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What do I need to look for in an area for the first fortress?

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I don't think I'd use the roguelikes tag if you're asking about Fortress mode. If you were talking about adventure mode that'd be a different question. –  ShaneC Aug 13 '10 at 23:58
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2 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

if this is your first fortress, I would suggest finding an area that matches the following conditions:

  • Evil: Medium
  • Tempeature: Medium
  • Flux Stone: Yes
  • Aquifers: No
  • River: Yes

This should lead to a biome that satisfies the following conditions:

  • Temerature: Temperate (green) or Warm (yellow)
  • Trees: Sparse (white), Woodland (green) or Heavily Forested (dark green)
  • Other Vegitation: Moderate (white) or Thick (green)

Ensure there is at least one white ground layer in the overview, and there are no layers which have blue squigly lines (aquifer indicator) behind them, and the name of the river of brook is given. (a brook is preferred and stay away from the sea)

Also, if there are Goblins around, check if they're not at war (Tab)

whle these settings aren't a source of much fun, they're perfect for learning the first steps in dwarf fortress (the only fun thing you can basically do, is flooding your fortress)

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Evil: Medium? really? I mean yeah it's fun.. but I'd question if it's a bit too much fun for a beginner. –  ShaneC Aug 13 '10 at 23:59
    
Okay, Untamed Wilds might be a bit too much, but Calm and Wilderness are perfect for starters, also Medium is the easiest to understand, an elephant is big and dangerous, a rat is small. –  alexanderpas Aug 14 '10 at 20:30
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This list isn't exhaustive and usually can be answered by the question: What would be the most fun?

Now if you're new to the game there are a couple things you should keep an eye out for:

  • Moderate climate (Hot or Cold will lead to loss of water, and thus crops)
  • Flux stone (necessary in the creation of steel and valuable)
  • No Aquifers (usually lead to flooding)
  • Lava (useful but dangerous, I'd skip it the first couple times, but its fun once you get used to it)
  • Salt Water (dwarves can't drink it)
  • Evil (you don't have to go good, but stay away from Evil your first couple times)
  • Forests (you'll want wood in your first couple forests, for beds if nothing else)
  • Elevation (do you want to cut into the side of a mountain? or dig straight down?)

After your first couple fortresses, you'll want to start ignoring everything on that list above (or go the other way). Its all just more fun!

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Note that the latest version of Dwarf Fortress has guaranteed lava, if you dig deep enough. –  alexanderpas Jul 8 '10 at 19:47
    
You're right, I had forgotten he changed that. –  tzenes Jul 8 '10 at 20:05
    
Now if only he'd fix the caravans... (they only come on foot) –  ShaneC Aug 15 '10 at 0:31
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