|This article is about an older version of DF.|
An exploit is a quirk of a game that allows players to gain what other players may consider an unfair advantage, usually by making use of a feature that is not working properly or which defies logic. 'Exploiting the game' is distinct from 'cheating' because exploits occur within the game as written and do not need any external utilities or modding. Whether a player chooses to make use of an exploit or not depends on their personal taste; given that Dwarf Fortress is a single-player game, the user alone can decide what liberties to take and what options to shun. Among DF players there is much discussion what actually should be considered an exploit. This page takes a rather relaxed approach in that you considering it an exploit is basically enough to add it, if you don't get too much opposition.
Some exploits are listed below.
 Atom Smasher
A drawbridge, when rapidly triggered on and off, can be used to obliterate any creature or item beneath it. In this version, no creatures are capable of withstanding a drawbridge crush, not even demons.
 Bling Bolts
 Cooking alcohol
Alcohol can be cooked without requiring any other solid ingredients, producing food that is eaten and not imbibed. Doing so is a highly efficient means of producing food, as each plant produces five units of alcohol. The food however does no longer satisfy a dwarf's need for alcohol. In fact, the various beverages are allowed by default for cooking and it is generally a wise idea to disable this in the beginning, unless you want to find your alcohol stocks depleted real quick.
 Dwarven Kick In The Pants
When a dwarf is "On Break", it is possible to draft this civilian into the military and then immediately undraft in order to cancel the break. This does give an unhappy thought (but only if the dwarf has no military and/or civilian skills), so it is not a significant exploit and some may consider it a perfectly acceptable gameplay method. Of course, if you allow every dwarf to spar a little when you draft them so that they are at least Novice Wrestlers, you'll get the double advantage of being able to cancel dwarfs' breaks at will and then send them back to work with no unhappy thoughts, as well as having dwarves who fare a little better against unexpected attacks.
 Extremely Intricate Artifacts
Put all workshops outside, then set set your standing orders to "Soldiers Can Go Outdoors" or "Dwarves Stay Indoors" once you get a strange mood. Your dwarf will start collecting his first requested material over and over, never proceeding to subsequent objects. Set orders back to "Dwarves Can Go Outdoors" to make him finish gathering the rest of his materials and produce an artifact using all of the materials gathered. It is suspected that this method is what resulted in the creation of Planepacked.
 Frère Jacques
Need a sleeping dwarf to do some work? Kick him out of bed by deconstructing it. This does not cause an unhappy thought.
 Indestructible Cages
Cages made out of glass or wood are just as capable as steel ones. Fire-breathing dragons, ettins and other megabeasts can be held in such cages, even though their fire/strength should allow them an easy escape.
 Infinite Quivers
By setting archery ranges where nobody can use them, and ammo stockpiles without any space for more ammo, you can force your marksdwarves to fill their quivers with an impossibly large number of arrows. They will pick up bolts to go practice, decide they can't because there's no room, decide not to put the bolts back because there's no room in the stockpile, and keep the bolts in their quiver, along with the other 200 or so they have. The bolts still weigh as much as they should, so dwarves will still be slowed by their humongous quivers.Verify
 Melting chests
It is impossible to melt chests. The job will be done and fuel is used, but the chest will not disappear and will remain designated for melting. Your furnace operator will continue trying to melt the chest repeatedly, gaining experience each time. Combined with a magma forge, this results in free Furnace Operator skill.
 Merchant Swindles
There are ways to cheat merchants out of their cargo without seizing it, the simplest of which is to tear down the trade depot while the merchants are there. They will still leave disappointed if they have less value in goods when they leave the map than when they entered, though.
 Nudist Fortress
Dwarves get a bad thought from having clothing wear out, but nothing happens if they can't find replacement clothes. Assuming they survive the trauma of suddenly becoming naked, they will happily remain naked as long as you don't make new clothes. This also avoids the problem of messy dwarves leaving clothing strewn around the fortress.
 Parents are back, party over!
A party can be stopped right away byreeing (removing) the room the party is taking place in. The room can be recreated the same instance. Similarly, in times of high activity (e.g. mass chasming, trading; hauling) removing all rooms in which parties can take place will prevent them from being held. Since parties also have benefits this is not necessarily an exploit.
 Trap fields
Laying a field of traps with a sufficient depth can protect your fortress from all invaders with no need to maintain a military. Traps are somehow intelligent enough to distinguish between pets and allies while being dangerous to enemies and wild animals. The only problem is that your trap field must be subterranean, as traps cannot be placed outdoors.
It appears that "friendlies" (dwarf, pet, or merchant) get a variant of trap-avoid. Should a friendly be denied movement while on a trap, they will "fall into" the trap and be captured. Causes of this include being tangled in a web, or several possible combat/injury events. Any web sitting upon a cage trap WILL capture the first dwarf unfortunate enough to step on that tile.
Incidentally, this can be used to capture enemy trap avoiders. Such as kobolds. I haven't been able to provoke a target with both web and trap avoid onto a webbed trap to test if it works on them.