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v0.34:Military F.A.Q.

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This article is about an older version of DF.

This is a list of Frequently Asked Questions related to the military. You may also want to read squads, scheduling and equipment.

My dwarves won't do anything but stand around![edit]

By default newly created squads are assigned the 'Inactive' alert. You will need to create new alert levels or create new scheduling within alert levels (see Scheduling) to get them to do what you want. Note that 'Inactive' and 'Active/Training' are not the only two options available - they are simply the two default alerts and rather useless without creating more alerts and scheduling.

NOTE: If you are simply trying to get your military to train, you need to create a barracks and assign the squad to train there: press t while viewing your barracks with q, to set that squad to train.

A handy check list for when you've no more hair to pull out.

  1. You need a commander for the squad
    In the military Screen, listed on the left will be the option Militia Commander for your first squad. create a squad based on that position and set its basic equipment uniform. Place the Dwarf you want to lead in position 1 and fill the remaining positions as you want.
    Note: If you later go to the nobles screen, the first squad's leader will be listed as Militia Commander while subsequent squad leaders will be listed as Militia Captains. Also note that if a squad leader dies, you need to replace him or her.
  2. The squad needs orders
    By setting up a schedule, the squad will know what it should be doing each month of game time without direct input from you. Training (10 minimum) all year round is down as default. The "10 minimum" acts more like a maximum - dwarves will train with any number up to 10 squad members. Dwarves will always leave training temporarily to go on a break and eat, drink or sleep. Unhappy thoughts about "long patrol duty" are not related to these short breaks, but rather result from not enough "Inactive / no order" scheduling orders for their squad, irrespective of whether a particular dwarf has been training hard or not. Heroic military dwarves (experience level of "Great" or better) in a weapon skill will no longer get unhappy thoughts about "long patrols".
    Note: You can give very intricate operating orders for training, patrolling, etc., but they are not needed initially and may cause confusion getting your dwarves to activate for the first time.
  3. The squad needs a barracks
    Assuming you already have a barracks-marked room, query-ing the barracks-denoting piece of furniture (bed, armor stand, or weapons rack) will list all of your squads. Then, select the squad you want from the list.
    (z) flags the area for sleeping
    (t) flags the area for training
    (i) and (q) flags the area for dumping their equipment all over the place. This is only important if your squads ever go inactive and have been ordered to switch to civilian gear only.
    Note: Each option turned on will be marked with a single multicolored letter. Make sure that at least the Cyan T is showing to the right of the squad's listing, designating the area is used for the their training. You will probably have more than one bed, armor stand, or weapon rack in the barracks, so will have to find the one room-defining object by moving the cursor around. Remember to only have one piece of furniture define the space, don't have overlapping room definitions.
  4. The squad needs to be activated
    In the squad screen, Your first squad will be selected with (a), whereupon the (t) option will toggle the squad between its inactive state and its active/<scheduling> state.
    Note: The squad starts off inactive and, when activated, should now show Active/Training if their schedule was left as the default train all year.
  5. Hope for the best!
    Un-pausing the game, you should be receiving the drafted Dwarves' Professions changing to their military versions almost immediately.

Note: When troubleshooting, a schedule of training (10 minimum) all year round saves a lot of heartache when trying to get the system running for the first time.

Alerts? Schedules? What am I looking at here?[edit]

A schedule is what a dwarf/squad will do when a particular alert is active; once alerts are made and scheduling is performed within these alerts, you can simply change a squad's alert based on the scenario and they will follow out highly specified and complicated programming. For example, if you make two alerts named 'Caravan Guard' for protecting incoming traders and 'Bloody Kobolds' for attacking thieves, we can change Squad A's scheduling in 'Caravan Guard' to patrol your trade route and change their scheduling in 'Bloody Kobolds' to defend a pre-defined burrows around your entrance. When a caravan shows up, you can change Squad A to be under the 'Caravan Guard' alert (either a in the military screen or t to cycle through when in the squad screen with a squad selected) and they will begin running up and down your route as the traders make their way through. When you get the 'Protect the hoard from thieving scum!' message, you can change their alert to 'Bloody Kobolds' and Squad A will charge off to defend the entrance.

Different squads can be given different alerts at once, but these squads can also be given different scheduling within the same alert - for example, you could make Squad B's scheduling in the 'Caravan Guard' alert to defend a burrows around your trade depot, then assign both A and B to 'Caravan Guard' when the traders appear and have one squad walk them in and the other keep the depot clear.

As schedules are broken up by month, you can make very complicated schedules in which dwarves train two months, take one off, then patrol your map for a season then take a shift defending the entrance, while having a second squad do something completely different, and change their scheduling instantly by applying a different alert. For ease, orders can be copied and pasted in the scheduling menu. Once you get the hang of the system it becomes extremely versatile. See Scheduling for more information.

I can't seem to apply orders to my schedule[edit]

When you finish with the Give Orders menu and hit shift+tab to save your changes, you may notice that your changes have not been saved. This is because your order does not have a defined location. Station orders need a station to be assigned to, patrol route orders need a route to follow, and defend burrows orders need a burrows to defend. When giving or editing orders, you must select the specific area from a list on the left pane.

Keep in mind that the left and right panes in the Give Orders menu can both be highlighted even if one is empty - if your pane doesn't seem to be highlighted, hit the left or right key to properly select it.

My dwarves won't wear the uniform I made![edit]

The uniforms tab within the menu screen is not for assigning uniforms to your dwarves, it is for making uniform templates that can later be applied. Open the eequipment tab then the Uniform sub-tab and you will be able to apply your uniform to either a single dwarf at once with enter or a squad at once with shift+enter. Your uniforms should appear in the rightmost pane.

How do I make my dwarves kill things?[edit]

If your soldiers are stationed, defending a barracks, or patrolling a route, they are defending. To make them go on the offense, you need to open the squads screen, select a squad using a/b/c/etc. as listed and hit k to 'Attack.' Then you pick your targets: either hit l to choose from a list of possible targets, r to select all targets within a rectangle, or simply move the cursor to what you want to attack and press enter. Your dwarves should now have the 'Kill _____' duty and charge after your target(s). To select multiple squads at once just hold shift while selecting, or hit p while selecting to select specific dwarves.

SOME ENEMIES CANNOT BE KILL-ORDERED. Or more specifically, some enemies like hydras, minotaurs, or forgotten beasts can be targeted for slaughter, but the dwarves won't actually carry it out. The only way around this is to order a squad to move to the location of the enemy instead. (It seems like a squad of any kind of monster is immune, more likely than not, and the same kind may be vulnerable to a kill order one time and resistant the next.)

Just watch out for the next question below...

I can't get my dwarves to STOP killing things![edit]

When a targetable creature is noticed by your military, be it the target of a kill order or simply close enough to be noticed by stationed/patrolling dwarves, your dwarves will engage it and will not give up or run away (or even drop the chase if it's slow) until either it or the target is dead. The only way to stop them is to cancel all their military orders, returning them to civilian status and causing them to run away instead.

If a squad is trying to s->k kill a target, but that target has escaped the map, or is no longer reachable, then Cancel Orders for the squad. s squad a select a given squad exclusively, cancel o order.

My dwarves won't go off-duty! They're starving themselves![edit]

Your order criteria is too high - order criteria is the number of dwarves in a squad required to follow out an order. By default a new order's criteria is set to 10 dwarves, or the entire squad; this means that you've told your dwarves that this order is of the absolute highest importance and that the entire squad needs to be on duty at all times. By changing this to two or three dwarves less than the number of dwarves in your squad (go to schedule from the military screen and press Tab, then edit the number of dwarves with + and -), some of your dwarves will be able to relax and take some me-time to grab supplies while the others follow your orders out.

I keep activating my dwarves but they still have their civilian positions![edit]

If a squad is off-duty it may be dressed in its civilian clothes and thus listed as civilians (e.g. a swordsdwarf may revert to 'carpenter'). There also seems to be a discrepancy between which orders are 'civilian' orders and which are 'military' orders. The Inactive/training alert switches dwarves to civilian labors and self-training in their spare time, while the Active/Training alert keeps dwarves in the barracks all the time. Unhappy thoughts from long duty do not occur on the active alert as long as they spend every other three months or so actively training instead of actively defending a chokepoint [Verify].

I can't seem to get my marksdwarves to practice firing at all![edit]

There are several steps to getting marksdwarves to practice at archery targets.

  1. Check that your prospective marksdwarves are equipped appropriately with the v-i keys.
  2. Build an archery target. To create a target, open the build menu and select Archery target. It uses one stone, log, bar or block and requires the architecture skill to finish.
  3. Use the q menu to designate the archery target as a room. Dwarves must stand at least two panels from the archery target.
  4. Make sure that the shooting direction set for the target allows dwarves to use it. The was and d keys are used to designate shooting direction.
  5. Assuming you have military squads, you should see their names on the target's information panel. Scroll to the appropriate archer squad/squad containing archers using the + and - keys.
  6. Now the target must be set as available for training. Press t once you have selected the appropriate squad. Multiple squads must be selected separately in this way to allow them all to practice at the archery range.
  7. Check your ammunition supplies! Press m then f to view the ammunition screen. Scroll to the marksdwarf squad and add new ammunition. Ammunition may be further customized by material using the M key.
  8. This ammunition must then be designated for combat, training, or both using the C and T keys. It is recommended to create TWO separate ammunition piles, one for combat and one for training. This will ensure dwarves always save some ammunition for fighting instead of using it all while training. It is further recommended to save metal bolts for fighting, and wood and bone bolts for training.

My marksdwarves are sparring with their crossbows as a melee weapon![edit]

You may have forgotten to assign them ammunition. In the military screen, open the ammunition tab (f) and then assign the squad your preferred ammunition. Remember to assign separate piles for training and fighting, or the squad will use all the bolts training and not have any left for killing enemies.

It is also possible that marksdwarves in v0.31 will not fire crossbows without a quiver; in the old version marksdwarves would carry a stack of bolts in their hand, but this does not seem to be the case anymore. Create some quivers and try again.

My hunter/marksdwarf ran out of bolts and won't pick up more![edit]

This seems to be a bug as well (yes, there are many) (this is most likely fixed in 0.31.12 version or later [Verify] ).

A workaround for this is to give your marksdwarf a move order and then cancelling it; your dwarf should snap back to reality and grab more bolts. Annoying, but should be a temporary fix.

If your troops still refuse to pick up ammo, it may be because that ammo has been assigned to a different squad or to the hunting labor (even if none of your civilians have that labor). Check the Ammunition screen; if it shows stacks of ammo assigned to hunters, remove or reduce the amount of ammo assigned to hunters, and your troops should pick it up again.

A related bug is that a hunter/marksdwarf might get stuck in a loop of picking up and dropping equipment (bows, bolts etc.), even if he usually trains at the range normally and/or there are animals to go hunt. Try removing his equipment on the military screen, watch him drop it, and then re-assign it. Make sure you have two piles of ammo listed for combat and training. Disabling the Hunting labour also seems to snap them out of this loop so that they will go and train instead. This problem may also be related to traffic designations - try removing any restrictive paths which might block access to needed equipment.

If you have further questions, please ask them on the discussion page here or on another relevant talk page. Frequently asked or standard questions will be added to the FAQ as necessary.

Military and defense
Managing soldiers
Design tips