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All creatures in Dwarf Fortress have a speed attribute which determines how quickly they move and perform other actions. The game utilizes two different speed values: raw speed (which is the value put into the creature's definition file) and displayed speed (which is the "Speed" value displayed in Adventurer Mode).
Raw speed is the figure used by the game to determine a creature's movement under different conditions (encumbered, agile, lying down, exhausted, etc.), although displayed speed represents how often a creature actually moves in-game.
How speed works
Creatures have to wait x turns before performing another action, where x is Raw Speed/100. If x has a fractional portion, that fractional portion will randomly determine whether an additional turn is required. For instance, a creature with a raw speed of 725 will have to wait 7 turns between actions, with a 25% chance of an additional turn of waiting (8 total).
So, for raw speeds, the lower the number, the faster the creature.
The action itself takes one turn to perform, which is why displayed speed is more representative of in-game movement. A creature with a raw speed of 900 will take one turn to perform an action, then wait 9 turns before performing another action, and can thus perform one action every 10 turns. It is not known if different actions take more than one turn to perform, although each square of movement is known to take one turn.
Displayed speed is equal to 1,000,000/(Raw Speed+100). A creature can move one square every 10,000/Displayed Speed turns, or (Raw Speed/100)+1 turns. Therefore, a creature with a raw speed of 900 will have a displayed speed of 1000, and move every 10 turns. A creature with a raw speed of 400 will have a displayed speed of 2000, and move every 5 turns. This means a raw speed of 400 (not 450) is twice as fast as 900, at least in terms of movement.
For displayed speed, the higher the number, the faster the creature.
Tasks other than movement (such as mining or performing workshop tasks) are also known to be affected by a creature's speed. It appears (through testing by constructing roads) that movement Speed does not impact the speed with which tasks are completed once begun (except inasmuch as tasks which require dwarves to negotiate long distances, possibly with heavy loads, will be shortened by reducing time spent in transit.)
Influences on speed
The default raw speed for all creatures is 900. Each level of agility will reduce a creature's raw speed by 10%.
Dwarves and human have the default raw speed:
|Attribute||Raw Speed||Displayed Speed|
Elves have a raw speed of 700:
|Attribute||Raw Speed||Displayed Speed|
Several creature states have an influence on speed, such as being prone (lying down), sneaking, being stunned, or being over-exerted, thirsty, hungry, or sleepy. The speed penalty for being in each of these states is modified by the creature's agility, making agility's influence on creature speed doubly important.
- Prone refers to a creature "on the ground", either lying down or knocked down.
- Sneaking is a creature utilizing the Ambusher skill.
- Stunned is usually caused by getting "charged" by another creature (can also be the aftereffect of a cave spider or giant cave spider bite). It can also happen to injured creatures while moving.
- Over-exerted is caused by taking too many combat actions in a short period of time; it is the more severe form of "Tired". Creatures which are over-exerted will usually fall to the ground, unable to stand again. An over-exerted creature which continues to fight will eventually go unconscious for a few turns.
- Starving is due to lack of food. It is the more severe form of "Hungry".
- Dehydrated is due to lack of drink. It is the more severe form of "Thirsty".
- Very Drowsy is due to lack of sleep. It is the more severe form of "Drowsy", and should not be confused with "Tired", which is caused by over-exertion.
The speed penalty for each state is cumulative. For instance, a prone, sneaking dwarf (raw speed 900) will have a modified raw speed of 4900 (displayed speed 200). An Extremely Agile elf (raw speed 490) who is prone, stunned, and thirsty will have a modified speed of 2660 and a displayed speed of 362.
The speed penalty for "sneaking" is additionally modified by a creature's Ambusher skill. Each level of Ambusher skill reduces the movement penalty listed above (1000-2000) by 5%. For instance, a base-agility Novice Ambusher will have a movement penalty of 1900 when sneaking; an Agile, Competent Ambusher, 1530 (85% of 1800); and a Perfectly Agile, Legendary Ambusher, 250 (25% of 1000). One additional note to mention is that, similar to some Fortress mode skills, Ambusher skill effects actually top out at Legendary+5, whereby all of the speed penalty from sneaking is nullified allowing you to sneak as fast as you can normally walk.
Each level of thirst, hunger, drowsiness, or exhaustion (and possibly stun as well) also appears to reduce all skills by one or more levels. This can reduce your sneaking skill (and consequently, sneaking speed), or more catastrophically, your Armor user skill (which can cause you to suddenly be extremely encumbered).
Melancholy appears to make creatures extremely slow, adding a penalty of approximately 8000 to raw speed.
At Dabbling and Novice skill, creatures swim at a speed defined via the [SWIM_SPEED] tag in their definitions and are modified accordingly by one's agility. Each level of the Swimming skill beyond Novice reduces one's raw speed by 5%, stopping at Legendary. For example, a Very Agile Human would swim at speed 2000 at Novice level, 1600 at Proficient level, 1000 at Great level, and finally 600 at Legendary level. As a result, a Legendary swimmer can generally move more quickly in water than on land.
If a creature carries one weight unit (Γ) more than the above listed figures, it will be encumbered. The speed penalty for encumbrance is +0.6 to raw speed for the first increment of encumbrance and +0.5 for each subsequent increment. For instance, a dwarf carrying 2010Γ total will have a raw speed of 906 (displayed speed 994); carrying 2020, speed will be 911 (displayed 989); 2030, speed 916 (displayed 984), etc.
The Armor user skill reduces the effective weight of items that are worn but not including any items inside a worn object (like the items carried in a backpack). It has no effect at Novice level, but at <nolabel> level, it decreases the weight of worn items by 3/16ths. Each additional level of skill decreases the weight of items by another 1/16th, up to a maximum of 16/16ths if a creature is a legendary armor user.