Creating the World
The first step of any Dwarf Fortress game is world generation, which takes a while. It is simulating a century or two. Fortunately, you don't have to sit through this for a good 10 minutes like I did. It could be worse! Worlds used to have to generate overnight. 10 minutes is blazing fast for 250 years of history.
First things first, here's the generation settings for this world. I'm trying to make re-learning this game easy on myself.
I hit y.
With the press of a key, the CPU screams into the void and defies every law of entropy. Something comes from nothing. Particles glitter and coalsce in the darkness of their motherboard, clumps racing together in arcane shapes of earth and sea. The universe's fabric is quickly knit together by threads of binary, and the first gods raise their heads and behold their domains. They know that history will unfold in mere moments. They are many, and the centuries are few.
As the world comes into being, it's given its name. It is Adreomon, "The Past Realm".
Sand settles over the world's belt. It seeps outward until the trees drive their roots down and consume it, forests sprouting in the blink of an eye, grass rustling in a newborn breeze. The first animals crack their eyes open, newborn legs stumbling and disintegrating as they age in the span of a breath. The minds of men follow. Myriad races spring into existence, demons dragging their diseased bodies up from the underworld, the gods driving them back down and leaving adamantine scars across the land. Dwarves strike the earth. Cities flourish. Wars rise and fall. And throughout it all, the steady hum of cheap laptop fans prevent the newborn world's inevitable heat death...
And off we go! I'm getting some water while this generates. It'll take a little while.
Who wants to play Spot the Difference? It's only 30-ish years of history, no big deal.
I'm surprised my laptop is taking this so well. This thing overheats at the drop of a hat.
Finally, after about 10 minutes of waiting, we have our world: Adreomon, "The Past Realm". Knowing my track record, that's a fitting name.
There's a list of every important historical figure, event, and place in Legends Mode. It's a lot to traverse, so I'm using Legends Viewer to get a better look at everything. Right off the bat, I see an "interesting" civilization name:
Lovely. Looks like they're made a tower and some dark pits, been up to some bog-standard necromancer shenanigans, and are otherwise nonremarkable. They are somewhat dwarf-heavy, though. Speaking of dwarves...
This is just one civilization out of five, and it looks like they've been busy creating a thriving arts industry and terrorizing the local wildlife. They had a run-in with a roc in Year 31, which is notable because rocs are massive birds that will gladly kill dwarves given the opportunity. Naturally, they appointed a baron to celebrate not dying. Said baron fell in love with a necromancer, then died 2 years later at the hands of another giant monster (who spent the rest of that year smashing assorted dwarves' body parts). Rest in pieces, Kogan.
After that, the dwarves spent a long while building roads and holding yet more wrestling competitions. Unsurprisingly, necromancers won most of the wrestling matches. There were more than a few poetry recitals and concerts as well. Dwarves really do love their art. Scrolling down reveals centuries of art history. The Insightful Poem is a poetic form that cropped up all the way back in Year 1, and it's still being performed 172 years later.
Musical and literary forms can be found just by skimming. This civilization apparently liked to remember important events with music, usually using a very specific style to do so. They called it the Lavender Lark, and "the entire performance is to be very loud". I assume that means a lot of screaming given how many vocal parts this thing has. Every section is also supposed to be long, which makes me think you're in it for a few hours if you decide to listen in, but it also specifies an increasingly fast tempo. Did I mention that someone has to recite The Insightful Poem while playing this? Yeah, these guys remember their own history with satire to the tune of something like heavy metal. Beautiful.
I could keep digging and spend hours reading about cultures, wars, the rise and fall of cities... or I could add my own lines to the history books. Enough mucking about in Legends Mode. It's time to play!