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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 immigrant 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.
 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 and are "quite content", regardless of any recent thoughts they may have had.
- <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. Forbidden items must be reclaimed ( - - ) before they may be used, but moody dwarves will ignore settings regarding economic stone. Press and 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.
You can use this to your advantage to get your dwarf to pick specific types of items, even if the moody dwarf has already started storing materials in their workshop: if a fey weaponsmith starts piling up copper bars, forbid those bars and he'll go pick another bar instead. If you forbid all metals except say steel (the stocks screen makes this fairly convenient), then he'll skip all those other metals and make his artifact weapon out of strong, valuable steel instead of whatever random inferior metal he might have picked otherwise. Don't forbid any of his materials after your dwarf has begun building his artifact - he won't go back to collecting materials once started and will end up going insane.
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 (green) glass, both silk and plant cloth.
In somewhat rarer cases, a dwarf with a personality preference for a specific material, such as steel or silver bars, will demand exactly that specific sub-type of material. For this reason, it is a good idea to keep as many types of material on hand as possible, including the three different kinds of glass. Forbidding materials won't let you get around this either: if they want a specific material subtype and you forbid it in favor of something else, they'll just sulk in their workshop until you unforbid the material or they are able to find it some other way - or they go insane. Asking a liaison for likely materials in advance is a good plan - "next year" is far too long for a moody dwarf to last. Check your dwarves' preferences if you care.
Once you have struck Adamantine, all moods which use cloth or metal as a primary component will insist on using Adamantine cloth or wafers over all other materials; moody dwarves which happen to want metal for decorations will still choose bars based on distance or preference. Moods involving stone crafting or masonry will not prefer raw adamantine over other stones.
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>..." Stone rock a quarry stone... rock Stone block rock blocks square blocks blocks... bricks Wood wood logs a forest tree... life Metal bar metal bars shining bars of metal bars... metal Gems (cut) cut gems cut gems gems... shining Gems (raw) rough gems rough gems rough... color Glass (green) raw green glass glass raw... green Glass (clear) clear glassVerify glass and burning wood raw... clear Glass (crystal) crystal glassVerify rough gems and glass raw... crystal Bone bones skeletons bones... yes Shell shells a shell a shell... Leather tanned hides stacked leather leather... skin Cloth (plant) plant fiber cloth stacked cloth cloth... thread Cloth (silk) silk cloth stacked cloth cloth... thread
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>!"). They may also say "Leave me. I need... things... certain things", in which case they want special items such as skulls or vermin remains.
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!"
 Known quirk
On maps with magma, dwarves* who intend to create an artifact at a forge or glass furnace may only be willing to use a standard (non-magma) version, or only a magma version, and will find the other completely unacceptable. If they are just standing around, then they won't use the type you have, and you will have to build the other type for them (though no fuel will be required if using a standard, non-magma version).
- (* This would include most all armorsmiths, blacksmiths, metalsmiths, weaponsmiths, and glassmakers, and any whose mood is dictated by the relevant skills.)
 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 Mined-out rock does count as an "item created", though it is not clear whether bolts or units of drink are counted individually.
- The number of revealed subterranean tiles divided by 2304 (this is an area equivalent to a 48x48 square). Using exploratory methods is a great way to increase your artifact limit.
- 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.
- Advisor, Baron/ess, Baron/ess Consort, Count/ess, Countess Consort, Duke/Duchess, Duke/Duchess Consort, Dungeon Master, Hammerer, King/Queen, King/Queen Consort, Philosopher, and Tax Collector.
Further, dwarves with a military profession other than "Recruit" can not enter moods. Incidental military skills make no difference - eligibility (and weighting) depends purely on the actual profession, as listed at the time. Military professions include:
- Axedwarf, Axe Lord, Champion, Crossbowdwarf, Elite Crossbowdwarf, Hammerdwarf, Hammer Lord, Macedwarf, Mace Lord, Marksdwarf, Elite Marksdwarf, Speardwarf, Spearmaster, Swordsdwarf, Swordmaster, Wrestler, and Elite Wrestler.
Babies may not enter moods.
Any other profession is eligible to enter a mood, but not all have the same chance to enter a mood...
- (Note - Specifically, and to avoid previous misunderstandings, Strand extractor, Clerk, Administrator, Trader, Architect, Alchemist, Recruit and Child are moodable professions.)
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 6, but some professions are more likely to enter a strange mood than others. (This is like most dwarves getting 6 tickets to the lottery, and others getting more.)
|21||Armorer, Blacksmith, Bone Carver, Clothier, Craftsdwarf, Jeweler, Gem Cutter, Gem Setter, Glassmaker, Leatherworker, Metalcrafter, Metalsmith, Stonecrafter, Weaponsmith, Weaver, Woodcrafter|
|11||Bowyer, Carpenter, Stoneworker, Mason, Woodworker|
|6||Engraver, Mechanic, Miner, Tanner, & 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 6 chances each) plus one Armorer (with 21 chances), that one Armorer would have a 21 in 141 chance (20 dwarves x 6 chances each = 120 + 21 chances more = 141 total) of the mood striking them. That's about 1 in 7, while the other 20 have a 6 in 141 chance each, or about 1 in 24. 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. An Alchemist, Architect, Furnace Operator or Strand Extractor can be taken by a mood, but that will not make those skills legendary, nor will they create an artifact bar of soap, building, bar of metal or wafer of adamantine.
- NOTE: If your game was saved shortly before one of you dwarves acquired a mood, reloading that game will most likely cause the chances to be completely re-figured, resulting in a different mood at a different time for a different dwarf with different materials. This is true for most all random events and results in Dwarf Fortress.
 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 20 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.
If you have any magma forges in your fortress, then moody metalworkers will insist on using one, even if they are unpowered or partially constructed. Since a magma forge losing power will cause a strange mood to instantly end in insanity, you should not build any magma forges (or even queue them for construction) until you are completely ready to use them.
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, Metal crafter and Metalsmith are possibly the most-desired legendary skills, but much depends on your fortress, your current mix of skills, and your play style.)
 Artifacts created
The type of artifact created will depend on the dwarf's highest skill. Masons and miners will always create some kind of stone furniture; bone Carvers, a bone or shell object; carpenters, a wood object, etc. Engravers and stone crafters will turn out a stone craft; metalworkers, metal crafts, weapons, or armor (depending on the type of metalworker); weavers, an article of clothing; tanners, a leather armor or object. If a dwarf has no moodable skills, they will take over a craftsdwarf's workshop and create a bone, stone or wood craft of some type. The precise type of craft created is usually somewhat random but if a dwarf has a personality preference for a particular thing, such as gauntlets or floodgates or crowns, and that thing is an available choice given the dwarf's profession, they will generally create an object of that type.
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. In some cases, a moody dwarf will 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, most artifacts will be available for use just like a normal item of its type. Artifact furniture is useful for high value noble rooms. Weapons and armor will only be used by heroes and champions. Artifact weapons in weapon traps can also boost a room's value considerably, as in the case of artifact trap components.
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 possibly pull levers at random. 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.
Severe distractions such as hostile creatures, however, can interrupt a strange mood, resulting in immediate insanity; similar results will happen if the workshop suddenly becomes unavailable, whether from being destroyed (by a cave-in or a dwarf throwing a tantrum) or from losing power (in the case of magma workshops). Note that the insanity can happen even when the dwarf is not deadlocked on an item; there have been observed instances where a dwarf goes insane while in the process of carrying a required item back to the commandeered workshop.