40d:Technical tricks

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This article is about an older version of DF.


In order to configure Dwarf Fortress to your liking you need to edit a text-file containing the settings, namely init.txt, or the init file.

Locating your configuration file[edit]

Your configuration file is called init.txt and is stored in the [installation folder]\data\init folder ([installation folder] is the folder where you installed Dwarf Fortress).

Editing the configuration file[edit]

You can edit the file with any text editor of your choice, Notepad works very well.


There are a number of settings in Dwarf Fortress that you can alter to your liking:


  • [SOUND:ON]

Change this to OFF in order to turn off the sound and music.

(Note: This will completely disable the sound/music, you won't be able to adjust the volume through the esc menu. It might give you a slight FPS boost, though.)


  • [VOLUME:255]

Sets the default volume.


  • [INTRO:ON]

Change this to OFF in order to skip the intro movies.


[WINDOWED:PROMPT] Can be YES, NO or PROMPT. YES sets the game to Windowed mode.

Embark options[edit]


Set this to YES if you want the game to automatically create a save on embark


Set this to YES if you want the game to start paused whenever you load a fortress.


Setting this to YES will make the game always ask if you are sure you want to embark in a spot.

  • [SHOW_EMBARK_RIVER:FINDER] : underground rivers
  • [SHOW_EMBARK_POOL:FINDER] : underground pools
  • [SHOW_EMBARK_M_PIPE:FINDER] : magma pipes
  • [SHOW_EMBARK_M_POOL:FINDER] : magma pools
  • [SHOW_EMBARK_PIT:FINDER] : bottomless pits
  • [SHOW_EMBARK_OTHER:FINDER] : Hidden Fun Stuff
  • [SHOW_EMBARK_TUNNEL:FINDER] : tunnels constructed by dwarves, like a road but underground

These can be set to FINDER to only appear in the site finder, to ALWAYS to be shown on the local screen as well, or to NO if you don't want to be able to find something even in the site finder.

The game window[edit]


Set this to yes to keep the DF window on top of your other windows.

  • [WINDOWEDX:640]
  • [WINDOWEDY:300]
  • [FONT:curses_640x300.bmp]

This is the size and font for windowed mode. You can alter this however you want but please note that changing these values does not change the number of tiles displayed at once. To modify the number of tiles displayed at once you need to modify the GRID values in the next section.

In order to keep aspect ratio, multiply the value of WINDOWEDY with 2.133333333 to get the correct WINDOWEDX. You can also multiply WINDOWEDX with 0.46875 to get the correct WINDOWEDY value.

You should change the font to curses_800x600.bmp if you increase the windowed size considerably. Despite the name, the font works both with 800x600 and 800x300 aspect ratios.

Running in a 1280x600 window, using the 'curses_640x300.bmp' font, will give an evenly stretched font, and an almost square aspect ratio. For an even more square aspect ratio, try 1600x600 (or 800x300) with the 'curses_800x600.bmp' font.

  • [FULLFONT:curses_800x600.bmp]

The same as above, only for fullscreen mode. Be sure you only use modes supported by your monitor!

There are also several custom tilesets available on the wiki.

The look of the game[edit]


Set this to YES and the tiles will not be stretched, but will instead be centralized and then surrounded by black space.


Set this to NO in order to only have periods (.) as ground tiles. If set to YES the game will randomly use ,.`' to represent ground.

  • [GRID:80:25]
  • [FULLGRID:80:25]

These are the dimensions in tiles of the display grid. Minimum x is 80. Minimum y is 25. Maximums are 200. The default windowed font has tiles that are 8x12 pixels, for instance, so for a 80x25 grid, you use a 640x300 window, and for a 125x50 grid, you'd use a 1000x600 window. With the curses_800x600.bmp font, the tiles are 10x12, so with a window size of 800x600, a grid size of 80x50 works nicely. FULLGRID is used in full screen mode, whether graphics is on or not.

  • [GRAPHICS_FONT:curses_square_16x16.bmp]
  • [GRAPHICS_FULLFONT:curses_square_16x16.bmp]

Graphics info, most of it as above. Set GRAPHICS to YES to turn it all on. This will use the "raw/graphics" folder for tile information. Currently this is limited to whatever creature graphics you have downloaded. The game comes with a few pictures to demonstrate.


Use these settings to configure how nicknames are displayed in each mode of the game. REPLACE_FIRST replaces the first name of the dwarf with its nickname, CENTRALIZE puts the nickname between the first and last name of the dwarf and REPLACE_ALL replaces the original name completely with the nickname.

  • [SKY:178:3:0:0]

This controls the display of areas that are far below outside. The format is SKY:<character>:<foreground color>:<background color>:<brightness>. The <character> can be either an ASCII tile number or a character in quotes, like '#'.

  • [CHASM:250:0:0:1]

As above, for inside/subterranean areas.


If you'd like your engravings to start off looking the same (you can toggle them on individual later), set this to YES.


Set this to YES to display fluids as numbers indicating depth.

  • [FPS:NO]

Change this to YES if you want to see an FPS counter.


All the color values at the end of the init.txt file is used to control how the game represents that particular color. If you for instance alter [BLACK_R], [BLACK_G] and [BLACK_B] to 255 the color black will be represented by white in the game.

You can replace your colors with any scheme you would like. There are a variety of pre-made schemes available on the color schemes page.


  • [KEY_HOLD_MS:150]

This controls the number of milliseconds that must pass before a held key sends a repeat press to the game. Increase this if the game seems to repeat your instructions even if you only (intended to) press the key once.

Recent versions of the game have been tweaked to ignore repeat presses in most situations (outside of menus and scrolling), so this isn't so important now.

If you do need to adjust this, do so in small increments. A change of 25-50 should be more than enough. Any more and you slow down your scrolling considerably.

  • [MORE:YES]

This controls "more" in adventure mode. If MORE is set to NO, all announcements will be skipped. DISPLAY_LENGTH controls how many lines are printed before it gives you the "more" prompt.


Change this to NO if you don't want to have the mouse involved at all.

Game Changers and Performance Enhancers[edit]

For more detail on how to boost game speed through editing init.txt, see Maximizing framerate.


This is an option that sets the game to only refresh parts of the screens that need it. This can greatly increase your fps, but only seems to function on certain systems. Using a higher value than 2 may be necessary for it to work (many players report it working when it's set one higher than their [G_FPS_CAP]). Seems to work better on Macs than on other systems.


Do exactly what they say, turn on or off temp, weather, economy, invaders, caveins, and artifacts. It has been suggested to turn off Temperature and Weather for increased performance, as both do have every-frame calculations (temperatures are flows!)

  • [PATH_COST:1:2:5:25]

Change these numbers to set the default weights for traffic designations. If you make the last numbers too large, pathfinding might lag. The format is (PATH_COST:<high>:<normal>:<low>:<restricted>).

These can be changed in-game, this is just the default setting for new forts.

  • [FPS_CAP:100]

Sets the maximum frame refresh rate for the game.

  • [G_FPS_CAP:50]

Determines the rate at which changes in game state are updated to screen. This does not directly effect the underlying engine's actions (governed by FPS). However, lowering this value (say, to 10) may result in improved performance, but will lead to a choppier visual appearance. Systems with older video cards are likely to be most affected by this change.

Resolution to Grid Ratios[edit]

Taken from [1]

Character Size
Resolution 8x8 12x12 16x16
800x600 100 x 75 66 x 50 50 x 37
1024x768 128 x 96 85 x 64 64 x 48
1152x864 144 x 108 96 x 72 72 x 54
1280x960 160 x 120 106 x 80 80 x 60
1600x1200 200 x 150 133 x 100 100 x 75
1280x1024 (5:4) 160 x 128 106 x 85 80 x 64
1440x900 (16:10) 180 x 75 135 x 56.25 90 x 37.5
1680x1050 (16:10) 210 x 131 140 x 87 105 x 65
1920x1200 (16:10) 240 x 150 160 x 100 120 x 75
1920x1080 (16:9) 240 x 135 160 x 90 120 x 68

Note that italic numbers indicate a number past the limit 200.

Editing Creatures[edit]

Check the raws for further information.