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This article is about an older version of DF.

(This article also covers bolts, arrows and quivers for completeness' sake.)

Crossbows are the only ranged weapon that dwarves can carry. A dwarf will open fire at a range of about 20 tiles, but the bolts may travel further and hit something by accident.

A bolt does a fine job at piercing the internal organs of a creature while also doing some damage to outside parts. This is of limited use against creatures without organs, such as magma men or undead, but excellent against creatures with more "normal" internal anatomy. Occasionally a bolt will get stuck in a target; the only known use for this is that a wrestling dwarf may grab the bolt and twist it in the wound.

Crossbow usage[edit]

Once you tell a dwarf to use a crossbow (either from the military/weapons sub-menu, or by viewing the dwarf and accessing the soldiering sub-menu), he will pick it up if he has either the Hunting labor enabled or if he is in the military. He will then pick up a quiver and bolts, preferring metal bolts if available. A dwarf can carry one stack of bolts in his hands, and one in his quiver.

When in range dwarves use crossbows to fire bolts. If they are engaged in melee they will use the crossbow as a club, using their hammerdwarf skill.

Dwarves often do not return to base and pick up more bolts if they run out if there are enemies nearby; instead, they will enter melee.

Construction and quality[edit]

Crossbows can be constructed from wood, bone or metal. Wooden and bone crossbows are created at a bowyer's workshop and metal ones at a metalsmith's forge, both using the crossbow-making labor and bowyer skill.

The quality of a crossbow is added to the marksdwarf and hammerdwarf skills. The material used in construction of a crossbow does not affect the damage done when firing, but does affect the damage done when it is used as a melee weapon.

Using masterpiece ammunition will not result in a bad thought for the maker, whether or not it breaks, nor will trading it away. However, losing even one masterpiece bolt out of an original stack of 25 will. If a single masterwork bolt left outside is stolen, or if a wounded enemy escapes with a masterpiece bolt stuck in them, the maker will receive an extremely bad thought and will almost certainly begin to tantrum. For this reason it may be wise to, as policy, just trade them away.

Related information[edit]

Off-Hand Items[edit]

According to this forum discussion, marksdwarves are able to wield their crossbows one-handed, and so can use another item in their second hand. If they use a buckler, they may carry it plus an extra set of bolts in the off hand; if they use a shield, they still suffer no penalty to the crossbow usage but cannot carry the extra set of bolts.


Bolts are used by crossbows and crossbow traps. Making bolts from wood or metal gives a stack of 25 bolts, making them from adamantine gives a stack of only 10, and making them from a stack of bones gives a stack of {5 x number of bones}.

Metal bolts are created at the metalsmith's forge and require the metalsmithing labor enabled. Wood and bone bolts are created at the craftsdwarf's workshop and require craftsworking. Higher levels of skill will tend to produce higher quality bolts. The material and quality[Verify] of the bolts (not the crossbow) affects the amount of damage done.

In adventurer mode, bolts can also be thrown for about the same results as firing them, except that it uses the thrower skill and doesn't destroy the bolts.


A Quiver is an item used to store bolts or arrows. It is worn on the body, like a backpack.

Quivers are made of leather at a leatherworks. Dwarves equipped with a crossbow will automatically wear quivers if they are available, and carry a stack of bolts in it. This allows a dwarf to carry one extra stack of bolts, typically bone or wood training bolts in the hand, and metal ones in the quiver.

Invaders, merchants, and migrants often have silk and cloth quivers, even though you can't make them yourself.

In adventurer mode, a quiver can hold any number of arrows and bolts.

See also[edit]