View Full Version : *** April Challenge - Using Dwarf Fortress ASCII Maps as a Source ***

01-01-2013, 09:50 AM
This month's challenge is a bit of a crossover. I was first made aware of Dwarf Fortress via /r/worldbuilding (http://www.reddit.com/r/worldbuilding) over at reddit. I then found guyanonymous made a post about it over here: http://www.cartographersguild.com/software-discussion/20035-using-dwarf-fortress-starting-point-your-maps.html

Dwarf Fortress is a single-player fantasy game. You can control a dwarven outpost or an adventurer in a randomly generated, persistent world. The worlds are generated using a very intense and detailed procedural process that involves mapping, erosion, history, etc.

Your challenge this month is to go over to Bay 12 Games: Dwarf Fortress (http://www.bay12games.com/dwarves/) and download Dwarf Fortress. You must then install it, and use it to generate a world in ascii. This ascii map can be saved as an image from Dwarf Fortress and you must use this map as a starting point to create your own artistic interpretation. You may use any of the custom parameters Dwarf Fortress allows for generating a unique world, and you may incorporate any of the actual elements from the Dwarf Fortress game that you wish.

If you can't utilize Dwarf Fortress to generate a world, you may use one of the four worlds attached to this post. A Legend can be found here: v0.31:Map legend - Dwarf Fortress Wiki (http://dwarffortresswiki.org/index.php/v0.31:Map_legend)

Try not to get addicted to Dwarf Fortress until after your challenge entry is completed!

All entries should be started in a new thread titled April Challenge Entry - <name of your entry>. This challenge will close on or around the 29th of April followed by a period of voting. All work in progress thumbs must include a ### Latest WIP ### tag.

Best of luck to you all!


04-01-2013, 11:25 PM
Wellllll.... I think this might be a cool challenge!

04-02-2013, 01:08 AM
Hello gentlemen. For those of you who prefer to skip the ASCII, there's an isometric visualizer available as well. You can get it here:
IsoWorld - And Isometric worldmap viewer (http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=70700.0).

Additionally, I'd like to draw your attention to the small box at the bottom of the map legend's page, particularly the Advanced Word Generation (http://dwarffortresswiki.org/index.php/v0.31:Advanced_world_generation). There's a wealth of information and tools to massage the type of world map you get, if you're inclined to learn to use it.

And Toady (the creator of Dwarf Fortress) linked this thread from the dev log, so I reckon you might be seeing a bit of new traffic in this thread, though I'd not be surprised if most folks are more interested in the finished products than anything else.

04-02-2013, 02:25 AM
Splendid idea. Great challenge. I'm in. Time to dig up that continent that completely splattered my dwarven civilization I almost conquered. Fun times, fun times.

04-02-2013, 02:27 AM
Hello Cartographers guild :D

I am a Dwarf Fortress player, and can not wait to see some of the awesome stuff created by this community. Dwarf Fortress is very indepth on many levels, and not simply the map itself, but also the game play aspect as well. The type of stone, minerals and ores you find is very accuratly represented. For example, you will find obsidian near volcanoes. A qoute from the DF wiki, "The geology and stones of Dwarf Fortress are based on real-world geology and mineralogy. To understand the terms used here, you may want to crack open a geology textbook (a high school one should suffice). If you don't happen to have one close by, the Wikipedia articles for geology, mineralogy, or the terms in question might help."

Good luck everyone!

04-02-2013, 02:42 AM
I am so afraid...I just know this is going to suck me back in and I'll end up playing this game all over.....ahhhhhhhh. I'm already worrying about my little dwarves and if those rangers will be safe out there. Can I dig through this wall or will the water come rushing in and drown us all? Oh this one tasks me. :)

04-02-2013, 02:45 AM
LOL Jax! :D I feel the same way about various games. Civilization: Call to Power I'm looking at you...

04-02-2013, 02:53 AM
I often recall a statement by Brandon Sanderson when he was asked about how he handled his enjoyment of playing video games. He said, "You have to want to write more than you want to play video games." I too want to make art more than I want to play video games but I do still enjoy a good game now and then. I just have to be careful.

I wonder if it would allowed for one of these fine gamers from Bay 12's forums who already has a world going and would like to see said world come to cartographic life, to post an image here that one might use for the basis of this challenge? That way I'm not in as much danger :)

Cunning Cartographer
04-02-2013, 04:40 AM
Interesting challenge, think I'll give this one a miss. Too many late night neglecting my wife with the last challenge to jump straight into another :D

04-02-2013, 04:46 AM
wow this looks interesting, though the maps are giving me a 'matrix code' headache looking at them!

I like Jaxilon's idea of using an ongoing world to create a map.

Robert Maddox
04-02-2013, 04:48 AM
I'm already working on something like this for a "community game" called The Museum. (Link below) My nom de plume in the Dwarf Fortress forums is "Timeless Bob". Anyway, that game's world-map has many interesting areas and towns, which will all eventually make it into the ongoing Gazeteer I'm creating as a "Museum Curator". If you'd like to submit your images as well, I'm sure the game's host would be delighted.

The Museum: Adventure item quest (adventure succession game) (http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=104399.0)

04-02-2013, 05:55 AM
Been far too long since I participated. I'm in. As a matter of fact, I already have a pretty solid map put together from the dwarffortressmap3.png file shown in the first post. I'll post a WIP pic as soon as I come up with a name.

04-02-2013, 06:20 AM
I wonder if it would allowed for one of these fine gamers from Bay 12's forums who already has a world going and would like to see said world come to cartographic life, to post an image here that one might use for the basis of this challenge? That way I'm not in as much danger :)

I definitely agree on this, and wish I'd thought of it before. If any dedicated DF players want to see their own world come to life, post it here!

Posted from my Android Cyanogenmod Phone with Tapatalk 2.

04-02-2013, 10:21 AM
Greetings, Cartographers! From The Destined Planes, I bring you Cadeniathira (The Land of Eyes).

For those of you new to Dwarf Fortress, this is the kind of name that it procedurally generates.

Anyway, here's the map(s):
The top level overview:

Civilization hotspots and trade:

Relative evil:

Let's talk symbols. I will refer you to the wiki page (http://dwarffortresswiki.org/index.php/DF2012:Map_Legend), but here's the important ones for your first perusal.

The upper-case pi's are Goblin Fortresses, spilling forth the foul bowmen and master lashers who killed both my forts in this plane. Usually it's the forgotten beasts, but those don't show on a map.
The omegas are the Mountainhomes of the Dwarves

Dwarf Fortress generates and stores mind-boggling amounts of data. I don't know how much detail you guys want to go into, but it's certainly there. On request, I can provide:

More maps, including temperature, rainfall, civilization claims, "evil", "wildness" and more of regions.
A detailed world history of wars and megabeast deaths.
The story of two specific Dwarf Fortresses, both of which fell to seige, and one that is still ongoing.

Enjoy! This seems like cool work you gentlemen are engaged in.

Tim Furman

04-02-2013, 11:29 AM
Rats..I'm getting an invalid attachment on that. It sounds great though. I think we may need more of these. And the details such as climates and so on all helps with the creation of the maps. At least it does for me, giving me an idea of what sort of coloration to use etc.

04-02-2013, 11:42 AM
Yes, keep in mind if you're choosing the option to download and play DF yourself, these maps and datapoints are all readily available to you for the worlds you generate.

Tim, I just checked your attachments folder, and there's definitely no file uploaded there. I'm wondering if something went wrong...could you try again?

04-02-2013, 01:16 PM
Oh man, I did this four years ago (http://www.cartographersguild.com/mapping-challenge-archive/4939-march-entry-dwarf-fortress.html), hehe.

Toady One mention in his development updates that you guys were doing a challenge specifically around DF maps, so I had to head over here again.

For those of you who are having trouble with the matrix code, you might have an easier time if you ignore the shape of the character and only worry about it's color. You can infer quite a bit of information just from that, although some characters do have special meaning (such as towns and cities or named mountain peaks, or upside-down U shaped characters for hills--versus grassland).

04-02-2013, 01:46 PM
I'm sorry, everything seemed ok in the preview menu. Here, let me link everything through Photobucket.

04-02-2013, 02:58 PM
I have been waiting since 2010 to see this, when I posted by first maps by Dwarf Fortress. There is so much potential here. I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with.

For those of you not familiar with DF, know that you can export more map views than just the basic ASCII. You can export biomes, sites, trade maps, structures, even local city and dungeon maps. I have gone through and mapped a few myself. Just as an example, I want to post a few different images of a map I made for myself of a dwarf fortress world (I'm not a map maker, so it would be up to you to make it nice, but it shows the potential well)

This is the biome map exported from DF, I marked the cities and sites and color coded them for myself (blue for dwarf forts, large green dots are cities, small green dots are hamlets, etc)

This is what the sites look like without the map. This is Dwarf Fortress randomization at work!

I then went through with the traders map and mapped all the links between cities. This is the lite version.

And this is the version after I mapped out the rivers (the thickness refers to the waterflow, again generated by DF)

I even went further and mapped out country boundaries to create a political map, but I haven't figured out a way to make that understandable yet, there is just so much information involved!!

I just wanted to share that with you guys. I don't know what the limits are in this challenge, but if you can use any map randomly generated with DF, the possibilities are limitless. I can't wait.

04-02-2013, 03:50 PM
This sounds like a fun challenge.

Does it need to be a DF world map?

I have played it and built a few dwarf forts. Although I use a tileset (not a fan of the ASCII myself), and it'd be fun to map one of them.

04-02-2013, 04:43 PM
Hmm. That's a good point from Larb. Does it need to be a world or regional map? Could folks do a town or fortress as long as its based on images/worlds from DF?

04-02-2013, 07:33 PM
Hello cartographers! Some helpful advice from a Dwarf Fortress addict.

As Javert indicated above, there are numerous options to display specific types of world map information from within Dwarf Fortress.

When you open a new world in Legends mode you'll see this main page:


At the bottom right you'll see d: export detailed map. This gives you a list of various map displays:


These might be useful to explore various aspects of a world. You may also find it useful to view a world in the Dwarf Fortress Legends Viewer, a tool which explores various details in a world's history. Examples: http://i.imgur.com/Ua0rx6f.png http://i.imgur.com/iw5atOr.jpg

I look forward to enjoying the fruits of your efforts!

04-02-2013, 07:37 PM
Thanks for that. I have never exported a map from it myself so that is very helpful!

04-02-2013, 07:50 PM
I would say it has to be sourced from df, and you need to show us the source, but it doesn't have to be a world map.

Posted from my Android Cyanogenmod Phone with Tapatalk 2.

04-02-2013, 08:19 PM
Might be wise to spoiler that, Nitus, since it's a bit huge. For anyone who wants to use the legend viewer, here's a link: Legends Viewer 1.13.05 (http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=72702.0) I'm not sure how much relevance it has though, since it's history, and all the effects of that history should be visible on finished maps.

04-02-2013, 08:42 PM
Might be wise to spoiler that, Nitus, since it's a bit huge. For anyone who wants to use the legend viewer, here's a link: Legends Viewer 1.13.05 (http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=72702.0) I'm not sure how much relevance it has though, since it's history, and all the effects of that history should be visible on finished maps.

I disagree. I wouldn't have been able to create my maps without it. Dwarf Fortress is great at giving you information, but it isn't very good at giving you the location of that information. You can look up any city in Legends Viewer, but you can't hyperlink to the site. You have to go to the built it map and search the map manually until you happen across it. Legends viewer brings together the wealth of information DF has to offer with the location of it all.

On another note, I do agree that you should be able to source your map to DF. You can export both towns and world maps from DF. unfortunately, until the next release only human towns can be exported, and those aren't too interesting. I think you should be able to source underground sewers and dungeons and tombs as well as towers and player built fortress as long as you either have a link to the save and coords or a screen grab of the place.

04-02-2013, 09:47 PM
The Legends Viewer is an easy way to find out where various sites are, and it has a useful map viewer built in.

Using the dark fortress from my earlier post, you can zoom in to an extent: http://i.imgur.com/rvCkvyO.png

Or you can use one of the other maps you exported from Dwarf Fortress: http://i.imgur.com/EkzuiWF.png

As you can see from the second example, there's a lot of stuff that doesn't appear on the ascii map.

04-03-2013, 04:19 PM
Longtime DF addict (and forum member), first-time CG poster. I look forward to seeing what gets produced, and I'm sorta terrified at discovering this site. I'm a cartography and worldbuilding junkie so a place like this could be crack on steroids to me. :D

04-03-2013, 04:45 PM
I must say I'm tickled pink at the number of DF players that have found a home here. After this we may need a DF subforum. Lol. Welcome to all of you!

Posted from my Android Cyanogenmod Phone with Tapatalk 2.

04-04-2013, 02:43 PM
Hell's teeth... I can imagine getting bogged down in details with the wealth of information available on those exports. What to do, what to do... to enter or not to enter... :S

04-04-2013, 03:07 PM
I've not played for a while but I ended up making a new fort and... well playing it instead of doing any mapping. There have been some changes since I last played it.

I think what I might do is start (another) new fortress and then do an isometric-ish map of the result. I think that will work!

04-04-2013, 03:40 PM
Hell's teeth... I can imagine getting bogged down in details with the wealth of information available on those exports. What to do, what to do... to enter or not to enter... :S

Enter of course!!!

04-05-2013, 02:37 AM
I knew it!!! I stayed up till 2am doing like Larb....playing!

I stare daggers at you Arcana, with only a slight upwards curl in the corner of my mouth....only slight though :>)

04-06-2013, 04:09 PM
Oooh, i've been waiting for the new update to play again, but I suppose I can make an exception just for this contest.
On a side note, for all of your new players; I recommend throwing water (And anything, infact, even bodies.), an overpowered way of staying alive in a pinch. (And don't forget to download LazyNewbPack (http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=59026.0), comes with nice tools for music in game and tilesets, really great program.)

04-07-2013, 11:34 AM
On the topic of more detailed maps, you might want to check out IsoWorld (http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=70700.msg4157081) which renders the whole map with as detailed as information as it can determine.

Which at 1 pixel per dwarf-sized-tile printed at 300 ppi, an entire pocket world would be a 7 foot wide wall hanging.

Here's an example (http://i.imgur.com/cTcQn5R.png). The large blocks are pixels worth of map using DF's map exports.

04-07-2013, 04:51 PM
AAARRRG!!! I downloaded the zip file, but I can't find the installer and get a "file not found" error when I click on the DF exe file... HEEEELP ;)

04-07-2013, 05:17 PM
AAARRRG!!! I downloaded the zip file, but I can't find the installer and get a "file not found" error when I click on the DF exe file... HEEEELP ;)

There's no installer, that EXE is the full game. I don't know why you're getting file not found though. Did you make sure to extract the whole folder somewhere before running the it?

04-07-2013, 06:53 PM
DOH! but thats just like me ;)

Thanks :)

04-08-2013, 11:24 PM
Hi all, figured I'd post this here for you to play with and enjoy. It may not be quite relevant to this particular challenge, but then again, you are all much more experienced and creative than I am.

Anyway, there are a number of applications created for Dwarf Fortress, in particular there is one, PerfectWorldDF (PerfectWorldDF world creator utility v.1.6 (http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=57428.0)) that gives you a lot more control over worldgen, including playing with elevation, rainfall, etc. What I'm particularly interested in is that you can use an elevation bitmap to generate a world that looks like a specific place. For example, somewhere in that thread, there's a heightmap of Middle earth that can be used to generate a map of Middle Earth (page 7).

I would love to see what you guys come up with playing with this tool, and specifically, it would be really interesting if some of you create elevation bitmaps for other maps you draw, and let them come to life in DF games.

04-10-2013, 02:52 PM
I've used PerfectWorldDF for bringing my worlds to life in DF before, but for this contest; I don't really think it would be in the spirit, because then there would be no randomness in it.

04-11-2013, 04:02 PM
Just found this website today. I play dwarf fortress, but mainly for the pure purpose of generating maps. Here is one of my favourites.


This is the northern hemisphere of the world. To the south is


Both poles have icecaps, but a surprising amount of people live near them. The main northern continent is called Benua, and the southern one Roinmor.

In the center-north is the Sea of Kamanas. This is always cold, with a low salinity, and often freezes over in winter. To cope with this, in winter runners are affixed to the bottom of ships, so the become like sledges, and cross the sea that way. Consequently the times when no ships travel across the sea is for a short while in spring and autumn, when the ice is only partly there and not strong enough nor in enough places to either run ships over the ice or float in the water safely. East of the sea is the Greebis Mountains. Heavily populated by dwarves, their tunnels run all the way through thus allowing goods to be transported to from the Sea of Kamanas to the Great Ocean. While many wonder how dwarves grow their food, there not being much light underground, the mountains in fact encircle the Kammukan Confederacy, a fertile land that is run jointly by the dwarves of the neighbouring counties. How exactly this works is unclear, since the dwarves refuse to give any details of their inner councils to outsiders and the Confederacy is out of bounds to non-dwarves, but rumour says that it has been the cause for numerous wars deep beneath the earth. South-west of the Greebis Mountains is the Troat River, named for the large population of deer that live between it and the mountains. The river drains much of the Magaslat Plain, which despite its name is quite hilly, indeed it's climate is reasonably close to that of Britain. West of the plain is the Rasag Mountains. There are two passes, but most travellers take the north one, for there is the city of Belalcar. From there travllers head down into the Tuortal Valley, which is where the largest river in the world is located, following through a multitude of constantly waring city-states, whose shifting allegiances mean that is those journeying must be prepared to be accosted, depending on who is fighting who this week. Oddly enough, those who are complete foreigners from nowhere near the Tuortal valley are the safest, since being from far away they are less likely to be spies working for another

A wanderer travelling up the River Tuor will pass the meanders so enter the Tollet Forest and reach the fair city of Minara, Minara of the gleaming bridges. Situated between two mountains, Minara is a wonder to behold. One of the most ancient elven settlements, it seems to have been untouched by wars or violence. To the south are more elven settlements, but upriver lies the Forvil Prairie. Furthur upriver near the edge of the praires the river passes through a series of lakes, although after the first one the river is too narrow for boats, and so to continue one must go on foot to the source of the river in the Stuburas Mountains, which fun up the west of the continent. What lies to the west of the mountains is unknown, no one who has gone there has ever come back. Stories give many different answers - from two-headed monsters whose very skin oozes death to paradise, but as for what's really there, who knows?
Moving on to some of the islands, south west of the Tollet Forest is the Isle of Palua, which has repeatedly colonised by various people, who live numerous communities around the edge of the island. South-east of Palua is Therset Island. No-one lives lives on the west of the island, is a barren wasteland, but a good number live on the eastern side. Cultar Sea, to the north east; and the Straits of Irama to the south east provide plenty of trading opportunities, as befits an outpost of the Breedis archipelago, which covers to the south of the Isle of Palua.

The Breedis archipelago inhabitants are great seamen and traders who were among other things one of the earliest colonisers of Palua. They also were the ones to discover Roinmor, and have near-monopoly on trade between Roinmor and Benua. To the east of Therset Island is Kiniro Island. Kinirons are a very formal people, and have treaties and agreements for everything. They also moderatly xenophopic. Part of this is because they have nearly everything they need on the island somewhere, from the coniferous forests of Bureki in the north to the fertile plains of Yumua in the west to the salt-providing Shio desert to the south.

04-18-2013, 07:17 PM
Just genned the perfect world, I think i'll have some fun with it.

04-29-2013, 07:26 AM
Does the Challenge ends today?

04-29-2013, 07:42 AM
generally its the end of the month, so tomorrow (though the mods sometimes take a while to set up the voting thread :p)

this was a really good month for entries, with some interesting and diverse offerings. voting will be close!

- Max -
04-29-2013, 07:54 AM
You won't finish your entry? :(

04-29-2013, 08:35 AM
It will be a tough race I guess. Tension still keeps up till the Voting. Also hope for some interesting setup for May and lots of Challengers too.

04-29-2013, 09:23 AM
not sure i'll finish mine. lost my motivation a while ago and im not that pleased with it tbh. seems too pale and featureless, even though the colour/feel is pretty much what i set out to do. i got stuck at the mountain as i dont have much experience with such hand-drawn ones and never carried on

- Max -
04-29-2013, 09:43 AM
Aww sad to hear...Maybe this is getting a WIP so?

05-01-2013, 06:09 PM
Isnt it time to start the poll now?

05-02-2013, 10:33 AM
Working on it now, sorry, thanks for the reminder...I've had a crazy month.