Yanping Fulsome died a martyr. I met him in the park right after I had finished beating an amateur magician to death for his stance on electoral reform, and our camaraderie was immediate and firm. His talent as a locksmith was invaluable, and together we were the voice and hands of the liberal revolution: one silver tongue and ten nimble fingers, capable of drawing almost anyone to his side and robbing the rest in the night.
But we got lost. Yanping took one in the left arm while robbing an apartment block in the city center (liberal). One conservative construction worker stayed home that day and became concerned when he noticed Yanping filling his pockets with jewelry and iPads. Several minutes passed before the DethSquad officers arrived.
Neither Yanping’s nine-millimeter pistol nor his bodyguard Rane (a black belt martial artist with whom I flirted so much that he devoted himself to a life of terrorism) could stand against them. Rane went down first, and Yanping—gentle, sentimental Yanping—wasted his time dragging his body to the elevator before succumbing to his wounds, one push of a button away from running away. I replaced him with a 46-year-old soccer coach named Donovan. Donovan sells pot cookies to support a cause instead of dying in an elevator shaft. We actually make more money now.
We need a slogan!
This is the Liberal Crime Squad (LCS), the underrated predecessor from the creators of Dwarf Fortress. A revolutionary cadre simulator that tasks you with implementing the Liberal Agenda through murder, sabotage, kidnapping and theft, the LCS differs from Dwarf Fortress in that it has a specific purpose. Your job is basically to make all of Glenn Beck’s nightmares come true simultaneously.
You must build a vast liberal conspiracy at all costs, building a nationwide web of activists who will stop at nothing to ensure gays can marry and burn flags, undermining tradition by both subtle and overt means. Sometimes that means kidnapping a judge and breaking his will. Other times it means, uh, making and selling tie-dye T-shirts. Hey, the Bolsheviks were selling postcards (opens in a new tab). Sometimes a revolution is about arts and crafts.
Of course, you won’t do it alone. You are aided in this by your recruits, acquired through seduction and persuasion, who are divided into “active” liberals and sleeper agents embedded in key crevices of conservative society, ready to wreak havoc whenever you send a message.
You’re against, well, pretty much the rest of the world. The police, the state and even public radio stand against history and shout “Stop”, which means you have to be smart. By placing your sleepers in these institutions (and others), you can get advance warning of police raids, get out of courthouse traffic jams, and even start subtly spreading liberal ideology over the airwaves if you dare.
This, of course, is a satire, heralding a political era – the early 2000s – when the most radical left-wing voice in the eyes of the American public was Jon Stewart. The idea of people as nice as the mainstream liberals of 2004 forming something like the New York Times Baader-Meinhof Group was patently absurd at the time, even if the idea of radical and unkind it is easier to imagine political action from the left in 2023.
It’s a complex simulation that models different layers of public opinion and political power. Not only are you shifting the “liberal popularity” meter one way or the other, you are influencing what people think about a range of issues individually. There is, of course, the presidential approval rating that you will either want to keep your spirits up or send to Earth, depending on the ideology of the person in power, but humans also have a position on these issues.
Focus solely on acts of sabotage and activism related to animal rights, for example, and you could end up in a situation where John Q. Public is willing to burn down an animal research facility, but believes that executing humans for minor offenses is in okay. So it’s quite realistic, I say.
The LCS is a primitive and finite thing compared to Dwarf Fortress’ wild spread, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Once upon a time, the LCS was a recommendation for newbies who wanted to get into Tarn and Zach Adams’ beloved dwarven management game: a way to dip your toe into the strange waters of a system-heavy, hard-to-navigate ASCII game without having to monitor systems with a “wet” level of detail my chicken’s left knee.”
But Dwarf Fortress now has a graphical Steam version with a (something like) tutorial, which means it’s probably best to learn the game by playing it. But does that mean The Liberal Agenda will be left behind?
Bay 12 stopped working on the LCS almost immediately after its first public release in 2004, so you could say it’s been languishing for a while, but the case was picked up by a dedicated fanbase. The version I played was King Drake’s Liberal Crime Squad (opens in a new tab) (which adds an opposing Conservative Crime Squad that uses their own tactics against you) but there are others you can find on the LCS wiki (opens in a new tab)including a fan-made graphic remake (opens in a new tab) if you just can’t stand the charm of the ASCII version.
I suspect the game still has some life left in it and may even see a spike in interest from the incredible success of the Steam version of Dwarf Fortress, but I’d hate to see it wither away now that it no longer functions as a set of training wheels for its next game. I think what I’m saying is, Kitfox, you did it once and you can do it again. Let’s get a beautified version of the LCS on Steam, preferably with input from the open source developers who have kept it running all this time. Do it for the revolution, comrades.