What configuration options can I change to make Dwarf Fortress easier to play?

  • 17
    Isn't that basically against the entire idea of Dwarf Fortress?
    – McKay
    Commented Jul 8, 2010 at 21:59
  • 3
    Agreed McKay, that's what makes it Fun.
    – tzenes
    Commented Jul 8, 2010 at 22:17
  • 1
    @McKay Yes, I'm down for the struggle, but a lot of people like to make it easier so they can build mega-structures more readily.
    – C. Ross
    Commented Jul 8, 2010 at 22:58

6 Answers 6


I found one of the easiest ways to simplify the game without hacking or removing many sources of Fun is to lower the population cap. I found that once my fortress grew to 100 dwarves or beyond, I couldn't figure out how to manage all of them and keep them working productive jobs. So instead they all just sat around throwing parties and pestering my productive dwarves. Until you get enough experience to handle a fortress that size, try lowering the cap to 40 or 50 dwarves.

To do this in v0.31.08, edit data/init/d_init.txt and change the value of this line:


Note: your actual population may still go above the cap you set, you just stop getting new immigrant waves after you reach or surpass that cap. And apparently births don't respect caps. Also I think (but I haven't tested) that you can change this mid-game if you save and quit first.

  • What ever you do do not set this number below 80. You will miss out on half the game. This is usually the problem with editing the config files, you disable some amazing part of the game and then never realize what you're missing.
    – tzenes
    Commented Jul 18, 2010 at 17:27
  • 2
    Yes, I don't recommend playing the game with a low cap forever. Just until you get the hang of some of the mechanics.
    – JavadocMD
    Commented Jul 19, 2010 at 18:30
  • 3
    For managing your dorfs, look into Dwarf Therapist
    – Daenyth
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 12:52
  • @Daenyth Only for Windows… grumble Commented May 12, 2011 at 18:02
  • 1
    @Daenyth My bad! Only for not-Mac… grumble ;) Commented May 12, 2011 at 18:05

I really think you shouldn't. I know that sounds kind of weird but all of the joy you will every obtain out of that game derives from the fact that its Hard. That's hard with a capital 'H.' Man hard. After playing Dwarf Fortress for a year and a half now Hard is a four letter word to me.

Now, as much as I don't think you should change the game to make it easier (and there are sites that will help you hack it). I will provide you with some resources; an instruction manual, so to speak.

The Utter Newby Tutorial. Gives you much of the basic controls and layout for your fortress.

Cpt. Duck's Video Tutorial. I literally learned DF by watching these videos and copying them perfectly. It took me close to 10 fortresses to get to the end of his first fortress. Well worth it.

DF wiki. Students have textbooks, Priest's have the bible, you have the Dwarf Fortress Wiki. Commit it to memory. Perhaps the most important article found here is this one: Fun.

Finally, there is the story of Boatmurdered. It is what is called a legacy fortress, where a different person played each year. Its incredibly entertaining, even though parts of it read like a "what not to do."

  • 8
    Useful, but doesn't answer the question...
    – C. Ross
    Commented Jul 8, 2010 at 22:59
  • 8
    You asked how to change the settings to make the game easier to play. If that wasn't a possibility I would say you couldn't, and that would answer the question. Instead I'm saying you shouldn't. That is also an answer. I have information you don't (ie. experience). I am trying to share that with you. Don't change it.
    – tzenes
    Commented Jul 8, 2010 at 23:13

You can try editing the game's raw creature sources directly. Search the game's directory for a file (probably called creature_standard.txt) that contains the following line:


Add the following tags after that line:


This will make your dwarves immune to most status conditions. Now find these lines:




Add one or two zeroes to the last numbers of each line. This will make your dwarves gigantic and unlikely to be killed by anything.

Delete the creature_standard.raw (not .txt) file, run DF and create a new world. Have fun!


If building mega structures is your aim, my advice is to start on an Island. Press tab to check nearby civilizations, and if only dwarves show then embark somewhere around that area. You won't get any goblin snatchers/ambushes/sieges ever. I'm at 181 dwarves and the only thing that ever came was a titan which was easily dispatched by my militia (equipped with training weapons funnily enough).

  • 1
    You can also simply turn off invasions in the init file. Commented Jul 8, 2011 at 21:53

One thing I like to do, although it at a certain point it may not be "easier" (depending on your play style), is lower the population cap VERY low. i.e. 10, 15 or 20. Just make sure you build a trade depot, I think a caravan needs to visit & leave once before migrants stop.

The easiest thing (without even needing to change an ini file) is to get Masterwork Dwarf Fortress and turn invaders off in the settings... this may be a little too easy, but I think you can re-enable once you have a nice big fortress with lots of fun prepared for your friendly visitors. Also, Masterwork has a lot of other settings you can use to make things easier or harder.

  • 1
    +1 for Masterwork. There are a lot of useful utilities around now that weren't when I first started playing.
    – C. Ross
    Commented Nov 24, 2013 at 18:58
  • Personally I think DF kind of sucks without Masterwork. The vanilla game seems to have stagnated in feature set, especially when compared to what MW has been able to pull off just with modding.
    – Manius
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 4:04

Necromancy! (for the sake of the 2018 Dwarf Fortress learner)

Use a pack that makes it easier to configure the game. See http://dwarffortresswiki.org/Utility:Lazy_Newb_Pack

I really like the PeridexisErrant's Starter Pack

Some of the pack features are things like tile sets that make it easier to see what's going on in the game, easily turning on and off game features like auto save, aquifer generation, whether or not invaders will invade, population cap, etc. It also includes handy 3rd party utilities like Dwarf Therapist (which makes it much easier to see what labors dwarfs have and to change them).

I'm not one who likes playing with exploits or cheats/hacks. I do like using a few "quality of life" enhancements, and the ability to enable or disable or adjust settings when the guide I'm using encourages it. Packs are a great way to get those quality of life features and configuration editors into dwarf fortress.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .