40d:The Non-Dwarf's Guide to Rock
Wondering what that new kind of rock your dwarves just struck is good for? Possibly nothing, but when you're just getting started it can be tough to tell the trash from the treasure. The following table summarizes the types of stone and ore found in Dwarf Fortress (note that it does not include gems).
The Uses column lists any special uses or properties of this particular stone type; if no uses are listed, you can always use the stone for general construction and crafting. Note that many "low value" materials are still very useful in a Dwarf Fortress. "Colors" are useful for color coding or creative aesthetic uses.
 Table of Rocks
(Some materials are worth an additional comment; these are numbered, with notes below table.)
|Adamantine, raw||THE highest
|Becomes Adamantine1, by far the most valuable substance|
|Alabaster||stone||Low value stone|
|Aluminum, native||a high-value ore||Smelt into Aluminum, a highest-value metal|
|Alunite||stone||Low value stone|
|Andesite||layer stone||Low value stone|
|Anhydrite||stone||Low value stone|
|Basalt||layer stone||Low value stone|
|Bauxite||stone||The only magma-safe stone2; only source of some high-value gems|
|Bismuthinite||rare/obscure ore||Ingredient of Bismuth bronze|
|Bituminous coal||stone||Smelt into Fuel, flammable|
|Borax||stone||Low value stone|
|Brimstone||stone||Low value stone|
|Calcite||stone||Flux, mid-value stone|
|Cassiterite||uncommon ore||Smelt into Tin, a low-value metal; ingredient of Bronzes|
|Chalk||layer stone||Flux, mid-value stone|
|Chert||layer stone||Low value stone|
|Chromite||stone||Low value stone|
|Cinnabar||stone||Low value stone|
|Claystone||layer stone||Low value stone|
|Cobaltite||stone||Low value stone|
|Conglomerate||layer stone||Low value stone|
|Smelt into Copper, a low-value metal|
|Cryolite||stone||Low value stone|
|Diorite||layer stone||Low value stone|
|Dolomite||layer stone||Flux, mid-value stone|
|Felsite||layer stone||Low value stone|
|Flint||layer stone||Low value stone|
|Gabbro||layer stone||Low value stone; only source of some ores & gems|
|Galena||ore||Smelt into Lead, a low-value metal, w/ a 50% chance3 for Silver|
|Garnierite||uncommon ore||Smelt into Nickel, a low-value magma-safe metal|
|Gneiss||layer stone||Low value stone|
|Gold, native||ore||Smelt into Gold, a high-value metal|
|Granite||layer stone||Low value stone; only source of some ores; relatively rich in content|
|Gypsum||stone||Low value stone|
|Hematite||ore||Smelt into Iron, a mid-value metal; ingredient for Steel|
|Horn silver||ore||Smelt into Silver, a mid-value metal|
|Hornblende||stone||Low value stone|
|Ilmenite||stone||Low value stone|
|Jet||stone||Low value stone|
|Kaolinite||stone||Low value stone|
|Kimberlite||stone||Low value stone; only source of Diamonds|
|Lignite||stone||Smelt into Fuel, flammable|
|Limestone||layer stone||Flux, mid-value stone|
|Limonite||high-value ore||Smelt into Iron, a mid-value metal; ingredient for Steel|
|Magnetite||high-value ore||Smelt into Iron, a mid-value metal; ingredient for Steel|
|Malachite||low-value ore||Smelt into Copper, a low-value metal|
|Marble||layer stone||Flux, mid-value stone|
|Marcasite||stone||Low value stone|
|Mica||stone||Low value stone|
|Microcline||stone||Low value stone|
|Mudstone||layer stone||Low value stone|
|Obsidian||layer stone||Highest value stone; used to create stone short swords;
signifies nearby magma if not a layer
|Olivine||stone||Low value stone; may contain Platinum|
|Orpiment||stone||Low value stone|
|Orthoclase||stone||Low value stone|
|Periclase||stone||Low value stone|
|Petrified wood||stone||Low value stone|
|Phyllite||layer stone||Low value stone|
|Pitchblende||stone||Low value stone|
|Platinum, native||highest-value ore||Smelt into Platinum, a highest-value metal|
|Puddingstone||stone||Low value stone|
|Pyrolusite||stone||Low value stone|
|Quartzite||layer stone||Low value stone|
|Realgar||stone||Low value stone|
|Rhyolite||layer stone||Low value stone|
|Rock salt||layer stone||Low value stone|
|Rutile||stone||Low value stone|
|Saltpeter||stone||Low value stone|
|Sandstone||layer stone||Low value stone|
|Satinspar||stone||Low value stone|
|Schist||layer stone||Low value stone|
|Selenite||stone||Low value stone|
|Serpentine||stone||Low value stone|
|Shale||layer stone||Low value stone|
|Siltstone||layer stone||Low value stone|
|Silver, native||ore||Smelt into Silver, a mid-value metal|
|Slate||layer stone||Low value stone|
|Sphalerite||uncommon ore||Smelt into Zinc, a low-value metal; ingredient for Brass|
|Stibnite||stone||Low value stone|
|Sylvite||stone||Low value stone|
|Talc||stone||Low value stone|
|Tetrahedrite||low-value ore||Smelt into Copper, a low-value metal,
w/ a 20% additional chance3 of Silver; smelt into Billon
- (* Each stone is one of 16 colors in the game. Different un-mined stone of the same color have a different symbol to distinguish between them. Once mined, the individual stones themselves can sometimes look identical if the color is the same. Use to loo at items or the terrain for specific information.)
- Adamantine is not exactly like other metals, although it works almost the same. It has a value multiplier of x300 (yes, three hundred). It is also superior to steel for all combat purposes, and steel is clearly the best material otherwise available. See adamantine for a full discussion of this unusual and ultimate material.
- Bauxite: Magma will melt most stone, and while there are some magma-safe metals, mechanisms can only be made from stone (or unprocessed adamantine ore), not metal. Aside from raw adamantine, bauxite is the only stone that will not melt in magma (see magma-safe), and so is uniquely suited for that purpose.
- % chance for additional metals - when Galena and Tetrahedrite are smelted, they produce (respectively) 1 lead or 1 copper bar, 100% of the time. They occasionally produce a second, additional bar of the second metal, with the % chance as listed above.
- Ice has some very unusual properties in Dwarf Fortress, and can be disastrous if misused. See article on ice for a more complete discussion.
 The Value of rocks & metals
You won't find the terms "low-value" or "highest-value" used in the game, but they're handy here for rough comparison. "Values" are all relative to each other, on a common scale. The "material value" number multiplies any final product that is created with that material by that number. An average generic statue (base value 25) is worth much more than an average generic throne (base value 10), but a throne carved from raw gold nuggets (10 x 30 = 300) will be worth far more than a common-stone statue (25 x 1 = 25). (Note - "quality" also factors in to total value of a final product, as do some other considerations, but those are outside the scope of this intro article). Bottom line - when in doubt, go for the more valuable stuff.
Common stones (the vast majority) have a value multiplier of x1, mid-value (all flux stones) are x2, and high-value (obsidian only) is x3. This affects things like stone tables and doors, statues or stonecrafts - anything made from stone. Metal ores have varying values, from 2-40, and can either be treated as stone or smelted into bars of metal.
For metals, low-value (like copper or nickel) is x2. Mid-value (silver or iron) is around x10, high-value (gold, steel) is x30, and highest-value (platinum, aluminum) is x40. Note that the raw mined ore and the smelted pure metal often have different value multipliers, but not always. Alloys like brass or bronze are often more valuable than the sum of their pure metal ingredients, and have a true spectrum of values between 3-23. (Alloy values are not listed in this article.) Metal can be crafted into weapons, armour or tools, decorations, furniture or even buildings.
(To be complete and for comparison, all wood has a value of x1, equal to common stone.)
 How to find a rock
Basically, you look under other rocks. The trick is to have a good guess which other rocks to look under to find the one type that you're looking for.
In the main article for every rock (many generic/low-value ones share another table on the stone page), there is information about where these stones can be found. Usually that's in a type of layer, or sometimes within another specific or general type of stone. Sometimes the rock is a layer stone. If it's found in sedimentary, Igneous intrusive layer, igneous extrusive, metamorphic or soil, those are broad classifications that cover many different types of layer stone. A layer stone means it creates the dominant layer of that entire area, as defined by the "area block" (see next). By figuring out where the type of rock/ore you are looking for is found, you can dig in areas that have a better chance of having it.
- Let's say you hope to find some cinnabar, because you want to make some levers and use its bright red color. So we look up cinnabar, and find that that stone is listed on the "generic" stone page. In that chart we see that cinnabar is found as veins in "All igneous extrusive (layers), shale, (and) quartzite". If you have some stones that are igneous extrusive layer (you'd have to look that up, too), or some shale or quartzite, then you know where to start your exploratory mining. If not, then you'll have to look for another red stone, and hope you get lucky with that.
 Area Blocks
Okay, this is the "advanced basic" part of the lesson - then we're done.
When you first start a new game, and you're looking at the embark map, there is the World map on the right, the Region map in the middle, and the Local map on the left. The icons on the local map relate 1:1 to what are called "area blocks" on the game map, the map where your dwarves will move around. Each area block is 48x48 tiles square. The game is smart enough to make the borders a little fuzzy, but each area block defines the plant and animal life, the temperature and rainfall, and the layers of stones that can be found in that 48x48 area. These are clumped together in like types - using the F1, F2, F3 & etc. keys you can view them all.
If you pay attention to the pre-embark map (and make notes?), you can see what layers lie below each area block, in order as they go deeper. This will help you find stone/ore you might be looking for. You can also see where any underground pool or underground river or magma might be hiding - but that's another article.