Luckily for all involved (brand new people who have never played DF, people like me wanting to get back into it, and even the ever playing hard core DF fans) Dwarf Fortress has gotten significantly easier to get into and play even with little of this help coming from the developers.
Most of this help comes from the Lazy Newb Pack (current thread) which is a all in one stop for easy to use graphical mods, utilities, and game settings. It is a simple GUI program that lets you easily, with the click of a well labelled and explained button, change a few of the more important features of the game; As well as, just as easily, applying some of the most popular graphical packs, launch some of the more popular utilities to run along-side Dwarf Fortress, and of course launch the game it-self.
And in addition to the pack the current thread also has a list of recent video tutorials and lets plays that I found quite useful in reacquainting myself with the world of Dwarf Fortress.
Dwarf Fortress Video Tutorials and Lets Plays:
Feature Length tutorial by captnduck (2.5hr!) [0.31.21+]
Video Tutorial of the Lazy Newb Pack by Djrodw [0.31.21+]
Djrodw's Dwarf Fortress Lets Play [0.31.19]
51ppycup's Video Tutorial [0.31.12]
Cptnduck's Video Tutorials [0.31.03]
quill18's Let's Play DF [0.31.0?]
And now for a personal update on my current DF endeavours:
I never got a working military when I used to play DF, so this time I am planning out exactly how my defence and military will work.
T. is the archery tower, with both the main level and the level above that (top right) being shown. The basic idea here is that the ground level will eventually be used for 3 staggered billitsas with the upper level(s) housing the archers with a 1 tile thick passage to keep them pressed up against the fortifications and the ammo behind a door and some walls to protect them when reloading.
Sorry about the picture, at least Firefox does not seem to re-size it well but if you DL it and open it in anything (even Windows Photo Viewer) it should be very crisp when you resize(zoom) it to a readable size.