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Dwarf Fortress - Fortress In The Deep

0. About this

This tutorial is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike.

The tileset you see in the screenshots is Taffer's Tileset.

1. How deep are we talking?

Very! Did you never consider to build a fortress deep down below? Just above the great magma sea and cradled between the caverns? That's how deep we're talking. The main staircase we'll be using will span over 100 z-levels and moving items to the trade depot will take some time.

2. The World ... does it matter?

No, not really. Generate a world or use an existing one and find yourself a nice spot you'll be happy with.

3. The Embark

You'll need alcohol, lots of alcohol, and three miners. I also prefer to take 2 cats with me, so that they hunt vermin and I get some extra leather.

3.1 Dwarfs

  • 3 Miners:
    • Adequate Miner
    • Novice Mason
    • Novice Building Designer
  • 1 Carpenter:
    • Novice Wood Cutter
    • Novice Carpenter
  • 1 Cook:
    • Novice Herbalist
    • Novice Brewer
  • 1 Brewer:
    • Novice Herbalist
    • Novice Cook
  • 1 Leader:
    • Novice Negotiator
    • Novice Record Keeper
    • Novice Flatterer
    • Novice Consoler
    • Novice Pacifier
    • Novice Leader

3.2 Goods

  • 3 Copper Picks
  • 1 Copper Battle Axe
  • 1 Iron Anvil
  • 200+ Alcohol (Dwarven Rum/Ale/Wine/Beer)
  • 10 Plump Helmet Spawns
  • 10 Pig Tail Seeds
  • 10 Cave Wheat Seeds
  • 10 Sweet Pod Seeds
  • 10 Dimple Cup Spawn
  • Rest Of Points Goes Into Food and Alcohol, whatever you see fit

3.3 Animals

  • 1 Cat Female
  • 1 Cat Male

4. Dig Straight Down

So with a little luck, your embark now looks like this:

After The Embark

Find a place for your main staircase, in my case it will be a 2x2 staircase, and designate it all the way down until you hit the bottom. Now we can let the miners lose. They should make good progress, let them dig until they hit something.

Also if you embark in a freezing or hot biome, make sure to dig a shelter for your dwarfs first before designating the staircase. If there are plants or trees into your biome, designate a stockpile on the surface or in the shelter and put your other dwarfs to some good use.

Digging straight down will also give you a good view of what to find in what layer.

5. Hitting the Caverns

Hitting The Caverns

With a little luck you'll hit the caverns fast. Don't worry, that's intended to happen. Wall off the staircase and let your dwarfs keep doing down.

Walled Off Staircase

Depending on how you've hit the caverns, it might end up to be a lot of work, but do it, otherwise there will be things in your central staircase. You don't want that, trust me. Build stairs where you need to and don't forget that things can go diagonal and can also fly! Wall off everything.

There's also the possibility that you'll hit the caverns dead on, having nothing but air or water below you.

Hitting The Caverns Dead On

Don't worry, just build up stairs on the last level above the air, they include a floor that will seal off the breach. Then remove the designation of the rest of the staircase and check where you can go down instead.

Rerouting The Main Staircase

Alternate Way Down

6. Hitting The Magma Sea

Hitting The Magma Sea

Congratulations, we're at the bottom of the world...well, not the the bottom, but damn far down anyway. We'll open up the magma sea so that we know where the magma is and can (later on) plan the layout of our workshops layout accordingly.

Don't forget the remove the rest of the designation.

Designate three up stairs at the last level and on up/down stair. We'll later replace that with built up stair.

Opening The Magma Sea

The Great Magma Sea

With some luck, just as I had, we'll also directly find adamantine. Praise the miners!

Now build that up stair and make sure that the stair case is sealed of against the caverns.

7. Missing Caverns

If you feel like you've missed a cavern, do some digging to find it. There's no better way to find a cavern than to dig around and see if you hit it. Or you can wait, you'll mist likely find it later during your fortress building anyway.

8. Planning Your Fortress

Now you can plan your fortress by taking the caverns and the magma sea into account. Build a trade depot at the surface and don't forget to fortify the entrance. Make your expedition leader also your bookkeeper, broker and gem cutter. When digging out your fortress you'll discover many gems, make sure to cut them early on and as fast as possible so that you have something to trade with the first caravan. When the first caravan arrives, you'll most likely already be somewhere at 150 - 100 alcohol, so you need these few barrels they have.

I also made a habit out of smoothing everything, it does look better but the downside is that your fortress takes longer to take shape.

9. Helpful Stuff

Migrate all your stuff down as fast as possible

Make sure to dig out some storage areas first and a meeting hall, then let your dwarfs bring everything into the depths of the earth. That way they won't need to run up and down the staircase until they really need to.

This is may main level:

Main Level

To the left you see the dining hall with food storage and workshops. At the top are the bookkeeper and manager office together with the main lever room. The upper layer of storages are gems, weapon, armor and ammo. The rest are workshops and the main storage area.

And, please excuse my bragging, a damn lot of adamantine. I found a solid spire that is 80 z-levels high.

My dining hall also contains three wells which are fed from a reservoir.

Underground farming

You need to set up farming very fast. An easy way to irrigate many plots at once is to build the farms at the same level as the water of the cavern.

Farming Deep Underground

I use bridges instead of floodgates and tunnel into the water by carving fortifications into the walls.

The water can be drained into a big room, where it will irrigate the large area, making it usable for keeping animals down there. You can also farm plants and trees in that big room.

Animal Keeping

Note that it took me one or two migrant waves until I had my farms set up, so by the time your farms are ready, you should already have enough farmers.

Exploring the caverns, the cowardly way

If your militia is not ready for some real adventuring, there is an easy, but a little bit undwarven way of exploring the caverns: Dig into the spires of the caverns and carve fortifications into them. That way your dwarfs can shoot out, but nobody can shoot at them.

Fortified Caves

These areas to the left can easily and safely be reached via tunnels. All the miasma is from some blowgunners which tried to settle there. That way you can also deal with forgotten beasts rather easily (unless they fly up to the fortifications and breath at your dwarfs).

Fortified Caves Service Tunnels

Smithing made easy

Knowing where the magma sea is allows you to build your furnaces and smelters directly above it.

Smithing At The Magma Sea

10. Have Fun

I hope I have given you a good start into a fortress cradled deep in the earth. Now start to build, there are many things that need to be build down there, dormitories, rooms, offices, stockpiles, training rooms, barracks...and don't forget about the most important thing ever: The Necropolis.

Good digging!

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