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[Excuse the geocities style page]
It has [a wiki] which includes "How do I start", but also includes copious spoilers.

Dwarf fortress is a strange mix of Roguelike and Sim.  Build your own mines of moria and defend them against lizards from the river and goblins from across the valley (and the elves if you annoy their ambassador enough and and and...)

Great fun.  Slow though.

The roguelike element comes in because it's a very extensive and quirky game and doesn't tell you everything that you want to know.  So there's always new tricks to discover.

[Have an interview] (it's got more features since I last checked it.)

[Boatmurdered] - the tongue-in-cheek diary of a fortress and its descent into a hellish garden of madness. --Requiem

It's well worth grabbing a [tileset] too. --Vitenka


ChrisHowlett tries to decide whether to give it a go.
It's very very complicated.  You will accidentally flood your first few fortresses.  But it's fun.  --Vitenka (in a micromanagement way, until it stops you micromanaging, I'm not sure quite what it is then.)
It has the whole 'random generator' humour thing going for it - your dwarves create works of art based upon your past history, and given that most fortresses will have a past history involving rampaging wild animals, insane criminals, goblin invasions, drowning and magma-related death, the fortress ends up being covered in disturbing and unintentionally humorous carvings. Surviving your first winter is a milestone, as is working out how to farm (although in the latest version farming is much, much easier as you don't need to irrigate). It is complicated, but once you get past the initial 'how do I not die in my first year' stage the complexity is mostly amusing rather than frustrating. --Requiem



Requiem's semi-sensical words of wisdom towards getting a fortress to work.

Bring seed and at least one grower. Don't hunt, farm. Plump helmet is the best crop. Don't make stone stockpiles unless you are trying to combat unemployment. Store valuable goods and food inside after your first year. Build a refuse pit, and if it's indoors then put a door on it. Cover your fortress in traps. Build stockpiles and farms in soil and everything else in stone. Engrave your dining room. Wood is for bins, barrels, beds and charcoal and nothing else. The following structures are essential: mason, carpenter, trade depot, wood burner (it's a furnace), smelter, forge, beds, tables and thrones, farm plot, kitchen, still. Don't cook more than half your plump helmet, you need it for wine. Make sure you have at least one of every single raw material at all times, or your dwarves will have a chance of going stark staring mad instead of creating artifacts.


I'm getting confused by hydrodynamics. I want to bring some river inside to give my dwarves easy water and fishing - say, a 5x5 pool. Suppose for the sake of argument that I have a river abutting my cliff. What do I need to cut, and where do I need floodgates/pressure pads for safety cut-offs? And is this a good idea anyway? --CH

z=1
 --#
 --#
 --#
 --#
 --#
 --#
 --#

z=0
 ~~#
 ~~#
 ~~#
 ~~#
 ~~#
 ~~#
 ~~#

Where # is cliff-face, ~ is water, and - is open space above water.

DwarfFortress hydrodynamics are kinda painful, but mostly does what you expect.  Water goes downhill, spreads out, moves faster under pressure.  The pool will need to be at or below the level of the river.

If you cut at z0 or below, the water will spread in.  It will flow in faster if you cut in from underneath the water.
To stop the flow filling your 5x5 cavern to the ceiling and then continuing up and filling everything in your fortress below z0, you'll want to put a floodgate in between the pool and the river BEFORE you connect to the river, and only carefully open it for a little while.
This is where making lots of little test fortresses and experimenting comes in.  --Vitenka
And how do I give the dwarves access?
You'll want to dig into the pool from above (or hollow it all out beforehand, leaving a way in from above the level of the river.)  If you can't manage to get above the level and still be underground, another useful trice is to dig out a reservoir with several floodgates, which you can then use to empty metered amounts of water in.  Even nicer though is a flowing river, which you'll need the abyss to achieve.  (Or run it off the edge of the map somewhere lower than the river entry.)  --Vitenka (a constantly flowing river will chew CPU though.)
''That is, cut a channel above it? Since (d)igging leaves the floor in place. And presumably a reasonable trick for measuring is a floodgate in the entrance tunnel, controlled by a (say) 4-7 pressure plate in the reservoir. And how do I stop my dwarves drowning when opening the last space to the river? Or flooding the fortress through the access tunnel to that spot? --CH

Requiem gives advice:

Your excavation should look like this: (. is excavated floor, , is channel, X is floodgate, >< are stairs, * is 'see below' and => is whatever you want to do with your water)

z=1
 --###########
 --#.........#
 --.....>....#
 --*,,,,,,,,,=>
 --###########
 --#
 --#

z=0
 ~~#
 ~~#
 ~~#####<#####
 ~~#X........=>
 ~~###########
 ~~#
 ~~#


The z=0 tier will make itself when you excavate the channel on z=1.
Now build whatever you were going to use the water for on =>, and build and link to a lever your floodgate at X.
Now build a channel at the space marked *.
Your channel will now fill with water when you open your floodgate.

Aha! So, if I just want the water for drinking and fishing, I'd leave another # at both =>s, and I could stick a pressure plate in the z=0 level for automatic flow control? --CH
Yes, that'd work. You could always use screw pumps to get water out later if you wanted to make muddy caverns. I haven't messed around a lot with pressure plates; I don't know if it would in fact activate too soon and you'd get too shallow a channel. --Requiem


Another tip from Requiem - how to get rid of spare stone!

Dig a corridor three spaces long, with nothing you care about underneath it (and no plans to mine there). Dig a channel in the last space of the corridor. Designate the channel space as a 'garbage dump' in the 'activity areas' menu. (Do not designate it as a refuse stockpile!) Put a door on the corridor; make it pet-proof but don't lock it. Now, you can loo(k) at the stone you want rid of, order it to be (d)umped, and your dwarves will take it and pile it in the chute. An infinite amount of stone will fit in the stone chute. Just don't dump anything you actually want. You can dump other refuse as well (the door will stop the miasma generated by rotting refuse getting into the rest of your fortress) - but you probably want to have an actual refuse stockpile (again, with a door) somewhere, because you will want bones for crossbow-bolt making.


ChrisHowlett has made several forays into DF, but generally not stayed enthused long enough to play more than about two years. Which he considers a shame. However, it's not all been a waste - yesterday I found a cryptic crossword clue whose answer (surface: "stone") was "olivine".


ComputerGame
OP=Vitenka


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