I have seen a lot of questions on this site about Dwarf Fortress. What is it? What genre of game is it, and where can I get it?


2 Answers 2


Slaves to Armok II: Dwarf Fortress is a single player, tile based, real time strategy, city building, and adventure game by Bay 12 Games developer Tarn Adams. The game is playable on PC, under Windows (XP+), Mac (OSX), and Linux (Most distros, contains a text only mode). Most game content is procedurally generated and the game is highly moddable. One unique feature is the continuity of the world you play in. You can play many games of fortress and/or adventure mode in the same world, each building up it's history.

It features three modes:

  • Fortress Mode (real time strategy, city building)
  • Adventure Mode (adventure/roguelike)
  • Legends (read only view of generated history)

So to answer your question about genre, it doesn't fit into any one genre.


  • 1
    @Kyralessa the modes clearly state what they are. Otherwise, there is the brilliant wiki.
    – user56
    Commented Aug 15, 2010 at 18:37
  • 1
    It's all local, @Kryalessa. You download the game, install it on your computer, and the save games are stored on your computer. Commented Dec 5, 2010 at 22:00

C. Ross answers the "what", but a more important question might be "why". Why is this game so interesting? By modern gaming standards, it has a lot of strikes against it. By default it's completely non-graphical; it has an extremely steep learning curve; there's no game-defined goal or success state, even less so than other popular sandbox games; it can be really, really, hair-pullingly hard.

This is a game that isn't going to appeal to most people.

I'm speaking as a relative new-comer to DF, but some of the reasons this game is beloved by its followers are the exact same points I listed above. Its non-graphical nature (or lightly graphical if you choose to install one of the graphics packages) allows you to overlay your imagination on top of this world you're creating. The steep learning curve means there are always new challenges, new complexities in the game to explore and exploit. The lack of end-goal means you get to define your own experience. The difficulty keeps you from getting into that "gee, I've done everything, now I'm bored" state that you can find in other games.

So back when all of these virtues were not so obvious to me, what made me start playing Dwarf Fortress? I present to you the tale of Boatmurdered. If you can read through that and not laugh out loud, this game might not be for you. (But give it a try anyway! ;) )

  • 1
    Boatmurdered is a classic, and quite a tale. A short, but illustrated one is Bronzemurder
    – foo
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 16:24
  • As you may notice from the names, 'murder' is a thing that will happen regularly. In fact, it's one of the dwarven nations' primary exports to the Goblin Tribes. Commented May 3, 2013 at 13:10

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