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How to start a new fortress in Dwarf Fortress

Is it time to move onto your next fortress?

Dwarf Fortress is a deeply complex game, and building your perfect dwarven stronghold can take days, if not weeks. But sometimes, you want to start fresh with new ideas and a better understanding. So how do you start a new fortress in Dwarf Fortress?

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First, you’ll need a world to create your fortress in. Dwarf Fortress worlds can only have one active fortress at a time. As a result, you’ll need to either generate a new world or end one of your previous fortresses. To do the latter you can either retire or abandon your existing fortress in the world. This is done by loading the save of the fortress you want to end, pressing ESC, and then selecting either Retire the fortress (for the time being) or Abandon the fortress to ruin.

What does Retire a fortress mean in Dwarf Fortress?

Retiring a fortress in Dwarf Fortress means yielding control of the fortress and having it run as an AI-controlled fortress in the background of the overall world. The fortress will continue to exist but will also face challenges and potential attacks. You can also, in theory, interact with it from your new fortress, sending raids and invasions to it. A retired fortress will keep its inhabitants, produced goods, furnishings, and anything else. It can be unretired if there isn’t another active fortress save.

How to unretire a Fortress

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To unretire a fortress, head to the Embark screen and press R or click the Reclaim/unretire button. From here you’ll be given a list of abandoned and retired fortresses. Select your retired fortress to start back again. You won’t be given any embark options, you’ll just jump back into your fortress. However, don’t expect everything to be exactly as you left it.

What does Abandon a Fortress mean in Dwarf Fortress?

Abandoned a fortress is effectively the “give up” button of Dwarf Fortress. This isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Some fortresses aren’t worth saving. There’s no point waiting while goblins spend the next few months hunting down every last dwarf or while a Forgotten Beast eats every last kitten. Abandoning a fortress offloads any surviving dwarves, who will return back to their original civilization. It also scatters your items. You’ll be able to play again in the world, but if you reclaim this fortress, you’ll need to do so with new dwarves.

Related: Tips, tricks, and hotkeys you might not know in Dwarf Fortress Steam

Can I get back fortresses I abandoned in Dwarf Fortress?

You can reclaim abandoned fortresses by heading to the Embark screen and pressing or clicking the Reclaim/unretire button. However, enemies who might have taken over your fortress will remain. Some of your former inhabitants might be there, although they won’t necessarily be friendly.

You’ll have to use the reclaim command as items will be forbidden. This option is not for the faint of hearted. Often you’ll need several waves of reclamations to clear out a fortress that’s been overrun. However, one of the great things about Dwarf Fortress is that the world is persistent, and nothing is truly over. 

You could set up a fortress nearby, amass an army, and send them to investigate or attack the abandoned fortress. This has a chance to clear out any nasty creatures who might still be there, plus it can yield your new fortress some great loot!

For more Dwarf Fortress guides, info, and more, check out Can you dig through an aquifer in Dwarf Fortress? on Pro Game Guides.

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Michael Hassall
Michael lives in the UK, but wishes he lived in Eorzea. A life-long gamer, Four years ago, he ditched a "real" job to write about video games for a living, and hasn't looked back. When not guiding players how to get the latest mounts, crafting recipes, and in-game goodies, he spends his time nurturing an unhealthy addiction to MMOs and gacha games.

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How to start a new fortress in Dwarf Fortress

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