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A ramp is a map feature that allows dwarves, wagons, and other creatures to move between levels. When viewed with k they are called slopes, and they occur naturally on most maps, acting as hillsides. Dwarves may make them by digging with d + r from below or with d + h from above, or construction with b + C + r.
Ramps were the only way that wagons could move between levels in order to access a trade depot in previous versions. Caravans with wagons don't show up in the current version, but when this is fixed it is very likely that this behavior hasn't changed. So unless you build your depot above ground or set into a cliff, you will probably have to create ramps to allow access to it.
Ramps are shown with the ▲ symbol (pointing "up"). The space above a ramp is shown as a ▼ and called a "downward slope". A downward slope is not an independent feature (as opposed to a downward stair), but rather a counterpoint to the upward slope below it; it functions otherwise as open space -- the ▼ symbol is more of a display nicety than a type of terrain. When the rest of this article refers to ramps, the upward (▲) space is meant.
Note that ramps function similarly to floors in that units can walk on them without any problems, even if they are over open space. They will also support adjacent buildings.
Movement Using Ramps
For the purposes of unit movement, a ramp connects the ramp bottom to the tops of walls adjacent to the ramp bottom. So unlike stairs, where a dwarf moves directly up or down, a dwarf moving via a ramp will change both horizontal and vertical location in a single move. This can make it seem like a ramp has "direction" or "flow" by itself, but in fact this depends entirely on the spaces adjacent to the ramp.
More formally, for a creature to use a ramp, all of the following are necessary:
- The space directly above the ramp must be open.
- The ramp must have a wall next to it.
- The space above one of the adjacent walls must be open.
If these conditions are met, creatures will be able to move back and forth between the ramp space and the walkable space above the adjacent wall.
Example A shows a situation where a ramp might be created that is actually unusable. Dwarves cannot ascend or descend (or cross) the ramp as shown because the walkable spaces above the ramp are not walled underneath, therefore dwarves cannot move between the ramp bottom and the spaces by the top of the ramp. If walls were added under the upper floor spaces, the ramp would become usable.
Note: Fortifications CAN be used by ramps as the adjacent 'wall', provided those fortifications have walkable space above them (which would apply to all carved out fortifications, or those constructed with additional flooring).
Dwarves may construct ramps out of building materials such as stone, wood, blocks, and bars, but it is more common to dig them from natural walls (see mining).
Digging ramps can be accomplished in two ways. Dwarves can carve ramps from adjacent spaces on the same z-level, and dwarves can channel from above, which will carve a ramp out of the natural wall below (if any). In both cases the space and floor above the ramp will be carved out as well to make an open space.
Note that dwarves will happily dig out or construct ramps that are not immediately usable. Check the criteria above if dwarves do not seem to be using the ramps they have made.
Natural or carved ramps that are adjacent to walls will collapse (disappear) if those walls are mined out. This can strand dwarves, so be careful when removing walls near those ramps. In addition, trying to carve a ramp under something that cannot be dug out (such as a construction, building, or tree) will result a slope, but leave the upper floor intact. This may create a cave-in situation dangerous to your miners.
Constructed ramps will not collapse, and it is possible to create carved free-standing ramps as well, but the ramps will still not be usable without adjacent walls.
Natural and carved ramps can be destroyed via the designation menu using the Remove Up Stairs/Ramps selection (d -> z, using the ingame interface). Like the selection says, only upwards slopes (and carved stairs) can be removed in such a manner, and only from the same level as the (upward) ramp. Selecting a downwards ramp in such a manner has no effect, and removing the upward ramp will automatically remove the downward ramp designation from the level above, replacing it with "open space". Ramps at the edge of the map cannot be removed this way.
Constructed ramps can be removed like any other construction via the designation menu with the Remove Construction selection (d -> n, using the ingame interface).
Ramps Versus Stairways
As explained above, ramps have important limitations, but if constructed correctly they can allow slightly faster movement than stairways. For example, if a dwarf wants to go down and to the north using a stairway, it will have to take two steps: one step down a stairway and one step to the north. Going to the same place using a ramp only requires 1 step.
Ramps and Channeling
In previous versions, ramps were considered preferable to a large amount of channeling, since they would remove the floor above. However, in 2010, most situations with channeling will create a ramp instead of just open space.
However, channeling a single pillar of stone, or a floor without stone or dirt wall beneath, will still cause open space, and this can cause injuries to your miners.
Barracks • Bedroom • Dining room • Dormitory • Jail • Meeting hall • Hospital • Office • Sculpture garden • Tomb • Zoo
Animal trap • Anvil • Armor stand • Bed • Bin • Box • Bucket • Cabinet • Cage • Coffin • Restraint • Seat • Statue • Table • Weapon rack
Fortification • Floor • Stairs • Ramp • Wall
|Machine & Trap parts|
Axle • Gear assembly • Millstone • Screw pump • Water wheel • Windmill • Lever • Pressure plate • Trap • Support
Archery target • Kennel • Shop • Siege engine • Trade depot • Wagon • Well