Dwarf Fortress – Guide for New Players

A brief guide with some of the more obtuse or easily missed functions of DF most helpful to beginners like me.

Beginners Guide

All credit goes to Sea Jr.!


The focus of this guide is to help remove the obscurity from from the game and menus for people just starting out so you can focus on actually playing instead of scouring menus trying to work out how to change one thing.


  • If you need to erase a dig order, right click to exit that menu first, then {x} to use the eraser. Right click and {m}ine again to continue.
  • You can click the yellow arrow in the mining toolbar to access blueprints and other options.
  • You can extend a store pile or a zone at any time by selecting it and using the paintbrush tool.
  • To mark livestock for slaughter; creat{u}res > pets/livestock tab > cleaver. You can castrate animals here too. Maybe you have too many cats… but meat’s meat.
  • By default creatures marked here will be slaughtered and butchered automatically (make sure you have the butcher and other workshops found under farming) but this behaviour could be changed in the labour {y} menu.
  • Smoothing will increase the value of a room. Use the square icon or {v}. Be sure to mark the floors and surrounding walls of your room for smoothing. You can further improve your smoothed room with engravings, clicking on a completed engraving will tell you what it is – and a high quality design may depict some world history.
  • By clicking on various stone you can see its uses, including what ore it can be smelted into.
  • To view the legends codex for your world save and ‘Retire the fortress (for the time being)’. On the title screen ‘start new game in active world’ and select legends mode. When you return to the title screen you can resume your game without issue.

Best Practice

  • Avoid ‘All’ storage piles. Customise them to exclude all refuse (except shells) and corpses. Food should also go in its own pile closer to your kitchens and so on.
  • Make a store on the surface for refuse and corpses as rotting items with exude miasma.
  • {Z}one a meeting area so your dwarves have somewhere indoors to chill.
  • Zone an office (minimum; a room with a door and a chair) for your Manager and Bookkeeper. These are essential positions within your fortress. Assign these jobs in the {N}obles menu. Assign a dwarf to an office by selecting the zone and +dwarf.
  • Similarly, you create hospitals, taverns and temples by selecting a zone and +shield.
  • Some items take on a different name when made with different materials. There are ‘wooden chairs’ and ‘rock thrones’, ‘wooden chests’ and ‘stone coffers’, they function the same. Be careful crafting too many items with wood as it will impact your relationship with elves and they will refuse to trade with you, or worse…


I’ve completed a trade but everything is still one the depo!

  • Items will be locked in the depo until the trading caravan has left. After that they should be hauled into your storage, but if there are a lot of items it will likely take a long time. Make sure you have plenty of space in your storerooms for the new items.

Merchants do appear to be bugged rn and won’t always leave properly after their trade has completed, this might be impact your ability to unpack the depo.

Egor Opleuha
About Egor Opleuha 7724 Articles
Egor Opleuha, also known as Juzzzie, is the Editor-in-Chief of Gameplay Tips. He is a writer with more than 12 years of experience in writing and editing online content. His favorite game was and still is the third part of the legendary Heroes of Might and Magic saga. He prefers to spend all his free time playing retro games and new indie games.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.