Dwarf Fortress Beginners Guide

dwarf fortress beginners guide

Last Updated on 30 March, 2023

Dwarf Fortress Beginners Guide – This is an unofficial guide for beginners who want to venture into the world of Dwarf Fortress and follow all its tips!

Although the tutorial is over, Dwarf Fortress still stretches out before you, filled with countless perplexing buttons and strange unexplored systems. It’s going to be fun, but let’s ease you in a little more with some suggestions.

Just be kind to yourself, and don’t point the finger at your dwarves if attacks by wild animals, goblins, or dragons cause a new fort to fail.

Dig deeper is something you might not have done throughout the tutorial I’m about to give you. Make sure your core base is at least the first few pure stone layers you dig into. If you’re in a biome where everything is rock, that sentence could sound like gibberish to you, but bear with us.

The simulation of Dwarf Fortress is synced to the frames-per-second, or FPS, that it is running at on your computer, which is another thing you should be know of going in. You can lower that run speed in the options to 60 or lower if things go too quickly for you when it’s unpaused, which they probably will in the early game. This will help you keep up.

Last but not least, although the “Dwarf Fortress Wiki” hasn’t entirely migrated to the new premium release yet, a lot of its wisdom is wise counsel and amusing commentary accumulated over 15 years of the game’s public versions. As long as v0.50 articles aren’t visible, make sure you’re on v0.47 across the top and be mindful that terminology for some stuff, like Zones and Rooms, will sound completely different in the new interface than it does in the old. (Trust me, it’s good)

Dwarf Fortress Beginners Guide – A vital core concept

Before you comprehend how each tile in Dwarf Fortress is put together, you won’t get very far. Actually, there are two components to a tile: the floor and the block. The block is removed by mining a tile, If the block was already disapear, channeling a tile will just remove the floor, leaving a ramp on the floor below. Although it can be challenging to visualize how this operates over numerous Z-levels, you’ll get the hang of it.

Dwarf Fortress Beginners Guide – Dwarven ergonomics

Let’s establish some fundamentals as well: troops move from one tile to the next at varying speeds depending on their species and other factors. They have the ability to move diagonally and can even fit between the corners of two full tiles. Since even locked doors can be broken down by stronger creatures like trolls, the only method to ensure that something cannot move out of a tile is a perfect box of natural or manufactured walls.

One tile is one tile for a moving dwarf. It doesn’t matter if that tile is a ramp, stairs, or flat surface. It’s frequently a good idea to make main hallways 2-3 tiles wide and to construct major staircases in 2×2 blocks because other creatures and dwarves can come in their way and significantly slow them down. It’s a great idea for aspiring fortress architects to base their entire fortress on a central, 3×3 spine staircase.

Since keeping your underground base at least slightly vertical is a fundamental aspect of Dwarf Fortress architecture, I’m being quite specific about tile movement and emphasizing staircases. A stockpile of metal beneath your blacksmiths may occasionally be better to one alongside it because two rooms or corridors connected by a stairway essentially have no tiles between them. Dwarves don’t mind if their living and dining areas are located right above or below their workspaces.

Dwarf Fortress Beginners Guide – Food and drink

In most biomes, your first dwarves may survive for a while by fishing, hunting, and foraging. They can gather wild produce and use the Still you created during the tutorial to transform it into alcohol. Booze is essential. Although technically capable of drinking water, your dwarfs will become murderously upset.

Once you understand a few nuances, farming is fairly simple. Any soil can be used to create a field using the Build-Workshops-Farming-Farm Plot option. Your farms need not be larger than 2×2 or 4×4 in size. Due to the outrageously high productivity of dwarven farms, many dwarves may be fed from even a small, unfertilized strip of land cultivating Plump Helmets.

You’ll need an underground space with a dirt floor, such as silt, sand, loam, clay, muck, or whatever, to produce proper dwarven crops underground, which you likely started with seeds for. The first several Z-levels below the ground are easy to find in some biomes but quite difficult to locate in others. If you are unable to obtain it, you must create some dwarven irrigation by constructing wooden buckets at a carpenter’s shop, excavating a hole with Channel, and then designating that area as a Pond in the zones menu. For a beautiful covering of fertile mud, stop before it contains more than 2/7 of its capacity in water.

Additionally, you need a kitchen. Dwarves only consume a few meals per season, so use the Work Orders menu to put up a recurrent order of Fine Meals for five or six times the number of dwarfs in your party. This will use three units of food and give your dwarves a nice variety of meals. Anything finer should wait for now.

(If you already have a shortage of alcohol, go to the Labor menu, select the Kitchen tab, and deselect the option to allow your dwarfs to utilize alcohol as a cooking ingredient. While you’re at it, refrain from cooking with seeds, unless they’re anything like almonds or walnuts.)

Dwarf Fortress Beginners Guide – Common spaces

Dwarves enjoy eating and drinking, therefore it’s important to establish a beautiful enclosed space with smoothed stone walls, a few tables, and some chairs as soon as possible. It will quickly become into a hub if you use the zones menu to designate it as a dining hall. Your dwarfs will think positively about the dining hall if it is tastefully ornamented, polished, and etched. (Hot tip: place storage adjacent to the entrance and set it up so that it only accepts prepared meals and beverages.)

The other most significant thing you can make in Dwarf Fortress all use a system that is slightly deceptive: putting a Meeting Area there. A Meeting Area can be transformed into a meeting room, statue garden, zoo, museum, or memorial to the deceased depending on what is placed inside of it. Building one underground, will get idle dwarves and wandering pets out of the nasty wild and into the secure shade more quickly.

You’ll eventually need a hospital, temple, guildhall, tavern, or some such building. By selecting the Shield-Shaped button to add a Meeting Hall to one, each of those is created. These are essentially a large group of interconnected rooms. A hospital can work just fine as one large room of beds, chests, and other furniture; just make sure it has access to fresh water, as dwarves will really drink that when unwell and use it to cleanse wounds. Taverns, for example, like to have extra rooms for tourists and long-term residents to sleep in. In each Tavern or Temple, make sure to leave at least a 5×5-foot area available so that people can dance.

Dwarf Fortress Beginners Guide – Bedroom design

Speaking of design, You probably built your bedrooms too big. Most dwarves will be happy with a door-enclosed, one-tile chamber with just a bed inside of it. Building 2×2 bedrooms is fine if you’re a humanitarian like me because it leaves room for you to later add a cabinet for possessions or even a piece of personalized statuary. More large bedrooms are a luxury best left to the nobility and fortress officials—we’ll talk about them later.

As a stopgap, you might also use a dormitory, which is simply a large room with only beds inside of it. Giving this room doors is thought to be polite.

Dwarves are known for sleeping soundly, with the noise of neighboring mining being the only thing that wakes them up. Since passing dwarves won’t bother one another, feel free to have bedrooms that are directly attached to one another. Stacking bedrooms around a central staircase can make them much more centered than bedrooms scattered along long, narrow, and crowded halls, which is an area where thinking vertically pays off. You can go as deep as you like with this optimization; some players build intricate windmill patterns, fractal hives, and stacks of multi-entrance “sandwich” rooms employing hatch covers and stairs.

Dwarf Fortress Beginners Guide – The labor menu

You set up your Work Orders as part of the tutorial, allowing you to create jobs that are automatically sent to the appropriate workshops. Setting up your Labor menu, the hammer button in the bottom left, which will control who gets to do what and when, is a crucial step you’ll want to take next.

It’s important to keep in mind that your dwarves have skills in which they gain experience over time, and these talents can have a significant impact on the quality of the result. The wares of a Legendary Weaponsmith are exceedingly precious, but not so much for a Legendary Wood Burner or Soap Maker. You can build work details with custom names and groups of jobs to do this. For the time being, new occupations like those of a carpenter, blacksmith, mason, chef, and brewer should make sure a specialist is handling the fundamentals.

Dwarf Fortress Beginners Guide – How can I create metal?

A Wood Kiln, Smelter, and Metalsmith’s Forge are required. Use some of the trees you’ve felled to make charcoal in the wood kiln. Then, instruct your dwarves to smelt a certain ore by name at the Smelter or to manufacture bars from ore. Finally, the metalsmith’s forge will allow you select an item to create, after which you can specify the metal by using the spyglass icon next to the order.

Where does ore originate? Naturally, you mine it underground. It is most likely to be found in layers of sedimentary or igneous rocks like basalt and rhyolite, as well as igneous rocks like siltstone, dolomite, chert, and shale. Since Dwarf Fortress replicates actual mineralogy, you’ll unavoidably pick up some of it while you play. It’s not a joke, folks. Neither is the next bit of basics…

Dwarf Fortress Beginners Guide – Soap

Your dwarfs are filthy and filthy. Make some soap and locate a source of clean water for them. To create ash, turn animal fat into tallow in the kitchen, turn ash into lye in the ashery, and then make soap in the soap maker’s workshop. Although it may seem silly, your dwarves’ ability to keep clean and be content depends on having access to soap and fresh water. But even more than that, doctors need soap to disinfect wounds because even the smallest infected scrape can be fatal within a few seasons without it. You’ll feel horrible if you lose your best armorer due to a stray cat bite.

Dwarf Fortress Beginners Guide – Take out the trash

Okay, I know I already told you to wash your hands, but really: take out the trash as well. Create a mound of trash outside and place a Dumping zone over it. Tell your dwarves to throw away “other” items by going to the Labor menu and selecting the Standing Orders option. They can then dispose of all their worn-out soiled socks, food waste, even lost teeth from bar fights in this manner. Refuse-designated Stockpile items will degrade and decay away more quickly, especially in the open air, which is beneficial for the simulation as a whole.

Later, anytime you locate some of that, you may create a shaft with a Dump designation over it to throw waste directly into magma for immediate disposal.

Or hell, perhaps you climbed a volcano. In that scenario, immediately begin the disposal based on magma.

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