Home > Fantasy > How do you design your Dwarf Fortress?

How do you design your Dwarf Fortress?

May 13, 2010

I was starting a new fortress the other night and it struck me that sometimes the hardest part of playing Dwarf Fortress is deciding where to dig that very first tunnel. There is so much potential locked into the average Dwarf Fortress map but every tap of the miner’s pick reduces your options. I almost feel a degree of analysis paralysis contemplating the options when I look at a fresh map. Do you? How do you go about starting what will end up as hours of real-time effort? There’s nothing worse than being several hours into a construction and realizing you’ve made some major mistake that makes routing magma to where you want it impossible, or that your dream of a waterfall based defensive network is now going to be horribly complex to build, or that your fortress is just plain ugly! And if you make that crucial mistake then how will you ever be able to build a truly amazing fortress?

Since I always have grand schemes in mind when it comes to designing a fortress I am almost tempted to not let my dwarfs live anywhere but on the surface until my first major constructions are complete; until the entrance tunnels are dug, the initial workshop spaces are complete, the farm system laid out and the storage bunkers prepared. I can’t help but feel I’m spoiling my mountain if I dig some quick spaces early. Yes, my poor dwarfs will, in future, survive in rough wooden huts under the horridly bright sky and among the squishy green stuff. And sure, there will be upset dwarfs moaning about the sun and filth, but damn it, my inverted obsidian pyramid isn’t going to look pretty mixed up with random diggings, channels and culverts, is it?!


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  1. Jambalaya
    May 15, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    I do the same thing now. I only started playing this week, and your tutorial helped with the learning curve immensely. When creating a new fortress, I usually spend an hour or two looking for a perfect spot and then plotting out the digging, and having at least 4 miners in the initial group.

  2. Armulkan ThunderHank
    May 15, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Hello,

    First, thank you very much for your tutorial. Me too I only started playing this week and I said “Damn this game is so ugly, like a Ultima O_o”. But I continued to play because this game is really really complex and I enjoy that ๐Ÿ™‚ and build the perfect dwarf fortress is a really fun concept.

    My fortresses were very small but when I start a new fortress, I often dig a very long corridor in the mountain in order to have a solid main corridor. And after I create some rooms, generally big to match with the final concept.

    I should try to create a fortress without symmetry too, it may add more personality and realism : it’s a dwarf fortress, not a human big church ๐Ÿ™‚

    I hope your dwarfs like camping ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Have fun !

  3. Snook
    June 9, 2010 at 2:08 am

    I’ve recently been taken by the microfort idea – as illustrated here. It’s small, efficient, and allows you to save virtually every other square of the map for megaconstructions, exploratory mining, etc. Also, you could concievably make a dozen dwarven “pods”, by filling one of these with 60+ dorfs, ensuring it has enough supplies, and then entombing it in magma. Save, raise your max pop, and start fresh with the next batch of immigrants. Make sure to dump some supplies outside for the new wave, lest you get unlucky with migrants.

    • June 9, 2010 at 9:42 am

      Neat idea and a fun challenge!

  4. Snook
    June 9, 2010 at 2:08 am

    I’ve recently been taken by the microfort idea – as illustrated here. It’s small, efficient, and allows you to save virtually every other square of the map for megaconstructions, exploratory mining, etc. Also, you could concievably make a dozen dwarven “pods”, by filling one of these with 60+ dorfs, ensuring it has enough supplies, and then entombing it in magma. Save, raise your max pop, and start fresh with the next batch of immigrants. Make sure to dump some supplies outside for the new wave, lest you get unlucky with migrants.

  5. Dave
    December 9, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    I have the same problem, I usually just go to bed pondering it and I’ve usually come up with something by the morning. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Remuthra
    February 20, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    Actually, I dont dig temporary shelters at all and make my dwarves sleep in the open until i have their permanent residences dug, but I dont think this is a very good way of it when it takes <2 years to finish.

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