motivating line of the section: Don’t believe in yourself! Believe in the me who believes in you!

Ok! You managed to get this far, now there’s nothing that can get in your way! You should now be looking at a screen like this.

(Before we go any further, do me a favor and press “tab” twice so we can get rid of that annoying map on the right. That was a map of the whole area we control, but I don’t think we need it, because we’re better than it. )


3.1 – Tiles and Items


Holy baby baluga! But how can someone call this a game? Well, you’ll soon become so familiar with the layout and interface it’ll be as easy as…playing video games. Let me show you exactly what you’re looking at here. Now, this is a lot simpler than it looks. Each tile shown represents one or more things. Shown here is just what each tile is.

It’s as simple as that. Each tile represents a thing, and thanks to Mike Mayday’s Graphics Pack, they look sorta-kinda like what they represent! Here we have some trees, plants, rocks, animals, and our seven dwarfs (haha get it? Seven dwarfs…ahhhh). Now see if you can find each of our seven dwarfs (it’s not a mind-game, just make sure you can spot a dwarf when you see one).

To know just what is filling a tile space, hit “k”. You will see a yellow “X” appear in the middle of the screen, and some data appear on the right-hand side of the screen. You can move this X with the arrow keys onto any tile to see what occupies that tile. Go ahead and look around, seeing what dwarfs and animals we have.

Now, why are there triangles all over?  Those represent upward slopes. It seems pointless now, but dwarfs can walk up and down slopes, and thus walk all over the area. We’ll talk more about slopes later, though.

Next to the slopes are earth, because we are looking at a flat plane right now. Think of looking at slices of a CAT scan. That’s what Dwarf Fortress does, it splits the 3d world into lots and lots of 2d layers that we can interact with. We’ll talk about how to view what’s at different elevations right up next.


3.2 – Movement


Now, as you may have figured out already, the arrow keys move the screen view around the map. Now, with just that, there’s not much variety to the game. We all know dwarfs dig into the ground, so, how do we move closer and further from the ground (and eventually into the ground)?

What you deal with in Dwarf Fortress are “z-levels”. The 3d map is sliced into “z-levels” each of which you can access and navigate. It may be confusing and unintuitive right now, but it’ll be more than natural very soon.  You can see your current z-level on the upper right-bottom corner of the screen, shown to the right.

Right now, we are on z-level 122. That means there are hundreds of z-levels to access. Navigating z-levels is simple. To navigate down, into the ground, hit “shift + >”, and to navigate out, towards the sky, hit “shift + <”.

Now that you have that, feel free to explore around our area and see what’s what. Remember the “look around” shortcut, “k”. You can look anywhere but underground for now, because we haven’t dug underground yet. Notice that we’re at the base of a fairly large hill to our south. If you get lost, which is very easy, hit “f1” to return to the caravan.

continue on to 4.0 – Designations