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Bones can be found inside of most living creatures. They can be obtained in several ways:
- Fishing - caught and cleaned fish will leave behind bones when eaten.
- Hunting - animal corpses can be processed at a butcher's shop to yield a stack of bones equal to the creature's size.
- Slaughtering livestock - Much like hunting, but using tame animals, and having the advantage that slaughtering an animal is performed instantly regardless of butcher skill.
- Rotting - any creature remains will leave bones behind once they rot. This is the optimal way to deal with invaders.
If a dwarf dies in your fortress and the body is taken to a graveyard, it will eventually rot and leave bones behind. However, your remaining dwarves will not use these bones for crafts, out of respect for the dead.
Bones are placed in refuse stockpiles. All refuse outside is destroyed at the start of every season, so if you want to use the bones, be sure to keep them in indoor stockpiles.
Bones are processed at the craftsdwarf's workshop and bowyer's workshop, and can be used to make:
- Bone crafts, which can be sold. Bone crafts have a value dependent on their quality and the creature they came from. Troll and elephant bones are more valuable than goblin or raccoon bones, for example, and dragon bones are extremely valuable.
- Bone armor. Bone armor is not particularly protective, but is very light and easy to make early. High quality armor is more protective, and masterwork bone armor is as protective as basic quality iron armor.
- Bone decorations. Any decoratable item can be decorated with bone, which adds to the item's value. No item can have more than one decoration of a certain kind of bone, but can have multiple decorations if the bones come from different kinds of creatures. A totem counts against the bone types for this, so a deer skull totem can not be decorated with deer bone.
- Bone bolts. These bolts are fired from crossbows. They are not valuable, so marksdwarves will use them for practice, as opposed to metal bolts. Each bone in the stack will produce 5 bolts.
- Bone crossbows. While they do much less damage in melee than crossbows of better materials, they are very easy to make and great for marksdwarf practice.
Large stacks of bones are best used for making bolts, as all other tasks will produce the same number of goods regardless of stack size. Actually enforcing this may be difficult, though.
The quality of all bone items created depends on the bone carving skill of the dwarf who creates them, with the exception of crossbows, which requires crossbow-making.
Bone is not a building material.
Creatures with the [BONECARN] tag in the creature file, like wolves, can be tamed by feeding them bones rather than other types of food.[Verify]