Archive for the ‘Dwarf Fortress’ Category

Howdy y’all!

Got your fortress going yet?

No?… how come?

Half your Dwarves died of starvation and the other half went crazy and killed themselves because I never taught you how to farm?

Well in that case I think I will teach you how to do something completely different. Lets learn how to pick a proper start location.

Allow me to start by making it clear that you should be able to create a proper fortress just about anywhere.

BUT!!! properly picking out a starting location that suits your needs will make things much easier. Lets start by looking at the “Choose Fortress Location” screen.

There are three categories of information here.

  1. In the top left is three different views of the world showing the location your dwarves will inhabit.
  2. In the bottom left is an explanation of the controls. Remember that controls in Dwarf Fortress are case sensitive.
  3. The right side contains a description of the area currently selected.

You will generally want a number of parameters

  • A Source of water
    • The only sources of water that you can really ‘see’ are rivers and the ocean (don’t start by the ocean.)  To guarantee yourself a source of water, pick an area with a low temperature that is still above freezing, or just pick a spot with a river. Rivers are the best sources of water.
  • As much stone as possible(grey labeled substrates). (boo to Silt/loam/clay/all the brown substrates)
    • Note that all the substrates in the example image above are gray, thus they are types of stone.
  • Trees
    • Wood is an important resource necessary for the creation of a great number of items.
  • A non radical temperature
    • If it is super hot, then it will never rain, and water sources will be more scarce.
  • Avoid anywhere with an aquifer like the plague
    • Aquifers are layers of water under the ground. There are ways to deal with them, but that is much too complicated to go into right now.
  • Avoid Areas with purple surroundings text. This includes places that are Haunted and Terrifying.
    • I suggest you start off by looking for a place that is either Wilderness, or Calm.

Keep in mind that it may not always be possible to have all these things, and sometimes you may have to just pick a spot and try it out. After picking out a few spots, you should find that you already have some confidence in it.

Oh, and feel free to try out the “find desired location” feature. Unfortunately it doesn’t have nearly enough options. Good Luck and have fun!

Ready to finally  get that fortress going? Well, in that case there are a number of things you need to get used to and understand before you can begin governing your dwarves.

Fact #1:

Dwarf Fortress does not use the mouse. That’s right. This is a keyboard only game. Be prepared to wrap your mind around this concept. It is something you will always be dealing with. To be honest it isn’t really such a big deal. You may have a hard time with it at first, but don’t fret, you will soon get over it.

Fact #2:

Your number one goal at the beginning should be to survive. You may hear about amazing feats of architecture and engineering on magamawiki, but take things slow. Your greatest challenge at the beginning will be food and water, but these simple problems will soon be dwarfed by warring bands of  goblins, engineering failures (be careful not to flood your fortress), and possibly the greatest threat of all Insanity.

Fact #3:

Dwarf Fortress is a two dimensional game taking place in a three dimensional world. What does this mean? When you look at the screen, you can see left, and you can see right. You can’t look up and down. You can only see one plane of depth. In order to adjust what depth, or z-plane you are viewing, you can press the (/) and (*) keys.

It probably comes as no surprise that as Dwarf Fortress is about dwarves, there is a lot of digging involved in the game. Try not to dig too deep too fast. I don’t want to give anything away, but you never know what you might find down there.

Now for some advice on how to start. When you first start a game, all your dwarves will be huddling around a cart they brought with them. This cart contains all the tools, food, and most importantly booze, that your dwarves need to survive. Unfortunately these supplies won’t last forever, so the next thing I will teach you is how to gather additional supplies.

Start off by pressing the (p) key. This key opens the menu that is used for setting stockpiles. You will see on the right presets for designating areas for gathering things such as food, gems, stone, and other items. At this point you should press the (f) key. Move the pointer around with the arrow keys until you find an open spot near where your dwarves have started. Press enter to begin designating an area. Push the right key four times, and then the up key four timse, then press enter. You have now designated a 5x5 area for storing food. Press (Esc) to unpause the game, and you will see your dwarves scurrying around carrying barrels of food to your new food storage location. Repeat this task for wood and refuse so that you have locations for storing those as well.

Now lets designate some actions to fill those spaces. Press the (d) key, and then the (t) key. Designate an area just like when creating a stockpile, except this time do it in an area that contains trees. If you have done it successfully, then all the trees in the area should turn dark as in this picture. After you have done this, a dwarf with the wood cutting skill should soon start cutting down those trees and put them in the wood stockpile.

Next try and designate some area in the side of a hill or mountain to be mined. Try to replicate the set up I created in the image above. note that I essentially have a main hallway leading to the outside with two rooms coming off of it. Note that I made the hallway two spaces wide. This is important in order to prevent congestion.

At this point in the process you still haven’t created food or drink. Unfortunately I don’t have enough time to fit those into this post, so you guys are just going to have to wait until Tuesday to hear about that.

Keep in mind that the secret is mud. What the hell am I talking about. Check back Tuesday to find out.

If you haven’t heard, Dwarf Fortress is the latest and greatest game to be released that looks like it was made on a

Yes this is really what the game looks like.

commodore 64. Yes that is really what the game looks like on the right. No it wasn’t made in the late 80s. We are talking about a game that had its last update only months ago.

Yet, despite its unimaginably terrible interface and graphics, I am here to tell you the Dwarf Fortress is one of the best games ever made.

So, why is this article titled as a “Newb’s Guide”?

Well, the reason why Dwarf Fortress is one of the best games ever made, is because it is one of the most complicated and hardest games to play.

You see that menu system on the right? Yeah that gross list of options with keyboard letterings denoted next to each item is how you play the game, and each of those menu items lead to more menu items, and often many of those options will lead to even more options.

With all that being said, it is important to note that if you are considering playing this great crowning achievement of game design, then you are pretty much without question going to need a comprehensive guide containing everything you will need play the game successfully. This is not that guide. This is the barest of instructions that will help you get the game, install it, have a gist of how it plays, and most importantly this article has important links to additional info and instructions.


The first thing you need to do is get a copy of the game. This can actually be surprisingly difficult because there are a number of different versions, and there are a large number of places you can get the game for Linux, Mac, and PC. I’m not about to explain how you can compile your own Linux install, so I’ll just explain what to do for the PC copy. Head on over to May Green’s website here. Mike (thank god) combined a large number of tile sets make an actually playable version of the game. Unfortunately the games art is normally done entirely in ASCII. The MayDay pack adds user made art assets.


The second thing you need to do is to go to MagmaWiki. Keep this web page open. This is going to be your one stop shop for most of the information about the game that you need. You need to learn about farming, then you search for the farming game, you need to learn about combat, then you search for the combat page.


Start up dwarf fortress. At this point you want to start a Fortress game. Dwarf Fortress also has an adventure mode, but this is far less complete, and it is a whole different animal. After selecting Fortress mode, the first thing you will have to do is generate the world that your fortress will exist in. Stumble over to MagmaWiki’s World Generation Guide here. Note that most of this “guide” is really just troubleshooting. In order to avoid this, and that whole page all together, just select “Creat New World Now”. This process can take some time. It usually takes my computer laptop about 5 minutes to generate a world. After the world creation process is complete, you can review your world, and choose whether to start over or accept the world that you have created.


Start a new game. Upon starting a new game you will be given a thousand options about outfitting your dwarfs and giving them skills. At this point in your Dwarf Fortress career, you aren’t really qualified to play with these settings, that is why it is great that the MayDay pack comes with a MayDay Universal set up.


Ok, now for the hard part. Play the game. Yeah its pretty hard, but it is so rewarding. Every time I play the game I learn something new about it.

Next week I will post an article about starting your new fortress. Look for it on Friday. Good luck to all.