Dwarf Fortress artefact update adds raids, rescues and cover identities


Dwarf Fortress, the Dwarven catastrophe simulator, has received its first update in well over a year. This one is all about artefacts. Coveting artefacts, stealing artefacts, displaying artefacts to make all your friends jealous — it’s all very exciting if you’ve ever wanted to split your time between burglary and being a museum curator.

Here’s how the new system works: bringing up the map of the world now allows you to interact with it by making general raids against neighbouring civilisations, or by sending out squads of Dwarfs to steal artefacts and rescue prisoners. Hunting for artefacts can take months, however, as the squad investigates different sites. They can also be captured while on these raids. When they return, you’ll get a report that tells the story of their adventures (or misadventures), and you might end up with a fancy artefact, to boot. The developer has been working on these legendary items since last year as part of a plan to introduce creation myths to each randomly-generated world.

Adventure mode has been tweaked, too. This mode lets you create a solo adventurer in one of your worlds, and from there Dwarf Fortress becomes an open-world RPG, as the Dwarf goes on quests to fix whatever problems the world’s denizens are facing. You’ll be able to steal artefacts here, too, but the most interesting addition is the cover identity feature. If you’re accosted by Goblin guards, for instance, they’ll demand your identity instead of attacking on sight. These identities are linked to the different civilisations of the world you’ve generated. Essentially you’re a secret agent Dwarf.

Other changes have been made under the hood, in preparation for the long-awaited magic update, making sure that it will be able to incorporate all kinds of artefacts without any problems.

Take a gander at the patch notes here.


  1. Woland77 says:

    Call me when they add a meaningful tutorial.
    I’ve had this game on my computer for about 4 years. I’ve tried it. It just doesn’t make sense to me yet.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      There are some amazing YouTube videos that make it really clear – essentially at the start you want to just dig into a hill, make somewhere to sleep and start off food production.

    • bobmcjohnson says:

      The Quickstart Guide (link to dwarffortresswiki.org) on the wiki is extremely well done and you shouldn’t need anything else to get started.

      Using the Lazy Newb Pack (link to dwarffortresswiki.org) can also be helpful.

      Sure it’s not an ingame tutorial but you could also argue that the wiki is an integral part of the game…

      Seriously I really don’t know why DF has that reputation of being super hard, it’s maybe complicated and certainly very deep and the interface is annoying at first, but it’s not hard.

      And once you get used to the interface it’s really not that bad. Some recent modern game have wayyy worse UIs

    • mike22 says:

      I’m not sure what you could want that hasn’t been widely available for as long as you’ve had the game installed.

      Plenty of YouTube and written walkthroughs, guides etc, which will teach you everything you need to know within a few hours.

      DF is inherently very complex, it’s part of its nature, and like its arcane interface must be embraced if it is to be enjoyed. There are always other games if that doesn’t tickle your giblets.

      Edit: wow that’s a lot of replies very quickly, sorry you got so swamped!

    • hungrycookpot says:

      So, never? Tarn has never been too interested in QoL stuff, and I think a tutorial is so low on his list as to be non-existent. Tutorials and walkthroughs exist all over the internet, many of them are quite good, but like the game itself, it won’t spoon-feed the fun to you, you’ve got to put in a bit of work for it.

    • Seafoam says:

      If you wont play Dwarf Fortress because it has no tutorial, then buddy Dwarf Fortress wouldn’t be for you anyway.

    • Cyber Ferret says:

      No simple in-game tutorial is going to do the trick for DF anyways, any more than it would for any advanced software with a broad toolset–it’s too complex. DF isn’t difficult, but it does require a time investment from the player. By my reckoning, it took me a solid day of studying the game’s concepts and controls to really start to feel comfortable. It’s never going to be something you can pick up in a few minutes with tool tips.

      In exchange, that investment rewards you with access to probably the most ambitious (and greatest, IMO) PC game ever made, that can become a pastime for years rather than days. This is only possible because the game isn’t being made with the commercial concerns of most games–it’s an act of will by the creator–and it gives absolutely zero fucks about whether you care enough to put in the time to learn it. 1 day for years of enjoyment seems a good trade to me, but YMMV.

      There’s more extensive documentation and tutorial material for this game than most triple A games–one needs only to seek it. The game isn’t for everyone, but realistically if this game was for you, you’d be playing it already, tutorial or no. You can’t get quite the same experience anywhere else.

    • P.Funk says:

      There’s one of you in every update post about DF and in every thread about it, wearily justifying your inability to relate to something others are excited about because of some arbitrary nonsense, especially when its clear you’re not actually looking as plenty of how to play nonsense is out there. There’s the LazyNewbPack that contains all the QoL stuff you could need and plenty of tuts.

      Anyone who wants to learn to play the game will find this stuff easily. Anyone who wants to say the same thing rote every update cycle for DF just keeps talking flippantly about “when are we gonna see a tutorial/GUI/etc”.

    • Kyle700 says:

      the game is just not for you then, i’m sorry. if you can’t take the time to learn how to play it from the myriad of online sources, you probably won’t be able to enjoy the game since it has a unique interface.

      honestly, its not that hard. go look up a tutorial and follow it. in 1 hour you will know what to do.

  2. HexagonalBolts says:

    What sort of state is fortress mode in nowadays? I haven’t played for years, it was one of my favourite games but a patch to the military long long ago made the game near unplayable, I don’t quite remember why but I think soldiers could not be trained (amongst many other issues) and it was therefore very difficult to defend the fort. I would love to go back.

    • Mungrul says:

      The “new” military system takes a while to learn, certainly, and has its own unique foibles, but once you’re familiar with it, you can do a lot more with it than the old one.
      It’s understanding how to define and outfit squads, as well as organise their training rotas that takes the most time to get your head around.

      Still not as complicated as setting up a working hospital along with the soap and textile industries needed to properly support them mind you :D

      • Cyber Ferret says:

        Yeah, it’s pretty easy to train up a near unbeatable military. It’s much more difficult to put in the time to learn the fidgety and arcane equipment and scheduling system–though it provides a lot of flexibility once you do.

        So unplayable? Hardly. But probably outside of the comfort zone for less dedicated players.

    • Massenstein says:

      Training the military is pretty easy currently, though it still has more steps than it maybe should have, but you don’t need to get involved much once you set them up.

      Where it’s still weak is, there is absolutely no discipline and the military positions do nothing. Until they lose their nerve the soldiers will always try to get where they can attack the enemy, even if this means climbing over fortifications and hurting themselves. I once had a magnificent lava moat surrounded by a wall on the inside and it would have kept the enemy away. Great was my shock when I saw my archers merrily leaping over it when they ran out of bolts. :(

    • Sin Vega says:

      It is an ever-expanding knotted ball of string that someone periodically throws another cat into. You got out at about the right time, really. Although that said, that’s only for fortress mode. Adventure mode has had a lot more attention since around then, and most of the issues that make fortress mode unplayable are significantly reduced or removed entirely. In it. So it might be worth giving a go for that.

  3. Barts says:

    This is now just getting ridiculous.

  4. Mungrul says:

    Is it playable now without setting limits that restrict the amount of gameplay elements available?

    Last time I tried in default configuration, I reached framerate death really quickly.
    The advice I read then was to lower population limits, turn off heat (Magma that doesn’t burn?!? HOW IS THAT DWARF FORTRESS?!?), and avoid playing with water AT ALL (but what about my drowning chambers or happy dwarf waterfalls or quarantine chambers or obsidian factories?!)

    I dearly love the game, and I honestly think it’s one of the best ever, but it’ll drag a supercomputer to its knees.

    • Alberto says:

      I’ve been playing consistantly on my potato laptop for years.

      Just don’t break in every cave and do frequent cullings of your pets. Pathfinding is one of the main drags, and keeping the entities on map low helps a lot.

      And you get cat soap and cat leather shoes

      • Brinx says:

        Ah, good old catsplosion.
        Dwarf Fortress: the only game where you can die by having to many cats.

        (I just bring two males.)

      • hungrycookpot says:

        In addition smashing unwanted junk and keeping the map clean helps as well. But yeah caverns are a massive drag on performance, I think there is a dfhack command that unreveals them again if you break in by mistake

    • Massenstein says:

      Probably not. I haven’t played the current version far enough but with the previous one I had to keep max population pretty low (100 was about the absolute limit) and had to do frequent cleanups of bodily fluids with dfhack. And had weather turned off too.

      Though I wasn’t close to actual fps death, but just the game getting slow enough it was starting to be really annoying. So in the current version I think I’ll need to mod my dwarves stronger if I want to send out armies because I can’t really afford those armies to be very large.

  5. Mungrul says:

    Oh yeah, my civvies would regularly be outfitted in cat leather while chowing on cat meat and using cat soap.

    I had atom smashers with infinite stockpiles for regular destruction of excess crud (and the occasional dwarf) with chutes down to the stockpile from every level of the fortress, but even so, I’d find the framerate dipped terribly after a while.

    That said, I was trying to keep a varied amount of livestock, including cats, dogs, sheep, cows, alpacas, horses, donkeys, pigs and bees.

    Edit: Eh, that was in response to Alberto.

  6. Hexedian says:

    Are they taking ideas from Rimworld now?

    • thvaz says:

      It is more likely Rimworld got their ideas from the DF’s roadmap available since the game was first released.

    • Alberto says:

      Every game takes ideas from existing similar games.

      Isn’t it wonderful?

      Now please someone do a Dwarf Prison Architect. Come on. I’ve got this money here, it’s for you!

    • MrEvilGuy says:

      Yeah I don’t think Toady (the sole developer of DF) plays other games.

  7. Alberto says:

    As a regular player / patron I feel excited about the idea of buiding pedestals and showcases for stuff.


    I’ll stick to my current version until bugs are ironed out, but the idea of arranging a whole road to the main gates, flanked by pedestals with the skeletons of invading goblins and monsters is just too enticing.