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O'Reilly Publishing--yes, the publisher of all of the C++ and Linux and everything-else-books--is publishing the first ever Dwarf Fortress tutorial!

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An upcoming game guide for Dwarf Fortress has been announced by O'Reilly Publishing. The author, Peter Tyson, had this to say about it on his blog:

Hi guys! Looks like the cat is out
of the bag! I wasn’t sure when O’Reilly was going to
announce this
but I guess now is the time? I was hoping to announce it
myself! Awww. :’(
Yes, I’m writing a book on Dwarf Fortress. It’s not done yet but I expect it
will clear 150 pages. Easily. The horror ;)

And yes, it is a legit project by O’Reilly who have an editor or two who are
as passionate about DF as the rest of us. I love the idea of this book sitting
alongside books on C+, Lnux, MySQL and server maintenance. Dwarf Fortress is far
more important than any of that stuff!
Why a book? Well, yes, the wiki exists, and yes, it is a superb and
unparalleled resource, but many, many gamers want manuals or huge chunky
strategy guides that will step them through everything they need to know. My old
2009 Dwarf Fortress tutorials still net 2,500 views a day (double that figure
whenever Toady releases a new version of DF) and the first tutorial has had
750,000 page views. I would like to think that they have been great
introductions to Dwarf Fortress.
The goal of the GSWDF book is to provide a one-stop-shop for brand new
players who want to try and tackle this game but find themselves lost and
confused (for more people this sets in about 30 seconds after running
dwarffortress.exe in my experience). The book covers how to create your first
world, embarking, first steps (getting food production up and running, digging,
etc) and then branches into chunky chapters on managing your dwarfs, industry,
military, mods and tools, etc etc. It’s written in the same style as my
tutorials (irreverent and, I hope, funny) and I’m excited that O’Reilly has let
me take this thing where I want it to go.
Would I recommend you buying it? Well, if you’re reading this you’re probably
already reasonably familiar with Dwarf Fortress and won’t find much in it that
you don’t already know, so no, you probably don’t need this book, give your $15
to Toady instead.
That being said, I think the book
is going to end up pretty cool and unique in the O’Reilly stable. The book will
almost certainly include some art by Tim Denee inspired by
people have submitted
, and it will have a cool, custom cover (I’m hoping
something involving elephants!), and it has a forward by Toady, but I’m not
going to sit here and tell you all you can’t live without this book.
Your friends who don’t yet play DF though? Yeah, those guys can’t live
without this book! When it comes out, buy them a few copies (I jest, I jest)! I
also hope the book will pull in a ton more new players to DF (I really expect it
will) and I encourage the reader to donate to Toady to support this project. I
have high hopes that the book will be a great way of promoting DF, supporting
Bay12 and introducing a whole new audience to the game.
Answers to some questions:
- It will be current to the DF2012 version.
- It does include information that you will also find in the wiki. It is
impossible for anything on DF to not include material that is in the wiki as the
wiki covers just about every DF topic you could imagine.
- This book represents an experiment by O’Reilly in “real time” publishing.
This means the book is likely to get frequent updates – I believe that people
who buy the book will actually get updates pushed to them as the book is
maintained on an ongoing basis by me (and possibly others). I love being part of
an experiment, makes me feel dwarfy.
- Toady’s involvement is limited to, very kindly, writing a forward for the
book. If I make any money off the book I’ll be making donations to Toady off my
own bat. And I really hope we’ll see a lot of new players who will do the same.
You can’t play DF and not appreciate the time and effort the Bay12 guys have put
into the game.
Thanks, hope that explains things.

Some updated information:

  • It’s actually not eBook-only; it will be available in print, PDF, epub,
    mobi, and on Safari. You can buy both a print copy and an ebook copy at the same
    time for less than the price of both separately.
  • eBook – If you buy directly from you are notified when new
    updates are available and can download the newest version for free (also
  • Turn around from me finishing an update to getting a new version out into
    the reader’s hands should be around four weeks – in publishing, this is super
    fast, I’m told!
  • Any errata that get reported to O’Reilly get listed somewhere for me to
    access and fix in due course.
  • The print book won’t include colour graphics inside. O’Reilly will be
    working to ensure art, etc, still look ok.


gmh_michael Creator

i want it in print but whats the price?

Reply Good karma+2 votes
Atomic-Narwhal Creator

it's $19.99 for the print

Reply Good karma+2 votes
goldfish8 Creator

So if I get it in print I don't get updates( I think) which sucks. If I get it in print is there anyway to get the updates? I suppose I would need to buy the book again?

Reply Good karma+1 vote

Probably, although O'Reilley gives you a discount on ebooks if you register the physical book with them (not sure if that applies to this). So you can get a physical copy, then check the ebook for any updates.

That being said, the primary use of this is to help newbs get into it. So as long as you get around to learning relatively soon after buying the physical copy, new versions shouldn't throw you for TOO much of a loop.

Reply Good karma Bad karma+2 votes
bye135 Creator

Sounds great. The first time I played DF I gave up because of the interface, the next time I just sat and watched the dwarves run around, the next I figured out how to look around using "K" , the next I used the wiki to mine some stuff, and the next I finally started to get the hang of it. A guide book that can be used to help starting players would be very helpful to lots of us, especially those that have friends who can't learn it.

Reply Good karma+2 votes
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