Dwarf Fortress Help/Hint Thread for New Players

#1 Edited by Daveyo520 (7340 posts) -

This is a thread for people more experienced with the game to help new players and give hints for people that want to start playing the game. As you guys have seen it can get pretty complicated and it is nice to have people around to help guide you along.

First here are some links to help you get a feel for the crazy things that can happen in the game.

The story of Boatmurdered and of Bronzemurder (Dwarves love murder it seems). A little easier to get some of the stories that can emerge than by looking at some ascii.

One thing you are going to want to do is get the Lazy Newb Pack. Pretty much a must for people starting out. It combines many helpful programs and has tilesets to make the game look a little easier on the eyes. (For Macs try this)

I myself started off watching some very helpful video tutorials here. Despite his accent he can come in very handy with getting you to learn the basics of the game. A tutorial for a slightly older version of the game can be found here, many of the things you would learn would carry over to the latest version.

For those of you looking for the book that Dave is using, it can be found here.

The Dwarf Fortress wiki can be found here. Here is a very handy Quick Start Guide from said wiki.

So, if anyone has experience with the game feel free to give any hints,tips etc. that you have learned over the years to help guide new players. For anyone starting out, feel free to ask questions and I am sure myself or others can go about helping you.

#2 Posted by Daveyo520 (7340 posts) -

One thing you will want to get the hang of is the use of the program Dwarf Therapist.

It comes with the Lazy Newb Pack, so no need to download it again. It is a program that comes in VERY handy with managing your Dwarves. You can see what skills they are good at, see how many you have, what migration wave they came in on, and help assign them new jobs and skills. It is much better and cleaner than mucking around the tasks menus of Dwarves and other such things.

#3 Posted by Akyho (1818 posts) -

A few of those features to me at least in the Dwarf Therapist is kind of cheating and against the game for me.

BUT THEN! I am someone experienced with DF and made do with out this long ago.

For newbies sure why not.

#4 Posted by Viking_Funeral (2135 posts) -

Claiming that Dwarf Therapist is cheating is like claiming that tile sets are cheating. It's perfectly fine and possible to go through the game without them, but they do make managing the game simpler.

#5 Posted by Daveyo520 (7340 posts) -

@Akyho: Yeah, eventually you can ease off stuff. You don't want to start people off with the ful thing. It will kill them. (Though I use that stuff still >.>)

#6 Posted by ShadowMarth (67 posts) -

Dwarf Therapist CAN cheat, because it can do a couple things it shouldn't be able to, like giving orders to children. But it will warn you if you are doing one of these things, and call you a filthy cheater. So use it guilt free! It makes managing anything upwards of 20 dwarves drastically easier.

#7 Posted by FinalDasa (2417 posts) -

Thanks for this. I had been reading through the wiki and eyeing the book but hopefully those videos can save me some money.

Moderator
#8 Posted by ShadowMarth (67 posts) -

You don't need the book. The book is a novelty. Especially since the game is constantly being updated. I bet the book doesn't cover Vampires and Lycanthropy, which are major threats right now! Use the wiki and the wiki tutorial your first fort. Your first fort will be terrible. Once you feel like you can make a better one, abandon it and start over. It really doesn't take all that long to learn this game, just stick with it, and once you get the basics you won't be able to STOP playing. It is obviously the kind of game that requires keeping the wiki open though.

#9 Posted by jesterroyal (386 posts) -

@ShadowMarth: It actually does cover vampires(and good ways to use their free time). Its up to date as of may and "supposedly" is going to be updated as needed to keep it current. I read the book completely and now I'm just free-styling now seeing how far i can go before i die with few actual goals in mind. I might go back to it for a little advice on building my barracks. So, I'd say the book isn't a novelty but a pretty comprehensive tutorial for your first few games before you decide to really strke the earth.

Also. Dwarf therapist is essential for anybody who wants to play this game and not feel like killing themselves. I had 30+ Dwarves migrate in at once. It was.... Mind numbing. Every single one of them was next to useless and not as good as the dwarves I already had. But I'm afraid my fortress is on the downturn soon. There's a stark raving mad (popular) dwarf (with a family) stuck on the wrong side of a river that he traversed in winter. Oops.

#10 Edited by Daveyo520 (7340 posts) -

One thing you will want to do is make a ton of boxes/crates/containers to put stuff in. If you do Dwarves will store many things inside them before putting them in a stockpile. If you don't one item will take up a whole space and you will run out of room quickly.

@FinalDasa: Without those videos I would be lost as well. Extremely helpful.

#11 Edited by FoolishChaos (452 posts) -

So I designated a stockpile area for corpses, but nobody is picking up the dead rats and whatnot that litter my food room D:

Is there something else I need to do with corpse stockpiles that I didn't do with stone/lumber/etc?

edit: @Daveyo520 Thanks!

#12 Edited by Daveyo520 (7340 posts) -

@FoolishChaos: The corpse stockpile is for dead Dwarves and pets (unless you give them graves/tombs). The dead rats and such should go to a Refuse Stockpile, which should really really really be placed outside.

#13 Posted by Viking_Funeral (2135 posts) -
@Daveyo520

@FoolishChaos: The corpse stockpile is for dead Dwarves and pets (unless you give them graves/tombs). The dead rats and such should go to a Refuse Stockpile, which should really really really be placed outside.

I jsut put the refuse pile behind two sets of doors, like an airlock. Though outside the miasma can be great for messing with invaiders.
#14 Posted by Daveyo520 (7340 posts) -

@Paul_Is_Drunk: I just like keeping it away from my Dwarves.

#15 Posted by FoolishChaos (452 posts) -

Is it possible to burn them? Or dig a giant pit and throw them in? Lava?

#16 Edited by Daveyo520 (7340 posts) -

@FoolishChaos: I don't know about the burning one, you would have to build some stuff for that and it could get tricky. You can indeed make a pit and throw stuff in it, and if you find some lava you can throw stuff in it as well. Just gotta be careful no one falls in. Though you may want to do that later after you get settled a bit and use the refuse pile until you are ready.

#17 Posted by ShadowMarth (67 posts) -

@FoolishChaos: Fire bad.

@Daveyo520: Airlock (just a couple doors with a corridor between your refuse pile and your main hallway) is a good way to keep miasma contained, as a previous dude said. You really don't need more than that. But if you don't start burying your dwarves in proper coffins/caskets they'll frequently turn into ghosts and float about the place scaring your dwarves. Or worse.

#18 Posted by Daveyo520 (7340 posts) -

@ShadowMarth: Ghost are always annoying. I shall start keeping a room for trash now I guess. It is a lot safer.

#19 Posted by jesterroyal (386 posts) -

Just a heads up for any newbies like me who have no clue about existing bugs. If you happen to dig into the roof of a cavern. Do whatever you can to block it off. In caverns there are forgotten beasts sometimes and If one of them happens to stand below (oh about 15 z levels below in my case) the opening to the stairs it will bug all your dwarves out and they will be unable to move. Ever. You'll have to abandon the fortress. So.. Don't let that happen to you.

#20 Posted by Daveyo520 (7340 posts) -

@jesterroyal: Like Dave said, still Alpha lol.

#21 Posted by ShadowMarth (67 posts) -

@Daveyo520: After years and years, still alpha, yes. But keep playing because it keeps getting better!

#22 Posted by Daveyo520 (7340 posts) -

@ShadowMarth: Indeed it does. So much stuff gets added all the time, sometimes really major stuff too. Vampires yall.

#23 Posted by FengShuiGod (1516 posts) -

Anyone tried Stonesense?

#24 Edited by Daveyo520 (7340 posts) -

@FengShuiGod: In the past I did. A great way to visualize the game. I however can't find a version that runs with the current version of DF or I would have put it in the OP.

It works for a few versions ago.

#25 Posted by jesterroyal (386 posts) -

@Daveyo520: Yeah. I expect some jank. That was just super depressing. I was doing so well with minimal losses still getting the hang of everything and then my game came to a screeching halt in a way I never would have expected. Im sure other people might do it though so i figured I would share my experience because what newbie is going to troll through the bug report list just to see what they should and shouldn't do. So far, its pretty freaking awesome and with a little DFhack I was able to fill in the bottom of the staircase with obsidian floor tiles and stop the horrible howling that paralyzed 71 adult dwarves with fear. It also scared the children so bad they couldn't drink their booze anymore.

#26 Posted by Daveyo520 (7340 posts) -

@jesterroyal: Those poor poor sober children :(

#27 Posted by envane (1188 posts) -

as a df veteran i can wholeheartedly assert that using mods/therapist/dfhack etc are FINE , as long as you still plan to have FUN , and by that i mean lose

i can see the temptation to use all these things to get a perfect fortress with everything running like clockwork etc, but especially with the full removal of economy , shit gets boring at that point , and waiting ofr the siege to end all sieges is boring too if your have a impenetrable defense (or unpathable defense hehe)

i use therapist as an overview , the sorting by migration waves or profession types , and easily spotting your skilled dwarves that have the wrong jobs etc .. child labor / nobles gettign put to work etc is fine , but if you want to go that far get some mods that add more playable races/creatures etc get real crazy.

dfhack is ammmmazing , but i usually leave that till im REALLY bored , the simple embark editor to allow any number of starting dwarves is nice if you want to start with a whole damn tailored workforce (reclaim mode is a bit more clunky but does the same thing) and direct editing of floors/walls and placing liquids etc is great but ultimately trivial ... the real shit is AUTODUMP , oh my god , i tend to use this as a crutch and function off of quantum stockpiles of everything possible .. which lets me ignore the need for 80% of my workforce to have hauling jobs , so more shit gets done , ill keep using this probably until stockpiles / mining / minecarts / and hauling are all properly implemented/reworked.

playing vanilla 0.34.11 with ironhand gfx now tho , buildign a stable fort but planning on finding trouble if it doesnt find me eheh .. camped right near a necromancers tower so things should be interersting ..

going to check out masterwork df next http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=98196.0

its like lnp on crack with alooot of added modded stuff , but seems to be fully modular so you can remove the majority of dubious stuff or go balls out with crazy monsters and races

great to see df get some exposure here :)

#28 Posted by buft (3409 posts) -

I've had the game a while, just sitting on my pc and recently i watched a few youtube tutorial videos and read through the newb starter guide but im still struggling with basic things like making adequate storage areas for all the stone and stuff, i made whats turning out to be a miasma generator outside and started production on beds and all that good stuff dwarfs like to eat and drink, my dwarfs are always depressed, not sure how to get my fortress out of its slump right now, cant seem to figure out whats wrong.

the tutorial hasnt got into any of the dwarf management stuff yet and i dont want to skip ahead, i guess i'll keep going and learn my lessons the hard way.

#29 Edited by onarum (2528 posts) -
@buft said:

I've had the game a while, just sitting on my pc and recently i watched a few youtube tutorial videos and read through the newb starter guide but im still struggling with basic things like making adequate storage areas for all the stone and stuff, i made whats turning out to be a miasma generator outside and started production on beds and all that good stuff dwarfs like to eat and drink, my dwarfs are always depressed, not sure how to get my fortress out of its slump right now, cant seem to figure out whats wrong.

the tutorial hasnt got into any of the dwarf management stuff yet and i dont want to skip ahead, i guess i'll keep going and learn my lessons the hard way.

You gotta put the refuse stockpile somewhere completely open(without tiles on the higher Z layers) or else it will generate miasma.
 
Also yeah keeping your dwarves happy is 1 of the main challenges of the game, a easy way to get lots of happy thoughts is to make a grand dining hall with pretty tables, thrones, smoothed walls and floor(and later encarved), statues and whatnot, just create like a 10x10 or even 20x10 room(the size of the rooms has great influence over the overall perceived quality of it), make stone tables and thrones of the best stone you can use, statues columns etc and create the dining hall, you make one by using q(set buildings tasks/prefs key) on a table, there will be an option for making the dining room, then expand the selection box that appears to take the entirety of the room, putting doors on the entry ways highly helps in this since then the selection box won't go over the walls of that particular room, you just need to do this on 1 table since any table inside the selection you make will already be considered part of the dining hall, then you can put an order for smoothing all the walls and floor (d(designations)+s(smooth stone)) you gotta have a dwarf with the "stone detailing" job enabled for this, it'll take a while, but it's worth it, after they are all smoothed you can start engraving on the stone which will make the dining hall even better.
 
It's important to have at least a common dormitory at the beggining, just carve a room and put about 4 or 5 beds in, use q in one of them to make the dormitory(much the same way you made the dining hall), it doesn't hurt to make this room pretty either.
 
Later in the game(but not too late) you can make individual rooms for each dwarf which will give them many happy thoughts, also try and keep the booze and food as varied as you possibly can.
 
edit: it's important that the dining hall has all the floor and walls made of stone or even gems, metal etc so you can smooth/engrave(can't do that to soil) and the overall quality will be better, and for this it's better to build it a few Z layers deeper than your starting one.
#30 Edited by cynicide (8 posts) -

Dwarf Fortress is a plate spinning game. You're trying to keep many systems operational. The best way to approach it is to start with small goals. You will lose a few games but you'll be surprised how quickly you develop. For your first few attempts, I suggest focusing on these discrete goals:

  • Learning the interface
  • Digging some rooms out
  • Building furniture (Beds, Doors, Workshops)
  • Managing food and alcohol production
  • Designing bedrooms
  • Securing your fortress
  • Military and Hospital
  • Metalworking and Industry

Pick one goal per game to focus on, it doesn't matter if everything collapses, your goal is to learn as much about that facet of the game as possible. Once you've got one down, move onto the next one. You'll be spinning plates with the best of them in no time. Also don't abandon your game, you'll be surprised what you can learn when everything is going wrong. For example:

I started a new game shortly after Dave finished his video, at the moment I'm at 130 dwarves in a secure location. I'm in the third stage of a war with the local goblins, they attacked when I was building and I managed to secure myself and use archers from the walls to take them down. I had no material so I made crossbows and bolts out of the bones of slaughtered animals. Once they were driven off I pressed out, erecting great walls and pillboxes connected by a series of underground tunnels. But then disaster struck, I was attacked by a force of goblins and trolls before the walls were completed. They got into my fortress before I could raise the drawbridges. My ramshackle military met them as they passed the food stockpiles, a narrow two square passage that became a killzone. Dwarves and goblins fell but I outnumbered them. By luck one of my waves of migrants had been a group of dwarven rangers. As my defenders fell I conscripted replacements to step over the bodies, pick up the axe and continue the fight. Through sheer force of numbers I prevailed. The wall was complete and the final drawbridge was raised, sealing me away from the outside world, and not a moment too soon as a large group of goblins, olms and trolls currently siege the walls.

But now a new darkness stalks the fortress, dwarves are being found drained of blood with alarming regularity. I may have sealed my dwarves off from the danger outside, but unwittingly sealed them in with something much worse.

Online
#31 Edited by SathingtonWaltz (2167 posts) -

I've actually been trying this game out recently, but I can't help but feel like it's just difficult for the sake of being difficult. I know that most people criticize DF for being too difficult, but it's kind of bringing me back to my childhood when I used to study to Dungeons and Dragons modules and handbooks.

#32 Posted by Fallen189 (5319 posts) -

Top Tip: Set off from your expedition with TWO CATS. You will enjoy the game more. Or less.

#33 Posted by Daveyo520 (7340 posts) -

@SathingtonWaltz: No, the difficult part just comes from the fact Toady (the guy who made it) is horrible at UI. lol

#34 Edited by SathingtonWaltz (2167 posts) -

@Daveyo520: Well things certainly haven't started off well. I can't even get my Dwarves to dig anything. Is there some super secret command I'm missing, or is the quickstart guide just lying to me?

#35 Posted by WMWA (1219 posts) -

So is this game actually really taxing on your computer? I really want to play it but I only have a laptop ATM.

#36 Edited by SathingtonWaltz (2167 posts) -

@wmaustin55: No it's not. Still though, the game is fucking boring as shit so far. Also frustrating too, as I can't actually accomplish anything in the game even though I've been following a quickstart guide.

#37 Posted by onarum (2528 posts) -
@wmaustin55 said:
So is this game actually really taxing on your computer? I really want to play it but I only have a laptop ATM.
I used to play it on my crappy laptop just fine, the thing is that the more creatures you have on your fort the more taxing it is on your CPU, so basically when your fort gets to like 100 dwarves you're gonna be running at some low FPS like 20 or so, but it's still totally playable, you're also gonna get a hit to your FPS during the bigger sieges.
 
The main problem is that unfortunately due to its programming having started a LONG time ago, before multicore processors even existed, it does not take advantage of multi-threading at all, and given the ridiculous complexity of all the simulation involved I really doubt toady will ever manage to rewrite everything that needs to be rewritten in order to make all of it multi-threaded.
#38 Posted by SathingtonWaltz (2167 posts) -

So after an hour of trying to accomplish what are supposed to be basic concepts in DF, I'm giving up. If it's already an hour into playing the game and I still can't create a damn entrance and get my dwarves to dig or do anything, I'm just going to assume that the game is bad. I know some of you folks have a lot of fun with it, but I'm certainly not.

#39 Edited by onarum (2528 posts) -
@SathingtonWaltz said:

@wmaustin55: No it's not. Still though, the game is fucking boring as shit so far. Also frustrating too, as I can't actually accomplish anything in the game even though I've been following a quickstart guide.

you should watch some cptnduck videoshe gives a fairly good walk thought for the basics.
 
This playlist to me more specific ;P
#40 Posted by Daveyo520 (7340 posts) -

@onarum said:

@SathingtonWaltz said:

@wmaustin55: No it's not. Still though, the game is fucking boring as shit so far. Also frustrating too, as I can't actually accomplish anything in the game even though I've been following a quickstart guide.

you should watch some cptnduck videoshe gives a fairly good walk thought for the basics.

This playlist to me more specific ;P

Yes I linked them in the OP, they are great videos and should tell you everything you need to know to get started. All you need to do to dig is press D to designate and d again for dig. Then you press enter on where you want the first corner to be, move the X with you arrow keys to the size you want and press enter again. Also make sure you press space to unpause the game and have the Dwarves do what you tell them.

#41 Edited by jesterroyal (386 posts) -

@SathingtonWaltz: I think you may be prematurely throwing in the towel. I won't try to sell you any harder than that because if you need a hard sell you will never enjoy the game.

I'm starting to learn that its not a terribly complex game. Just bad UI and you have to be management minded and enjoy trying to keep track of a thousand things at once. (which i kind of dig). I'm still playing in pretty peaceful settings but I've had 2 dead dwarves so far. One of which died of dehydration on the side of a mountain after valiantly killing the goblin snatcher. And another who went beserk because I couldn't magically produce bars of ore for his strange mood. I also have a dog chained to my entrance way with the most beautiful rope (it has a name) ever crafted by a dwarf in a strange mood so that I can have him bite bad people's faces off. It does help that all the who pass by the entrance regularly (the plebian haulers) get to admire such a work of art tethering such a big dog. I think I love this game.

#42 Posted by FoolishChaos (452 posts) -

The hardest/more frustrating part for me thus far has been trying to find a decent mountain to dig into, with a river and some trees.

#43 Posted by GorillaMoPena (2638 posts) -

I can't find any stone.

Is this normal. It seems like something I need right?

#44 Posted by Daveyo520 (7340 posts) -

@GorillaMoPena: You should be able to find plenty if you dig down enough levels.

#45 Posted by envane (1188 posts) -

@jesterroyal: the ui is not bad , the UI is a masterwork UI crafted by toady one , it menaces with spikes, in it is carved an image of dwarves working

but i will concede it is encrusted with bugs

#46 Posted by SamStrife (1328 posts) -

I started this yesterday morning, only to realise that I was still playing it 9 hours later. I'm hooked as hell and learning new stuff every minute.

I do have a couple of semi-relates questions however:

  1. Once you've embarked to a biome, are you locked there for the rest of that playthrough? Is there any way to expand my play area or explore others with expatiations and such?
  2. If I'm being attacked by another force (Goblins, other Dwarfs) is there any way to take the fight back to them. Can I go to their area and mess them up or do I just have to keep weathering the storm until they give up?
#47 Posted by jesterroyal (386 posts) -

@FoolishChaos: Use the finder for sure. If you want to learn the ropes. Savagery Low, Temperature medium. Aquifer NO ,River Yes, Shallow metals Multiple, Deep Metals Multiple, Soil Any level higher than none will make early underground farming easier. There should be 20 or 30 results to that on a standard world and one of them has got to be highly forested.

@GorillaMoPena: It looks like you are surrounded by soil. Thats a good thing in my opinion. Rock is just further down. At the end of your entry hallway make a 2x2 of down staircases (designate and j) then on the levels below that designate up/down stairs with d and i. Eventually you will find rock and you will be able to make 18,000 doors.

#48 Posted by SamStrife (1328 posts) -

@jesterroyal: Thank you very much for the help :)

#49 Edited by ShadowMarth (67 posts) -

@SathingtonWaltz: ...you hit "d" twice and designate the area to dig. If you can't figure something out just hit the wiki. It's slow going learning the interface but after that you'll have days of enjoyment figuring out all the crazy systems and building a fort.

The interface isn't "bad", it's just oldschool, which means highly functional but takes some time to learn. Once you know the hotkeys you can do things incredibly quickly without hardly thinking about them. And you never forget them, because of muscle memory. Every time I go back to Dwarf Fort I'm worried about it, but even if I can't remember they keys for things, my fingers do. That said, there are a few quirky things that don't quite make sense, like the distinction between designations and constructions, and the new military interface is a goddamned pain in the ass to learn, but once you know them you can do excellent things with them.

#50 Posted by SamStrife (1328 posts) -

I honestly don't think the interface is bad at all. Sure it would be aided greatly by the ability to click on some items with your mouse but once you learn what buttons do what and how to interact with the left and right columns separately, you'll find that you can breeze through them.

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