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.
Different players consider different sorts of locations to be ideal. Players looking for an easy map should look for:
- A location that lacks an aquifer.
- A water source such as a brook, river, or lake, although an aquifer or ocean can serve in a pinch; most sources also serve as an important source of shells
- A soil layer in which to easily place farms, without having to worry about irrigation.
- Absence of salt water on the map, which can make all natural sources of water unpotable.
- Absence of a cave or similar site, which may contain dangerous native life.
- A temperature that isn't extremely hot or cold.
- A non-evil, non-savage biome.
- An area with an abundance of trees.
- A flat surface.
- An area with access to humans and elves.
Players looking to maximize framerate look for:
- An area on a small world.
- An area where their desired features are combined in a small embark.
- An area without flowing water.
- An area without cyclical freezes and thaws.
Players looking for a complete DF experience on a single map generally look for the following features:
- Shallow and deep metals to provide ores, especially iron and platinum.
- 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. Fire clay is especially desirable.
- An area that contains a curious underground structure.
- An area containing a volcano.
- An area with access to goblins, and one or more towers.
Some other features that are frequently sought out, despite making the game more difficult in many ways, are:
- A waterfall, especially one spanning many z-levels.
- An evil biome, particularly one suffering interesting weather phenomena or one where corpses reanimate. The borders of such evil areas are especially important to some players.
- An especially small island, such that dwarves may embark on the entirety of the island.
- A small embark location serving as the border of a large number of distinct biomes.
- An area visited by interesting and uncommon creatures, such as merpeople, unicorns, giant desert scorpions, or sea monsters.
- An area with steep, interesting cliffs, or other variations in elevation.
- An area where one or more dwarven civilizations are currently at war with the local humans, elves, or both.
- An area containing an interesting cave, lair, labyrinth, or tomb.
- An area suffering extreme temperature conditions.
- An interestingly glitched area, for instance, one in which cotton candy spirals high above the surface of the map.
It's extraordinarily difficult to find a location that meets all criteria for the "perfect map" for any particular person. One typically must settle for a map containing certain acceptable elements.