|This article is about an older version of DF.|
If you select "Prepare for the journey carefully", you will be able to select your starting equipment and skills for your seven dwarves.
Hit to switch between the three unlabelled "Prepare for the Journey" screens: Skills, Equipment, and Location.
Your seven dwarves listed in the column on the left. Hit and to scroll through your list of dwarves. The current skill level for the selected dwarf appears in a column on the right. Use and to move between the two columns.
You can also hit to learn more about that dwarf's likes and dislikes. In the future, this information might influence your choices for food and alcohol, but don't worry about it if you are just starting out. Hit the key to return to the skills screen.
The skills list extends down 3 pages. Hit , , and to navigate through the (initially overwhelming) list. Use the and keys to increase or decrease a single dwarf's competency for that skill.
Important note on skill selections
Every dwarf can do every task; a skilled dwarf just does it faster and, when possible, often better.
If you don't want to pay points for a skill now, but still want the job done, just assign that job to a dwarf once the game starts by hitting , moving the cursor over the dwarf, hitting -> , and using /// to scroll through the labor (skills) list, and to turn jobs on and off.
Hints: You will want to remove the various hauling tasks from your miners, or else they'll frequently break off digging to haul some food or wood. If you're running out of food early in the game, assign a few dwarves to fishing and build a Fishery using the fish cleaning skill -- your Growers are ideal for this, as they can't do their job until your farms are up and running.
Hit on the equipment screen to add a new type of equipment/food.
You are given 700 points to apply towards starting skills and equipment/food, however 500 of them start assigned to a selection of equipment and food. Most starting builds involve removing some of these starting items to free up points for other things, the list below for example removes an axe to free up 100 points. Spend all of your points there is no reason to save them.
When adding new equipment, type in a keyword to find the item you want. Try "meat", "seed", "spawn", "turtle", and especially "dw" (no, this isn't a typo) for some commonly selected items/equipment. Only those items that you can afford with your remaining points will appear.
- 2 Iron picks
- 1 Iron battle axe
- 30 Plump helmet spawn
- 5 Pig tail seeds
- 5 Sweet pod seeds
- 5 Cave wheat seeds
- 1 of each type of meat that costs two points
- 10 turtle
- 6+ Dwarven Wine (the number of each type of ale should end in a one or six (1, 6, 11, 16, 21, 26, etc))
- 6+ Dwarven Rum (you probably should sink remaining points into alcohol)
- 6+ Dwarven Beer
- 6+ Dwarven Ale
- 1 Dimple cup spawn (optional - you can always harvest dimple cups from the cave river)
- 2+ Dogs (if more than two, get an odd number)
- 1 Cat (optional)
This is, by no means, the be-all and end-all of equipment lists. But the majority of the builds below use two miners and one woodcutter (thus, two picks and one axe), a supply of initial food, seeds for once the planting begins (mostly plump helmet), a supply of booze to keep the dwarves happy until brewing is properly started, and some dogs (and often cats). Cats kill vermin (which make dwarves unhappy, and eat unbarreled food), but aren't actually necessary to a fortress, and eventually, some immigrant will bring a cat or two. Dogs are highly useful: they can be trained into war dogs at a kennel, and act as the first line of defense in your fortress. You won't care (much) when "one more war dog" dies in your defense, but losing dwarves is a larger blow. The gender of pets alternates with each pet brought, so you are guaranteed to get breeding pairs if you buy more than one. Pets breed moderately quickly, but bringing extra dogs will allow you to have a good defense earlier.
Note that each type of meat comes in its own barrel, and every 5 booze comes in a barrel, so a variety of meats, and having 1, 6, or 11 of each type of booze, will maximize the number of barrels you get. Turtle is cheap and leaves behind both bone and shell when eaten, great for making crafts, armor, or arrows. Be sure to save some of the shell for strange moods. Barrels are used to stack food in a food stockpile; food outside of a barrel will not rot, but it can be eaten by vermin, and you will eventually have very large amounts of food, requiring either a large storage area or a good supply of barrels and a smaller storage area. Barrels are also vital in producing booze, which makes dwarves work faster.
Plump helmets are the primary seed because they grow quickly and do not need to be cooked in order to be eaten. The other seeds guarantee that you have the seeds on hand when you decide to expand your farming to other crops. Dimple cups are only used in dyeing clothing, and are included only for entertainment.
One side effect of taking a lot of items is that you will get more wagons for all the stuff you bring -- if you have a lot of items, you'll get more than one wagon to start with. Wagons themselves are useless, but you can break them up for 3 wood each. This can help a lot in an area without trees. Also, each wagon comes with one mule and one horse -- mules can be butchered immediately for food, and horses, if you have at least two, can be left to breed for a steady supply of meat and leather. The number of wagons is determined by the size of your items: each wagon has 400 units of storage space, and (for instance), a plump helmet, a unit of meat or a unit of drink is size 10, while a seed or a ring is size 1. Some items that would logically be very large (such as copper cages) are in fact not, however. The most cost-effective way to raise the number of wagons you get is to buy more cheap food and drink, however, barrels and bags that may be included free with your foodstuffs do not count for any size at all.
Use the arrow keys or and to view the 50-odd pre-selected sites in your world that are considered viable for a dwarven fortress. The arrow keys can jump around the building sites oddly, because the sites are not laid out on a grid. Using and will cycle through all possible sites, but any two sites will not necessarily be near each other. Just keep moving around, paying special attention to the values of Trees, Other Vegetation, Surroundings, and the races that can contact that site.
Suggested starting location for new players
- Temperature: Temperate (or Cold)
- Trees: Heavily Forested
- Vegetation: Thick
- Surroundings: Calm
- Contact: Dwarves, Elves, Goblins, Humans
Sticking to temperate regions will keep you away from maps with potentially-dangerous tropical animals (including dreaded elephants). Cold (but not freezing) climates are also fairly safe. Heavily Forested maps offer a nearly-unlimited supply of wood, and thick vegetation offers a good supply of outdoor shrubs which you may wish to use to supplement your food supplies. "Calm" locations tend to be free of predatory wildlife and potentially-dangerous mythical creatures. For additional details about surroundings, see here. You will want contact with all of the races; the goblins are unavoidable, and the other races will send useful trade caravans.
Sample builds and build strategies
All skills are Proficient unless otherwise specified.
The following build is intended for newbies who want to start out with an optimized build which requires no expertise or specific strategy.
- Two Proficient Miners
- Two Proficient Growers (Option: replace a grower with a Novice Fisherdwarf/Fish Cleaner)
- One Novice Mason/Novice Building Designer
- One Novice Woodcutter/Novice Carpenter
- One Novice Mechanic/Novice Stone Crafter, Bone Crafter, or Cook
(Option: separate the mechanic and crafter into individual dwarves, and let the woodworking be done by whoever's idle.)
Skills and roles
Two proficient miners will allow you to rapidly dig out a sizeable fortress. If you have them dig non-stop, they should reach legendary skill level by the time winter hits. Two proficient growers can grow enough food to support dozens of dwarves. The mason will create floodgates, tables, chairs, doors, bridges to span the river and chasm, and other structures.
The mechanic/crafter will first create mechanisms and attach them to your floodgate(s) to allow your farm to get under way. You should also have him construct several stone-fall traps at the entrance to your fortress and where your corridors meet the river, chasm, and magma flow. Once your mechanic/crafter has finished the first three (or five, depending on your irrigation style) mechanisms, let him build crafts. He will then create goods for trade to the autumn caravan, an important source of supplemental food in your first year. The dwarven caravan is small, requiring only 10-20 trinkets to buy out completely, but if you manage to get your road built before summer of your second year, the human caravan will bring 5-10 times as much merchandise (usually food, leather, and cloth). There are several good choices for what skill to give your craftsdwarf: light and dark stone are ubiquitous and make good crafts (plus stone carvers can make excellent obsidian short swords), and bone and shell can be made into armor and bolts as well as crafts.
Your woodcutter/carpenter is responsible for three products in your early fortress: beds, a bucket, and barrels. Designate some trees to cut down, build a carpenter's workshop, and build one bed per dwarf, plus at least one bucket, then build a stack of barrels (you will to need them sooner or later, especially once your brewery gets started). If you run out of booze before your brewery is set up, your dwarves will drink from the nearest river, which may be fairly distant from them. Building a well (using a bucket plus one stone block from the mason) will let you place the dwarves' drinking hole close to their working areas.
Starting with a cook instead of a craftsdwarf may be the best choice: brewing plants into alcohol, then cooking the alcohol, will quintuple your food supplies, and cooked foods ("prepared meals") have good trade value. Do try to avoid trading away all your winter stocks, though.
Until you have a farm up and running, your Growers will be at loose ends. You can allow them to be your primary haulers, or you can assign one to fishing and the other to fish cleaning, and set up a fishery to supplement your early food.
In addition to the above skills, you may wish to give your mechanic or craftsdwarf Carpenter skill, to speed the making of all-important beds and barrels (and to improve their quality). You may also wish to give them Herbalist or Brewer skill -- collecting shrubs, especially cave shrubs, is a decent way to supplement your food supplies (and gives you a chance to find quarry bushes, a rare crop). Depending on how quickly you get your farm set up, you may run out of seeds to plant; brewing plants will yield their seeds, which will allow you plant yet more crops.
If you choose to take fewer cats or dogs with you (or if you start with a Novice Fisherdwarf instead of a Proficient Grower), you can also upgrade one skill of your choice to Proficient (cook, mason, crafter, herbalist, or mechanic), or upgrade a few of them by lesser amounts.
There are several other tasks you will want your dwarves to perform that can be done effectively by unskilled dwarves, such as wood cutting, animal training, and fishing. You can have any dwarf perform these tasks by enabling them in their labor settings (--).
When your metalsmith arrives at some point during the first year, he may be accompanied by a peasant. Rename your peasant's profession to something distinguishing, and disable all of his labor settings except animal training and animal care. Assign him to the kennels and have him train wardogs, on repeat, for all of eternity. Provided you did not do anything foolish with your initial dogs, like put them in harm's way, they will have already started to breed by the time your first batch of immigrants arrive. Soon, the puppies will grow up and breed as well. Then their puppies, et cetera, leaving you with exponential wardog growth. Alone, the dogs are somewhat harmless, but in packs of twenty to thirty, nothing will be able to stand against your fortress. Aren't you glad you took them along with you?
Gather early and farming combined
The following build is focused on combining multiple methods of food gathering, eventually getting to farming reasonably early. Making sure there's food on the table early is key, while still thinking ahead to that farm in the future. You can skimp slightly on the food stocks to increase skills.
- Two Proficient Miners
- One noadjective Woodcutter/Carpenter
- One noadjective Mason/building designers
- Three Novice Fisherdwarves/Novice Grower that have Novice Brewing, Fish Cleaning, and Butchering between them
(Option: move Woodcutter and Building Designer down to the Fisherdwarves, to replace Brewing and Butchering.)
There should be plenty of food to survive until you can get a farm and a fishery going, and in the meantime your mason can churn out tables and chairs and doors without worrying about designing the well, and your carpenter can churn out beds without having to chop the trees himself, since it's not likely your farmers will have anything to do until you strike river, and depending on how big your muddied area is, can still provide valuable food production via fishing in the event that you can only create a very small plot in the first year. Note that this setup works best with Nile-style farming for the initial few seasons, as there is no mechanic on the roster; this style of food production should be able to provide sufficient quantities to feed your dwarves until a migrant with some mechanical ability arrives.
Note that fishing will eventually exhaust the outside river, cave river, and swamp (if any), so the fishers' secondary skills are useful in keeping them busy; either they'll exhaust the river more slowly as they perform other tasks, or they'll have something useful to do once the river is empty. All fish get restocked over time, so don't worry about wiping out their ecosystem.
The following build is designed for rushing farms as early as possible in order to grow a steady supply of food that will last through the first winter and beyond. This build removes a miner in order to spend extra points on the skills needed to get the fortress up and running as soon as possible. To maximize food, consider enabling the grower skill for most of your dwarves, and allow them to work on non-farming tasks during the winter.
- Proficient(10) Miner
- Competent(8) Wood Cutter, Competent(8) Carpenter
- Competent(8) Mason, Competent(8) Building Designer
- Competent(8) Stonecrafter, Novice(6) Bone Crafter
- Skilled(9) Mechanic
- Proficient(10) Grower
- Proficient(10) Grower
Note: you will only need one pick because you only have one miner.
Note that there is only one miner: picks cost 100, one maxxed skill costs 35. Skills are cheaper to buy, and later in the game, picks are much cheaper than skills. The other important note is that you only need one miner in order to dig to the cave river and dig a single cavern for a farm; another miner could be used to carve out the rest of the fortress while you dive for the river, but this is expensive in starting points. For best results, dig to the river, have your mason build a bridge over the river, and construct your farm on the far side. This minimizes the traffic passing over the river, and gives you two major chokepoints for invaders to pass through before they can attack your fortress, if you set up your entire fort on the far side of the river.
You will want to set up your workshops outside; workshops can be built very quickly, and your miner will be too busy to dig out extra rooms. (If you are setting up your entire fortress on the far side of the river, then any rooms you dig out on the near side will be strictly temporary, and often not worth the effort.) Your early bedrooms (and early dining room!) can simply be in the middle of the tunnel digging to the river. Astonishingly enough, aside from mild complaints about the poor quality of their rooms, they will not complain about being climbed over while eating or sleeping.
The following builds focus on the use of kitchens to extend food supply.
- Proficient Herbalist
- Proficient Cook
- Proficient Brewer/Proficient Building Designer
- Proficient Miner
- Proficient Mason
- Proficient Carpenter
- Novice Woodcutter/Novice Mechanic/Proficient Axeman/Proficient Wrestler [Emergency Asskicker]
- Must have thick vegetation (and preferably not have Zombie Elephants)
Note: because three of your dwarves are directly related to food production, you may skimp slightly on the food stocks you bring. Also, you will only need one pick because you only have one miner.
At the start of the game, you will want to designate some plants for gathering and remove all jobs except Gather Plants from your herbalist. You may also want to nickname your herbalist so that you can more easily keep track of him. Make sure he is harvesting plants nonstop, since he is literally your only source of food. Simultaneously, you need to designate a large food stockpile so that your herbalist has a place to put the things he finds. Otherwise, he will just leave plants out in the forest and they will wither away.
You will also need a still and a kitchen, preferably built near the food stockpile for maximum efficiency. These buildings are an essential part of providing your fortress with enough food to survive because they effectively multiply your rations by six. Each unit of brewed plant produces five units of alcohol and at least one seed, and these can be cooked. As an added bonus, high quality food makes dwarves who eat it happier and is a surprisingly valuable trade commidity; a legendary cook can produce non-masterpiece food piles worth 1000-3000 coins; masterpiece roasts made from high value, high volume plant products like Quarry Leaves and Dwarven Syrup can be worth more than 6000 coins. For comparison, a cut ruby is worth 400 coins and a standard quality stone craft is worth 10 coins. Not bad at all for an infinitely renewable resource!
If you do things right, you can have more than 400 food when summer of the first year comes around, not counting drinks or seeds. When I tried this strategy at a good location with thick vegetation and no dangerous wildlife, I was easily able to store 900 food before winter hit.
Eventually, you will want to venture into farming, because this strategy will not feed you indefinitely. However, it should be good enough for the first two or three years of your fortress at the minimum, and herbalism will always be an excellent supplement for your food supply.
Lastly, before you get going, don't forget to disable cooking of prickle berries, fisher berries, strawberries, and so on from the kitchen screen. You want to cook the seeds and alcohol, not the plant.
This build will slow the creation of the fortress, but speed up later on, while still ensuring enough supplies to last the winter. This build uses as many tricks as possible to get the best benefit later, but is not recommended for new players.
- Proficient Miner
- Proficient Grower
- Proficient Brewer
- Proficient Cook
- Proficient Mason/Novice Building Designer
- Proficient Herbalist/Proficient Weaponsmith
- Novice Mechanic/Proficient Armorsmith
Note: you will have one pick and zero axes. Like the Kitchen Build above, the map should have heavy vegetation. If it does not, replace herbalism with fishing, assign the grower to fish cleaning (not necessarily skilled), and get your farm up quickly.
The goal of this build is to maximize skills you will need: Miner, Brewer, Cook, Weaponsmith, and Armorsmith. The latter two will not be useful until much later, but it takes a lot of time to improve the smithing skills, so buying them early saves much time. Also, training up the brewing and cooking skills takes time (especially when cooking with prepared ingredients, like booze or dwarven syrup, which clutter a kitchen before cooking starts). The trade goods for the first caravan will be prepared meals; use a later immigrant for crafting. (Of course, you may have other skills you like; Glassmaking is also popular, because green glass costs no resources once a magma glass furnace is set up.)
There is one miner and no woodcutter: we will have one pick and no axes. We'll build an axe, and maybe a pick or two, once the metalsmith shows up with his anvil in the first summer, and our only source of wood until then will be from the wagons, so build very few beds, if any. (Use any dwarf as your carpenter for this; it's not worth spending starting points). You must save two wood to be turned into charcoal; one charcoal will be used to smelt metal; the other will forge an axe. Your arriving metalsmith can either become your woodworker or your furnace operator; he's the only dwarf with furnace operating, but since he's merely a novice, he's not that much better than some dwarf off the street (to get to novice, 17 ore smelt tasks must be completed).
If you feel daring, you can also rush to the magma to make a magma smelter and magma forge. You can do this before or after making an axe, but magma workshops require steel, which requires hematite: cross your fingers and hope you run into some while digging past the chasm. Two steel bars for the workshops requires 2 limestone, 2 hematite, and 5 coke (or 5 charcoal, although to make your first piece of coke, you must still make one bar of charcoal).
You may also wish to set up your entire fortress on the far side of the chasm, for a compact design centered around magma-based metalworking. This is best done in two stages: set up a temporary home near the entrance or cave river (a dining room and farm is sufficient; workshops can be outside), then dig out the bulk of your fortress near the magma. You should dig out a second farm to the east of the cave river before your second year. If you are an experienced player, you can probably skip the temporary farm and focus on getting a farm past the river completed by mid-summer.
This build is similar to the Slow build but puts maximal emphasis on hard-to-train skills. It is optimized for a militarily challenging map.
- 1 pick
- 0 battleaxes
- 1 of each type of alcohol
- 11 to 41 plump helmets for booze/cooking, depending on how much food you expect early on from gathering, hunting, and/or fishing
- 11 plump helmet spawn (recommended)
- 6 pig tail seeds (optional)
- 6 cave wheat seeds (optional)
- 6 sweet pod seeds (optional)
- 1 of each type of meat that costs 2 or 4 (optional)
- 1-6 turtles (optional)
- several dogs and/or 1 cat (optional)
The more optional items you pack, the greater your margin for error and the unexpected (such as the death of your herbalist) will be.
- 1 Proficient miner. With only 1 pick, he'll need to work fast. He'll become Legendary fairly soon, so give him Novice Shield User, Novice Armour User, and at least (normal) Marksdwarf to draft a truly formidable defender when you get a crossbow built.
- 1 Carpenter/Woodchopper, of skill depending on available points and wood availability. Make him either a Proficient Bowyer or Proficient Engineer, depending on what he likes to do.
- 1 Mason/Building Designer, of skill depending on available points.
- 1 Proficient Weaponsmith/Metalsmith, with a side-order of Novice Stone Crafter to buy out the fall caravan. He'll produce the battleaxe, picks, and other weapons you need.
- 1 Proficient Armoursmith, Proficient Metal Crafter, Novice Furnace Operator, Novice Wood Burner, Novice Mechanic. Early on, he's a fetch-and-carry dwarf and a part-time mechanic. Later, he provides raw material for the Weaponsmith. Later still, he ensures quality personal protection. He'll probably be your least replaceable dwarf.
- 1 Grower/Gatherer (at least (normal) for both). He feeds the party early on and then becomes primary farmer. Herbalists get much more food and brewable matter than fisherdwarves, but the latter provide bones and shells.
- 1 Grower/Brewer/Cook (at least (normal) for the first two). Is the "food multiplier"; plant matter gets turned into booze, which gets cooked.
These skills will vary somewhat, depending on individual dwarf preferences. If a dwarf likes crossbows, make him the bowyer. If one likes steel or even bronze, make him the weaponsmith. If the fortress location is especially dangerous, cross-train all dwarves as novice military personnel so you can draft them as needed without unhappiness.
Similar to the build above. Major saving on costs for goods, with only two requirements: 1) set up a still and soon afterwards a kitchen to extend your food and drink until you can start up farming. 2) find at least copper and preferably also tin relatively early on.
You may only get one wagon. Out of the three logs it yields, two are needed for charcoal to smelt metal for and then forge a battleaxe. The third should probably become a booze barrel.
This build is for harsh climates, freezing or scorching, with no trees or shrubs. Wood will be scarce, so it is advised to bring plenty of provisions and no axe for extra wagons.
- 2 miners
- 1 mason/novice building designer
- 1 craftsdwarf/novice mechanic
- 2 growers
- 1 brewer/cook
While individual housing is impractical, decreasing the need for mining, a huge underground forest is necessary, increasing the need for mining greatly. Irrigation will be more important than ever, so a proficient mason would be needed to make floodgates and doors. Dwarves will almost always sleep on the floor, so an engraver is needed to smooth out that space, but given the speed that the engraving skill trains, the engraver can come from the metalsmith & co. Wood will be scarce, so no carpenter or woodcutter is needed. Farming, as always, will be your main source of food. Trade will also be very important for survival, so a proficient craftsdwarf would be preferable. In an environment with little natural food, you have to optimize food sources, so a proficient cook and brewer should be brought along.
This build works best with the maximum amount of supplies. Bringing a lot of supplies will not only give you plenty of barrels, it will also give you plenty of raw wood (from wagons). Additional wagons also mean additional horses and mules.
If repeatedly defending a besieged fortress isn't difficult enough for you, here are a few challenges you can set for yourself.
Take seven unskilled dwarves, and give them a single pick and no other equipment. See if they trip over their own shoelaces.
Just like Outcast Losers, only with 86% fewer dwarves. Take a single unskilled dwarf, a single pick, and no other equipment. Let your other 6 starting dwarves die out in the wilderness, and do the same to any pesky immigrants who try and disturb your solitude. You could also kill them like Urist did.
Don't dig into the mountain at all. Bring no picks, and don't ask for picks from the dwarven liasons. Watch as the more "weather-averse" dwarves slowly go mad.
Don't bring any pets. Furthermore, due to the possibility of animals being caught in them, don't build any traps, either. If immigrants bring pets, get rid of them somehow. (If you're a particularly rabid ASPCA member, you could get rid of the pet-bearing immigrants, too, but that's probably excessive.)
Only eat strays, pets, and animals you trap and hunt. No farming or plant gathering. Keep all your pets in cages and care for them as little as possible. Eat your dwarves' pets first for an extra challenge. If this upsets your dwarves, ridicule or ignore them. (If you are particularly heartless, you could cage those dwarves as well because anyone that empathizes with animals doesn't deserve any rights either.)
Quite possibly, this is the cruellest challenge that your underling dwarves can be given. Only the most lacking in empathic skills should try this: Don't ever brew any alcohol. Build wells instead and watch your now teetotaller dwarves work slower and slower by the season.
A fairly easy challenge. Take no meat. Buy no meat. Butcher no animals. Gut no fish.
No mechanics, no mechanisms. Nile farming and no traps or moving bridges.
Maintain a military of at least 50% of your dwarves; only use iron melee weapons; use no traps; kill any maimed dwarf. Eventual aim is to face the demons in a three wide hallway.
All your dwarves have all labors enabled. Dwarves sleep only in barracks, and no dwarf, including nobles, can be assigned any personal rooms. If the nobles find this upsetting, don't hesitate to make the corridors run red with the blood of the bourgeoisie. Obviously, don't mint any coins either.
Note that a variation would have to be had of this one, since the labors mining and woodcutting cannot be had at once.
No farming. No fishing. No foraging. No hunting. No butchering. You must buy all of your food from the caravans or starting screen.
Anything that can be made out of glass, will be made only from glass. Doors, tables, chairs, floodgates, bridges, workshops (except the first workshops needed to make glass), you name it. It doesn't matter what type of glass you use, but extra points for clear and crystal glass. An easier version of this challenge would be only for furniture, not all things.
A similar challenge could be done with metal.
Or wood. On a glacier. *grins*
No farming, and cannot bring food of any type with you - bring animals instead. All food must be obtained by foraging, fishing, and raising livestock.
All of the above
1 dwarf. Spend time working on fighting skills. Fight off goblin sieges by yourself. No mechanisms, pets, brew, farming, fishing, gathering, hunting, digging, or traps. Don't bring anything with you.
Also known as "Adventure Mode."