Rimworld stories are brutal. Watching your megastructure base burn down or overseeing an entirely turret-defended colony get wiped during an EMP Solar flare is horrifying and morbidly hilarious. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed my pawns’ slow descent into madness as they succumb to disease, devour their fellow man, and refuse to eat at tables.
In this Rimworld getting started guide, I’ll review building a self-sufficient settlement with reliable food production, adequate defense, and a surplus of happy colonists. As a bonus, I’ll detail other mechanics the game neglects to tell you, like organ harvesting, Marriage, and cannibalism.
Bottom Line Up Front: Sow crops, build houses, and power turrets to ensure a well-fed, comfortable, and secure colony. Ensure the colony lives in a temperate region, so you don’t have to worry about hypothermia or heatstroke.
Before you Even Begin
Before we even touch the soil, you’ll need to consider the kind of story you want to experience and how hard it should be. Take special care to pick what type of scenario we want to live in, our location, and our storyteller. Here’s a short list of the four kinds of scenarios listed below:
Three Crashlanded Survivors
Easily the strongest playthrough, this scenario starts us off with three well-equipped spaceship survivors with many supplies and materials to build a small colony. Better yet, these survivors have researched electricity and can quickly tech up into a comfortable, self-sufficient, and well-defended abode within a month. I recommend this scenario for first time players that want to get started on their colony asap.
For a more challenging playthrough that requires more research, we control a total of five survivors with less advanced technology and fewer starting supplies. Each survivor starts injured or with a health condition and is less equipped to survive.
The Rich Explorer
Take command of a wealthy explorer with many supplies, equipment, and advanced research for a slower playthrough. While defending and taking care of this survivor is a breeze, recruiting more people and transitioning into a full-fledged colony takes more time to achieve.
As brutal as it sounds, we start with no equipment, no research, and no clothes to boot. If you like a true rags-to-riches story, prepare for a great and terrible adventure.
Picking our starting settlement’s location determines the availability of food and the ease with which we can trade with other outposts. Take these factors into consideration when choosing your preferred settlement.
- Type of Terrain – Placing our colony on a mountainous, large hill, small hill, or flat area will determine the availability of resources and farmland. While more mountainous terrain may be easier to defend and resource-rich, it also has fewer trees and room for grazing.
- Climate – While our colony can live in every type of climate from arid, deserts, jungles, or even the desert or arctic, most colonies thrive in temperate locations where food is more available and the weather less severe.
- Proximenty to other settlements – The closer we are to other outposts, the easier it is to form caravans and trade. While hostile outposts are more likely to attack, we can make peace by giving them gifts.
If we’ve purchased the Ideology DLC, we’ll have the option to pick a belief system to enhance our playthrough. While each religion has its benefits and drawbacks (ie supremacist religions demand and appreciate violence), I recommend Human Primacy.
While this religion requires a moralist leader, its specialist builder enables us to create legendary weapons, furniture, and art if their appropriate skills are high enough.
Throughout each Rimworld story, we’ll have to pick one of three storytellers to dictate the severity and frequency of random encounters.
- Cassandra (Steady Increase) – A horrible, vile creature bent on making us miserable, Cassandra steadily increases the challenges we face over time. If we fail to make technological advances or take too much time planning out our colony, Cassandra beats us by a war of attrition, turning a struggling colony into a charred husk.
- Phoebe (Long Breaks – Horrible disasters) – Giving us long pauses in between disasters proceeded by terrible spells of doom, Phoebe is a fantastic storyteller for giving us the chance to prepare for her wrath. While some players may get lulled into a false sense of security, making ample use of our resources provides us with enough time to prepare for waves of raiders or a mechanoid invasion. I recommend Phoebe for first-time players looking for a reliable challenge and personal space.
- Randy Random (Random) – Entirely random, without a care in the world for pacing, Randy wants to make our story as strange and weird as possible. We could spend our entire story fighting machines and suffer a nuclear fallout that gives our pawns cancer or have several packs of sheep join our settlement and receive constant airdrops of food.
The First Week in Game
After crashlanding on our personalized settlement, we’ll have to work quickly to build our first home, produce crops, and gear up for our first raid.
Immediately upon crashing, we’ll find ourselves with a horde of food, equipment, and other resources. I advise creating a six-by-six tile stockpile zone from your Zone menu over most of the items on day 1, then working to build housing for the resources by day 2.
Housing the resources ensure the nonperishables stop deteriorating and wild animals won’t munch on our food supplies. While later on, we can build a freezer to prevent our food from spoiling, we’ll need power to make that a reality.
Build an Enclosed Room
To survive the first few nights, we’ll need to construct a small barrack for our colonists to sleep. While our colonists can rest outside, sleeping outdoors incurs a moderate mood debuff leading to high discontent and more frequent psychotic breaks. I recommend clearing out all the trees in an approximately 11 by 9 tile area and creating a wooden wall surrounding the premises.
After building the wall, make a door for colonists to enter and leave, then construct three beds for our colonists to sleep. Finishing this room triggers our nearest colonist to automatically build a roof over the premises turning our humble abode into an indoor facility. I further advise placing a torch so our peons won’t have to wander the darkness.
Once we’ve secured a place to sleep, our next focus is on food. While we can easily hunt and butcher wild animals or scavenge from berry bushes, the animals and the butchered meat therein spoils after two days, and berries come in meager supply. The better alternative will be to grow crops for longer-lasting perishables and cooking.
To begin, click on the zones menu and then the growing tab. We’ll have the option to grow various foods, but we should start with rice for its quick time to develop. Select a medium-large area of 12 by 12 tiles, preferable over rich soil, then our colonist with the highest plant skill will get to the task once they have a chance. After 3-5 days, we’ll have our first batch of rice ready for consumption.
Defense, in the beginning, is a breeze. The most danger we’ll face will likely be a raider with a spiked club or three rabid rabbits. Still, I recommend placing a wooden barricade at every entrance to your base and dealing with foes at long range. Even sending our best melee fighters can end in a ruptured organ or fatal bleeding.
I advise sending two colonists with higher shooting skill to equip the pistol and rifle and the remaining colonist to wield the plasteel with the provided helmet and armored vest. Even if our colonists are somewhat safe, we should take every precaution against their deaths or dismemberment.
Feeling like our colonists are only using half of their potential? We can go into the scheduling tab to alter colonists’ work, sleep, and recreation schedule. Unless a colonist is increasingly unhappy or more likely to break, I recommend reducing their hours of sleep and assigning them more hours to work.
Need more builders, planters, or miners? We can alter colonists’ work schedules and priorities in their work tab, forbidding them from cooking food that will give everyone food poisoning or operating on patients without medical expertise. I recommend altering work on the flow whenever we need more colonists performing a specific task.
Core Game Mechanics
Responsible for chopping trees, farming, and harvesting, the planting skill is essential for surviving Rimworld early on. While we can build our colony from steel or stone, later on, we’ll have to rely on building wood houses to survive the first few seasons.
Additionally, planting impacts our ability to farm and harvest crops properly, leading to nearly half a field of potato waste without agriculturally inclined settlers. I advise having at least one character with a high plant skill to ensure reliable access to wood and farming.
Vital for building houses, power generators, and advanced technology, construction is essential for any players looking to conquer the environment. While our colonists don’t require a high construction skills, the lower their skills, the more likely they are to waste resources and build lower-quality furniture. I recommend having one colonist with at least five or more in construction skill.
Governing the speed and quality at which pawns cook food and butcher animals, a pawn with a decent cooking skill is vital to avoiding starvation.
While it does not need to be exceptionally high, having a cook with a cooking skill of 2 or less means watching our characters suffer from food poisoning every other meal and have more psychotic breaks. We can alternatively turn to a nutrient paste dispenser for safer, efficient food production, but our colonist’s mood will decrease unless we subscribe to transhumanism.
Determines how quickly our characters can mine through solid blocks; mining gives us easy access to steel which is vital for nearly every technology and production facility in the game. Although we can acquire steel through various other sources (i.e. trade, deconstruction, mechanoid disassembly), mining steel from blocks is the quickest and least costly way to obtain the needed resource.
Aids our pawn’s ability to survive raids and attack settlements; pawns’ shooting and melee abilities are essential for players looking to protect their colonists.
While we can turn towards automating our defense with turrets and traps, later on, we’ll need a solid defense to hold firm against incursions for the first few months. I recommend outfitting colonists with protective gear and advanced armaments to increase their combat ability in hostile situations.
After getting battled, beaten, and broken, our colonists require swift medical attention to mend their wounds and health. To construct a medical bay, we’ll have to click on a bed and designate it for medical use.
Next, we can command injured colonists to rest in the bed, and the nearest doctor colonist shall attend to their woods with the best medkit available. We can also install implants and replace dismembered limbs with wooden, prosthetic, or bionic ones. I recommend keeping the room clean and replacing the floor with sterile tiles to reduce the risk of infection and increase patients’ recovery rate.
Whether we need to produce new clothes for our colonists or assemble advanced space weaponry, crafting is essential for creating advanced equipment to survive the Rimworld. While most items require very little crafting skill, having a higher crafting skill accelerates our colonists’ production speed at drug labs, fabrication stations, and stone tables, as well as the quality of items produced.
Unless we intend to build a starship out of sticks and mud, research is vital for enhancing our settlement’s production abilities and leaving the Rimworld.
Most of the technologies we can use are locked behind tiers of advanced research that can take weeks to achieve. While we can employ multiple research benches to increase research speed, we’re better off a single colonist with high research skills at a high-tech research station.
Raids can provide us with various prisoners we can recruit, harvest, and enslave for our colony. To construct a prison, build an enclosed room and designate a bed for prisoners.
After this action, every bed in the room will turn into a prison bed, so make sure the prison is separate from our colonists’ sleeping quarters. Regarding what to do with prisoners, I advise recruiting ones with high skills and selling or harvesting the rest. Also, slaves and prisoners can cause riots that bring our colony to ruin, so take care to keep our subordinates happy and in line.
Animals are great as an extra food source, tailoring, caravans, or protection. Better yet, breeding animals produce offspring that we can sell to visiting traders for higher prices. Unless we live in an arid environment with no grazing material, I advise taming one male and female individual of a given species for incredible passive gain.
To begin our taming crusade, build an enclosed fence with a fence gate and a fence marker. The larger the fence size, the more animals we can graze at the cost of increased vulnerability to fires and raiders. We can now select a few wild cattle (I recommend cows, muffalo, and horses) and click tamadve for our colonists to domesticate these wild beasts with kibble. Even if our colonists fail to tame these animals, they can always retry the next day for eventual success.
Read also: Comprehensive Rimworld Kibble Guide.
Royalty and Pscycasts
If we purchased the Royalty DLC, we’ll have the option to ally ourselves with Rimworld’s royal empire for psych powers, permit requests, and trade access. These abilities are fantastic for overcoming raids and gaining access to goods and holodisks and can turn our meager colony into a massive base.
To start, we’ll need to gain honor from completing quests for the empire and initiating ceremonies for a particular colony member to gain a title. Be warned that this colonist’s expectation shall drastically rise, leading to larger mood debuffs the greater their title.
Tips we Wish we Knew
While Rimworld makes it abundantly clear how to manage our colonists’ preferred temperature with coolers and heaters, they neglect to explain how to create freezers to store perishables.
Creating a freezer requires an ac unit with a temperature of – 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degrees Celcius in a small enclosed room with the blue arrow pointed inside the intended space. Freezers require a steady power source and having the red arrow pointed outside, so keep that in mind when constructing.
Get Rich Quick
Rimworld neglects to tell you that most profitable ways to get rich are also the most morally dubious. I recommend exploiting these three methods to make mountains of cash at the expense of your moral compass:
- Organ Harvesting – The best way to get rich quick, organ harvesting enables us to turn useless prisoners into valuable livers, lungs, kidneys, and hearts for a massive profit. To begin, we’ll click on a prisoner’s health tab, go to operations and select remove heart/lung/kidney. If we have enough medicine, our best doctor performs a short procedure, gathering the organs and gaining nearly 3000 silver worth in parts to trade. I recommend having a colony full of psychopaths to negate the massive mood debuff from harvesting and employing colonists with high doctor skill.
- Drug Dealing – Much like growing crops, drug dealing requires us to grow a drug crop and then use the product to craft a specific drug at a drug lab. While drug dealing can take time, it is a great way to make money after a long period with no mood debuff. I recommend employing colonists with high plant and crafting skills to expedite the process.
- Animal Products – After months of animal butchering and husbandry, we’ll acquire a surplus of wool and leather. While we can use these ingredients to tailor fine clothes and improve colonists’ mood and protection, this process can take too long with excess supplies. Instead, I advise taking the remaining items and selling them to visiting traders or other outposts. This action frees up space in our stockpile and can easily earn us thousands of silver.
Getting colonists married is an excellent way to make colonists happy with the “got some lovin” buff and save resources with two colonists sharing a bedroom.
While making colonists fall in love is mainly out of our control, we can make colonists prettier through a variety of implants or induce love through the psy power words of love. After becoming lovers, colonists will eventually decide to get married and we’ll have to designate a Marriage spot for the ceremony.
Nutrient Paste Dispensers
Crashlanded colonists start with the nutrient paste dispenser technology unlock. While nutrient-paste meals are less valuable than regular meals, they will never give our colonists food poisoning and help conserve food during the winter. If we can afford the mood debuff and have access to power, I highly recommend placing a nutrient paste dispenser in our food stockpile.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Creating a single stockpile to store all our food, silver, and items is a waste of freezers and a chemfuel disaster waiting to happen. We should work towards separating our stockpiles into freezer-dried perishables to save power and separating non-perishables and chemfuel to prevent an explosive catastrophe.
Some colonists aren’t worth the hassle to feed and sustain. Unless we can satisfy angry colonists or replace the limbs of dismembered colonists, I advise removing these colonists from our society. I especially recommend getting rid of colonists with the pyromaniac trait to prevent a particularly disgruntled colonist from burning our settlement down.
While our crops can survive for a few days after reaching maturity, they’ll eventually start to wither and die out if we wait too long to harvest. I advise having at least one colonist prioritize farming above all else to prevent losing weeks of careful plant growth.
Long Term Goals
If we’ve subscribed to a religious belief, our colonists will eventually demand a spiritual room with holy paraphernalia and art to inspire worship. I recommend designating the colonist with the highest social skill as a priest and giving inspiring speeches occasionally to improve morale and prevent our colonists from having psychotic breaks.
We should aim to automate our energy generation to achieve a reliable energy source for lighting, heating, and production. Ideally, we should utilize geothermal sources and solar power, followed by several batteries to help control power output and prevent power outages.
As the game progresses, we’ll need more elaborate defenses to handle invading raiders, mechanoids, and beasts. Luckily we can invest in powered turrets from the research tab, kill boxes, and outside help.
Take special care to place extra defenses near our stockpiles to prevent raiders from making off with all our silver or a flatscreen tv. Also, equip your colonists with protective gear and weapons to keep them alive!
An excellent source of money and rare materials, caravans are fantastic for trading with other outposts or exploring ruins and mineral outcroppings.
We should work towards establishing regular carvan trade routes to gain access to these rare items and sell our surplus items for a massive profit. We’ll begin by heading to the world map, selecting our colony, and then choosing the form caravan option. Opening this menu displays a list of people, animals, items, and food and supplies we can bring on the journey.
Bringing more people along increases our security, and enlisting animals increases our carry capacity and speed, especially with ridable animals like horses. Beware that the more people we bring, the more supplies we’ll have to load and the more costly the journey. Also, I highly recommend employing a character with the psy skill “far skip” if we want to skip the trip home entirely.
Rimworld has several victory conditions that drastically change how we play the game:
- Defend Starship – The least costly means to escape the Rimworld, we can assist a faraway starship with getting their reactor online and hitching a ride off the planet. Unfortunately, we’ll have to travel a long distance to reach the artic location and survive several raider incursions and curb starvation.
- Build Starship – Instead of catching a ride off the planet, we can build our own spaceship! This method requires an incredible amount of materials, research, and defense so prepare for a challenging endeavor.
- Escape with Stellarch – If we manage to bring a colonist to the rank of Count or Countess, we can host a visiting Stellarch for a few days and then leave with the Stellarch off-world.
- Awaken Archonexus – After gathering all 3 archonexus map pieces through developing and trading our colony, we can activate a device at the planet’s core that gives us unlimited and terrifying power. This ending is by far the most protracted victory to achieve as it requires beating the game three times over with a single set of five colonists.
Question: What’s the Best Way to Make Money in Rimworld?
Answer: Organ harvesting, drug dealing, and animal husbandry are the quickest ways to get rich in Rimworld. Be warned that organ harvesting creates mood debuffs in sentimental colonists, and more prosperous colonies face more extensive dangerous attacks.
Question: How do I Beat Rimworld?
Answer: Building a starship, escaping the planet with a Stellarch, or activating the archonexus triggers the ending of Rimworld. Watching our colony die or getting hit by the meteor (if we enable that feature in the menu) also triggers the ending; however, these are considered fail states.
Question: How do I Make Colonists Happy?
Answer: Providing ample living room, living quarters, decent food, and gregarious friends are all great ways to increase settler happiness. We can also install the joywire implant to force settler happiness at a cost to their efficiency and speed.
Question: How long does Rimworld take?
Answer: While ambitious players can quickly turn a single game into a 30-hour affair, those set on escaping the planet can steadily achieve their goal within 10 hours. Utilizing colonists with high research skill or installing implants that improve the research rate can remarkably quicken the game’s end.
Well done, enterprising colonist! You’ve turned a ragtag group of three into a prospering settlement destined for greatness and a way off this blasted hellhole!
Though we may have committed a few atrocities and war crimes along the way, at least we ended up better equipped and several organs richer. Whether our colony grows into a bastion for humanity or a fortified raider outpost is up to you!
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