Dwarf Fortress For Minors: Newbie Tutorials

We've used this before, but it's a good one

Now, we’ve done a big ol’ Dwarf Fortress Tutorial link before. Which was all very well, but they were video tutorials which are trickier to actually reference in play. Which is lucky that I picked up TinyPirate’s series of DF tutorials for total newbs from Qt3 which he’s finally completed. Full index to all thirteen (count ’em!) DF tutorials beneath the cut.

The Complete and Utter Newby Tutorial for Dwarf Fortress

And I think that should avoid us ever having to do such an amount of hard-work ourselves, yes? Get to it, stunties.


  1. TheDeadlyShoe says:

    The terrible thing about DF tutorials is that they’re always out of date in 6 months after some big ol interface change. Sigh!

  2. Mike says:

    Well, this one’s less than a month old. So that’s great! Will look this up soon.

  3. CakeAddict says:

    Last time with the vid tutorials I tried to learn it but I just found the game way to tedious to actually enjoy it.
    It’s problably fun when you know the game well but I simply can’t get trough the learning phase, and I doubt I’m going to try it for the 4th time. x)

  4. John F. S. says:

    Judging by the Developer’s “list” of things to do for the next version (Linked below), you should be safe for a while.

    link to bay12games.com

    I learned before these videos, with nothing but my fingers and my trusty DF Wiki at my side. In some ways, I think that was the better way to go; but on the other hand, you wouldn’t believe how many junk fortresses that littered my first world.

    ALSO, newcomers to the game might want to try the SDL version before anything else. I have little understanding of such things, but it’s apparently a rewrite of the way DF handles OpenGL or sumthin’. Whatever it does, it makes the game 10+ times faster, turning a game that crawls around at 12 FPS into one that requires an FPS cap to make playing not completely ridiculous.

    Link for your pleasure.

    link to bay12games.com

  5. Jazmeister says:

    This is great. I almost got into it on my own, but so many things to learn! Seriously. Most games are criticised for shit tutorials. The persistant procedural world where everything is modelled exquisitely is such a delicious carrot, but what a stick!

    Well, we’ll see what tonight brings.

  6. Z says:

    Ahh, DF. I tried re-installing and playing it again, but I just can’t face climbing up the vertical learning curve wall again. Still a great game.

  7. MrFake says:

    Why you should drop all excuses not to play Dwarf Fortress, from Tarn Adams himself:

    “refined the contents under pressure characteristics for guts; the ability to grab the exposed guts, attack or sever the exposed guts, the guts getting dirty when they drag on the ground and other such things all came basically for free. There are some dev items on that I guess… you can’t yet strangle people with the exposed guts, though I suppose that’s now within reach (grabbing the guts now would only open up a pinching attack I think, which would be the least of your adversary’s problems).”

    And half the battle text already is hilarious. I can’t wait until “Urist McFake strangles Elf with his own guts.” Doesn’t even matter whose guts they are.

  8. Snook says:

    I love this game, and would REALLY like to see someone with a bit of cash pick it up and run with it (although ensuring that Toady still has complete control over the project).

  9. Calistas says:

    Thanks for the linkies! And for those who have tried it in the past and given up I really think the play-along approach I used works well. You get button-by-button instructions along with explanation of what you’re doing and why. Had a lot of positive comments about it!

    And no one will ever take the project and run with it, Toady is a bit of a recluse and doesn’t like working with other people it seems!


  10. Jhoosier says:

    Btw, the tutorial vids by “captnduck” are up to part 35, how to keep demons behind bars. I’ve found a few of these quite useful (though I’ve not run into demons yet, must need to play more).

    (I suck at links)

  11. Max says:

    Easily the best tutorial I’ve ever read for DF. The only reason I’m not doing the whole thing right now (I got to 7) is because it’s 2:30am

  12. tonypiz says:

    OK, so it seems that I’ll give DF another chance. It is one of those “oh my god it will take a month just to learn the basics and I don’t have enough time!” games, and my HD is already on the verge of exploding with games I should really finish. But, on the other end, it really seems a game that is literaly exploding with ideas, that is: a game that I should not discard without a more thorough evaluation than “install-load-uh?-I’ll never get the hang of this-uninstall”.
    Hopefully I’ll still have fun improvising and seeing my dwarf fortress fall in ruins in the most unexpected ways.

  13. Ian says:

    Does this mean to be a proper RPSer I’m now obliged to give this a try?

  14. Sum0 says:

    I say this every time, but play it play it play it play it play it. I’ve recently got back into DF after a long absence, and I’ve had to get to grips with the new z-axis, but it’s so worth it. It is the future of computer games, or at least it should be – it’s just so unabstract. There’s no HP, there’s wounding of individual body parts. Wells don’t make water from magic, you have to dig a shaft and fill it with water. Weapons don’t have a damage/sec, Toady is apparently calculating stuff like swinging force and pressure into each strike of a +iron warhammer+. Eventually, I’m sure, DF will end up simulating each individual particle in your dwarves on a atomic level.

    I’m slowly ruining my degree in a Hughesian quest to construct an enormous 30×30 underground water reservoir, though.

  15. Sum0 says:

    Also, I highly recommend this graphical version to make it just a little bit easier to play.

  16. Larington says:

    @Ian: Probably, it is afterall free to play (Donate donate donate donate donate), and if you really like it, you can always support toady’s work with a little contribution… (Donate donate donate donate donate).

    Always nice to see folks trying to make the game easier to play, though since Cptn_Ducks video tutorials I think I’ve pretty much got the hang of it. Just wish my setting of the population cap was working, at the moment it isn’t.

  17. Stijn says:

    Somehow I first read that as “dawg fortress”.

    Which would probably be an even more awesome game, anyway.

  18. Junior says:

    Hurrah, more Dwarf Fortress!

    Having finally finished my lavafall down the front face of the fortress, without it burning all of my siege engines, I now have time for more attractive useless things. So I’m going to put together a mosaic floor depicting in ascii one of the great battles in Dwarf Fortress history.

    Do any of you writers play Dwarf Fortress?

  19. DMJ says:

    I play Dwarf Fortress like I play The Sims. The dwarfs are just playthings for my (lava-based) sadistic tendencies.

  20. JonFitt says:

    Somehow, enhanced tilesets just look wrong. How am I supposed to know which picture is the dog? Couldn’t they put a ‘d’ on it to help us DF players out?!

    I haven’t downloaded a version more recent than about a year ago, has the catsplosion been remedied?
    link to dwarffortresswiki.net
    Seems like not.

  21. Junior says:

    Jonfitt; You can still get Catsplosions, but Toady has tweaked a few things to make them much more manageable and easy to contain.

    Just like the Elephants before them, and soon the carp too, one by one he’s eliminating all my favorite “Unintentional Features”.

  22. Hajimete no Paso Kon says:

    I’d say the learning curve is more of a \ than a | or /.

  23. Dominic White says:

    N’thing the suggestions to use a graphical pack. I started gaming with Rogue as a wee lil’ kid – I learnt K was for Kestrel from it. ASCII is fine, so long as it conveys the important information.

    Dwarf Fortress is far too complex for ASCII. A good coherent tileset makes all the difference.

    Also, don’t worry about being ‘good’ or even fully understanding what you’re doing. I’ve been playing it on and off for a couple of years, and I’m STILL pretty quantifiably terrible at it. Why do I play even though I’m so very bad? Because it’s fun, and an amazing fantasy simulation/sandbox once you’re past the initial shock of the clunky interface.

    Play it like you’re going for a high score. Each time, you try to do a little bit better, and understand a little more. Losing is inevitable, so try and make it fun. Have plans to set into motion when the shit inevitably hits the fan. It’s one thing to lose your population to a goblin siege, but it’s another to let the goblins in and then deliberately flooding your entire fort with lava.

  24. clovus says:

    I don’t have huge problems with the interface. The game itself just takes way too much time, not including the learning curve. It just seemed that while I was playing it that I was waiting for cool stuff to happen. And it did. I had a kid go crazy and walk around stripping and rubbing mud all over herself befor starving. Awesome.

    However, that was after like 3 or 4 hours of slowly builidng up my fortress. Then after creating an ok size army, a big group of baddies came by. I guess all this really cool stuff was happening – I could see body parts everywhere, and if I examined a dwarf he had blood on his fingers. But it seemed like I had to pause the game and examine everything for several minutes to have any idea of what was going on. And then it crashed.

    I remember spending an insane amount of time assigning jobs to people but still having major distribution problems. And why to I have to harrass my leader for 5 minutes before he will finally go talk to the king’s representative or meet with the trader? Why won’t someone clean up all these stupid rocks? And now a whole new batch of dwarves arrived, and I have to spend another hour figuring out what they are going to do. I don’t know, maybe I’m just doing it wrong.

  25. Mister Yuck says:

    But I like games with explosions…

  26. tonypiz says:

    This game is evil. I just completed the first two tutorials and, despite the fact that I continued repeating myself “this is way too complicated, I’ll never remember all the shortcuts, there’s too much stuff to undestand…” I couldn’t avoid staring, with a strange fascination, at all those little dwarfs digging, and building, and digging again. I left the game for a while to browse the Net, and they went on… digging and building. They live!

  27. anon says:

    link to youtube.com
    these tuts over all other tuts
    also boatmurdered

  28. Malagate says:

    @Clovus, when it comes to dwarf management, look at tutorial 6 that tiny pirate made, he shows ya how to use another dwarf management program that makes assigning what all the dwarves are doing a lot easier.

    Also @ Mister Yuck, if you think there are no explosions in dwarf fortress then you are gravely mistaken, as all dwarven alcohol is about 1,000% proof and will make a massive explosion upon ignition. Some of the more devious traps make good use of this during a siege…

  29. clovus says:

    @Malagate: Thanks. I actually started reading the tutorial when I got home. When I got to the Dwaf Management program I suddenly wanted to try this game out again. Also the detail about putting a blinded goblin a pit was very intruiging.

  30. Nate says:

    When one dwarf got a mad look in his eye, grabbed a sheet of eagle leather and some silver, and emerged from his workshop three months later with the most beautiful quiver the world had ever seen, I knew it belonged on the back of Nil, the settlement’s legendary champion, a master of four weapons, and getting pretty good at swimming to boot. After a few months of fiddling with doors, Nil eventually strapped on the artifact quiver.

    Life was good for a while. Goblins delivered more iron goods than we could ever use. We’d struck a thick vein of adamanite. The larders were full, the merchants looted, the goods organized behind locked doors to protect and control any moody dwarves.

    Then a miner uncovered a strange room, covered with engravings, filled with smoke, and with moans of the damned. And the demons came. Spirits of fire, they filled the tunnels with burning dwarves.

    Nil picked up his crossbow and gathered his squad of champions. He was fearless. His crossbow was a machine-gun in his hands. Demons fell. But Nil was injured, and the wound… smoldered. And smoldered. Nil left a trail of smoke behind him. At first it was his arm. Then his chest. His endurance failed, and after several weeks, Nil collapsed, and burned into carbon, along with all he carried.

    All he carried, that is, except for the artifact quiver that was strapped to his back. This was a quiver of the gods– more beautiful than any dwarf could imagine, tougher than the rock we stand on, and as deadly as any demon. The quiver, of course, was on fire, but no dwarf that laid eyes on it could trouble him or herself with wondering why it was perched on a pile of cinders. One by one, each dwarf claimed the flaming quiver, and one by one, each dwarf in the settlement burned.

  31. Calistas says:

    ^ That is bloody awesome! Going to add that to my just-posted post!

  32. Surma says:

    You should have forbidden it, dug a route to water just to extinguish the flames then reclaimed it :P

  33. MP says:

    God, this seems like such an interesting game…
    Too bad the user interface is so hostile – this thing would make the best game ever otherwise…

  34. aubergine-in-texas says:

    rubble. I’m so new at this it’s not funny. but couldnt one make a giant stone pile OUTSIDE and have them haul all that stone outside? it’s not like rain will hurt stone. Do tell me what you think.

    I’m working my way through tiny pirate’s tutorial and one thing that would make that so much more usable at least for me is an index of some sort. so if i blanked out in a couple of days and cant remember how to do X i dont have to scan over all the tutorials I’ve read so far to find one small command…( did this today )

    i’m a long time player of ADOM and loved it until i lost my last DOS machine (i can back up a file in dos far easier in adom than trying to copy a file. That and I hated the windowed mode.) But anyway. this is looking to be a brain eating little game. hurrah.

  35. Serondal says:

    you can put a giant stone pile outside but your dwarfs will spend the rest of YOUR natural life trying to fill it and doing little else. It is best to let the stones stay where they is or do what I do.

    Get a bunch of bins, get a dwarf to make stone crap for to sell to other peoples. That dwarf will work his entire life cleaning up your fortress trying to use every stone he can find to make more rings ect and he will slowly get better and better at it until he can actually make you tons of profit trading his bins of crap for useful items. You need the bins because other wise you’ll just be replacing all the stones with crafted stones :P The best thing in this game are bins and barrels, they make everything SO much easier.

  36. Red Fortune says:

    Though some people call it an exploit, if you order your craftsdwarves to make stone mugs, then one stone becomes 3 mugs with the same value modifier as any other stone craft, which triples the output value of one stone, in the same amount of time. Tah.