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23a:Your first fortress

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This article is about an older version of DF.

This is a guide to help new players get started on their first fortress and teach them the basics of keeping their dwarves alive. If you have unanswered questions or find given details confusing, please tell us so on the discussion page! Above all else, always remember the Dwarf Fortress motto: "Losing is fun!"

We discuss generating a world, choosing a fortress location, buying skills and items, and playing the first month or so. Setting game initialization options is covered in technical tricks. The advice here is biased for safety; with a little experience you'll do better with strategies customized for your play style and preferred start locations. For more extended treatment of particular subjects, consult the linked pages or the rest of the Dwarf Fortress Wiki.

Generating a world[edit]

It all starts here. The first thing to do when starting Dwarf Fortress is to create a world. In this version there are no world generation parameters, so just select Create New World and press Enter.

The engine will start to create the world -- watch it unfold! You might notice that many dozens of worlds are rejected, sometimes even after the generator begins running rivers and lakes. This is normal, as the generator seeks a world which meets the criteria for optimum Dwarven Fun. World generation may take several minutes, so be patient.

Once you've generated a world you will return to the main screen and there will be a new option, Start Playing. Upon selecting that you can choose the game mode - Dwarf Fortress, Adventurer, or Legends. This article is written with respect to Fortress mode.

See the article on world generation for a complete guide to the world generation screen.

Buying skills and items[edit]

Once you select "Dwarf Fortress" mode, you'll be given the option to either start immediately or prepare for the journey carefully. You should pretty much always prepare carefully if you enjoy staying alive.

Here, presumably, you are the dwarf determining who will go and what they will take. You have a total of 200☼ to spend in two categories: Skilled dwarves and items. Some items have already been selected for you, but you probably won't want most of these.

There are as many possible ways to approach setting up as there are fortress locations. Here, we are only going to discuss some basics that help you understand enough to make your own decisions. The embark screen opens up on the skills screen, and can be changed to the items and location screens by pressing TAB.


In Dwarf Fortress, it's not what you have, it's who you have. Skilled dwarves are the cornerstone of everything, from domestics to security, so it's extremely important to embark with good people.

As you will see in this screen, you have 7 dwarves and a list of skills you can assign to them. It costs 5 points to give a dwarf Novice skill, 11 for Normal, 18 for Competent, 26 for Skilled, and 35 for Proficient. Unlike in later versions, there are no limits on how many skills you can give to a single dwarf, but points are much more scarce so even trying to give each dwarf a single Proficient skill will leave you with very few supplies.

In a fledgling fortress, the 4 indispensable jobs are miner, mason, grower, and carpenter. A good beginning strategy is to embark with at least 1 dwarf being proficient in each of these 4 skills. Many people choose to double up on proficient miners and growers, since mining and farming are both pretty big jobs.

Other useful skills to consider:

  • Cook: Cooks make prepared meals in the kitchen, which helps you manage your food stock space. Well-prepared meals are also valuable trade goods, and make dwarves happy when eaten. Highly skilled cooks make better meals, and prepare meals faster.
  • Brewer: Brewers make booze in the still. Dwarves being dwarves, they need alcohol to operate at peak efficiency, and highly skilled brewers make better tasting booze and finish brewing faster. Dwarves get happier when they drink good booze.
  • Herbalist: Herbalists gather food and seeds from shrubs in the local area. Skilled herbalists pick faster and come away with far more food. Where an unskilled herbalist will come away with one wild strawberry or none at all, a proficient herbalist will often pick 3 or 4, and sometimes 5.
  • Woodcutter: Woodcutters fell trees for use by carpenters. Highly skilled woodcutters fell trees much faster. However, since you don't need that much wood, you can get away with a normal (no tag) woodcutter just fine.
  • Mechanic: Mechanics build and use mechanisms, which have myriad uses in traps and levers. Highly skilled mechanics finish installing mechanisms much faster, and the mechanisms they build are of higher quality. However, the quality of the mechanism primarily matters to beginning players for its trade value, and in early fortresses the need for mechanisms is usually so small that any dwarf can pick it up and handle it well enough. Still, a solid choice, especially if you like traps.
  • Armorsmith, Weaponsmith: These become very important quickly if you want even decent weapons and armor and are annoying to train up from scratch.
  • Engineer is not useful at all in an early fortress, and far from ever being essential, but training an unskilled dwarf in it requires a lot of material and time.
  • Military skills (Wrestler, Axedwarf, Hammerdwarf, etc.): Early on, it's unlikely that you'll need these, since there's generally very few things that will bother a band of dwarves who aren't hurting anyone, but once you cross the cave river and reach the chasm, you will have to contend with hostile creatures. You may consider giving your woodcutter the Axedwarf skill so he can use his chopping axe as a weapon. A miner can "pinch-hit", since the Mining skill also covers wielding a pick in combat, but the dwarves don't understand this yet, so a drafted miner will get unhappy thoughts.

Once again, examples can be found in the starting builds page. What you bring is incredibly dependent on your play style, though. Some people think bringing Mechanics along is a total waste of time, others consider them indispensable. Some people like having skills that aren't even on this list, like Leatherworker. Read the starting builds, ask questions, and explore! Who cares if your first idea doesn't work out after playing an hour? Restarting is easy and losing is fun.


Now that we're done with assigning skills, hit TAB to go over to the item screen. Item worth is another extremely situational thing, and you'll find as many opinions as there are Dwarf Fortress players as to what is good to bring. Once more, it depends VERY heavily on your play style. Again, starting builds can provide some good example reading. This section will only cover the basics and give you enough information to make your own decisions.


You'll need a couple of finished tools to get yourself started.

  • Battle axes: Every Woodcutter needs an axe. Iron battle axes are the only type you can purchase on this screen, and they cost 100 points each. You might want to bring just one, unless you expect to need a lot of lumber and/or axedwarf muscle.
  • Picks: Likewise, Miners need picks. As above, iron picks are your only option, costing 100 points each.

Unlike in later versions, you do not bring an anvil with you - instead, the first wave of migrants will include a metalsmith carrying one.

Raw materials[edit]

Unlike in later versions, you cannot bring stones or ores, metal bars, or even wood logs during embark. Leather is 5 points each for the cheapest kinds, and it can be useful if you want to make some early armor for your soldiers.


Easily the most important part of your preparation is what you're going to eat, drink, and plant once you get on site. Without food and booze, you're not going much of anywhere.

  • Food: Most food comes at a mere 2☼ per unit, and 8 units will feed 1 dwarf for a year. Bringing a year of food will give you a good cushion to getting your farms working, so aim for about 60 food if you can afford it. If you must cut back, though, 40 will be fine if you make your farms an early priority. The best food staple to bring along is turtle. Turtle produces shell and bones when eaten, which can be used as raw materials for other things you need, including armor, crossbows, and crossbow bolts. Further, shell is a common request for strange moods and is a pain to produce on demand, so getting some early could save yourself a failed mood and a dead dwarf.
  • Booze: Dwarves drink twice as often as they eat, and they always want to down some alcohol if at all possible. They also like different kinds of alcohol. Bring twice as much booze as you bring food, and divide it evenly among the 4 types of alcohol you can take (dwarven wine, dwarven beer, dwarven ale, dwarven rum). Even more nifty, check the booze preferences of your 7 dwarves on embark and allocate the 4 kinds accordingly. Plump helmets (wine) and pig tails (ale) are fast growing, so you might take less of those, particularly if no dwarf has a preference for them. Too much booze is a real barrel hogger but this problem is far off. More booze is better 99% of the time.
  • Seeds: Your farms need to start somewhere. Definitely bring along plump helmet spawn (for food and booze) and pig tails (for cloth ropes and booze variety). How many you bring is dependent on how big you want your initial farms to be. 5 of each is plenty to feed your initial dwarves, and you will get more seeds any time the plants are consumed in any way except cooking. You may want to use the kitchen menu to disallow cooking of plump helmets until you have a healthy supply of seeds. Or, alternatively, just don't make any prepared meals until you've got a healthy supply of seeds. The other seed types require a lot more labor to use properly, and should probably wait until you have more dwarves in the fortress. Rock nuts cannot be purchased during embark, so you'll need to acquire them by harvesting shrubs around the cave river, and while you're doing that you'll likely find most of the other plants you didn't bring during embark.

Food and booze are stored in barrels, with each type in its own barrel. Since barrels have a 10-unit capacity, you can get a lot of free barrels by starting with a variety of foods in quantities which end in 1. Barrels are important and usually need wood to make (and otherwise cost 10 points each), so it's worth it to use this quirk while you can by starting with at least one unit of every type of food.

Seeds are stored in bags in multiples of 100, also by type, so it's not worth using the above trick as you would with barrels, especially since there's no easy way to remove the seeds from those bags if you need them for something else. Bags are cheap and easy to make and aren't as important as barrels, since making cloth bags is a good way to train up your clothier,

Domestic Animals[edit]

Not only dwarves live in your fortress, after all.

  • Dogs: Dogs are dwarf's best friend. They can be trained into hunting dogs or war dogs, require no food or maintenance, and make good pets for your dwarves. Always bring at least 2. Genders alternate when picking them up, so 2 will give you a breeding pair that will have more puppies freely. They make fantastic security early and fantastic dwarfsaving distractions later on. Dogs will happily lay down their lives to protect their master, which is huge when it means one of your best legendary dwarves is running away from an angry goblin.
  • Cats: Cats provide a wonderful function in controlling vermin in the fort. Vermin can make your dwarves extremely unhappy, so some cats are more or less a requirement. The largest problem with cats, however, is that their population is very difficult to control. Cats will choose their own owners (without the dwarf in question's consent), and after they've done so, you cannot order them butchered to control their numbers. The resulting population explosion can clutter hallways and murder your framerate. The best thing to do is to put all stray cats and kittens in a cage (one will hold them all). You can then butcher them without running the risk of the cats adopting dwarves before the butcher gets around to them, and if vermin start to get out of hand, you can always release one or two to help. If you want vermin control from the start, bring just ONE cat so it cannot breed and cause a population problem early. However, immigrants will very commonly bring their pet cats to the fortress, so if you can live with vermin early, you'll likely get a cat for free within a year. Or, be prepared to cage and slaughter them aggressively for meat and hides - that can work too.
  • Beasts of burden (horses, muskoxen, cows, donkeys, & mules): You get two of these for free with each wagon when you start the game - each one random as to sex and the five possible species (and mules don't breed). Unlike cats, dwarves must choose to adopt beasts of burden, which they won't do unless you let them to do so (in z->animals menu). That's fairly rare, so the vast majority of the beasts of burden in your fortress will stay strays. Many immigrants may bring useless animals with them though - as they are adopted already you can't butcher or cage them, but they can still help start a breeding program for meat, hides and bones. You can also trade later for whatever the caravans bring. All newborns belong to the fortress, so you can do what you want with them.

Once again, check the starting builds page for more ideas, read the pages linked above, and experiment. The learning process is half the fun in Dwarf Fortress; enjoy it!

Choosing a location[edit]

Unlike in later versions, you don't get to choose exactly where your new fortress will be located, but you instead have a few dozen predetermined locations to choose from. Each location provides you with a single outdoor biome.

Useful location traits[edit]

  • Forest: Many parts of the game are dependent on creating wood items, so if you choose a location without any trees, the game will be more fun (aka more complex) until you get access to tower-caps.
  • Water: Wounded dwarves require water to drink, so having a water source near your first fortress so your injured don't die of thirst will be helpful.
  • Animals: Some biomes will have fewer animals to hunt for meat to feed your dwarves, so tropical and temperate biomes might be simpler. However, bear in mind that not all animals are friendly, so it might be wise to do some research on an area that you're thinking about starting in to get a good handle on what type of creatures might populate it.


  • Temperature: How hot or cold it gets in the area. Can be Freezing, Cold, Temperate, Warm, Hot, and Scorching. In a nutshell, temperature extremes make it harder to get and keep a reliable source of water going. In Freezing and Scorching climates, your only source of water may come from the cave river. Temperate and Warm are both good places to start your first fort.
  • Amount of trees, and other vegetation: A general indication of the density of plant life in the area. For trees, this can be none, scarce, sparse, woodland, or heavily forested. For other plants, you can see none, scarce, moderate, and thick. Trees are chopped down for wood, which is a critical part of your fortress since you cannot trade for wood in this version. Totally treeless maps are quite a bit more difficult in the early going, so aim for sparse or greater trees. Other plants basically means shrubs that you can harvest food from with the plant gathering skill. Generally speaking, you will probably use this trick in the first year of your fortress, then never again. Plant density is not very important.
  • Surroundings: This gives you a basic image of the local fauna. The outskirts of a jungle might be fairly calm and safe, while the heart of that same jungle could be thick with vicious predators. In game terms, this will clue you in to the specific types animal types you can expect to encounter. This also clues you in to the alignment of the surrounding area. So, the two things this word tells you is how good or evil an area is, and how calm or savage an area is. The meaning of each of the descriptions is as follows:

Calm ... Savage
Good Serene Peaceful Protected Wilds
Neutral Calm Wilderness Untamed Wilds
Evil Sinister Haunted Terrifying

Good zones tend to have benign mythological creatures, like the unicorn (which can be incredibly dangerous, but only if provoked), while evil areas have a multitude of undead and some of the most vicious creatures in the game, which need no provocation to tear your dwarves limb from limb. For your first fortress, stick to a neutral or good alignment.


These are nearby civilizations that are capable of interacting with you. Other settlements are shown with various symbols on the regional map. The possible entries here are dwarves, humans, elves, and goblins.

  • Dwarves: You will want to be in contact with dwarves to get immigrants and a dwarven trading caravan. However, dwarves are, sometimes seemingly magically, everywhere. It is impossible to settle anywhere without dwarves, assuming there is at least one surviving dwarven civilization. Depending on how remote the area is, though, they might be marked as "No Trade", and without caravans to report your yearly progress you won't be able to get any nobles.
  • Humans: Humans are friendly and love trade. They send a guild representatives to let you request goods and are generally a huge boon to any fortress.
  • Elves: Elves are friendly but make poor trading partners, since their caravans are tiny and they are rather picky about what they will accept in trade. They can be very annoying, but are generally not dangerous unless you provoke them (e.g. by cutting down too many trees).
  • Goblins: Goblins are your main enemies in Dwarf Fortress, and will produce most of the aggression against your fort. They periodically send thieves to capture your children, and once your fortress gets large enough they will also send sieges. Trapped entrances, war dogs, and eventually a military will be needed to repel them.
  • Not appearing in this list are kobolds, petty thieves that are little more than irritations in most situations. If you are careless and let their thieves get away with a lot of stuff, though, they may upgrade to raiding parties of archers.

Location recap[edit]

For your first fortress, it's not entirely important. However, there are some general guidelines that can help you decide:

  • Try to get a temperate or warm climate, since extreme temperatures are more difficult.
  • Trees and vegetation are good for producing lumber and food for your fortress, but you don't need tons of them.
  • Neutral-aligned surroundings are best for your first fortress, but good-aligned surroundings are also OK. Avoid evil-aligned surroundings, however.
  • Humans and elves are friendly, so an area they have access to is nice.
  • Who cares? If you like what you see, go for it. You can always start over. And remember the DF motto: Losing is fun!

When done, hit e to embark.

Game on![edit]

We've chosen an area, selected our supplies, and we're ready to play. The game opens with your dwarves huddled around the wagon they used to get here.

Gameplay overview[edit]

This section will deal with the tasks you'll need to tackle in your first year of gameplay. These tasks are selecting a dig site, building workshops (and marking stockpiles), building lodging, starting farms, and trading.

Selecting a dig site[edit]

In this version, you will find your wagons parked next to a cliff face, so the most direct way to start is to pick a spot and dig into it. To start digging, hit designations, then dig. Move your cursor using the arrow keys to where you want to dig, and hit ENTER, then move your cursor over to the place you want the digging to end. Mining designations are rectangular, so you can go both left and right and up and down as you're designating area. This tells your dwarves to cut into a wall and hollow it out, sometimes leaving behind stones for your masons to use. These hollowed out areas are where you'll build everything you need.

When designing your main entrance, be mindful that as many as 200 dwarves could be coming and going eventually, and that goblins are going to want in at some point or another. A 3-wide entrance corridor should suffice at first - it is wide enough to accept a good amount of traffic and caravans, but narrow enough to use diabolical traps and designs to kill lots of goblins.

Once you've decided where you want your main entrance, it's time to move your supplies over there. We will have to set them outside for now, but we'll want to move them indoors as soon as we can. Press stockpiles, and designate areas for food, wood, and refuse. You can designate all sorts of stockpiles from this screen, so hit t and poke around in the custom stockpile settings for a little bit, figuring out what you can do. Do NOT designate a stone stockpile for now. It will eat up a lot of time unnecessarily. While we're organizing our supplies, deconstruct your wagon(s) by pressing query, putting the cursor over your wagon, and pressing deconstruct (x). A dwarf with the carpenter labor enabled will come by and pull the wagon apart, turning it into 3 logs. The wagon is useless to you, so there's no reason to not do this. Some people prefer to wait until the wagon has been emptied before deconstructing it. In order to see the contents of a building, use the t command and scroll over the wagon.

Plan for your finished, 200-dwarf fortress right from the get-go. It's very easy to dig out new area, but it's very HARD to go back and redo something the way it should have been from the start. A 3-wide hallway might seem good early on, but for high-traffic areas you'll want to make the hallways as wide as possible, ideally up to 6 tiles in width (since any more may result in a cave-in).

Building workshops[edit]

Time to get some work done! Taking in raw materials and spitting out stuff that's useful: that's the name of the game for workshops. You should start putting down workshops as soon as you have raw materials. You'll need to get basic living provisions like beds, tables, chairs, chests, and the like down for not only your first 7 dwarves, but the immigrants that could come at any time as soon as possible, so you can't waste any time.

Stone will show up from your miners digging. Once you have an area with a decent amount of stone, you should get a mason's workshop built in the area. Check the workshop page for full details if you have problems building one. The keyboard command is:

  • build order
  • the workshops sub-menu
  • mason's workshop.

Once the workshop has been built by a dwarf with the masonry labor, you can query the workshop to find out what it's current orders are, add or cancel orders, set an existing order to repeat, order the workshop dismantled, and other tasks.

Add orders for a door, a table, and a chair. Stone chairs will show up as thrones in the orders. They are exactly the same. Then set each order to repeat. This workshop will now make doors, tables, and chairs until you tell it to stop. You'll need a lot of these, so that's OK.

Also build a carpenter's workshop near the wood stockpile you designated earlier, and tell it to make beds. Put this on repeat, also. The wood you brought along, even after disassembling your wagon, won't last long. If you brought along a woodcutter, now would be a good time to get him to chop down some trees. Hit designations, and then hit chop down trees. Chopping designations work exactly like mining designations, but it will only highlight trees in the rectangle you give it. Don't worry about chopping a ton of wood right now; trees don't go anywhere fast, so you can always come back for more.

While making workshops anywhere the material happens to be works fine right now, you will want a more organized way of doing it later. Check out the workshop logistics page for ideas on how to set it up. After you do get things set up, be sure to move your stockpiles underground; above-ground stockpiles are vulnerable to thieves and are usually a long way away. Don't be afraid to tear down workshops; they are built quickly and easily, and tearing them down does absolutely nothing harmful, even returning the materials used in their construction. Be aware that workshops create noise when they are in use, which can disturb your dwarves' sleep, so don't build them close to any beds.

Building lodging[edit]

With commodities coming out, it's time to set up places where they can be used.

Tell your miners to dig out a large (5x5 minimum) room to become your barracks. The barracks is essentially a communal sleeping room where dwarves without their own apartment can come to crash. It is also the place where your military will come to spar once you start recruiting soldiers. Since your military hangs out in the barracks a lot, it's a good idea to put it near the main entrance of the fortress. If thieves stumble in, they are likely to meet a very grisly end as they bump into a pair of dwarves in the middle of combat training, and later, in case of a more major attack, they are more likely to be closer to where you need them. You do not need too many beds in the barracks right now. Beds in the barracks are public, and dwarves have their own schedules, so the entire fortress will not sleep at once.

After the barracks is dug, tell your dwarves to build a bed. Once you select a bed to place, your cursor will come up, turning red on an unacceptable location and green on an acceptable location. Unacceptable locations will give you a short reason as to why they're unacceptable. Again, just stack beds against one wall of the barracks; 5 beds will be fine to start out with. After indicating the placement of the beds, your dwarves will haul them over and install them. Once they are installed, query a bed, then make a room. Use the + and - keys to size the room that will be considered the barracks. All beds within the flashing diamond will be considered public, so there's no need to do this more than once. Fill up the whole 5x5 area (build doors if you need to cordon off the area to make it a nice square) and hit ENTER. You've created your first room! A room status screen shows up. Be sure to hit b to confirm that it is a barracks. If you don't, the first dwarf that sleeps in this room will claim it as his or her apartment, which isn't what we want.

The barracks will keep your dwarves from sleeping on the floor, which would make them unhappy. As the game goes on, though, it is a very good idea to move dwarves into their own apartments. They get much happier for it, it keeps traffic down, and provides you with some more diabolical options such as locking a troublemaker in his room by querying the door and locking (forbidding) it. See the bedroom design page for ideas on how to set up your apartments.

With bedding handled, we need to set up a dining room, which will double as our meeting area. Dwarves will eat in their apartment sometimes if you install a table and chair in it, but mostly, dwarves prefer to eat in a public dining hall with a table all to themselves. As the meeting area, dwarves will also show up there whenever they have nothing better to do (have 'No Job') to socialize and kill time. It is a pretty high-traffic area, so be sure to use double-doors as the entrance and exit. It should again be fairly large (25 tiles minimum; this could be 5x5, 4x6, whatever suits your fancy). Once it's dug out, build tables along the walls, and then build chairs next to the tables, one per table. Once a table is laid out, query the table and make a room out of it. Fill up the dining hall area, and hit ENTER. Be sure to hit h to set it as a meeting area, and you're done here.

As with most kinds of furniture, dwarves can walk through tiles containing tables, chairs and beds. The most notable exception to this are statues.

Starting farms[edit]

The basics of life are in place! Now it's just a matter of getting the farms in place to make sure life goes on.

Farming is the most reliable source of food in the game, and the only way to be sure you're going to feed a large population. The catch is, we can only farm on mud, and irrigation can be tricky to set up if you're doing it for the first time. The easiest way to set up a farming area is to dig out a room next to the cave river such that the seasonal floods can reach into it.

Once you have some mud, you can build a farm plot. Use u, m, k, and j to resize your plot to the size you want; 3x3 should be plenty to start out, and you will max out at roughly 30 to 40 total squares being used for food and booze production to support a full fortress. This changes some depending on the skill of your growers, but it's a fair guideline. After placing the farmland, a dwarf with the Farming (Fields) labor enabled will come by and prepare it for use. After it's done, query the new field and decide on your crops for each season. The crop display will show every crop that can possibly be planted there - it does not necessarily mean you have seeds to plant. Plump helmets are best for your first field, since they can be brewed to booze, eaten raw, and cooked. If you find some seasons have red letters, that is because it is too late in the season to plant that particular crop. You will have to pick it up in the spring of the following year. Be aware that Dwarf Fortress will NOT give you an error if you attempt to plant something you have no seeds of. It will give you an error if you run out of seeds after starting planting, but not if you simply have none to begin with. If you can't remember what kind of seeds you have, check around your wagon and your designated food stockpile using k for a seeds bag. Hit Enter when you find it to inspect the bag and see what kind of seeds it carries. Once you have a bookkeeper you will be able to find it more easily using the z key and the "Stocks" menu, but right now your stocks will lack the precision to use the "zoom" key.

Eventually, you will want to be planting many, many different kinds of crops. Dimple cups are great later on, because they produce dimple dye, which can be used to increase the value of the clothing your fortress produces. Cave wheat can be used to provide fodder for luxury prepared meals, and to make more brewing fodder. As your fortress grows and you need more and more luxuries to keep everyone happy, diversifying can only help you.


Now that you've given your dwarves a place to sleep and avoided the possibility of starvation, you can start thinking about the finer things in life.

First, we'll take care of a few organizational considerations, to make trading easier. Our carpenter will take care of this, since he's done making beds. Order up 2 or 3 buckets. Buckets are used to carry water to injured, bedridden dwarves from water sources and are one of the requirements to building a well. Then, get to work stamping out some bins. Bins are used to store a lot of non-perishable items in the same square; they work much the same as barrels, but barrels are used on perishables like food and booze. You'll need a LOT of bins, but for the moment 5 or so will do. You will also need to make a lot of barrels, but since you brought a number of them with you, you can hold off a bit. Both of these can be made from metal as well, but producing them from wood is far more economical.

Since you have all this stone lying around, let's put it to use. Build a Craftsdwarf's workshop, assign one of your dwarves to stonecrafting. Order this workshop to build rock crafts of all sorts repeatedly. Stone mugs are a good trade good - you get three mugs from one stone, adding up to 30☼ at the start. Since your stonecrafter will level up relatively quickly (and if you have several dwarves working on stonecrafts) this can quickly add up to several thousand coins worth of goods.

Now that you've got some goods to trade, we'll need to build a trade Depot. Build this somewhere easily accessible from all edges of the map, but close to (or inside) your entrance. Trade depots require architecture and a mason, assuming you make it out of your copious quantities of stone. Many times you will not have an building designer on embark, so you will have to assign one to get the architecture phase of the depot done.

In the long term, you'll want your trade depot to be in a defensible spot. As it is 5x5 squares, and requires a 3-square wide path for Human wagons to get in and out of it, you'll eventually want to spend some time thinking about its defense.

The first caravan will come in your first autumn: the dwarven caravan from the mountainhomes. When it comes, the game will pause, you'll be notified, and the screen will center on the caravan. If you do not have a depot, they will wait on the edge of the map for you to build a depot they can get to.

After the caravan is on its way, you'll need to fill the depot with things to trade. Hit query over the depot and press g to start moving supplies. Use the arrow keys to navigate the trade goods window - there are no categories or filters in this version, so you'll want to make sure your trade goods are stored in bins so you don't have to spend too much time sifting through every stone you've created while digging the fortress, which is a huge pain. Press ENTER on the bins to mark them for trading, and some dwarves will come along to haul the bins to the depot. Once everything has been brought to the depot, query the depot and start trading.

On the screen that comes up, the left side shows the trader's goods, while the right side shows your own. Use the arrow keys to navigate and ENTER to mark something for trading. If you do not have a broker, you will not be able to see the values of everything, so you'll have to guess. Fortunately, merchants in this version are very patient, so you can make as many trade attempts as you want until you get one that the caravan accepts. One fun note is that raw materials cost the same from merchants as they do at the embark screen; so you already know that plump helmets are 4☼, most meat is 2☼, and so on. It's difficult to know the value of your crafts, and some things must be bought as a package deal (you cannot buy seeds alone, you must also buy the bag they come in), though, so the first few trading sessions can be difficult.

On your first year, you're probably pretty light on things to trade with, so start small. Extra food can be useful if your farms are lagging behind. Maybe a barrel or two. Sell what goods you have and don't fret about it any longer.

Next year, after you get some immigrants you can think about exploring other kinds of industry as well, like the furniture industry, meat industry, or clothing industry, but this is a great place to start.

The last element to trading is the liaison, who will want to meet with one of your nobles to work out your requests for next year. By making a request of the caravan, you are essentially promising to pay more (up to double the normal price) for various things, which entices the traders to bring more of those things. The Dwarven outpost liaison only allows requesting extra anvils, picks, and seeds, while the Human guild representative allows requesting a wider variety of goods (leather, cloth, crafts, food, alcohol, livestock, and a few other assorted items). Look around, explore, and experiment. That's half the fun of the game.

The Human guild representative will also tell you what they want from you, with the same deal: they'll pay more for it if you provide it. Unfortunately, they usually only want things like weapons. Many players simply ignore these requests and make the same things they always build. Diplomatic relations will not suffer at all.

Basic Defenses[edit]

Main article: Defense

While not a major concern at first, it is always a good idea to think about how you are going protect your dwarves. From picking your location to establishing your fortress, always think about how you will defend your new home. Failure to incorporate this into your fortress can cause serious issues down the road. The good news is that it is relatively easy to setup basic defenses with only a few dwarves.

When designing your defenses here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Limiting Access - The more ways there are into your fortress, the harder it is to defend. Most fortresses should have only one way to get in/out. This is usually an entrance hallway or some form of gate. The further your enemies have to travel to get to your dwarves, the more traps and military personnel you can put in their way to stop them from killing your dwarves. When designing an entrance system, make sure to keep in mind that your own dwarves will most likely pass by these defenses on their way to gather wood, plants and the spoils of the battlefield.
  • Controlled isolation - Sometimes, you will need to cut yourself off from the world. This normally happens when you suddenly find yourself under siege without an adequate military to defend yourself. Since all creatures move the same way, simply putting a bridge or a line of floodgates at your entrance is a good way to cut off a siege while you build up your military. The key here is that you can control when to isolate your fortress. Do keep in mind that you will not be able to get migrants or caravans while isolated.
  • Ranged Defense - While rare in the early part of the game, attacking parties will bring along a few archers. The thing to keep in mind that archers can shoot over moats. The easiest way to defend against archers is to use walls. Do your best to avoid long straight corridors since enemies can kill your dwarves as they either run away or run towards the archer. Adding a few corners go a long way in making enemy archers less dangerous.
  • Stopping the invasion - You've planned your entrance, and setup a way to isolate your fortress, now it is time to stop the invading force. This is usually done with either traps or military. The easiest way to defend your fortress is with traps. Since they don't move, you need to build a bottleneck or choke point to herd invaders over the traps. If you followed the directions above, you should already have a bottleneck in place. Your fortress entrance is a place that everyone must cross. Put a bunch of stone fall or cage traps here and you are ready to go. As a rule of thumb, any space that is 2-5 squares wide should be considered as a place to setup a bottleneck.

The future[edit]

After this point, you'll be able to start exploring the other intricacies of the game. Here is a list of some other gameplay commands which have not been covered: