Dwarf Fortress

Dwarf Fortress

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Dwarf Fortress Intermediate Guide: Strike The Earth Like a Master
By NimrodX and 1 collaborators
This is a pixel-bound codex. The written portion consists of a massive guide, authored by NimrodX. It concerns dark secrets of the transformation of the human Peasant into the Master Craftsdwarf and the eventual construction of ☼Masterwork☼ fortresses. The writing contains crisp changes in topic. Overall the prose is verbose but passable.

So you got through the quick in-game tutorial, and it's pretty good at first, but now you want to know how to play like a master and not like a noob. Maybe you want to survive, but even if Losing is Fun then it's more fun when you do it like a master, legendary crutchwalking with a missing arm and leg, in a terrifying freezing savage volcanic biome. Or maybe you're just sick of manually adding individual jobs to workshops cluttered with tattered loincloths and want some proper management and bookkeeping around here. This intermediate guide will attempt to cover all of the major game mechanics you want to know about.

The first part of the guide is sequenced in a roughly optimal "to do" order for setting up a new fortress, even in dangerous environments, but as the guide progresses the order goes increasingly from strictly sequential to variable ordering to be determined by the player depending on circumstances.

Delve secure lodgings with stout labor and Strike the Earth!
About the Game
This about section is for those who haven't bought the premium version yet and might be looking at this to get a better idea of what the game is like.

For 20 years, Dwarf Fortress has essentially been an experiment in insanely detailed simulation of every little thing while mostly ignoring usability and graphics. This is what it's famous for. Due to the research-project-like nature of it, it has fallen more into the influential than the successful category. Those who like it also like tinkering with highly complex detailed simulations. Most similar games are casual by comparison, thus the huge size of this guide.

With the release of the "premium version", the graphics and usability are starting to get some improvement, but the priority is still on the simulation detail. The "classic version" is still free and the game mechanics are the same, so I would encourage anyone "on the fence" about buying the premium version to try out the classic version[dwarffortresswiki.org].

Is this game early access or something?
Tarn and Zack Adams started working on DF in October of 2002 which means the game is more than 20 years old now. But they don't consider the game "done" (1.0) until they've implemented pretty much everything[www.bay12games.com] they can possibly imagine! So it should be thought of as "early access" (regardless of how it's classified on Steam) and probably will be until 2031 at the earliest. But it isn't a tech demo and it has been very playable for most of the last 20 years. The unexpected and often funny behavior resulting from the complexity and new features has become part of the "cult appeal" of the game.
Wiki, Forum, and Group Like a Master
I am attempting to link everything possible to the appropriate wiki article, but many things are still not mentioned and not linked. Since there are still lots of things to look up, the first and foremost pro tip is: use the wiki. This game has been around for over 20 years now, and people have accumulated tons of information about it.
Don't forget that even if the UI has recently gotten an update the game is really old. So if you find something and need more info, check the wiki. It's the reference manual.

Keep in mind that some stuff on the wiki is a bit out of date, even for the classic version, and more so for the new premium version. But most stuff is still valid for current premium and classic.

Classic Version
If you don't want to pay for the new premium version just yet, or just want to play the classic version for any reason, you can get it or a "starter pack" (includes utilities) free:

And also don't forget to "forum like a master" because most of the discussion about DF takes place on the official forums and other places besides Steam:
  • Official Forums[www.bay12forums.com]
  • Others are listed on the wiki home page.

Steam Group
There's a Steam group dedicated to this guide, other guides, possible future guides, and to DF in general:
Consider joining up if you want to support the writing of this and other guides, and especially if you find this guide to be useful or have comments.
Lose Like a Master
They say Losing is Fun, but its really only fun when you Lose like a Master and not like a noob.

Losing like a noob means that you let all your dwarves starve to death while trying to drink water with their hands in a bedless dirt hole without ever having brewed your first alcoholic beverage, crafted your first mug, or carved out your first decorated feast hall. Losing this way is not fun.

When masters lose, it's because a vampire came to visit the fortress, sucked the blood out of half of the dwarves, and then a forgotten beast showed up on a rampage and trashed everything while mother dwarves ran into battle carrying their babies, then went into tantrum mode when their babies got killed. Oh and then they tantrum spiraled and started killing each other too. You have to admit this is much more entertaining than everyone starving to death without any mugs of beer in their unsmoothed bedless dirt hole.

And one of the dwarves might have managed to carve a wall with scenes of the beast slaughtering other dwarves before he died, which will later be discovered by some other dwarves wondering what happened.

So if you lose like a master then don't worry about it, just start a new fortress because your trashed fortress ruin is still part of the history of the world and it can be reclaimed or visited by adventurers later when adventure mode is back in action. Consider yourself to have successfully created interesting world history and features that would otherwise not exist and which can literally come back into play later. This kind of thing is supposed to happen sometimes.

A noob will give up, but a master will just create a new fortress and do it all again, then go visit the ruin later. And they will end up with a world with a bunch of trashed fortress ruins everywhere, after which they will visit them all in adventure mode to get the fancy gear that's probably still thrown around.
Keyboard shortcuts shown as a-b-c mean "hit a, then hit b, then hit c".

Keys are shown in a case sensitive manner, so T means hold shift and hit T.

I'm trying to link everything possible to it's wiki article, but in some cases use of bold and capitalization indicates the names of UI buttons or things in the game like skills and items when a link doesn't seem necessary.

Tip Boxes
Things that need special attention such as warnings about bugs, or just advice that kind of goes off on a bit of a tangent, is contained in a box like this.

This guide is still a constant work-in-progress.
Generate Worlds Like a Master
World Generation is perhaps the core thing that really makes Dwarf Fortress what it is. Rather than write Lord of the Rings, Toady wrote a computer program that rewrites a new Lord of the Rings as often as you want to run it. So it makes some sense to learn about the configuration parameters.

Generating worlds is not very difficult, and at first you will probably be happy with the defaults, but later you might want to take some things to the extreme such as creating a jungle world, or creating an icy volcanic world with a high level of evil and savagery. These extreme parameters can cause all playable races in the world to die during world generation, so it can be kind of interesting to see how bad things can get and still be viable.

I won't bother to go into much detail about world generation here because there is a lot of detailed info on the wiki about world generation including all of the Advanced parameters.

But here are some tips for the basic options:

Some tips on basic options. "Frequent" minerals could work out, but anything less than that will make metal a rare thing.

For some examples of how to do extreme things with Advanced parameters, see Worldgen Examples[dwarffortresswiki.org] though some may be somewhat out of date since worldgen has been changed over time.
Embark Like a Master
Noobs would be advised to do the "quick start and short tutorial" because it is rather quick and will show you the basics, but pretty soon you're going to want to embark like a master and search out exactly the sort of site you want to embark in.

If you haven't done the quick start tutorial yet then do that because it actually is very quick with only about 10 panels of stuff to go through. If you then want to re-embark yourself then just click the gear icon in the upper right, abandon the fortress, and start a new game.

So from now on the rest of this guide will assume:
  • that you've already done the short tutorial.
  • that you have a relatively sane world with minerals set to "Everywhere" and the other basic parameters close to the defaults.
An example sane (at least by dwarven standards) world.

By now you have probably figured out that you can scroll with WASD and zoom in and out with mouse buttons. If you feel like it then look around at your world manually, but once you're done browsing select Find embark location and set the search tool to finding something the dwarves can deal with.

But wait, lets take a little detour to talk about.....

Origin Civilization
This isn't really super important, but you might want to look through the choices and pick the biggest civilization. All of the choices will be dwarven because this is Dwarf Fortress not sissy elf treehouse or human village or something. The main impact of this decision is that a larger civilization should have more immigrants for you.

So for this example I'll pick this one shown in the screenshot which is a decent size for the world I have. Just pick big.

Find embark location
Until you're actually a master, you want to pick an embark location that is possible for you to deal with. In the screenshot on the right are the main settings to be concerned about. More tips on each one are as follows:
  • X and Y Dimensions - Keep in mind that your embark dimensions are limited to 6x6, and a larger embark rectangle can contain a smaller one, so set this to smaller sizes like 2x2 or 4x4 to prevent the search from failing and give you more variety.
  • Savagery[dwarffortresswiki.org] - This is mostly about how giant the wildlife is. Pick "Calm" until you're looking for more of a challenge in this arena. Savage areas have giant versions of animals and animal people though the animal people are usually non-aggressive.
  • Spirit[dwarffortresswiki.org] - Good and Normal are fine, though the "good" areas come with some odd challenges as well as benefits. Evil biomes have nasty weird evil living in them and shouldn't be selected until you're looking for more of a fight.
  • Elevation[dwarffortresswiki.org] - This isn't too critical, but at low elevation you're more likely to get flat ground and large water. High elevation is like mountains with more cliffs.
  • Temperature[dwarffortresswiki.org] - This works like you'd expect with the extremes being more difficult to survive in. Pick Medium until you get interested in desert, jungle, or arctic situations.
  • Rain[dwarffortresswiki.org] - Rain makes dwarves unhappy, but it will fill "murky pool" tiles so can provide a water source.
  • Drainage[dwarffortresswiki.org] - This doesn't affect water removal, but instead relates to world gen erosion. High drainage areas will have hills and mountains, low drainage will have lakes and rivers.
  • Flux[dwarffortresswiki.org] Stone Layer - Always say "Yes" until the economy gets an overhaul. Flux stone is needed to make steel, so you really want some. After the game gets some economic overhaul you should be able to trade for a supply of it, but until then not having it will be somewhat painful.
  • Aquifers[dwarffortresswiki.org] - For purposes of the search, say "No" here because you want some part of the map to not have an aquifer present. You do want part of the map to have an aquifer, but you can handle that manually as described below by including some area that doesn't match the search. Just try to avoid having heavy aquifer over your entire map. Light aquifer is ok because those are easy to get through, but the guide will assume you have some aquifer-free area on the map.
  • River[dwarffortresswiki.org] - This one is really up to you, but you really want some source of water and a river can provide power. They normally come with fish, and sometimes some problematic creatures.
  • Soil[dwarffortresswiki.org] - Until you know how to flood mud onto stone cave floor or farm in dangerous caverns, you probably want at least one soil layer to make farming a easier. Once you get better at controlled flooding or defending cavern floor then you won't need this, but until then a little dirt will be convenient.
  • Clay and Sand[dwarffortresswiki.org] - These don't matter except for making clay and glass crafts. I would just ignore them for now.
  • Iron[dwarffortresswiki.org] - Iron is pretty important so even if you select nothing else, say "Yes" to Iron to go with your Flux Stone that you already said "Yes" to. You can survive without iron and steel but dwarves live for steel.
  • Gold and other metals - These aren't really that important, and will just limit the search results too much or cause it to fail. So I recommend ignoring them.
In summary, the main things you don't want in an ideal peaceful area are, in order of posed difficulty:
  • Heavy aquifers covering your entire embark zone (but you do want at least partial coverage of at least a light aquifer)
  • Evil
  • Savagery
  • Temperature extremes (not that big of a deal)
The main things you do want are, in order of importance:
  • One or more soil layers
  • River or an aquifer covering at least a part of your embark zone area
  • Iron
  • Flux Stone
So hit Begin and the map will get scanned. Once the search is done the found areas will show up in bright green, which might be a little hard to spot if only one or two areas were found. They look like the image shown on right. The red rectangles are existing settlements where you can't settle.

Zoom in on an area that looks good and hit Embark to start selecting the specific rectangle you will be using for survival attempt.

Select Embark Zone
The thing to do now is to pay very careful attention to this information panel in the upper right that will show you what sort of stuff is in the single tile you have under the mouse cursor. This shows only the single tile under the cursor, not the whole embark rectangle. So check out each tile in the area you are considering for the embark rectangle and make sure you are getting what you do want and not what you don't.

Also note that you can do stuff like search for small squares with no aquifers, then embark with a larger embark zone that includes the aquifer-free map tiles along with some tiles that do have aquifers.

More distance from hostiles might help too.
Difficulty Settings (Like a Noob or Master)
I usually just leave these at the default and setting Enemies and Economy to normal is reasonable, but the great thing about DF is that you can play it any way you want. Sometimes the "pro" thing to do if you just want to work on something specific and not be annoyed is disable sieges, raise attack thresholds, or whatever you want.

Sometimes you want everything as normal, but you find one particular thing especially annoying. Like I find vampires really annoying early on, so this time I'm cranking up the divisor on the fraction of vampires that immigrate to the fortress. Hopefully I won't get one until much later.

And maybe at some point you'll think the sieges are too easy and try to crank the difficulty up to near impossible so you can create a more interesting fortress ruin on the map.

In short, just do whatever you feel like with this but at least play on "Normal" once or twice to get an idea of what the default is like. You wouldn't want to miss out on all the fun all the time, or not even know what it is.
Preparing Carefully Like a Master 1: Skills
Customizing your band of dwarves is something you could just skip, but it's worth learning how to do it because in some especially challenging situations, like trying to settle a a terrifying arctic volcanic biome, you're going to need to make sure no points are wasted on anything useless.

Picking Dwarves
You don't really get to pick your dwarves. Instead you get a random bunch with different mental issues. These can affect their skill aptitudes tremendously. But you can decide which one to assign what skills to.

You can ignore this detail and play casually, but its worth at least glancing at all of them and if you want to know more see Attribute[dwarffortresswiki.org] on the wiki. Of particular note is the info in the screenshot on the right about leader attributes (provided by Kasa), and some info here[dwarffortresswiki.org] about doctors and soldiers. Otherwise just guess and you'll usually be right about what attributes work well with what skills.

Picking Skills
The first tip here is to remember:
  • You don't need most skills at first.
  • Dwarves learn by doing.
You could start out with completely unskilled dwarves, just assign them work, and they would skill up in whatever they're doing. Often you end up having to do this anyway with immigrants that arrive with worthless or no skills. And speaking of immigrants, remember you're going to have other dwarves show up with random good skills too. Starting skills are only for what you want a leg up on immediately and don't have much of an impact after a few fortress years.

The two types of skills you want to pick to start out with are:
  1. Things that are immediately needed that you don't want to wait for.
  2. Things like medical, combat, social, and other non-labor skills that have limited opportunities to train up because you can't swing a pick at them. You usually want at least some of these at the start even if they're not immediately useful.
What this amounts to differs depending on what the main goal is. Here the main goal is to make things easier at the start for those with less experience, so here are some decent expeditionary roles that try to accomplish that. Most of them have an immediately useful skill and a secondary skill needed relatively soon. Some are purely hard-to-acquire skills like the broker.

Expedition Leader/Broker
- Appraiser: 3
- Judge of Intent: 3
- Persuader: 2
- Negotiator: 2

- Miner: 5 (faster mining)
- Masonry: 5 (faster constructions)

Stone Carver/Armorsmith
- Stone Carver: 5 (faster higher quality large items at a Stoneworker workshop)
- Armorsmith: 5

Trinket Crafter/Weaponsmith
- Stonecrafter: 5 (faster higher quality rock trinkets at a Crafter workshop)
- Weaponsmith: 5

- Planter: 5 (higher crop yield)
- Carpenter: 5 (faster higher quality large items at a Carpenter workshop)

- Cook: 5 (higher quality meals)
- Brewer: 5 (faster booze production)

- Diagnostician: 5
- Surgeon: 5

Optional: Combat Specialist
If desired, replace the cook/brewer with a combat dwarf:
- Dodger: 4
- Axedwarf: 2
- Shield User: 2
- Observer: 2

Strategy Variations
The skills suggested above assume you want to show up with food supplies in a reasonably safe area and start farming immediately. It's also possible to do other things like show up with survival skills (Ambusher, Fisher, Herbalist) and no food, then hunt and forage, but that's more difficult. Some people even start with something like three doctors and four scholars, sacrificing all immediately useful skills for the longer term benefit of starting with skills very hard to acquire later except by chance.

Here's a quick breakdown of which of these skills are most immediately useful and which are difficult to acquire with training:
  • Used first:
    • Miner - Easy to train by digging dirt especially, but helps to have one dwarf with some skill in this area. The others will learn on the job, just bring more than one pick.
    • Carpenter - Carpenter will help a dwarf crank out higher quality wood items faster and you will need some wood items immediately. Woodcutter isn't really needed because that only increases speed and you don't need to do much of it compared to mining.
    • Stone Carver - Making better quality furniture-sized items at a Stoneworker workshop. This is important because you usually have more stone than anything else.
    • Planter, Brewer, Cook - Planting determines crop yield so is most important out of these. Cook determines meal quality which helps keep dwarves happy. Brewing skill only increases speed so is least important.
    • Ambusher, Fisher, Herbalist - These are best selected if bringing no food. If you try this then go all in but at least start with some of each underground seed type.

  • Used soon but not immediately:
    • Appraiser, Judge of Intent, Persuader, Negotiator - These are very useful for caravan trading and are hard to train up later.
    • Mason - Speed for building certain constructions, so having some skill will speed up early construction. At first you will mostly be digging, so this is not so important.
    • Stonecrafter - This is for turning junk stone into trinkets for trade using a Crafter workshop. Skill here will crank out more dwarfbucks of mechandise before the first caravan shows up. This makes starting a little easier but isn't critical.
    • Gem Cutter - This is also good for producing trade items, but with gems instead of the more common stone. Also not critical and the points are probably better spent on Stonecrafter for reasons described later.
    • Weaponsmith, Armorsmith, Blacksmith - You will probably have less metal to train dwarves with especially early on, so it helps to start out with dwarves with some skill in these areas. Ideally they should be secondary skills on different dwarves because they won't be used immediately unless you bring ore with you.
    • Medical Skills - These are very difficult to train so it makes sense to start with some. Diagnostician is most important since no other treatment can happen without it, and surgery affects success rate. The others only affect speed, but arguably suturing and wound dressing are important to stop bleeding sooner.

  • A quick guide to combat skills for starting in more hostile situations:
    • Dodger - The best defensive skill. This seems to be the highest priority of experienced players.
    • Fighter - Weapon-independent attack skill.
    • Axedwarf (and any weapon-specific skill) - More attack bonus than Fighter, but requires the specific weapon type. Also affects defense in the form of parrying ability.
    • Shield User - Shield blocking skill. Not quite as good as dodging.
    • Observer - Avoids surprises so dodging and blocking are possible in more cases.
    • Armor User - Mostly affects movement speed in armor, but requires getting hit to skill up.
    • Discipline - Avoids panic, shock, and fleeing from battle.
    • Swimming - Avoids drowning death when a dwarf dodges into or is forced into deep water.
    • Leader and Teacher - Hard to train. Helps one dwarf better train others with skills they have.
For the love of the dwarven gods, don't pick Fish Dissector. There are some useless skills in the game currently that relate to unimplemented mechanics. For a full skill reference, see the Skill[dwarffortresswiki.org] page, but for now the safe starting build described above is pretty good.
Preparing Carefully Like a Master 2: Items and Animals
The default equipment you start with is ok, but here are some things you must not remove and some things that you can ditch if you want to gain some points for more stuff:
  • Anvil - This is absolutely critical! You need an anvil to make an anvil, and they must be made of iron or steel. So if you are somehow dumb enough to start without an anvil then you will do no metal working until you can trade for one. Maybe some people are ok with crossing their fingers for the first caravan to have one, but everyone else should have one. Steel anvils gain you nothing and just waste points.
  • Pick - This is even more critical! You must have one or you are screwed! Not having a pick will be even worse than not having an anvil. Without a pick, you might as well plan to live in the trees like an elf. You will be unable to dig. Ideally you should bring at least 2 (preferably 3) picks to allow more dwarves to mine, or in case a pick is lost. Material doesn't affect digging, only weapon value of the pick.
  • Axe - You need at least one or you are similarly screwed when it comes to obtaining wood. With no pick or axe you'd be super screwed. Material doesn't affect woodcutting, only combat.
  • Food, Drink, and Seeds - Don't start with less than the overall default amount of food, drink, and seeds unless you've picked wilderness survival skills and know what you're doing. Especially don't ditch the seeds. I recommend doubling the seeds. But you can definitely exchange default food for cheaper food and save points. Always bring some seeds even if you bring no food.
  • Cloth, Thread, Ropes, Bags - These are useful for different things, and tougher to produce. So bring some of them all, but you can pick cheaper materials for the same things (leather, spider silk) and save some points.
  • Weapons, Shields, Armor - If starting with a combat dwarf, get them at least copper armor and a shield. If possible, get iron equipment. Battle axes can double as weapons and tree choppers. Picks can be used as weapons, but any proper weapon like a battle axe is superior to them.
The rest of the stuff is a clue as to what is good to have so only substitute it, don't remove it, unless you really have a plan to construct it immediately, then construct it immediately if you do. Wood things like buckets and crutches can be removed and easily constructed on site, especially when not immediately needed. For now at least bring a log for each "unnecessary" wood item removed.

Things to possibly add or change:
  • 1-2 more copper picks, total 2-3.
  • Double the default number of seeds.
  • Diversify your starting booze for more variety. This helps with dwarf mood.
  • Charcoal or Coke. Bringing a single block of fuel will jumpstart coal refining as soon as coal ore is found. (Fuel or magma is needed to refine coal, and bringing a charcoal allows you to skip building a wood furnace to make one.) If there are no trees, this becomes more important.
  • Replace meat with one each of the cheapest type of meat from each animal species to get a free barrel per specie.
  • Take one unit of each type of milk to get a free barrel per milk type. These can be emptied quickly by making cheese at a Farmer's workshop.
  • Ore and fuel can be brought to make metal items like extra picks and axes rather than bringing the items themselves, but this makes things more difficult if you're less experienced so it isn't recommended for our example.
  • Some people bring stone or blocks for specific difficult situations.
  • By default, put all excess points, if you have them, into some standard material like logs. But also don't forget more un-boxable stuff (such as barrels and logs) means the move-in hauling takes longer.
You can make almost everything on site, so usually just go cheap to save points.

For animals[dwarffortresswiki.org], I think this is a good absolute minimal recommendation:
  • 1 Male, 2 Female Dogs[dwarffortresswiki.org]
  • 1 Male, 2 Female Cats[dwarffortresswiki.org]
  • At least 1 Male, 5 Females of at least one of the following poultry types:
    • Chickens[dwarffortresswiki.org] (more eggs, less meat, faster early reproduction)
    • Blue peafowl[dwarffortresswiki.org] (best middle compromise, most optimal overall)
    • Turkeys[dwarffortresswiki.org] (most meat and eggs but slow reproduction due to 2 year adult growth)
The minimum recommended dogs and cats is so a bunch will breed for vermin control. Dogs can be trained as war or hunting dogs, but they can be trained almost instantly on site even with no skill.

After conserving points as described above, you will be able to spend more on animals, and the birds are cheap, so you can easily bring more. Bringing multiple poultry types is a good idea, as is doubling the turkeys due to their 2 year growth lag.

The poultry are super cheap, easy to take care of, and will really crank out the eggs and lots more birds. Eggs can be cooked or hatched, raised, and butchered for meat and fat to make the tallow you need for soap. The skin can be used for parchment for books or leather which can easily supply the whole fortress with bags, clothes, armor, and other leather gear. The bones can be used for crossbow bolts or crafts/decoration and the skulls used for authentic dwarven skull totem souvenirs to sell. About the only thing you can't do with poultry is brew booze.

See sections below for more on raising poultry and keeping grazing animals alive.

More on Embark Items
For more ideas on embark items, see here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2898947117&tscn=1672848169

Save Profile
Once you come up with something good, don't lose you're work. Hit Save Profile at the bottom so you can just load it next time. This is especially useful if you came up with a special purpose SWAT team like "Dwarven Assault Miners" or somesuch and want to accumulate some special-purpose builds like this.

Change any names you want and make sure you spent all the points you can, then finally you're ready to actually Embark on your journey to your new home.
Get Organized Immediately Like a Master
The map appears, you get an intro text about your journey, stout labor and bla bla, and hit the button to continue.....

Pause and Unpause the Game Smartly
Should you unpause the game and let the clock run while you look around? No! While this might not be a disaster in easy situations, we're trying to train you up to handle the worst cases. So always keep the game paused until you've done all your set up and your initial task designations.

Generally speaking it's best to pause the game until you've designated everything that can be done in parallel at the moment, then unpause it until something is completed that makes more designations possible. This way dwarves can be working in parallel as much as possible. For example designate rooms to be dug out, then unpause, then pause again once one is dug out and designate a workshop to be constructed, then unpause, and so on.

Assign Administrative Positions
Before doing anything else, hit Nobles[dwarffortresswiki.org] (n or the crown icon) and do this:

Nobles and Administrators Screen.

Assign the expedition leader[dwarffortresswiki.org] to all these positions except for the Chief Medical Dwarf[dwarffortresswiki.org] who should be your doctor.

The reason for doing this stuff immediately is below, which is completely optional but also good to do just because this is Dwarf Fortress and anything could happen.

Create a Squad
This is optional and isn't absolutely immediately necessary if you are not trying to settle a dangerous area, but I'm going to cover it anyway so you will know how to at least try to kill anything that could be causing problems in the beginning. Since this is DF, you never know what might happen.

Tool Labor and Squad Conflicts
The Miners, Woodcutters, and Hunters work details conflict with each other. Avoid putting any one dwarf in more than one of these work details. Also, don't set the Schedule Routine for the squad you create to "Ready" ("Equip/always") because their squad uniform equipment will most likely make tool labor dwarves unable to carry the necessary tool. More detail is provided under Work Details and Military Training below.

Hit Squad sidebar (q) in the lower right corner of the screen and do this:

The "squad sidebar".

Place all dwarves in one big squad. You're not going to start training them or setting up a proper military organization right now, but we want them all in one big squad so we can order them all to kill something or move to a specific place if needed.

Issuing squad orders. Don't accidentally click the X and disband the squad when you just wanted to close the sidebar. This is probably the worst part of the UI.

You probably didn't start with most equipment a squad would ideally have, but that's ok because the objective here is to just be able to tell all the dwarves to gang up and kill things with their bare hands and teeth, or move somewhere safer, if the need arises. Even some moderately nasty creatures can be killed by punching, kicking, biting dwarves when they're outnumbered 7 to 1, even moreso if the dwarves actually swing their picks and axes.

Now close the squad sidebar until you need it again.

Shortly we will get to setting up an Office[dwarffortresswiki.org] for management and bookkeeping, which we aren't ready for yet, but at least we got the positions assignment out of the way, and as it turns out these functions work without an office if your population is lower than 20.
Strike the Earth Like a Master
Since it is assumed that you have done the basic quick start tutorial, this section will cover starting up a fort from an intermediate level perspective that assumes you already know basics of digging and setting of stockpiles. Now its time to get a little more strategic with the planning of rooms, defense, and configuration of stockpiles.

Moving to Safety Immediately
Normally this is no rush, but I'm going to assume that one day you might want to settle a terrifying freezing savage volcano or something and will need shelter and safety immediately. So lets cover how to do that, should it be necessary, without sacrificing too much in the way of planning.

Dig a Ramp
Normally you'd just dig a stairwell first, but since you already know how to do that, and we want to start preparing for caravans that will eventually have wagons too, lets go over using ramps[dwarffortresswiki.org].

Every 3D tile in the game actually consists of two sections: the main space on the level, and a thin floor "plate". I will call these wall section and floor section like the wiki does[dwarffortresswiki.org]. When you just "dig normally" the wall section of the cube is removed and the floor section remains.

But when you "channel"[dwarffortresswiki.org] in a cube where the wall section is empty you do two things: 1) remove the floor section of that cube on the current level and 2) turn the wall section of the cube under the floor into a ramp (it is passable but not empty).

This means that when you channel, not only will the floor section be removed on the current level but the wall section of the cube under that, on the level below, will become half-filled with "ramp". Dwarves can then walk down one level to that passable-but-not-totally-empty cube area and "dig normally" horizontally as though they were digging into any other wall.

Here is a diagram from the wiki showing how this works. Don't worry if this takes some getting used to, or if you make some mistakes you have to fix at some point, because it's a little confusing.

Diagram of how walls, floors, and different mining options work. The light cyan thin tiles show a removed floor section and the green ones are floor sections that are still filled.

Stairway Issues
In the classic version of the game you would manually designate up, down, or up/down stairs[dwarffortresswiki.org], so you could always just build up/down stairs and always extend them up and down. In the premium version, the game forces you to specify at least 2 z-levels of staircase and forces the top and bottom to be up-only and down-only. While this allows you to extend an existing staircase down, it causes problems extending an existing staircase up. Workarounds: Always designate staircases one level higher than needed, then use x and remove the top down-only staircase designation. In some cases you may also have to ramp up each level manually, then dig stairs back down.

Back to the entrance ramp: Eventually we want our entrance ramp to be three tiles wide, but for now lets just dig out one.

So select Dig (m) and then Dig a channel (u) and click twice on one of the ground tiles immediately north of the wagon. Note that "Dig a ramp" actually digs a ramp into a wall then digs out the ceiling above the ramp, so that's not what we need for ramping down. Use "Dig a channel".

Unpause the game until the ramp is dug then pause again.

Note that you could also just dig horizontally into a hillside if there's one around, but I wanted to make sure to cover ramps. So I'm just going to assume you're on flat ground and want to start digging where you are.

Digging In
Now move the view down a level and dig a short tunnel off the ramp followed by a 7x7 room. We're picking 7x7 because we eventually want this to become our trade depot and we want to enlarge the ramp and tunnel to 3 tiles wide, but for now this going to be our general stockpile. If you want to enlarge the tunnel and ramp to 3 wide now go ahead because it won't take long, but in a hostile situation its better to leave it one tile wide so you can wall the tunnel off faster.

Initial digging designation. If not in a hurry, you may actually want to dig multiple ramps down multiple levels to get into a stone layer. This will give you smoothable walls, stone for making stuff, and more protection against digging enemies. A longer entrance hall might also be good.

Unpause until this is dug out then pause again.

Moving In
Create a stockpile over the whole room, then select "All" in the configuration, then hit "Custom" and disable All Refuse like this:

Also disable Corpses. I forgot to do that before I took the screenshot.

A second thing we want to do here to keep the dwarves from milling around outside where it could be dangerous is set this as the meeting area.

Select Zones (z), select Meeting Area, and drag over the whole room to cover the same area as the stockpile. Don't bother to name it because it isn't going to be here very long. The dwarves will not be happy long-term with an ugly dirt hole as their meeting hall.

Finally, move the view back up, select the wagon (which may be a little difficult with the dwarves and animals sitting all over it), and click the remove icon.

Demolish wagon for wood.

The wagon is useless but the wood you get from it could be quite useful in some situations with few trees. A very noob thing to do leave the wagon sitting there when you could desperately use wood you get by deconstructing it.

Note that the 7x7 stockpile might seem big, but you don't have any storage bins yet so you're probably going to need more stockpile space. Dig out another 7x7 or so room to the north of the first one and place another "All with Refuse and Corpses Disallowed" stockpile in that room.

Safe At Last
After unpausing for a bit, and with sufficient stockpile space, you should see your wagon get deconstructed, everything moved inside to the stockpile, and the drawves hanging around the meeting area.

If there were a lot of "fun" outside this would be the point where you would want to wall your dwarves in, everything else out, using whatever material they have available (which might only be wood from the wagon, but ideally would be stone). To do this you'd use the Constructions menu under b-n.

You should end up with something that looks like this:

I only dug the ramp down one level into sand, because I was lazy and sand is faster to dig. Later I can construct stone walls and floors, and possibly above ground walls and floors.

Think in 3D
Even though most of the screenshots here show a flat single-level layout for things, just because that's easier to illustrate in one screenshot, it is worth mentioning that more efficient designs should ideally take advantage of three dimensions. For example, input and output stockpiles for workshops can be located above and below them with four stairways at each corner leading to each. Anything that provides shorter paths for grabbing and storing items is probably a good idea. And later, "3D" is just going to become more important when you need to route water and magma around and store it.
Waste Management Like a Master
The next problem is that you don't have a refuse[dwarffortresswiki.org] pile, and rotting stuff will accumulate in places where you don't want it.

The noob thing to do would be to let this sit around, rot, create miasma[dwarffortresswiki.org], and make the dwarves unhappy[dwarffortresswiki.org] after which they'll throw tantrums[dwarffortresswiki.org] and kill each other.

But this is easily avoided by creating a refuse "stockpile", preferably outside.

If the surface is reasonably safe, just go up and create a rather large, such as 10x10, stockpile and set it as refuse. If not then dig out a large room somewhere away from everything else and put a similarly sized stockpile in there. Put a door on this room to help control smell as soon as you can, but at first just use a long hallway.

Eventually you will want a refuse pile inside the fortress because eventually you will want to close the fortress up when there is a seige, but for now you can put this off if you didn't wall yourself off from the outside.

Make sure to go into custom settings on your "All" pile and disable refuse as previously mentioned. The other noob thing to do is to just click "All" without excluding refuse, and end up with rotting refuse in your main catch-all stockpile.

Later we will talk about other ways of dumping things, but for now just create the refuse pile away from where dwarves will be.

Also you may want to go into custom settings and make sure corpses are allowed in the refuse stockpile. Later we will need a proper tomb with coffins to keep dwarves happy when their friends die, but the refuse pile makes a decent temporary morgue in case anyone dies before you get this done. And you also need a place for dead monsters and animals.
Not Starving Like a Noob
Food, Farming, and Cooking
Dwarves need 2 units of food and 4 units of drink each season on average. For a while you should be ok for food and drink if you brought some with you, even without cooking, because a lot of plants and meats can be eaten raw. This should give you some time to get set up to farm, ranch, and cook.

In a pinch you can gather surface plants and some of them will be edible without processing or cooking.

Keeping Grazing Animals Alive
So now you're all moved in and can wall yourself off if its really necessary, but this isn't really a good idea if it isn't. So now lets tackle the next problem which is that your grazing animals[dwarffortresswiki.org] are hanging out with the dwarves with their pile of food and booze but no grass. (Two grazing animals come with your wagon for free even if you didn't spend embark points on them.)

The noob thing to do here is to let them starve then get confused as to why all the grazing animals are dropping dead.

If you were going to wall yourself then the best course of action would be to build a butcher shop and kitchen relatively soon, butcher the grazing animals, then cook some tasty animals to conserve other food supplies. Since you'd be unable to support them their best fate would be the kitchen.

But for now lets assume that isn't necessary and it would be better to keep them alive for later.

Move the view back to the surface, then click Zone (z) then click Pen/Pasture[dwarffortresswiki.org]. You need this to be relatively large so they have enough grass. The less fertile the ground the bigger it needs to be so it pays to err on the side of largeness.

Now once you have the zone added you need to assign animals to it. Click the button that looks like a +Rabbit and select grazing animals. This means things like cows and horses and not cats and dogs. There's no need to confine pets that will run around eating vermin when not hanging out with the dwarves.

Pen/Pasture Zone.

Unpause the game and you'll see your dwarves drag the animals out to their new pasture.

Later you might want to try to protect the pasture from predators and enemies with a wall or something, but for now don't worry about it. You might also just want to slaughter them soon if you don't have a breeding pair, or you could keep them for milking.

Initially you don't need a huge farm[dwarffortresswiki.org]. We will describe four 3x9 plots but you could initially get away with only two. Some dwarven science studies have shown that 3x9 is an ideal size. (They could be smaller but this size will last you a long time and they don't take long to make.)

Dig Out Some Soil Layer
Create a stairwell adjacent to one of your rooms if needed, and dig out a room in a dirt/soil layer with at least two 3x9 areas of dirt floor in it. These must be underground (not exposed to the sky) and not on the surface because the seeds you have will only grow underground, not in surface plots.

What if there's no soil layer?
If you don't see a soil layer immediately but are pretty sure you embarked to a map with a soil layer, try digging around different parts of the map. Sometimes the soil isn't one layer thick over the whole map.

If you really don't have a soil[dwarffortresswiki.org] layer anywhere then you're going to have trouble for a bit because you will either need to farm in a natural cavern[dwarffortresswiki.org] or you will need to gather surface plants and try surface farming. You can also flood an area with water then shut the water off to create muddy floor, but that will be covered later.

If necessary, abandon the fortress attempt and re-embark elsewhere with deeper soil to minimize this difficulty. There's no dwarven shame in re-embarking if the destination isn't as expected.

Build the Plots
For now we will assume you have some dirt floor in a dirt layer somewhere and this will be good enough even if underground dirt layer farming is not ideal compared to natural caverns.

b-o-f-p is where the farm plots are. That's Structures->Workshops->Farming->Farm plot.

Designate at least two but no more than four 3x9 farm plots and unpause long enough for your farmer to construct them. Then repause the game.

Planting Schedule
Click each plot to set up their growing schedule like this, in order of priority:

Quarry Bush
Plump Helmets
Cave Wheat
Plump Helmets
Optional 3rd
Pig Tails
Dimple Cups
Optional 4th
Sweet Pods
Plump Helmets

(If you only built 3 plots ignore 4, and if you only built 2 then ignore 3 and 4.)

The fallow periods are helpful because dwarves don't always get started on planting soon enough. So we only plant the seeds at the beginning of the growing season and not in the second half. In an emergency you can grow plump helmets in the fallow seasons, but normally you don't want too much of any one thing.
  • Plump Helmets[dwarffortresswiki.org] are your main dwarven staple and can be eaten raw, cooked, or brewed. They're good to have when all else fails.
  • Quarry Bushes[dwarffortresswiki.org] produce leaves which are your most productive food source but they can't be brewed. The seeds (rock nuts) can be made into oil if needed.
  • Cave Wheat[dwarffortresswiki.org] can be directly brewed for some important booze variety, but it needs to be milled into flour for use in cooking.
  • Pig Tails[dwarffortresswiki.org] are good for both making thread for cloth and for more booze.
  • Dimple Cups[dwarffortresswiki.org] are only for making blue cloth dye and aren't really needed right away, but it's good to get them growing to produce seeds to farm more of them later. These are low priority since they don't help much early on.
  • Sweet Pods[dwarffortresswiki.org] are good for an extra source of booze, but need processing for cooking.
With all that set up and seeds available your planter will go to it, but don't unpause yet because your farmer will be working while others are executing some activities you need to designate.

Pretty soon we will want to set up cooking and brewing, but we will get to that in a bit.

Obtaining Seeds
Seeds are produced when a plant is eaten raw, brewed, milled, or processed, but not when it is cooked. For this reason it's a good idea to disable cooking on plants when you want to get seeds from that type. We will describe how to do this a little further down.

More Info on Crops
A list of crops, including what can and can't be eaten raw, is available on the Crop[dwarffortresswiki.org] wiki page.
Manage and Bookkeep Like a Master
Now lets take care of the office. Since we might not have stone just yet, lets just use wood for a table and chair.

Low-Population Management
An office is not required for work orders if your population is less than 20, as long as you have a manager assigned. It's easy to create an office right away anyway, but you can put this off.

Dig out a 5x5 room near your main stockpiles and build a Carpenter[dwarffortresswiki.org] Workshop[dwarffortresswiki.org] in the middle. Use junk stone as the material if possible so you can save the wood for other things. Then create a new stockpile[dwarffortresswiki.org] surrounding the workshop and select Wood as the type.

This exact design isn't needed, but in general it seems to help a bit to place workshops adjacent to stockpiles of their input material, and to have a stockpile that accepts the output nearby.

This won't be a very large stockpile so don't disable wood on the main stockpiles just yet. If you feel like it, configure the new wood stockpile to transfer from the "all" stockpiles, but this isn't strictly necessary right now.

Queue up one wood chair[dwarffortresswiki.org] and one wood table[dwarffortresswiki.org]. You can also try creating work orders for these, but it's just one of each so probably not worth the trouble.

Once those are done, place the table and chair next to each other anywhere, and drag a two tile office zone around them like this example of a stockroom corner turned into an office desk:

Stockroom office.

In fact you might only need a chair, but it's not that hard to build the table too.

Assign your leader/manager/bookkeeper to the office.

Check the nobles screen and make sure the office requirement icon is now green. If so you should be able to queue up work orders (o) for everything from now on even with a larger population.

Add Your First Work Orders (Like a Master)
Click the Work Orders[dwarffortresswiki.org] icon (looks like a clip board) or hit o, and queue up a few things we've been needing:

Work orders screen.

This is a good initial list of stuff to start with. I might have forgotten a few things when I took the screenshot but that's a lot of it. You'll need some more workshops to build all that but we are getting there.

Condition Work Orders
If you really want to manage like a pro then set some stuff that needs constant production to produce 1/1 then set conditions to run the 1/1 job any time the number of that item gets below a certain number and materials are available. Like only prepare 1/1 easy meals when the number of unrotten prepared meals is less than 10, make 1/1 beds any time number of beds is less than 10 and at least 5 logs are available, etc.

You can prioritize material use in such a way that your last 5 logs for example get saved for emergency wood needs and don't get used up on beds. Some luxury goods made of wood, for example, might not get produced until you have a huge number of logs stockpiled, like more than 50, and maybe no work orders use up the last 5 logs.

Whenever you need something new produced just come back here to add it. Of course you'll need to make sure you actually have the required workshop and materials plus available dwarves with the proper labor enabled on them, but we are getting there.

More information on work orders and all the advanced options for conditions and such is provided in this guide:
Sleep Like a Master
Right now the dwarves will be unhappy sleeping on the floor, so they need at least 3-4 beds[dwarffortresswiki.org] in a dormitory[dwarffortresswiki.org]. Later they will get their own bedrooms[dwarffortresswiki.org], and the dorm will get used for temporary overflow, but for now a dorm will be good enough.

You don't need 7 beds because they won't all be sleeping at the same time anyway.

If you built an office table and chair from wood you should already have the carpenter's workshop needed to make beds, but if not make sure to build that now. Go to the work orders screen (o) and queue up at least 3 beds. If you have plenty of wood or can chop some trees make 5 instead.

Rock Tables, Rock Thrones, and Rock Doors
Beds require wood, but for other stuff lets save some wood and get ready for when we have lots of junk stone[dwarffortresswiki.org]. Dig out another area to put a Stoneworker's Workshop[dwarffortresswiki.org] in, then just like before create a stockpile around it and set the type to stone.

You want to make as much stuff as possible out of stone rather than wood. For now make at least 5 stone doors[dwarffortresswiki.org] to help keep some rooms comfortable. Soon you're going to want some stone tables and thrones as well for a proper feast hall. (Notice that stone equivalents of some items have different names, such as "rock throne" not "stone chair". Later we will go into how to use stone for as many things as possible to save the wood for things that absolutely require it.)

While the beds and stuff are being made, find a good stone layer location and dig out a room big enough for the beds, maybe 3x7 in case you need to add more beds.

Stone is best for this because it can be smoothed and engraved which will make the dwarves happy.

Once you have the area dug out, put a door on it and place the beds in the room. Then use Zones (z) to designate the room as a Dorm (and NOT a bedroom).

Something like this will work just fine for now:

Dormitory a little ways off the main stairwell.

Now the dwarves are going to be much happier now that they have proper beds to sleep in, but we still need to improve their meeting hall situation and make sure they don't run out of booze.

Don't worry if the dorm isn't smoothed[dwarffortresswiki.org] and engraved[dwarffortresswiki.org] yet, you can get to that later. This will be worth it though as it will keep them happy until you can construct individual bedrooms for them.
Party Like a Master
Right now you should still have plenty of booze[dwarffortresswiki.org] and food[dwarffortresswiki.org] from your embark supplies, but this isn't going to last very long at all.

It might seem silly but setting up brewing of alcohol needs to be a relatively high priority because the born-alcoholic dwarves are unhealthy and unhappy if they don't have a constant supply of alcohol. Drinking water is for elves and very shameful to dwarves. Dwarves also need a fine meeting and dining hall which will eventually become a tavern.

Fortunately, brewing[dwarffortresswiki.org] and cooking[dwarffortresswiki.org] aren't difficult.

Build a Great Hall
The best thing to do here is start carving out a stone meeting hall[dwarffortresswiki.org] with some side rooms for the kitchen[dwarffortresswiki.org] and still[dwarffortresswiki.org]. These are 3x3 workshops so again something like a 5x5 room to put them in gives them both a decent amount of stockpile space. However you can also just build a large pantry next to therm and use less space.

Though you may not need them yet, be thinking about where to put the butcher workshop[dwarffortresswiki.org] and fishery[dwarffortresswiki.org]. Those tend to be smelly so I'd recommend putting them behind the kitchen and pantry. And put doors on the dining/meeting hall, the kitchen, and the distillery to help control bad smells in case anything rots. In general, put doors around every room where things can rot and create miasma.

What you end up with should look something like this, but you want doors everywhere between the rooms, and you're going to want tables and rock thrones very soon:

Example dining and meeting area. A better design would place the workshops above and below the stockpile and otherwise make better use of z-levels. A tannery[dwarffortresswiki.org] would be good next to the butcher since animal skins[dwarffortresswiki.org] rot fast if not tanned.

Eventually you also want the meeting/dining hall smoothed and carved.

For now, drag both a meeting hall and dining hall[dwarffortresswiki.org] zone over the large room, and go remove the old temporary meeting area in the first stockpile. Later you will want a separate dining and meeting area with doors and fancy stuff in each to make dwarves proud of their home.

Don't Watste Perfectly Good Booze
Another noob thing to do is to allow drinks to be used in cooking which depletes the booze supply tremendously and can leave the dwarves thirsty. Lets disable this by using the Labors (y) screen (looks like a hammer in the lower left of the screen) like this:

Disable wasting perfectly good booze.

Whenever you have enough food plants and meat, you also want to disable cooking your perfectly good booze plants. You may not want to do this until you build up some prepared meals though.

Doesn't need to be done immediately when all you have to eat is plump helmets, but soon you will want to save the booze plants for booze!

Finishing Up
Note that you can also customize the food stockpiles to remove seeds, and you can place a plant-only stockpile around the still.

Start cranking out the booze with "brew drink" jobs, but don't start queuing up too many meals or smoothing and carving the walls just yet because next we want to build more workshops and do other priority stuff.
Rock Like a Master
There are two more workshops that we need right away.
Rock Crafts
By now you are probably noticing that you have a lot of stone and are wondering if it is just waste. For dwarves it is not because they can make rock mugs[dwarffortresswiki.org] and other crafts[dwarffortresswiki.org] out of them if nothing else. Most crafts, like figurines, are mostly useless to you so they can be traded to caravans for all kinds of much more useful stuff like cloth, leather, food, weapons, armor, metal, or anything worthwhile.

You might think that shale figurines would be worthless, but someone out there really eats dat s--- up, and if you crank out a large number, they can be worth a large amount of other stuff.

The most efficient but more boring craft to crank out is rock mugs. Three get produced per piece of stone, so you can crank them out much faster even if each one tends to be worth less than a "Make rock crafts" item. But "make rock crafts" works pretty well too and might entertain dwarves more. (You will want some mugs for a tavern though.)

The other thing you need is at least a few mechanisms[dwarffortresswiki.org], and we will get to the reason why in a bit, but for now just build the mechanic's workshop and maybe 10 mechanisms. Eventually you're going to want a lot of mechanisms, so if you make 50 then don't worry, you will use them, but you don't need that many just yet. You should end up with something like this:

Notice the initial stockpile has been removed, but the goods haven't all been relocated yet. The two new workshops are added, and at the top I added another stone stockpile to help feed the craftsdwarf.

Stone Blocks
Here's another tip that escaped me for the longest time. Another thing that isn't strictly needed, but is helpful, is stone blocks[dwarffortresswiki.org]. You can get 4 stone blocks out of one dug out rock, and they're much lighter than a "rough" rock. So setting up a work order for the Stoneworker's workshop to keep some number of them on hand is a good idea. Other types of blocks aren't nearly as useful, but can be made of various materials. Blocks can be used to build workshops and constructions such as walls, and the lighter weight can speed things up. In some situations the higher stone efficiency may be important too. A few things also specifically require blocks.
Work Details
Now is probably also a good time to mention a few more things about Work Details[dwarffortresswiki.org] (y). So far you've probably been using the defaults. This should be good enough for quite a while, because dwarves tend to pick what they're skilled at, but there are some things to know.

Different conditions cause different Tasks[dwarffortresswiki.org] to get placed on the dwarves' todo list. These can be automatic or a result of designations or work orders.
  • Individual automatic tasks - these are things individual dwarves do for themselves like eat, drink, sleep, etc. They'll usually take priority over other tasks.
  • Communal automatic tasks - these are things like cleaning and hauling between stockpiles. Dwarves will notice which things need to get done based on how you've configured stockpiles, for example, or what sorts of problems exist and queue up tasks for those.
  • Designated tasks - these are tasks explicitly generated by designations, orders to place or construct things, and tasks manually added at workshops or by work orders.
Every task falls into a Labor category. For example, all of the mining, channeling, ramping, or stairway digging is categorized as Mining labor.

The Tasks (t) Window lets you see what each dwarf is doing and what is scheduled to be done. Dwarves can be manually removed from tasks if needed, but normally you don't need to micromanage this.

Internally, every dwarf has a checkbox for which Labors they're allowed to do. But the UI doesn't let you enable or disable individual labors on individual dwarves anymore. Instead you use Work Details to explicitly enable sets of Labors for each dwarf when necessary, or leave the tasks as "everybody does this".

To set work details you can either click on an individual dwarf and set their enabled work details, or (usually better) view the Labor menu (y) and select which dwarves are on which work detail from a list of dwarves.

Conflict Between "Tool Labors" and Squad Uniforms
The labors of Mining, Woodcutting, and Hunting are special because they require tools and can't be set to "everybody does this". When a dwarf is assigned to one of these, they will pick up only the required tool (pick axe, battle axe, or crossbow/quiver/bolts) and always keep it. This "tool set" is called a "uniform". They can't have more than one uniform (carry more than one tool or weapon) at a time and will not switch automatically. If they're in a squad with their Schedule Routine[dwarffortresswiki.org] set to "Ready" (or any routine set to "Equip/always") then they will equip a squad uniform full-time, even if they have "no special orders" at the moment. Thus you must avoid assigning more than one of Mining, Woodcutting, or Hunting to a dwarf, and a dwarf with one of these labors should not be in a squad that has their schedule routine set to "Ready" or another "Equip/always" routine. Otherwise they may only ever do one of, or none of, those labors. But if a miner, for example, is in a squad with it's schedule routine set to one with "Equip/orders" then they should carry their pick, and then switch uniforms (drop the pick and get weapons and armor) when they are given military orders.

"Everybody Does This" and the Specialized Flag
Other than the tool labor work details, a work detail can be set to "everybody does this", but what if you want everyone to do something like hauling except one dwarf? Well, there's an easier way than checking off all the boxes and unchecking just one.

Notice this red icon in the work details window:

The "specialized" flag.

To exempt a dwarf from "everybody does this" work details, or other labors that default to "everybody does this" because no custom work detail exists, click the specialized toggle so it turns red. That way you can leave most things (especially hauling and orderly) set to "everybody" and still excuse some skilled specialists from doing any random job.

Some Advice On the Work Details
The main things to do with work details seem to be:
  • Pick which dwarves engage in the tool labors of Mining, Woodcutting, and Hunting. These can't be set to "everybody does this" because they're mutually exclusive. Trying to assign more than one of these details to one dwarf results in the dwarf only doing one of them due to the tool-carrying conflict described above.
  • Usually you leave work details set to "everybody does this" and let the dwarves decide what to do based on availability and skill level.
  • Limit some work details, like wall smoothing or engraving, to a subset of dwarves in some cases where you don't want all of them working on the same big job you designated.
  • Use the "specialized" flag to dedicated a very small number of dwarves to a specific important task that you don't want interrupted. For example you might want one dwarf dedicated full time to cranking out the stone trinkets before the trade caravan shows up, but everyone else to just do whatever else is needed at the moment.

If a specialist is not specializing in something with a default work detail, like mining or woodcutting, then that's when you need to create a custom work detail to determine which specific labors they will be limited to. But normally all of the labors that don't have default work details default to "everybody does this" where the dwarves with the skill tend to be the ones who actually take on those tasks. So you don't really need custom work details for every possible thing.

More details on work detail and work orders are provided in this guide:
Poultry Ranching Like a Master
If you have poultry then you can produce tons of eggs[dwarffortresswiki.org], but you need an underground chickenhouse. Fortunately this is easy because birds eat vermin[dwarffortresswiki.org] and don't need feeding.

(I usually refer to chickens because they're just most familiar, but the same applies to other birds, and as it turns out some other birds are usually better for eggs and meat in dwarf fortress in the longer term.)

Chicken House
Using work orders, queue up some Nest boxes[dwarffortresswiki.org] at the craftsdwarf's workshop, one nest box per chicken. They can be made of stone.

Dig out a nice safe room for the chickens and make it a pen/pasture zone. Assign all chickens (egg-laying birds) to this zone. This can be only large enough to hold the nest boxes but more space will help prevent animal crowding problems like fights. The nest boxes are like furniture that need to be placed here, but you do it from the Workshops->Farming submenu.

Eat or Hatch Eggs
Chickens will claim a box and lay eggs. If you want eggs to hatch, they need to be forbidden or removed as stockpile and food production items. Either that or the chicken room needs a locked (flagged "forbidden") door to keep dwarves away from eggs.

Also make sure a rooster has access to the boxes. But trying to hatch all eggs all the time will produce too many chicks rather quickly, so the better thing to do might be to manually forbid a number of eggs.

Small part of a massive underground chickenhouse for the majestic chicken, and feathered friends.

Assign Chicks
When chicks hatch, don't forget to assign them to the zone immediately or the fortress will start getting overrun with stray chicks. This isn't a huge problem but it will take a lot of dwarf time to drag them all back to the chicken room later to make them use the nest boxes.

You can worry about causing a chickensplosion later though. For now, build and place the nest boxes to get the egg laying and egg gathering going because you could use the food. Excessive egg surplus can be traded to caravans if you end up with that.

Other Animal Breeding
Other animals can be bred in a similar manner, you just don't need nest boxes if they don't lay eggs. So if you want to breed dogs, just pin up a bunch of females in a room with at least one male and so on.

Placing a butcher shop and kitchen next to your chicken house is probably a good idea since this will shorten the time needed to drag chickens to the butcher, and a kitchen nearby allows their fat to be rendered into tallow immediately. Once you have some hatched chicks, and plenty of eggs, you can go to the Creatures->Livestock screen and set all the adult birds for butchering. As soon as you get some tallow, disable cooking on the tallow! Save it for soap.
Fortress Access Control (Like a Master)
You now have all the main food, drink, shelter, and production activities solidly implemented, so the next priority is better security from hostiles.

If we had a lot of evil fun outside then we should have walled ourselves in at the beginning, but even then we might want to set up a gate to sometimes allow caravans in and wall ourselves off the rest of the time. Even under peaceful circumstances, we still want a quick way to close up the fortress if a bunch of goblins or zombies show up.

To do this we use a Bridge[dwarffortresswiki.org] even if we don't have anything to bridge over. This is because a bridge is a drawbridge and it will raise up to form a wall. This is the main way of creating a multi-tile door.

We can make these out of stone and use mechanisms to build levers to control them.

Hit b-n-b for Structures->Constructions->Bridge and draw a 3x3 bridge (or even a 1x3 bridge) in our entrance like this:

Configuring the bridge raise direction with the still confusing UI.

As you can see, in this case we need to select the top icon so the bridge will raise up at the top edge and form a wall.

If your entrance is oriented in another direction then select the appropriate direction. Whichever direction you pick, that side of the bridge's rectangle will turn into a wall when the bridge is activated by lever pulling.

Once you've placed the bridge, move on to using those mechanisms you made to place the lever for it.

Warning: Dwarven Atom Smashers!
Bridges are essentially dwarven atom smashers[dwarffortresswiki.org] that annihilate anything they come down on including creatures and their equipment. Try not to lower a bridge onto anything that you don't want to cease to exist. Unlike lowering, raising or retracting a bridge will throw anything on it which can damage things and injure or kill creatures, but isn't instant guaranteed annihilation. This means that a single tile long bridge might be the best idea if you're not going to dig a moat, but a digging a dry moat is a good idea too.

Levers and Mechanisms
The best place for the bridge control lever[dwarffortresswiki.org] is not next to the gate, it's where the most idle dwarves are hanging out most often. Don't worry, dwarves are really good at mechanical linking over long distances and distance doesn't matter when you link levers.

Go down to your meeting hall and hit b-m-l for Structures->Machines->Lever. Build a lever. A lever works like a workshop, except only two jobs are allowed to be queued: link the lever and pull the lever.

Unpause the game until both the bridge and the lever get built. Click on the bridge to see if it has been completed yet because it might look complete on the screen even if it is not, and you can't link it until it is finished.

Once the bridge is done, go back to the lever and click on it. Notice that the panel looks like a workshop. Click "Link lever" then move back up to the bridge and click that as the target. This will queue a lever linking job in the lever's "workshop".

A dwarf with the Mechanic labor[dwarffortresswiki.org] will go get a mechanism, bring it to the lever, go get another, bring it to the bridge, and then it will be linked when he is done.

Test it out by going back to the lever and selecting "Pull lever". This queues up a lever-pulling job which a dwarf with the lever pulling labor (everyone by default) will have to get around to doing before the lever is actually pulled. (This is why it's good to place levers near idle dwarf hangouts.)

Once that has been done, there's a short delay and the bridge will raise to form a wall, closing off your fortress. Pull the lever again to open it back up. Levers always act as toggles, so pulling it is always toggling it.

Levers can also be linked to doors, floodgates[dwarffortresswiki.org], and other things that can be opened and closed or activated and deactivated. They are your main user interface for dwarven contraptions, but others like pressure plates also exist.

Congratulations. You now have some proper access control to your fortress.

The simplest form of access control is just a door[dwarffortresswiki.org]. The main problem with those is that they're only one tile wide, but they can be locked without a lever simply by clicking on them and clicking the lock icon. They can also be linked to levers just like the bridge, but then they become entirely controlled by the lever and can't be opened or closed normally by dwarves.

This form of access control can still be very convenient for back entrances or locking dwarves out of rooms or other areas like dangerous caverns.

Traps and Defense
You're also going to want traps[dwarffortresswiki.org], other entrances, and more than just one giant gate. More about traps later. But for now we just want to make sure you know how to at least do the minimum of blocking off the fort to keep things out while you do other stuff.

If you want to get started on traps sooner, skip down to the section about traps. These need mechanisms, which is part of why you're going to use up lots of mechanisms.

You will also want to eventually set up squads to train[dwarffortresswiki.org], but usually not with many dwarves until you get more immigrants.
"Emergency Shelter" Burrow
You probably have dwarves are running all over outside the place doing stuff.

After building a gate to close off the fortress from invaders, you might be wondering how to get everyone to run inside before they get locked out.

This is pretty easy to set up, so I will try to be brief.
  1. Click the Burrows[dwarffortresswiki.org] (U) icon and create a single burrow over the safest area you have right now, such as your meeting and dining area.
  2. Assign all dwarves to the burrow.
  3. Name it something like Emergency Shelter, or whatever you want that makes sense to you.
  4. Click the thing that looks like a pause button to "suspend" the burrow so they will ignore it.
Now you can mostly get them to run for safety to this location any time you need to, just unsuspend the burrow. If you have a subset of them in a squad and you order the squad to do something then the squad members should ignore the burrow even if unsuspended, so no need to worry about it interfering with squad orders.

When new dwarves show up youl'll need to manually add them. A good thing to do is just check to make sure they're all assigned next time you need to unsuspend the burrow.

Lack of Civilian Alerts
Unfortunately a feature called "civilian alerts"[dwarffortresswiki.org] is missing from v0.50. Without this feature, dwarves (especially children) can't be made to place a very high priority on getting to the emergency shelter burrow. Keep an eye out for this feature to get added back though.
Mining Like a Master
Your next priority, at least for your miner, is to start digging to obtain regular stone to make things with while also looking for ore, gems, and "economic stone" such as flux stone and coal.

About Minerals
By now you've probably noticed that this isn't minecraft and none of the rocks are named "iron ore" or anything like that. Instead you get the actual geological name of the mineral.

While you could go get a geology textbook, the easier thing to do is just look up what each type of rock is good for. You can actually look this up in-game using Labor (y)->Stone use->Economic stone, and there's also this guide on the wiki:
When you mine out something new, you can click on a rock boulder of that type and get the usage in the description. Note that pretty much any low-value stone will become much more valuable in the hands of a skilled master craftsdwarf, so there's no need to try to exclude that from trinket production.

Going Exploring
Leave the game paused while you designate some mining[dwarffortresswiki.org]. First designate a short tunnel north or some other direction away from your rooms and then designate a staircase at least 10 levels deep but for now no deeper than 20 or 30 levels. You probably already have a short central staircase by now, if you're like me, so you can also dig that one deeper. But it can be helpful to create a new staircase for the mine that you can barricade off from the rest of the fort more easily if you need to.

Early on you will ideally avoid digging into a cavern, because those are generally more dangerous than the surface, but that may not be possible to avoid. So if you dig into one then use b-n and wall it back up for now. That is unless you want to see interesting things happen sooner rather than later.

Designate some tunnels off in all directions on several levels and start exploring for minerals. Don't worry if you end up with lots of boulders because you need those to build buildings and craft all sorts of stuff, so even the junk rock will be very useful. And your miner will be gaining skill. Generally speaking you want to eventually form a grid of large squares, but early on it's better to dig a little on each level rather than dig all over one single level.

Keep the tunnels relatively minimal and focus on probing around at this point until you get some more rooms you need dug out. You just want to make sure there's always stuff for at least one miner to do.

If any of your dwarves are too idle then set them to mining as well using Labor (y) - Work Details and those extra picks you brought. The new guys will be slow but they will get better and digging out dirt or whatever needs digging is the best way for them to learn.

Looks like the Doctor is a little low on patients at the moment. Tell him to get off his ass a grab a pick!

Labor Management
Another thing to do is disable other labors and "specialize" your main miner, so he will stick to mining and not get diverted by hauling things or cleaning up messes. The secondary miners can keep their menial jobs though.

Disable other stuff, like hunting and fishing, for everyone if you don't want to do any of that right now.

In general, specialize any dwarf who's current job is especially important at the moment. Want to make sure that stone crafter really cranks out the nick nacks before the next caravan shows up? Disable all labors for him except for stone crafting. You can't do this with too many dwarves when you only have 7 or you'll end up with hardly anything getting hauled. So until more show up, only specialize one or two maximum.

Initially you should mostly be exploring, but I will go ahead and mention some things that will help you mine out veins of ore and gems that you've found.

Automining Options

There are three options here, but Auto is the one you usually want. Note that this comes with some dangers since miners will keep digging out all adjacent ore and the vein might lead somewhere dangerous. So if you want to play things safe, remove the designations with x after they've mined out a decent amount of ore. You're probably safe to automine... most of the time though.

Lasty, make sure to build a bunch of these. They help with hauling speed quite a bit. They can be assigned to stockpiles or you can leave their use up to the dwarves. One per dwarf is not an unreasonable number.
Forge Like a Master
You might be somewhat overdue to do some forging with metal[dwarffortresswiki.org]. You've probably found some ore[dwarffortresswiki.org] by now, and hopefully some bituminous coal or lignite. If you don't have those then you can always make charcoal from trees. And if you're in the unfortunate situation where you don't have any fuel[dwarffortresswiki.org], you will need to find a cavern with mushroom trees or dig down to magma[dwarffortresswiki.org] to build a magma forge[dwarffortresswiki.org] and magma smelter[dwarffortresswiki.org].

The usual process for getting started is to build a Wood Furnace[dwarffortresswiki.org] and make some charcoal from wood logs. Just dig out some space near your woodpile, build the wood furnace under b-o-u-f and make one or two bars of charcoal. Really you should only need one. It's also possible to jumpstart the coke-making process by bringing a single bar of charcoal in your embark prep. This is an especially good idea if you anticipate a treeless environment.

Now find a decent spot and build a Smelter[dwarffortresswiki.org] (b-o-u-l) and a Metalsmith[dwarffortresswiki.org] (b-o-i). I recommend something like this:

As always this is just a crude example.

You might also want an output stockpile for finished metal items closer by, but I'll leave that to you.

The custom stockpile configurations look like this:
  • Unrefined Fuel - Stone:Economic: Bituminous Coal and Lignite
  • Refined Fuel - Bars/blocks: Other material: Coal
  • Unrefined Ore - Stone: Metal Ores: All
    and Stone: Economic: (flux stones for steel)
    • Calcite
    • Chalk
    • Dolemite
    • Limestone
    • Marble
  • Metal Bars - Bars/blocks: Bars:Metal: All
After that, add work orders to "Make coke from Bituminous coal" and "Make coke from Lignite" 1/1 times any time there is at least one Bituminous coal or Lignite respectively.

This will get you to producing fuel.

More on Custom Stockpiles
See here for a guide with more detail about custom stockpiles.

Rather than constantly trying to immediately smelt all ore as you find it, I would click the Stocks (k) button at the top middle of the screen and see how much ore you have of each type, then decide how to most wisely use your fuel supply on whatever metal you want to start with. Then queue up a work order to smelt that as many times as you need bars of that metal.

After that it's up to you to produce whatever seems most useful at the moment. I usually make 3 more anvils immediately for more workshops. You could produce more picks to put some useless Fish Cleaner immigrants on mining duty. Or you could start making weapons.

Early on I would highly discourage you from cranking out lots of crafts with valuable metals like gold, platinum, or steel because this will make you too wealthy and attractive to attackers. The best kind of metallic wealth to produce at first is the sharp and pointy kind, or the blunt and smashy kind, or the solid armor kind.

You could still make some metal crafts to trade, just don't make them of platinum or gold, or don't make many. And you want to be able to arm some dwarves with at least copper armor and weapons before using metal on anything else besides maybe picks.

Metal can also be used to make containers like bins that would otherwise have to be made of wood, but this is not worth it unless you're short on wood and have enough ore and fuel.

Making Steel[dwarffortresswiki.org] is a little more complicated than usual, so I will briefly outline the process here. Keep in mind steel is as valuable as gold so going whole hog on steel production early is probably a bad idea for avoiding early trouble.
  1. Obtain materials: iron ore (hematite, limonite, magnetite), flux stone (calcite, chalk, dolomite, limestone, marble), and fuel (coke from bituminous coal or lignite, or charcoal from wood).
  2. Make iron bars (4):: iron ore and fuel (or magma smelter).
  3. Make pig iron bars (1): 1 bar iron, 1 stone flux, 1 bar fuel (for carbon), 1 bar fuel (or magma) for energy.
  4. Make steel bars (2): 1 bar iron, 1 bar pig iron, 1 stone flux, 1 bar fuel (for carbon), 1 bar fuel (or magma) for energy.
For the curious, pig iron[dwarffortresswiki.org] is like extremely brittle cast iron and is useless in reality for fabricating anything due to the huge amount of carbon and silicon contamination. Similarly, in the game it is not worth much as a crafting material, though you can try using it for some types of items if you really want.
Gemcutting Like a Master
You probably already found some gems[dwarffortresswiki.org] in your mining exploration. Cutting will increase their value quite a bit and allow them to be used to encrust things, so dig out some space and build the following:
  • Jeweler's workshop[dwarffortresswiki.org] (b-o-j)
  • Rough gem stockpile
  • Cut gem stockpile
  • Check your stocks and make sure you have some extra bins[dwarffortresswiki.org]. If not then create a work order for some. This will speed up moving the cut gems to the trade depot later.

Like stone crafting, cutting gems can also produce a lot of valuable trade goods. Don't worry about not starting with any gem cutting skill, just put some dwarf on it anyway. A jeweler's workshop also allows gemcutters to "Polish stones", which means they fancy up normal rock. These aren't worth much but they do help train up the gemcutter using junk stone. They can still be used to encrust items which increases item value without using up valuable materials.

Attracting Trouble
If you mine out and cut too many valuable gemstones, you could be in danger of cranking out too much wealth[dwarffortresswiki.org] and attracting the greedy violent creatures of your world. While you can safely crank out stone trinkets or polished stones at full speed without much worry, as those aren't that valuable, gems have a higher potential to generate too much wealth especially if they're the rare type. So if you're having no trouble buying what you need from caravans, don't get too carried away with the gem mining and cutting yet. Same thing goes for mining valuable metals and making things with them. You usually want your defense capability to be very solid before you go all out on wealth production.
Prioritize and Conserve Materials Like a Master
This brings us to our next tip which we have already touched on somewhat: using the most common materials as much as possible to save the others for things that really need it.

Make Everything Possible From Rock (Usually)
In general you want to make as little as possible out of wood so you can save the wood for stuff that really needs it.

It's a little confusing how to do this sometimes because it's not always obvious what the rock equivalents of wood items are.

Here is a list of the most common rock equivalents to make instead of the wood items. The main theme here is look for the word "rock" in the item list.
  • Rock tables instead of wood tables
  • Rock thrones instead of wood chairs
  • Rock doors instead of wooden doors
  • Rock pots instead of wood barrels
  • Rock coffers instead of wood chests
  • Rock mugs instead of wood mugs or metal goblets
Those are the main things you might be tempted to make unnecessarily out of wood. Note that sometimes you still need the wood version for some reason. Like a rock pot usually serves the same purpose as a wood barrel, but some workshops and such require the wooden one.

Other more commonly useful rock things: altar, armor and weapon stands, bookcase, cabinet, coffin, floodgate, grate, hatch cover, mechanisms, pedestal, and statues. There are others like jugs but their usefulness is more limited.

Save Wood and Metal
Some things can't be made out of rock. For example, beds and display cases must be made of wood. Bins can be made of wood or metal but wood is usually the better material for those, unless you have tons of fuel and ore. Buckets similarly require wood or metal. Other things that can't be made of rock but can be made of wood or metal: crutches, splints, cages, animal traps, stepladder, wheelbarrow... and others.

This should give you an idea of why you want to save your wood and metal for things that need it.

Other Materials
There are other materials things can be made of like cloth, bone, ivory, pearl, shell, wax, yarn, glass, clay, ceramic, and leather. But most of these (except maybe glass or clay) are hard to get a consistent supply of. Clay and glass use up fuel though, and dwarves are usually more inclined to use fuel on metal. But you want a little of everything for strange moods (see further down).

  1. Make everything possible to make out of rock using rock.
  2. Things that can be made of wood or metal should usually be made of wood unless you're just swimming in metal and are short on wood.
  3. Save metal for things like weapons that really need metal for physical mechanics reasons.
  4. Obviously save things like gold for fortress bling (gold statue) and trade items.
  5. Get creative with other materials as you happen upon them.
  6. Save up some of each material to handle "strange moods" (see below).
  7. Once you're rich, you may find more exotic materials have weight advantages.
Build the Trade Depot and Trade Like a Master
Finally it's time to turn that initial all-purpose shelter and storeroom into the trade depot[dwarffortresswiki.org].

You can actually delay this until the first caravan shows up because they will hang around long enough for you to build it, but it only requires three stone (or blocks) and doesn't take too long. So if you want just skip ahead and come back when they show up.

Remove the stockpile if you haven't already, then remove any zones that are still there that you might have forgotten to remove.

Hopefully you already did this and the dwarves managed to clear all the stuff out of the room and move it into other stockpiles, but if not just go ahead and place the trade depot anyway.

Hit b-T and build the Trade Depot. As always, just use junk stone (or blocks made from it). You should end up with something like this.

Now you're ready to trade when caravans arrive.

The only other thing you should do is crank out lots of rock crafts, and maybe some cut gems[dwarffortresswiki.org] as described later, so you have some junk to trade.

Trading With Caravans
The trading[dwarffortresswiki.org] process goes like this:
  1. Request broker at depot (make sure you assigned one in Nobles/Admins, preferably with skills).
  2. Move trade items to depot. This can take some time.
  3. Enter trade.
  4. Add your items to the offer bid.
  5. Add items from caravan to the offer ask.
  6. Hit Trade to finalize and propose the selected items for exchange.
The first two steps look like this. Click on the depot, request the broker, and select items to move to the depot.

Trade Depot Window

Move any junk you planned to trade, like stone or other crafts and cut gems, to the depot. Hopefully you created a bunch of bins to put things in because this will speed up the hauling tremendously.

If you aren't sure if you have enough to trade, or want to get rid of some stuff, move extra things that you can make easily such as doors, stone coffers, or whatever to the depot. It may not be worth much but it can all add up.

Annoying Elf Ethics
If you actually need to trade with them, don't offer wood or other organic items to elves[dwarffortresswiki.org] or their ethics get offended. This includes wooden containers that contain whatever you really want to sell them, and also decorations on items. They will get offended over your lumberjacking or non-veganism and leave. They really like stone, metal, and gems though because they don't make any of that themselves.

Profit and Dealing
Exact break-even offers will not be accepted because merchants expect to make some kind of profit for their long dangerous trip. So you'll have to give them some profit. However how much will depend on the broker's skill.

The Trade haggling window.

Notice that when Trade Profit is green, he will probably accept. If it's yellow then he will probably make a counteroffer requesting more goods. However sometimes they will accept even if this is yellow, especially if they're already happy about how much they made from a previous exchange. The accuracy of the color code and what is or isn't accepted is going to depend on skills, but it's not obvious how this works.

Also notice that caravans have a weight limit. This limits your ability to sell them lots of heavy stone stuff that they can't carry, unless you can take more of their heavy stuff off their hands. Sometimes they show up with something stupid like a bunch of clay blocks which are very heavy but cheap, and it makes sense to buy them just to free up their weight capacity so they can accept more stuff from you.

Constantly trying to lowball can make negotiations worse (they demand even more profit) or offend the trader enough for them to pick up and leave without trading.

You can do multiple small trades or one big trade, but a smaller number of larger trades are more likely to result in better deals that are closer to the acceptance threshold without being over it much. On the other hand, a large number of tiny trades may help skill up your broker faster.

It could possibly help soften up the trader to give him a very favorable but very small deal first.

You'll also get a little Diplomacy[dwarffortresswiki.org] button in the notifications area. This is where you can request items for next year, but they will jack up the price on these items. Need more leather, cloth, exotic food, or whatever? Here is your chance to request anything that you can't easily produce yourself yet.

They will also tell you which items they will consider to be worth more next time. If you can produce those it will make sense to do so since you will be the one who gets to jack up the price on those things.

If you forget what arrangements you made, click the World Screen icon in the very lower right of the screen. This part of the UI still has some issues, but you can get some info there.
Fertilizing Farms and Surface Farming
If you're farming underground in a dirt layer, the soil is considered bad quality. This can be addressed by finding a naturally hazardous natural cavern to farm in, but it can also be addressed by fertilizing[dwarffortresswiki.org], which isn't too difficult as long as you have a decent wood supply. But it isn't entirely obvious how to fertilize, thus these instructions were written.

It's also possible to surface farm[dwarffortresswiki.org] if you gather plants or trade for the necessary seeds, and surface plots can be protected with walls.

This is pretty easy aside from keeping up with the required wood supply. Fertilization is done with Potash which is produced as follows:
  • Build a Wood Furnace to "Make ash" from wood. This workshop is also used to make charcoal.
  • Build an Ashery to "Make potash from ash". This will also be needed later for lye to make soap.
Queue up some conditional work orders for "Make ash" to maintain a very small amount of ash, like 3, whenever you have a decent amount of wood like more than 10. Then queue up another one to "Make potash from ash" any time your potash supply drops below 9 or so (or however much you need). That will automatically keep a small amount of potash on hand.

Then set farm plots up to get fertilized:

Selecting 2 is optional, but will keep the plot fertilized all the time. Even if you select 2, click 1 to get started fertilizing immediately.

Surface Farming
Surface farming[dwarffortresswiki.org] is pretty obvious because it all works the same way as underground farming, just with surface plant species instead of cave plants. Farm plots can be created outdoors, and farmers can be protected from danger by constructing walls and even roofs around the plots. The plots can also be fertilized but this isn't nearly so important if the soil is good.

Surface plant seeds can be obtained by gathering surface plants and eating or brewing them. They can also be purchased from caravans and aren't that expensive as long as the annoying bastards didn't put them into fancy expensive bags. Like underground crops, surface plants exist that can be used for food, drink, textiles, oil, and such.

The "Greenhouse" Trick
You can surface farm underground using a trick. Channel out a pit exposed to sky, put a farm plot at the bottom, and cover it over with stone or any constructed floor material. The tiles will still be considered "outside" tiles. If it makes you feel any better, make the roof out of glass block flooring and call it a greenhouse.

Muddy Stone Farming
Briefly I will mention that if you flood a stone floor with water it will leave behind mud[dwarffortresswiki.org] which then becomes valid placement for underground farm plots. Surface plants won't grow this way even if the plot is exposed to sky. See more info on creating muddy stone farm plots at Irrigation[dwarffortresswiki.org] or see the section on water below.
Immigration and Naturalization Services
At this point you may have had some immigrants[dwarffortresswiki.org] arrive, either because they're unhappy where they were or because they're attracted by tales of your success. These are dwarves from your civilization, so they're not really foreigners, just non-locals. (You could get foreigners, but they show up as visitors, request residency, then possibly request citizenship after a year or so.)

When immigrants arrive you need to do some stuff to put them to good use. Here's a quick checklist of things to do:

Assign Details
In premium they don't arrive with work details set, so go through your work details and assign them in some way that makes sense. Sometimes you'll get a Legendary craftsdwarf who you should both put to work immediately and exempt from menial tasks so he or she stays focused on doing legendary stuff.

Other times you get a Peasant[dwarffortresswiki.org] (unskilled) or someone with totally worthless skills like a Legendary Fish Dissector[dwarffortresswiki.org] (they extract things like blood and venom from fish which is currently useless in the game). It's up to you what you want to do with these individuals to make them useful, but I would give them all the crap work plus assign them a variety of other jobs to see what they skill up at quickest.

Check Beds
Build more dormitory beds or more individual bedrooms.

Check Meeting Space
Keep an eye on whether you need more meeting areas as the population grows.

Check Burrows
If you have burrows set up for some special purpose, like an "emergency shelter" burrow used to (try to) make all the civilians take shelter somewhere during an attack, make sure to add the immigrants to it.

Add to Squads
Useless dwarves should ideally be the first to get used as battle fodder and if they spend lots of time on military training then you're not losing out on any skilled work from them. So when you eventually get military training set up, useless Peasants are perfect candidates for full-time military training, as are the fish dissectors.

Check Locations
Locations like Hospitals, Taverns, Temples, and Libraries can benefit from certain skills and some immigrants might be good for one of the positions at those places. Start assigning the position in one of those places to see who has relevant skills.

Check Pen/Pasture Zones
Immigrants usually show up with some animals, so check your pasture and bird pen and such and make sure any animals they show up with are assigned to the proper zones. Otherwise they may starve or not produce things.
Tombs and Memorializing the Dead
Tombs[dwarffortresswiki.org] are pretty easy, and it can be helpful to start making a mass tomb sooner rather than later so that when dwarves die later the survivors will suffer less distress. Seeing their dead friends corpses laying around makes them unhappy, and smelling their rot makes them even more unhappy. Unmemorialized dwarves also like to come back as ghosts[dwarffortresswiki.org] to harass the other dwarves, which also causes lots of bad unhappy thoughts. This kind of horror can drive the whole fortress into insane destruction.

Communal Mass Tombs
The first type of tomb is the easiest type. Just queue up 20 or so rock coffins and when they're done, dig out a room and place the coffins in the room like furniture. They're under b-f-x.

Currently, every coffin needs its own individual 1x1 tomb zone. These tombs can be left unassigned though, and they will get dynamically used to entomb deceased dwarves (and pets if allowed). Make sure the toggle to enable their use for dwarves and/or pets is set.

You might also create a stockpile of type Corpses:Dwarves in the middle of the room if there is enough space so it will get used as a morgue as well.

That's it. You don't need to assign any dwarves. When they die they will get automatically allocated to coffins.

Something like this is typical and it can be placed at the edge of the map:

Mass Tomb.

As usual, smoothing and engraving can be nice but it's not really a priority for the communal catacombs.

Assigned Tombs
These are for the fancy noble dwarves that demand that their tombs be constructed ahead of time and that they be of sufficient value. The UI will let you know what the requirements are, but similar to special individual bedrooms and offices, just dig out a room, make a nice burial object of a nice material of a nice quality, place it in the room. Smooth and engrave the room if needed to raise the value. Drag a tomb zone over the room, and assign the whiny noble to the tomb.

Memorializing the Lost
As in real life, sometimes the body of the deceased is completely lost somehow and not available for burial.

To address this situation properly, queue up a "Make rock slab" job and make a few rock memorial slabs in anticipation of the need to memorialize some of the fallen. Later you are supposed to "Engrave memorial slab" at a stoneworker's workshop, then install the engraved slab somewhere (such as the mass tomb) like other furniture. This will keep the dead happy and the memorialized ghosts will disappear.
If you've gotten this far then you've learned everything you need to know for basic fort survival. Your dwarves won't starve or go through alcohol withdrawal, they will sleep happily in their beds, and feast happily in their great halls. You can wall the dwarves off from enemies, order dwarves to kill threats, make the necessities of survival, trade for anything you don't make, and properly bury any dwarves who don't survive.

If we were handing out achievement badges then you'd get one at this point.

From here on out we get into the additional mechanics for a larger more elaborate fortress that can keep larger numbers of dwarves happy and do more about attacks than just wall itself off from attackers.

Now is also not a bad time for a do over if you find anything wrong with the map or wish you had done something differently. Just abandon the fort and your next setup will go much faster.
Strange Moods
At some point you will see a message saying that one of the dwarves has gone into a strange mood[dwarffortresswiki.org]. This is rather bizarre and not terribly obvious as to what is going on.

It seems that dwarves periodically get possessed by some obsession to create an artifact and some sort of magical ability to do so even when it's not within their normal skill level.

When this happens, a dwarf will claim a workshop and squat in it, blocking any further use of the workshop, until the materials they need are available and they have either completed their artifact or gone insane from not being able to.

A strange mood.

Failure and Avoiding It
To keep them from going insane[dwarffortresswiki.org] and either attacking others or ending up dead from depression, the only thing you can really do is try to make sure they have whatever they need. Depending on the mood type, they may not be terribly direct about what they need. Click on the workshop they claimed (not the dwarf) and you will see text of them babbling or otherwise expressing some information about what they need if they don't have it. (If they do have all materials they need they will just gather them all and begin work in the workshop.)

They could get obsessed with any material, and this is why it makes sense to buy up or harvest at least tiny amounts of every material you can get your hands on. If you don't try to collect one of everything then you may be unable to obtain the material in time, and the strange mood dwarves can be very exacting about what they want. You may not be able to figure out exactly what variation on materials they want.

The good part is, if they succeed then you will get a valuable artifact. It may not be terribly useful, but you can display it to make dwarves happy and increase the value of rooms that have value requirements. So a legendary artifact floor grate might seem dumb, but you can dig a hole in the floor somewhere, place it, and the room value goes way up even if you have no use for a floor grate there. A dwarf will also gain legendary level in a skill upon success unless they're in a possessed mood.

Artifacts and Display Furniture
If the strange mood succeeds then a named artifact quality item will be produced. This will be worth a lot of dwarfbucks and your dwarves will be unhappy if it is lost or destroyed. So these artifacts need to be protected from thieves, which are quite common.

A good way to store artifacts is a pedestal[dwarffortresswiki.org]. A display case is more elaborate and requires wood and a glass window, which requires glass, which requires a glass kiln, fuel, and sand. Try to keep a few pedestals or display cases on hand so you can place them in value-sensitive rooms to jack up their value and also protect the artifact(s) with traps, guard dogs, or whatever.

Some artifacts actually are furniture though so can just be placed in a room by themselves.

Types of Strange Moods
Strange moods differ based on how happy or sad a dwarf is, for the most part. These are the types listed from most to least favorable:
  • Fey - This is the most basic and straightforward strange mood with clear indications of what materials are needed.
  • Secretive - same as Fey except the indications are a little more obscure because they're described as drawing pictures of what they need.
  • Possessed - the indications get really cryptic, and unlike the others they don't gain any skill from crafting the artifact.
  • Macabre - the dwarf wants bones and similar items for the artifact.
  • Fell - this is where things start to get bad because the dwarf will murder another dwarf and make the artifact from the victim's bones.
As for what determines the type of mood, there seems to be an element of randomness and happiness level. Some seem to be purely random, like Posessed.

The best simplest advice for dealing with strange moods is: collect at least a little of every material and "get gud" at doing so.
Build Extra Workshops
This might be a good time to mention that you really want more than one of your more commonly used workshops like the Stoneworker and Crafts workshops, for example.

These are super cheap and fast to build, requiring a minimum of 9 tiles of mined-out space plus one piece or block of junk stone. So build 2 or more extras of everything important.

Not only will this help produce things in parallel when you have more dwarves, but if a dwarf goes into a strange mood and ties up a workshop it will not block production of other things.

Some workshops will require a little more effort but not much. For example, the Metalsmith will need an anvil, but as soon as you find any iron you can easily construct 3 more anvils or so and build more Metalsmith workshops with them.
Waste Management Like a Master, Part 2: Legendary Dumping
Sometimes the dwarves for whatever reason just don't want to place a priority on cleaning up stuff, like random boulders, that seem fine to them but look ugly to you. Or it's just easier to manually prioritize things for dumping, especially if they're creating a problem.

This is when it's time to employ dumping items in Garbage Dumps[dwarffortresswiki.org] (even though the items may just need to be moved and could be worth something).

Dump Construction
You probably only need one of these, especially right now. Here's the way to construct it.

Almost everyone uses this dump design.

The key features here are:
  • It's only 1x1 inside because any amount of stuff can be dumped in one tile.
  • There's a door on the room to control miasma in case we dump anything bad.
  • I put it next to a stone stockpile because often its going to contain junk stone which will be used by the nearby stone workshops.

To add this, dig out a room as shown, add a door, then use Zones (z) to add a Garbage Dump to the empty tile inside.

To use this, use the i-p designation command which looks like this in the UI:

UI for object flags such as "dump" and "forbid".

Items flagged for dumping will be brought to this dump zone, unflagged for dumping, and flagged as Forbidden. This will prevent the dwarves from doing anything with the dump contents until the items are (re)claimed (un-forbidden).

Making Dumped Items Usable Again
Often you don't really want everything left in the dump, because it's usable rock, or it's refuse that eventually needs to be moved to a refuse pile or something., So periodically use the i-F "Claim forbidden items" command and click twice on the dump tile.

If items are forbidden the map tile will show a tiny lock icon in the corer. The individual item's window will show the lock border hilighted a little bit:

It's difficult to see, but that's what it looks like right now.

Using i-F ("claim") will clear the "forbidden" flag on the items in the pile, and they can now be used by dwarves for whatever they're needed for. If there's nothing to use them for and no stockpile to move them to, they'll just sit there until there is a need to move them which is usually ok. But be warned that unflagging the pile could cause a flurry of hauling to stockpiles to occur.

And don't forget you can set forbidden status on other things manually, which is useful to keep dwarves from messing with stuff that you don't want them messing with.
Construct Individual Bedrooms
Your dorm will work out just great for a while, but if you want the dwarves to have the most happy thoughts so that they can weather the worst situations without giving up on life or going bezerk, it helps to make sure they can all have their own bedrooms[dwarffortresswiki.org].

These rooms don't need to be big. A simple strategy that works well, and is rather dense and low time/effort is:
  • Dig out 1x3 or 2x2 rooms, plus one tile for the door.
  • Smooth the walls.
  • Engrave the walls.
  • Put a door on them.
  • Add a bed to each one.
  • Add a cabinet and coffer, which can be made of stone.
  • Drag a bedroom zone over each room, or use "Multi" to drag over the whole complex of rooms and create multiple zones at once.
Essentially the idea is to do maximum improvement to minimal space using only wood for the bed and stone for everything else. It helps if you have a high level stone carver cranking out some high quality furniture. Even if they're just made of low-value rock, their high craftsdwarfship will make dwarves happy.

You can assign dwarves to individual bedrooms if you want, but you can also just leave it to them to claim their own bedrooms. This will let them pick the one with their favorite types or colors of stone around and stuff like that, to the extent that it's possible.

Cabinets let them store clothes, and coffers let them store other little items they've claimed.

Some nobles and administrators will have greater bedroom, dining room, office, and tomb requirements but the game will notify you about those. Just create more elaborate rooms for them and assign them individually as needed.

A very elaborate wiki article[dwarffortresswiki.org] on bedroom complex design is available for those looking for ideas. The simplest advice is cluster all of the bedrooms together in a 3D cube with more than one way in and out.

Zones and Overlapping
If you overlap zones the wrong way you'll get a red text warning about it, but note that zones can share wall tiles. So it's OK to place zones like this for example:

This is ok.

Noise and Sleep
Noise[dwarffortresswiki.org] can be a problem for sleeping dwarves. Digging, wood chopping, engraving, and demolition of constructions radiate noise from 4-8 tiles in all directions. Workshops don't generate noise. Reportedly temples and taverns do cause noise, possibly from singing and music. Try to keep bedrooms away from noise but it may only need to be 8 tiles away. Remember vertical distance too, so bedrooms near mining operations are ideally 8+ levels above or below.
Wells and Water Sources
Now that you're mining around and can close up the fortress for a siege, it might be time to think about water[dwarffortresswiki.org] sources inside the fortress. Water is not used so much for drinking, if you have a proper booze supply, as it is for cleaning[dwarffortresswiki.org]. This gets to be important for injured dwarves, who need it for cleaning and drinking, but we will get to hospitals later.

Dealing with water and magma can get complicated, but I will try to describe some relatively low effort ways of getting a reliable water source inside the fortress. The lowest effort way is to specify a water source zone next to a natural source, but we really want something more convenient. First lets talk about where water comes from, then about how to get to it.

Natural Water Sources
All water needs to come from a natural water source. Here are the major ones and some brief discussion of each:

Rivers and Other Bodies of Water
Rivers usually cross the map with the upstream map edge tiles creating new water at maximum rate and the downstream exit tiles draining it off at the same rate. This means that they're an infinite water source. Lakes and oceans work in a similar manner, but oceans have the problem that they are salt water.

The main problem with these surface sources is that they're at the surface and so can flood out your whole fort easily if they're channeled into the wrong spot by accident. Therefore they must be dealt with very carefully. Always build dry channels with floodgates all over the place, put the floodgate levers above the water level of the river so they can't get blocked by flooding, and don't channel out the last tile blocking the water flow until you're sure you can shut off floodgates as needed.

These are underground tiles of usually rock that will drip or pour into adjacent empty space. If you dig a pit into one from above then the walls of the pit will be leaking water and the empty pit would get filled. The walls of a Heavy Aquifer would flood the pit almost instantly but a Light Aquifer will do it very slowly.

Since the water is already underground like you want, you can simply channel out a pool on the top of one and the pool will fill with water. This is very easy to do, and doesn't become a problem unless the whole map is covered with a heavy aquifer layer. Water from a space dug out in an aquifer can moved with tunnels.

The heavy ones especially have the danger that if you dig into one from the side in a tunnel connected to your main fortress then they can flood your entire fortress below the aquifer level.

Cavern Lakes and Rivers
Underground caverns can also have lakes and rivers in them. This can be very convenient because the water is probably far below your main operation where you can get to it from a well placed on top of a shaft, but this could also inconvenient because a long travel distance for a well bucket can be slow. Pump stacks can be used to fill cisterns that are higher up, but this takes more work.

Murky Pools
These are special tiles at the surface that just drain if you tunnel into them, but when it rains they will fill again. They contain nasty stagnant water that isn't continuous, but it could still be useful sometimes.

A Simple Example Well
While it's possible to dig out a cistern and fill it from a river, I'm just going to cover the less difficult case of an aquifer that partially spans the map that we can easily create a pool in the top of for use either directly or with a well[dwarffortresswiki.org]

Using a River
If you need to use a river, here's a guide for that.

Paying careful attention to my embark rectangle, I made sure to embark in a square that has a light aquifer on the west side of the map, and none on the east side.

So I started settling the east side and digging down to get around the aquifer.

But now I want some low-effort water.

As as part of my probing around for minerals, I dig a tunnel all the way to the west of the map on several levels.

Level 32.

Oh gee look there's some damp stone so I found the aquifer. So now I want to find the top so I dig up one level and then across to the west again.

Level 33.

Ok, so still damp stone but not in exactly the same place because aquifers are irregular-shaped 3D objects underground. So I wall the block next to the damp stone off just to help prevent accidents and dig up yet another level.

Level 34.

Ok, so no damp stone this time and I can dig across to the west quite a bit without finding any more. Looks like I'm now above it.

So I dig out a 7x7 room, channel out a 5x5 pool into the floor like this and channel out a 3x3 on the level below it to create a sort of inverted pyramid and provide more exposed surface area for the light aquifer walls to drip water to fill it.

Level 34 after digging out a room with a pool channeled into the floor and waiting for it to fill.

The reason for digging with ramps is that it's safer for clumsy dwarves who can't swim. If they fall in then they can easily exit on any side, and if the thing floods too fast while they're channeling (like a heavy aquifer would) then they can walk out of the pit faster.

So above that on level 35 I dig out a small room above the center of the pool, channel a hole in the floor, and build a well on the hole:

Level 35.

This happens to be on the same level as my dining area and kitchen and stuff so I just dig a long tunnel over to that area.

Now this is not the most convenient well because it's still kind of far away from everything, but at least there's a well. I could have also just made a stairway going down where they could just dip water out of the pool.

But later I can try to channel the water to flow underneath a well room right next to a a more inhabited area.

After you've got this simple case down you can try your hands at more elaborate dwarven civil engineering, pumping water around, filling up cisterns, or creating drowning chambers for trapped goblins.

Get used to using lots of levers and mechanisms, and for the love of the dwarven gods, place the levers above water level or other flood danger so the flood controls needed to stop the flood don't get flooded and blocked from use by the flood they're supposed to control!

Note that water of depth 1/7 especially (and sometimes deeper) will evaporate[dwarffortresswiki.org] if it sits too long. This means that if you have a slow water source like a light aquifer, you might have trouble getting water to its destination before it evaporates. If this is happening to you, channel out more aquifer wall surface and have it run down into a lower level cistern.
Advanced Water: Aquifer Breaching
This is not a whole aquifer tutorial, but I did want to at least get people started.

The noob advice is to start with a map only partially covered by an aquifer, or one with no aquifer and a river, so that aquifer issues can be avoided in favor of focusing on other things, but eventually you will want to start on a map covered entirely by at least a light aquifer and maybe even a heavy aquifer.

Light Aquifers
These drip water so slowly that they're actually quite easy to deal with. You can do a slow "chicken run" through them using a 2x2 stairwell and priority 1 designations. Just keep digging a 2x2 stairwell down, re-designating cancelled designations until you get one level below the first dry layer. Then dig out a little bit of space around the bottom, even 7x7 will work. The screenshot on the right shows water dripping out of a 5 layer light aquifer down a 2x2 stairwell and you can see how little space it takes to disperse and evaporate the water. So even just 6x6 empty space at the bottom is usually enough.

You can then dig out the aquifer tiles adjacent to the stairwell (you don't need the corners) and build walls out of anything in their place to stop the dripping. But you can take your time doing this because of the drainage area you created below.

a 1x3 or 1x2 stairwell could also work but it's more likely to start filling up with more than 1/7 water before you finish digging down, especially if there's more than two aquifer levels.

Here are some links to tutorials:
Heavy Aquifers
These are a lot more trouble to breach than light aquifers because water floods out of them like crazy, instantly flooding tiles, but they also have the advantage that they absorb infinite water just as quickly. So eventually you may actually prefer these for some tricks that can be done, but it will take some focus and effort to learn the techniques for dealing with them.

The wiki mentions multiple techniques for dealing with heavy aquifers[dwarffortresswiki.org], but here I will primarily refer you to the double slit technique since that is the most refined way of breaching them in minimal space. It requires components for two screw pumps (easy to make out of wood) and some puzzle-like fiddling with the order in which tiles are dug out and walled over. Once the tactic is learned it's not too difficult though.
Smooth and Engrave Like a Master
Smoothing[dwarffortresswiki.org] walls and floors is rather helpful. It keeps dwarves happy.

Once walls and floors have been smoothed they can be engraved[dwarffortresswiki.org]. This not only keeps dwarves happy but by looking at what they engrave you can see what they've been thinking about. They'll carve their favorite things and even events that happen.

Enable smoothing for all dwarves except for the ones on important jobs you don't want to have distracted. This helps give idle dwarves something to do and raises their skill\. You may want engraving enabled only for a few skilled dwarves.

Prioritize smoothing and engraving gathering and sleeping areas first. The unskilled dwarves will start out very slow and won't be creating any masterwork engravings at first but they will get better.

You may not want to get too carried away too quickly though because this raises the value of your fortress and makes it more attractive to attackers.

Designate one large room or some smaller rooms at a time then designate more when those are done. Don't designate everything or dwarves may get too focused on smoothing and engraving when other things need to get done.

Just go small areas at a time as you notice dwarves being idle.
Passive Defense: Traps
Traps[dwarffortresswiki.org] are quite useful because they can neutralize or kill problematic creatures with little or no risk to the dwarves.

Trap Types
  • The stone fall trap is the easiest trap to construct, requiring only stones produced by mining and a mechanism, but they don't usually kill anything. Instead they just soften enemies up. Unlike others though they can be constructed almost immediately from just rocks and rock mechanisms, but they're not that good and are the least useful trap type.
  • Cage traps are more useful because cages aren't difficult to make and they will neutralize any creatures caught in them. Additionally, trapped creatures are still alive and can be used for other purposes later. Cage traps won't trap everything though since a number of creatures are immune to them or can usually bypass them. They can be constructed almost as easily as stone fall traps though, so are very doable rather early.
  • Weapon traps are like stone fall traps but much more deadly. They can be made from normal weapons or the trap-only weapons such as spiked metal balls and serrated discs. These can be nasty when made from high quality mechanisms and high quantity/quality weapon components. Expect a pile of gore as a result.
  • Upright spear/spike traps, unlike the previous kind, don't trigger automatically and must be triggered by mechanisms such as a lever or pressure plate. See the wiki for design ideas involving these.
Other more elaborate schemes can be implemented with mechanisms, bridges, pits, water and magma, and such.

Placing Traps
If you want to keep things simple at first and not focus too much on traps yet, just put lots of cage traps in your entrance tunnel.

A simple trick with traps is to create a long hallway into a hill or something outside the fort, either disconnected entirely from the fort or cut off by a lever-controlled door, then fill the hallway with traps and chain up a stray kitten or other animal at the end. Dumber more aggressive creatures will tend to be lured into the hallway in their kittencidal bloodlust and fall prey to the traps. (Really a kitten is not the best bait animal due to their adoption rate and any tame friendly animal can be used.) Building destroyer creatures are attracted to furniture to smash and will be baited by that instead.

For more on traps, check out the Traps[dwarffortresswiki.org] and Trap design[dwarffortresswiki.org] wiki pages. There are a very large number of elaborate trap plans described on the wiki.

Guard Animals
While not a trap per se, one good way to spot sneaky creatures trying to sneak in to the fortress is guard animals chained[dwarffortresswiki.org] up at the entrance or in the entrance tunnel. Dogs work fine for this and they don't need to be anything special, but other animals can be used too. A small pasture at the entrance can also be used to coup up some animals there.

They can be used in conjunction with traps since they can startle, push, or otherwise cause some trap-bypassing creatures to stumble into a trap anyway.
Active Defense: Military Training
We already created a squad at the beginning and learned how to order them around, but at some point you're going to want a real squad with proper equipment and training. You're going to need more dwarves than what you started with so that you don't lose too much work capacity by having a bunch train.

Conflict Between "Tool Labors" and Squad Uniforms
The labors of Mining, Woodcutting, and Hunting are special because they require tools. When a dwarf is assigned to one of these, they will pick up the required tool (pick axe, battle axe, or crossbow/quiver/bolts) and always keep them. This tool set is called a "uniform". They can't have more than one uniform (carry more than one tool or weapon) at a time and will not switch automatically depending on task. If they're in a squad with their Schedule Routine[dwarffortresswiki.org] set to "Ready" (or any routine set to "Equip/always") then they will equip a squad uniform full-time, even if they have "no special orders" at the moment. Thus you must avoid assigning more than one of Mining, Woodcutting, or Hunting to a dwarf, and a dwarf with one of these labors should not be in a squad that has their schedule routine set to "Ready" or another "Equip/always" routine. Otherwise they may only ever do one of, or none of, those labors. But if a miner, for example, is in a squad with it's schedule routine set to one with "Equip/orders" then they should carry their pick, and then switch uniforms (drop the pick and get weapons and armor) when they have military orders.

Early Setup
A squad can have 10 members, but doesn't have to. The best thing to do might be to pick at least one dwarf in your first wave of immigrants, or your most skilled one, and start a squad with even just one dwarf training. He may be able to teach the others later. Dwarves with no work skills are good candidates for recruitment. Just start small with 1-3 otherwise useless dwarves and add more later as ideal recruits arrive.

Military Facilities
Not much is required. Here's a crude layout that I slapped together. I'm sure you can do better.

Some basic zones for squads. The sleeping area isn't required, and the archery range isn't needed until you want to train archers. The archery range should probably be longer. Minimum for training a squad is an area with a space to train, though all functions (except archery range) can be assigned in the same zone.

Here are some things you want in each area depending on how it's used:
  • Melee Training: Nothing, just enough space.
  • Archery Range: Only archery targets, and a room with plenty of distance from the targets. Digging a channel in front of the archery targets is a good idea since it will cause the arrows to fall one level, saving them from getting broken.
  • Equipment Storage: Each dwarf in a squad will use a separate container (such as a chest, cabinet or armor stand) placed in the barracks to store their equipment. As you place them, they will be automatically assigned to each dwarf.
  • Sleeping: Only beds, but chests and cabinets might not hurt.
Squads don't really need a squad sleeping area, that's only if you want to keep them all together when you're putting them on high alert. Multiple squads can use the same areas. One barracks zone can be used for all functions except the archery practice.

This is unfortunately one of the more frustrating parts of the UI that needs some work. To reach the equipment screen, open the squad sidebar (q) and check box a squad, then hit Equip at the bottom. The equipment window for that squad should open.

Equipment is usually assigned as uniforms using the top two buttons in the equipment window. Unfortunately it seems like you can't edit a uniform and have to create a new one to change anything. But if you click Details next to a single dwarf, you can edit that dwarf's uniform then save the results as a new uniform. This way you can at least load up an existing uniform to create a new one.

As for making equipment, I would try to outfit a melee squad with metal armor of some sort. If you make steel then I'd start with steel weapons, then make only enough weapons and armor to recruit your squads.

Metal helmets seem to be important for preventing serious training injuries.

Training Schedule
The easiest way to get training started is to select the squad in the military sidebar (banner button in lower right or hit q) and click the axe icon to order immediate training. This will cause them to train all day every day until cancelled though, which may not be what you want. This tends to make dwarves unhappy when that's all they do.

The more sophisticated thing to do is set up a training schedule. The UI for this is also not very good, but it is possible to figure it out. Checkbox select a squad and hit the Schedule button.

Squad schedule window. "Routines" are more like duty status. These aren't really just schedules, but also determine the standing orders at the moment, such as sleeping in the barracks, wearing equipment full time, and so on.

Hit View monthly schedule and you will be able to view the routines on a month-by-month basis. "Monthly orders" means the routine can't be shown in one row because the routine varies by month.

Staggered training is a good idea because dwarves seem to get unhappy training full time, especially if they don't get to fight for real frequently enough.

Click Edit on an orders cell and you will get this screen. Here's a quick explanation of the one thing I didn't find very obvious.

How to assign a minimum number of squad members to follow a particular training, etc, order rather than ordering them by specific position.

Once you've customized one cell you need to copy and paste it to any others you want. The name seems to be more of a comment and not a selectable template.

It's usually better for archers to have leather armor for speed. They need an archery range for training as described above. Another thing you can do is make them hunters and they'll get marksdwarf practice hunting. While hunting isn't the fastest way of bringing in lots of food, it can be worth it for both the weapon practice and scouting over the map looking for sneaks. Training hunting dogs and assigning them to hunters can help.

More material on military strategy and organization:
More Military Guides
There is a lot to say about military training and strategy. Here are more guides on the subject.
https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2898990384 https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2903131375
Justice System
The Justice[dwarffortresswiki.org] UI is rather cumbersome, but setting up justice (appointing the sheriff) early can be useful because as soon as you have an artifact creatures, dwarves, and visitors will be plotting to steal it. Having a sheriff will allow the reports to start coming in immediately. Same benefit should a sneaky, murderous vampire show up.

  • Sheriff or Captain of the Guard - This is your police chief. Citizens come to him with crime reports. He will require a relatively low cost bedroom, dining room, office, an armor stand, and a weapon stand. The Sheriff turns into Captain of the Guard when you get a Mayor. Creating a squad for him will give him deputies that can possibly help investigate crimes and enforce consequences, but this is not required especially early on.
  • Hammerdwarf - This is your executioner who carries out capital and corporal punishments. This can be anyone and can be the same dwarf as the other positions.
  • Dungeon Master - This is more like your head of intelligence rather than a leather-clad dwarf who likes whipping people. Think more like head of the Dwarven Inquisition or something. The position isn't required, but you might gain some intel and the room requirements are pretty low, similar to Captain of the Guard. It can also be the same dwarf. Even wiki editors are not sure how this position works.
You need a room for prisoners that is zoned as a dungeon. Make some chains and/or cages and place them in the room like furniture. These restraints can also be used for other troublesome creatures that aren't subject to the justice system. The Justice->Fortress guard tab will tell you if you have enough cages and chains.

Police Squad
If you set the captain of the guard as the commander of a military squad then the members become guards who can assist with justice functions. The squad can also be set up to patrol for trouble by using the military interface.

A schedule routine called "Police Routine" was added and the orders for the guard squad for all months were set to this.

Administering Justice
Other than reading information presented, the only actions you can take are to interrogate and convict people. These options show up under each case. Except that the most accused person will show up at the the top of the interrogate/convict list, the lack of sorting or search here makes it very difficult to find anyone by name.

Sometimes you have no leads and all you can do is interrogate random people or everyone, but this can take a long time. Sometimes everyone didn't see nuffin' and you have no information on who to interrogate further or convict. Having a squad of guards with some patrolling at all times theoretically ought to help.

As for the other tabs such as Intelligence, your guess is as good as anyone's. But it may have some clues about who to interrogate.

Some things to look forward to in the justice screen.
So far we've barely mentioned Locations[dwarffortresswiki.org], but they're sort of like "zone groups" that are also associated with a particular special game mechanic. They don't have a rectangle of their own like a zone, but instead group one or more zones areas together for a special purpose.
  • Locations all consist of at least one zone, and some really only need one zone, but they can consist of multiple zones if needed.
  • Some zones don't really make sense for Locations, like an animal taming zone in a library, but hey this is DF so you can try all kinds of stuff if you want. Most of the time they need a meeting zone.
  • Locations usually have chests that hold the objects used by the zone. Like taverns use mugs and musical instruments, and hospitals use medical supplies.
  • Several locations need large "dance floors" which are empty floor area with no furniture in them.
  • Several are also sensitive to the value of their walls and furnishings and will get upgraded to a higher classification of that zone type as the value of the walls and furnishings is increased.
  • Locations also have special location-specific positions for dwarves that do special work in the location. This is separate from the nobles/administrators screen.
Locations: Hospitals and Dwarven Health Care
Hospitals and medical care[dwarffortresswiki.org] are one of the more complicated and difficult aspects of the game to set up. This trouble can be especially worthwhile, though, for saving your Legendary craftsdwarves and axedwarves from death.

A hospital is perhaps the most complicated type of "Location" in the game so far even if it really only needs only one zone to work, but once you know what they need and how to supply them they aren't that difficult to understand, just more annoying than usual to keep supplied.

Medical Skills and Labors
Medical care in the game works approximately like this:
  1. A Diagnostician does triage and diagnosis, then queues up tasks for procedures that need to be performed.
  2. These types of tasks are queued based on the diagnosis:
    • Surgery (such as removing dead/infected tissue, or internal organ stitches)
    • Suturing (stitching wounds closed)
    • Wound dressing (bandaging)
    • Bone setting (splits and casts)
Before anything else, even with no hospital, assign your best Diagnostician as the Chief Medical Dwarf to handle the triage.

Building the Hospital
The first thing to do is build a Dorm zone almost exactly like any other dorm, but put 10 beds in it and make it larger than normal because we are going to want to fit the following into the room:
  • 10 Beds
  • 5-10 Chests
  • 3 Tables
  • 2 Traction Benches
  • As close as possible to a well or water source of some sort.
Immediately click the button in the zone window to add the dorm zone to a new "Location" and select Hospital as the location type.

The beds, chests, and tables you already know how to make and might already have some of on hand, but the traction benches require a "chain" of some sort. Make a chain out of any metal, or use a rope, and construct 2 traction benches.

Construct another chain and make sure you have some mechanisms to build the well later. A well is useful because the hospital needs a lot of water for cleaning and infirmed dwarves have to drink water, even though it seems like booze would still be more appropriate.

Supplying the Hospital
Hospitals are also one of the more difficult things to keep supplied. These are the supplies that they need which you're going to need to make or otherwise obtain:
  • Thread of any sort (for sutures)
  • Cloth of any sort (for bandages)
  • Splints (wood or metal)
  • Plaster powder (for making casts)
  • Buckets (wood or metal)
  • Soap (almost as good as antibiotics in this game)
  • Water
  • Some crutches (wood or metal)
Ideally try to keep at least one of each of these things per bed in the hospital, but preferably more if possible.

Here is some information on how to create or obtain each item type:

This can be traded for, or produced at a Farmer's workshop by using "Process plants" (Thresher labor) when you have textile plants like pig tails available, or you can use both "Shear creature" and "Spin thread" (Shearer and Spinner labors) when wooly animals are available. A Loom can also be used to collect spider silk webs (Weaver labor) and turn those into thread.

This can also be traded for, or woven at a Loom using the previously mentioned thread. See Textile Industry[dwarffortresswiki.org] for a lot more details on these.

Splints and Buckets
These are easy and can be made of wood or metal at a Carpenter's workshop or Metalsmith's forge.

Plaster Powder
This is made at a Kiln out of gypsum, alabaster, selenite, or satinspar. It also requires fuel if magma isn't being used.

Making soap[dwarffortresswiki.org] is probably the biggest pain of all this, but it is worth making because it is almost like antibiotics. Making soap requires several stages like this:
  1. Make Ash from wood at a Wood furnace
  2. Make Lye from the ash at a Ashery. Lye must be stored in Barrels.
  3. Now you need either tallow (animal) or oil (plant). Obtain those like this:
    • Tallow - mark an animal (such as a chicken) on the creatures screen for butchering at a Butcher shop, then use the "Render fat" job at a Kitchen, which will be done automatically with default standing orders. Tallow doesn't require a container but can be stored in barrels to save stockpile space. Go into the Labor->Kitchen->Meat screen and disable tallow for use in cooking meals so it doesn't get wasted on meals! We always need to save tallow for soap or other more useful stuff unless everyone is starving.
    • Oil - First "Mill seeds to paste" (not slurry or flour) at a Quern[dwarffortresswiki.org] (manual) or Millstone[dwarffortresswiki.org] (needs external power). Then use a Screw press[dwarffortresswiki.org] (manual) to "Press oil from paste". This requires a Jug (can be made of rock) as a special container type for the oil. Rock nuts are the usual dwarf oil plant, but other seeds can be milled to paste. Olives are a special case that can be pressed to oil without needing milling first.
  4. Finally, use the Soapmaker's workshop to make soap from the lye and tallow/oil.
Work orders to maintain a small supply of ash and lye any time it drops below 5 or something can be very helpful. Try to use work orders as much as possible to keep small amounts of prerequisites in stock and at least one soap per hospital bed in stock. If the work orders are set up properly and you keep up with butchering/farming and wood collection then the soap should get produced automatically.

Hospitals use a lot of water so if possible you want a well or other water access right next to or in the hospital. See the section on Water for some ideas about how to accomplish that. At a minimum you want a water source somewhere in the defendable area of the fort where it can be accessed when the fort is locked up, but it may not be a complete disaster if dwarves have a walk a little ways. It will slow down medical treatment some though.

Medical Positions in the Hospital Location
There are some fancy options to assign dwarves to different jobs in the hospital, but for now just make sure your best diagnostician is assigned as Chief Medical Dwarf in the nobles/admins screen, and make sure he and any other with medical skills are assigned as "doctors" in the hospital Location configuration.
Locations: Taverns
Taverns are locations that consist of a meeting zone, at the very least, and possibly some bedrooms and dining rooms.

This is where dwarves will socialize, just like they do in a plain meeting area zone, but taverns also attract Visitors who can be either helpful or annoying. Common visitor types include performers and adventurers such as beast and monster hunters. They will drink your booze so better have extra.

They need chests placed to hold the mugs and goblets used to serve booze, but that's about all they really need. Musical instruments are good to have but not absolutely required since dwarves and visitors can still perform without them. Having a stockpile for booze nearby is helpful but it doesn't have to be part of a zone.

A dwarf can be designated as the tavern keeper and this will cause him to skill up in social skills. So it's a good job for your broker, mayor, and such. Unfortunately there may still be some lingering bugs with tavern keepers killing people with alcohol poisoning by serving them to death, so be on the lookout for that and remove the tavern keepers if it happens.

Taverns usually make dwarves happy but they can also result in fights between dwarves, visitors, or both.

For more information on how to produce musical instruments, see "Lesser Industries" below.
Locations: Guild Halls
Guild halls can be annoying at first because dwarves will start petitioning to build them, but they can also be useful as the dwarves will use these places to teach each other professional skills similar to a training barracks for civilian work. These are sort of like your vocational schools where dwarves learn the less bookish skills. There's no performing or drinking in guild halls.

They should be meeting zones and they only need bling to raise their value. They also need 10 or more dwarves that identify themselves as the given profession to be that useful.

Build a decent sized room for more than 10 dwarves, then bling it up by smoothing and carving it and placing bling furniture along the walls. If the hall is to satisfy a petition then it's going to need to be worth at least 2,000 dwarfbucks in value, so you will need some bling. Bring on the platinum statues of Urist McUrist, greatest Legendary Fish Dissector in history, some gems or an artifact in a display case, or whatever is needed to raise the value.

Whereas most other zones want equipment and/or supplies, guild halls don't use either, just lots of bling to bring pride to the profession.
Locations: Temples
Temples are actually somewhat similar to taverns in that there is socializing and performing in temples, but not so much drinking. They're also like guildhalls in that they need empty space and bling to raise their value. They can use chests to store musical instruments but that's about the only furniture required by game mechanics.

They primarily allow dwarves to pray and worship because apparently dwarves can't do this on their own and they get less happy when they don't. Similar to guild halls, sometimes you will also get a petition to build a temple if there are more than 10 citizens following a particular religion. Also like guild halls, this means that the room and contents needs to be worth at least 2,000 dwarfbucks to satisfy the petition.

A temple to no particular deity is usually a good one to start out with as this will be good enough to meet most basic "pray" needs, but It's a good idea to establish more temples for specific gods or religions worshiped by larger numbers of your population even with no petition. Dwarves seem more impressed by worship and prayer in a dedicated temple, and organized worship services are much more likely to happen in them.

Temples are sensitive to the value of their contents and will get upgraded to a higher classification as fancy stuff is placed in them. Shrines can still have performers assigned to them, but higher class temples can have priests and such assigned.

Overall, temples aren't too difficult to deal with and the main problem is that, like guild halls, you may need more than one to keep some dwarves happy. They don't necessarily need to be that large though. Even a 5x5 room could be loaded up with enough bling to raise the value above 2,000, but 7x7 is probably a better minimum size for the larger "dance floor" eventually needed for larger crowds.

Also keep in mind that temples and taverns will both be noisy since they involve lots of banging on musical instruments and hooping and hollerin' and such.

Temples also get visitors called pligrims.

For more information on how to produce musical instruments, see "Lesser Industries" below.
Locations: Libraries
Libraries are a little more elaborate like hospitals because they require a production tree to supply writing materials. They need chests to hold writing materials and bookcases to hold codices and scrolls that are written. They're sort of like your universities where dwarves will school up on book knowledge and bookish skills. Visitors will show up to study at your library, or even contribute to it, once you get it going.

Libraries need Tables, Chairs, Chests, Bookcases, and Writing Materials.

Tables and Chairs
These are needed for readers and writers to sit at while reading and writing. You're going to need lots of them if you end up with lots of library users. You could start with 5 of each but soon you will need at least 10 when lots of visitors start showing up.

Chests are needed to hold writing materials. Any chest will work.

Libraries also need bookcases to hold the codices and scrolls they produce. You don't need many at first (even 5 is plenty at first), but plan to dig out a wall to expand for more tables, chairs, and bookcases eventually.

Writing Materials
This one is the main supply difficulty. The writing materials needed are Quires and Scrolls. Once quires are written on they can be bound into a codex using thread and a book binding. Scrolls are made blank and can just be put on the shelf once written on.

Quires are made from one thread and one sheet. A sheet can be papyrus, parchment, or paper. Papyrus is made directly from papyrus sedge at a farmer's workshop. Parchment is made from raw animal skin and milk of lime at a tannery. Paper is pressed at a screw press from slurry ground at a quern from textile plants.

Scrolls are made from one sheet and one scroll roller.

Book bindings and scroll rollers can be made of different materials at different workshops depending on material.

See the Paper industry[dwarffortresswiki.org] wiki page for detailed information about keeping a library supplied with writing materials.

The trouble can all be worthwhile because some dwarves can skill up on more bookish skills by reading the books and scrolls. As for who writes them, that's why you need to assign Scholars to the library. Scribes can be assigned to make extra copies of writings. Visitors also appear who are scholars of different types and they can both write books and leave them and take copies of books in exchange.

So the main benefits are: dwarves skilling up, the writings can have entertaining descriptions, and the less useful scrolls and codices still have dwarfbuck value for trade.

Ideal visitor example: Legendary doctor comes to visit, writes books on medical skills, dwarves read medical books and gain medical skills. At least that would be nice, but often the visiting scholars will be more useless or will write about secondary stuff like critical thinking and help dwarves skill up some useful but indirect skills like that.
Animal and Vermin Training
Animal training[dwarffortresswiki.org] can be worthwhile since it will allow you to train normal dogs (and some other animals) into war dogs or hunting dogs. It doesn't require much effort either. More effort is required to train a wild animal like a gorilla or panda, but you have to admit a war gorilla would be pretty cool.

Trapping Animals vs Vermin
The game language is a bit confusing when it comes to what applies to animals vs vermin. These are different classifications of creatures, the main difference being that vermin doesn't have a persistent presence as a unit on the map.

The Trapping[dwarffortresswiki.org] skill and Animal Traps[dwarffortresswiki.org] are only used to catch vermin, and the Vermin Catcher's Shop[dwarffortresswiki.org] can be used to tame them for use as pets.

Trapping vermin is not very useful at the moment as it is not nearly as efficient as cats are for pest control, and until Alchemy is implemented there's no use for catching newts to extract "eye of newt" from them. (One or two things can be trapped and extracted at a Butcher's Shop[dwarffortresswiki.org], but the extracts are only trade goods at this point.)

The only other uses for trapping vermin is that some dwarves think they're tasty, and you can create a glass cage (terrarium or aquarium) to display them in.

The easiest way to obtain animals is to bring them at embark or trade for caged animals with a caravan, but it's also possible to trap them (and other creatures) using a Cage Trap[dwarffortresswiki.org].

Wild animals need to be tamed before anything else. Domestic animals like dogs and cats are already tame, but some of these can additionally be trained up as war or hunting animals.

First you need an animal training zone, and it's a good idea to put a pen/pasture zone inside it to assign non-caged animals if you want to keep them in the room after training. Animal cages can either be manually placed in the room or you could create an animal cage stockpile for the desired animal types.

Something like this will work, though the vermin catcher's shop isn't needed if you're not trapping vermin.

Animal training zone with a pen/pasture zone inside it.

Wild animals in cages should have their cage placed like furniture in the training zone. You could also try to set up a stockpile for wild animal cages in the zone.

To assign an animal for taming/training, go into Creatures (u) under Pets/Livestock and click the whistle button, then select "any unassigned trainer". You will need some dwarves to have the animal training labor assigned.

You can also click a button next to the whistle to set the training to "war" or "hunting" training for certain tame animals where that is possible. Unfortunately it is not possible without mods to train up a flock of War Chickens, but if nobody else makes that mod then I probably will.

Once trained, war and hunting animals can be assigned to individual dwarves using the button in the same location as the whistle (training) button.
Cloth, Leather, and Clothes
It will take a while before your dwarves clothes[dwarffortresswiki.org] wear out, but eventually they will. You will get discarded tattered clothing all over the place if you don't have a refuse stockpile set up for clothing items. This might be a good idea because the tattered clothing can still have some value when traded to caravans. (The value of tattered clothes has been reduced quite a bit though.)

But before that happens you're probably going to need bags, backpacks[dwarffortresswiki.org], waterskins (or flasks), and quivers, and this is also how you make those.

One solution to cloth and leather demand is to just buy up all leather and cloth from caravans and not worry about producing it yourself. They usually bring quite a bit so eventually you can stockpile a huge amount of it. I hate producing cloth and leather so I tend to just buy it from caravans. But here's some info on producing it yourself.

This comes from slaughtering animals[dwarffortresswiki.org] and is the biggest pain to produce because of that. The only way I know of to crank out a decent amount is to ranch chickens and tan chicken skin to make chicken leather. In the game, this is just as good as any other leather. But by far this is the most worthwhile thing to buy from caravans because it is cheap yet annoying for you to produce. I tend to save the chicken hide for chicken parchment because sheets are more difficult to buy in large quantity. Often, three nicer stone crafts can buy a bin of leather.

Standing orders[dwarffortresswiki.org] will auto-tan hides, so if you want to make parchment[dwarffortresswiki.org] switch that off and set up jobs to tan and make parchment from the number of raw hides you want.

Production summary:
  • Animals are butchered at a Butcher[dwarffortresswiki.org] and this produces raw hides, among other parts.
  • Raw hides are turned into either leather or parchment (needs quicklime) at a Tannery[dwarffortresswiki.org].
  • The Leather[dwarffortresswiki.org] workshop is used to make all leather items including clothing, armor, bags, backpacks, waterskins, and quivers.
The first thing you will want to make is probably going to be bags, backpacks, waterskins, and quivers, then leather armor and clothes.

Cloth[dwarffortresswiki.org] is easier to get the materials to make because you can just grow pig tails and "Process plants" at a Farmer's workshop[dwarffortresswiki.org] to get thread. The cloth doesn't have to be dyed, but that will increase the value.

On the right is an image from the Textile industry[dwarffortresswiki.org] page on the wiki that shows all the options for producing cloth.

Here's a brief summary of producing plant cloth and items from it:
  • Grow pig tails or other plants processable into thread (see wiki).
  • Optional: grow dimple cups or other dye-producing plants, then "Mill plants" at a Quern or Millstone to make dye powder (needs bag).
  • "Process plants" at a Farmer workshop to get thread.
  • Optional: "Dye thread" at a Dyer.
  • "Weave thread into cloth" at a Loom.
  • Optional: "Dye cloth" at a Dyer if it wasn't woven from dyed thread.
  • Optional: "Sew cloth image" into cloth at a Clothier's Shop.
  • Make cloth into clothing, bags, or ropes at a Clothier's Shop.
  • Optional: "Sew cloth image" into finished clothes (cloth or leather) at a Clothier's Shop.
I would avoid dying thread because it could get used for stuff other than cloth where the dye job is worthless. See the wiki for info on wool and spider silk.

Once you have cloth and leather you can make clothing. The thing to do here eventually is to just set up a conditional work order to make clothing of each type when the number of free items of that type is lower than 10 or some number. That way new clothing should get produced as dwarves claim it for themselves.

Having enough bins and a clothing stockpile for old clothes should help keep tattered clothing from accumulating all over the place.
Machine Components, Minecarts, and Seige Engines
This is just a very brief introduction to some of the more obscure constructs in the game: Machine Components[dwarffortresswiki.org], Minecarts[dwarffortresswiki.org], and Siege Engines[dwarffortresswiki.org].

Machine Components
These can be used to take power from wind and water and use that to drive pumps, millstones, and minecart rollers via axles and gear assemblies.

Power Sources
Currently the power sources are Windmills[dwarffortresswiki.org] and Water Wheels[dwarffortresswiki.org]. Windmills have the problem that your map may not have any wind on it (this is a global constant per map and you can't change it), and water wheels require moving water. But at least with water wheels you can probably find some tiles on your map that generate water and then dig a trench to the edge of the map where you can drain it by carving fortifications into the edge tiles. Wood is the only material these can be made of.

Power Transmission
Though sometimes you can power a directly adjacent device, you usually need to use Axles[dwarffortresswiki.org] and possibly Gear Assemblies[dwarffortresswiki.org] to transfer power further away. Wood is also required for these.

Powered Devices
The things you can power are: Archimedes-style Screw Pumps[dwarffortresswiki.org] (which can also be cranked manually by a dwarf), minecart Rollers[dwarffortresswiki.org] for propelling Minecarts[dwarffortresswiki.org], and Millstones[dwarffortresswiki.org] which are faster querns.

As you might guess, some not so straightforward things are possible with these components such as water flood traps or even digital logic[dwarffortresswiki.org], but most people use them for their straightforward purposes most of the time.

These can be a pain to figure out because the UI for them isn't very good. The basic requirements for making them are very low though so you can start trying them immediately, but expect to do a lot of tinkering to figure out how to use them effectively. Here's a quick absolute minimal summary of what's required:
  • Carve minecart tracks into the floor. This is done in Smoothing->Carve Track (v-t) but the floor does not need to be smoothed first. (You can also construct tracks using b-n-k which can be done with stone or stone blocks.)
  • Not absolutely required, but to stop a free-rolling minecart you need to construct minecart stops onto track tiles. This is under Build->Construction->Track Stop (b-n-K). You can use stone or (better) stone blocks. These are required to auto dump cart contents.
  • Create source stockpiles, and optional destination stockpiles. Minecarts are always loaded from stockpiles, and unloaded to stockpiles if they aren't auto dumped onto the ground.
  • Build one or more minecarts. These can be made of wood or metal like wheelbarrows.
  • Use the Hauling Routes (H) window to add at least one route and configure each stop on the route. Route stops do NOT require a track stop, but without one the cart won't stop by itself and will need a dwarf guiding it. This is the part that is annoying: Make sure to unambiguously name the stop because there is no "jump to stop" option to see which stop is where.
  • You might want to start out by creating a single linear track from one point to another with only two stops to get an idea of how the hauling routes UI works before trying anything more complicated.
  • Use "push off" in the appropriate direction at route stops for fastest/easiest movement, but the tracks may need to be rather straight and north-south or east-west.
To really figure this out will take looking at the Minecart[dwarffortresswiki.org] wiki article.

Siege Engines
There are two Siege Engines[dwarffortresswiki.org] in the game, the ballista and the catapault. These are essentially large un-aimed ranged weapons built like buildings that fire projectiles directly north, south, east, or west. Though they can do considerable damage, they don't have much chance of hitting anything unless enemies are forced into a narrow area like an entrance hall that they can't escape from easily.
Quality and Decorating Items
Decorating[dwarffortresswiki.org] things is how you get your items to "menace with spikes of <material>" and such. Decorations add another "layer" of craftsdwarfship to existing items and usually serve to increase their value.

Since some of the materials[dwarffortresswiki.org] you can use aren't terribly valuable by themselves, such as bone, this can be a good way to use up some low value materials. As always though, don't use up all of anything in particular since you ideally want a few of every material type to satisfy strange mood demands.

The main problem with decoration is that you can't pick exactly what to decorate in a work order, and the only workaround seems to be to use stockpiles near the workshop in use to place the desired items closer to the decorating task.

Game Notation
When you see an item with double angle brackets like «item» then it is decorated.

Quality[dwarffortresswiki.org] and Wear[dwarffortresswiki.org] markers for the item itself are inside the brackets and markers for the decoration quality are outside the brackets. Here's a quick reference for item status/quality notation:
  • !!item!! - item is on fire (increases damage level quickly over time, with some exceptions)
  • (item) - item was not constructed in your fortress and doesn't count as created wealth, but could still be decorated
  • {item} (curly braces) - item is forbidden (font can make this hard to differentiate)
  • «item» - decorated item, but material used is not shown (only quality)
  • XXitemXX = wear damage level 3 (0.25x)
  • XitemX = wear damage level 2 (0.5x)
  • xitemx = wear damage level 1 (0.75x)
  • item = base quality (1x)
  • -item- = Well-crafted (2x)
  • +item+ = Finely-crafted (3x)
  • *item* = Superior quality (4x)
  • ≡item≡ = Exceptional (5x)
  • ☼item☼ = Masterful (12x)
  • Unique Name = Artifact (120x)
So -«+item+»- indicates a "Finely-crated" item with "Well crafted" decorations while «item» is a base value item with base value decorations. Notice that with the quality indicators, the more elaborate the number of lines in the surrounding characters, the higher the quality.

Decoration Types and Requirements
Here's a quick reference for what materials can be used and which skills and workshops they require:

Job Name
"Decorate with"
Bone Carving
Craftsdwarf's workshop
Cut Gems
Polished Stones
"Encrust <type> with"
Gem Setting
Jeweler's workshop
"Stud with"
Metalsmith's forge
(doesn't need fuel)
"Sew <cloth/silk/yarn> image"
Clothier's shop
"Sew leather image"

For more info on what can be decorated with what, and other stuff, see the wiki page on Decoration[dwarffortresswiki.org].

Making Very Specific Things
If you want to make very specific things, here's a guide that will help with that.
Lesser Industries
I'm calling these "lesser" because they're not usually the most critical to your survival, but they can be helpful. The main place to go to learn more about other industries in DF is the Industry page[dwarffortresswiki.org] on the wiki, but I'll mention some of the ones that are more interesting that haven't been mentioned already.

Musical Instruments
Musical Instruments[dwarffortresswiki.org] are a bit of a pain to deal with because they're procedurally generated at world gen and usually consist of multiple pieces which require different materials, but they are worth producing because of their value in locations, such as taverns and temples, and their high dwarfbuck value in trade.

One useful trick is to always have a conditional work order for "assemble <instrument>" any time at least one of each component is available. To figure out how to make each component you will have to do some clicking through workshops to find all of them, though most should be in the craftsdwarf's workshop.

You can then set up work orders to make all the components that you have materials for and the assembly work orders should kick in and assemble them when all the parts are finished. Assembly work orders are a good way to discover all instrument types (except the single piece type) and what their components are (under suggested conditions).

Note that some instruments are large furniture (similar to pianos and organs) and must be placed as furniture. They won't get stored in the tavern coffer automatically.

Detailed how to information about making musical instruments:
Animal Parts
Technically these are the more obscure parts of the meat industry[dwarffortresswiki.org]. Don't use up all materials in these categories because dwarves in strange moods tend to need some. Bones and the bone-like materials use bone carving and the craftsdwarf's workshop.

You tend to end up with a bunch of bones whether you want them or not, so might as well do something useful with them. See the Bones[dwarffortresswiki.org] wiki page. Some good uses for them are:
  • Bone bolts - cheap practice ammo and not too bad in combat either.
  • Bone crafts - if nothing else, might as well make crafts and trade them.
  • Bone decorations - a cheap way to add value to other items.
  • Skulls - don't count as bone and can only be used to make totems, but if the skull is from a rare or valuable creature these can have a high base value. Don't expect chicken skull totems to be worth too much, in other words.
Bones can also be made into armor, and are required for some musical instruments.

Horns and Ivory
Horns and hooves are not considered to be bone, but can be made into stuff or used for decoration at a craftsdwarf's workshop using the Bone Carver skill. Teeth and ivory are considered to be a separate category from horns/hooves for crafting and decoration purposes. They're both more stuff to find a use for if you can manage it.

Animal hair only comes from butchered animals, and it can be spun into thread at a farmer's workshop with the spinner labor, but it can't be used to make cloth. It is still good for suturing wounds and possibly making quires for books. This is not the same as wool which is used to make thread that can be used like any other thread.

Clay and Glass
These have the advantage that the clay and sand can just be "collected" rather than requiring digging out like stone, and the crafts are considered more valuable than wood or stone equivalents, but they have the disadvantage that both require fuel and wood for ash to make clear glass and glaze.

This requires clay, ash from wood, and fuel. See the Ceramic industry[dwarffortresswiki.org] page for more info.

Glass has some special uses that can make it worthwhile to produce at least some. Green glass can be made from only sand and fuel, but clear glass requires pearlash which is made from wood. One major practical use of glass is magma-safe pumps used to pump magma. See the Glass industry[dwarffortresswiki.org] page for full details.

Farming and Food
These are the usually less practical ways of producing food and drink.

Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a good way to fish farm yet, but if near an ocean or significant body of water then fishing could be worthwhile. See Fishing industry[dwarffortresswiki.org]. Fish can get depleted.

Hunting[dwarffortresswiki.org] can bring in some food, but has the same problem as fishing. Fishing and hunting do have the useful side effect of placing some lookouts around the map to help spot sneak attacks.

Many female mammalian animals can be milked using a Farmer's workshop. The same workshop can also be used to turn the milk into cheese. This can produce some food from animals you don't have enough of to slaughter. Milk is not a drink. It can only be used for cooking or cheese. Both milk and cheese can't be eaten raw and must be cooked. See the Milk[dwarffortresswiki.org] page.

It's possible to craft beehives and produce honey, royal jelly, and wax, but there must be a colony of bees on your map to get started. Currently this is of relatively limited value. Honey can be used for cooking or brewing, royal jelly is for cooking, and wax is used for some very low value crafts. See the wiki page on beekeeping[dwarffortresswiki.org] for more details.

Other Eggs
It's possible to get eggs out of things other than the frequently-mentioned birds. See the Egg production[dwarffortresswiki.org] wiki page.

Animal and Plant Extracts
This is not really a fully implemented industry yet so is usually not worthwhile unless you happen to find exactly the right creature on your map. Many extracts have no current use in the game except as trade goods. It is probably intended as a prerequisite for the planned Alchemy which is not implemented yet. See Extracts[dwarffortresswiki.org] on the wiki for more details.
Dwarf Mental Health
This is rather complicated and a lot has been written about it already. If previous advice is followed regarding bedrooms, feast halls, taverns, and such then most of your dwarves are probably pretty happy most of the time.

But sometimes they can get unusually stressed out by lots of them getting massacred or other negative events and may still get unhappy.

Preventing Dwarf Insanity
The number one thing to do is handle strange moods so that they end in success rather than insanity. Failed strange moods is the main cause of insanity if no disasters are going on. This has already been covered.

They basically need happy thoughts to be happy so try as much as you can with all the previously mentioned stuff about feast halls, drink, fine meals, individual bedrooms, and high-value items/engravings around.

Mist Generators
Dwarves like waterfalls and the associated mist. This pretty much always gives them a generic happy thought.

Some methods of constructing these are described on the Mist[dwarffortresswiki.org] wiki page. The easiest method is using a light aquifer to drain a little water down into statue in a meeting area two floors below.

Therapy Squad
Especially unhappy dwarves might need special treatment and you'll have to check their descriptions to see what they're unhappy about. But trying to put them all in a sanitarium burrow with exactly what they want might require too much micromanagement. Trying to cater to specific dwarves is usually too tedious unless they're unusually important.

One technique mentioned on the wiki is the "Therapy Squad". Put the unhappy dwarves into a squad with a "Therapy" uniform with no equipment requirements and set them to train full time, but do not assign them to a training barracks. This is supposed to cause them to spend all their time pursuing whatever makes them happy rather than military training or working.

More Detailed Information
A useful article on dwarf stress where the therapy squad is described is the Stress[dwarffortresswiki.org] article with much more info.

While meeting needs doesn't necessarily result in happy thoughts (these are actually separate things), a list of needs is in the Need[dwarffortresswiki.org] article.

Fortress Design Advice
As previously mentioned, probably the number one helpful thing is to try to think in 3D terms and use z-levels to your advantage. Reducing the distance between different stockpiles and workshops, and planning ahead to minimize the amount of massive rearrangement hauling, can save a lot of dwarf work time. Often the easiest way to locate something the shortest distance away is to locate it on the level above or below whatever it needs to be next to. It can be a little difficult to get used to this due to the nature of 2D maps.

As usual, people have spent years writing up advice on all aspects of fortress design on the wiki. See the page on Design Strategies[dwarffortresswiki.org] for a bunch of advice plus links to other pages with advice on more specific aspects like stockpiles, traps, and defense.

Due to the fact that an abandoned fortress can be reclaimed, putting some effort into design is worthwhile since the construction is largely reusable even after a fortress has hopelessly collapsed.

Here are some reference guides related to fortress design:
https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2904996675 https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2906863835
World Information Screen
The World Information[dwarffortresswiki.org] screen (accessed using the icon in the very lower right of the screen) allows you to view information about the rest of the world and also initiate Missions[dwarffortresswiki.org] where you can raid other sites for various purposes.

This is a newer part of the game and I personally have almost zero experience with it. It's something else that really need a guide of its own, but I thought I should at least mention that it exists.
Copyrights and Credits
Except as noted, this guide is copyright by me and should not be reproduced or translated without my permission. However, I'm not looking for royalties or anything (just some thumbs up ratings) so just ask in the comments if you want to translate it or republish and it will probably be OK. I just want a description of what you're planning.

  • Kasa provided info on skill attributes, the farming schedule, a poultry analysis, and other things.
  • Feedback below from comments on the guide have been incorporated into the guide. Thanks to all who have commented with ideas.

Image Credits
Most images are game screenshots by me, but some are from the DF Wiki.
Join the Group or Leave a Comment
If you learned some things from the this guide or just want to support it, please join the group for this and future guides:
Please leave questions or comments in the group or below as to what you think should be added, anything I missed, or anything that seems incorrect. I especially need to know about errors and need to know what's most important to people to add. I will also consider requests for other more detailed guides on different topics.
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NimrodX  [author] Nov 24 @ 11:09am 
Yes, this is true. And using one-humped camel hair thread for sewing up wounds seems like a dwarf thing to do.
emote_control Nov 23 @ 7:44am 
Fun fact about hospitals: You might have noticed that you can make thread out of any animal with hair (for example horses) but that thread can't be woven into cloth unless it's from a woolly animal. So you might have all this useless thread sitting around in your stockpiles. Turns out that the one use for this thread is for suturing, so if you have a hospital you can actually get some use out of it.
BRIMStone Jun 25 @ 10:16pm 
this truly is a masterwork guide. All craftsdwarfship is of the highest quality.

it menaces with spikes of knowledge...
jack Jun 17 @ 8:55am 
Something really important to know is that if you manually select the train command instead of a training schedule dwarves will only do individual training, the worst kind
Crocalu May 19 @ 11:22am 
idk where else to post this info, it's not on the wiki:
beings infected with werebeast syndrome can be resurrected as undead werebeasts
BUT resurrected undead cannot get infected with werebeast syndrome apparently
I found this out after tedious testing cos I wanted the werebeast regen to save my lobotomised zombie :( which didnt work
NimrodX  [author] May 18 @ 9:50pm 
Thanks! Yea I tried to focus as much as possible on only the most necessary info in each area, starting with the most important, since there's a whole wiki and several forums filled with obscure exact details of everything.
o b s i d May 18 @ 12:44pm 
This guide is amazing, it manages to explain the complex systems in a really down-to-earth and concise way where I don't feel like I'm reading an instruction manual in a foreign language. Thank you for helping me learn how not to suck as hard at this. :spiffo:
EthereanOne Apr 15 @ 1:33pm 
Another addition on dwarven archers: You may have experienced troubles with quivers and bolts not being equipped and thus your archers don't shoot after you tinkered with their uniforms. Actual solution to this bugged bullshit is to just modify the uniform, make the dwarves return to non-military uniform, save and quit to desktop. It magically fixes itself next time.
Zoomer Apr 15 @ 7:50am 
This guide is very spoiler free, I think it's complex enough to at least not suck on the game and became frustrated
NimrodX  [author] Apr 15 @ 7:47am 
Thanks kwheeler and britiliximab! Yea, the game is so complex it's kind of impossible to cover much of anything in a small guide. You pretty much need a whole wiki for it, but I thought it would be good to have something that at least tries to touch on everything. Even trying to keep most stuff brief it ends up being way bigger than I initially expected. And this is with the game only considered to be "50% complete".