Bronzemurder v. Oggez Rashas: a beautifully illustrated Dwarf Fortress tale

dwarffortdenee2.jpg Someday, maybe, by some manner of communal Herculean effort, we will find a way to take the peerlessly rich/complex but almost entirely unapproachable game Dwarf Fortress and match it with a style as gorgeous as Tim Denee's illustrations above. The image is part of a children's book style retelling of one of Denee's in-game travails, whereby a newly founded fortress had everything it needed to thrive but its water pump switch flipped. Unfortunately, legendary beast 'Oggez Rashas' rested directly on top of that switch. The story's enough to make me want to have my tenth or so go at getting my feet wet in the game, as terrifyingly dense as it is. My hope is that Mike Mayday's recently updated graphical edition, available here, helps ease me in.


  1. That is a delightful summary of Dwarvenly adventure. I love this trend; my wife’s taken to illustrating the stories I tell her from my own Dwarf Fortressing; she’ll never play the game, but she likes hearing about the adventures.

  2. Dwarf Fortress is excellent. From my experience, the best way to learn is to learn one task per fortress for your first dozen games. Something like the following skill list is about what I did:

    * Basic controls, fortress construction, required rooms and workshops, et cetera (don’t be surprised if your dwarves revolt at the end of this fortress)
    * Efficient farming and brewing
    * Floodgates and pumps and mechanisms (for farming without soil)
    * Stone and bone crafting
    * Smelting and forging
    * Glassmaking
    * Making efficient living / working space
    * Military training and management

    Bring dwarves and supplies focused on these tasks, so you don’t have to worry so much about resource collection while you’re doing basic practice.

    The first few years are (generally) very easy (rampaging wildlife aside), and as long as you dig out and create a food and refuse stockpile, a barracks, and a dining room, your dwarves will happily mill about not doing anything much until you tell them to.

    If you manage to have a fortress survive long enough or work well enough to practice more than one of these tasks, great! If not, losing is fun! Grab another unlucky pile of dwarves, make their wagon break down in some inhospitable wasteland, and give it another go.

  3. When I tried to download Mike Mayday’s recently updated graphical edition, my SonicWALL at work told me was a trojan. Here’s the message:

    “This request is blocked by the SonicWALL Gateway Anti-Virus Service. Name: Prosti.C_8 (Trojan)”

    Downloaders beware. Make sure to scan it if you download it.

    1. I ran md5sum on the executables from the normal version, and the one with the Mayday tileset included, and they are the same. Which means that either they’re both infected, or neither of them are, and your firewall is just trying to show your boss it’s working, and not slacking off.

      And playing DF at work is, how to put it lightly… an incredibly bad idea, if you’ve actually got work to do.

      And yes, TinyPirate’s play-along tutorial is very good. It got me playing after I read about the Dwarf Processor.

      The new version is a bit harder, especially with underground farming. You basically have to wet the ground, no matter whether it’s made of loam or not.

      I would like to know why saving and later loading the game seems to return to an older gamestate.

      I also would like to know how to install mods yourself. I’ve searched the wiki and mod-sites themselves, but can’t really find anything. I tried just copying the files to what seemed to be the right places, and following the instructions, but though it seemed to work, it couldn’t generate a world.

      Can anyone explain, or link me to an explanation?

      1. I would suggest visiting the official forums and asking. They seem like a friendly sort of group; if you can’t find the answers, somebody could provide them. I imagine the wiki will be up to date in a few months, too, if you have version specific questions.

        Beautifully illustrated story; the player narratives are really the best part about the game, and this one is great. I would argue that the graphics really allow this kind of storytelling, since the simplicity leaves so many details to be filled in. It’s really the UI that makes the game so hard to learn, with a full-sized keyboard required for the default control scheme, deep menus to navigate, and several different ways to do the same thing. I bet the game will start to get polished after Toady decides his simulation is sufficiently detailed; with all the features he adds to each new version, he’s really just still adding content.

        It’s like having the delicious gooey center of something, without a doughy shell to hold it in. It’s really awesome when you get it in your mouth, but you better wear a bib.

  4. I chose to forgo any graphic sets and all I see now is blonde, brunette, redhead.

    Although, I do change my color scheme and prefer the ascii to be square.

    Amongst friends I’m an elitist asshole about it and talk trash about mayday’s, but honestly, if it helps anyone get into the game, I’m secretly okay with it.

    Just don’t tell anybody.

  5. There is an outstanding series of 43 (that’s right — 43) Dwarf Fortress tutorial videos on YouTube, made by a fellow who calls himself “CaptnDuck”. They start off at the very beginning, with how to generate a world and how to pick an embark site, and then take you step-by-detailed-step through the construction of a fortress.

    You can find the first one here, if you like:

    The rest will be linked from Related Videos section off to the side.

    Very informative, and very useful, even for an intermediate DF player such as myself.

  6. Hee Hee, the “I play Dwarf Fortress. Sometimes I wish I was a meth addict instead.” quote at the end was me from the last DF posting here on BoingBoing (The
    Dwarven Computer). I’ve never been quoted before. I’m gonna be unbearably smug all day.

  7. After seeing the dwarf computer last week, I finally had to try DF. It’s dense, but it pays you back. I tried the tileset for the first few fortresses, and it helped ease the curve, although I’ve reverted to the ASCII version for my current (so far, functional!) fortress.

    Captduck’s video tutorials are also immensely helpful. And he’s got a great accent:

    Have to run – just got a wave of migrants to help with the final stages of my massive cistern.

  8. Brandon Boyer, along with Chevan’s recommendation above, another great place to help tackle DF is YouTube. There are great bite-sized tutorials from captain_duck.

    the first is at:

    The two tutorial series should give you most of the tutorial help you need to get into a fairly stable fortress, for values of ‘Losing is Fun’.

    People are working on up to date tutorials for the latest releases, as the military and healthcare changes are significant (if you last long enough to worry)

    Also, DF has some of the most energetic and helpful forums I’ve ever come across, don’t be afraid to pose questions. I think it comes from the ‘all I see is now is blonde… brunette… redhead.’ brain-breaking of ASCII joy.

  9. OK If you want to get into Dwarf Fortress, here’s what you do:

    Grab this build: DF (September 8, 2008) from the “Older Versions” page on The new version is still very buggy and there aren’t any tutorials written for it yet.

    Read and follow the tutorial on the Dwarf Fortress Wiki (be sure to click on v0.28, as the new version has almost nothing written about it yet, and if you’re following my advice, you’re using 0.28)

    Go between that and the EXCELLENT 40-part(!) YouTube video tutorial that’s linked to at:

    And use the Wiki to look up anything that’s confusing you.

    And have patience. It’s an alpha game, and the author clearly has detailed simulation of his incredibly complicated random worlds as a higher priority than the user interface. Bear with it, this game could only be the product of a mad genius so we cut him some slack.

    I’ve only been playing for 4 days, and already I can get up to a fortress of about 50 or 60 dwarves before they all start going mad and killing each other.

    It’s rough around the edges, but it’s the best video game I’ve ever played. It makes Nethack look simple.

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