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Immigration can occur at any time once per season. Smaller migrant waves of 2 to 10 arrive in early seasons, followed by a large wave in the low double digits in the second spring, one year after embark (the maximum wave size reported to date is 77). The first 2 migrant waves are hardcoded and will appear under any circumstances, unaffected by fortress wealth or even the extinction of their home civilization. Each group of migrants will often include domestic animals, including both pets and stray livestock. Many also include children. Be prepared with adequate food, drink, and beds, among other things.

Migrants will often have skills that match your fortress' needs — migrants with skills your fortress uses a lot or skills that your fortress doesn't have at all are more likely to show up at your gates. Important skills (mining, food production, and basic crafting, according to Toady) are weighed more heavily than other skills.Source  · MP3

Migration waves are generally a good thing — if you're prepared for them.

Labor preferences[edit]

Each migrant can arrive with a wide collection of often unrelated skills, far greater than possible with one of the starting 7 dwarves, and experience levels as high as Legendary. Any and all skills might be represented, including obscure military skills (like blowgunner), high levels of one or more social skills, crutch walker, concentration and others. It's even possible to have dwarves with skills that may not be obtainable by other means, like military tactics or tracking.

As of v0.34.03, migrants may arrive with all labors except hauling, cleaning, recovering wounded, and caring for wounded disabled, depending on the settings one has entered into d_init.txt.

High skills from migrants are due to restarting on a world with a previously abandoned fortress. Effectively Dwarves from your old fortress will sometimes migrate to your new fortress. This is most easily confirmed if Dwarves are given an alternate profession name, which they will keep if migrating from your abandoned fortress to your current one. (Example: 'Miner' Dwarf A 'Legendary Miner' will arrive as Dwarf A 'Legendary miner).

Historical migrants[edit]

Some immigrants are historical figures. These immigrants come to your fortress with skills representing their history, and may come to your fortress with wounds they have suffered during world generation. Immigrants may even be vampires.

Limiting/preventing immigration[edit]

If the fortress population exceeds the population cap when the dwarven liaison is visiting he will note that you don't want any more dwarves. On his safe return to the dwarven homeland, he will "report" your population, and if that number exceeds the setting of the POPULATION_CAP option in d_init.txt, no new migrants will be sent. You can stop migration by setting that cap to a number lower than the population at the time of the last liaison visit. If births or immigration put you over the limit after the liaison visited, you will still receive migrants, because only the reported population is taken into account.

The first two immigrant waves are hardcoded so you will always receive them, and if you have fewer than 4 dwarves POPULATION_CAP is ignored.[1] The number of migrants depends on the created wealth of your fortress and so is affected by your dwarves' activities. Note that if your fortress should ever become a mountainhome, you will receive an additional migration wave with the promotion, regardless of your population cap. The number of migrants is not affected by how far below the population cap your fortress was. One dwarf short, or twenty - it's all the same.

It is worth noting that you need a certain minimum population size before any of your dwarves will experience strange moods. Additionally, POPULATION_CAP affects only migration, it has no effect on pregnancies. You will need to alter BABY_CAP in order to limit births.

To reiterate, the population cap is not a hard limit on the number of dwarves in your fortress; It is a soft cap on immigration that only is checked when a liaison successfully reports back to your home civ. If a player is as little as 1 dwarf under their population cap when the liaison leaves, they will be eligible for a full year of normal immigration. As such, it is recommended that players set their population cap at 20-30 dwarves below the number of dwarves they actually want in their fort.

There is a bug report tracking experiences/problems with the POPULATION_CAP setting.Bug:2922

Removing the [ACTIVE_SEASON:AUTUMN] token for dwarves("ENTITY:MOUNTAIN") in entity_default.txt disables all immigration after the first two hard-coded waves, however it also disables the dwarven caravan and diplomat.[2]

Immigration mechanics[edit]

The date on which immigrants appear in a season seems to be fixed at the start of that season, but the number of immigrants and their skills are determined when the migrant wave arrives.

There is never a migration in the first winter. There won't even be a The fortress attracted no migrants this season message.

Migrant skill levels seem to depend on the size of the home civilization; a difference will be noticed if you picked a dwarven civilization that was not well established (few towns or none) compared to a well established one.

Migrant wave sizes[edit]

The first two migrant waves have a minimum size of 1, if it has a relative in your group already, and a maximum size of 10. The size of these waves are unaffected by fortress wealth.

The third migrant wave and on are influenced by the created wealth of the fortress, with more wealth attracting more immigrants (more research is needed to determine specifics). Specifically, they're influenced by the fortress wealth as reported by the last outgoing dwarven caravan. Wealth created after the caravan leaves has no influence until the next year's caravan leaves. If the caravan fails to make it out then the fortress' wealth is not reported. The dwarven liaison does not report on fortress wealth, in those circumstances where the liaison makes it out but the caravan doesn't.

Imported wealth, caravan sales figures, absolute caravan profit and caravan profit margin either have no effect on migration numbers, or only have an effect by applying a percent modification to the numbers driven by created wealth. If a fortress manages to trade (not offer) away 100% of its created wealth then no immigrants will come the next season. More research is needed to determine if the aforementioned statistics have any influence on migration numbers.

One factor which is known to affect migrant wave size is the total size of your fortress's units list (all 4 categories), which consists of dwarves, invaders, merchants, and animals which either died or currently live at your fortress. As this number increases, the maximum size of migrant waves will be reduced: starting at a local population of 1000, migrant wave sizes are limited to 10, and at subsequent levels of 1300, 1600, 1800, 2000, 2200, 2400, 2600, 2800, and 2900, the limit is decreased by 1, and once you reach a local population of 3000 you will cease to get migrants at all.

Kurik Amudnil created a DFHack script to prevent the latter from happening, by clearing (and storing, so that it can be restored as wanted) the dead units list of uninteresting creatures. It is available here and is also included in the Lazy Newb Pack.

Adventure mode[edit]

In certain locations in adventure mode, you may come across a Migrating Group. One such location is near a recently abandoned fortress; choosing to travel to the group will allow you to talk to the members of your former fortress as they travel back to dwarven civilization.

Fortress Failure Migration[edit]

If a fortress is abandoned during unhappy, stark raving mad times the citizens can migrate to your new fortress still stark raving mad (berserk possibly, further looking into required).


If any migrants to your fort were formerly traders or soldiers with a trade caravan, then they will be marked as a "friendly" Trader, stand around at the map edge for a while (blocking the rest of the migrants, and caravans or even a Monarch), and then wander around randomly, unable to be assigned labors. Bug:5098 DFHack includes a command "tweak fixmigrant" as a workaround for this bug. This bug occurs most often if your starting dwarven civilization at embark is a very small one with few or even no towns at all.

Also, some migrants will be incorrectly listed as babies or children, when they are not in the expected age range for those categories. This will automatically fix itself when they have their next birthday. Some baby migrants may have future birth dates. Bug:3945

You might have a situation where a single migrant can't find the fort and just stands at the edge of the map, not moving at all.

D4Dwarf.png This article or section has been rated D for Dwarf. It may include witty humour, not-so-witty humour, bad humour, in-jokes, pop culture references, and references to the Bay12 forums. Don't believe everything you read, and if you miss some of the references, don't worry. It was inevitable.

Migrant Usefulness[edit]

Whenever a migration wave arrives, most players will stop what they are doing to check the migrant's jobs as soon as possible. This generally creates different reactions in players.

Very Good Migrants

-Weaponsmiths, the higher skill the better. Of course, a weaponsmith becomes "meh" if you have already plenty of them.

-Armorsmiths, technically even more useful than a weaponsmith.

-Miners, always useful unless your fort is more than mature.

-High skill Grower. Always useful to flood your fortress with even more plump helmets make large amounts of flour.

-High skill Cook. Will quickly boost your fortress's value.

-Soldiers. Nearly always useful: if you don't have some you can make your militia, and if you have some they will be reservists, in case something fun happens to the militia.

Good Migrants

-Strand extractor. Yes, it's something that can be done unskilled, but skilled strand extractors are quick, and strand extraction is SLOW.

-High skill Metal crafters. Do you want to fill the next caravan with *silver mugs* ? Now you can !

-High skill Engravers, Stonecrafters, Glassmakers or Potters: Generally quite useful, most especially engravers who take quite a while to train.

-High skill Healthcare dwarves are always useful, for trying to save that one beloved soldier faster.

-Mechanics are always useful, and high quality mechanisms makes your machinery run smoother as well.

Average Migrants

-Peasants. No, they are not useless: with peasants you can train them in a moodable skill and somewhat control the artifacts your fortress will produce. Also, they make good haulers. (But this is less important because you probably have 20 idlers already)

-Jewelers. Eh. It just doesn't produce much value, and gems are only useful for moods and as a trade good.

-Farmers. Can be put to use but generally not very useful, unless they have a high skill. Though if you like gems, it will probably be higher.

-Animal trainers. If you train a lot of animals, however, they become good migrants.

-Ambushers. They usually come with marksdwarf skill, but they immediately go hunting when they appear, causing uncontrolled dwarves and possibly fun.

-Bowyer. Weaponsmiths can do everything bowyers can do. Well, they can be useful in a low-metal or no-metal fortress. May be also an useless migrant.

Useless Migrants, also known as Oh look, a legendary cheesemaker! Let's put it in the military ASAP!

-Cheese makers. You know them, you love them. If you actually bother to milk animals and make cheese it may just be what you want, but...

-Milkers. See cheesemaker.

-Fisherdwarfs and Fish cleaners. You mean your plump helmet farms aren't overproducing already ? Though fishermen tend to fall prey to carp accidents on their own. Can be useful in case you want to produce even more food, or are in an island/ocean fort.

-Woodcrafter. Shun the elf sympathizers! Also, the only decent use for a woodcrafter is making quality (hopefully) enormous corkscrews to sell to the caravan, in case you don't have enough metal.

-Potash maker, Lye maker, Soaper, Wood burner. Oh wow. At least you'll have another guy to your soap industry, but it's not like you can activate soaper, lye maker and wood burners on a few idlers right ?

-Dyer... when was the last time you dyed some cloth ?

-Children. At least you will have a peasant. In a long, long time.

Completely Useless Migrants, also known as Can I toss them in the volcano please ?

-Animal dissectors, and yes you SHOULD toss them into that volcano.

-Fish dissectors *facepalm*

-Trappers. The only redeeming thing is that they tend to come with marksdwarf or animal trainer skill.

-Animal caretakers, although they are bugged at the moment and will become more useful when the job will no longer be bugged.