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This article is about an older version of DF.

Armor is the protective equipment used to reduce/deflect damage during combat. It comes in several pieces, each one protecting a certain area. The purpose of each piece is pretty much self-explanatory. Note that breastplates only protect upper/lower torso areas, while mail shirts also cover the upper arms. Ears, nose, lips and teeth are exposed, even in full armor, whilst robes and capes tend to cover the throat.

The actual effectiveness of a given piece of armor depends on the weapon(s) being used against it.

Keeping in mind the armored enemies you are likely to meet, it is advisable to equip your military dwarves with at least iron armor. Testing in the arena shows that armored dwarves have a huge advantage over the unarmored ones, usually taking no casualties while making short work of their enemies. (But you shouldn't need this wiki to figure that out.)

Armor Skill[edit]

It is unclear how the armor user skill affects combat, since the movement speed and armor penetration look the same for legendary armor users and untrained users, yet when testing in the arena, a novice armor user is injured extremely frequently compared a grand master armor user.

Quality Level[edit]

Armor gets a deflection bonus based on quality level, but anything less than masterful gets no bonus. See Quality for more information.

Designation Description Value
 Weapon To-Hit /
Armor Deflect Modifier
 Item Name —     1x 1x
-Item Name- Well-crafted 2x unknown
+Item Name+ Finely-crafted 3x unknown
*Item Name* Superior quality 4x unknown
≡Item Name≡ Exceptional 5x unknown
☼Item Name☼ Masterful 12x 2x
Unique name Artifact 120x 3x
«Item Name» Decorated object Varies unknown


(see also: Metal: Armor Quality)

Armor material effectiveness changed recently. Simulation testing is still ongoing, so these results should be considered merely Fine quality, not Masterwork.

It should be noted that armor material is extremely important now. For example, fully iron-armored dwarves with iron short swords stand no chance against steel-equipped ones. A weapon has difficulty piercing armor of the same material (e.g. steel short swords vs. steel armor). However, blunt weapons (such as maces or war hammers) have a much easier time damaging individuals through armor. Testing has shown that even a copper mace is a threat to a dwarf in a steel chain shirt! Breastplates and greaves, being rigid protection, are required to properly protect against blunt weapons.

Game version Poor Fair Good Excellent Best
<= 0.31.11 Copper Iron Bronze Steel Adamantine
>= 0.31.12 Bronze Iron

Types of Protection[edit]

Garments fit on different body parts depending on the item in question, and require different orders based on material sometimes.

They may additionally protect upper and lower arms and legs, depending on the garment. Dwarves do not seem to make a distinction between genders when selecting clothing to wear, so don't be startled when you see males running around in dresses.

There is no real difference between armor and clothing, except materials and that only non-clothing garments increase the armor user skill.

Note that the availability of specific articles of clothing varies from civilization to civilization. So, one civilization may not be able to make vests, another may not be able to make togas, still another may not be able to make dresses and cloaks. By the way, cloaks protect the eyes somewhat, according to combat logs. Dresses and Robes may offer superior protection as well.

Note that Dwarves can potentially manufacture items listed in their raws in the file \raw\objects\entity_default.txt, while other items exist which can never be made by un-modded dwarves, such as a head scarf or face veil. As well, some clothing articles may not be crafted in fortresses of a given civilization - only those items marked as 'common' for that civilization may be crafted.


Clothing Type Armor Level* Material Size Fiber/Silk Leather Bone Shell Metal Wood Size Permit Layer Coverage %
Cap + 1 Clothes Clothes Leather 10 15 Over 50%
Helm[S] 1+ 2 Leather Leather Leather Chain 30 20 Armor 100%
Hood 2 Clothes Clothes 10 100 Cover 100%
Mask† 2 Clothes Clothes 20 10 Under 50%
Turban† 2 Clothes Clothes 20 100 Over 50%
Head Veil† 2 Clothes Clothes 10 100 Over 50%
Face Veil† 2 Clothes Clothes 10 100 Under 50%
Headscarf† 2 Clothes Clothes 10 100 Over 50%

Upper Body[edit]

Clothing Type Armor Level* Material Size Fiber/Silk Leather Bone Shell Metal Wood Size Permit Layer Coverage % UBSTEP LBSTEP
Dress 5 Clothes Clothes 10 50 Under 100% MAX MAX
Shirt 3 Clothes Clothes 10 50 Under 100% MAX 0
Tunic 3 Clothes Clothes 10 50 Under 100% 0 1
Toga 5 Clothes Clothes 30 100 Over 100% 1 1
Vest 2 Clothes Clothes 10 50 Over 50% 0 0
Robe 6 Clothes Clothes 20 100 Over 100% MAX MAX
Coat 5 Clothes Clothes 20 50 Over 100% MAX 1
Leather Armor[S] 1 6 Leather 20 50 Armor 100% 1 1
Mail Shirt 2 6 Chain 15 50 Armor 100% 1 1
Breastplate[S] 3 9 Plate 20 50 Armor 100% 0 0
Cloak 5 Clothes Clothes 15 150 Cover 100% MAX 1
Cape† 5 Clothes Clothes 10 300 Cover 50% 0 0

Quiver and Backpack are also worn on upper body, counting towards layer permit size.


Clothing Type Armor Level* Material Size Fiber/Silk Leather Bone Shell Metal Wood Size Permit Layer Coverage % UPSTEP
Gloves 1 Clothes Clothes 10 10 Under 100%
Gauntlets[S] 2 2 Chain Chain Chain 20 15 Armor 100% 1
Mittens 1 Clothes Clothes 15 20 Cover 150%

Lower Body[edit]

Clothing Type Armor Level* Material Size Fiber/Silk Leather Bone Shell Metal Wood Size Permit Layer Coverage % LBSTEP
Trousers 4 Clothes Clothes 15 30 Over 100% MAX
Leggings[S] 1+ 5 Leather Leather Leather Chain 15 30 Armor 100% MAX
Greaves[S] 3 6 Plate Plate 15 30 Armor 100% MAX
Loincloths† 1 Clothes Clothes 10 30 Under 50% 0
Thongs† 1 Clothes Clothes 10 30 Under 25% 0
Skirts (Short)† 2 Clothes Clothes 10 100 Over 100% 0
Skirts† 2 Clothes Clothes 10 100 Over 100% 1
Skirts (Long)† 2 Clothes Clothes 10 100 Over 100% MAX
Braies 3 Clothes Clothes 10 30 Under 100% 1


Clothing Type Armor Level* Material Size Fiber/Silk Leather Bone Shell Metal Wood Size Permit Layer Coverage % UPSTEP
Socks 1 Clothes Clothes 10 15 Under 100%
Sandal† 1 Clothes Clothes 25 15 Over 100%
Shoes 1 Clothes Clothes 20 15 Over 100%
Low Boots 1 1 Leather Chain 25 15 Armor 100%
High Boots 1+ 1 Leather Chain 25 15 Armor 100% 1
Chausses (sockmail)† 3 Leather Chain 10 15 Under 100% MAX


Clothing Type Armor Level* Material Size Fiber/Silk Leather Bone Shell Metal Wood Size Permit Layer Coverage % UPSTEP
Buckler 1 2 Buckler Buckler Buckler NA NA NA 1
Shield 2 4 Shield Shield Shield NA NA NA 2
  • The armor level of an item with a "+" can be increased by one if made from metal.
  • † = This article cannot be crafted by dwarves (except for artifacts), but may be purchased in trade.
  • [S] = shaped item, max one [S] per body slot (e.g. plate mail cannot be worn with leather armor, but can be worn with chain mail, and greaves and leggings cannot be combined).

Equipping Clothing[edit]

Items in Dwarf Fortress must be equipped in a specific order. A dwarf must equip a layer type of Under before he equips a layer of type Over, for example. The complete order goes: Under, Armor, Over, 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 is typically not an issue 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]

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 refers to the current item's permit.

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

  • will determine if he is 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.
  • will equip items with lowest permit level first. If two items share the same permit value, the highest size item will be equipped first[Verify].
  • then checks if his total size (excluding the current item) is less than the current item's permit.
  • If all above logic is true, the dwarf 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 Permit Total Size*
Breastplate [S] 20 50 0
Mail Shirt 15 50 20
Mail Shirt 15 50 35
Mail Shirt 15 50 50
Mail Shirt 15 50 65
Cloak 15 150 65
Cloak 15 150 80
Cloak 15 150 95
Cloak 15 150 110
Cloak 15 150 125
Cloak 15 150 140
Cloak 15 150 155
  • * = Total Size include 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.

Under the old system the lowest "permit" value for any given body part is used: for instance, if a dwarf is wearing a dress (permit value: 50) and a total of 50 or more size worth of clothing on the upper body, it cannot put any more clothing on the upper body. (This explains why the old dungeon masters tend to wear several cloaks: they arrive at the fortress wearing only a cloak on the upper body (permit 150), and can put on a total of 10 of them, at 15 size each.)

Unfortunately, [LAYER:COVER] items are the only items playing by the old rules. This much is certain from testing in arena mode.

  • If the item to be add is a [LAYER:COVER] item, add the total item size on the body part, if this sum is less than or equal to the item's permit value then evaluate as true.
  • If a [LAYER:ARMOR] item is present or to be added and if the sum of the non [LAYER:COVER] items would be less than the sum of the [LAYER:ARMOR] size+permit values then evaluate as true.
  • If one or more items of the same non-[LAYER:COVER] layer as the one being added are present and if the sum of their size values is less than the smallest permit value then evaluate as true.
  • If the sum of the size values for all items on the body part are less than or equal to the permit value of the item about to be added then evaluate as true.

The item is allowed if all rules either evaluate to true or are not applicable. This is in addition to the rule allowing only one shaped item on a given body part at a time.

Example: A helm (30 size,20 permit) means you can put on a mask (20,10) or two caps (10,20), but only two head veils (10,100). Any of these configurations can fit 6 additional hoods if desired.

Example: Wearing a cap (10,15) allows only one face veil (10,100), because they are both [LAYER:UNDER], but an additional combined total of up to 9 head veils and hoods is possible.

Note that the armor value of socks and other clothing is unknown under the new system - however, wearing them under "armor" such as boots is recommended for an adventurer.

Adventurer mode follows the arena rules so it is possible to have three chain mail shirts (15,50), a breastplate (20,50), and 25 capes (10,300) on ones upper body plus two caps(or one mask), a helm, and six hoods on ones head. Confirmation is needed to see if fortress mode follows the old rules or the new arena rules. (I tested this and found that Urist McNopants follows a totally different set of rules than either of these. His rules tell him to forget both caps all of the hoods both socks and his trousers, and each sucessive time he gets dressed he feels the need to do it differently.)

Some more workaround about Size, Permit and Layering[edit]

  • You can only have one shaped armor piece (marked with [S]) per body part.
  • The total size of non-cover items must be lower than any armour piece's permit + size total.
  • The total size of all items of any layer on any body part must be lower than the lowest permit value (excluding that item).
  • The total size of all items on any body part must be lower than the size + permit value of any cover item.
  • All items are put on in order of their layer.

As an example, lets say you want to kit out your soldiers 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 armour pieces permit + size (or rather, the permit value ignoring that items size in the calculation), like so;

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

Now if you add a fourth mail shirt these test will fail. However, because of the layering order (mail shirts being armour layer 2, the breastplate armour 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 (x 15 = 90) cloaks over the existing armour.

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

2 x caps
1 x helm
6 x hood

Upper Body
1 x breastplate
3 x mail shirts
6 x cloaks

Upper Body (cheap)
6 x dress
3 x robe
3 x cloak

Lower Body
3 x long skirts
1 x greaves

Lower Body (no foreign items)
2 x trousers
1 x greaves

Lower Body (cheap)
2 x trousers
1 x leggings

1 x pairs of gauntlets
1 x pairs of mittens

Hands (cheap)
2 x pairs of gloves
1 x pairs of mittens

1 x pairs of chausses
1 x pairs of high boots

Feet (no foreign items)
1 x pairs of socks
1 x pairs of high boots

Feet (cheap)
1 x pairs of socks
1 x pairs of shoes

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 set can be made from secondary materials such as bone and cloth with item types not overlapping with the other, more combat oriented set which 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.


There are three tags that govern how far coverage reaches.


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, and so both always covered.

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

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, lower arm, skip the hand, then cover the fingers. The same goes for facial features (and, oddly, the throat) 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) and so I'm not sure if anything else would actually cover toes or not. Needs additional testing.

Testing in arena: in three 15x15 dwarves battles where both sides was equiped with iron battle axes and iron full armor and one of the teams was enforced with leather robes, team with robes was a 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 (eg, 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 cover the lower leg. If you consider 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 cover the lower arms. Because there is no other protection for arms as 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. The perfect undergarment.

The whole method is pretty nifty with just two problems.

  • Faces can't be covered by head armor.
  • Throats cannot be protected by metal armor (except adamantine cloth).

In previous versions toes and fingers were not protected by armor. However as of 31.17 both are now 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 adventurer mode, you have direct control over what armor you put on, and are only limited by permit and "one only" (shaped) restrictions. This means you can wear three suits of chain mail (total size 45) plus another suit of chain or plate on top of them. On top of this, you can add six cloaks.


Metal armor currently only requires 1 bar of a metal to forge; however, when out of bars, the announcement indicates the expected number of bars required:

"Urist McArmorsmith cancels forge <x-metal> breast plate: needs 3 <x-metal> bars."

In adventurer mode, putting a pair of socks (or any under-layer foot wear) on before putting on a pair of boots (or any over-layer foot wear) will keep you from putting on the last boot. So the order sock, sock, boot, boot doesn't work, but changing the order to sock, boot, sock, boot does. This is a very minor bug.