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This article is about the current version of DF.
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Dwarf armor preview.png

Armor is protective equipment used to reduce or deflect damage during combat. It comes in a variety of individual pieces that work together to cover a dwarf - there is no "suit of armor" in the sense of a single piece of equipment. Each armor piece protects a certain area or areas of a dwarf, and different pieces might cover a different collection of areas (see coverage chart below). The purpose of each piece is pretty much self-explanatory.

Loosely speaking, anything worn provides some protection, so it is considered "armor". In the stocks menu k, each piece of armor is listed under the location where it is worn - "armor" being with other torso pieces, headwear, handwear, legwear, and footwear. However, this page will concentrate mostly just on combat-quality armor. Note that breastplates only protect upper/lower torso areas, while mail shirts also cover the neck, the upper arms, and the upper legs. (All this is explained below in more detail.)

Though many creatures, including non-humanoids, can wear all kinds of armor, it is only dwarves, humans, elves, kobolds and goblins that will visually appear wearing different articles of armor. This is because those aforementioned races have dedicated sprite sheets for each of them. While other creatures can wear armor, it won't appear on their sprite, but clicking on them and checking their inventory can show they are wearing certain pieces of armor, even if it wouldn't make sense in real life.

The actual effectiveness of a given piece of armor depends largely on the weapon(s) being used against it. "Chain" pieces are flexible, and while good against slashing weapons (axes), they don't do much to stop the crushing force of blunt weapons (maces and hammers). "Solid" pieces (breastplates, greaves, gauntlets) are rigid, so they are more widely effective as protection against all weapons but are heavier. See the weapon article for more specific information.

Also, for slashing and piercing weapons (but not bludgeoning), the "armor vs. weapon" results are very dependent on the metal of each. A "better" metal will defeat a "lesser" armor, while a weapon of a lesser metal will be stopped more easily. For bludgeoning weapons, "weight" is the guiding rule, and all combat metals have roughly the same weight. See Weapon#Superior metal rule for further discussion.

Keeping in mind the enemies you are likely to meet and how they will be armed, it is advisable to equip your militia dwarves with at least bronze or iron armor, as copper will quickly be outclassed against most anything except silver weapons and (most) animal attacks. Testing in the arena shows that armored dwarves have a huge advantage over unarmored ones, usually taking no casualties while making short work of their enemies. (But you shouldn't need this wiki to figure that out.) However, untrained dwarves will become encumbered and slowed down wearing armor due to lacking the armor user skill.

Dwarven armor coverage chart[Verify]



Armor portrait preview.png

Armor's purpose is simple: to allow your dwarves to better withstand damage in combat. Where an unarmored dwarf would invariably suffer injury from a weapon strike, well-armored dwarves have a good chance of taking reduced damage or shrugging it off altogether. Potentially damaging blows become mere bruises and otherwise lethal or incapacitating wounds are reduced to serious ones. Clothes, though not specifically recognized by the game as armor, nonetheless function as such and may block weak attacks.

While a clothed dwarf is a better fighter than a naked one, an unarmored dwarf will still succumb to a goblin ambush in seconds. One clad in a full set of exceptional-quality steel armor, however, can absorb most of a goblin squad's ammunition and half a minute of its time before finally being killed. Unarmored or lightly armored dwarves may suffice to deal with lone thieves and the local wildlife, but a serious army requires equally serious armor.

Types of armor[edit]

In terms of classifications, armor can be thought of as having three different types: clothing, leather, or metal. When you first create any squad in your squad sidebar Ui q.pngq, you will have the choice to assign a default uniform - "No uniform" (assigning no additional equipment, i.e., keeping their civilian clothing, no weapon), "Leather armor" (leather pieces and a melee weapon), "Metal armor" (any metal pieces and a melee weapon), or "Archer" (which is identical to "Leather armor" but with a choice of ranged weapon).

You can make additional custom uniforms for this purpose and mix and match different armor types, but otherwise, these refer to the pieces and combinations described below.

Note: It is important to note that all predefined uniforms have the "uniform worn over clothes" option enabled. As a result, dwarves will be unable to equip additional footwear armor, as they keep their civilian footwears on and it is not possible to wear 2 types of footwears on top of each other. To edit any uniform and/or fix this problem:

  • Select the squad wearing the uniform you wish to edit in the squad tab Ui q.pngq
  • Click on "Equip" at the bottom of the tab
  • Click on "Details" on any dwarf
  • Click on "Uniform worn over clothing" to change it to "Uniform replaces clothing"
  • Set a new name for the uniform
  • Select "Confirm and save uniform"
  • Assign the newly created uniform to the whole squad (Button "Assign uniform" -> Select from the list)

The first type of armor is clothing, which is made of cloth at a clothier's shop or leather at a leather works. Clothing can usually* only deflect very weak attacks - say, a raven bite - but nonetheless can reduce damage. Most dwarves will be wearing clothing; those that aren't will usually be either very unhappy, babies, or insane. All dwarves, both your initial 7 and migrants, arrive with a full set of clothing (but it does wear out, so you'll need to make or trade for more sooner or later).

(*)Silk clothing is a little stronger against cutting/piercing attacks but still far from "military grade" protection.

The second type is leather and/or bone armor, which is specialized for the purpose of defense compared to standard clothing. It is also very weak and designed to protect against small- to medium-sized animal attacks; it provides almost no noticeable defense against larger animals or military weapons. Leather/bone armor is usually only used by hunters, or as the very first armor that a fortress military uses, for defending against marauding macaques and the like. These can be made before any metal industry is up and running, and they only need the raw material (bone or tanned hides) and a craftsdwarf's workshop or leather works, respectively.

Note that clothing made from leather is not the same as "leather armor", even if it consumes identical raw material. Protective leather armor that can be produced from the leather works includes "leather armor" (referring to leather upper-body armor), leather leggings, leather boots (high and low), and leather helms - these items are forms of true "military" armor, and non-military dwarves will not pick them up to wear.

The last type is classic combat-quality metal armor. This armor is made by an armorsmith at a metalsmith's forge and should be the armor of choice for any serious military. This armor can further be broken down into two sub-types. Flexible "chain" armor pieces, either a shirt or leggings (only), are stronger against cutting weapons (axes, swords) but do little against blunt/crushing weapons (maces, hammers, flails, whips), though they are difficult to destroy with blunt force as well. Rigid "plate" pieces provide the best all-around protection. Plate pieces include helmets, metal gauntlets, and boots - there are no "chain" versions for those pieces. A full suit might incorporate both, the plate pieces layered over the chain pieces, for the best of both worlds.

By location[edit]

Though all clothes can protect from damage, a "complete" suit of armor consists of the following pieces, one cell from each column.

Torso Head Arm Leg Feet Shields (block attacks)
Leather armor (upper body + lower body) Cap Gloves (hands) Leggings, made of leather or chain Low boots (feet) Buckler
Mail shirt (upper body + lower body + neck + upper arms + upper legs)

Breastplate (upper body + lower body only)

Helm Gauntlets (hands + wrists) Greaves, made of plate High boots (feet + lower legs) Shield

The second row is the more effective choice, while the first row offers less protection but does not slow down dwarves unskilled as "armor users". Be aware that civilians will also pick up and wear leather caps and leather gloves; leather helms can be produced instead, as civilians will not equip helms, but this may slow your unskilled dwarves down.

Note that if a mail shirt is combined with high boots, explicit "leg" covering can be omitted. (Dwarves don't have knees to protect, so the upper leg is covered from the shirt and the lower leg from the boot for complete coverage; though using greaves is still recommended, as there can never be "enough armor" in the world of Dwarf Fortress).

Armor skill[edit]

Attacking and being attacked with armor on gives 3 experience to the armor user skill, with 9 more points if the attack actually hits armor. Whereas armor quality affects hit block chance, armor user skill affects how quickly the dwarf can move in their armor. In arena tests, a grand master armor user could move at twice the speed of a dabbling user when in heavy armor. Faster speed translates into faster movement, although only when walking around since the combat/movement speed split in 2014.

Every time a dwarf deflects an attack with their armor, it will be reported as - for example - Dwarf 1 slashes Dwarf 2 in the upper body with his iron short sword, but the attack is deflected by Dwarf 2's small iron breastplate!, and the dwarf will receive 18 experience on top of the 12 mentioned before. The skill can be trained by attacking local wildlife, or through live training schemes.

Shield skill[edit]

Likewise, shield use trains the shield user skill. Shields are a special piece of armor that can be worn on one arm (and cannot be worn with two-handed weapons) and can be used to block attacks better than equivalent armor can (a difference amounting to deflection instead of broken bones), greatly increasing dwarven survivability. The skill modifies how often the dwarf will be able to block an attack with the shield, and it is likewise trained every time the shield is used to block an attack, at 30 experience apiece. It can be trained in the same ways.


See also: Metal#Weapon and armor quality
Material Workshop Labor Notes
Metal Metalsmith's forge Armoring Best choice; see notes below
Bone Craftsdwarf's workshop Bone carving Leggings, greaves, gauntlets, and helms only
Shell Craftsdwarf's workshop Bone carving Leggings, gauntlets, and helms only
Leather Leather works Leatherworking Light and unencumbering but weak protection.
Cloth Clothier's shop Clothesmaking Limited protection, nearly useless against metal.
Wood Carpenter's workshop Carpentry Shield/buckler only (except elves)

Most armor must be made out of a weapons-grade material (steel, iron, etc.). The only exception to this is when a dwarf is in a strange mood, in which case a piece of armor may be created out of any metal lying around. The material used in armor is extremely important to combat; fully iron-armored dwarves with iron short swords stand no chance against those clad in steel. In general, slashing weapons will have difficulty piercing armor made of the same weapons-grade material as the weapon, piercing weapons will be increasingly blunted, and blunt weapons will break bones through armor, almost regardless of its material. Rigid armor provides limited blunt protection, and chain mail shirts and leggings provide next to none. Even adamantine armor only prevents an estimated 13% of blows, demonstrating the utility of the slow but sure war hammer.

Shields are a bit different than other pieces of armor. Their material doesn't affect how well they deflect attacks. Wood and leather are both very light compared to their metal equivalents, and they are just as effective for blocking; however, they make for poor bludgeons if used to bash enemies (and they frequently are). When combined with changes made to how wear is applied to various materials, this means shields and bucklers of either will likely need to be replaced somewhat frequently if they are not artifact-quality. There can be no denying that the metal saved is worth it, however, especially in metal-poor embarks.

Certain weapons are surprisingly good at penetrating armor. Copper whips will shatter skulls through steel helmets. science!

Armor material comparison
Poor Acceptable Good Excellent Best
Leather/Bone Copper Iron/Bronze* Steel Adamantine
(* Bronze here also includes bismuth bronze, as both have the same combat stats and are armor-grade metals. Black bronze cannot be used for armor.)
  • Bone armor can be crafted very early in the game from the bones of livestock or other animals. Roughly equivalent to leather, bone armor provides practically no protection against "real" weapons, or large animals, and little against the attacks of medium-sized animals, making it an inferior option even for hunters, except as a fashion statement.
  • Copper armor is the lowest-grade type of metal armor but also the easiest to get, requiring one of native copper, malachite, or tetrahedrite (next to guaranteed on any embark containing more than one metal).
  • Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, which requires cassiterite. It is much improved over copper armor and is slightly stronger than iron, but it also weighs more and is more elastic.
  • Bismuth bronze has identical properties to standard bronze, but has been alloyed with bismuth, making it more valuable (and fancier-colored). If you have access to bismuth and want to put it to use, and you have the time and fuel for the extra steps, you can save some tin and increase the value of the final objects this way.
  • Iron can be smelted from hematite, limonite, or magnetite and is easiest to find in sedimentary layers (though igneous extrusive layers may contain hematite). It is comparable to bronze but is slightly weaker (but more rigid) and has a less complicated smelting process.
  • Steel is the best non-adamantine armor material and requires fuel, flux, iron, and pig iron in its manufacturing. Note that steel in Dwarf Fortress is just as valuable as gold; making lots of armor is a sure way to attract attention, but at least it's going into shiny armor, right?
  • Adamantine is only found beneath the third cavern layer, plumbing the depths of the magma sea; it can be used to create unparalleled armor but is very time-consuming to produce in addition to being hazardous to mine. It is immensely valuable to boot.

A detailed breakdown can be found here. Note that a full suit of any non-adamantine metal armor will considerably slow down a raw recruit of average strength, as shown briefly here.

Some dwarven science has also been conducted on the armor values of strange mood armors made from non-weapons-grade materials. The results seem to indicate the following rough order of preference in terms of armor properties (but take note of the artifact multiplier as well): Adamantine, Steel, Pig Iron, Iron, Bronze, Bismuth Bronze, Platinum, Brass, Black Bronze, Billon, Rose Gold, Electrum, Bismuth, Aluminum, Gold, Copper, Tin, Sterling Silver, Silver, Nickel, Zinc, Lead, Nickel Silver, Trifle Pewter, Fine Pewter, Lay Pewter.

Quality and strange moods[edit]

Quality is an important modifier on armor. Armor gets a deflection bonus based on quality level, but its effect is only known for regular (1x), masterwork (2x), and artifact (3x) armor; presumably, the quality ranks in between are progressive.

Designation Description Value
Sharpness Weapon To-Hit /
Armor Deflect Modifier
Item Name 50%
-Item Name- Well-crafted 60% 1.2×
+Item Name+ Finely-crafted 70% 1.4×
*Item Name* Superior quality 80% 1.6×
≡Item Name≡ Exceptional 90% 1.8×
☼Item Name☼ Masterful 12× 100%
Unique name Artifact 120× 100%
«Item Name» Decorated object Varies No Effect No Effect

This means that effectively, masterworks produced by legendary armorsmiths cut damage done by as much as half. This, combined with the need to produce a lot of armor, makes armorers far and away the most desired dwarves for strange moods, and various schemes exist for influencing such an event.

Dwarves in strange moods can produce legendary artifacts, which benefit from a 3x multiplier, or three times as good as a more mundane piece of armor. Artifact-quality weapons-grade armor items are very strong defensively. However, artifacts can also be made of totally inappropriate materials, and the spectacularly low defensive values of giant hedgehog bone leggings vastly outweigh any bonuses it gets. Fortunately, soldiers will not by themselves claim artifact equipment; it can only be issued by the overseer assigning it as specific item.

Strange moods are an exception to the number-of-bars rule; only one bar is required for the item itself, although additional materials may be gathered for decoration.


Dwarves that have used a particular piece of armor for an extended period of time may grow attached to it, becoming better at withstanding blows with it and unhappy if it is taken away. This is fine if it is a pair of ☼Steel Greaves☼, but it is a major problem if they are using what is meant to be interim armor. This happens less often with armor than it does for weapons. These events generate announcements.


There is no fundamental difference in performance between clothing and armor, something accentuated by regular clothing's ability to block attacks. Armor can be thought of as metal clothing, thicker and made of materials that have a much better chance of blocking attacks. Armor is, however, different in that it is not subject to standard wear, will not be automatically equipped by civilians, and only non-clothing garments increase the armor user skill.

The availability of specific articles of clothing varies by civilization, and each has its own set of clothing that it can produce. In Fortress mode, sandals and shoes are in the same clothing class, but only the latter can be produced by dwarves, whereas the former must be stripped off dead enemies. Dwarves are gender-insensitive; a male dwarf may well put on a dress.

Non-armor clothing can provide some defense, most importantly to areas that are not covered by regular armor. The ears, nose, lips, and teeth are always exposed, even in full armor. Robes and cloaks will provide a bulwark of low-level protection, making them useful for military dwarves, especially those you plan to send through the danger room.


Sometimes, it is better to wear less than more armor, because it slows you down. Non-armor users tend to get slowed down significantly if they are wearing more than 1 piece of armor with 15-25 units of weight. This includes items such as mail shirts, greaves, and breastplates. Gauntlets only weigh 1-2 units of weight depending on material, and high boots weigh 3 units. Most clothing weighs 1 unit or less, with the exception of plant cloth clothing, which weigh 4 times as much as their silk and yarn alternatives.

Since most dwarves are not danger room-trained right away into legendary armor users, it is highly recommended that you do not outfit them with the maximum amount of armor possible, as this will make them super slow and allow the enemy to get in many hits before they have a chance to fight back. Weight also hinders ranged units like marksdwarves, who more or less depend on their first strike and fast reload to cripple the enemy before they get into melee and who may also spend the majority of their time behind fortifications anyway.

Wearing a combination of 1 pair of metal gauntlets, 1 pair of metal high boots, 1 metal helmet, and 1 metal mail shirt gives an armor level 2[Verify] metal armor layer that covers all areas without sacrificing speed due to encumbrance on non-armor users. This setup will prevent most cutting and stabbing attacks from weapons below the armor's metal grade, but it will still be vulnerable to crushing attacks since no metal greaves or breastplate is worn. Lighter and weaker types of armor, like leather armor and bone greaves, can also be worn in addition to the metal layer to provide additional protection without encumbrance, and they tend to be at least moderately effective if they are masterworks[Verify]. Shields should be made of wood when possible because a copper shield could weigh up to 13 units of weight, and material does not matter for blocking attacks. However, wooden and leather shields wear out and break rather quickly in the new version when used to hit armor in combat, so in the long run, a metal shield might be worth it.


Armor can suffer wear when it is struck in combat. Whether armor is damaged in a fight depends on material differences (e.g. steel weapons can easily damage copper armor) and presumably also the power of the attacker. Armor is irreparable, so if it's destroyed in combat, new armor must be made or purchased to replace it.


Armor is typically sized for the kind of creature that produced it. Goblins, elves and your dwarves are all about the same size and their equipment can be used interchangeably, but human armor is too big for other races. You can manually specify the target race when forging armor, which is useful if you have non-dwarf residents. Also, armor sized for hyena men is big enough to be worn by humans, but still small enough to be worn by dwarves. Being bigger, it also offers slightly better slashing weapon protection than dwarf-sized armor, but is also more heavy. Conversely, wolf man-sized armor is the smallest you can produce for your dwarf military, and may reduce their encumbrance a bit (but it's worse against slashing attacks).

Shields do not have a target race, so anyone can use them.


The layers are, in order from inner to outer:

  • Under
  • Over
  • Armor
  • Cover

Types of protection[edit]

Material requirements[edit]

The number of regular metal bars needed to make a piece of metal armor is equal to the material size divided by 3, rounded down with a minimum of one. The number of adamantine wafers or stacks of adamantine cloth required to create armor is equal to the material size.


Clothing Type Graphic
Armor Level Material Size Materials Size Permit Layer Coverage % Bars to make Bars returned on melting Melting efficiency %
Cap§ Cap sprite.png Portrait cap.png Cap icon.png +[Verify] 1 C,L,M 10 15 Over 50% 1 0.3 30%
Helm§ Helm sprite.png Portrait helm.png Helm icon.png 1+ 2 L,B,S,M 30 20 Armor 100% 1 0.6 60%
Hood Hood sprite.png Portrait hood.png Hood icon.png 2 C,L 10 100 Cover 100% N/A N/A N/A
Mask§ƒ Mask sprite.png Portrait mask.png Mask icon.png 2 C,L,B,S,M 20 10 Under 50% N/A N/A N/A
Turbanƒ Turban sprite.png Portrait turban.png Turban icon.png 2 C,L 20 100 Over 50% N/A N/A N/A
Head Veilƒ Head veil sprite.png Portrait head veil.png Head veil icon.png 2 C,L 10 100 Over 50% N/A N/A N/A
Face Veilƒ Face veil sprite.png Portrait face veil.png Face veil icon.png 2 C,L 10 100 Under 50% N/A N/A N/A
Headscarfƒ Headscarf sprite.png Portrait headscarf.png Headscarf icon.png 2 C,L 10 100 Over 50% N/A N/A N/A

Upper body[edit]

Clothing Type Graphic
Armor Level Material Size Materials Size Permit Layer Coverage % UBSTEP LBSTEP Bars to make Bars returned on melting Melting efficiency
Dress Dress sprite.png Portrait dress.png Dress icon.png 5 C,L 10 50 Under 100% MAX MAX N/A N/A N/A
Shirt Shirt sprite.png Portrait shirt.png Shirt icon.png 3 C,L 10 50 Under 100% MAX 0 N/A N/A N/A
Tunic Tunic sprite.png Portrait tunic.png Tunic icon.png 3 C,L 10 50 Under 100% 0 1 N/A N/A N/A
Toga Toga sprite.png Portrait toga.png Toga icon.png 5 C,L 30 100 Over 100% 1 1 N/A N/A N/A
Vest Vest sprite.png Portrait vest.png Vest icon.png 2 C,L 10 50 Over 50% 0 0 N/A N/A N/A
Robe Robe sprite.png Portrait robe.png Robe icon.png 6 C,L 20 100 Over 100% MAX MAX N/A N/A N/A
Coat Coat sprite.png Portrait coat.png Coat icon.png 5 C,L 20 50 Over 100% MAX 1 N/A N/A N/A
Leather Armor§ Leather armor sprite.png Portrait leather armor.png Leather armor icon.png 1 6 L 20 50 Armor 100% 1 1 N/A N/A N/A
Mail Shirt Mail shirt sprite.png Portrait mail shirt.png Mail shirt icon.png 2 6 M 15 50 Over 100% 1 1 2 1.8 90%
Breastplate§ Breastplate sprite.png Portrait breastplate.png Breastplate icon.png 3 9 M 20 50 Armor 100% 0 0 3 2.7 90%
Cloak Cloak sprite.png Portrait cloak.png Cloak icon.png 5 C,L 15 150 Cover 100% MAX 1 N/A N/A N/A
Capeƒ Cape sprite.png Portrait cape.png Cape icon.png 3 C,L 10 300 Cover 50% 0 0 N/A N/A N/A
Backpack Backpack sprite.png 3 C,L 0 >300 Over N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Quiver Quiver sprite.png 3 C,L 0 >300 Over N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Flask Flask collection sprite.png 5 L,M N/A N/A Unique N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Quivers and backpacks are also worn on the upper body, counting towards layer permit size. Flasks are attached to the upper body armor or the garment worn over it (but not cover-layer items, such as cloaks).


Clothing Type Graphic
Armor Level Material Size Materials Size Permit Layer Coverage % UPSTEP Bars to make (per pair) Bars returned on melting (per pair) Melting Efficiency %
Gloves Gloves sprite.png Glove icon.png 1 C,L 10 10 Under 100% N/A N/A N/A
Gauntlets§ Gauntlets sprite.png Gauntlet icon.png 2 2 B,S,M 20 15 Armor 100% 1 1 1.2 120%
Mittens Mittens sprite.png Mitten icon.png 1 C,L 15 20 Cover 150% N/A N/A N/A

Each crafting job produces a pair of gloves, gauntlets, or mittens -- one right-handed and one left-handed. The items from a single job may have different quality levels.

Lower body[edit]

Clothing Type Graphic
Armor Level Material Size Materials Size Permit Layer Coverage % LBSTEP Bars to make Bars returned on melting Melting efficiency %
Trousers Trousers sprite.png Trousers icon.png 4 C,L 15 30 Over 100% MAX N/A N/A N/A
Leggings§ Leggings sprite.png Leggings icon.png 1+ 5 L,B,S,M 15 30 Armor 100% MAX 1 1.5 150%
Greaves§ Greaves sprite.png Greaves icon.png 3 6 B,M 15 30 Armor 100% MAX 2 1.8 90%
Loincloths Loincloth sprite.png Loincloth thong icon.png 1 C,L 10 30 Under 50% 0 N/A N/A N/A
Braies Braies sprite.png Braies icon.png 3 C,L 10 30 Under 100% 1 N/A N/A N/A
Thongsƒ Thong sprite.png Loincloth thong icon.png 1 C,L 10 30 Under 25% 0 N/A N/A N/A
Skirts (Short)ƒ Short skirt sprite.png Short skirt icon.png 2 C,L 10 100 Over 100% 0 N/A N/A N/A
Skirtsƒ Skirt sprite.png Skirt icon.png 2 C,L 10 100 Over 100% 1 N/A N/A N/A
Skirts (Long)ƒ Long skirt sprite.png Long skirt icon.png 2 C,L 10 100 Over 100% MAX N/A N/A N/A


Clothing Type Graphic
Armor Level Material Size Materials Size Permit Layer Coverage % UPSTEP Bars to make (per pair) Bars returned on melting (per pair) Melting efficiency %
Socks Socks sprite.png Socks icon.png 1 C 10 15 Under 100% N/A N/A N/A
Sandalsƒ Sandals sprite.png Sandals icon.png 1 C,L 25 15 Over 100% N/A N/A N/A
Shoes Shoes sprite.png Shoes icon.png 1 C,L 20 15 Over 100% N/A N/A N/A
Low Boots Low boots sprite.png Low boots icon.png 1+ 1 L,M 25 15 Over 100% 1 0.6 60%
High Boots High boots sprite.png High boots icon.png 1+ 2 L,M 25 15 Over 100% 1 1 1.2 120%
Chaussesƒ Chausses sprite.png Chausses icon.png 3 C,L 10 15 Under 100% MAX N/A N/A N/A

Each crafting job produces one pair of footwear. Unlike gloves, footwear items are interchangeable (they are not right- or left-footed). The two items from a single crafting job may have different quality levels.


Clothing Type Graphic
Blockchance Armor Level Material Size Materials Size Permit Layer Coverage % UPSTEP Bars to make Bars returned on melting Melting efficiency
Buckler Buckler sprite.png Buckler icon.png 10 1 2 L,M,W NA NA NA 1 1 0.6 60%
Shield Shield sprite.png Shield icon.png 20 2 4 L,M,W NA NA NA 2 1 1.2 120%

Note: Striking with a shield trains both misc object user and armor user skills. Additionally, shield material and quality only matter for bashing attacks and do not affect blocking. Skills rolls are 1d(blockchance) + 2d(skill*15), so skill matters more than blockchance even at novice skill.

Armor levels 1-3 were referred to as 'leather', 'chain', or 'plate' in earlier versions.

+ The armor level is increased by one if made from metal.
§ A shaped item, max one shaped item per body slot (e.g. a breastplate cannot be worn with leather armor, but it can be worn with a mail shirt, while greaves and leggings cannot be combined).
ƒ This "foreign" article can never be crafted by dwarves (except for artifacts) but may be purchased in trade, although, not every article without this can always be crafted (see [ARMOR]).
Uncommon for dwarven civilizations, thus not always available.
  • In theory, the only metal armor pieces which are not "shaped" are Mail Shirt, Flask, Low Boots and High Boots; in practice, the only true shapeless metal armor is Mail Shirt, because Flask can't deflect hits, while Low and High boots have such low permit that it's impossible anyway to put a second pair of boots on top of the first.

Special procedurally generated armors[edit]

Some rare entities have their own procedurally generated armors. Currently, these armors are produced by copying the default properties of the "base" armor and adding an adjective ("bulging", "segmented", "rounded", etc.). Dwarves in strange moods that select from all armors with a certain tag may produce one of these procedurally generated armors. Since they retain the properties of their base items, these armors should be as usable as standard armor of the base type.

Equipping clothing[edit]

Items in Dwarf Fortress must be equipped in a specific order, similarly to what happens in real life: for example, a dwarf cannot equip a layer type of Under when they are already equipping a layer type of Over. The complete order is (inner clothing to outer clothing): Under, Over, Armor, Cover. It is common among civilians to see a dwarf equip pants with no undergarments due to this restriction, even when an undergarment is available. This issue doesn't typically occur with soldiers, however.

There is no restriction on wearing multiple items of the same type (Unless the item is shaped [S]). You can, for example, wear 3 cloaks without penalty.

Process for equipping a new piece of clothing[edit]

An aardvark wearing armor meant for a dwarf. Somehow.

The following variables will be used in the logic below:

Current Item refers to the specific item being equipped.
Total Size refers to the size of all items equipped on that body part, excluding the item to be equipped (while including those on a different layer).
Permit is a capacity value indicating the maximum allowable size of items equipped on the same layer and lower layers as the item being equipped.

In order to equip a new item, the dwarf (or other creature):

  • determines if they are eligible to wear the item in question (perhaps the body part is missing/severed);
  • must start with the lowest layer first, continuing to the next layer when no other items of that layer need to be equipped;
  • checks if the item is shaped [S] and will only equip the item if no other shaped items are equipped on that body part;
  • considers the item with the lowest permit value first. If two items share the same permit value, the highest-size item would be equipped first[Verify];
  • checks if the total size of items on each body part the current item would cover (excluding the current item's size) is less than or equal to the current item's permit level.
  • in case of an Armor layer item, also checks whether its own size + permit value is greater than the total size of items already on the body part.
  • in case of any non-Cover item, checks whether the total size of items in the same layer including the current item is less than the smallest permit value among these items.
  • if all above conditions are met, the dwarf/creature will equip the item.

Equipment process example[edit]

Each item is listed in order of being equipped. The primary focus of this example is that the total size must be equal to or less than the permit size of the item being equipped. Like above, the total size excludes the size of the item being equipped.

Item Type Size Total Size* Permit
Mail Shirt 15 0 50
Mail Shirt 15 15 50
Mail Shirt 15 30 50
Breastplate [S] 20 45 50
Mail Shirt 15 65 50
Cloak 15 65 150
Cloak 15 80 150
Cloak 15 95 150
Cloak 15 110 150
Cloak 15 125 150
Cloak 15 140 150
Cloak 15 155 150
Cape 10 150 300
Cape 10 160 300
Cape 10 170 300
Cape 10 180 300
Cape 10 190 300
Cape 10 200 300
Cape 10 210 300
Cape 10 220 300
Cape 10 230 300
Cape 10 240 300
Cape 10 250 300
Cape 10 260 300
Cape 10 270 300
Cape 10 280 300
Cape 10 290 300
Cape 10 300 300
Cape 10 310 300
  • * = Total Size includes the size of all equipped items but does not include the item being equipped
  • Red Text = This item cannot be equipped because the total size is larger than the item's permitted size.

Size, Permit, and layering armor[edit]

The Size and Permit values govern how much clothing or armor can be worn.

Example: A helm (30 size, 20 permit) can be worn over two head veils (10, 100) and can fit 6 additional hoods if desired.

Example: Wearing a cap (10, 15) allows only one face veil (10, 100), but a combined total of up to 9 head veils and hoods can be added.

Adventurer mode follows the arena rules, so it is possible to have three mail shirts (15, 50), a breastplate (20, 50), and 25 capes (10, 300) on one's upper body plus a helm and six hoods on one's head. Confirmation is needed to see if fortress mode follows the old rules or the new arena rules. (Testing finds that Urist McNopants follows a totally different set of rules than either of these - their rules tell them to forget both caps, all of the hoods, both socks, and their trousers, and each successive time they get dressed ,they feel the need to do it differently.)

Some more workarounds regarding Size, Permit, and Layering[edit]

Let's say you want to kit out your soldier's upper body. Try walking through this in arena mode to get a feel for it.

You start off with a steel breastplate. This has a size of 20 and a permit of 50. It is also shaped, so you can't add any other shaped items: no more breastplates and no leather armor.

Now, you want to add mail shirts. Each one has a permit of 50 and a size of 15. You can add three of these if you want. It checks the size against each of the armor pieces' permit + size (or rather, the permit value ignoring that item's size in the calculation) like so:

  • Against each of the mail shirts, you have 2 × 15 = 30 total size in mail shirts and + 20 from the breastplate, matching the 50 permit.
  • Against the breastplate, you have 3 × 15 = 45 < 50, which is fine.

Now, if you add a fourth mail shirt, these tests will fail. However, because of the layering order (mail shirts being armor layer 2, the breastplate armor layer 3), the breastplate is added after the shirts. This results in the breastplate being dropped.

Because this reaches the 50 permit limit for the mail shirts, you can't add more non-cover items without substituting them for existing items. If you want a robe (size 20), for example, you need to remove two of the mail shirts to clear a total size of 30, which then lets you add an extra size 10 shirt, vest, or whatever.

However, you can add cover layer items - in this case, cloaks. Each cloak has a size of 15 and a permit of 150. Taking into account the 50 size already on the upper body, we can add 100 size worth of cloaks. This lets us add 6 (× 15 = 90) cloaks over the existing armor.

Going through armor like this for the rest of the body (most of it is simpler) gives you a final setup of:

3 × mail shirts
1 × breastplate
6 × cloaks
16 × capes

Armor (no foreign items)
3 × mail shirts
1 × breastplate
6 × cloaks

Armor (cheap)
6 × dress
3 × robe
3 × cloak

3 × long skirts
1 × greaves

Legs (no foreign items)
2 × trousers
1 × greaves

Legs (cheap)
2 × trousers
1 × leggings

1 × helm
8 × hood

1 × pairs of gauntlets
1 × pairs of mittens

Gloves (cheap)
2 × pairs of gloves
1 × pairs of mittens

Boots †
1 × pairs of chausses
1 × pairs of high boots

Boots (no foreign items) †
1 × pairs of socks
1 × pairs of high boots

Boots (cheap) †
1 × pairs of socks
1 × pairs of shoes

To produce a set of full armor for a single dwarf (assuming you use no foreign items), you would require 14 metal bars and 16 units of cloth (or silk or yarn).

Of course, so long as the bugs are still around, we are likely to see dwarves wearing more than this, or refusing to put parts on because they found their boots before their socks.

Note: "Cheap" implies the sets can be made from secondary materials such as bone and cloth, with item types not overlapping with the other, more combat-oriented sets that use metal, leather, and cloth (for socks). As a rule of thumb, combat sets provide better protection, but cheap sets are lighter and easier to mass-produce.

† It appears that equipping footwear on one foot can affect what can be equipped on the other. For example, if a uniform calls for socks and high boots, a dwarf will only equip 3 of those 4 items between both of their feet.


The value of coverage of an armor piece is the percentage probability that an attack made against a body part covered by said armor piece actually hits the armor. Example: Helms and caps both cover only the head (facial features excluded). 100% of attacks against the head of a helm-wearing dwarf are affected by the helm's protective capabilities because helms have 100% coverage. In the case of a cap-wearing dwarf, only 50% of attacks made against the head are affected by the cap - the remaining 50% bypass it and land directly on the head because caps have only 50% coverage. The value of coverage has an additional role in determining how well the armor protects against contaminants and temperature effects.

By default, armor pieces cover only a single body part, at which they are 'anchored' (hands, feet, lower body, upper body, or head)[Verify]. Their coverage is extended to other body parts using the following three tags:


This token, when applied to torso armor, controls how far 'up' the body an item of armor reaches. Basically, you can think of it as going out in stages along the body. It doesn't cover legs. It doesn't cover body parts with certain tags (notably [HEAD], [GRASP] and [STANCE], or the head). It can cover the children of such body parts (such as parts of the face) if it extends beyond them. The upper body and lower body are counted as 0 steps away, so both are always covered.

Breastplates have a default of 0, meaning they only cover the torso.
Mail shirts have [UBSTEP:1], so they cover the upper arms and neck.

A number of clothing items have [UBSTEP:MAX]. What exactly this covers depends on a certain bug, but unless you are making adamantine robes, you probably won't get that much extra protection this way anyway. This would mean, for example, they would cover the upper arm and then lower arm, skip the hand, and then cover the fingers. The same goes for facial features after skipping the head and the toes after skipping the entire legs and feet.
The clothes with these properties seem to be robes, cloaks, coats, shirts, and dresses. However, of these, only robes and dresses also have [LBSTEP:MAX] (see below), so I'm not sure if anything else would actually cover toes or not. This needs additional testing.

Testing in arena: in three battles with 15x15 dwarves where both sides was equipped with iron battle axes and iron full armor and one of the teams was enforced with leather robes, the team with robes was victorious (2-3 survivors).


This token, when applied to torso armor or pants, controls how much of the legs an item covers. Legs in this case are defined as [LIMB] body parts that end in a [STANCE] body part (e.g. foot). Arms are [LIMB]s but end in a [GRASP] hand instead. Because the upper and lower body are effectively zero steps from each other, torso armor can extend this way easily.

Both greaves and leggings have [LBSTEP:MAX] and so cover the entire leg to the best of their ability.
Mail shirts have [LBSTEP:1] and so can protect the upper legs. A range of other clothes (including cloaks) and leather armor also have this. As mentioned above, robes and dresses have [LBSTEP:MAX] and so cover the entire legs. These also have [UBSTEP:MAX] and so cover the entire body. Although not the strongest armor, a leather (or maybe adamantine?) robe or dress gives you maximum coverage.


This token, when applied to gloves or shoes, determines how far up the limb the armor protects. As with [LBSTEP], this doesn't cover anything but the [LIMB] tag body parts, but it does cover arms as well as legs.

Low boots literally only cover the foot.
High boots have [UPSTEP:1], so they cover the lower leg. If you consider that the upper legs can covered by [LBSTEP] from above, you can effectively have an entire layer of chain armor on the legs from high boots and a mail shirt even before adding leg armor. This is why I go with greaves for a plate layer. Gauntlets have [UPSTEP:1], so they cover the lower arms. Because there is no other protection for arms like there is for legs, you need gauntlets and mail shirts to protect your arms fully. Chausses are a very rare sock substitute, but they are the only items to have [UPSTEP:MAX] and so offer full leg coverage while being exactly the same size as regular socks. They are the perfect undergarment.

The whole method is pretty nifty, even though faces can't be covered by head armor. This means that mouths, noses, eyes, and cheeks are as vulnerable as if you were not wearing anything at all, even if the name of an article of clothing would normally imply that it protects them. This also applies to teeth, lips, and ears.

Toes and fingers are protected by the relevant armor type (e.g. gauntlets cover fingers, and boots cover toes).

Other Restrictions[edit]

In fortress mode, "under" layers cannot be put on over "over" layers, so, for instance, a dwarf cannot put on socks unless it first removes its shoes. They can wear over layers without putting an under layer on first, which explains their fondness for "going commando" (trousers without loincloth). Dwarves will only put on the specific armor they are told to put on unless they are not told what to wear.

Also, if you do not tell dwarves to replace clothing with a uniform, they will wear it alongside the uniform and possibly come into conflict with layering and sizes/permits, making them unable to wear assigned items. In particular, caps conflict with helms (both are shaped items), and shoes are too large to fit inside boots.

Military dwarves have a "pecking order" for equipment. The captain of the first squad created has first dibs, followed by their underlings in order, followed by the second squad, etc...

In adventurer mode, you have direct control over what armor you put on, and they are only limited by permit and "one only" (shaped) restrictions. This means you can wear three suits of mail (total size 45) plus another suit of chain or plate on top of them. On top of this, you can add six cloaks.


"Armor" in other Languages Books-aj.svg aj ashton 01.svg
Dwarven: tosid
Elvish: datome
Goblin: nuklat
Human: stalcon
  • Many players report ranged dwarves have particular trouble equipping and using ammunition, unless the squad is assigned a uniform that includes a ranged weapon when the squad is created. This can be the default archer uniform, or any other uniform that has a ranged weapon assigned. Adding a ranged weapon or ranged weapon equipped uniform to the squad after creation will result in the squad failing to ever pick up bolts or arrows and the ammunition icon will remain red.
  • Getting military dwarves to put on all their assigned equipment can be iffy. Bug:535
  • In fortress mode, it is possible to have (at least) 3 shields equipped.*(left hand, right hand, back, (turtle mode))
  • Soldiers do not replace tattered clothing that is part of a uniform.Bug:6039
  • In the Premium version, the sprite sheets for equipped gear are mostly incomplete. The material of equipped gear is currently distinguished for dwarves, elves, and kobolds' armor (including metal armor), and for elves' wooden weapons; everything else has a default, 'gray' color palette.
  • The Premium version has placeholder sprites for equipped artifact gear (which can be any material), but these are not used for gear of nonstandard materials spawned in the object testing arena, resulting in creatures that use them appearing un-equipped.

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