each equipment item with [SOFT] (coat, shirt, cloak, tunic, toga, cape, vest, dress, robe, trousers, loincloth, thong, skirt, short skirt, long skirt, braies, glove, mitten, shoe, sandal, chausses, cap, hood, turban, mask, head veil, face veil, headscarf), bag, rope|
|Engraver||Figurine, amulet, scepter, crown, ring, earring, bracelet, goblet, instrument, toy|
|Fell Mood (leather)||Each equipment item with [LEATHER] (dress, shirt, tunic, toga, vest, robe, coat, cloak, cape, armor, trousers, loincloth, thong, short skirt, skirt, long skirt, braies, leggings, glove, mitten, sandal, shoe, chausses, high boot, low boot, cap, hood, mask, turban, head veil, face veil, headscarf, helm), any shield, bag, backpack, quiver, instrument|
|Furnace operator||Figurine, amulet, scepter, crown, ring, earring, bracelet, chain, flask, goblet, instrument, toy|
|Gem cutter||Door, bed, chair, table, statue, box, armor stand, weapon rack, cabinet, coffin, floodgate, figurine, amulet, scepter, crown, ring, earring, bracelet, chain, flask, goblet, cage, barrel, bucket, animal trap, window, instrument, toy|
|Macabre Mood (skull)||Totem|
|Macabre Mood (vermin remains)||Amulet, bracelet, earring|
|Mason||Door, bed, chair, table, statue, coffer, armor stand, weapon rack, cabinet, coffin, floodgate|
|Metalsmith||Door, bed, chair, table, statue, coffer, armor stand, weapon rack, cabinet, anvil, coffin, floodgate, cage, barrel, bucket, animal trap|
|Weaponsmith||Any weapon, any trap component2|
- 1 these are intended to be headgear types, but the code incorrectly specifies an item type of SHOES instead of HELM
- 2 chance of selection for this entry is reduced by 90%
The first object grabbed by the dwarf will be the "primary" substance; all other materials will be used to decorate the artifact. If a dwarf grabs a piece of chalk and makes a statue, for instance, it will be a "chalk statue", but an artifact can potentially be composed of bone, cloth, gems, leather, metal, shell, stone, and wood all at once. As seen above, a moody dwarf can sometimes produce an item which normally cannot be made from that material, leading to such odd constructions as an obsidian bed, ruby floodgate, or turtle shell cage.
Once created, the dwarf will carry around the artifact in his inventory for a long time. If the dwarf is killed, the artifact becomes available for general use. Artifact furniture is useful for high value noble rooms. Weapons and armor will only be used by heroes and champions. Artifact weapons and trap components in weapon traps can also boost a room's value considerably.
After 1.5 to 3 months, dwarves carrying their artifacts are intended to be overcome by them and do something special:
- "<dwarf> becomes obsessed with <artifact>!" - the dwarf continues to carry the artifact around forever. If the dwarf ever loses possession of the artifact, he will cancel his job to "Seek Artifact" and get it back. If the artifact is stolen or destroyed, the dwarf will go insane.
- "<dwarf> becomes uneasy and drops <artifact>." - the dwarf immediately drops the artifact on the floor, at which point it may be used like any ordinary item.
- "<dwarf> becomes nervous and cleverly hides <artifact>!" - the artifact is Lost (showing up in dark gray in the stocks screen), just as if it had fallen into the chasm, cave river, or magma flow.
If a skilled soldier decides to pick up and equip an artifact, he will be affected in the same way, but a given dwarf can only ever be obsessed with one artifact at a time, so subsequently claimed artifacts will be either dropped or hidden. For this reason, it may be wise to put artifact weapons into traps to get the most use out of them.
Due to a bug, the above behavior never actually happens - dwarves who create artifacts will carry them forever. A patch for version 0.23.130.23a is available with DFHack-23a.
If you can't provide the desired workshop and all the required component materials within a couple of months, the dwarf will go insane, which cancels the mood and the artifact. As if that's not bad enough, any dwarf who goes insane will soon die, one way or another.
A dwarf who is stark raving mad or melancholy is harmless to others (until they die and start a tantrum spiral), but a berserk dwarf will attack other dwarves and animals. You may want to station a squad nearby or assign a few war dogs to the dwarf on the chance that they will lash out. If you build your workshops inside enclosed rooms with doors you can also lock the moody dwarf in the room until he or she starves. In extreme cases, building a wall around an open workshop is the best precaution.
Most events that would ordinarily interrupt a dwarf will not deter a moody dwarf - for example, while passing out from pain will cancel most tasks, a moody dwarf will continue working as soon as he wakes up. Giving birth while in a strange mood does not interrupt the dwarf either; the new mother will ignore the baby until her mood is resolved and it will happily wander off in the meantime.
Anything which forcefully cancels the "Strange Mood" job will result in immediate insanity. Unlike most other jobs, moody dwarves are incredibly focused and may only cancel their job if they are wounded so badly that they can no longer use their hands. Destruction of the claimed workshop (whether by a cave-in or a tantrum) will also result in insanity.