The Complete and Utter Newby Tutorial for Dwarf Fortress – Part 8: “It’s a trap!”
I’ve written a book – Getting Started with Dwarf Fortress, available at O’Reilly and Amazon! It covers the current version and takes you from knowing nothing to being a confident Dwarf Fortress player!
I promised traps, and damn traps we will have! And not of the Star Wars or Thai kind, but of the Dwarf Fortress kind! I’m two bottles of beer and a glass of absinthe into the evening, so lets get on with it before things get worse!
Defence and Traps!
You’ve got mechanisms, you’ve got cages, now lets make some traps! Head to the front entrance of your fort and we’ll get building traps and then ponder the various strategies one might employ in setting up the defence of your fortress. Follow along:
- At the front entrance, hit “b”.
- Scroll to “Traps/Levers” and hit enter, or just hit “T”.
- You will now see a list of traps, lets briefly discuss them.
These are simple one-shot traps that drop a big rock on an enemy’s head. These are great for a quickly built defence, but clearly, as one shot traps, a little limited. Note, with all traps, if your dwarfs fall onto them, unconscious, they will trigger the trap!
These will probably be your bread and butter as they will attack any enemy triggering them and with multiple weapons can be quite powerful.
Not a trap, but a device used to manually trigger things like bridges, cages, doors, floodgates, supports, etc. More on these later some time.
Can be part of a complex trap or can be used to trigger other objects when conditions are met (such as water being on them, creatures stepping on them, magma flowing over them, etc). More on those later too.
What we’re going to be working with in a moment! A trap that catches the enemy in a cage. You can then do amusing things with the trapped bad guys, like tossing them off a tall bridge, dropping them into magma, or stripping them and using them for military sparing practice. Good fun!
A peculiar sort of trap device that can only be triggered by a pressure plate or lever.
You should read the traps section of the wiki for a lot more detail, but only after you’ve completed this tutorial, ok?! For now, get back to work! Don’t make me beat you like one of my dwarfs!
- Scroll down to Cage Trap, hit enter.
- You now have a green X, place it in front of your entrance somewhere with “enter”. Do this a few times, you can see below how I’ve set a few traps to be built.
This is hardly an impressive defence, but it will do for now. With luck it might help against any casual raiders, although “thief” monsters will still be able to sneak past your traps. To beef our defence up a bit we need to get some weapon traps installed as well as sort out some way to strike back at attackers who aren’t so gracious to step on all of our traps. So with that in mind, get producing a lot more mechanisms (at least 10) and follow along as we produce some trap components!
Smelting and other dwarfy things!
This wouldn’t be a dwarf fortress if we didn’t fill the place with the clang of forge hammers and the stink of furnaces, right? Lets have some fun then and make some sharp things to hurt our enemies!
First up, let me point out that item production can be fairly confusing. Essentially what we’re going to do is turn some wood into charcoal (at a wood furnace), then use the charcoal to turn metal ores into metal bars (at a smelter), then we’re going to use more charcoal to smith metal bars into items (at a metalsmith’s forge). As you can no doubt imagine the problem we will face is the charcoal bottleneck. It will take a lot of wood to fuel all our furnaces! Most of the time this problem is got around by players using magma smelters and magma forges. We haven’t struck magma yet, so we’re going to plough ahead with the hard way, at least for a while. The goal of all this is to produce a few fearsome trap components to fit out some weapon traps – think spinning disks from Indiana Jones! So follow along:
- Find your wood furnace, hit “q” and “a” for “add task”.
- Select “Make Charcoal”.
- Queue up a full list of Charcoal.
- Wait until your list is half-empty. Fill it some more!
- Now go to the smelter, and try to “a”, “Add new task”. You will now see a list of the tasks available at this workshop. Note, the tasks will change as you uncover more ores or deplete older ores. For interest, note that you can set the workshop to melt objects you wish to dispose of (turns the object back into a metal bar). More on that some other time.
- Chose “Smelt Magnetite Ore”, hit “enter”. Magnetite contains iron, this will turn those sparkly rocks lying around to iron bars.
- Fill the queue and then fill it again (or build another smelter and fill both queues).
- Try and make sure your charcoal production keeps up with the smelting. If it falls behind your smelt task will be cancelled and you’ll have to reissue it.
- Once we’re done with this tutorial why not go and smelt all of that native platinum ore you saw on the list as well? If you’ve dug downstairs out you may have gold to smelt too!
Your dwarfs should be pretty busy now, hauling charcoal, wood, ores and bars around. If things aren’t moving quick enough turn off the hauling jobs for anyone involved in your metalworking industry. While you’re at it, make sure you’ve got enough wood around for charcoal by cutting more down outside!
If you want to check your progress, go look at your Bar/Block stockpile and see what is being built up. If you suspect all of your production is in bins, use “k”, find the bin, hit “enter” and look inside the bin.
A little on food processing
While all this is going on, why not go to your farmer’s workshop and add a task of “Process Plants (to bag)”. Set it on repeat. Then add a task of “Process Plants (to barrel)”, again, set it on repeat. Now, anyone with the “Plant Processing” labour on (no one by default) will go and process anything you’ve grown that needs processing. I won’t list those plants here now (go look at crops for all the detail), but suffice to say, some plants need to be processed so they can be eaten or used in other sorts of manufacture (eg, cloth making).
Hopefully you’re not short on bags. If you are, try and pick up a bunch off a trader. Alternately, buy leather and/or cloth off a trader and using the Leather Workshop or Clothier’s Shop (we’ve not built one yet) make bags. Bags are very handy for storing seeds and processed plants, you can never have too many of them. They’re like barrels and bins in that way.
Back to the iron!
With a few iron bars made, head on back to the smelter. Go and “a”, “Add task”. You should now see a new task listed “Make Pig Iron Bar”. Pig Iron is made out of one iron bar and one piece of flux material (eg, limestone, which we’ve got a lot of). Next on the production chain for us will be steel (which requires a pig iron bar an an iron bar and a flux material), which is second only to Adamantium in sharp awesomeness, and will let us make some great weapons, trap components and armor.
Before your imagination gets carried away, go produce a lot of iron bars and a dozen or so pig iron bars. Check in here again when you’re done.
Right, with iron and pig iron bars complete, go back to your smelter and check the “Add tasks” menu. You should now see steel as a smelting option! Awesome! Smelt up a half-dozen steel bars. And while you’re at it, build a lot more cages and mechanisms and put at least half-a-dozen cage traps around your entrance. Come back once you’ve got a bunch of steel bars made.
Ok! Now we’re ready to rock! I hope, at this point, that you’ve not been invaded, attacked or otherwise molested. With our fortress around two years old now it’s likely you’ll start to see the odd goblin ambush – especially if you send your dwarfs outside a lot. I hope you survive those ambushes just fine! Perhaps we should have started this tutorial sooner…
Anyway, head over to your metalsmith’s forge, and:
- Hit “q”.
- Hit “a”. You will now see a list! Explore the list, see all the neat things we can make! You might need to hit “tab” to expand the menu size so you can see everything.
- Scroll to “Trap Components” and hit “enter”.
- Scroll to “Steel”, hit “enter”.
- Hit “tab” twice so we can see the full item names.
- Chose to make a “large, serrated Steel disc”. I love the sound of that!
- Queue up three disks.
At this point you might want to think about other items you’d like to make in due course. Hit “a” again and then hit space to back down the make-item tree. Chose “Weapons and Ammunition”, chose “Steel” and lets make three steel warhammers. These will come in handy once we start our military. I like warhammers because it’s funny to watch goblins fly a half dozen tiles and then expire in a heap.
Once you’re confident your items are made, go back and make sure you’ve got some more charcoal in production, you’ve got more ore being smelted and add, under Armor, three suits of iron chainmail and three iron shields. This will all come in handy later. You could make steel chainmail instead, but it takes a bit of time to make those steel bars and we want to get on with this tutorial, right?
Don’t forget to make some more charcoal and to keep that production chain flowing. If this all feels rather cumbersome, don’t worry, we’ve got some production shortcuts we can work on later.
Oh, you may be getting annoyed at slow production. I know it’s been bugging me. Perhaps it’s time to pack your production rooms with more smelters and charcoal burners. One issue you’ll face is you need to buy an anvil off the traders in order for you to make another metalsmith forge. Keep it in mind for your next trading deal.
Deploy Zee Traps!
Once you’ve got your nice, big spikey discs, head back to your entrance. Get ready for trap placing fun!
- Go to place a trap as you did earlier. But this time chose “Weapon Trap”.
- Chose a mechanism.
- A new screen will be displayed looking something like this:
- From this screen you can chose the weapons you want to deploy with your trap. Facing goblins, we really only need one awesome steel disc per trap I think, but we’re able to select more if we wish.
- Scroll to the “large, serrated S…” and hit enter once, you’ll see “1/3” selected.
- Hit “d” for “Done Selecting”.
- Your first weapon trap is now placed! Place three more.
Weapon traps are great ways of getting rid of a bunch of trash weapons you might have lying around – this is particularly the case once you’ve killed off a few goblins and have their rubbish cluttering up your piles. When filling a trap with weapon trash you might want to put three or four weapons per trap, to ensure maximum sliceness!
Here are my traps, laid out. I’m actually going to add another row of slicey dicey weapon traps as I don’t have a military and I’m a bit paranoid. Do something similar!
Well done on the trap placing! But we’re not done with our defences just yet. We need to do some terraforming to make things a little nicer for ourselves. Let me explain…
Defending stuff betterer
…If you hit “o” for “orders” you will see a list of global commands you can issue to your dwarfs. The first one at the top is “Dwarfs can go outside”. For amusement, hit “i” to toggle through the options. First “i” turns it to “Soldiers can go outdoors”. If you resume the game all but soldiers will immediately rush into your fortress and refuse to come out again. Hit “i” again and you’ll see that all dwarfs are now instructed to stay inside. Hit “i” once more to return it to the default.
Setting orders to “Soldiers only” is what you will want to do when you’re invaded. But there’s a problem with this, can you figure it out? The answer is that it’s in the definition of “outside”. Right now, right up to the edge of our cave mouth is “inside”. Can you imagine the result when goblins invade? You got it! Dwarfs may hang around right at all those traps and get in the way of soldiers or get themselves killed (or more amusingly, get knocked unconscious, fall on a trap, and then get sliced to bits).
We can prevent this comedy routine by creating more “outside”. For starters, how about we hollow away the roof above our cave entrance? Then that cave mouth becomes “outside”, but entry to our fortress is still restricted by the walls and protected by traps. Good idea huh?! Follow along:
- Go to our entrance.
- Hit “d”.
- Place the X about where I’ve got it below:
- Go up one level.
- Hit “h” for channel.
- Channel all the way up to the tree:
Channelling cuts down through the ground to the level below. It can be used in place of mining to clear space and provides a safer way for dwarfs to get to stuff below their toes. Note, it is possible to cause cave ins by removing land connecting terrain to the rest of the world. This may be fatal for your dwarfs, so be careful! But for now:
- Designate all those trees around this level to be cut down. We can’t dig a channel on a tree, right? Come back when the cutting is done.
- Continue designating the channel all the way to the end of the spit of land.
- Designate another channel the same full length to the right of the first designation.
- When these are complete, finish our three-channel wide cut with another designation to the right of the second designation. Don’t designate all three at once or your dwarfs may accidentally cause some cave ins by cutting the wrong piece of land in the wrong order. Very annoying.
- When finished, your three channels will be open space above our entrance, like this:
Now, when we issue the order for our lads to “stay inside” they won’t be hanging around the entrance! Super! One thing I’m concerned about is that anyone above our entrance could get a clear shot down to fleeing dwarfs. Lets stop that by building a wall. While we’re at it lets tidy the bits of land poking out over open air. Flip up and down between levels and you’ll see where some tidying needs to be done. Channel away! As for the wall, you know how to make walls using “b” and “C”, so go ahead and do it, here’s how mine turned out!
Walls to secure anyone dropping in, nice open space to out outdoors/indoors problem.
While you’re fiddling with “o”, “orders”, have a look at “r” for “refuse” orders. Unless I’m in battle, or worried, I like to toggle “o” under the refuse menu so it’s set at “dwarfs gather refuse from outside”. They will then grab all the lewt from dead goblins that is scattered around on the grass. Pretty handy huh? Nothing like free stuff, is there?
Arg! More goblins!
Oh dear! I got badly ambushed by goblins. I drafted my miners into the military (they tend to be strong and are armed with picks – ok scratch defence) and they were cut down by the hordes of goblins! Terrible! On the plus side a number of goblins were caught in traps and two were killed by my miners. Others are out there still so all dwarfs have been ordered to stay inside. Such is life. When you play for real you’ll be able to work through all you’ve learnt much faster and so you’ll be better prepared if this sort of bad luck has happened already.
As you can see, there’s a little dwarf head icon to mark my fallen dwarfs as well as a red “g” to mark the dead goblin. There’s also lots of blood about. If you ever face something similar, hit “k” and have a look around at the destruction! You can also see the full cages where my cage traps are. If I didn’t forbid dwarfs to go outside they’d be out there now trying to pick up the full cages and replace them with empty ones. See why we remove the roof now? Careless dwarfs are going to get themselves killed. Help them be not careless.
Good news about the goblins, I drafted some more dwarfs, armed and amored them, and sent them out and smashed some gobos. Great stuff! I think we better cover the military somewhat soonish.. after nobles in the next tutorial.
One point to note: If you forbid your dwarfs to go outside they may suspend construction jobs out there. Best to check around over anything you’ve got being built with “q” and hit “s” to un-suspend them as appropriate.
Anyway, that’s enough to now. Get on with building lots of traps, making bags, armor, barrels, food, bins, shields, weapons and so on! Go to it, and see you in tutorial 9!