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This article is about an older version of DF.

A biome is a biotic area with homogeneous features, characterized by distinctive plants, animal species and climate. A biome will also contain only one set of stone layers, though these usually expand beyond a single biome. Your dwarves will find different resources depending on which biomes they select when starting a fort.

Selecting a biome[edit]

Biomes are important when choosing a fortress location in order to understand your surroundings. Individual biomes, which form at least one map-tile of your embark location, can be cycled with the F#-keys; for example, an area with 3 biomes present can be cycled using F1, F2 and F3. The selected biome will be highlighted with flashing Xs on the Local Map, and the biome's information will be displayed on the right side of the screen. (See the illustrated guide for more detail).

Understanding Biomes[edit]

Selecting different Biomes gives you some ability to influence the difficulty of your game. Each biome has a different set of resources; the availability of trees, sand, certain plants or animals, and sometimes water is specific to a particular biome, and different biomes may have different stone layers containing flux, coal, useful ores, or a high chance of magma. Mountains have a lot of ore and some exclusive features, but no soil.

Generally it is advantageous to plot your embark location at the convergence of multiple different biomes, the more the better (within reason) - which is made easier if you enlarge your starting embarkation area. However, it is not usually too hard to find three or four biomes using the default size.

  • Note: Making the starting plot larger will slow your game down considerably; likewise, a small embark area can dramatically increase framerate.

By making use of several biomes you can provide more resources for your fort. Making sure one of your biomes contains either a broadleaf or conifer forest will provide you with an ample supply of trees, even if the rest of your plot extends into badlands and desert. You might get wood from a forest, ore from a mountain, and flux from hills that just happen to have a flux layer; many other permutations are possible.

Any biome can have any set of surroundings; for example a glacier could be haunted, wilderness or mirthful. However, a named region (which is a contiguous area of one category of biomes, such as forests or wetlands) will be either good, neutral, or evil. It is not uncommon to see a large mountain range with one alignment and a few mountains, disconnected from the main mountain range by a single region tile, with a different alignment. Therefore, the more biomes you have, the more likely it is to have several alignments, if so desired.

If your plot contains only ocean, lake or mountain biomes you will not be able to embark. The dwarves would have difficulty parking their wagon on water, while mountains are too barren and remote to reach.

The exact process is unknown, but no relation has been found between biomes and the stone layers that lie deep beneath them in the same area block.

Available Biomes[edit]



  • Temperate Freshwater Swamp
  • Temperate Saltwater Swamp
  • Temperate Freshwater Marsh
  • Temperate Saltwater Marsh
  • Tropical Freshwater Swamp
  • Tropical Saltwater Swamp
  • Mangrove Swamp
  • Tropical Freshwater Marsh
  • Tropical Saltwater Marsh





  • Tropical Ocean
  • Temperate Ocean
  • Arctic Ocean

Murky Pools[edit]

  • Temperate Freshwater Pool
  • Temperate Brackish Pool
  • Temperate Saltwater Pool
  • Tropical Freshwater Pool
  • Tropical Brackish Pool
  • Tropical Saltwater Pool


  • Temperate Freshwater Lake
  • Temperate Brackish Lake
  • Temperate Saltwater Lake
  • Tropical Freshwater Lake
  • Tropical Brackish Lake
  • Tropical Saltwater Lake


  • Temperate Freshwater River
  • Temperate Brackish River
  • Temperate Saltwater River
  • Tropical Freshwater River
  • Tropical Brackish River
  • Tropical Saltwater River


  • Subterranean Water
  • Subterranean Chasm
  • Subterranean Magma

Biomes at World Generation[edit]

Biomes are created at world generation based on the elevation, rainfall, and drainage of the tile as follows:

Biome Elevation Rainfall Drainage
Water 0-99 Any Any
Sand Desert 100-299 0-9 0-32
Rock Desert 100-299 0-9 33-49
Desert Badlands A 100-299 0-9 50-65
Desert Badlands B 100-299 0-9 66-100
Grassland 100-299 10-19 0-49
Savanna 100-299 20-32 0-49
Marsh 100-299 33-65 0-32
Shrubland 100-299 33-65 33-49
Hills 100-299 10-65 50-100
Swamp 100-299 66-100 0-32
Forest 100-299 66-100 33-100
Low Mountain 300-332 Any Any
Mountain 333-365 Any Any
High Mountain 366-400 Any Any

More visually, for just the middle elevations:

0-9 10-19 20-32 33-65 66-100
Drainage 0-32 Sand Desert Grassland Savanna Marsh Swamp
33-49 Rock Desert Shrubland Forest
50-65 Badlands A Hills
66-100 Badlands B

See Also[edit]

  • Regions for the possible values for Trees, Vegetation and Surroundings.
  • Volcanoes which are not a biome in Dwarf Fortress, but may provide important resources
  • Climate