When Dwarf Fortress released on Steam and Itch.io in December 2022, it took only hours before the first mods were released for the game. This is because the game already had a huge modding community coming over from its classic release. This coupled with its easy mod-ability, with some mods just being a case of making a few edits in a notepad file, or copying sprites into a folder, means the game is ripe for mods! But what are the best mods for Dwarf Fortress right now?
(Note: This is an article for the Steam and Itch.io release of the game. The classic version of Dwarf Fortress has quite literally thousands of mods, and we suggest checking out the game’s official forum or Reddit for classic mods.)
See-Through Smoothing Designations
One of the most annoying things about the new visuals in Dwarf Fortress is the smooth-stone command, which for some reason blocks your entire view of the area you want smoothed. See-Through Smoothing Designations solves that! Honestly, this mod is so simple and effective we wouldn’t be surprised if this change is adopted into the main game pretty soon.
Another great quality of life change, this mod adds Audible Alerts for most notifications in the game. Dwarf Fortress Premium basically removed all but a few of the “pause on message” alerts, which greatly streamlined the game. However, now it's possible to miss some of the more major notifications, such as migrants, digging designations, etc. This mod fixes a lot of that.
Of course there’s an Elder Scrolls mod, and Vvardenfell is your easiest way to make your own Cyrodiil, or whatever city you want, as you carve out your world as the Dwemer. This mod also adds a bunch of custom metals and other features, such as creatures from the ES world. This is a work in progress, but it's a nice stop-gap until a full conversion mod is released.
Dizzy’s Killer Carp
When Dwarf Fortress was young, in one of the early multi-z-level builds, an errant piece of code made an unlikely creature extremely deadly. No we’re not talking about Elephants, although that did happen as well. Carp were once the most deadly creature in Dwarf Fortress. They’d drag dwarves into the water and drown and devour them because of some incorrect creature tags. This “bug” was eventually fixed, but Carp are now restored to their former glory in the Dizzy’s Killer Carp mod. If you like this, you should also check out the creator’s other mods, Dizzy’s Dog breeds, and Dizzy’s Deadly Caverns.
Clinodev’s Dry Mines
This is a super simple mod that gets rid of one of the most frustrating parts of the game: aquifers. Aquifers limit your embark options to all but the most mountainous and dry in many cases, and mining through them can be a pain. That's why Clinodev’s Dry Mines simply removes aquifers!
Let Dwarven Women Have Beards
A simple mod that builds on the classic joke/true fact that dwarven women all have beards. Adding the Let Dwarven Women Have Beards gives dwarven women beards from the moment they’re born as babies until the day they die.
The inevitable Pokémon mod, Dwarvemon adds over 800 new creatures, evolutions, abilities, new megabeasts based on the Legendaries, new berries, and lots of additional Pokémon content. Sprites aren’t supported yet, but they’ll apparently be added in a later edition.
In Dwarf Fortress, even the instruments are procedurally generated. Each time you make a new world, a whole new set of instruments are created randomly and various cultures pick them up and make songs with them. But what the hell is a Neb? A Flrynll? A Dunper? It can be frustrating to learn a whole new bunch of instruments and what materials they’re made from each time you start a new world. The Better Instruments mod standardizes many instruments into a list of 21 base instruments that you can craft and enjoy!
For more Dwarf Fortress guides, info, and details, check out Getting started in Dwarf Fortress – What to build? on Pro Game Guides.