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Dwarf Fortress Get Started Guide 001

Updated on February 25, 2011
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Starting out in Dwarf Fortress takes a great deal longer than starting out in most games. For most games, the 'starting out' phase is over in minutes if not seconds. But Dwarf Fortress is not other games and if you compare it negatively to other games it will tell you to go out and play them them, it doesn't need that kind of attitude from you. Besides you're never around anymore and who is going to watch the kids this weekend, huh?

Before we go too far with this, if you are playing the original ASCII game, go download the Lazy Newbs pack. It adds better graphics and will make your life significantly easier.

With the Lazy Newb pack installed you can now see that the game begins with a wagon of supplies and a few intrepid dwarves who have put their lives in your hands, trusting that you will be able to direct them in such a way that they live long and happy lives and are not accidentally buried in rock falls.

As the benign ruler of dwarves, you control every aspect of their lives and you must of course work to keep them safe both from the brutality of nature and from other creatures in the world. At first however, you'll be kept plenty busy just working out how to get around. In the opening stages of Dwarf Fortress, a new world will be generated. You must choose where in the world to build your fortress. The information you're about to receive may aid in that decision.

In a similar fashion to Minecraft, Dwarf Fortress has a very open style of game play. You need to ensure that your dwarves survive of course, but how you do that is up to you. There is no one right way to build a fortress and your strategy will depend largely on the resources you come across and the challenges that are thrown your way.

As you move through the world generated just for you to play in, you'll soon note that there are different sorts of biomes. Different biomes have different resources and challenges associated with them. As with everything in Dwarf Fortress, biomes are not as simple as 'forest' or 'desert'. Wetlands biomes alone contain four different types of marshes and five different kinds of swamps. All in all there are 50 different types of terrain for your dwarves to contend with.

In addition to the biomes, there are also surroundings, which set the tone of a particular biome and operate on two axis. (Already this sounds like a fantasy chemistry lesson, but bear with me.) Some places in your world will be Good, some places will be Neutral and others will be Evil. That's the first axis. On the second axis there are three qualities: Benign, Neutral and Savage.

The combination of these two axis defines the nature of the surroundings. Some surroundings are Serene (a combination of Good and Benign) some are Untamed Wilds (a combination of Neutral and Savage) some are Sinister (a combination of Evil and Benign) and so on and so on. In all there are nine types of 'mood' a region can have. A regions mood is reflected in the creatures that spawn there. Serene regions may be grazed by beautiful unicorns, for instance.

Keep not just the terrain, but your surroundings in mind when choosing a location for your fortress.

Here endeth lesson 001.

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