Dwarf Fortress! – Getting Setup / Installed

Beginners guide to Dwarf Fortress!

Dwarf Fortress is by far my favourite free* indie game for the following reasons;

  • You can dip in and out of it whenever you want but have games that continue for weeks, months or years on end
  • Create fortresses, with dwarves. Fortresses WITH dwarves!
  • Having dwarves running about, carrying on their own little lives makes you feel responsible for their continued existence and quality of life and draws you further into this abyss of a game
  • Simple graphics, deep content
  • Runs on Windows and Linux with saves compatible between the two
  • Can be extended with fantastic utilities like Dwarf Therapist

*Whilst technically free, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost the developer to produce the game, feel free to give them a donation via the instructions here.

Enough of my fanboi harping on anyway, time for the detail.

First lets get you setup, I am doing this using Dwarf Fortress v 0.31.25 with the Phoebus’ graphics pack along with Dwarf Therapist running in the background (I will explain a bit later what this actually is)
You can grab either the separate graphics pack or a pre-packaged version of the graphics pack and dwarf fortress from here;

Dwarf Fortress itself is available in its vanilla (and most recent) version here;

Dwarf Therapist is available from the following link, but don’t worry about starting it up yet. Just get it installed and ready;

Feeling good? You’re on the right steps to getting started. Bear in mind that Dwarf Fortress (DF) requires you to dedicate some time to learn how to navigate about the screen, perform actions and understand your dwarves. Don’t loose hope if it all seems too much at first, in fact expect to die alot, very quickly, early on as its all part of the fun! There is no real end to DF, its all about how long you can last and how much fun you can have before you have to give into the wilds or choose to abandon and start again elsewhere.

DF Title screenTime to fire DF up from the directory you installed it into, on windows it is the “Dwarf Fortress.exe” to load it up. Once open you’ll get a title screen like above.

As its the first time you are running it you need to create a new world! This randomly generates a world filled with historical events, civilisations, minerals, resources and random chunks of land.
Create World Screen

Use the arrow keys to move around the options and enter to make your selections. I always go for large map out of habit, not to compensate for anything! Probably dates back to my years of games of Civilization where I found smaller maps let games finish far too early.
If you haven’t got a huge amount of ram you might find choosing a smaller map is better to get started. Frequent minerals are usually a good shout, you can edit these to create the friendliest or most brutal lands you want. These settings should give you a comfortable world and a fairly safe start provided you choose a sensible location to set up for your first game.
Once you’re happy hit the y key and it will begin to generate your world for you. This will take varying amounts of time, depends on the above settings. You can always hit Enter at any point to stop the generation process and work with what’s there. I would recommend grabbing a drink, sitting back and letting it do its work.

My generated mapAbove is a compressed version of the exported result of my map generation, this is what I will be working with (quality isn’t great as I’ve had to compress it down quite a bit but hey, its only a bunch of coloured blocks).
Once yours has finished generating you can use the arrow keys to move around your newly created world to make sure you approve, hold shift and use the arrow keys to jump up or across to speed up panning about. Part of the game for me is taking what I’m given and working with it. If you have a large map then its pretty unlikely it isn’t unsuitable but sometimes with small maps it can generate pretty inhospitable environments for you to setup home in. Lets assume yours is ok so hit Enter to accept it. (you can always abort and start again if you wish but while you’re still learning lets see what you can do with this one).

This world now exists within your DF install as a real world that you can only have one living fortress running on, but you could abandon or lose this fortress and start again on the same world with the history of your previous adventures preserved for all of time (until you get bored and move onto another world basically).

Now we’re ready to actually start playing, feels like you’ve already had a small adventure just to get to this point. Before we go any further there is one more step before starting a game. It requires the following;

  • 2 sausages
  • 3 rashers of bacon
  • 2 eggs
  • baked beans
  • a sauce of your choice
  • beer

Through the use of a grill and a frying pan in combination with the cooking instructions produce something that resembles this;
Supplies! Once you’ve got your “rations” ready and want to start your first game check out the next post to get started.

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