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v0.31:Dwarf fortress mode

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This article is about an older version of DF.

This is a comprehensive reference guide for Fortress Mode.
If you are looking for a fortress mode tutorial see the Tutorials or Quickstart guide.

Fortress mode is the most popular mode of gameplay in Dwarf Fortress and what most people are thinking of when they talk about the game. In fortress mode, you pick a location, then assign your seven initial dwarves some starting skills, equipment, provisions, and animals to bring along. After preparations are complete and your hardy explorers embark, they'll be faced with the fortress site you picked down to every detail, from geologically appropriate stone types to roaring waterfalls to ornery hippopotami. Rather than control individual dwarves, you design everything and your dwarves go about implementing your designs on their own.

Unlike fortress mode, Adventurer mode is a sort of advanced open world version of rogue or nethack taking place in the same worlds used for fortress mode. In adventure mode you control a single adventurer (character) who travels around, takes on quests, fights, dies, possibly visits your abandoned forts, etc, in a turn-based (rather than real-time) manner. See Adventurer mode for more information.


As a construction and management simulation game, there are few goals imposed upon the player by the programming.

The main goal, if any, is to take your seven initial dwarves and expand them into a thriving community with skilled workers, battle veterans and nobles. Make your dwarves rich with fine crafts, valuable coins, precious gems and protect them from foes with deadly traps. Make sure they have plenty of food and alcohol, by way of farms above and below ground and keep them clothed in leather and cloth.

Of course, every dwarf loves precious metals, but the only way to find them is dig down, down, far down. Make sure you don't dig too greedily, or too deep, for many creatures dwell in the caverns below and not all are friendly to dwarves....

And don't forget the alcohol. Dwarves get very unhappy without a good stiff drink when the urge hits.

Some more specific challenges are available here, compiled by fun-loving players from all around. There are also a wide variety of player-created game mods which can add new creatures/crops/items/etc, or increase the difficulty of the game.

The World[edit]

To play dwarf fortress in fortress mode you must generate a world that includes a dwarven civilization. See World generation for detailed instructions on generating a world. After at least one world has been generated you will be able to start the game. Only one game may be going on in a world at the same time.

Non-dwarven civilizations can be played in fortress mode if you modify the raws to add the [CIV_CONTROLLABLE] token to other entity definitions. This is not recommended for new players. See the modding guide for information on how to do this.

Geographic Features[edit]

The main features of a world are Biomes on the surface and Stone layers under the surface, some of which may contain Aquifers. Other surface features that are significant, but which aren't biomes strictly speaking, are Rivers, Volcanoes, and Caves.

There are also Caverns and magma seas everywhere underground which your dwarves will most likely encounter, but you can't see these on the world map and won't see them on the local map until you dig into them. There may also be other Fun things underground that you can't see. You will have to find these on your own, if they exist.


Every playable world will be inhabited by various Creatures, Civilizations, and Megabeasts (including Titans and Forgotten beasts) in addition to your dwarves. Even if your dwarves are minding their own business they are practically guaranteed to encounter all of these types of inhabitants at some point in the form of wildlife, invaders, or rampaging forces of nature.


Given that your world includes creatures and civilizations capable of independent action, it also has a History that is viewable in Legends mode. Historical events will show up in Engravings and other artwork created by your dwarves. Historical dates are expressed in terms of the Dwarven Calendar.

You will also be making history as events occur in your fortress and these events will be recorded for all time in the annals of your world, even if you'd rather that they not be. These events may later become the subject of various Engravings and Decorations created by your dwarves or those in a later fortress.


From Caravan to Happy Dwarves - a flowchart showing approximately what sequence of actions most people will take after embarking.
Main article: Embark
Also see: Reclaim fortress mode

Before starting to build a fortress you must pick a site, assign skill points to dwarves, and buy starting equipment. This is known as Embarking and is a major subject in and of itself. See the Embark guide for all of the details. Also see Starting build for more information on outfitting your expedition.

After you embark, the real game begins.

Gameplay User Interface[edit]

Also see: Menu

Your main view of the in-game world is that of a multi-layered environment which you can move in the four main cardinal directions as well as up and down Z-levels in elevation. The generated worlds are made of tiles, each representing anything in the world. There is also a command menu that lets you set commands that your dutiful dwarves will attempt to follow.

This section covers most of the screens and user interface elements used after embarking, at least in brief. It does not necessarily tell you how to accomplish every task you might need to, but instead just describes what you see on the screen and what various keystrokes do.

Later sections in this document and many other articles on this wiki help you tie all of this together by describing the sequence of actions needed to accomplish various things in the game; this section is mostly a reference for the UI itself.

Common UI Concepts[edit]

About key symbols

This wiki uses symbols that look like t or Ui t.pngt to indicate what keys or interface buttons are used for an operation. Note that keys are case sensitive and to save space, Shift+t is shown as T. So t means "press the 't' key without the shift key" and T means "hold down shift and press the 't' key". Lowercase and uppercase keys will often perform different functions, so it is important to use the correct key. Sequences of keys will be in separate boxes, so abC means "press 'a', then press 'b', then hold shift and press 'c'"; while Ui b.pngbUi bT.pngT means "press 'b', then hold shift and press 'T'. A plus sign '+' between the boxes means to press them all together, so Shift+Enter means to hold shift and press 'Enter'. Other separators, such as ',' or '-', might be used but mean the same as no separator: to press the keys in sequence.

Keybindings can be seen and changed on the Keybindings tab in the Settings menu.

Menu navigation and selection

Esc or right mouse Go back to the previous screen/menu
Mouse wheel Scroll menu one line
Shift+mouse wheel Scroll menu one page
Left mouse Select menu option

Esc or right mouse will almost always return to the previous screen until you get to the top level of the UI, at which point Esc will display the options menu.

Pausing and Resuming[edit]

Space Pause/Unpause the game

Most of the commands, except for the squads command, will automatically pause the game when you initiate them, but if you want to pause or unpause the game without initiating a command use Space. You will see *PAUSED* appear in the upper left corner of the window when the game is paused. Some announcements will pause the game automatically and you will have to unpause it manually to proceed.

Main Screen[edit]

Scroll mouse wheel down.Scroll mouse wheel up. or [ ] Zoom in and out
Tab Toogle mini-map and command menu.
F11 Toggle fullscreen mode

The screen at the top level of the user interface hierarchy consists of the main map, a command window, and an overview mini-map area along with a few status indicators around the edge. While the main map is always visible at the top level of the UI, you can use the Tab key to show and hide the command window and overview map areas, giving you more space to view the main map if desired.

Options Screen[edit]

Esc Enter options menu (if at top level)
Esc Move back up one UI level (if not at top level)

Assuming you are at the top level of the user interface looking at the map, you can hit Esc to enter the options menu. This allows you to do things like save or abandon your game.

  • Return to Game - Exit the options menu. You can also just press Esc.
  • Save Game - Saves the game and exits to the main menu screen.
  • Key Bindings - A UI for changing the Key bindings
  • Export Local Image - Use this to export each level of your map as .BMP files for use on such things as the Dwarf Fortress Map Archive
  • Music and Sound - Options related to the Music
  • Abandon the Fortress (or Succumb to Invasion) - This abandons the fortress and then saves the map to the world's data files for later use. Once you abandon a fort, all of your dwarves cease to exist, all of your livestock dies, and all items including corpses will be scattered around the map before it is saved. This is how you "give up" on a fortress. You might later reclaim the fortress with a new group of dwarves or visit it with an adventurer in Adventurer mode.

Main Map[edit]

Main map on the left, command window on the right.
3 dimensions.png
( + shift) Move map view around
8 2 4 6 7 9 1 3 (keypad) Move map view around
< > Move one Z-level up or down.
F1 Zoom to starting location (default hotkey)

The main map window is what you will be looking at the majority of the time. This is where all of the action happens.

While the play area itself is three-dimensional, the window is not; you can only view one Z-level at a time. You can change which Z-Level is currently displayed using < and >.

On the far right side of the screen is the depth bar showing you the approximate depth, below or above ground, of the current Z-level that the map is displaying. This indicator is relative to the surface, so it will change if you move the map around a map with a non-flat surface, even if you don't press < or >.

Map Cursor[edit]

8 2 4 6 7 9 1 3 (keypad) Move map cursor 1 tile
Move map cursor 1 tile
shift + direction key Move map cursor 10 tiles

After entering a command that involves the map cursor (X), you can use as well as the numeric keypad keys to move the cursor around horizontally and diagonally. If you hold Shift while pressing one of these, the cursor will move 10 tiles instead of one enabling you to move it more quickly.

Examining Map Tiles[edit]

k Look around
v View units
t Items in buildings

Like most people you will often find yourself wondering what some symbol on the map represents, and there may also be more than one object on a tile making it impossible to see all objects on the map. This is what makes the Look Around and view Units commands so important. Like most commands, all of these commands autopause the game, and unpause it when exited with Esc. Most of these commands will also allow you to forbid, dump, melt, or hide each item if you want (see Setting Item Properties).

Look Around[edit]

Hit k and use the directional keys to move the cursor onto the tile you want information about. The command window will display information about what the tile is along with what objects are present on that tile and whether the tile is Inside or Outside, Dark or Light, and Above Ground or Subterranean (See Tile attributes.)

You can also use - + to select a specific item from the list and Enter to get a more detailed description of the item. However if the item is a creature then the information you get from this will be limited. For creatures you will probably want to use view Units.

View Units[edit]

To get information on a creature beyond what the look command gives you, use the view units command. This works the same way as look around except that more information will be displayed especially if the creature you select is one of your dwarves. In this case you will be able to examine what Labors are enabled and examine/manipulate their inventory in addition to viewing more detailed information about them.

Items in Buildings[edit]

Items in a building, such as a workshop, are considered to be "in the building" rather than on a specific tile. To view items inside a building, use View Items In Buildings. Move the cursor onto a building and a list of items will appear in the command window. You can use - + to scroll through this list and set their properties. The material that the building is made of will also appear.


h Define hotkeys
F1 - F8 Zoom to previously saved map location
Shift + F1 - F8 Zoom to previously saved map location
Main article: Hotkeys

Once you have a lot of activities going on in vastly separated areas of the map, you may find it rather cumbersome to move the map view around to all of these areas using only the directional keys. Hotkeys will make your life much easier by "bookmarking" specific map areas allowing you to instantly jump to those areas at the press of a button. See the full documentation on Hotkeys for more details.


N Define Points/Routes/Notes
Main article: Note

The Points/Routes/Notes command allows you to set notes on individual tiles, set up waypoints, and set up patrol routes for your Squads. This is an advanced feature that you're not likely to want to use at first. See the full documentation on Notes for more information.

Overview Map[edit]

The overview mini-map will show you a compact version of the entire available map area. This can be useful especially if your embark zone is very large. After a while though, you will probably have settled into certain areas of the map and won't need it as much, so use Tab to hide it once you want to reclaim more space for the main map.

A cursor that looks like X on the overview map will show you approximately what part of the map you are viewing in the main map window. Parts of the map inhabited by dwarves will be highlighted in blue.

Status Indicators[edit]

In the upper left corner of the screen you may see some report flags indicating that new combat-related Reports have been generated. The flags are:

C: new combat report available
H: new hunting report available
S: new sparring report available

Press r to view the new reports in the reports screen and once you do the flags will be reset.

There is also an Idle counter, usually in the upper right, indicating how many dwarves are milling around uselessly, in need of something productive to do.

You may also see a FPS (Frames Per Second) counter on the screen if it has been enabled. It is disabled by default. See Frames per second for more information on what this counter means, as well as how to enable/disable it.

Command Window[edit]

The command window.

This is where key menus and most of the textual information about tiles and buildings is displayed. You can toggle it between single width, double width, and hidden using Tab. The double-width option is particularly useful when lines of text are too long to fit. Once you become very familiar with the UI you may want to hide it completely; it will reappear as needed when you activate a command.

The most important interfaces that use the command window are listed below. Many of these encompass a wide variety of functionality so they will not be fully described here. See the linked articles for more details on how they are used.


b Enter Building submenu

This submenu allows you to place various dwarf-constructed features on the map including furniture, doors, workshops, farm plots, roads, and other buildings. The Building menu includes the commands for placing almost any artifice that your dwarves might place on the map, whether it's furniture constructed in a workshop and installed somewhere, or a workshop built in place from raw materials.

This menu allows you to place or build:

Most buildings are removed by using q, placing the cursor on the building, and pressing x to mark the building for removal.

Define Burrows[edit]

w Define Burrows

Allows you to define areas to which assigned dwarves will be restricted. This is an advanced feature that you are unlikely to want to use at first. See the Burrows section for more information.


d Enter Designations submenu
d-x Remove/cancel designations

Allows you to designate:

See the appropriate sections for information on each one.

Most designations can be removed/canceled (before the dwarves act on them) by using d-x.


o Enter standing orders submenu

This submenu allows you to set up standing orders that control some general behavior of dwarves, such as whether or not they gather refuse from outside or automatically render fat into tallow. These are not military-related orders.

Set Building Tasks/Prefs[edit]

q Queue up workshop tasks or set building preferences

This allows you to control rooms, buildings, workshops and stockpiles. It is used heavily for setting up manufacturing of various goods. It works much like the look command in that the contents of the command window will depend on which building the cursor is placed.

See the appropriate sections for more information.

q-x is used to remove buildings and cancel their construction if they haven't been built yet.


s Display Squads menu

Once you have created at least one Squad in the military screen, you can give them direct commands to move to certain locations and attack certain creatures. See Squad for more details.


p Define Stockpiles

This lets you define stockpiles which are areas of floorspace where different types of goods are stored.


i Define Activity Zones

This lets you define activity zones which are areas reserved for specific purposes such as fishing or pinning up unfortunate creatures.

Other Screens[edit]

These are functions which have their own user interfaces that take up the entire contents of the screen.


a Display Announcements screen
Main article: Announcement

An announcement is a message displayed at the bottom of the game screen used to indicate something important. The announcement screen lets you go back through the log of messages to look at ones you may have missed. See the main article on Announcements for full details. Some announcements may automatically pause the game, requiring it to manually be resumed.


l View Legendary Artifacts screen

At various points your dwarves will go into Strange moods which will cause them to create Legendary artifacts if they have the necessary materials. You can use this screen to view all of the artifacts that dwarves have created, as well as named weapons, which aren't artifacts per se.


c View nearby civilizations

This screen allows you to view information about Civilizations that are either near your fortress or that you have come into contact with in some manner, be it peaceful or otherwise. You can use directional keys, Enter, Tab, and Esc to navigate through the information, including viewing diplomatic relations and trade agreements you have negotiated with your Liaison.

Combat Reports[edit]

r Display (combat) Reports screen
Main article: Reports

The reports window is similar to the announcements window except that it displays detailed messages about what is going on during Combat either with your dwarves or between other creatures. This is where all of the fun messages about "jamming the skull through the brain, tearing the brain" appear. See Reports for more information.


j Display Job screen
j-m Display Work Orders screen

The job screen will give you a list of what your dwarves are doing, what sort of jobs are queued up but haven't been started yet, and which dwarves are sitting around doing nothing, partying, or otherwise wasting time.

More importantly though, the job screen is one way to access the manager screen. While not strictly required, learning to use the work orders interface is highly recommended as it can save you a tremendous amount of time and trouble. To use this you will need a Manager "noble" who has been assigned an Office. See introduction to work orders for more details on how to use work orders.

Military Configuration[edit]

m Display Military screen
Main article: Military

The Military screen is almost as difficult to learn as the rest of the game put together. The main function of this interface is creating Squads, setting up their equipment, and scheduling their activities. This document won't even attempt to get into how this all works. See Military for how to set up your military.


; Record/save/load/play CMV movie

You can use this to record what's happening on the screen. See CMV for more information.

Nobles and Administrators[edit]

n View Nobles screen

This screen allows you to manage your Nobles, as much as they can be managed anyway. "Noble" refers to certain positions you can appoint yourself such as manager and bookkeeper as well as positions that are forced on you such as Mayor.

If you can appoint someone to a given position you can use this screen to do it. You can also change the accounting precision settings on your bookkeeper. Whether appointed or foisted upon you, you can also use this screen to view information about any of your nobles as well as their annoying demands.

Status Screen[edit]

z Display Status screen
Main article: Status

Use the z (Status) screen to get information on various things in your fortress. The main status screen contains the current date in the upper right, and a count of your dwarves and provisions prepared by your Bookkeeper (who may have done an imprecise job). Along the top of the status screen are various choices for sub-menus. Each can be highlighted with 4 and 6 (or and ), and then selected with Enter. The menu bar consists of the following options which allow you to:

  • Animals - manipulate animals belonging to your dwarves.
  • Kitchen - set cooking preferences.
  • Stone - alter permissions on various types of stones that may be reserved for specific uses by default.
  • Stocks - examine the number of various items that your fortress and its residents possess.
  • Health - get an overview of the current health status of your dwarves. See Healthcare.
  • Justice - examine any criminal dwarves as well as their crimes and sentences.


u Display the Units screen
u-m Display manager screen

This window will display a list of all of your dwarves and what they are currently doing. From here you can select a creature, view information about the creature, zoom to the creature, zoom to the building that a dwarf is working with, enter the manager screen (see #Introduction to Work Orders), or remove the the selected dwarf from his current task.

View Rooms/Buildings[edit]

R View list of Rooms and Buildings

This will give you a detailed inventory of all of the Rooms and Buildings on your map, along with their location on an overview map at the right. The inventory includes an adjective for each defined room indicating the approximate value and luxuriousness of the room. Other items such as furniture which have not actually been defined as rooms will also appear.

Your Dwarves[edit]

Your dwarves are the creatures who implement your designs in between periods of drinking, eating, partying, drinking again, sleeping, and entertaining themselves. While you do not have full control of your dwarves, you have more control over them than any other creatures.

Eating, Drinking, and Sleeping[edit]

Dwarves need food to eat, alcohol to drink (water is a poor substitute), and time to sleep. If only one of these is available, it better be alcohol; while water will keep dwarves alive, they will actually work more slowly and get unhappy thoughts (see below) if they don't get alcohol to drink.

Dwarves will also get unhappy thoughts if forced to eat a single type of food or drink a single type of alcohol all the time, so variety is also important. Dwarves will get unhappy thoughts if forced to sleep on the floor.


While going about their day, dwarves will get happy and unhappy thoughts depending on what sorts of things happen to them. This will nudge their happiness levels up or down each time one occurs to them. If they become too unhappy they may throw tantrums or go completely berserk, killing and destroying things. This is why you want them to be happy.

Children and Immigration[edit]

Periodically new dwarves will migrate to your fortress, drawn by tales of, and looking to share in, your wealth and success. Female dwarves will also get pregnant and have children if they are married.

Jobs and Labors[edit]

Dwarf Therapist

You may have noticed that the UI for managing dwarves is a bit difficult to use. If you are using a supported operating system, the utility Dwarf Therapist can make this a million times easier. Many people won't play the game without it.

Which jobs a dwarf will try to do depend on which Labors are enabled for that dwarf. To change a dwarf's labor preferences, access the labor screen by viewing the dwarf, then select preferences and labor. Using u can help you locate dwarves. Select a dwarf, hit c for "zoom to creature" and you'll automatically be placed in view mode on that dwarf, then use p-l to get to the labor configuration menu.

Any dwarf can perform any labor even if they have no skill in that area. Unskilled dwarves will simply be slow and not very good at what they are trying to do.


Dwarves have Skills which they use to accomplish various labors and other tasks.


Nobles are dwarves who have special positions within your organization. Some of these are appointed such as your broker and bookkeeper, but others such as Mayor are essentially forced on you by conditions in the game. See the main article on Nobles for more information.


Dwarves will inevitably die from wounds or old age (usually the former). Unfortunately they are a bit picky about how they are buried or otherwise memorialized, and they will cause trouble if they are unsatisfied with their remembrance.

Healthcare might help wounded dwarves avoid death.


Main article: Mining

All of the digging operations are considered Mining. Even if your goal is simply to dig out a passage and you don't care about extracting ore, your miners will be generating stone as a byproduct unless they are digging through soil. See Stone management for ways to deal with all the unwanted stone.

All digging operations are done using the designations menu.

Digging Out Tunnels and Spaces[edit]

d-d Designate area to mine

This is what you use to dig out tunnels and larger spaces underground. See designating an area to be mined. Note that you can not mine constructions. Instead you must remove them with d-n. (See below.)


d-h Dig out a Channel

A Channel is a hole dug in the floor which will mine out the z-level below too. Channeling an area will dig out the designated tile (if it hasn't been dug out already), the floor of that tile, and the tile below, possibly leaving a Ramp on the tile below. See Channel for more information.

Stairways and Ramps[edit]

d-u Designate an upward stairway
d-j Designate a downward stairway
d-i Designate an up and down stairway
d-r Designate an upward ramp

See Stair and Ramp. Note that digging a stairway will not automatically create a stairway on the z-level above and/or below, but it will make it possible to dig another stairway immediately above and/or below.

Removing Things[edit]

d-z Remove upward stairs/ramps
d-n Remove a construction

These allow you to dig away upward ramps and stairs, and demolish constructed walls and floors. See Remove for full details.

Warning! Water and Magma[edit]

While digging around you may encounter Water or Magma, so be on the lookout for damp stone and warm stone. Digging into water or magma in the wrong place can completely flood your fort to the point where it is unrecoverable, so be careful where you dig.

Stone Detailing[edit]

d-s Smooth rough stone walls/floors
d-e Engrave stone that has already been smoothed
d-a Carve fortifications

Stone detailing is the term for Smoothing out the rough walls and floors created by mining, making them look nicer while increasing their value. It basically allows you to create nice looking walls from natural rock without having to build them from scratch.

Once walls and floors have been smoothed they can then be Engraved with whatever Engravings the responsible craftsdwarf feels like. Often these engravings will be based on historical events including events that have taken place in and around the fortress itself. Sometimes they will simply be based on what sort of things the engraving dwarf likes.

Smooth walls can also be carved into Fortifications. A Fortification is something like a wall full of arrow slits. Creatures can not move through a fortification but missile weapons can. Fortifications can also be built as #Constructions, but carving fortifications into the rock may save some time and trouble.


Main article: Stockpile

Stockpiles are where dwarves will store items of various types. Dwarves with the corresponding "hauling" job on will seek out items that aren't already on a stockpile that accepts them and carry them to the appropriate stockpile. See the main Stockpile article for detailed information on setting up stockpiles.

Rooms, Furniture, and Portals[edit]

To remove one of these, use the q command, place the cursor on the item to remove, and hit x. This will mark the item for removal and a hauling job will be queued. Eventually a dwarf will show up and haul the item off to a stockpile if one exists.


b-a place Armor Stand
b-b place Bed
b-c place Chair or Throne (seat)
b-n place Burial Receptacle (coffin)
b-f place Cabinet
b-h place Container
b-r place Weapon Rack
b-s place Statue
b-Alt+s place memorial Slab
b-t place Table
b-R place Traction Bench

Assuming that dwarves have already made a piece of Furniture, they can install it somewhere using one of these commands.

Defining Rooms[edit]

Main article: Room

Certain types of furniture placed in an area can allow the area to be defined as a Room using q. The q command can also be used to undefine rooms, with or without removing the associated furniture.

Doors and Hatches[edit]

b-d place Door
b-x place floodgate
b-H place floor Hatch

These commands allow you to place already created Doors and Hatch covers assuming that you have an adjacent wall.

Windows, Grates, and Bars[edit]

b-W place Wall grate
b-G place floor Grate
b-B place vertical Bars
b-Alt+b place floor Bars
b-y place glass window
b-Y place gem window

These commands allow you to install Windows, Grates, and Bars over openings, assuming that you have already created them.


Walls, Floors, and Stairs are removed with d-n. Bridges and roads are removed with q.

Walls, Floors, and Stairs[edit]

b-C build Constructions submenu
b-C-w build Constructed Wall
b-C-f build Constructed Floor
b-C-r build Constructed upward Ramp
b-C-u build Constructed Up Stair
b-C-d build Constructed Down Stair
b-C-x build Constructed up and down Stair
b-C-F build Constructed Fortification
Main article: Construction

Constructions are features that are built in place rather than created in a workshop and installed or carved out of existing rock. Constructions are how you build above-ground structures or structures in any other place where there's no rock or soil to carve them out of.

Constructions are usually built out of, and thus require, Stone or Wood, but you can also use a variety of materials (such as metal) to build them. Possible constructions include Floors, Walls, Stairs, Ramps, and Fortifications.


b-g build a bridge

A Bridge is not only used to cross rivers or chasms, but can also be used as a large door when built as a drawbridge. Such use requires that a Lever be linked to it in order for dwarves to control its open or closed state.


b-o build Paved road
b-O build Dirt road

Roads are most commonly used to give caravans a reliable path to your fortress from the map's edge, though they don't really require one. A paved road is much like a floor except that it requires fewer raw materials per tile to build. A dirt road requires no materials to build, but deteriorates over time.


While things like doors and furniture are technically considered buildings, the Buildings described in this section are primarily the ones that are 3x3 or 5x5 tiles in size and built in place (rather than at a workshop). Most of these buildings are used for the production of various goods.

Like furniture and doors, buildings can be deconstructed by using q, placing the cursor on the building, and hitting x to mark the building for removal. The raw material used to construct the building, and well as all of the items in the building, will be strewn about the area of the former building once a dwarf tears it down. If there is free space in appropriate stockpiles, dwarves will haul these goods away eventually.


b-w-e build Leather works - for making leather clothing
b-w-q build Quern - a manually operated grindstone
b-w-M build Millstone - a mechanically operated grindstone
b-w-o build Loom - for weaving thread into cloth
b-w-k build Clothier's shop - for making clothing from cloth
b-w-b build Bowyer's workshop - for making crossbows
b-w-c build Carpenter's workshop - for making most wood items
b-w-f build Metalsmith's forge - for making most metal items using metal and fuel
b-w-v build Magma forge - a magma-powered Metalsmith's Forge
b-w-j build Jeweler's workshop - for cutting gems and encrusting finished products with cut gems
b-w-m build Mason's workshop - for making most stone items
b-w-u build Butcher's shop - for turning animal corpses into meat, bones, skin, and other body parts
b-w-n build Tanner's shop - for turning untanned hides from the butcher shop into leather
b-w-r build Craftsdwarf's workshop - for making most small crafts from any material
b-w-s build Siege workshop - for building siege engine parts
b-w-t build Mechanic's workshop - for building #Mechanisms
b-w-l build Still - for turning plants into booze
b-w-w build Farmer's workshop - for milking, spinning, shearing, spinning thread and processing plants
b-w-z build Kitchen - for cooking meat, vegetables, eggs, and booze into meals
b-w-h build Fishery - for turning ungutted fish into prepared fish
b-w-y build Ashery - for making Lye and Potash
b-w-d build Dyer's shop - for dying cloth
b-w-S build Soap maker's workshop - for making soap from lye and tallow
b-w-p build Screw press - for extracting liquids from seeds, honeycombs, etc.
b-k build Kennels - for taming and training animals

Workshops are, as the name implies, where various goods are produced or processed. While a Kennel is not in the actual "build workshop" (b-w) submenu, it operates much like a workshop so it is included here. See Production for more information on producing goods.


b-e-w build Wood furnace - for making ash and charcoal
b-e-s build Smelter - for turning ore and metal items into metal bars
b-e-g build Glass furnace - for turning sand into glass
b-e-k build Kiln - for firing things like ceramics and plaster powder
b-e-l build Magma smelter - a smelter powered by magma rather than fuel
b-e-a build Magma glass furnace - a glass furnace powered by magma rather than fuel
b-e-n build Magma kiln - a kiln powered by magma rather than fuel

A Furnace is essentially a workshop that specializes in things involving high temperatures or burning. They can either be powered by Fuel or Magma. See Production for more information on production pipelines that require furnaces.

The magma versions of furnaces are capable of exactly the same things as the non-magma versions except that you don't have to burn Fuel to use them. Instead you get an infinite supply of free heat from nearby magma, but they won't work if you have no magma immediately below them.

Trade Depot[edit]

b-D build trade Depot

A Trade depot is a special building that allows you to trade with Caravans. Without a trade depot you can't do much with a caravan except kill all of it's members and take their stuff, or sit and wait for them to leave the map. See Trading for more information on how to non-violently interact with caravans that visit your fortress.


b-l build well

A Well provides a reliable source of water for your dwarves, especially when the water itself is one or more Z-levels below the well. Unlike furniture it is not created in a workshop and placed, but rather built in-place more like a workshop or construction.


Generic general-purpose Mechanisms can be created by a Mechanic at a Mechanic's workshop out of a stone, or at a Metalsmith's forge from 1 bar of weapons-grade metal. They are used for a variety of very useful purposes including building traps, levers, and machine components.

All of the things built with mechanisms here can be examined, manipulated, and removed using the q command.


b-T Traps submenu
b-T-s build Stone-Fall Trap - drops a stone on any triggering unfriendly creature
b-T-w build Weapon Trap - loaded with individual weapons that automatically attack when triggered
b-T-c build Cage Trap - captures triggering hostiles in a cage
b-T-S build upright spears/spikes - damage opponents falling onto the spikes or when toggled by a mechanism
Main article: Trap

Traps are a comparatively quick and easy method for defending a fortress. Each trap occupies a single tile, waiting for a poor hostile creature to walk into it. To build a trap you'll generally need one mechanism and at least one other component depending on the type of trap - a stone, a cage, or one or more weapons.

These are the simplest forms of traps that you can build. Much more devious and elaborate traps can be constructed using mechanisms, constructions, bridges, pits, water, magma, etc. See Trap design for more information on complex traps.

Levers and Pressure Plates[edit]

b-T-l build Lever
b-T-p build Pressure plate

Levers and Pressure plates are used to activate linked objects. For example, linking a lever to a door will allow the door to be opened and closed when dwarves change the state of the lever. Pressure plates are highly configurable and basically work like levers that activate under certain conditions such as an unfriendly creature standing on the plate.

Levers require one Mechanism to build, and two mechanisms to link to another object (one mechanism for each side of the link). Therefore you will need at least three mechanisms for any lever that does anything useful.

Machine Components[edit]

b-M Machine components submenu
b-M-s build Screw Pump - for pumping liquids up a Z-level
b-M-w build Water Wheel - for generating mechanical power for other components
b-M-m build Windmill - for generating mechanical power for other components
b-M-g build Gear Assembly - for transferring and controlling the transfer of mechanical power
b-M-h build Horizontal Axle - for transferring mechanical power between components on the same Z-level
b-M-v build Vertical Axle - for transferring mechanical power between Z-levels
Main article: Machine component

Machine components are used to build elaborate systems for pumping liquids or powering Millstones. They can be somewhat difficult to learn how to use properly so see the main article before trying to use them. Once you know how to use them, you can do things like pump magma so that it envelops invading enemies.


Dwarves can gather resources from the natural ecosystems on the surface and in caverns. Generally speaking, any type of thing you can gather on the surface you can gather from a cavern, but each ecosystem has its own types of flora and fauna. For example, you can gather wood both on the surface and in caverns, but the wood on the surface will be from trees and wood in caverns will be from giant tree-sized mushrooms. Similarly you can get meat and fish from the surface or caverns, but you will end up with different species from different places.


Fishing is a skill with a corresponding labor that you can enable on individual dwarves. Fisherdwarves will, by default, fish in whatever water they feel like and catch raw ungutted fish that must be gutted at a Fishery before they can be eaten raw or cooked. This is an easy way to get food, but fisherdwarves are often at risk of being attacked by wildlife.


Dwarves can be assigned the Hunting labor and, if they have a Crossbow and ammunition available, they will roam around the map (either the surface or caverns) looking for butcherable creatures to kill and return to a Butcher's shop. This is another way to get food, but like fisherdwarves, hunters can also be vulnerable to attack by wildlife. (Luckily they implicitly carry a weapon which gives them a bit of an advantage.) Hunting is also a good way to have a dwarf train the Marksdwarf skill.

Plant Gathering[edit]

You can designate plants to be gathered using d-p and dwarves with the Plant gathering labor enabled will go about collecting them. Many plants can be eaten as food or brewed into alcoholic beverages. Plants that are eaten or brewed will also yield Seeds which will allow plants of that type to be farmed.


Trees can be cut down using d-t and any dwarf with both the Woodcutting labor and an axe will go about chopping them down. "Trees" exist on both the surface as regular trees and in caverns as giant mushrooms. Not surprisingly, cutting down trees will yield Wood which can be used in Carpentry and other things.


Main article: Industry

Production can be thought of in terms of industries or final products. This section will break things down by final product and introduce the concept of work orders.

Introduction to Work Orders[edit]

Main article: Manager

At any time you can queue up production jobs at specific workshops using the q command, but after you get more than a few workshops built, and especially after you have more than one workshop of a given type, this will become inconvenient.

This is where Work Orders make managing production much easier than it would be otherwise.

While not strictly required, learning to use the manager screen is highly recommended as it can save you a tremendous amount of time and trouble. To use it you will need a Manager "noble" who has been assigned an Office. See Manager#Office for how to set up an office and and Manager#Work orders for how to queue up work orders.


You can make Crossbows at a Bowyer's workshop. Also see Wood industry.


Brewing is arguably the most important type of production in your fortress as it is used to produce Alcohol, something which dwarves depend on to maintain their efficiency.

You think this is a joke, but no.... Seriously, they will actually slow down if they don't get enough alcohol to drink, so failure to have a non-zero supply of alcohol in your fortress will slow everything down.

Brewing takes place at a Still using brewable Plants. You will probably want to reserve some plants for brewing-only using the kitchen status screen, otherwise your dwarves and cooks may use up all of your brewable plants for food. You may also wish to disable the use of alcohol in cooking or cooks will waste perfectly good liquor in creating their meals. Some people brew all plants and have dwarves only eat meat. Dwarves are perfectly happy with this arrangement.


Most wooden items, with the exception of wooden crafts, involve carpentry and a Carpenter's workshop. See Wood industry for more information. The Carpentry skill is also used when building constructions out of wood.


A variety of Ceramic goods may be created with the use of a Kiln and some Clay. See Ceramic industry for all of the gruesome details.


Dwarves are normally perfectly happy to eat sushi, raw organ meats, and many kinds of raw unprocessed plants, but they really appreciate good Cooking and will get many happy thoughts from a masterfully prepared meal. They may even engrave a homage to the cook on the wall.

Cooking is also used to produce Tallow which can be cooked into meals or used for making Soap.


Most crafts, also known as Finished goods, are very meager in practical utility but useful for trade. A single mastercrafted gold trinket might be sufficient to buy up most of a small caravan of goods. Crafts can be made out of a very wide variety of materials including, but not limited to, stone, metal, wood, bone, cloth, leather, etc. See Finished goods for more information on these items and materials.


Your dwarves will, annoyingly enough, die without Food. Farming can help prevent this from happening by providing a reliable constant supply of food for your dwarves, and more importantly a supply of plants or honey for Brewing.


Crops can be grown above ground or underground, but plants that grow above ground won't grow underground and vice versa. See Introduction to Farming for a nice guide on how to grow your own crops.

Plant Processing[edit]

Some plants need to be processed by a Thresher at a Farmer's workshop, a Miller at a Quern or Millstone, or a Presser at a Screw press. See the appropriate links for more information on what sort of plants need processing and what they yield.


You can increase crop yield with Fertilization. You may find this unnecessary if you have plenty of seeds and plenty of space.


Animals can be raised and slaughtered for meat, bones, skin, and other parts. They can also be kept alive for their milk, eggs, and (in the case of bees) honey. Actually bees can't normally be slaughtered but people outside your fort seemed to have figured out how.


See Meat industry for more information about raising animals for slaughter.


Egg production will produce Eggs. Naturally you need to have tame birds or something that can actually lay eggs, and you also need an accessible Nest box.


Instead of slaughtering animals you are able to Milk some of them at a Farmer's workshop periodically. You can then make the milk into Cheese.


If desired you can set up a Beekeeping industry using Hives and dwarves with the Beekeeping skill. This will produce Honey which is extracted from the comb using a Screw press. You can then proceed to brew the honey into Mead at a Still if you so desire.


The Gem industry involves the cutting of and encrusting with Gems. Uncut gems that your miners mine are worth much more after they've been cut, and they can be used to improve the value of other goods by encrusting them.


A variety of glass items can be produced by setting up a Glass industry with a Glass furnace. This basically allows your dwarves to do something useful with any Sand that might be sitting around on your map.


Technically the Leather industry is part of the Meat industry because leather comes from tanning the hides of livestock, but you may find it easier to just Trade for leather and make it into armor, clothing, and other goods.


In addition to building walls and other constructions, a Mason can also use stone to produce goods. Because you will invariably end up with more stone than you know what to do with, stone is a great choice of material for making things that you need a lot of such as Furniture.


Generic general-purpose Mechanisms can be created by a Mechanic at a Mechanic's workshop out of stone, or at a Metalsmith's forge from bars of weapons-grade metal. They are used for a variety of very useful purposes including building traps, levers, and machine components. See Mechanisms.

Siege Engines[edit]

Siege engines must be built of siege engine parts which are produced at a Siege workshop.


Smelting is the process of taking ore obtained through Mining and turning it into usable metal. It's a key part of the Metal industry.


Smithing is the process of taking the metal bars that come from the smelting process and turning them into useful items. See Metal industry for more information.

Soap Making[edit]

Soap is more important than it sounds. It is an important aspect of Healthcare. Dwarves don't care that much if they smell bad, but they do tend to get unhappy and die when their wounds become infected. The antiseptic properties of soap are powerful medicine for preventing infection, making soap almost as useful to wounded dwarves as antibiotics would be.

Soap must be made by taking Wood, burning it into Ash, taking the ash and making it into Lye, then taking lye and Tallow and combining it. This is a rather elaborate process just to get soap, but the healing powers of scrubbing bubbles make it worthwhile. You don't really need that much soap anyway.


A Textile industry allows you to take plant fibers, silk, or spun yarn and weave them into cloth, take the cloth and dye it, and take cloth and make clothing out of it. Raw cloth is also needed in Healthcare for bandages. Cloth can also be used for crafts and other things.


Armor and Weapons are usually made of Metal but can also be made of other things like Wood, Bone, or Leather. See Weaponsmith and Armorsmith.


Main article: Trading

When you want to obtain things not available on your map, and you don't want to just kill people to get them, Trading is the way to go about it. See the main article for everything you ever wanted to know about legitimately and non-violently obtaining things from other creatures.

Military and Combat[edit]

Main article: Military
Also see: Military interface guide

The military is one of the most important aspects of a successful fortress. Even with many traps, drawbridges and other defenses, your military will still need to fend off goblin sieges, megabeasts, titans, and fiendish underground beasties. Using a combination of squad orders and scheduling, you can set up an elaborate offensive, defensive, or balanced military structure for your well-equipped soldiers to follow. Turning your dwarves from useless migrants into bloodthirsty killing machines never hurts (unless you're the enemy).

Setting up a military is a huge subject in and of itself, so check out the main article on the subject and the military interface guide.

Hospitals and Healthcare[edit]

Main article: Healthcare

Normally your dwarves do just fine assuming they get enough food and alcohol, but sometimes they get wounded. When this happens they can benefit from an efficient Healthcare system.


Main article: Burrow

Burrows are optional user-defined areas in your fort where selected dwarves live and work. Dwarves will only use workshops, dig walls, use rooms, etc. in burrows they are assigned to, though dwarves not assigned to any burrow will still use workshops etc. even if they are located in a burrow assigned to some other dwarves.

Burrows are by no means required, but are useful when you want to restrict certain dwarves to certain areas of the map.

Activity Zones[edit]

Main article: Activity zone

Activity zones are areas in which dwarves are instructed to perform specific tasks, such as fishing, dumping objects, or collecting water. Activity zones that can be defined are:

  • Water Source - designates a preferred area for dwarves to obtain water
  • Fishing - designates a preferred area for fishing
  • Garbage Dump - areas for dwarves to dump any items marked for dumping. This is not to be confused with a refuse pile which is a type of stockpile that accepts refuse without any need to mark it.
  • Pen/Pasture - defines an area to restrict livestock to
  • Pit/Pond - defines a hole in the ground that designated creatures can be thrown in
  • Sand Collection - area for collecting sand for glass making
  • Clay Collection - area for collecting clay for making ceramics
  • Meeting Area - designates an area where dwarves will congregate when idle. Certain Rooms are either implicitly meeting areas, or can be configured to act as meeting areas, regardless of this zone setting.
  • Hospital - designates that an area should be used as a hospital. See Hospitals and Healthcare.

See the main article on Activity zones for all of the details on how to define activity zones and exactly what they do.

Standing Orders[edit]

Main article: Standing orders

Standing orders are non-military orders that apply to the entire fortress, including civilians. They should not be confused with military orders as they have no military function. (See Squads for information on issuing military orders.)

Essentially these are general preferences for certain dwarven behavior, such as whether certain tasks (like weaving thread into cloth) will automatically be performed.

Setting Item Properties[edit]

d-b Set building/item properties submenu
z-Stocks Stocks screen
k look command
v view units command

Individual items in the game can be designated as forbidden, marked for dumping or melting, and hidden or unhidden. There is more than one way to set these properties:

  1. Using the "Set building/item properties submenu" commands
  2. Using commands in the Stocks screen
  3. Browsing through the contents of a tile with the look command and flagging items
  4. Browsing through a dwarf's inventory with the view unit command and flagging items


d-b-c reclaim items
d-b-f forbid items
Main article: Forbid

Items that are forbidden will be completely ignored by dwarves. This can be used to stop dwarves from touching items that they might otherwise pick up and use or haul to a stockpile, for example. Reclaiming an item means unforbidding it so that dwarves can use it again.


d-b-m mark items for melting
d-b-M unmark items for melting
Main article: Melt item

Metal items can be marked for melting in a smelter to recycle the metal for other uses. Simply marking an item will not queue up a "melt item" job at a smelter, however.


d-b-d mark items for dumping
d-b-D unmark items for dumping
Main article: Activity zone#Garbage Dump

Marking an item for Dumping causes dwarves to haul the item off to a garbage dump zone. After depositing an item in a garbage dump zone, the item will automatically be forbidden as well. Despite the use of the term "garbage", the dumped items are not necessarily garbage at all. After being dumped they may later be reclaimed and used if desired. Players often use/abuse garbage dump zones for use as Quantum Stockpiles for goods they don't intend to discard.

Note that a garbage dump zone is not the same as a refuse stockpile. "Refuse" refers to a certain class of item that includes animal remains, body parts, bones, etc., generally things that can rot. Designating a refuse stockpile will cause anything in the refuse category to be hauled off to that stockpile without explicitly being marked, whereas a "garbage dump zone" will only ever receive items marked for dumping regardless of what type of items are marked. Non-refuse items can never be "marked" as refuse, but anything can be marked for dumping.


d-b-h hide items
d-b-H unhide items

You can Hide Items or Buildings so that they don't appear on the map. You can later unhide them. See Hide Items or Buildings for more details.

Traffic Designations[edit]

Main article: Traffic

Traffic designations determine preferred paths for dwarves going around in your fortress. Normally, dwarves use the shortest route possible, but using these designations you can force them to take a different route. This is an optional feature that you may not ever need, but if you do then it comes in handy. Careful use of this option can conceivably increase FPS. See the main article on Traffic for detailed information on how all of this works.


Main article: Macros and Keymaps

Macros allow you to record sequences of keystrokes and "play" them back into the user interface as desired. Since the game often requires using a lot of repetitive keystrokes, this can sometimes make life much easier. See the main article for full information.