33 BEST Dwarf Fortress Tips And Tricks [Beginner’s Guide]

Learn all the tips and tricks that players need to know when they are getting started out in Dwarf Fortress!

Dwarf Fortress is finally out for players to build the fortress of their dreams! As a new player, it might be extremely daunting to know how to set up your fortress right, therefore a few Dwarf Fortress Tips And Tricks might be just the thing that players need to get started!


Key Highlights: 

  • Tips and Tricks can be crucial for players who have just arrived to building their first fortress and do not know any basics!
  • Building a fortress will entail having protection from the military to guard it!
  • Players need to make sure that they have food, drink and shelter at hand at all times and consistently should have an ample supply of the three in order to thrive!
  • The main benefit of having tips and tricks on your fingers is that progression will be a lot quicker and easier!
  • The best way to get to know the game will be by messing around, following it’s in-built guides, making a fortress and more! 
  • The game is completely open-ended therefore there is no actual goal!

Aim Of Game 

Now, first things first, is there an aim to the game? The simple answer is, no not really! Once players get introduced first and set up their first fortress, they can choose their own goals or they have complete freedom on what they want to do, which is why Dwarf Fortress itself can become pretty complicated. 

New World Settings

Game Settings
Game Settings (Image Credits Exputer)

Let’s kick things off by starting a new world, which will first bring us into a couple of settings that players will be able to choose from. This will range from world map size, history length, civilizations, maximum sites, etc. 

The rule of thumb will be to have the default settings, and you can choose to have a small or medium world map size, and you should go for an approximate 100 years of history length while having everything else set to medium

Once the world is up and running, you will be able to see a few historical events take place near the top left of the screen, and eventually, it will hit the year 100. 

Information On World 

Smaller Areas
Smaller Areas Info (Image Credits Exputer)

If you hover your mouse over any part of the map that you created, you will be able to get a piece of detailed information on the area. Areas like trees, rivers, seas, etc will be all displayed to players with immense amounts of info on it all. 

There will be a few areas that will have their surroundings as Sinister, and players want to typically stay away from setting their area here. The dwarves will typically hang out in the mountainous areas, while the elves will typically be seen in the tree areas. 

Game Type 

Gametype DF
Gametype DF (Image Credits Exputer)

After that, you will typically be told to choose your game type, and one thing that players should keep in mind is that the adventurer mode is not available at the moment. However, you can go for a fortress mode, which is going to be the most viable, and the legends button will showcase information about everything, from artifacts to historical figures and everything in between. 

What To Look For In A New World 

Selecting Location To Embark
Selecting Location To Embark (Image Credits Exputer)

When you first load into your selected game type, the same map will be open in front of you. And once again, you will be able to take note of the info about everything on the top left. 

Players should stay away from notes that say things like sinister or haunted since their fortress will not be safe there. Another thing that you should stay away from is Aquifers since they can be difficult to manage through. 

You should essentially choose an area that is sort of in the mountains, away from sinister areas, away from too much water, and away from too many trees, and kind of like in open land

Embarking 

Choosing Embark Site
Choosing Embark Site (Image Credits Exputer)

Once you’ve selected a space, go down to the bottom of the screen, and then go ahead and embark, then go ahead and drag it to the area such as in temperate savanna and click on play now. 

After that, you can either choose to play now, which will start you off with a few skills, equipment as well as materials, or you can prepare for the journey carefully, which will have you do the work yourself. 

New World 

Wagon
Wagon (Image Credits Exputer)

After you do so, you will finally start in your world. You will have a wagon infront of you which will contain all the supplies that you need. The people standing around will be your dwarves and you can click on them to get more information about them. 

Basic Controls 

Click To Zoom In
Click To Zoom In (Image Credits Exputer)

A few basic controls that you should keep in mind include these: 

  • E and C affect elevation. 
  • Holding control and then scrolling up and down will allow you to zoom in and out of the same elevation. 
  • WSAD can be used to move around the space in the same elevation, but you can also hold down the mouse wheel to seamlessly scroll. 

Setting Digging Orders 

Set Digging Orders
Set Digging Orders (Image Credits Exputer)

Once your area is ready, now it’s time to set your digging orders, which the game will essentially tell the players to start creating your fortress. The game during its tutorial mode will showcase everything that you need to know. 

To start digging, players will need to click on the mining button that will be located at the bottom of the screen, from where you will be able to choose from a few areas, including digging a staircase, or anything else. 

To set a staircase, as our land requires us to do, players will need to click on an area on the surface, and then go down one elevation, and then click the underground which will start prompting the building of a staircase. 

Digging Underground 

Digging Underground
Digging Underground (Image Credits Exputer)

From here, you can start digging underground. Typically, players will want to dig out an area that will be large enough to store their stockpiles, therefore, players will need to select a large rectangular area, fit to their personal preferences, and then set digging orders. From here, the miners will start to dig out the area that you have selected though it might take a bit of time to do so. 

Stockpiling 

Stockpile
Stockpile (Image Credits Exputer)

After you have successfully dug down, you will want to start focusing on your stockpiles, which will contain your belongings that are in danger of being carried away by creatures. 

There will be a separate stockpile button that will be present at the bottom of the screen, and players will then need to select an area in their mined area to select as their stockpile area. Stockpiles can be placed both in the overworld and the underworld

Now, players can either choose to place in all stockpiles or can go ahead and go to the custom mode to figure out which categories they want to sift out. Things like corpses and refuse can be filtered out since they won’t be that necessary. 

Building 

Stockpile Wood
Stockpile Wood (Image Credits Exputer)

Now that you have placed a proper stockpile, you will need to start building. First things first, wood is required. Go to the woodcutter button, go back to the surface and select a tree trunk that you want to become the woodpile, and let your dwarves do their things. 

Once that is done, you will then need to stockpile the wood that you just cut, you can simply go ahead and create a new stockpile, then select the wood option from the left side of your screen and place it inside your fortress. 

Building Mode 

Building Mode
Building Mode (Image Credits Exputer)

Moving on, a few other solid Dwarf Fortress Tips And Tricks will include the building mode which basically will be introduced to the player after they have fully completed stockpiling everything. The building mode will showcase everything that the payer will be able to make, such as workshops, furniture, doors, construction, machines, cages, and traps, as well as going deeper into military and trade depots too. 

Workshops 

After that, we will be introduced to the workshops, and they are going to be described as one of the most important things in the game. 

To build a workshop, players will require building materials, which will range from either boulders or wood. If players don’t have stockpiles of wood, then they will first need to chop down sufficient amounts of wood before they can progress further. 

But since we already stockpiled beforehand, we can simply start with our carpenter’s workshop. Go ahead and click on workshops and then carpenter’s workshop, where players will be able to make items like beds, barrels, or any furniture required

After that, once the game has been unpaused, players will be able to see the worker build your workshop, and once the worker is all done, players will be able to click on the building to select it. 

Designating Tasks In Workshop

Designating Tasks In Workshop
Designating Tasks In Workshop (Image Credits Exputer)

After your workshop is all good to go, it is time to designate a task inside it. The citizens in your area will continue to perform any task that ends up being added to the workshop, therefore you will need to click on the add new task, which will allow you to then add any task such as Make a bed

Each piece of furniture will require one wood to be completed, therefore players might have to chop down more trees if needed. Once you do so, the workers will start to make the bed and all you need to do is wait. 

Placing Items 

Placing Items
Placing Items (Image Credits Exputer)

Now that you have managed to make a bed, you will need to know how to place items. To properly place items, players will need to place it in the fortress that they have made. Keep in mind that furniture like beds cannot be placed on the surface. They will have to be replaced underground no matter what. 

Beds can be accessed in the furniture category, which will be the small icon on the bottom with three stones stacked and a small tool. Once you do, the construction for the bed will start, and this will be used to allow your miners to sleep in an area. 

Clicking On Creatures

Clicking on Creatures
Clicking on Creatures (Image Credits Exputer)

From here, your entire interface will now be successfully enabled, and players will be able to click on items, such as their beds, or barrels to get more info about them. 

One thing that players will need to keep in mind is that they should click on their dwarves to get more info about them, and read up on their needs, what jobs they do, and what relations they have. Alternatively, you can also head over to the citizen’s button on the far bottom left of the screen to access it and get every bit of info about them. 

Important Alerts 

Important Alerts
Important Alerts (Image Credits Exputer)

When the game is unpaused, there will be alerts that will appear on the left side of the screen, and this will inform the player of important events and timelines that will or are taking place in the real world. 

Some examples include “an animal has grown to become a stray alpaca”. Alerts can be as harmless as this, or they can even include extremely important info such as “the merchants need a trade depot at urgent” which cannot be ignored, and you will need to cater to the citizens’ needs as your area evolves. 

Trade Depot 

Trade Depot
Trade Depot (Image Credits Exputer)

Now, before winter arrives, players will need to have a trade depot set up, which will be used to trade with the autumn caravan. You can’t just trade anything that your heart desires, the things being traded need to be of value

You can go ahead and make a crafts workshop so that you can then use crafts to make trade goods. You will need to have items like rocks that can be used to make the craft, and these can be found by digging down a few layers, which can also help players access rough gems if they are lucky enough. 

Helpful Guides 

After this, the tutorial will conclude, but you can always go toward the question mark button at the top of the screen which will provide you with even more guides. 

Setting Up Farming 

Farm Plot
Farm Plot (Image Credits Exputer)

The next thing that players will typically want to do is set up their farm. For this, they will first need to empty a small piece of the area in their fortress that will be dedicated as the farming area

From there, head over to the building button at the bottom of the screen, then go into workshops and then head into the farming option, which will showcase the players with ample food and drink workshops. 

Then, click on farming, and then click on farm plot, which will allow players to plant crops at a certain farm plot. Players will need seeds and will need to select crops according to the designated season, and it is recommended to plant crops underground since the soil is richer

And when you select an area in the fortress to select as your farm plot, your planter dwarf will then go into action to build your selected farm area. 

There will be a need for a water supply nearby for your farm, and if you don’t have it nearby, that’s fine since you can simply dig down in caverns to get water supply whenever needed. 

Farming Plump Helmets 

Planting Plump Helmet
Planting Plump Helmet (Image Credits Exputer)

Now that your raw farm is set up, go ahead and click on the farm, which will then give you an option of the things that you should plant out, and there will be options from cave wheat, dimple cups, pigtails, plump helmets, and more, and you want to select plump helmets

The main reason for that is simply because plump helmets are considered to be sort of a staple item. It can be eaten and can be drunk too. 

After you select your plump helmets, make sure to have them planted all year which can be selected by heading over to the season tabs at the top to select the season, and then clicking on the designated season and then on the options for plump helmets. 

Making A Still 

Making A Still
Making A Still (Image Credits Exputer)

From here, you will want to then go ahead and make a still. A still will be in charge of brewing alcohol from any kind of plants, fruits, or honey that is available to the player. To make a still, head over to your workshop area. 

From there, you will then need to go to farming, from where you can select the still option. After that, you will need to place it somewhere. Once you do, it will then ask you what materials you want to make it out of, such as Kumquat wood logs or Limestone, etc. once you select the material, someone will come and construct it. 

Once it is ready, click on the workshop, and you will want to go ahead and select “Brew Drink from plant” but it will require you to have an unrotten fermentable plant. The reason a still is made is simply to have your drink part of the three trilogies. Remember, you need a drink, food, and ample shelter to survive here. 

You can go ahead and create a separate stockpile for drinks to have them all stored in one separate room. 

Labor 

If there is ever a time when you feel like one of your workers is not doing a task or could take on more, then you can head over to the far bottom left of the screen and then go over to labor

And it will showcase the jobs that the dwarves can do and what jobs you can assign them as well. 

The jobs will range from miners, woodcutters, hunters, planters, fisherdwarves, plant gatherers, stonecutters, engravers, haulers as well as orderlies. Then you can go ahead and dedicate certain tasks to each dwarf, whereas before everyone could do everyone’s jobs. 

Pasture 

Pasture And Zones
Pasture And Zones (Image Credits Exputer)

Another thing that players will need to figure out in Dwarf Fortress Tips And Tricks will be pasteurizing their animals. While animals like cats and dogs don’t really need pasture and can freely roam around, there are quite certainly animals that need proper grazing and pasture area. So animals like lambs, horses, etc will need pasture. 

Head down to the zones at the bottom of the screen, and click on them. And it will show you options for what zone you want to build, and you want to go ahead and select Pen/Pasture. Once you click on that and select the amount of area you want to dedicate to it, you can then select the type of animal you want to have in the pasture. 

Make sure to not put in dogs and cats since they can protect your fortress, and you can go ahead and select animals like horses, etc. 

Beds And Dormitories 

Bed And Dormitory
Bed And Dormitory (Image Credits Exputer)

After this, let’s handle the dormitory situation. For now, we only have beds that are haphazardly placed in a singular room. To designate a proper area for each worker, players want to go ahead and select zones for workers. 

Go over to the zones section, and click on the dormitory, and it will be regarded as a dormitory and the dwarves will know where to go to sleep. 

Meeting Area 

Meeting Area
Meeting Area (Image Credits Exputer)

Now, if you don’t set up a proper meeting area, how will your dwarves ever know where to take shelter, and the dwarves will continue to stay out regardless of weather, therefore a separate zone with a meeting area needs to be created. 

So go ahead and make a separate zone and then make a separate area so that your dwarves know where they need to meet. 

Dining Area 

You can also go ahead and quite literally have your meeting area be your dining hall as well, and you will simply select the meeting area zone to be the dining area too. 

Now, for your dining area, one obvious thing that you will need are tables and chairs, and for that, you will need to head on over to your stoneworker’s shop, and add a new task to make a few basic tables and chairs. 

Administrators Section 

Nobles And Administrators
Nobles And Administrators (Image Credits Exputer)

Now, instead of having to go into the workshops every time to manually create a new task for mundane items like tables or chairs, you can go ahead and have someone be an administrator of sorts to give out orders to dwarves who will then carry out the certain building or furniture-based tasks that you want them to do. 

Head over to the nobles and administrators menu at the bottom of the screen, and click on it, and the open menu will showcase everyone that is in charge of your fortress. 

This can include important nobles like expedition leaders, militia commanders, sheriffs, hammerers, managers, chief medical dwarves, brokers, bookkeepers, and messengers. 

From here, players want to go ahead and select a manager, when you click on that, it will showcase the possible options that you will go for, and on the right side, it will then showcase if anyone is good enough to be a manager here. 

Brokers will typically be used to carry out important trade-related tasks. On the other hand, bookkeepers will be used to keep the numbers of food, drink, seeds, and others in order. 

Work Orders 

Work Orders
Work Orders (Image Credits Exputer)

Moving onto work orders, at the start, there will be no current work orders, so players will need to create a new work order. From here, you will be able to place orders for any item that you will want. 

For example, our dining halls are currently lacking chairs, so we can simply go ahead and type out wooden chairs in the search bar, which will then bring up the wooden chair option. Click on it, and you will be able to select the number of chairs that you want. From there, you will also want to go for a few rock tables

Once you do so, the manager will be able to give out orders to your dwarves and it will be displayed in the carpenters and stone workshops that your table and chair orders are currently being made or done. 

Protective Doors 

Players want to have proper doors in their fortress if they want to protect the area from being attacked too viciously. Therefore, if you haven’t already, go ahead and make some doors, and when you have done so, you can start placing them in areas like your entrance, and each separate room that you might have made. 

Military 

Military
Military (Image Credits Exputer)

Now that you have a little bit of protection going and now that you have your food, shelter, and everything else running, let’s go ahead and talk about security. There will be a small flag that will be on the bottom right of your screen, click on it and it will tell you that you need a militia commander to make a squad. 

From here, you want to head on over to your nobles and administrators tab and select a militia commander, and it will tell you if anyone is viable enough to become one, and if no one is, then you can select a dwarf that isn’t that busy at the moment. 

After that, go back to the flag at the bottom and you will now have the option to create a new squad. And from there, you can go ahead and choose either from a leather armor uniform, metal armor uniform, or an archer or go for no uniform at all. For now, we will go for the metal armor option. 

We can then go ahead and change how they appear to us, and then assign dwarves. After that, you can assign positions to certain dwarves to be your military. You can select them to go kill something, do patrol routes, etc. 

From the buoyers in the workshop area, you can make crossbows and this just helps redefine your squad even more. 

Kitchen 

Players will also need to figure out a way to consistently have a proper supply of food, so they can go over to an empty area, go into workshops, farm, and then set up a kitchen. 

After that, you can go ahead and place a work order for easy meals so that your dwarves will always have something to eat. 

Summary 

From here, players have free reign to do whatever they want. Make sure to keep the three things in mind to always keep up. Make sure to always have ample food, drink, and shelter while also having a proper military setup! 

And with that, we will wrap up our Dwarf Fortress Tips And Tricks guide!

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Mina Anwar


Mina is a Gacha games guides writer at Exputer with years of writing experience. When she is away from work, Mina can be found venturing through Mondtstat and Liyue, a place she calls her second home.

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