Dwarf Fortress: Very Ambitious Roguelike

1st Hematite, 100

The first summer of Listenwound begins.

Vabok has carved stairs directly into the earth. Aboveground, we designate a collection spot for the logs felled by Nish, and establish a trade depot (built of carved limestone blocks, more on that later). Our broken-down wagon remains, still holding much of what we brought with us. Nearer the river is our dump, already being filled with the refuse of Stukos’ fishing. (And, to our shame, some fish and mussels we have allowed to rot.) To the south, in the forest, we have designated a gathering zone for fruits and plants, and just north of our lumber stockpile is our animals’ grazing area. [These zones are not pictured.]


This is the entrance to Listenwound (elevation 45, just below the surface). Nothing much, yet, just some stonefall traps as a likely-inadequate defense, some limestone doors, and stairs down to the first level. A lobby, if you will.

Our first level. On the left is the dining room, still under construction and filled with the chunks of the limestone it was carved out of. The middle room is our dormitory, with a spare eighth bed (just in case). The top room on the right is Fikod’s office (our bookkeeper), and the bottom is Oade’s office, where he assigns work and (someday soon, no doubt) listens to the grumblings of his people.

The next level down has our work area. The central bottom room is the kitchen–clockwise from the top right is the fishery, butcher, tanner, and unconstructed still and kitchen. The left room is the pantry (food stockpile), complete with stairs back up to the dining hall. On the right, our hospital is being mined out.

The top half of the work floor has, clockwise from bottom left, the carpenter, stonemason, craftdwarf’s shop, and mechanic. It also has steps back up to…

Our storage depot! (Yes, I hid this from you earlier). Clockwise from top-right, stockpiles for “finished goods”, furniture, stone, wood, and blocks. The stockpiles are intended to be close to the workshops. (The interior lumber stockpile pulls from the outer one.) They will likely need to be much enlarged.

Perhaps you noticed the bright-white stairs next to the mason’s workshop. Those are constructed out of limestone blocks, instead of carved from the limestone directly. (This is because I decided after mining out the rooms to add more stairs, and needed to “construct” them instead of “mine” them.) The thing with blocks is that they require carving from the raw mined stone, but one piece of mined stone gives four blocks. But when used as construction material (either for stairs or walls, or for buildings like workshops) they count the same as rough stone–so by carving blocks you effectively multiply your stone by four. Of course, you are not likely to ever run out of stone, in this game. The smooth blocks are also nicer than rough stone, in that walls built of them are “smooth” and more valuable than walls built of rough stone. (Naturally-hewn walls can be “smoothed” for the same effect.)

So far, we have found malachite (copper ore), limonite (iron ore), and lignite (coal); limestone, which provides carbon for steel, and quicklime, as well as being a building material; kaolinite, which can be made into clay; and bauxite, which is “just” a regular stone, but is magma safe, as well as a nice deep red color. Given the plentiful trees on the surface, we could already set up a steel industry! But first we must establish the basics…

If anyone’s needing to boost the value of rooms beyond this, walls cannot be engraved if they are constructed out of rough stone. You have to either smooth natural walls or construct with blocks first.

I love your starting fortress! I bought this game a week ago and have been starting over and over again, not really because Im losing, but I’m slowly getting a feel for how I want to do stuff. I’m pretty sure I want to have an underground river, that just seems neat. And I’ve also flooded a few dwarfs because of that. So much fun getting into this, it reminds me of how I felt when starting to play factorio and satisfactory- even though they’re obviously very different games.

Is there any way to see how long it takes to craft/build say, a stone mug? Or distill one whatever from a plant?

Walls can be smoothed but apparently “pillars” cannot, for I’ve run into a couple of situations where I’ve built “walls” of a single block to place a door between, and those walls are described as pillars and nothing happens when I try to give them a smooth order. Builder beware!

Come to Shukarid! Your personal palace awaits

Here you will be cared for with state of the art medical facilities

Stay in luxury apartments

Be amazed by the Hall of Wonders!

Watch a child legend work her magic!

Work side by side with the miner Rovod, weep at the tale of the tragedy that befell her true love, rejoice at the tale of her quest of vengeance as she struck down the fel creature (just don’t mention her ear.)


All while protected by the legendary Mechanisms of Fortune!


Sign your contract and secure a spot today!*

* Shukarid Industries Inc. bears no responsibility for any acts of God(s) which may occur
** Humans please visit your local Knife of Strangers Embassy for pre-visa screening
*** Necromancers need not apply

2nd Galena, 100. Late Summer.

The expansion of our hold has significantly slowed, as we begin the transition from building our rooms to occupying them. We had drafted our stonecrafter, Ustuth, as a second miner, and he and Vabok were mining full time (disabled from other work), but now we have fallen behind in hauling, and are nearly done with our initial rooms.

We’ve expanded the stockpiles:

This is mostly for the purpose of finally emptying our broken wagon, which we have just ordered to be dismantled. Listenwound is our home now, for better or worse.

As you can see, we are already using lots of wooden bins–Nish, the carpenter has been hard at work. Not pictured: the chairs, chests, and beds he carved for our dining hall and hospital.

The forest continues to provide its bounty, as we feast on bayberry and pecan stew, and drink bayberry wine. Fortunately, Stukos has been diligent about pulling mussel and the occasional fish from our river, so we have some variety. We have not yet begun farming true dwarven fare.

We are also awash in mussel shells. With a recurring order to make them into trinkets, we are slowly accumulating something that someone might someday be interested in trading for.

We have also begun crafting stone, in case shell crafts are not of interest.

By far the most exciting event in the past months is the arrival of our first immigrants: twelve of them! This more than doubles the size of our settlement, and we had to rapidly expand our dormitory. Fortunately, the forest and river still provide plenty of food. [Ed. note: this is too many! I prefer a slower build-up.]

Notable immigrants include Catten Temptpick, legendary metal crafter; Stukos Sabreclutch, legendary weaponsmith; and Adil Archriddled, legendary bone carver. We make a note to increase the priority of our metal industry–well-forged metal crafts and weapons will fetch a hefty price. We also have no bones for our bone carver, so we designate Eral Lushspear, another newcomer and competent marksdwarf, as a hunter. (We then also establish a bowyer, make a crossbow, and some bolts.) This also prompts the creation of a bone carving work detail, to ensure that any bones we do stumble across are crafted by Adil only.

It so happens, however, that the occasional beaver or alligator that our dogs would previously skirmish with are nowhere to be found. The late summer wildlife consists solely of giant blue jays…

…and giant sponges?

A lusty sponge. Well, I never would have guessed. Hope that works out for you, buddy.

12th Limestone, 100. Early Autumn.

The caravan from the mountainhomes has arrived. We hear tales of the nearly-forgotten outside and away, and make some requests:

and receive some as well:

(It’s remarkably unlikely that we’ll have spare hides, this time next year. Tools are a possibility, but I’m not sure it’s worth the effort.)

We also make an exchange.

We take all the meat and drink they have, a stock of leather, and an assortment of bags, ropes, and useful items. In exchange, most of the crafts we have made out of limestone and mussel shell–including a number of masterworks by our legendary bone carver. [Ed. note: apparently the skill applies to shell carving, too. We caught a nice break there.]

We offer the remainder of our crafts as a gift to our homelands, which our broker Vabok (a talented appraiser as well as miner) estimates to be worth a measly 392☼.

[Here is my first major gripe with the UI: trading. More specifically, bringing things to the depot. Items are sorted by type on the left (fine), but by material and then value or distance on the right. The issue is, what I bring to the depot is ~always bins or barrels, and nobody cares about the material of the container! And I can’t even see into the container to tell what’s in there. There is no way, AFAICT, to change this behavior. And the text filter does not seem to work, or at least I cannot figure out how what I type in it relates to what shows up in the list.]

Otherwise, life in the fortress proceeds apace.
We’ve laid down the beginnings of a smithy:

The workshops are wood furnace (bottom), smelter (top-left), and smithy (top-right). I accidentally forgot to leave a space between the smelter and smithy. Oh well.
We then reworked the corresponding stone stockpiles:

The stone stockpiles are, from left: non-ore stone, lignite (raw coal), refined coal (bars), limonite (iron ore), malachite (copper ore), and bituminous coal (raw coal). At some point we’ll separate out the flux stone from the non-“economic” stone, but for now limestone is still a key part of our stone furniture, crafting, and building.

The hospital is coming along:

I threw a couple traction benches in there, despite never having needed one. I should have requested gypsum plaster from the caravan, but it’s not all that hard to make ourselves, just a minor hassle. At the bottom you’ll see one tile of limestone block floor amidst all the smoothed floor (side note: one thing all those migrants have been good for is mass-smoothing operations). I had initially thought to put the workshop stockpiles below the workshops, but… I hit the aquifer! So instead the fortress expanded horizontally. But I thought to dig a channel in the hospital to use as a well. Turns out, the aquifer does not reach that far south, so I bricked over the channel. We did, however, explore the boundary of the aquifer:

That roughly traces the border of the forest on the surface, by the way.

We still need a well, and I haven’t yet decided how to proceed through the (light) aquifer. Any suggestions?

Autumn is upon us, and the forest is littered with bayberries, pecans, apricots, and pears; lettuce, leeks, muskmelons, and red beans… now is the time to harvest the bounty. We shall have enough for winter, I believe, but who knows what comes next?

Yes, that move to/from interface is annoying. I also haven’t figured out a way to use it to move from the depot. I had a damn bird steal a bronze shield after a trade once, because it was still sitting at the depot. It would also be lovely if for things like the squad menu, it would confirm before deleting. I’ve at least twice now hit the X thinking I was cancelling an order, and instead disbanded the squad.

At least the latest alpha of Dwarf Therapist seems to be working pretty well with the Steam version.

17th Moonstone, 100. Early winter.

More new arrivals in the autumn: only four, and no legendaries among them. The miner is also a competent marksdwarf, so we have a second hunter now.

We have our first casualty.

The human axeman Nod Sahthetgorbe visited our fort. He hung around outside for a while, before getting into a tussle with some giant bluejays. He bested one, but not all of them.

He was soon replaced by another human warrior, a swordsman. Seeking to avenge Nod, the swordsman immediately attacked…

…and was killed. His metal helm was of no help; the bird just grabbed it and wrung his neck.

Now the birds are angry. They have come for us.

There are casualties on both sides, but we our losing. The beasts even kill our children. We have lost Stukos, whose fishing supplied our food, and Nish, whose expert carpentry provided our furniture. Our situation is bleak.

Is there any way to turn this around? I have no militia. I drafted our hunters into a squad, and after much futzing with the military commands I got them equipped with wooden bows and bolts, and they managed to kill one of them before succumbing. Should I wall off the surface and escape below?

Aw man, I loved that guy on the IT Crowd.

I’m giving this a shot - not on hard because I ain’t crazypants like y’all. After several days of restarts because what is documentation? Spent literally four hours trying to figure out how I could build a functional cistern. Made it through my first winter. This is our esteemed leader. I have concerns.

I think probably half of Shukarid needed alcohol to get through the day. I ended up retiring the fort last night. I’d been messing with organizing everyone’s jobs with Dwarf Therapist, which I don’t think was the problem, but the fort had become a unruly mess at 199 citizens, and I’d been waiting for tragedy to strike for a while now so I could start again with what was learned this run. The last 2 forgotten beasts that were spotted left the area instead of engaging. I don’t know how common that is. After retiring the fort I went into legends mode to poke around, and my goodness what a den of thievery. My mayor was a thief before arriving, my top hunter repeatedly stole for conspiring humans, and he wasn’t the only one. One interesting thing I learned is that when a citizen names an object it becomes an artifact. A number of members of the heroic Mechanisms of Fortune ( that squad name still cracks me up) had named pieces of their equipment. Overall I think either we were very lucky or the gap between normal and hard must be vast. Outside of the first FB and a couple of clowns that all arrived right about the same time and took out around 50 citizens, our casualties from the rest of he visitors, 3 or 4 FB and a minotaur, we’re minimal like under 5 total. In the catastrophic first attack, I don’t know if the issue was we’d just opened the cavern and citizens decided to flood down there to collect webs, the monster spitting webs that attracted them, or perhaps I forgot to un-pause the burrow, but a huge portion of the fort streamed down the stairs to meet our visitor. Maybe they were just very hospitable. After that first season of terror though, they managed to stay in the burrow and let the squad do their work. 4 years on there was still blood in that stairwell that hadn’t been cleaned up.

A lot of fun, especially with it being a learning fort, but it seems like they could still improve the interface in a lot of ways if they ever had the bandwidth. I hope that is the plan with Putnam, or that they continue doing well enough to bring someone else on to help with the ui. It seems like Tarn did pull in some ideas from the mods, so hopefully that will continue. I wonder if they can end up adding an api for the mods to use, as right now I think DT and dfhack are just poking at the memory layout of the game.

Edit: For people that have played a long time, do the raw resources have quality or other differences, like this limestone rock is better/different than that limestone rock?

Edit 2: Ah, one other thing I noticed in Legends mode is a number of books that were stolen from other places arrived at Shukarid with the visiting thieves, and then they would leave those books in my library. Very strange.

I am not sure if what I do would help or not, but I seem to have a very fast and easy way to deal with trading now. As soon as I build my first crafts workshop, I set it to make rock crafts on repeat and put a specific stockpile right next to it that will only accept rock/stone finished goods of only the crafts categories like earrings, rings, bracelets, crowns, amulets, scepters and figurines. When the trade caravan comes, you can just select the bins from that specific stockpile number and take the whole thing. After all the bins are delivered to the depot, to trade everything just select the all bins check box at the top and with just a few clicks you have everything ready to trade. You can get a decent idea ahead of time how much you want to trade so only click on enough bins to cover what you think you want (hardly ever need 10k worth so never bring more than that), but after you just fine tune bin by bin and then item by item to give them as small a profit as necessary to keep in the green (I assume this is telling you the optimum trade profit). Obviously this won’t work for elves, but for dwarfs and humans it works great.

I did almost trade an amulet artifact this way, though, so pay attention to that! I was wondering why one bin had so much value so inspected and found it!

I had forgotten that one stone will make 4 blocks! I will have to make them sooner than I do already. Also, stone blocks allow dwarfs to move much faster while hauling to build orders. I always try to make sure I have blocks and use them for bridges and walls and other constructions to speed up delivery.

Is that still a thing? I seem to remember you could clog up a workshop if there wasn’t a space on a certain side long ago, but that doesn’t seem to be necessary anymore. Or, did you just mean to do it to make it look more symmetrical with spaces everywhere for looks or something?

I keep forgetting about Dwarf Therapist! I need to try that next time I play. I used to love that.

My solution was the lazy one, I just cut gems and send the gem bins up there and then would give them just enough gems to cover what will make the trade go through. This next run I think I will work on meeting their needs more, and then that interface is really going to be a pain. I guess I could have a series of mini stockpiles right there and dynamically change what is going there based on what the needs will be for next year.

Yeah, ultimately it doesn’t really matter that much because it’s so easy to overproduce trade goods given what you can buy. Doing it by stockpile makes sense. I’m loath to trade gems, though, because they’re miiinnne…

Oh, just to make it more visually appealing to me, no gameplay reason.

I’m really enjoying reading about this.

Head for the caverns! It’s the dorfen way!


I’ve come to the same conclusion. I was feeling pretty bummed out when I stopped the last session, but I’ve since been hatching some plans for a glorious comeback.

My dorfs finally reached the cavern layer - stairs came out in the roof of the cavern with several z-levels down to the floor. Panic ensued as there were attempts to seal off the stairs by channeling out and building UP-stairs and in the chaos a lonely miners got trapped without stairs going up, and a deadly fall just a tile away. Luckily she had her pick so she could mine some rocks to build a new set of stairs. Just as she was about to lay the last brick on the jet stone stairs a ghost popped out of the wall and scared her right over the ledge and flying several feet away and crashing down on the damp cavern floor. Somehow she survived without any damage except a huge hit to her psyche, from the stress of seeing her old miner friend who drowned tragically after getting caught in a river that suddenly thawed.

Some benny hill like chase sequence down down the cavern layers later the ghost left her alone long enough to mine a tunnel and close it off behind her. Phew!

I think I’ll need to dig out and bury that miners corpse as soon as winter comes!

Have a stoneworker make a slab, engrave it with your poor riverdwarf’s name, and place it somewhere should be enough for your ghostproblem

Dwarf Fortress Fight Club incoming