How To Start A Colony


Rimworld is full of dangers, and getting your colony to a spot where things are comfortable takes a while. There will always be many plates to juggle managing your pawn’s emotions, keeping them fed, sheltering them from the elements, and keeping your colonists alive and your colony protected. The many hazards and challenges make up your story, and failure is a common occurrence in any good story.

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You will have to start a colony over and over again, learning from each failure and the many wacky scenarios you may face. You will always have to start somewhere, so setting things up is important for surviving until the mid-game. The early game is when the colony is at its most vulnerable, so starting strong can make or break your colony. The first choices you make will take place before you even touch down on the planet’s surface. Firstly you will choose a landing spot and then the pawns you will be taking with you to start with.


Landing Site

Firstly, you will choose your starting scenario, which will determine your starting technology, starting gear, and how many pawns you will start with. Next, choose a storyteller who controls your story with their various behaviors and quirks — like Cassandra for a scaling challenge and Randy for complete chaos. Next, you generate a world and its factions, and finally, you need to choose a spot to land. Each hex on the map is a spot you can land, but there are some things to consider first to give yourself a chance — you wouldn’t want to land on an ice sheet where nothing alive can exist.

When it comes to good landing spots, there are a few things that are essential to have. A temperate forest with a long growing season is ideal for having good weather and enough trees to keep wood supplies full. Large hills or mountains are helpful for having a lot of stuff to mine, as well as the natural defenses mountains and hills can provide choke points to build walls around. Rivers are a nice thing to have for water power and the natural barrier, but they are less important than having hills for stone and other natural resources.

Choosing Your Colonists

Choosing Colonist at the start

Before starting any colony in any of the scenarios, you will have to roll out the stats and traits of each of the chosen crash survivors. Ensuring you have pawns that excel at the tasks required to get a colony going can make the early game a lot easier. Additionally, you’ll want to keep a close eye on the traits your pawns have, as they determine the personality, usefulness, and specific needs your pawn may have. There are some really strong traits to keep an eye out for, but there are some that can really make life difficult. Here are some of the best traits for your pawns, so be on the lookout.

A few things to avoid in starting pawns that will make getting started difficult: Anyone incapable of anything is inconvenient when you need everyone working hard to get things up and running, especially early on. Incapable of dumb labor and violence are some of the worst to start with, so avoid these things when starting off. These are the skills that are the most valuable while getting started, so prioritize these stats when looking for your starting pawns:

  • Plants: The Plant skill is essential to early game crops and can greatly speed up wood harvesting as well as botching crop harvesting. Additionally, you can even plant medicine at level 8 to give yourself a steady supply if your colony fights a lot and needs healing often.
  • Construction: Construction is great for building complicated structures as well as causing fewer botched jobs, which wastes resources.
  • A defensive skill like Shooting or Melee: Having a good attack skill on someone can save you a lot of hassle of having pawns get injured because they miss shots or have to fight in melee. Shooting is better than melee since being a crack shot can often mean killing invaders without getting injured. Melee is strong, but it’s hard to walk out unscathed once in melee combat, which keeps your colonists bedridden instead of working.
  • Intellect: Intellect is nice to have early, as it saves you from having to wait for someone with it to come along before you can get your tech up, but it is another skill that gets trained easily after doing it long enough.
  • Cooking: Creating meals is very important since you will constantly be at battle with having enough food to eat, and people getting sick from food poisoning can really hit a colony hard. It saves a lot of early-game headaches to have someone who won’t create poison and feed it to everyone.

Setting Up

Landing at first in Rimworld

Immediately when you land, pause the game and click on the fertility viewer in the bottom right. This will reveal fertile soil in dark green. Ideally, when looking for a spot to build the colony, the things you want are space to build, fertile soil for crops, natural choke points to make defending easier, steam geysers for geothermal power, which is a very strong power source, or a river if applicable for watermill power and the natural barrier they provide.

Depending on how far away the spot you choose to set up is from where you landed will determine how long it takes for the pawns to haul all the starting goodies to the new spot. Once you decide where to place a zone for resources and a dump zone out of the way to haul bodies. Pawns will start bringing the resources over as soon as you allow them to, and from there, it’s time to plan out the skeleton of your colony. The first day will be all about setup, so if you don’t get them sleeping in a room with a bed on the first night, it’s no big deal. It’s not a bad idea to build a room for them all to share as well as a research bench, so you have those things online while you focus on food set up. Beds and research can be moved once you build a better spot.

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Crop set up in Rimworld

After gathering all the resources you started with closer to the spot you want to set up, it’s time to start creating some structures to work in. First and foremost, you want to get your food situation going before you eat through all your starting survival rations. Plant food crops on fertile soil if you don’t have a lot to spare — the best one to start with is rice since it grows the fastest. Depending on how much soil you have, plant corn as well.

Corn grows slowly, but it has huge yields that will keep you fed for a while once it is complete. It is also smart to get cotton going eventually, but it is less of a priority than food. Same with heal root, but that requires a plant skill of 8, so while you work on that, just harvest from the surroundings whenever you can. If you need some power, a windmill can be built near crops since they don’t block the wind and keep trees from growing there.


Kitchen set up in Rimworld

You are going to also need a spot to build a butcher table to harvest the meat from animals you hunt. Pawns prefer eating at a table and want the room to look nice for them to eat there. You’re going to want a freezer to store food, but that doesn’t really need to be online until you have meat since that spoils pretty fast if it isn’t frozen. The optimal location for a freezer/kitchen setup is a spot near the crops, so they don’t have to haul it that far when it’s harvesting time. You also want to separate the butcher animal room from the room food is cooked in for cleanliness reasons. It’s no big deal to put the cooking spot in the same room people eat in, however. Think of the dining room as a partial recreation room.


Storage house in Rimworld

Raw resources like wood and steel do not need to be stored since they don’t deteriorate, but it is still nice to have a spot where everything is stored to make building things go faster. Some other important resources need to be stored since some of the good starting loot, like medicine and components, can deteriorate if you wait too long to put it in a safe spot. It doesn’t need to be floored, but it needs to be roofed to prevent deterioration.

The size should be bigger than you think you need, but it doesn’t need to be huge. The same size or larger than the freezer works well enough. Ideally, the spot your resources are stored is central in your base since pawns will have to go back and forth from there to the building site to grab resources as well as haul the things they mine or wood they chop back to it.


Researching in Rimworld

Technology is important to get started early so that you can progress and get important things for your colonists such as smithing, batteries, as well as other means to generate power like geothermal or water wheels — having some nearby helps a lot with power once it is researched. Additionally, water power is steady and easy to use if you are starting by a river. For the early game, the research bench can just go into the kitchen to save space and resources.


Housing in Rimworld set up

No matter how many colonists you have, you’re going to want them sleeping inside, safe from hard and the elements. Everyone ideally wants their own space, but lovers can share, assuming their ideology allows it. The type of room can vary greatly depending on traits, but a standard room will need space for temp control and decor to make it look nice to keep them extra happy once you have the resources to spare. When your colonists wake up, the first thing they will usually do is eat, so a place near where food is stored works best. Building houses in an open area that can fit more rooms should your colony grow is also a good idea.

Hospital And Prison

Prison and Hospital set up

You’re also going to want a hospital for wounded pawns to rest off their wounds. Medical beds are nice for when you just want a pawn to rest off their illness or injuries, as they can heal faster if they aren’t working. It is good to have this set up before you need it rather than in an emergency. Make sure it has temperature control since pawns who are wounded will just sit in that room the whole time, so if it’s too hot or too cold, they could snap from sitting in it while in pain or even die.

Lastly, a place for prisoners to be held. The more common form of colony growth is nursing wounded pawns who attack you or, from random events, back to health and recruiting them. Regardless of if you’re doing that or arresting pawns that pass through, you will need a place to hold them while you convince them to join you. It doesn’t have to be friendly, spacious, or even well lit but keep in mind the nicer it is, the faster they will be convinced to join your side, so if you lack pawns with the social skill, which can sweeten the deal for them a bit. Make sure there is room for multiple prisoners as well as a medical bed for them should they get sick.

Animal Pen

Animal Pen in RImworld

The last thing you will need is a pen for your tamed animals. This is not a super high priority, but you will most likely need one eventually, so it is good to have something set up so tamed animals don’t leave the map. You can also buy some from traders, so It’s nice to have a pen to put them in should that happen. It needs to be a fenced-up spot that has a gate to enter from and a pen marker which can be located in the Misc tab of the building. The pen marker can be used to organize which animals are allowed in which pen but early on, that won’t matter. It just marks that space as a pen, so your colonists will be able to bring animals there.

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