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Uses for metalworking, glass making and ceramics[edit]

  • If you have the INVADERS option‡ set to YES then you'll definitely need to make metal armor and weapons. A military with equipment made entirely from wood, bone and stone isn't going to be very effective.
  • Some nobles‡ will make demands and production mandates for metal, glass and ceramic items.
  • Making statues out gold, platinum or aluminum is a good way to make high-value furniture which can be installed into rooms to raise their quality or be put into communal areas so admiring them can give happy thoughts.
  • Goblets made from gold can be used to buy a lot of stuff from the caravans.
  • If your fortress is at a site with no trees on the surface, like a desert or glacier, you can make bins, buckets, crutches and splints out of metal in order to conserve your supplies of wood (though you can get everything but bins from caravans).
  • If you have any sand or clay floors on your site you can collect an endless amount of the materials for making glass and ceramics.

Normal forges and furnaces vs magma powered ones[edit]

Forges and furnaces need power in order to operate. Normal ones are powered by consuming fuel, either charcoal made from wood or coke refined from bituminous coal or lignite. The magma version are powered by being placed one z-level above magma and need no fuel. Magma is usually obtained from the ubiquitous magma sea, but is sometimes acquired from a volcano instead.

Advantages of magma power[edit]

The advantage of magma power all stem from the fact that you can use it endlessly without using up any fuel:

  • You can melt all of the iron weapons and armor left behind by goblin sieges, turning them into bars your metal workers can use, without using up all your fuel.
  • You can train your armorsmith and weaponsmith by having them make weapons and armor out of copper and silver, so they'll have more experience when they later use steel or adamantine.
  • You can recycle all your low quality products via melting.
  • If you have any sand on your site you can churn out endless amounts of raw glass to train your gem setter and gem cutter.
  • If you have any sand or clay on your site you can churn out endless amounts of glass and ceramic goods to trade to the caravans. Glass and ceramic are three times more valuable than ordinary rock and 50% more valuable than flux. (Of course, a skilled stonecrafter is going to make more valuable stone goods than an unskilled glassmaker or potter).

Disadvantages of magma power[edit]

The big disadvantage of magma power is that the magma usually comes from the magma sea, which is usually 60 or more z-levels below the surface, meaning that not only do you have to dig down quite a ways, but if the main part of your fortress is up near the surface there's a long round trip of anyone involved.

Mitigating the problem of magma power[edit]

There are multiple ways of dealing with the problem of the long round trips:

  • Make a second living area down near the magma sea, including bedrooms, and manually assign the bedrooms to anyone working down there. This way the only dwarves making long round trips will be the haulers.
  • You can make a 1x1 tile wide pit going all the way down to your magma works and put a garbage dump next to it so that dumped items will be thrown down it, to save the time on hauling items all the way down. However, this requires a bit of micromanagement, especially to dump down bags of sand without spilling the sand.
  • Choose a fortress site which has a volcano, so you can put your magma works near the surface.
  • Move some magma up closer to the surface (taking advantage of the fact that magma in Dwarf Fortress never cools, thus acting as an infinite source of energy):
    • You can move magma up by using pumps made from magma safe materials.
    • You can take advantage of the game's simplistic simulation of liquid displacement via a magma piston, which will teleport magma up many z-levels.
  • Build your fortress down near the magma sea. You can use the water from the lowest cavern to irrigate rock for farming, leaving only few dwarfs up near the surface to cut down trees for wood. You'll only need to go up to the surface to trade with caravans and to fight ambushes and sieges.

Safely tapping into the magma sea[edit]

We're going to build a set of magma powered workshops, so you will know how it's done, and so you don't have to worry about running out of fuel. If you end up using it a lot you should make a second living area down there for the workers (including a sculpture garden, zoo or meeting area activity zone so they don't trek all the way up to the surface when on break).

You're going to dig some tunnels and connect them to the magma sea to flood them with magma, thus bringing the magma to your workshops. However, there are dangerous monsters living in the sea that you want to keep out. You could use either a floodgate or a drawbridge connected to a lever to let magma into the tunnels and then block off the sea, but since some of the inhabitants of the magma sea are building destroyers which can destroy floodgates you'll want to use a drawbridge. Since the drawbridge and the mechanism connecting it to the lever are going to be submerged in magma for a while they need to be made out of magma safe material to prevent them from being destroyed. ((INSTRUCTIONS ON DIGGING OUT SOME MAGMA SAFE STONE))

Now put a stone stockpile next to the mechanic's workshop, accepting only the magma safe stone. Once some of the rock has been deposited there, add three "make mechanism" jobs to the workshop to ensure that at least two magma safe mechanisms are made (the first chunk of rock your mechanic picks might not be a magma safe one, depending upon where s/he is when the job is accepted). Only the mechanism attached to the drawbridge needs to be magma safe, but to avoid accidentally attaching the wrong mechanism to the bridge both mechanisms involved in the connection should be magma safe. The mechanism the lever is made from does not need to be magma safe.

Go back to the 1x1 tile exploratory stairwell you dug down to the magma see and widen it to 3 tiles wide (if your miners are digging else, remove enough of the mining designation (d-x) to stop them so they can concentrate on this). When you get down to relative depth ____, absolute elevation ____, stop and lay out some unconnected designations for workshops, hallway, and stone stockpile, like this:

Turn on notes mode (N) to reveal flashing * notes to show you were the 3x3 workshop spaces should be centered

The upstairs (d-u) in the hallway are to a stockpile for finished goods and smelted bars of metal.

Designate a downstairs (d-j) where the flashing > note is, an upstairs (d-u) right under it a level down, then dig out tunnels to match up with the following:

The notes (N) are next to the tunnels, not on top of them

At the end of the tunnel right next to the magma sea, place a west raising drawbridge (b-g-a-Enter) and choose a chunk of the magma safe rock to build it from. Place a lever (b-T-l) on the level with the furnaces and forges, and connect it up to the bridge using the magma safe mechanisms (q-a-b).

Once the bridge is linked up, designate all the rocks in the tunnel to be forbidden (d-b-f) so that no dwarf goes down there to pick some up, then one level up construct a wall (b-C-w) over the downstairs into the tunnel. With the tunnels blocked off, dig north to the where the blinking C note (N) is and at the C designate a channel (d-h). The channel will dig out the stone wall at the C, the floor underneath it, and the stone wall one level down, letting the magma sea flood into the tunnels. Construct a wall (b-C-w) over the hole to block off the magma sea.

Now you just have to wait for the tunnels to fill up. You can tell how full they are by looking (k at the magma. It will show Magma [<Depth>/7], where a depth of 7 is full up to the ceiling. Then tunnels will be full enough when their ends are at least 5 deep. At that point make sure there aren't any monsters in the tunnels and pull the (q-a-P) to raise the drawbridge, closing off the tunnels from the magma sea.


Connect up for digging the designations for the hallway, stockpile and one of the 3x3 workshop areas between the hallway and stockpile, making sure to connect it to both:


The stockpile is for rocks that will be involved in smelting, which will go into the smelter via the opening to the ___ and the across the hall to the forges or up the stairs to the second stockpile (which you can dig out yourself when you're ready for it).

Even though you've dug out the 3x3 area, it's not fully ready to support a magma smelter, since there needs to be a way to let in the heat of the magma. The magma must be visible through at least one hole in the floor which isn't the center of the 3x3 area. To do this, dig a 1x1 channel (d-h) either east or west of the center of the room.


Now to place it. Though smelters and other furnaces look and act like workshops, they're placed by a different menu. Use b-e to get to the menu, the l to select a magma powered smelter. Once placed, it will take someone with the architecture labor enable to design it, just like for bridges. Note that, since it involves architecture, it does not need someone with the furnace operator labor enabled to finish building it, but someone with masonry. You'll still have to give one of your dwarves the furnace operator labor to use it, though.

With the smelter constructed, try adding a job to it (q-a). You'll see that, unlike with the other workshops so far, you can choose exactly what type of raw material you want to use. A job will be in white if you have the right raw materials and red if you don't. Except for melting none of the jobs have a key associated with them, so you have to scroll with - and + to highlight a job and Enter to add it.

In addition to the "Smelt <rock> Ore" jobs, you'll see some "Make ...." jobs. These are for producing coke (more on this later) and for making alloys. Alloys can be made either from metal bars, indicated by "(use bars)", or by directly mixing together the ores which make the metals that go into the alloy, indicated by "(use ore)".

Making steel[edit]

Making steel is more involved than smelting other metals:

  1. Make two bars of iron.
  2. Make one of the iron bars into a bar of pig iron by combining it with a piece of fuel (which supplies carbon) and a chunk of flux rock (like the _____ near the surface of your fortress).
  3. Combine the iron bar and the pig iron bar with a second piece of fuel and second piece of flux to make two bars of steel.

You can get the fuel either by turning wood into charcoal at a wood furnace or by turning lignite or bituminous coal into coke at a smelter. Since you want to save on wood, and there's lignite and coal available, you'll want to do the second. At a magma smelter lignite has a net product of two pieces of coke and bituminous coal has a net product of three pieces of coke (non-magma smelters use fuel to make fuel, so the net product of coke is one less when using them). Thus, at a magma smelter the set of jobs, in proper order, for making steel is:

  • Smelt <iron> Ore
  • Smelt <iron> Ore
  • Make coke from <lignite or coal>
  • Make pig iron bars
  • Make steel bars

If you put each of the five jobs on repeat then the smelter will cycle through them, spitting out steel bars until it runs out raw materials. Note that if you make coke from coal instead of lignite you'll end up with an extra piece of coke for every two steel bars you make, so after a while you'll need to remove the "make coke" job to use them up, and then put it back in when you've used up all the excess.

Setting up the smelter stockpile[edit]

If you're going to be using the forges and smelters with any regularity you're going to want to turn off the hauling labors for your metal workers and put a stockpile‡ right next to the smelters for the things your smelters will be using, so they can spend their time smelting while haulers take care of moving the rocks all the way down to the magma sea. While you could make one large stockpile that accepts everything, this would be a bad idea, as it might fill up almost entirely with one sort of ore, leaving only a few spaces for the other ores you're smelting. Instead, you should make several independent stockpiles, one for each type of stone you're using at the smelters. In particular, if smelting steel, you should make one stockpile for iron ores, one stockpile of the same size for flux, and one stockpile half the size for coal and lignite.

Job canceled: need 150 bars of metal[edit]

If you're making an alloy from metal bars (but not directly from ores) or making pig iron or steel, but run out of the metal bars needed, you'll get a cancellation message saying that 150 bars of the missing metal are needed (or even multiples of 150). This is a bug. It's just one (or two or three) bars that are actually needed.


Connect the 3x3 digging designation across the hallway to dig out room for the forge, and channel (d-h) out a 1x1 tile hole in the floor one tile west or east of the center to let the heat of the magma in.

When it comes to placing and building the forge, keep in mind that even though it uses heat, a forge doesn't fall under the category of a furnace, so it's found under the workshop menu rather than the furnaces menu, and it doesn't use the architecture or masonry labors to build, but one of the four metal working labors (aside from furnace operator). Two of your starting dwarves, _____ and ____ (with the custom professions "Mine/Arm" and "Mine/Weap") are an armorsmith and weaponsmith in addition to being miners, so for this part you'll probably want to turn their mining labor off, or turn the metalsmithing or metal crafting labors an for a different dwarf (unless one of your migrants has one of these skills).

A magma powered forge can be placed with b-w-v. In addition to being made from a rock, making a forge also takes an anvil, one of which is still sitting in your wagon.

When the forge is built, adding a job to it (q-a) will show a menu with these options:

When you choose an option from the menu it will then ask you what type of metal to make it from, giving a list which can be scrolled through with - and + and selected with Enter. Unlike with a smelter, all of the listed metals will be white, even if you don't have any metal bars of that type to use. After selecting a type of metal it will list the types of items that can be made from, a list which can be scrolled through with - and + and selected with Enter. If you selected a type of metal of which you have no bars then a cancellation message will be given.

Forge skills/labors[edit]

There are four metal working skills/labors used at a forge:

Plus there's two non-metal related skills/labors that can be used at a forge:

Keeping skills from rusting[edit]

If you plan on setting up a military during this tutorial game, but not right now, you should have your armor smith and weapon smith each make a few pieces of copper equipment every once in a while to keep in practice, since otherwise their skills will rust.

Glass furnace[edit]

A magma powered glass furnace is placed via b-e-a, in a 3x3 are with one of the non-central tiles channeled to reveal the magma one level down; being a furnace, it needs the architecture and masonry labors to build. Unlike a forge, everything made at a glass furnace uses a single skill/labor, Glassmaking (the labor is under under the Crafts labor group). Also unlike forges, glass items are made directly from the raw material (sand) rather than going through an intermediary step; glass items are not made from "raw glass".

Glass furnaces can make the following:

Green glass, clear glass and crystal glass[edit]

Green glass is made from sand without anything else added. Clear glass is made from sand plus pearlash; this generally isn't worth it, since making a unit of pearlash consumes a log and takes three steps to produce. Crystal glass is made from the rock crystal gem plus pearlash, but a bug currently prevents crystal glass from being made.

The color of sand used to make glass has no effect on the type of glass made.

Collecting sand[edit]

Unless you bought sand at embark or from a caravan you're going to need to collect it from a floor made from sand. To do this:

  1. Make a 1x1 tile activity zone (i to enter zone mode, Enter-Enter once cursor is placed properly) and make it a sand collecting zone (s). If there's floor is made of sand and it's not covered by grass, a shrub or sapling. Then screen will show Sand (1) if it can be used as to gather sand and Sand (0) if it can't.
  2. Add a "Collect Sand" job to a glass furnace (q-a-s).
  3. A dwarf with the "Item Hauling" labor enabled will take an empty bag and fill it with sand.
  4. If there is a furniture stockpile‡ with empty space which accepts sand bags the bag will be hauled there by a dwarf with the "Furniture Hauling" labor enabled. Otherwise the bag will be left on the tile where the sand was gathered.

Some notes on this:

  • A single tile of sand can fill an endless amount of bags.
  • A glass furnace with an active "Collect Sand" job can't be used for anything else until the job completes or is canceled, even though the furnace is not physically being used by any dwarf. If you want to simultaneously make glass at a glass furnace and gather sand, make a second glass furnace and issue the sand collection jobs from there.
    • The furnace issuing the collection jobs doesn't use or need any power, and so can be an normal glass furnace rather than a magma powered one.
    • The furnace issuing the collection jobs doesn't need to be in any particular location relative to the sand, and doesn't even need to be accessible to your dwarves.

Ceramics and kilns[edit]

A magma powered kiln is placed via b-e-a, in a 3x3 are with one of the non-central tiles channeled to reveal the magma one level down; being a furnace, it needs the architecture and masonry labors to build. Ceramics are made using the pottery skill/labor, which can further be glazed using the glazing labor.

Three types of ceramics can be made:

Stoneware and porcelain are water-tight as-is, while earthenware is only water-tight if glazed.

Things that can be made from ceramic:

Collecting clay[edit]

To collect clay, follow the same steps as in the collecting sand section, but use clay floors and kilns instead of sand floors and glass furnaces; the only big difference is that you don't need bags to gather clay.

Kaolinite is a type of stone, and is hence mined instead of gathered from an activity zone. This means that a particular fortress site will only have a limited amount of kaolinite, unlike the limitless amounts of sand and clay that can be gathered.


  • Right now every metal object takes only one bar of metal to make. This a bug, and when it's fixed many items will take two or more bars of metal, so don't get too used to it.
  • Windows don't let outside light inside, since all outside light in the game falls straight down.
  • Surface sand floors and clay floors can become covered with grass, shrubs or saplings, preventing sand from being collected; underground ones can become covered with cave moss, floor fungus or cavern saplings/shrubs if any caverns have been breached.
    • You can remove the grass/moss/fungus/sapling by placing a dirt road (b-O) over it.
    • You can put a floor grate on top of the sand floor to prevent anything from growing there while still allowing sand to be collected.
  • A sand bag will be made empty, and thus freed up for further use, if the sand is used to make glass, or if the sand is dumped. This requires examining the contents of the bag and marking the contents for dumping rather than the bag. Marking the bag for dumping without marking the sand for dumping will result in the still-full-of-sand bag being dumped.
  • If you mass designate many sand bags for dumping (d-b-d), then both the bags and the sand they contain will be marked for dumping. If you want to dump only the bags so the sand stays inside of them (to dump them down a chute which leads to a magma power glass furnace), then either:
    1. Look (k) at the bags and mark them for dumping individually
    2. Mass designate them for dumping and use the stocks screen‡ to remove the dumping mark from the sand (which will be under the "Powder" category).
  • If you want to do a lot of glass making, the availability of bags it going to be a limiting factor. Even if you have enough bags for glass making, if you tie them all up collecting sand then there won't be any left for processing food, like quarry bush leaves, flour and sugar. You should probably wait until after the autumn caravan arrives, so you can buy lots of cloth and leather to make lots of bags.
  • Blocks can't be used by smelters or forges. A block of ore can't be smelted into metal, a block of metal can't be forged or used to make an alloy, and a block of flux can't be used to make pig iron or steel.