|This article is about the current version of DF.
Note that some content may still need to be updated.
Dwarf Fortress Classic is completely free. But there are paid premium versions available through Steam and Itch.io. The developer does appreciate donations, but a cut of the cost also goes to the team if the premium version is purchased.
See some sample screenshots.
Download and Installation will help get you started.
There are some differences between the classic and premium versions. The main difference between both versions is that the classic version only uses the ASCII version, though Graphics sets continue to be available for free. The premium version has two options graphically, the original ASCII tileset and 2D static sprites.
The game has a very steep learning curve, partly due to its CP437 graphics (code page 437, the character set of the original IBM PC), but also due to the fact that it is one of the most complex games ever released. That said, the curve can be overcome with time, documentation from this wiki, help from people on the forums, and plenty of Beer.
Graphics sets are available for the classic version which make the graphics more intuitive.
Dwarf Fortress has two major game modes:
- Dwarf Fortress Mode: In this construction and management simulation mode, you manage a number of dwarves whose task is to create and defend a fortress.
- Adventurer Mode: In this mode, you explore the world in a fashion similar to Rogue, NetHack, or Angband, completing quests and killing monsters in an open world note however, this feature isn't available in 50.05. However, KitFox has said that the feature will be implemented in the future.
and a third non-game mode:
An important part of Dwarf Fortress is that it creates a randomly generated, persistent world for you to play in. (The world is only "on" when you are actually playing in it, however.) When you die in either the adventure or fortress modes, your next game will be in the same world, albeit a few days later. You can visit your old fortress, or get revenge on the monster that killed your adventurer. If your fortress or your adventurer had done anything of particular note, there's a chance that the game will generate a legend for them, which you can read about in the legends section.
The first alpha version of Dwarf Fortress was released on the 8th of August 2006, after nearly 4 years of development (which began in October of 2002). Note that while Dwarf Fortress is technically still in the alpha stage of development, it is fully playable, and definitely enjoyable.
There are some historical milestone versions of DF which you might hear of and wonder about:
- 0.23.130.23a, the final "2D" version, most often recognized for being the origin of the legendary saga of Boatmurdered (which actually began in version 0.22.110.22f, predating the addition of dyes and proper temperature handling, but switched to newer versions as they were released). It was very different from the current version - for example, fortress mode had no z-axis and did not permit diagonal movement (adventurer mode supported both of these), and as you dug deeper into the mountain (always to the right) you always encountered an underground river, a chasm, a magma river, hidden fun stuff, and finally adamantine. The critters were also very mean back then, especially elephants.
- 0.28.181.40d, most often referred to as "40d" (which only indicated the number of "bloat" elements implemented and the number of bugfix builds), was current up to April 2010. It didn't have guaranteed magma, had much less interesting underground stuff, the military was much simpler. 0.31 took a long time, so a lot of people are familiar with 40d and there's much wiki-text written on it.
- 0.31.25 introduced the concept of burrows, an immensely revamped military and healthcare system, the cavern layers as well as a significant number of new animals.
- 0.34.11 encompasses the Caravan arc and introduced vampires and werewolves into fortress mode as well as necromancers, undead sieges and evil weather.
- 0.40.01 introduced "world activation" (the world outside your fort continues to progress as you play), multi-tile trees, climbing/jumping, etc. It was the first version of the current wiki namespace: DF2014.
- 50.01 marked the official release of Dwarf Fortress on Steam and Itch.io, bringing with it an official graphical set.
- 50.11 is the current version.
If you are interested in learning more about the history of the development of the game, you can look at the development log.