Searching for a good location for your fortress is extremely important. If you neglect this you may find your dwarves dying off from dehydration, starvation or the other dangers that lurk about.
An ideal location includes:
- A location that lacks an aquifer. (If the location is freezing, it may not matter, and perhaps even be useful)
- A fresh water source like stream or river.
- A temperature that isn't extremely hot or cold.
- Shallow and Deep Metals to provide ores.
- A flux material for making steel.
- A soil layer which acts as source of sand to enable glass industry.
- A soil layer which acts as source of clay to enable ceramic industry.
- A non-evil biome.
- An area with an abundance of trees.
Depending on what type of fortress you are trying to build, you can choose a wide variety of locations.
For example a location with a volcano is good if you don't want to pump magma to the surface, but still want to use it in constructions. Streams are good for generating power. Aquifers present problems for some people, but others utilize them. Freezing temperatures allow for water traps to be used creatively. Likewise, in scorching environments, uncovering water will result in fast evaporation for creative entrances and traps.