DF2014:Sample Starting Builds

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This article is about the current version of DF.

Main article: Starting build

This is a collection of starting builds (or embark setups) which individual players find useful and generally worth trying.

These can be found in embark_profiles.txt. Each one begins with a [PROFILE] tag. To use a raw starting build, just copy the text and paste it at the end of the file.

Dwarf Fortress Starter Pack[edit]

The Dwarf Fortress Starter Pack includes a large number of basic embark profiles, including scenarios adapted from the Masterwork mod. If you don't want to download the whole pack, you can also find many of the profiles at https://pastebin.com/vsQgfWNH

Nagidal's Allrounder[edit]

Recommended for newbies who want to play a defensive embark on sites with mild conditions (warm or temperate climate, easy access to drinking water, trees and stone).


According to the dwarves' attributes you assign:

Make one of five non-miners at least an adequate Appraiser (the one with good memory or intuition).


Keep all the standard stuff, sell some splints, crutches and quivers to buy a couple of cats and a dog or two. (The cats will eat the vermin trying to eat your food supplies.) You can also sell one of the battle axes or the anvil to buy even more stock or some more drinks and food if you wish.

Some dwarven civilizations start with a steel anvil, rather than an iron one, which will reduce the amount of points you can use for the dwarves' skills and items. In this case, sell the anvil and rely on merchants bringing you one.

First-year roadmap[edit]

We deliberately didn't take any cooks or brewers. You can pick both from one of the first migration waves. Also, we don't have any military to start with. The idea is that our mechanic and carpenter will build us many wooden cage traps which will easily deal with the first ambushes, maybe even the first siege. Any useless migrants of the later waves will become our military.

Your aims for the first year are: farming, traps, trade, healthcare (ordered by importance)


Start farming as soon as possible. Try to harvest the spring crop of your first year. Be careful not to produce too much food. Be sure to have some barrels or large pots reserved for drinks rather than stuffed with plump helmets. Thirty tiles of farm plots are more than enough to start with. If you really want to farm more, try pig tails and get the textile industry up and running once you have more dwarves.


Build a mechanic's workshop soon and let him churn out about 2–3 dozens of mechanisms. Your carpenter should produce roughly as much wooden cages before autumn. When you build traps, build them in a one tile wide meandring corridor—preferably outdoors. There should be no way around this corridor for the enemies. Use raising bridges to direct the flow of all enemies heading for your fort's entrance through this trap corridor. Lower the bridges to allow your dwarves fast access to the fort's entrance bypassing the trap corridor. You should have at least ten traps up and ready by autumn. To deal with a siege in the later years without fighting you better have 40 of these traps ready.


Make one of your first immigrants a stone crafter and let him make stone crafts 24/7. You will need them as trade goods. Textile industry is also a good starter. If your farms produce enough pig tails, go for it and ship some fine socks to your mountain homes.


Before you start thinking of having some military, build a well and a hospital.

ELLIOTTCABLE's Twerking Band[edit]

This is my tweaked alternative to Tatter's build.

ELLIOTTCABLE's Twerking Band™
Primary skill(s) Secondary skill(s) Tertiary skill(s) Relevant attributes*
Commander / Broker:
This will primarily be your mining dwarf, for the first few months of the game. Train up that pickaxe skill! Once your first traders arrive, this dwarf will act as your broker. Later on, they'll be your first military-oriented dwarf, leading your army to Greatness™!
  • Although they don't start with any mining skill, they'll level that up extremely quickly after your embarkation.
  • At the moment, we don't really know what social skills affect your broker's effectiveness to what extent. Given that the only skills we know affect his performance are Appraiser and Judge of intent, I've chosen to focus on those two, instead of shot-gunning all the social skills.
Miner: 0 Appraiser: 3
Judge of Intent: 2
Armor user: 5 Endurance ‘slow to tire’, ‘indefatigable’
Kinesthetic ‘sense of the position of own body’
Spatial ‘feel for the surrounding space’
Analytical ‘a sharp intellect’
Intuition, Memory
Strength, Toughness, Willpower
Carpenter / Brewer:
Getting everybody properly smashed, and then providing the beds for them to sleep on. What a considerate dwarf-gal.
  • Keeping your dwarves in drink, and building all of the furniture, are rather important (and time-intensive!) tasks. Try and keep this dwarf focused on his tasks; if you can afford the dwarf-time, get others to do the hauling for the Carpenter.
Carpenter: 5 Brewer: 5 Endurance ‘slow to tire’, ‘indefatigable’
Kinesthetic ‘sense of the position of own body’
Spatial ‘feel for the surrounding space’
Agility, Strength
Primary skill(s) Secondary skill(s) Tertiary skill(s) Relevant attributes*
Farmer / Jeweler:
Generating riches for your dwarves' happiness (and for trading with the outside world) is generally a low-priority task that can be done in batches. That's a good thing, because farming is absolutely crucial; and one slip-up can cost you a harvest.
  • Make sure this dwarf, as well, stays on-task. Disable their hauling labors (except perhaps for ‘food’), and make sure they get to the fields on-time when the seasons hit.
  • I chose Gem Setting over the Gem Cutting from Tatter's build, because the skill-level in Cutting has no effect on value; whereas high skill-levels in Setting add value to the final product.
Grower: 5 Gem setter: 5 Kinesthetic ‘sense of the position of own body’
Spatial ‘feel for the surrounding space’
Creativity, Focus
Agility, Strength
This is going to be one of your more idle dwarves at first (at least, we hope!) This one's a good candidate for all the hauling / wood-cutting labors that you've probably disabled on your other dwarves at first. (Poor Doc, kept running around doing the menial labour for everybody else!)
  • Your record-keeping doctor will need an office to do their best work. Why not tack one on your hospital? :P
Diagnostician: 5 Bone doctor: 1
Surgeon: 1
Suturer: 1
Wound dresser: 1
Record keeper: 1 Analytical ‘a sharp intellect’
Empathy ‘an ability to read emotions’
Endurance ‘slow to tire’, ‘indefatigable’
Kinesthetic ‘sense of the position of own body’
Spatial ‘feel for the surrounding space’
Intuition, Memory
Agility, Strength, Toughness, Willpower
Primary skill(s) Secondary skill(s) Tertiary skill(s) Relevant attributes*
Armorsmith / Cook:
Until your food-economy really gets up steam, and your miners manage to strike metals, this dwarf might be a little bored. They're another good candidate for temporary hauling duty.
  • Once you do have access to metals, make sure to disable this one's hauling! This is too valuable a dwarf to waste on that, and should be either pumping out metal goods, or occasionally cooking lavish meals, at all times.
Armorsmith: 5 Cook: 5 Analytical ‘a sharp intellect’
Endurance ‘slow to tire’, ‘indefatigable’
Kinesthetic ‘sense of the position of own body’
Spatial ‘feel for the surrounding space’
Agility, Strength
Mason / Architect:
In general, this dwarf will need to be kept free to immediately respond to any building requests you may have. Especially with an early fortress, your Architect will be doing basically nothing but running around, constructing buildings.
  • This dwarf, specifically, will need the stone hauling labor enabled; that way, it can both plan and construct many buildings all by its lonesome.
Mason: 5 Building designer: 5 Analytical ‘a sharp intellect’
Endurance ‘slow to tire’, ‘indefatigable’
Kinesthetic ‘sense of the position of own body’
Spatial ‘feel for the surrounding space’
Agility, Strength
Weaponsmith / Mechanic:
As mechanisms are crucial to any functioning fortress, you should have this dwarf pumping them out at the earliest opportunity. Once you have enough of them stockpiled, and until you strike metal, you can have the Mechanic contribute to your general hauling / maintenance tasks.
Weaponsmith: 5 Mechanic: 5 Analytical ‘a sharp intellect’
Endurance ‘slow to tire’, ‘indefatigable’
Kinesthetic ‘sense of the position of own body’
Spatial ‘feel for the surrounding space’
Agility, Strength
Intensive skills: Skills which can easily consume most of a dwarf's available time
Moodable skills: Skills which can generate a strange mood

Post-embark preparation:[edit]

As soon as your dwarves reach the site, you can follow these steps to optimally configure your (currently) few dwarven resources.

  1. Turn on the mining labor for your Commander (u, select dwarf, c, p-l, select labor, return).
  2. Choose at least one (temporary) secondary miner; probably either the Doctor or Carpenter. Enable Mining for them as well.
  3. Immediately disable the various Hauling labors for your most important dwarves, that have better things to be doing (definitely the Architect, and probably the Farmer).
  4. Set the Commander as your militia commander and broker in the nobles screen. (They'll probably already be your expedition leader, but you can't control that.) Set the Doctor as your chief medical dwarf.
  5. Choose a couple of the more tough and/or strong dwarves, and add them to a squad with your Commander. If you get attacked before anything is really prepared, you can follow these ‘simple’ instructions.
  6. The exact order of initial tasks you undertake can vary on circumstances; but you have the skills in this set to do all of the following important tasks:
    • Plant some underground farms with the seeds you brought (right?).
    • Start cooking lavish meals from any food you brought.
    • Get a Carpenter's workshop or Mason's workshop built, whichever material is more abundant for you; start churning out high-quality furniture for the basics of your fortress (chairs, tables, beds.)
    • If you chose to DIY your embarkation (i.e. didn't bring any pre-built weapons or picks or axes with you), get your Wood furnace, Smelter, and Metalsmith's forge built to start pumping out those items. You may temporarily enable the Wood burning and Furnace operating labors on one of your dwarves (Doctor, or one of the Armorsmith / Weaponsmith, are good choices for this).
    • Get your Mechanic's workshop up, and start churning out the dozens of Mechanisms you'll need to construct all the trap-related items one needs for a functioning, safe fortress.
  7. As soon as you can (i.e. after you receive otherwise-useless immigrants), disable all of the hauling labors for most of the rest of these dwarves, as they should be forming the backbone of your economy.
  8. Ditto military duties: all of the above, save the Commander, are industry-oriented. Remove them from your military squad(s) as soon as more suitable fighters arrive or can be trained.


  • (*) I've cross-referenced the relevant attributes here only as a reference. Don't stress too much over matching each dwarf's attributes to the attributes listed here in minute detail ... just try and avoid making an ‘abysmally clumsy’ dwarf your Carpenter :P
  • () Mining is so easy to train that it's not worth spending at-embark levels on; nonetheless, it is both an intensive task, and the primary (intensive) labor of the Commander.
  • As with the original build, I try to optimized such that each starting dwarf has A) only one moodable skill, and B) basically only one ‘time-intensive’ labor. (Only the Mechanic has two moodable labors. I couldn't figure out a way around this.)
  • This makes no provision for immediate defense, other, perhaps, than the Commander. If you're embarking to a dangerous location, this may not be the best build. :P
  • As with Tatter's build, the caveat about Armor User applies: we're simply spending our extra points on our Commander, trying to make them a better combatant. If you prefer to give them a specific weapon skill, go ahead. (The advantage of Armor User is being able to later promote them to Sheriff, without them being über-deadly to your criminals.) Similarly, it's debatable whether Armor User (which basically makes them faster in that full suit of steel armor that you're embarking with (right?)) or Shield User (which makes their blocks more successful) is a better choice.
  • Leatherworking, Bowyer, or Clothier may be almost as desirable as Armorsmith or Weaponsmith, in some circumstances. If it applies to you (map with few metals, but may trees, for instance), you may consider those as replacements.
  • Similarly, Engraver is an extremely valuable skill for engendering happiness in your dwarves; I decided on Mason over it, simply because it's less wasteful to train Engraver up (have them follow your miners around, engraving all your exploratory-mining tunnels, before they go and engrave your living quarters) after embark. However, it's still worth considering switching them out.
  • Dwarf Builder for OS X hasn't been updated to v0.40 yet, so I haven't tested this there. I'm not sure if enough has changed to make any of this advice irrelevant; but I don't believe so.

~~ Thanks for reading! If you liked my build, or have suggestions, let me know! <3

Albedo's 7[edit]

This balance works for me, and has (built-in) some room for flexibility. I've tried to give each dwarf just one dominant moodable skill, something that would produce a desirable end product (rather than an Artifact Left Sock) - but 2 dwarves have "moodable tbd" so that any 1 task of your choice will provide that for them (if they don't do any others).*

(* I tend to like Weaponsmith (for Artifact Weapons) - crafting one quick pick for the mining operation, or a large trap weapon (easily melted back down) - done. Or Armorer for the instant legendary skill - lots of masterwork armor pieces to make. Ymmv - you can also go by any useful preferences.)

If you're embarking in a dangerous area, lean toward more military. I find that a trained X-bow dwarf (or two!) can thin out any threat early and from a safe distance, but until you have walls you need melee skills for when anything gets up close and personal. I'd just go Armor User 5 (or 4/x-weapon 1) since Armor User is slow to train, unarmored dwarves quickly fill your hospitals, and untrained armor-wearers never seem to be able to waddle to the battle in time. I chose Axe for my one token military dwarf (below) since he'll also be the woodcutter, but Macedwarf is probably your best all-purpose choice for dedicated additional military, especially if any nearby tower may be sending undead your way.

1) "Boss Axe", Leader/Security: Axe +3, Armor User +5, Appraise +1, Judge of Intent +1*
2) "Dirty": Grower +5/Wrestler +5 (or ???)*
3) "Stoney": Mason +5/Stone Crafter +5 (or ???)
4) "Cutter": Weaponsmith +5/Brewer +5 (or ???)
5) "Hardpan": Armorsmith +5/Cook +5
6) "Cagey" Mechanic +5/Carpenter +5
7) "Striker": Miner +5/Siege Engineer +5 or ???)
(* moodable skill tbd)


To start, your Grower and Miner are the only ones using their main profession close to full time. For your Haulers and misc. tasks, you can choose from the Boss, Mason, Weaponsmith, Armorsmith and Mechanic, as they follow their profession only the minimal to get the fortress started, and it takes 100+ of any one task to threaten their initial moodable skill. Later (by year 2), you'll have migrants to do the hauling and misc. tasks, and these dwarves can move toward working as full-time professionals and becoming Legendary, just like Armok intended.

The 4 "(or ???)" skills can be tweaked to suit the target environment or your own playstyle/preference. They could be military, or something else if you think you need some other starting skill more. Ymmv, and that's fine.

Against most early animal threats, the leader dwarf should be able to crush most anything non-ambush level if you give him a decent axe*. Add some quick chain armor (and some back-up!) if something serious shows up.

(* I start w/ one generic pick for embark, and DIY a quality bronze axe asap (followed quickly by a crossbow) - but that can take a while. If you expect trouble, start w/ a generic axe.)

The Grower will probably be working close to 24/7 on the farm. He has "Wrestler" only as a defense for when working above ground - he's not really "military grade", but it will help keep him alive if he's surprised by something unpleasant. He'd make a good crossbow candidate, as you don't want to lose him - Farming skill is a great labor multiplier, and a Farmer 5 does the work of score of dwarves compared to a Farmer 1. (You could also just lose a 2nd skill on this guy, and spend the 15 Embark points on something else, maybe another dog.)

The Mason is designed to make stone mugs in his spare time to trade to caravans (my preferred trade item), but he could do so from skill 0 - it would require (a lot) more time, but, to start, he's just Hauling, and making a few pieces of furniture, and stone blocks for fortress expansion (and to get his skill up). So he could easily be backup military.

The Weaponsmith is also a Brewer - alcohol has no quality, so this only affects the speed of brewing. But, because it's important, someone will be doing a lot of it - if not him, then pick one to skill up and hope for a talented migrant asap. If you don't love Brewer (and/or need more military), he's another good choice, but a painful one to lose if you do - another crossbowdwarf?

The Armorsmith should keep Cook - cooked food does have quality, so it both keeps your dwarves happier and can be used as high-value trade goods.

The Mechanic is only a part-time Carpenter, but only a Carpenter can build beds, and I believe it's a good thing to give dwarves good quality beds. Plus higher quality shields for your military, and (slightly) more valuable buckets for wells. Even with a lot of trees, cutting them down and retrieving the logs is slow to train up Carpenter - I would not recommend losing this skill, even if it's not used much.

The Miner should be digging 24/7 for the first year or so, until he becomes Legendary or can be replaced by migrants. He then can be retired and given a second career, either military (in which case give him Armor User 5) or anything else that is not needed early on - gem cutter, glass maker, beekeeper, whatever. He's not your ~best~ choice as early back-up military, since he'll often be busy very far from your front gates - and should be - but as a long-term plan Armor User works.

See full notes on Skills, starting items and "to do" here.

Specialized builds[edit]

These builds are good for increasing efficiency, certain starting positions, or for starting megaprojects with minimal planning.

All Miners[edit]

Download All Miners Embark Profile

Each dwarf also has some other vital skill as well. Remember, you can make adjustments to this before you embark, if you feel inclined to. I added a few animals here, which you can change before embarking.

Challenges While 7 miners are useful for building a fort quickly, it definitely isn't a good idea for every fortress. This profile doesn't include any crafting labors, which are usually helpful as an initial source of income. Brewing is highly recommended, unless you have a source of fresh water.

Make your own weapons and tools[edit]

Main article: Make your own weapons

By eliminating the battle axes, picks, and other metal equipment from the starting build, and replacing them with the raw goods to make your own weapons on the spot, many points are saved. To illustrate, a steel battle axe is around 300 or 500 points; quite an expense. Iron is more affordable but still up there. But the only advantage a steel battle axe or pick has over a silver or copper one is in combat effectiveness, not wood chopping or mining. Bring a copper ore and some fuel, and that 300-point axe gets replaced with 16 points of raw ingredients.

It is possible to take this strategy to the logical extreme and to bring only raw materials, this is known as a full minmax build, see below for that variation.

Minmax build[edit]

Download Minmax Embark Profile

Taking the make your own weapons strategy to its logical extreme of removing picks and all the fancy things that are included in the default embark, the build below brings along one copper and one tin ore (enough for 8 bronze tools), some magma-safe rock to build a forge and furnaces (remember - no mining before you have a pick!), and some plump helmets for immediate brewing and seeds+drinks.

Now, what for all those saved points? One possibility is to bring along a few pieces of iron ore to equip a basic guard just in case, or some cheaper tin to at least ensure bronze production at some point. But perhaps the best use of points is to buy a SHITLOAD OF COAL. Bituminous coal and lignite are only 3 points each at embark, as they are a basic "economic stone" rather than an ore. By bringing along some 90 or so coal, not only will there be enough for early production, squad equipping, and buying out the first two years of caravans with metal goods, but with some care literally hundreds of coke will be ready by the time the first magma forge is set up. That means mass steel production without any reliance on lucky sedimentary layers.

The dwarves' skills in this build are an afterthought, following the template of Miner/Mayor/Proficient Armorsmith, Miner/Doctor/Proficient Weaponsmith, Carpenter/Cutter, Grower/Cook, Grower/Brewer, Furnace operator/Proficient Metalcrafter, and Mason. One neat trick: there is novice training in armorsmith on both growers, so that if they avoid doing any job but their planting/cooking, and ever go fey, that's a guaranteed legendary armorsmith. It happens more than you might think.

The profile is not completely optimized. The bags can be replaced with thread. The 16 turtles are brought along so there's something to eat between brewing all the helmets and reaping the first harvest, but 7 turtles would probably do just fine.

Upon embarking, immediately use some bauxite to build a wood furnace, smelter, and forge. Burn a piece of wood to charcoal, then use the charcoal to process a few units of coal. Smith an axe and two picks, build a brewery and brew all the plump helmets. Plant seeds, and then one can proceed as with the normal embark, with some 80-100 coal in the wagon.

Warning: there is a good chance that your starting civilization has neither coal nor lignite. In that case, restart the embark and try another civilization; an entire world of coalless dwarves is rare. Also, the added burrowing/starting time may prove fatal on inhospitable maps.

Dwarves for a safer start[edit]

This build adds some military and medical skills into the mix, so they are not defenseless. The seven dwarves are able to do all important work and you can set up two squads. When new dwarves arrive, remove hauling task (wood!) from your starting dwarves (and all new important (crafting) dwarves, so they do not run into ambushes, useless dwarves can get fishing, to scout the outside.

At the beginning, you can give the starting dwarves all important labors like butcher, cook, brewing, plant processing, ... until you got a better dwarf for those jobs.

Building a pen near your entrance with walls and a door (only passable for dwarves) for your sheep (stone blocks help a lot), and a pen in your entrance for your dogs to take care of thieves. Make the entrance passable for caravans (3 tiles).


  1. Grower 5 / Leather Crafting 5 / Wood Cutting 0 (till miners are ready for inside growing)
  2. Weapons Smith 5 / Armor Smith 5 (this dwarf is very important)
  3. Mechanics 5 / Buildings Design 5 (for traps, with 5-10 spears, stones, ...)
  4. Diagnose 5 / Surgery Setting Bones, Suturing, Dressing Wounds all 1, Appraiser 1*
  5. Mason 5 / Carpenter 5
  6. Mining 1 / Armor Use 5 / Dodging 4 (give him an axe and a squad and a leather armor, trouser and shield)
  7. Mining 1 / Armor Use 5 / Dodging 4 (give him a spear and a squad and a leather armor, trouser and shield)
(* As your Broker, without Judge of Intent, you will not be able to see a caravan's mood during the first trading session. Just offer 2:1 value for the first few dozen trades, and then close to that later. He'll pick up JoI during that session to use for all later caravans.)


  • iron anvil
  • copper axe,
  • copper picks (2)
  • seeds (all 6+)
  • drinks (all 21+)
  • meat and fish (cheap ones with size-1 stacks for free barrels)
  • leather (20-40, cheapest available)


  • 3 dogs (2 female, 1 male)
  • 3-6 sheep (2-5 female, 1 male)