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So you want to play Dwarf Fortress. You've installed all of the stuff you need, so now, let's begin!

Setting up your game in the pack

Make sure all of the steps have been completed from the previous guides. In your pack, for your first playthrough, turn Invaders off and Aquifers to no.

If you don't have the invaders option, then live with fighting invaders.

If you don't have the aquifer option, then choose a place without an aquifer.

Starting the game

Start by using the arrow keys and pressing on Create New World!

For a first playthrough, I would go with the following settings:


These will be the settings you want to go with for your playthrough.

World Size: Medium for lower-end computers but Large for good computers.

History: Short.

Number of Civilizations: Very Low.

Maximum Number of Sites: Very Low.

Number of Beasts: Very Low.

Natural Savagery: Very Low.

Mineral Occurrence: Everywhere.

Then, press Y to go!

You will see the map on the screen. Wait for everything to go until you see some keybinds other than and ESC, or if your game isn't loading on the history loading part, then use or ESC to finish. You should see a new keybind saying to press to accept. Do that (press ), wait for it to load a bit more, then start with Start Playing, and finally, press to select Dwarf Fortress! You will be sent to an embarking screen.


Choose a place with no goblins (no red lines next to goblins or no goblins text at all, press TAB a bit to toggle through to see your neighbors), and you'll want these things:

Sand, soil, shallow metals, deep metals, flux stone layer, and clay.

Make sure in the Local screen, you see a river for a water source!

Once you're done, tap E and press to Play Now!


Start by finding your wagon, by pressing U, Z, then ESC to go to your dwarves, which are next to the wagon. Make sure the game is paused with space (    )!

Striking the Earth

To begin your fortress, press D to designate then H to channel a 3x3 hole close to your wagon.

When you are selecting an area with the flashing vertices, you are selecting the two corners that make the rectangle that make the designation/build. So to dig a 3x3 hole, you would do D.

A little bit of info on digging

What is the difference between digging and channeling?

Well, think of each Z-layer (which by the way can be viewed via moving up/down with < and >) as having an invisible thin layer between them which you can't access like any other layer. This invisible layer is where your dwarves can stand. Digging keeps this invisible layer, whereas channeling does not, so you can have a pit going down with channeling, and floors with digging.

Making the fortress

Once you're done designating to channel the hole, press > to go down a layer (you can go up with <) and designate and dig a 3x3 hole directly below the 3x3 channel. If you mess up, use X to remove a designation in the designations menu with the same method of moving as above. Off of this hole at z-layer -1, you will dig a 3-wide tunnel to another 3x3 room. This will be the area for your stairs. After you dig it, use DJ to make a stair that goes deeper to z-layer -2.

Use > to go to that layer, then do DI do make an Up/Down stair, select one corner at z-layer -2, and another corner at the other end of the 3x3 rectangle at z-level -12 (via >) or so.

Go back up to z-layer -1 with <, then dig off of the 3-wide tunnel and make a big (11x11 or so) room, and across from that, dig another 3-wide tunnel to another similarly-sized room.

Finally, press space to unpause the game!

Your dwarves will now head to work channeling, digging, making stairs, and more.

Utilities for your dwarves

You'll need to set up some ways to feed and hydrate your dwarves, or provide some basic needs, so let's do that!

Zoning your rooms

Once your dwarve(s) are done digging one room, start by zoning one of your rooms into a meeting area with I, then select the full area, then M.

Once your other room is dug out, make a stockpile with P, then make custom settings where you enable everything but disable Corpses, Refuse, and Bars/Blocks with T, E, and D.


Farming is an essential aspect of DF. It allows you to grow certain crops which can be used to brew alcohol, the dwarf's main liquid to drink. We'll be growing Plump helmets.

To make a farm, first dig out a 5x5 area for one off of a tunnel and then do Build-farm Plot.

For this type of menu, use the keybinds listed: U to gain height, M to lower height, K to gain width, H to lower width.

For this, use UUUUKKKK then . This will make a 5x5 farm plot.

Finally, click/move with q on/to a farm plot and press Enter on Plump helmets.


To make alcohol, you'll need a still. Press BWL to build a still. Make it close to the farm, then press twice to plan the still.


First, go to the surface and press DT to chop trees and select the area where the trees are and chop them. Then, go to the stairs, then go down a layer. Make a 11x9 or so area, and make it a wood pile via PW. Extend off of that in a 3x3 area and then do BWC to build a carpenter's workshop. Make sure to disable wood in your main stockpile.

Let's make a barrel for storage of alcohol and other various things now too!

How to make an item via a workshop

Making an item is pretty simple, and works the same in most, if not every workshop:

1. Press Q and use the arrow keys to navigate over the workshop

2. Press A to add a task

3. Use the arrow keys to choose your item

4. Press to queue the item

5. Set the settings

5a. To make it repeat until you don't have enough materials, until there is no path to get there, or other similar reasons, use + or - to navigate to the item in the queue and then press R

5b. To force a queue item to be done now, use + or - to navigate to the item in the queue and press N. You can use N again to remove the high priority.

If you want to cancel a request, navigate to the item(s) with + or - and then press the cancel button via C.

Setting a water source

To set a water source, find a river or pond and press I, select the corners, press , then W to make it a water source. ESC to exit the menu.

Making some wine

To make some wine, use Q, navigate to your still, then do ABRN to add a item in the queue to brew wine from plump helmets, and repeat that and do it now.

Once you've used your plump helmet supply, make sure to replant the seeds that you got from the brewing from the still!


Pastures are important to keep your animals alive. Go to the surface with <, make a zone with I, select an area, press on it, then make it a Pen/Pasture with N. Set the settings withSHIFT+N, and use + and to move all your animals to it.

Refuse stockpile

Go up to the surface, make a stockpile with P for refuse via R. This prevents Miasma from sticking around in your fortress.

Mason's workshop

Make an area exactly the same as the carpenter's workshop 1 level below it, but make the stockpile store stone instead of wood, and the workshop a Mason's workshop instead of a Carpenter's workshop via BWN.

Slightly more advanced industries you will need

To have a successful and thriving fortress, you'll need to be able to smelt, smith, craft, farm, woodwork, stonework, still, store, feed, rest, and hydrate things.

We have 7 of 12 of those things done - farming, woodworking, stone-working, stilling, stockpiling, feeding (kind of, but we'll make it better), and hydrating.

Let's start with a better feeding area.

Feeding your dwarves with more quality food

Build 6 doors, 12 tables, and 24 chairs in your shiny new Carpenter's workshop. These will all be used for a better feeding area!

The finished kitchen.

In the layer below your Mason's workshop, mine out 4 rooms - 2 16x16s, a 5x5, and a 3x12. You should make these lead off of a big hallway, 3-wide preferably.

In the 5x5 room, make a kitchen with BWZ, place it in the center of the 5x5 room, and make a food pile with PF in the remaining space in that room, and in one of the 16x16 rooms.

In the other 16x16 room, place 12 chairs in a horizontal row, then below that row, 12 tables, then below that, 12 chairs. You should have a very long dining table planned out now.

Then, click a table furthest from the entrance, then press R to make it a dining room, while making sure to press + a bunch to make it fit the room.

Now, use I to zone an area for a meeting area via M. Then, go to your old meeting area spot, press I, and press M to make it stop being a meeting area.

Forging/metal industry

So you want to have more picks for more mining, eh? You'll need smelters, wood furnaces, and a blacksmith's forge.

But how should you set this up?

Well, you started with one iron anvil when you pressed "Play Now", so you can make one blacksmith's forge. Smelters and wood furnaces don't use a special item that depends on itself so you're all set.

First, let's add to our carpenter's workshop area.

Dig out a 3x3 area close to your carpenter's workshop and use BEW to make a wood furnace. This will be your source for fuel, along with coal. Use ACRN to queue charcoal repeatedly.

The finished smeltery layer.

Next, go to the layer below your kitchen and dig out two 10x10 rooms on the left and right of the stairs.

In one of the 10x10 rooms, make it a stockpile using P, then do T for custom settings, then make it only ores (which are in the Stone section).

In the other 10x10 room, make it a Bar/Block stockpile using PB.

Then, make a multiple of 4 (e.g. 4, 8, 12) rooms above and below the stairs. In one of the rooms, use BWF to make a blacksmith's forge, and do a multiple of 3 (e.g. 3, 6, 9) smelters.

In one or two of the smelters, make a force-repeat task to make coke from bituminous coal, or to make coke from lignite, or both.

You only have one anvil to make one blacksmith's forge, but soon enough you can make more anvils.

In your blacksmith's workshop, press AW, select on your material, then forge a pick.


Dormitories are basically big bedrooms for a lot of people. Let's make one!

First, queue some beds in the carpenter's workshop. After that, dig out a hallway to a big room, and build (B) beds (B). Select a bed, then with that bed you can press R to make it a bedroom. Press + a bunch to fit the area to the whole area, then press D to make it a dormitory.


Cemeteries are for the dead to rest in peace. You'll want one of these so that your dead dwarves don't haunt your fortress as a ghostly being.

First, queue some coffins in the mason's workshop. Then, dig a hallway to a big room and dig a big room. In that room, place coffins with BN just like how you placed the beds.

Finally, I'd recommend using DE to engrave the entire area to make it prettier and better for the dead.