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This article is about an older version of DF.
"Migration" redirects here. This article is about people migrating into your fortress, for the opposite see emigration.
Immigrants from the Colonial Era.

Immigration is the process of people from another site of your home civilization moving into your fortress. As the fortress prospers, migrants will be attracted in larger numbers, these will arrive in groups once per season. In the early seasons after establishing the outpost, a smaller migrant group of 2-10 arrives, followed by a large group in the low double digits in the second spring one year after embark. A notification will be received upon arrival, the migrant group will spawn at the edge of the map and proceed to march into your fortress and to the nearest meeting hall.

Migrants come from all walks of life; from historical figures and skilled craftsdwarves, to unwashed refugees fleeing the horrors of the land. Each group will often include such things as children and domestic animals, including both pets and stray livestock - be prepared with adequate food, drink, and beds, among other things.

The player can also initiate immigration by requesting workers from their holdings, and by accepting petitions for residency from visitors from nearby civilizations. Note that the migrant population must be managed carefully, as if it's too low, there might not be enough people available to maintain the fortress and its defenses, and if it's too high, the fortress may not be able to support your population, leaving them to the mercy of hunger, marauding raiders, and worse. However, migration waves are generally a good thing — if you're prepared for them.

Skills and labor preferences[edit]

Each migrant can arrive with a wide collection of often unrelated skills, far greater than possible with one of the starting 7 dwarves, and experience levels as high as Legendary. Any and all skills might be represented, including obscure military skills (like blowgunner), high levels of one or more social skills, crutch walker, concentration and others - it's even possible to have dwarves with skills that may not be obtainable in fortress mode, like tracking or pikedwarf. However, Immigrant skills are influenced by your fortress' needs — migrants with skills your fortress uses a lot, or that your fortress doesn't have at all, are more likely to show up at your gates. Important skills (mining, food production, and basic crafting, according to Toady) are weighed more heavily than other skills.Source  · MP3

Migrants may also arrive with equipment matching their skills; for example, a miner migrant may bring a pick with them. Migrants may arrive with all labors except hauling, cleaning, recovering wounded, and caring for wounded disabled, depending on the settings one has entered into d_init.txt.

Some immigrants are historical figures. These immigrants come to your fortress with skills representing their history, or wounds that they have suffered during world generation. They may even be vampires or werebeasts.

Limiting/preventing immigration[edit]

In v0.40.05 and above, the d_init.txt POPULATION_CAP setting immediately prevents further immigration once the desired number is achieved, bypassing the two hardcoded migrant waves. There is also a STRICT_POPULATION_CAP setting, which prevents both immigration and babies when reached (although both can be violated by a few special cases, such as the arrival of a monarch). Keep in mind that your population must be at least 80 to get a king and 100 to obtain the current game features.

The number of migrants depends on the created wealth of your fortress and so is affected by your dwarves' activities. Note that if your fortress should ever become a mountainhome, you will receive an additional migration wave with the promotion, regardless of your population cap. The number of migrants is affected by how far below the population cap your fortress is. If your fortress is one dwarf short of the cap, you will receive a single migrant (if any). Also note that population cap will not remove dwarves from an existing fortress but will prevent new ones from immigrating or being born.

It is worth noting that you need a certain minimum population size before any of your dwarves will experience strange moods. Additionally, POPULATION_CAP affects only migration,and has no effect on pregnancies - you will need to alter STRICT_POPULATION_CAP, in order to limit births.

To reiterate, the population cap is a (mostly) hard limit on the number of dwarves in your fortress. If you want a fortress with 50 dwarves, simply set the POPULATION_CAP and STRICT_POPULATION_CAP to 50.

Immigration mechanics[edit]

The date on which immigrants appear in a season seems to be fixed at the start of that season, but the number of immigrants and their skills are determined when the migrant wave arrives. There is never a migration in the first winter - literally not even a The fortress attracted no migrants this season message.

Migrant skill levels seem to depend on the size of the home civilization; a difference will be noticed if you picked a dwarven civilization that was not well-established (few towns or none) compared to a well-established one.

The two hardcoded waves may not show up for a while if the fort doesn't start on the 15th day of Granite. Note that there may be various reasons for a hardcoded migrant wave to not show up at all, such as if it was blocked by a siege, or if it is not the first fort in the world.[1]

In rare cases, your civilization may undergo a civil war. If this is the case, no immigrants will join your fort after the two hardcoded waves.

Migrant wave sizes[edit]

The first two migrant waves have a minimum size of 1, if a wave member has a relative in your group already, and a maximum size of 10. The size of these waves are unaffected by fortress wealth, danger, or even the extinction of their home civilization. Note that there may be various reasons for a hardcoded migrant wave to not show up, like if it was blocked by a siege or if it is not the first fort in the world.[1] The third migrant wave and on are influenced by the created wealth of the fortress, with more wealth attracting more immigrants (more research is needed to determine specifics) - specifically, influenced by the fortress wealth as reported by the last outgoing dwarven caravan. Wealth created after the caravan leaves has no influence until the next year's caravan leaves. If the caravan fails to make it out then the fortress' wealth is not reported. If the dwarven liason makes it out, but the caravan doesn't, the liaison does not report on fortress wealth.

Imported wealth, caravan sales figures, absolute caravan profit and caravan profit margin either have no effect on migration numbers, or only have an effect by applying a percent modification to the numbers driven by created wealth. If a fortress manages to trade (not offer) away 100% of its created wealth, then no immigrants will come the next season. More research is needed to determine if the aforementioned statistics have any influence on migration numbers.

One factor which is known to affect migrant wave size is the total size of your fortress's units list (all 4 categories), which consists of dwarves, invaders, merchants, and animals which either died or currently live at your fortress. As this number increases, the maximum size of migrant waves will be reduced: starting at a local population of 1000, migrant wave sizes are limited to 10, and at subsequent levels of 1300, 1600, 1800, 2000, 2200, 2400, 2600, 2800, and 2900, the limit is decreased by 1, and once you reach a local population of 3000 you will cease to get migrants at all.

The DFHack command fix/dead-units can clear uninteresting (unnamed) dead units from the units list and allow migrants to arrive again, if this is what is keeping them away.

The maximum wave size reported to date is 77 archive

Fortress Failure Migration[edit]

If a fortress is abandoned during unhappy, stark raving mad times, the citizens can migrate to your new fortress still stark raving mad (berserk possibly, further looking into required). Likewise, if your fortress happened to have any husks around when it was abandoned, some of them may also migrate to your new fortress.

Deterring migrants[edit]

A different message for migrant arrivals will be triggered depending on your fortress' dangerousness. That number isn't actually a death count, but some sort of composite "fear" value determined by adding up a bunch of sources and dividing them by various amounts. It is not sure exactly what those sources are, but at least one of them is a death count. 0-9 is normal, 10+ is "danger" or "dangerous", and 50+ is "cursed death trap" or "tomb".

Several immigration messages are possible:

Message Circumstances
A migrant has arrived. This occurs when only one migrant comes.
Some migrants have arrived. This is the normal message.
Some migrants have arrived, despite the danger. This occurs if there are many deaths but not enough to stop immigration.
Migrants were too nervous to make the journey this season. No migrants.
Some migrants have decided to brave this terrifying place, knowing it may be their tomb. Can occur despite no dwarves or pets ever dying.
Migrants refused to journey to such a dangerous fortress this season Very large numbers of deaths at a fortress can cause all immigration (except nobles) to cease for a while. Killing nobles seems to have a magnified effect here, and killing even a single noble can cause no immigrants to arrive in the next season.
No one even considered making the journey to such a cursed death-trap this season. Like above, but even worse - so many dwarves have died at your fortress (whether due to invasions, hidden fun stuff, or death-traps gone horribly wrong) that nobody wants to come anywhere near your fortress.

Expelling migrants[edit]

Undesirable migrants can be targeted for "emigration" from their individual preferences screen. To do this: Select the dwarf through the citizen list, view their Preferences, and press e to Expel. You will be prompted to confirm, and they will leave the fortress.

Adventure mode[edit]

In certain locations in adventure mode, you may come across a Migrating Group - for instance, near any recently abandoned fortress; choosing to travel to the group will allow you to talk to the members of the former fortress as they travel back to dwarven civilization.


Some migrants will be incorrectly listed as babies or children, when they are not in the expected age range for those categories. This will automatically fix itself when they have their next birthday. [Verify]

If your fortress does not have a meeting hall, you might have a situation where a single migrant can't find the fort and just stands at the edge of the map, not moving at all. You may notice that, even if more migrants are part of the wave, they cannot enter the map (and do not show up on the units screen) until this migrant moves out of the square, as all migrants in a single wave must enter the map through this square.

The Migrant Tier List[edit]

D4Dwarf.png This article or section has been rated D for Dwarf. It may include witty humour, not-so-witty humour, bad humour, in-jokes, pop culture references, and references to the Bay12 forums. Don't believe everything you read, and if you miss some of the references, don't worry. It was inevitable.

When a migrant wave arrives, players should stop what they are doing and check the migrants' skills to see what they may offer to their fortress.

Here, migrants are sorted into tiers, roughly ordered by usefulness to a mid-to-high-level fort. Do note that even F-tier migrants can be useful if a player decides to make them so, and of course, any migrant can find employment as a hauler or a soldier, or may train useful skills over time.

"Valuable" skills can be sorted into three categories - those that produce better-quality items, those that perform tasks faster or more efficiently, and those that simply cannot be done unskilled, such as medical tasks. Remember that, when the dust clears, the most valuable skill a dwarf can have is the one that your fortress needs the most.

Valued Migrants (A)[edit]

Some skills are central to most fortresses, either by improving the quality of critical items or by providing irreplaceable services. These migrants can improve a fort simply by showing up. Also known as "can I give them a mood, please?".

  • Armorsmiths: Perhaps even more useful than weaponsmiths.
  • Soldiers: Who doesn't need extra meat shields dwarfpower? If you don't have any soldiers yet, you can form a militia, and if your militia is already well-developed, they can act as reservists, in case something Fun happens to the militia.
  • Growers: Skilled growers can improve farm efficiency exponentially, as one skilled grower can easily outperform more than a dozen unskilled laborers (see the article for more information), freeing them for other tasks. A true force multiplier.
  • Cooks: Will quickly boost your fortress's value, and dwarves just adore fine meals, keeping up morale.

Good Migrants (B)[edit]

Put these dwarves to work, they have much to contribute. Also known as "stalwarts of the fort".

  • Miners: Always helpful, unless your fortress is very well developed - a high mining skill can also be useful in combat.
  • Masons: Most fortresses can't afford to make every piece of furniture out of metal or wood - stone is the traditional dwarven option, though it is a bit lacking in value as a material.
  • Engravers: Engraving isn't usually needed in a new fort, but is a huge boost in value and good thoughts in a mature one. A good engraver can smooth and detail a large room in minutes, shooting its quality sky-high, while a novice might take hours. Novice engravers also can take quite a while to train.
  • Brewers: Should be obvious. Alcohol doesn't have a quality level, but the increase in production speed skilled brewers provide is never unwelcome.
  • Healthcare: Skilled medical dwarves are irreplaceable for trying to save that one beloved soldier.
  • Furnace operators: While bars do not have quality levels, highly skilled furnace operators are essential for producing enough metal for your metal industry.
  • Wood burners: Similarly, unless your map has coal or you zipline the 100+ z-levels to magma, your furnaces are going to need a lot of charcoal.

Niche Migrants (C)[edit]

These migrants can be useful, but usually only in very specific cases, or for only a few tasks - if your fortress is focusing in that area, they fit in the above category, but if not, then they are just as valuable as peasants (see next category). Also known as "it ain't much, but it's honest work".

  • Blacksmiths: These dwarves make metal (not just iron) furniture and other large products, including valuable metal statues, which can boost the value of rooms and improve morale-how else are you going to immortalize your militia's valiant battle against that ferocious forest titan?
  • Weavers, Clothiers: the textile industry is needed to supply your fort with thread, cloth and clothes, producing essential bags and ropes, materials for bandages and suturing, and preventing bad thoughts from dwarves whose clothes rot off their bodies (and cannot be reliably replaced with what the caravans bring).
  • Glassmakers, Potters, and Glazers: You've either got sand/clay (and care about it), or you don't. Glassmakers can produce a wide variety of products, such as crafts, furniture, large weapons for traps and screw pumps, out of glass, and these products are often worth much more than their stone/wood counterparts. Potters are less versatile, but can also make valuable products for a decently low manufacturing price. Glazers complement potters, and are needed to make their pots airtight and waterproof, allowing for liquid storage, and a good glaze job can add a lot of value to a product. Note that glassmakers and potters require sand or clay (respectively), and in large quantities to be truly effective, but these resources are basically infinite on embarks that contain them.
  • Gem cutters and Gem setters: They just don't produce as much value as you'd expect, unless the gem cutter is of a high enough skill level. Training gem cutters so they don't waste your rough valuable gems with poor cuts is also quite tedious. Even then, gems are only useful for moods, decorations, or as a trade good. As for gem setters, encrusting is notoriously finicky, since the item to be decorated cannot be specified. So your gem setter will probably end up slapping your Masterwork cabochon cut diamonds on a barrel, or something.
  • Herbalists: Herbology can be a great way to kick-start an above-ground farm, or at least keep your food and booze supply nice and varied. Even dwarves can get sick of drinking the same old mushroom wine.
  • Beekeepers, Wax workers, and Pressers: Beekeeping is interesting, but it isn't possible in biomes that lack honey bees (and note that bumblebees cannot bee domesticated). If you do get a beekeeping business going, wax workers and pressers become viable as well, since they use the products of beekeeping in their labors; otherwise, they're basically useless.
  • Hunters: They usually come with a good marksdwarf skill, but immediately go hunting as soon as they're able to, causing possible fun. They can be useful if handled properly, and are definitely entertaining to watch, but it may be advantageous to just rely on your military for hunting game, since squads can be controlled more finely than hunters, and are probably less likely to get themselves injured in the process.
  • Siege engineers and Siege operators: Would be useful, but siege engines are currently bugged, dealing much less damage than you'd expect, and they're often extremely dangerous to your own citizens when they do work as intended.
  • Dyers: Skilled Dyers can add extra value to dyed cloth, as it does have a quality level, but unless your fort is dependent on its textile industry, when was the last time you dyed cloth?
  • Butchers, Tanners, Gelders, Animal trainers: While these labors can be pivotal to a fort's usage of animals, you really won't need more than one of these dwarves unless your meat industry is truly booming, and very often one dwarf can cover multiple of these jobs.
  • Bookbinders, Papermakers: It's often much easier just to obtain codexes and paper from the caravan and migrants instead of producing them yourself, since that industry takes a while to setup, while producing limited benefits.
  • Strand extractors: Skilled strand extractors are quick, and unskilled strand extraction is agonizingly slow. They're only useful after raw adamantine has been discovered and mined, and the strands do not have quality levels.

Useless Migrants (F)[edit]

Yes, "F" - they're that bad. Also known as either "free military conscripts" or "can I toss them in the volcano now, please?", depending.

  • Peasants are not entirely useless, they're more like blank slates. Peasants can be trained in a moodable skill to control the artifacts your fortress will produce, and they make perfectly good haulers or military trainees, if you just ignore those pointless peasantish skills.
  • Bowyers: Bowyers make crossbows out of wood and bone... that's all. Weaponsmiths can do everything bowyers can do, except better, because heavier metallic crossbows are superior as blunt weapons in close-quarters.
  • Trappers: These dwarves make animal traps, not cages, which can only be used to trap vermin, not large creatures. You're better off relying on cats instead if vermin are threatening your stockpiles. These migrants often also have the marksdwarf or animal trainer skill, so their true value may lie elsewhere, unless you are seeking to trap vermin for a pet.
  • Administrators: By the time migrant waves start arriving, you should already have these positions covered and filled; there is very little advantage to having more than one dwarf with these skills. (The sole exception may be a new lead dwarf without any "item" preferences, so they issue no mandates, to replace a less-appropriate/desirable leader, if you are lucky enough to find the right skill set.) Also see unfortunate accident.
  • Animal caretakers: Bugged at the moment, and may become more useful when the bug is fixed.
  • Children: Cannot perform any labors. At least you'll have a peasant...in about 12 years.


  • Pilgrims, Peddlers, Prophets, Poets, Monks, Criminals, and others: These individuals are agents from your home civilization under a false identity due to a recently-patched bug, and are usually completely benign. Determining their usefulness may require closer inspection of their skills, and killing them will reveal who they truly are.
  • Monarchs and their entourages: Serving as a major endgame goal, inviting these members of dwarven society comes with its own requirements and caveats, requiring a large amount of investment, labor, and time. The player can choose to never pursue this goal if they wish.