I'm still new to Dwarf Fortress, but I suppose everyone's a little bit newer with the 2010 version still fresh. Like many players, I have big dreams. In my case, I'm thinking of building some giant clear glass hourglasses. The primary hindrance I face is not being sure how to get everything up and running. So, I'm trying to get some solid advice.
Location, location, location:
As much as I'd like to have those hourglasses standing in a nice flat, sandy desert, that'd probably be too much of a challenge for a beginner like me: Clear glass need pearlash, which needs wood. Unless I get lucky and find a desert adjacent to a forest (or a cavern where I can grow tower caps), I'd be in short supply. A sandy marsh might be better for that.
Rivers: Do I really need one? An everlasting supply of water would be nice, since you have to muddy underground farms now. Rain's probably another option if I can make some sort of collection spot.
Magma: The new version is supposed to have magma pools everywhere if you just dig deep enough. Since you can't search for magma pipes anymore, I'd need a bit of luck for mass production of obsidian, if I felt like making the mega hourglass out of volcanic glass.
I'm still not sure what starting skills I should go for. I read one suggestion now removed from the DFwiki that involved a Leader with all the doctor skills, who'd quietly build up his mining skill until he's needed at the hospital or trade depot. I also wonder if I should start with a proficient glassmaker who gets to work once I get a magma kiln.
Here's something of a first draft:
1) Medic Leader: One point in all the medical skills, with appraise, negotiator, and judge of intent. Spends the rest of his time as a secondary miner.
2) Outdoorsman: Woodcutter, Herbalist, Axeman, maybe hunter.
4) Mason/Stone Crafter/Building Designer
I'm still trying to figure out everything I'll need early on.
1. Food storage: Get everything out of the wagon so it won't rot in the wagon and that my dwarves won't need to go outside for a bite to eat.
2. Wood/Stone/Furniture storage: Keep supplies near the workshops.
3. First farm: Can muddy an area by digging into the side of a murky pool.
4. Workshops: Carpenter, Mason, Still, Kitchen, Craftsdwarf shop, Butcher shop, Leatherworks. For the latter two, I could use some advice on how to make sure my hunters don't leave their catch to just rot.
5. Barracks: Dwarves have to sleep. I neglected one on my last game, jumping a bit too directly to individual rooms.
6. Meeting room: Outside the main entrance, so that my dogs will gather there and spot thieves.
I plan to dig down until I reach magma so that I can build a workshop level with all the magma-powered sorts. Since I don't want to be overrun by fire imps and the like, I'd appreciate suggestions on how to safely go about this. One idea is to build an exploratory vertical shaft that I can block off with a locked door. Once I know what level the magma's at, I can build workshops with imp-blocking grates in the floor.
Greenhouses: Some farms for above ground crops covered by green glass ceilings, safely below the surface.
Guard towers: Shaped like hourglasses, for the overall aesthetic.
A road paved with glass.
An overly organized 'garden' sort of look for the entire surface of my area. More "rock garden" than lines of trees or hedge mazes.
The big dreams:
Hourglass Megastructure: I'm still trying to think about the shape of my hourglass tower(s), since round isn't the easiest thing to do. The first idea is probably the simplest: A pyramid with an inverted pyramid on top. The other is similar, though with some straight vertical sections. I'd like some ideas for what to fill them with. Probably include some wood bases for the top and bottom.
Raised River: A six-tile wide river on a raised platform. The supports will be smaller versions of the hourglass tower, possibly doubling as guard towers. If I get a magma pipe, I may try another of magma that ends up forming obsidian where the two meet. I could probably use some help figuring out how to handle the pumps to get the water up there.
So, chime in with whatever.