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This is my corner of magmawiki.

As a fairly new player I'm going to list the questions I have a hard time finding the answers to. Hopefully these will help improve the wiki, and when I include the answers, it should also help future new players such as me.

Before ever downloading DF, I read through [amusing tutorial] and watched the [videos by capnduck], both of which were based on older version of the game. I was persuaded by these sources to install v 0.31.12 of the game and began playing in the beginning of October, updating as then flurry of bug fixes came to 0.31.16. All questions below, therefore, are relevant to my experience with DF2010.

I also very quickly began using the mayday tileset with char patches. They do require a lot of screen real estate, but I find it easier to judge distances fairly because the tiles are square.

This page began after about two weeks of playing around, when I'd already sorted out many of the early issues, so it begins the things which annoyed or confused me at that time.

New Player Questions[edit]

Resolved Questions and Problems[edit]

The wiki needs a general guide to using magma, or laying out magma workshops.

  • A big question I had was how to make the final connection to allow magma to flow. I went with my original plan to channel from above, at the shore of a magma reservoir, to open the edge and let it flow down the long "hallway" I'd made. Wiki explains that channeling now creates a ramp (it didn't used to), and the only ways to remove the ramp both involve getting down into that channel afterwards. Obviously I don't want to do that since the magma is going to be there. Will the ramp interfere with the flow?
    • No. I left the ramp, the magma flowed just fine. I then covered the open channel (including its ramp) with a constructed floor. I have just succeeded in erecting my first. I have don't know the safest way to penetrate a lava tube or lake from the side, with no floor access from just above the liquid surface...
  • Another question was the positioning of the forges and workshops. Only the Magma Forge page indicates that one should locate the forge with "one of the impassable squares" over the hole to the magma below, but nowhere did I find specific instruction about which squares they are. The "picture"s on the right side of these buildings were helpful, but without a key, I was just guessing.
    • The "impassable" squares of a magma forge are the "east" and "west" sides. Because the Magma Smelter's has the hole on the "north" side, that means the two kinds buildings can't be aligned along a magma channel -- one set of buildings are necessarily offset from the others.
  • mason positioning. it's happened many times that my masons have constructed the last bit of wall trapping themselves within. What is wrong with these guys? even dividing up the job into smaller pieces in various orders I can't seem to avoid this. Multiple times I've had them immediately deconstruct that last bit they just built in order to get out, then wait for them to decide to leave, then re-assign the same construction.
  • A mason builds a segment of wall in the caves, then just stood there for a long time. He was listed as having No Job. The path he used on the way in was now blocked, but it seemed to me there were other ways around. Other segments of wall were queued nearby, but as yet unbuilt. He's in the lower right corner, while the entrance back to the fortress is in the upper left:
  • how do I get animals trained? many many times I have added the job "Train a War Dog" only to be told "none is available". But my fortress has half a dozen adult dogs! What am I doing wrong?
    • Pets cannot be trained! That explains part of my training problem. I'm not sure if that's sensible, but now that I have the idea, I know to train dogs the instant they mature to adults! -- Maunder 17:07, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
  • immigrant dwarves with skills in foreign ranged weapons (Bows and Blowguns) will never acquire ammunition. Dwarves can't make arrows/blowdarts, nor can they get it by trading. (Possibly can be acquired by defeating enemies using them?) Similar situation if a strange mood dwarf makes one of these things. This should be considered a bug. Don't bother equipping dwarves with these "preferred" weapons.
  • gem cutting. when adding a task, the list shows which types of gems you have still uncut. but there's no way to know how many of each type. if you queue up 5 times "Cut Wood Opal", but you only have 2 uncut wood opals, you get job cancellations. to avoid having jobs cancelled, just queue one cut task of each available type. But then you have to do this repeatedly to get all your gems cut. If you have two uncut wood opals, why not have the task entry grey out the cut task if you've already got two queued?
    • The "solution" is to just use repeat on all tasks. The cancellation notice will occur when there aren't any more of that type of gem. what I don't know is whether that "breaks" the work chain (does the dwarf walk away and consider a different task when his current task ends?)
  • gem encrusting. I queue up a bunch of "encrust finished goods", then I end up with items that have many many gems on them, and most items with nothing. is there any way to encourage the dwarf to spread the gems across a larger number items? I now queue up just four encrusts at a time, but then the shop ends up being idle a lot.
    • The best solution, explained by Another: objects can have only 1 decoration of each material (artifacts can have multiple but of different types - e.g. spikes+bands+image). Queuing 100 encrusting with the same gem results in 100 different items being decorated (green glass is the main candidate). Queuing 100 encrusting with 100 different gems will most likely result in 1 item decorated 100 times. Same goes for studding with metals and sewing leather images.
  • How can I release a (tame) creature from a cage? I've followed wiki instructions but have not yet managed it. First: you can't use q to operate a cage that is in a stockpile, because q controls the stockpile options instead. Second: I "built" the cage in question on an open floor, selected the specific cage with the animal in it. Then q on that cage lists assigned animals -- but the menu doesn't seem to function the way others do, and "deselecting" the given dog as per the wiki instructions doesn't seem to let him out.
It's also confusing and disconcerting that after toggling the "assignment" of an animal, your only option to leave the dialog is then "Escape - Cancel".
    • Apparently deselecting the given animal from the cage will let him out eventually, when a dwarf comes by to do it. I haven't witnessed it yet. I'm still working out the details on how to slaughter a caged animal or prisoner.
  • Why can I not construct upward stairs on a constructed floor? How does one build a tower, if this is not possible? I also could not construct a ramp, or even a wall!
    • constructed stairs must be built over an empty space -- leave a hole in the floor you're building where you plan to put stairs. It makes sense for up/down stairs. Doesn't make sense to me for building up stairs, or walls, but that's how it works. If you already built the floor, you can deconstruct it again with d-n and then construct the stair/wall whatever. this info should be added to the wiki somewhere.
  • retrieving shot bolts or enemy items. Either my hunter or military units fired bolts at something. Several are scattered around. How do I encourage them to retrieve them for reuse?
On a related note, one squad managed to kill a Goblin Thief earlier, and, following orders, brought the mutilated corpse back to the refuse pile. But they left his goods, including a silver dagger. I didn't even realize it until I got a message about a raccoon stealing a silk shirt. How can I set orders to pick up these items as well?
I suspect that those items are marked as "Forbidden" - k over them and check. This prevents your workers from running out of your base in the middle of an attack and trying to collect all the junk on the ground. 15:32, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
    • Thank you, yes, the items were default marked forbidden, the option to change this is in o-F-t set orders menu. However, changing the orders only affects newly dropped items, not those already forbidden on the map. There is also an option to retrieve "used ammunition" o-F-p, although I've been advised by DeMatt not to do this because items aren't stacked into inventory slots again, but remain as a "bundle of 1". He says "Military dwarfs and hunters carry only one stack (or maybe two?)", but I haven't confirmed this myself.

Open Questions and Problems[edit]

  • do some embark areas have absolutely no sedimentary layers? that would be disappointing... are sedimentary layers always nearer the surface?
    • An answer, more or less, at Embark#Layers : Igneous layers will never be found in the same biome as sedimentary layers, but it is possible to have both in the same map by embarking over two or more different biomes. How do I know what biomes my selected location actually has? Any way to get a "world map" view of my area once I've started?
  • How can I collect and use the bodies of vermin and other defeated creatures? I've tried "Butcher a dead animal" and other tasks many times, only to be told "none available". What am I doing wrong? Yes, I have refuse stockpiles so the bodies are brought nearer the butcher shop. Not all are the "vermin" category, I think.
    • Are the bodies outside? Do you have 'dwarves collect refuse from outside' turned on? You can create garbage dump activity zone near your butcher, and set the corpses for dumping, I think this works better than relying on storage piles. Be sure to reclaim the corpse after dumping, though.GhostDwemer 15:43, 1 November 2010 (UTC)
  • I have multiple traps with caught live vermin, like two-legged lizards, and a (tame) cockroach. What do I do with them? Can't I make food or leather out of the lizard?
    • Part of this is my confusion about what is "animal" and what is "vermin". There's no real cue to let you know what you're dealing with. In my mind, now, is the idea: "vermin" == useless. "animal" == butcherable, in theory. But when I saw barrels of butterfly ichor and the like available from the trade caravan, it made me think I can do something with those "vermin"...
Still trying to sort this one out.
  • In a similar vein, I have not had much luck with Trapping, Fishing, and Hunting. I can't seem to get these working successfully. The wiki needs guide to making these industries successful -- the tools, skills, workshops necessary, layout of piles and workshops, zone placement, etc.
    • i've had some luck with hunting. as I was told -- one simply creates enough equipment, then a dwarf with "Ambush" skill will pick up equipment and sometimes go hunt game. however, i've had hunters complain about not having any ammunition even though i'd assigned it under 'mf', some were marked in that menu as being equipped, and there were 250 bolts available besides.
still learning the details.
  • how can I get the military units to wear the best armor? the military equipping menus are really opaque. i understand the idea of creating uniforms and assigning them, but really, early on, i don't have that kind of supply. i just want one of the best fighters to have the few steel items that i got from trading. I can't create and assign a "steel" uniform, because I don't have all those items. in a related problem, meanwhile, a "recruit" has grabbed a hammer, and the somewhat skilled hammerdwarf has none. The best pick is in the hands of a Novice miner. The battle axes were grabbed by military guys, and I need them available to the woodcutters. Argh! Getting a dwarf to drop an item and reassigning is such a mess! I'm not even sure how I managed it once, but it took over half a year of game time.
    • Part of the problem with the military equipment dialogue is similar to that with assigning squads. In the right column is a list of all items of a given category , including those you've already assigned to another . It's good that you can see all items, so you can take an item from someone who shouldn't have it and give it to someone better suited. But you have no indication that item is already in use by another dwarf. This results in confusion as you assign that nice bear leather armor to dwarf 2, only to realize later that dwarf 1 no longer has any armor. This dialog needs some indicator telling you it's already assigned to someone (or perhaps just in use by someone, although that's less useful, it would be easier to implement). Maybe a letter "A" means item has been assigned to another dwarf, or else another dwarf has "become attached" to the item, otherwise a letter "U" means being used by someone but wasn't necessarily assigned to them.
    • I had a similar problem with assigning dwarves to squads, initially, because the list on the right shows all dwarves, including dwarves already assigned to another squad. but I see now there is an indication in the upper right corner if the currently selected dwarf belongs to another squad.
    • Now I have a larger selection of armor, but I'm just as bewildered about equipping them. If I assign a breastplate to a guy who's currently got a "leather armor", can he wear both? They both appear "equipped" in the list, so I'm guessing they're assigned to him and no other dwarf can wear them. Or did I just give him ownership, so he has two pieces that he can't wear simultaneously?
    • Can I create a uniform which allows me to use the best available armor, varied though it might be, but still allows others to wear lower quality stuff when there's no more iron/steel/bronze available?
Any way to do something similar with non-military dwarves... ? I'd like everyone to wear leather if possible...
  • path finding. the weavers are nuts, trying to "collect webs". they choose a web which might be fairly close geometrically, but is really far through the stairs, hallways and caves that they need to get there, meanwhile running past and sometimes getting caught in and stomping existing webs on the way there. How do I keep the weavers near my entrance to the caves, where they can be safer (and take less time)?
    • do I need to avoid walking on my farms? set traffic area to avoid it?
A while back I redid the DF2010:Path to answer questions like these. Also check Traffic. Hopefully they can answer your questions; if not tell me. Calite 01:32, 10 November 2010 (UTC)
  • how does one, or can one, clean up the mess of broken ammunition littering the map? k doesn't even show an item there, so i can't declare it refuse and have it (eventually) smashed by a drawbridge.
  • how does one butcher corpses of defeated enemies? or slaughter tame livestock? or auto-tan work? this has been very frustrating, trying to supply the leather to a moody dwarf. after designating a tame animal to be slaughtered, how does one control which butcher's shop will do the job?
    • I figured out that corpses and/or body parts must be near a butcher's shop to auto trigger a butcher job. just how near, i don't know. similarly, the skin resulting from butchering must be near a tanner's shop to auto trigger the tan hide job. again, i don't know the max distance. creating a stockpile of "skins" is not helpful, because it can take quite a while for a skin to get stockpiled, and will be ignored by a tanner until then. so.. always have a tanner's shop near a butcher's shop?. that helps, even if i don't have a clear understanding of how to control things. I added a mention of maximum distance to Meat industry, Tanner's Shop and Butcher's shop.
    • i read elsewhere that sentient animals can't be butchered. how do you tell if an enemy is sentient?
  • a drawbridge of just length 1 doesn't appear to work. when i raise it, dwarves still exit freely?... not sure.
  • why should I accept the liaison's offer to become a barony? is there an advantage that I am not seeing? seems like my mayor is more useful than a baron...
  • using magma. what balance of various magma workshops/furnaces are needed? which are needed near each other? any pointers?



This is a nice map location, excepting the lack of iron, which could be bad. I've got three extensive cave systems already, and I haven't ventured that deep.

    • The first cave system begins 6 levels below the valley floor and continues down to level -9. It contains vast quantities of water held on level -10.
    • The next cave system begins already at level -12 and continues down to level -16. It contains an opening to a magma pipe, with the pool of magma reaching level -16 (the magma surface is higher than the lower parts of the cave!). I've checked somewhat and haven't found any connection between these cave systems -- there appears to be a single solid layer between them.
    • The third cave system begins at -24, and continues down to -28, although the bottom layer just contains a pool of water. The pool of water, interestingly is directly next to the magma pipe.
    • The magma pipe continues down and opens to a big magma sea around 33 levels below the valley floor. The magma sea goes down to at least level -37, where it is quite vast. It may be deeper but I haven't confirmed it yet. (hot stone at level -39, though)

This is a smaller site in a cold location with very steep cliffs and a river source. From the top of the highest land down to the river shore is fully 32 z-levels! There are a few small flat areas suitable for outdoor farming. There is lots of sedimentary rock. The only civilization that shows is dwarves, although I know in the world generation there are lots of elves and humans on this continent. (I'm disappointed at the prospect of less trade.)

Another small site in a cold location, very steep cliffs, and a river. The surface water remains frozen all year, as does most of the river. Aquifers are plentiful, however.