Start Here

If you know nothing about Dwarf Fortress, this page is the best place to start.

Dwarf Fortress is a freeware computer game developed by Bay12 Games. In it, you build a single fortress to expand the dwarf empire, amidst the backdrop of a vast, procedurally generated fantasy world. As you dig into the earth, gain riches, and expand your fortress, you must defend yourself from the dangers of the outside world, and from the terrors lurking deep underground.

You probably heard about Dwarf Fortress because of the interesting stories the game produces. If you haven’t read them already, here are two of the best ones:

The Hamlet of Tyranny – the most popular story on our site by far. It’s the story about a fortress overrun with demons, and the dwarves who fought back.

Bronzemurder – a fully illustrated battle report about a fortress attacked by a forgotten beast from the depths of the earth.

It is important to note that these stories are not role play or fan fiction. Certain details like dialogue are usually added in by the writer, but stories from Dwarf Fortress are so interesting because they actually happen inside the game. Details like “the punctured lung” or “cleaning up blood” aren’t invented to spice up a story. The game actually calculates battles, and everything else, to that level of detail.

Your first impression of the game might not be good. The simplistic graphics, obtuse user interface, high CPU requirements, and absurdly steep learning curve deter many people from playing. But for those who make the journey, the rewards are well worth it.

Dwarf Fortress can be downloaded for free here, but we recommend that you download the Lazy Newb Pack instead. It’s an easier to play version, with graphical tile sets and many other useful features.

To learn how to play, we recommend the constantly updated book Getting Started With Dwarf Fortress. Alternatively, you can try the wiki’s quick-start guide, these video tutorials, or these outdated but still useful written tutorials.

For Dwarf Fortress players, there is a subreddit, a forum, and a wiki.

Whether or not you choose to play the game, we encourage you to enjoy reading the stories it produces. Here’s a list of all the stories on our site.

Enjoy, and remember, losing is fun!

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