|This article is about an older version of DF.
Mandates should not be confused with demands.
When a noble makes a production mandate, you will have about a year to fulfill it. These mandates for the production of goods, and can specify type or material, just like export bans. Note that a single mug is counted as 1 item although 3 are produced from one raw material, so if you are short of the mandated material producing mugs is favorable. Getting the required items from a caravan will not fulfill a mandate. Making metal items includes smelting ore to create metal bars of that type. Due to the mechanics of smelting, one job can produce up to 2 metal bars (bronze, brass, steel, and electrum), these will count as 2 items.
If a production mandate expires without being fulfilled, the noble will get an unhappy thought, and one or more dwarves will be sentenced to punishment for the 'violation of production order' crime. The dwarf chosen tends to have a skill appropriate to the mandate, but random dwarves may be chosen as well. If the noble can't sentence any dwarves for punishment because of noble or legendary status, or the sentenced dwarves can't be punished because no officer is assigned, he will get another unhappy thought.
Violating an export ban by trading any of the item away is a crime for each of the haulers who brought a prohibited item (that was sold) to the trade depot - each dwarf will be incriminated the instant the item is carried off the map (whether by a pack animal or a wagon). Items that are subject to export bans are displayed in purple text in the trade window. Note that if an item is traded to a caravan and is subsequently placed under an export ban, dwarves will be punished even though the trade took place before the ban went into effect, so if the caravan hasn't already left, any banned goods should be immediately purchased back from the traders; if a good was offered, then nothing can be done (aside from exploiting various oddities in the trade system, or murdering the mandater). Oddly, trading banned items which were carried to the depot in bins (but not the bins themselves) does not result in any perceived crimes, perhaps because only the bin was brought to the depot, not the items inside it.
If a particular guild represented at your fortress is not given enough work to do, its leader will meet with your Mayor who, at the beginning of the next season, will either raise guild wages to 150% or mandate that 10-20 guild jobs be completed. Unlike normal production mandates, these jobs must be completed by the end of the season. The only penalty of ignoring these mandates is that the Mayor will get an unhappy thought and the Manager will be charged with the "Violation of Job Order" crime (which will have no effect, since nobles are exempt from punishment), as well as the implication that your workers will continue to complain to their guild leader about not having enough work to do.
Once the King has arrived at your fortress, he will begin mandating that you "mine to the yellow line", forcing you to eventually uncover the eerie glowing pits and discover the adamantine-lined chasm. Once the adamantine has been reached, the mandates will change, forcing you to mine the adamantine and/or make adamantine goods, eventually leading to the "Too Deep" ending. Failing to comply with the King's orders will result in your miners or metalsmiths being sentenced to 100 days in prison or 100 hammerstrikes.
Mandates & preferences
Personal preferences have a strong influence on what type of items and what type of materials a noble bans for export or wants to have produced via mandates. Nobles with a preference for a specific item will often either ban that item or mandate its production; nobles with a preference for a specific material will, likewise, either ban the export of items made from that material, or mandate similar production.
Nobles with extraordinary preferences or preferences for items or materials that are too hard to produce (particularly rare gems) will be a problem for your fortress. If unavoidable, such nobles may be destined for an unfortunate accident - for the good of the fortress as a whole.
Mandates are announced at the bottom of the screen, but if you miss the message, you can see if a noble is mandating anything on the nobles screen. If the uppercase bracketed word '[MANDATE]' next to a noble's name is grey, he is making no mandates. If brown, he is making a production mandate, and you have a lot of time to complete it. If yellow, you have a couple seasons before the mandate expires. If red, the mandate will expire very soon. If white, then it is an export ban.
Failure to complete a mandate will generally result in the punishment of dwarves relevant to the mandate's criteria. The severity of the punishment depends on the effective rank of the noble - for example, violating a mandate placed by the tax collector is likely to only result in brief jail time or a beating, while violating the duke's mandate can result in extended jail time or as many as 10 hammerstrikes, and defying the King's orders is effectively a death sentence.