"Dwarf Fortress" is, arguably, the most legendary of this type of game. The game is designed as a simulation of managing the affairs of a Dwarven Fortress. You start with a small hardy group and some wagons full of supplies and build from there. And yes, it's a game that is absolutely an influence on The Dungeoneers books.
But, back to the gaming forum long ago. It was a serialized AAR with dwarves named after anyone on the forum that cared to have a dwarf named after them. Once enough immigrants arrived to the fortress that your name came up on the list you got to follow the exploits of your dwarf as as he or she lived out their life in the fort.
My particular dwarf in this AAR ended up being conscripted into the military to help fight off the bat attacks, goblin attacks, elephant attacks, orc raids and things from below that regularly assaulted the fortress. Life in the military in Dwarf Fortress is typically very brief. The game takes wounds very seriously and has no compunctions about killing off your best soldiers should a blow land on them. My dwarf gained something of a notoriety for surviving battles in spite of getting wounded in nearly every one of them. Many of them. In fact, he went on to become one of the most senior dwarves in the fortress military simply because he was the only one that had stayed alive long enough to reach the upper ranks.
At some point during the AAR, one of the forum members began posting what he referred to as "lunchtime doodles" of the various dwarves in the AAR. I was a huge fan of the picture he did of mine.
A few e-mails later and the artist, Brad Gehrig, found himself in the unexpected position of creating an expedition painting which would include coming up with a look for over twenty characters.
And now it's done!
The ol' post-dungeon group photo. Art by Brad Gehrig. This is going to be on postcards for conventions pretty soon and, at some point, there will be prints available.