Dwarf Fortress Update, The First In Two Years, Is Out Now

Graham, earlier.

“The mind has been rewritten quite a bit,” starts one of the patch notes for the new Dwarf Fortress update. The first addition to the fantasy simulation game in two years, version 0.40.01 offers sweeping generation to world generation and simulation, combat and movement, fortresses, trees and, yes, the mind. Step below for a dive into the game’s wonderful patch notes, and for more barely coherent rambling about how great this game is.

Even if you never play Dwarf Fortress, the regular devlogging over at the Dwarf Fortress site is worth reading. It’s full of wonderful little anecdotes that Tarn Adams experiences while creating the game (with his brother, Zach), and given the game’s vast complexity – from an individual dwarf’s emotions to the wars of entire civilizations – those anecdotes feel sometimes like a structurally inventive fiction project for a game that can’t possibly exist.

But it does. Let’s pull out some details of the new patch, starting with the mind:

The mind has been rewritten quite a bit — people now experience emotions according to different circumstances (lots of awkward monologues there), and they consider actions differently. The main outstanding issue is that I didn’t get around to converting existing dwarf mode thoughts, so they sort of exist concurrently with the new emotions and that needs to be changed. I’ll get to that before job priorities (which was one of the main shorter-term reasons for the rewrite). Some dwarves have life-long dreams and it is possible for them to recognize that they’ve accomplished the ones relating to skills and family. They cannot yet realize their dreams of taking over the world.

I know a little something about awkward emotional monologues. Also, rumours:

Rumors of incidents can be spread, and the rumors need to be spread before you gain reputation (good or bad). Killing all of the witnesses to an event will effectively remove it from play if you don’t let them get off the screen. People are a little psychic as it regards ongoing conflicts, so that they can make decisions non-stupidly. Your liaison can share rumors with your fort, but I still need to set up the screen for reviewing them after you’ve seen them the first time… not that you can do much with the information.

It’s not all social change. Dwarf Fortress is also about smacking things and being smacked by things. That’s had an overhaul, too:

Combat moves take place over a period of time now, and you can do things like catching an opponent’s attack — you have to do that by targeting a grab at the offending part now (reactions used to have a menu, but that was before combat got more smeared out). You can get information about what attacks your opponent is doing in the attack menu — the quality of the information depends on your situational awareness skill. You can add adjective modifiers to your attacks (quick/heavy/etc.) and you can perform more than one attack at a time for a significant penalty to its force. It might make sense with two adamantine swords or something, twirling them about.

These are just a few of the changes listed in yesterday’s update post. They are also just a few of the changes made and detailed over the past two years of steady, donation-funded development. For example, from back in February:

Today’s success was to have a crying mother spit on me and call me a murderer, so that’s where we’re at. Of course, people familiar with modding or magma crabs might guess that the first time she spit at me, the glob came out frozen and my murderous character, being handy with a sword, batted the saliva ice cube out of the park. After I fixed that, and some other stuff, it splattered on my toga. There are tears and sweat now as well, coming out of the right tissues at the right times. As with blood, it remembers who provided them up to a point, which should be fun for brewing witches’ potions and so on in some distant future. Fixed some other crashes and mess as well. Hopefully we can move on to cheerier territory.

Despite what you might have heard, Dwarf Fortress is not as complicated or difficult to play as you think. Even if you never touch the Fortress or Adventure modes, it’s worth using the Arena to pit various fantasy beasts against one another in senseless combat. The little text descriptions alone, of dragons frying elephants and fish biting dwarves, provide hours of entertainment.

Dwarf Fortress is free and there’s download links at the top of the site.


  1. Lacero says:

    Honestly I’m most excited about this because it means he’ll very soon get to doing the small things he does between big releases. I’m a fortress player, not an adventurer I guess.

    • GHudston says:

      The adventure mode is still baffling to me. “Fortress” is in the name!

      • Rizlar says:

        Slaves to Armok: God of Blood Chapter II?

      • Lion Heart says:

        dwarf fortress isnt the name lol

        • Rizlar says:

          Well actually it is called “Slaves to Armok: God of Blood Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress”. So it is in the name. Please ignore my other sarcy reply! :P

  2. meloncrab says:

    Everybody who’s new to the game or doesn’t necessarily enjoy bugs like owls randomly exploding into gore around the new trees (probably either because the owls don’t path around them or a tree grows into them) might want to wait a bit and play the 2012 version. It will probably also take a week or so until we get graphic packs and tools supported.

    • popedoo says:


      I’m really excited about this!

      Could you recommend a tileset / graphics pack to a budding newbie? :)

      Seems there are lots of options and I would appreciate the opinion of a mighty veteran!


      • Michael Anson says:

        Hey! As a newbie, you’ll want Paradexis Errant’s Lazy Newb Pack, which comes with all of the tools and graphics packs you’ll need!

        • Matt_W says:

          It’s just called the Starter Pack now. There’s already a 40.01 version available here:
          link to bay12forums.com

          • son_of_montfort says:

            Just FYI, if you are a newbie, you probably should pick up the last edition’s Starter Pack. Many of the very helpful utilities in the starter pack have not been updated for the new version. In the coming weeks, that might change, but for now – like with all new versions of DF – there are lots of bugs and hidden FUN.

          • ender1200 says:

            Here is a link to the lastest update of the 2012 version: link to dffd.wimbli.com
            It’s the best place to start seeing as how all the utilities and tutorials are still not updated for the new version.

    • JauntyAngle says:

      Ha ha, how could you not enjoy that?

    • GHudston says:

      I’m glad to hear that it’s still dwarf fortress.

    • jalf says:

      I dare you to show me a person who does not enjoy owls randomly exploding into gore in their games.

      I’m pretty sure such people do not exist.

  3. Chicago Ted says:

    >adventure mode
    >shatter both legs jumping from a tree and trying to grab another tree
    >can only crawl around
    >drag myself into some building
    >flop down some stairs
    >maceman standing by a column
    >shout a greeting in his direction
    >tell him about the child I killed in the last village
    >grab his foot, drag him to the ground and bite his throat repeatedly
    >gouge out his eyes with my thumbs
    >bite his throat some more until he dies
    >roll around in his blood
    >realize I’ve been crying
    >try to drink tears to quench thirst, it doesn’t work
    >crawl into other room
    >pikeman standing by a wall
    >shout a greeting at him
    >tell him about the guy I just killed
    >he spits at me and starts crying
    >keep telling him I killed the guy
    >he keeps spitting and repeating “It was inevitable” as though trying to console himself
    >tell him I’m the lord of this settlement now
    >says he doesn’t care
    >crawl over to him and grab his nose
    >he stabs me in the chest through his tears, mortal wound
    >crawl around vomiting and shouting at him while he cries
    >I’m crying too
    >eventually grab his foot and take him down and bite his throat out
    >crawl around and vomit some more
    >retire as lord of blood and vomit

    this update is the best

    • maicus says:

      Absolutely fantastic, a top notch throat biting adventure extravaganza.

    • altum videtur says:

      Blood Meridian in a nutshell.

    • Lacero says:

      Building a climbing/jumping/bone doctor training assault course might make fortress mode fun even if there’s not much else to do. hmmmmmmmm

    • Stupoider says:

      Why are you typing weird?

      • sinister agent says:

        It’s a 4chan command, turns text green (making it unreadable, incidentally, but LOL 4CHAN LOL LOL LOL), which is the usual format used to tell stories whether or not it actually works for that story.

    • Shadow says:


      Though sometimes I think that Adventure mode would possibly benefit from a sort of command line in complex interactions, like combat. You’d be able to control your character perhaps more intuitively, like in a text adventure (i.e. type “bite pikeman throat” or “gouge pikeman right eye with thumb”), instead of having to remember which key combination does what and which commands go together. I don’t know, just food for thought.

  4. blainestereo says:

    You should check out their bug tracker too, even bugs in Dwarf Fortress are awesome:

    Humans die of old age after end of world gen; corpses lay around town

    If an adventurer shouts and nobody is around to hear it, the game makes a crash

    Minotaur strangles dwarf under water during three months and counting

    War Dogs appear to run from themselves in terror

    All clothes in cabinets of Dwarven Fortress are too large for dwarves

    Creatures Spawn With Tears

    Zombies start conversation with necromancer adventurer who tries to sleep in their house

    Dwarf dying from justice beating generates a “has been found dead” report

    • Logeres says:

      “If an adventurer shouts and nobody is around to hear it, the game makes a crash”

      Well, it seems an age-old question hast just been answered.

    • JFS says:

      Dwarf Fortress, at this point, seems to become more and more like our own world. And in some cases, like our newspaper headlines.

    • Metalfish says:

      This is worthy of Keats.

    • DXN says:

      Dogs and cats! Living together!

  5. Alberto says:

    I keep a policy of donating 1c every dead dwarf (more or less). When I reach the 10.000 dead, I know I had FUN enough to make a 10$ donation.
    This game is blocking me from playing any other Steam game I purchased.

    • Addict7 says:

      Good idea, but I think 1$ is 100c, so get your wallet ready…

      • JFS says:

        So that’d be 10,000 dead dwarves, and one empty coinpouch. Please come again!

        • Alberto says:

          So It’s 0,001 dollar/dwarf. Life is really cheap in this game.
          I donate 10$ every 4 or 5 months.

  6. Stromko says:

    I started a Demigod Axedwarf so I could go and wreak some havoc in the world right away. Started in a pre-existing Dwarven fortress. Followed the sounds of folks to a room, apparently a tavern or somesuch thing.

    Talked to a Hammerer who told me about a night creature terrorizing our folk, told him that it had to be stopped with violent force and asked him to join. He said he’d rather not.

    Started a new conversation, noticed that I had the option to start a conversation with a Deity. Decided to send them a greeting and the game crashed. :)


    • Premium User Badge

      Malarious says:

      Yeah, literally the first thing I did: “Oh, I can talk to my deity? Awesome!” Game crash ensued. Weeeeeeell, not gonna try that one again.

  7. Loyal_Viggo says:

    Gnomoria for the win. ‘Graphics’ come as standard by the dev, no need for third party programs.

    • Michael Anson says:

      Never thought I’d hear a PC gamer advocate for LESS modability.

    • Nevard says:

      No amount of graphics turn Gnomoria into Dwarf Fortress though

    • frightlever says:

      Gnomoria is becoming less fun with every release. Food spawns mants and un-stockpiled rock spawn golems. Goblin invasions are spawned, more or less, at the request of the player. RoboB0b needs to tear out and rip up what he’s done with creature spawns and fundamentally re-design it. Dwarf Fortress is a jungle, while Gnomoria is a Japanese Zen garden. One is overly regimented, looks lovely but is ultimately boring, the other has monkeys, who will definitely steal your stuff.

      • Premium User Badge

        Malarious says:

        I’ll probably catch some flak for saying this, but I found Gnomoria’s interface far more unwieldy than DF’s (once you get used to both of them, which, admittedly, takes a lot longer with DF) — to the point where even laying out buildings and placing down furniture is a chore in Gnomoria but takes a few seconds in Dwarf Fortress. The utter lack of depth in Gnomoria doesn’t really help, either.

        • ender1200 says:

          I hear you about this. using the numbers for shortcuts is really annoying and the army menue isn’t that much better than in DF.
          Worse, and this might be it’s because I didn’t get how to set industry in gnomoria right yet but I feel that the game is also a lot slower. The carpenter and crude workbench allways creates a bottoleneck when I try to produce stuff so it takes ton of time to get to the advanced workstations, or build enough furnitures for a dining hall etc.

        • frightlever says:

          I’ve been using Logitech macros keyboards for, jeeze I dunno, a decade? It makes automating stuff like bedroom layouts a piece of cake in DF. I think a good mouse-driven interface is important, but there should be keyboard shortcuts for everything as well.

        • wengart says:

          I’ll have to agree with you. I appreciate what Gnomoria is trying to do, and as of right now it is the best Dwarf Fortress clone I know of. However, it just isn’t very good at it.

          The UI isn’t much better than DF and the graphics are on par with a lot of the 3rd party stuff DF has, but the game isn;t nearly as interesting. The whole thing feels very sterile and regimented. It is the Command and Conquer of DF clones.

          In Gnomoria I always have an idea of what is happening and I have a feeling of being in complete control all the time. In DF I’ve accidently flooded my fortress and trapped the suriving dwarves deep in the fortress without a pick. I then got to watch them starve to death until an Axe Dwarf went mad and started murdering everyone he could find. I’ve yet to have something half as interesting or fun as that happen in Gnomoria.

    • Shadow says:

      I’d rather it was the complexity which came as standard. The graphics issue is mostly solved by any of the several graphics packs available for Dwarf Fortress, whereas Gnomoria’s shallowness just can’t be helped.

    • hamilcarp says:

      Go away, nobody cares.

    • Yglorba says:

      In a week, Dwarf Fortress will have graphics via third-party support, but Gnomoria will still be boring.

  8. Tom Walker says:

    Version 0.40!

    Twelve years in the making and nowhere near version one. Assuming a linear progression to the development process, it should be ready for general release in 2032.

    Looking forward to it.

  9. Duke of Chutney says:


  10. MkMax says:

    dwarf fortress is always a joy to play, ill probably wait until the graphic engines are supported (and the worst bugs ironed out, although exploding things are always amusing)

    Ive been wanting to play a bit more around an evil area, i only got to deal with the undead once and the kicked the “fun” into me

    • frightlever says:

      Stonesense has been integrated into the GUI, but it’s not as fun to play as you’d think.

      Simplest way to get it all pre-configured is to wait for the next Noob pack update. Pics here:

      link to imgur.com

      Well, pic.

      • MkMax says:

        I used to play with the Lazynewb’s pack using irohand (a 2d gui, i never liked stonesense), in any case i need dwarf therapist to keep my sanity and afaik it hasnt been updated yet, so i rather wait

        i just googled and it seems lazynewb’s has been discontinued, i wonder which pack to use now DFFD maybe ?

  11. Cardinal says:

    Gods need patching. First thing I did was try to talk to my god (Eslo Blossomtender the Taupe Root-Sea of Squids, deity: rainbows, the rain, plants, creation, pregnancy). Game crashes to desktop.


  12. Erithtotl says:

    I love DF, and am very excited for this.

    I have to say though I think taking 2 years between releases was a terrible idea. Given his avid community, he had a built in base of thousands of testers. An iterative process like he used to use is far better suited for this sort of complex project. Especially as a primarily Fortress player, investing a lot of time in a Fortress play through to discover it’s irreversibly broken after a lot of time can be very frustrating.

    • Michael Anson says:

      The iterative releases were bug fixes and small feature updates. Toady did a LOT of major work that altered a very large number of systems. Such an update requires the long development time. Now that the major patch is out, it’ll be back to bugfixes and iterative updates until things are stable enough for the next big feature push. That’s always been Toady’s way.

  13. altum videtur says:

    Hope you like miasma!

  14. Greggh says:

    Never played the arena mode.

    Oh my life… ITS OVER AGAIN. Thanks Toad-bama!

  15. Chicago Ted says:

    >Find a human being attacked by a goblin
    >Sprint at the goblin and jump
    >I land on the goblin
    >The goblins head skids along the ground, bruising and scratching it
    >Stab the goblin in the head with my spear while sliding
    apparently if you’re going fast enough you can cause them to explode into gore when you land on them
    gotta shout RIDER KICK first though

  16. rexx.sabotage says:


    I’m gonna go fire up 2012 while they mend 2014’s patchy beard


  17. Skiv says:

    Sssssssssssssso, 2 years of waiting, and Fortress mode didnt get any significant update, nor changes? “Can climb over walls” Well paint me green and call me grass, that’s a ground-shaking change

    • Yglorba says:

      This was always intended to be an adventurer-mode focused update; while there are no big dramatic changes to Fortress mode, in the long run having a more dynamic world will make Fortress mode more interesting, too.

      Climbing has a bigger impact than you might think, though, since it impacts fortress defense. The new giant 3D trees also significantly impact fortress mode, since they give you a new sort of environment to build in (and around.)

      • Michael Anson says:

        There are already reports of the world’s events changing things. Heck, one poor player had a miner suddenly become queen! And he’s in no position to furnish her quarters…

  18. Nice Save says:

    Since there’s not much in the way of Fortress Mode changes, my guide will still be valid. If anyone’s wanting an introduction to DF, it should be worth a try – it starts from the very beginning with every keypress documented for the first few chapters. It’s not finished yet, but it’ll teach you enough that you can work out the rest using the wiki, and I’m working on more.

    Here’s the link:

    link to bay12forums.com

  19. Arglebargle says:

    “Dwarf Fortress is not as complicated or difficult to play as you think.” Well, sorry, bad UI is bad UI. While it may be worth it to some to slog on through, my sensitivity to interfaces is such that it’s a no go.

    • Michael Anson says:

      Then why don’t you just relax and read the stories instead? Nobody said you had to play to appreciate the game! May I humbly suggest Boatmurdered as a good starting point?

    • thebigJ_A says:

      If by “bad” you mean “incredibly powerful and useful”….

    • P.Funk says:

      I sense a POWERFUL adventurer spirit in you.

  20. skullBaseknowledge says:

    BUG: Sleeping on a melting iceberg results in waking up as a demon or other underground creature. – resolved.

  21. iMagiNation says:

    It was inevitable.