So, what is this Dwarf Fortress business?


A picture of Boatmurdered, a dwarf fortress gone over the edge.

A Day in the Life of a Dwarf


By Urist McBlogger

It’s not easy being a dwarf you know. Constantly getting ordered around “dig this, dig that”, “build a floodgate here, release the lava there”. Those nobles, they think it’s easy. They just have to map out an area, by pressing d, then selecting a few tiles. We have to dig it. Have any of them picked up a pickaxe like a real dwarf and dug their way through the rock? No. And the way they treat us… it’s like we’re expendable. Just because we don’t know which side of a floodgate is which!

Now, I know some of these nobles like to claim that managing a dwarf fortress is the hardest task they could ever have been given. But they have an illustrated guide, guiding them the whole way through running a fort. I mean, as long as you remember not to dig too far down through the adamantium, to brew enough drinks for us working dwarves by building your stills, and giving a few dwarves jobs as brewers by pressing q and telling them to brew a drink, life is fine.


Urist McText doesn't mind.

Urist McText doesn't mind. Really.


For those who don’t like the diagrams done by my good friend, Urist McText, you can even get others to do them for you. He’s a real craftsdwarf, and he won’t mind. He’s just happy to know the job is done. Some of the older dwarves swear by him, and wouldn’t take anyone else, so he must be doing something right.

Actually, I should probably take a hammer out of his forge. Well, as soon as he’s done making those picks for our miners. Maybe I’m just an old cynic, and I’m being too hard on you lot. Maybe the old baron has just coloured my opinion of nobles. You look like a bright chap, who might be able to lead a fort to some happiness. Just, if you do lead a fort some day, remember me, and take care of your workers.

I know it will be obvious to you when you only have your few expedition members, and every little bit of help is needed, but as forts get bigger, their rulers tend to treat us working dwarves as.. expendable. When we were building the magma pump for this fortress, digging down a few layers, building some pumps so we could bring it to the surface, putting together the enormous corkscrews our metalsmith had made with the blocks our masons had made, one of our dwarves got stuck behind a new floodgate. Rather than wait to get him out, the baron ordered us to start the pump anyway by pulling the lever to connect the power. It was horrible. We heard his screams for ages.

Actually, now that I think of it, there are a lot of new fortresses being built lately. Some of them are being built to handle our population growth, some are being built just for experiments in fortress building. I heard of one fortress where they built it all above ground. Can you believe that?

Now, because you seem to be a decent dwarf, I’m going to let you in a few facts I’ve picked up since I’ve been appointed to chronicle our fort. This will be very important if you ever run a fort. They probably neglected to tell you this in whatever place they teach you nobles, what with all that “love the motherland” rubbish they try to breed into you.

While you run your fort, you’ll have to make sure you keep on top of all the industries. To make beer, you will need some plants. Now you could just gather these, and at first you will have to, but eventually you will want to set up some farms, or there won’t be enough beer to go around. After you’ve got your plants, you build your stills. Just go into the build menu with b, go to the workshop list with w, and select it from the list. You know what some dwarves are like when they haven’t had enough to drink, or if they’ve had to live on water, so you’ll want to be pretty sharp-ish about getting the booze. I mean, I know the best of us go into some strange moods at time, but as long as you give us what we need, you’ll usually get some nice items from it.

The other important area is your military. Not to blow my own horn or anything, but as a former miner, I’m pretty tough. But, that’s no good if you get attacked by a dragon or a titan. You’ll need a force of dedicated axedwarves and marksdwarves to deal with those nasties if you don’t want your fort to get ruined. You’ll need to have the smiths make weapons for them and build them a barracks to train in. And as your fort gets bigger, you will need those soldiers, as you will attract the attention of the nasties. Now, I’m no general, so organising that military is beyond me, but they seem pretty effective. They’ve ensured that so far, only the outside of the fort is a desolate wasteland.


I mean, sure, last time we looked, the outside looked like something from Boatmurdered, but we're fine in here.


Anyway, back to the advice. It’s amazing how much freedom there is in a new fort. It’s like the pile of rock is waiting to be sculpted into a masterpiece. My father was a sculptor, making little rock items to sell off to the elves, and he always used to say that what he did in the small, a good fort builder did in the large. I suppose he may have been influenced by my grandfather, who was an engraver. See those engraved walls around our dining hall? Those ones that the guests always are in awe of? When my grandfather started, they were just lumps of rock. But he smoothed them down, and later led a team of dwarves to engrave them. How can you get those in your fortress? Why, just appoint some engravers, and then designate (using the d key), some walls to be smoothed first, then engraved.

Now, I suppose you’ve heard something of Boatmurdered? You haven’t? Well, here is the tale of Boatmurdered. You know, when I was a boy, my father brought me to the ruins of the place. It really is a grim place. I’d always assumed it was a tale made to warn bad dwarves about the perils of a fort gone wrong. I felt that I’d probably enjoyed reading it too much, when I thought about all those dead dwarves.

The weird thing is, he talked to some of the former nobles there, while they were still alive. They had this odd attitude. Despite the constant elephant attacks, and other various disasters, they seemed to treat it all as fun.

Anyway, we’ve spent enough time chatting here. I’ve got some messages to deal with. Oh.. this one might interest you. Looks like you might get your turn to run a fortress sooner rather than later.

Or, I hear some folks are starting a new fortress as a group. Why not join them?

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