Armor is the protective equipment used to reduce/deflect damage during combat. It comes in several pieces, each one protecting a certain area. The purpose of each piece is pretty much self-explanatory. Note that breastplates only protect upper/lower torso areas, while mail shirts also cover the upper arms and upper legs. Ears, nose, lips and teeth are exposed, even in full armor, whilst robes, cloaks, shirts (mail or not), and dresses cover the throat.
The actual effectiveness of a given piece of armor depends on the weapon(s) being used against it.
Keeping in mind the armored enemies you are likely to meet, it is advisable to equip your military dwarves with at least iron armor. Testing in the arena shows that armored dwarves have a huge advantage over the unarmored ones, usually taking no casualties while making short work of their enemies. (But you shouldn't need this wiki to figure that out.) With more recent versions, armour slows down dwarves considerably more than it did in the past, making the Armour User skill much more important. This may change when movement and attack speeds are separated, but for the moment a recruit in full steel armour is slow to both move and react in combat.
Armor's purpose is simple: to allow your dwarves to better withstand damage in combat. Where an unarmored dwarf hit by a weapon would invariably suffer damage, well-armored dwarves have a good chance of blunting the damage or bouncing it off altogether, reducing major strikes to mere bruises and grave wounds to serious ones. Clothes, though not specifically recognized by the game as armor, nonetheless also functions in that sense, often blocking weak attacks (and rendering a clothed dwarf a better fighter than a naked one).
A clothed dwarf takes little more than a few seconds to die to a goblin ambush. One clad in a full set of exceptional steel armor, meanwhile, can expunge a goblin squad of most of its ammo and a half a minute of its time before finally dying. Dwarves armed only with weapons might be a sufficient response to thieves and local wildlife, but a serious army requires equally serious armor.
 Types of armor
In terms of classifications, armor can be classed into three different types. The first is clothing, made of leather or cloth. Clothing can only deflect very weak attacks - say, a raven bite - but nonetheless can dampen damage. Most dwarves will be wearing clothing; those that aren't will usually be very unhappy, babies, or insane. The second type is leather and bone armor, which is specialized for the purpose from clothing; it is very weak, but still better than nothing. The last type is true metal armor, made at a metalsmith's forge; it is this armor that is made by an armorsmith, and should be used by a serious military.
Though all clothes can protect from damage, a "true" suit of armor consists of the following pieces, one cell from each column.
|Torso||Head||Arm||Leg||Feet||Shields (block attacks)|
|Mail Shirt (upper body + upper arms + upper legs)
and/or Breastplate (upper body)
|Helms||Gauntlets (hands + wrists)||Greaves, made of plate||High boots (feet + lower legs)||Shield|
|Leather armor (upper body)||Cap||Gloves (hands)||Leggings, made of chain||Low boots (feet)||Buckler|
The first row is the more effective choice, while the second row is an alternative offering less protection.
Note that if a mail shirt is combined with high boots, explicit leg covering can be omitted. (Dwarves don't have knees to protect, so upper leg from the shirt and lower leg from the boot is complete).
 Armor skill
Armor use trains the armor user skill. Where armor quality affects hit block chance, armor user skill affects how quickly the dwarf can move in his armor. In arena tests, a grand master armor user could move at twice the speed of a dabbling user when in heavy armor. Faster speed translates into faster movement, both when walking around and when crossing blades with an opponent; well-trained dwarves will have more opportunities to strike, block, and dodge in combat.
Every time a dwarf reflects an attack with their armor (reported as "the attack was deflected by his/her <armor>"), they will receive 30 experience. The skill can be trained with a danger room, by attacking local wildlife, or through live training schemes.
 Shield skill
Likewise, shield use trains the shield user skill. Shields are a special piece of armor that can be worn on one arm (and cannot be worn with two-handed weapons) and can be used to block attacks better than equivalent armor can (a difference amounting to deflection instead of broken bones), greatly increasing dwarven survivability. The skill modifies how often the dwarf will be able to block an attack with the shield, and is likewise trained every time the shield is used to block an attack, at 30 experience apiece. It can be trained in the same ways.
- See also: Metal#Weapon and armor quality
|Metal||Metalsmith's forge||Armoring||Best choice; see notes below|
|Bone||Craftsdwarf's workshop||Bone carving||Leggings, greaves, gauntlets and helms only|
|Leather||Leather works||Leatherworking||Light and unencumbering but weak protection.|
|Cloth||Clothier's shop||Clothesmaking||Limited protection, nearly useless against metal.|
|Wood||Carpenter's workshop||Carpentry||Shield/buckler only (except Elves)|
Most armor must be made out of a weapons-grade material (steel, iron, etc.). The only exception to this is when a dwarf is in a strange mood, in which case a piece of armor may be created out of any metal lying around. The material used in armor is extremely important to combat; fully iron-armored dwarves with iron short swords stand no chance against those clad in steel. In general, slashing weapons will have difficulty piecing armor made of the same weapons-grade material as the weapon, piercing weapons will be increasingly blunted, and blunt weapons will break bones through armor almost regardless of its material. Rigid armor provides limited blunt protection, and the chain mail shirts and leggings provide next to none. Even adamantine armor only prevents an estimated 13% of blows, demonstrating the utility of the slow but sure war hammer.
Certain weapons are surprisingly good at penetrating armor. Copper whips will shatter skulls through steel helmets, and copper bolts will tear through steel breastplates as if they weren't there. Metal plate mail provides no protection against metal bolts, although it can deflect wood and bone. Chain mail provides modest protection.science!
|Metal armor comparison|
- Copper armor is the lowest-grade type of metal armor, but also the easiest to get, requiring one of native copper, malachite, or tetrahedrite (next-to-guaranteed on any embark containing more than one metal).
- Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, requiring cassiterite. It is much improved over copper armor, and has slightly better material properties than iron, but also weighs more.
- Bismuth bronze is just bronze alloyed with bismuth, fancier colored and more valuable, but with the same material properties as standard bronze. If you have access to bismuth and want to put it to use, you can save some tin this way.
- Iron can be smelted from hematite, limonite, or magnetite, and is easiest to find in sedimentary layers (though igneous extrusive layers may contain hematite). It is comparable to bronze, but has a less complicated smelting process.
- Steel is the best non-adamantine armor material, and requires fuel, flux, iron, and pig iron in its manufacturing. Note that steel is worth its weight in gold; making lots of armor is a sure way to attract attention, but at least it's going into shiny armor, right?
- Adamantine is only found beneath the third cavern layer, plumbing the depths of the magma sea; it can be used to create unparallelled armor, but is very time-consuming to produce, in addition to being hazardous to mine. It is immensely valuable to boot.
Some dwarven science has also be conducted on the armor values of strange mood armors made from non-weapons grade materials. The results seem to indicate the following rough order of preference in terms of armor properties (but take note of the artifact multiplier as well): Adamantine, Steel, Pig Iron, Iron, Bronze, Bismuth Bronze, Platinum, Brass, Black Bronze, Billon, Rose Gold, Electrum, Bismuth, Aluminum, Gold, Copper, Tin, Sterling Silver, Silver, Nickel, Zinc, Lead, Nickel Silver, Trifle Pewter, Fine Pewter, Lay Pewter.
 Quality and strange moods
Quality is an important modifier on armor. Armor gets a deflection bonus based on quality level, but its effect is only known for regular (1x), masterwork (2x), and artifact (3x) armor; presumably, the quality ranks in between are progressive.
| Weapon To-Hit /|
Armor Deflect Modifier
|*Item Name*||Superior quality||4x||unknown|
|«Item Name»||Decorated object||Varies||unknown|
This means that, effectively, masterworks produced by legendary armorsmiths cut damage done by as much as half. This, combined with the need to produce a lot of armor, makes armorers far and away the most desired dwarves for strange moods, and various schemes exist for influencing such an event.
Dwarves in strange moods can produce legendary artifacts, which benefit from a 3x multiplier, three times as good as a more mundane piece of armor. However, artifacts can be made of totally inappropriate materials, and the spectacularly low defensive values of a rainbow trout bone mail shirt vastly outweigh any bonuses it gets. This can be problematic when your militia commander drops everything to retrieve himself his new piece of candy. Nonetheless, artifact-quality weapons-grade armor are very strong defensively.
Strange moods are an exception to the number of bars rule; only one bar is required for the item itself, although additional materials may be gathered for decoration.
Dwarves that have used a particular piece of armor for an extended period of time may grow attached to it, becoming unhappy if it is taken away. This is fine if it is a pair of ☼Steel Greaves☼, but a major problem if they are using what is meant to be interim armor. This happens less often with armor than it does for weapons. These events generate announcements.
There is no hard difference between clothing and armor, something accentuated by regular clothing's ability to block attacks. Armor can be thought of as metal clothing, thicker and made of materials that have a much better chance of blocking attacks. Armor is, however, different in that it is not subject to wear, and the fact that only non-clothing garments increase the armor user skill.
The availability of specific articles of clothing varies by civilization, and each has its own set of clothing that it can produce. In Fortress mode, sandals and shoes are in the same clothing class, but only the latter can be produced by dwarves, where the former must be stripped off of dead enemies. It is important to understand that dwarves are gender-insensitive; a male dwarf may well put on a dress.
Non-armor clothing can provide some defense, most importantly to areas that are not covered by regular armor. The ears, nose, lips, and teeth are always exposed, even in full armor. Robes and cloaks will cover the throat and provide a bulwark of low-level protection, making them useful for military dwarves, especially those you plan to send through the danger room.
Sometimes it is better to wear less armor than more armor, because armor slows you down. Non-armor users tend to get slowed down significantly if wearing more than 1 piece of armor with 15-25 units of weight. This includes items such as mail shirts, greaves, and breastplates. Gauntlets only weight 1-2 units of weight depending on material and high boots 3 units. Most clothing weigh 1 unit or lower, with the exception of plant cloth clothing which weigh 4 times as much as their silk and yarn alternatives.
Since most dwarves are not danger room trained right away into legendary armor users it is highly recommended that you do not outfit them with the maximum amount of armor possible, as this will make them super-slow, and allow the enemy to get in many hits before they have a chance to fight back. Weight also hinders ranged units like marksdwarves that more or less depend on their first strike and fast reload to cripple the enemy before they get into melee; and which may also spend the majority of their time behind fortifications anyway.
Wearing a combination of 1 pair of metal gauntlets, 1 pair of metal boots, 1 metal helmet, and 1 metal mail shirt gives a armor level 2 layer metal armor that covers all areas without sacrificing speed due to encumbrance on non-armor users. This set-up will prevent most cutting and stabbing attacks from weapons below the armor's metal grade but will still be vulnerable to crushing attacks since no metal greaves or breastplate is worn. Lighter and more weaker types of armor like leather armor and bone greaves can also be worn in addition to the metal layer to provide additional protection without encumbrance, and tend to be at least moderately effective if they are masterworks. Shields should be made of wood when possible because a copper shield could weigh up to 13 units of weight, and material does not matter for blocking attacks.
The layers are, in order from inner to outer:
 Types of Protection
The number of regular metal bars needed to make a piece of metal armor is equal to the material size divided by 3, rounded down with a minimum of one. The number of adamantine wafers or stacks of cloth required to create armor is equal to the material size.
|Clothing Type||Armor Level*||Material Size||Materials||Size||Permit||Layer||Coverage %||Bars|
 Upper Body
|Clothing Type||Armor Level*||Material Size||Materials||Size||Permit||Layer||Coverage %||UBSTEP||LBSTEP||Bars|
|Clothing Type||Armor Level*||Material Size||Materials||Size||Permit||Layer||Coverage %||UPSTEP||Bars|
Each crafting job produces a pair of gloves, gauntlets or mittens -- one right-handed and one left-handed. The items from a single job may have different quality levels.
 Lower Body
|Clothing Type||Armor Level*||Material Size||Materials||Size||Permit||Layer||Coverage %||LBSTEP||Bars|
|Clothing Type||Armor Level*||Material Size||Materials||Size||Permit||Layer||Coverage %||UPSTEP||Bars|
|High Boots||1+||2||L,M||25||15||Armor||100%||1||1 each|
Each crafting job produces one pair of footwear. Unlike gloves, footwear items are interchangeable (they are not right- or left-footed). The two items from a single crafting job may have different quality levels.
|Clothing Type||Armor Level*||Material Size||Materials||Size||Permit||Layer||Coverage %||UPSTEP||Bars|
- * = Items without an armor rating are considered clothing. Armor levels 1-3 were referred to as 'leather', 'chain' or 'plate' in earlier versions.
- + = The armor level of an item with a "+" can be increased by one if made from metal.
- † = This article cannot be crafted by dwarves (except for artifacts), but may be purchased in trade.
- [S] = shaped item, max one [S] per body slot (e.g. plate mail cannot be worn with leather armor, but can be worn with chain mail, and greaves and leggings cannot be combined).
- Materials can be Cloth, Leather, Bone, Shell, Metal, or Wood.
Note: Striking with a shield trains both misc object user and armor user skills.
 Equipping Clothing
Items in Dwarf Fortress must be equipped in a specific order. A dwarf must equip a layer type of Under before he equips a layer of type Over, for example. The complete order goes: Under, Armor, Over, Cover. It is common among civilians to see a dwarf equip pants with no undergarments due to this restriction, even when an undergarment is available. This is typically not an issue with soldiers, however.
There is no restriction on wearing multiple items of the same type (Unless the item is shaped [S]). You can, for example, wear 3 cloaks without penalty.
 Process for equipping a new piece of clothing
The following variables will be used in the logic below:
- Current Item refers to the specific item being equipped.
- Total Size refers to the size of all items equipped on that body part, excluding the item to be equipped (while including those on a different layer).
- Permit refers to the maximum allowable size of items equipped on the same or lower level as the item to be equipped.
In order to equip a new item, the dwarf (or other creature) ...
- will determine if he is eligible to wear the item in question (Perhaps the body part is missing/severed).
- must start with the lowest layer first, continuing to the next layer when no other items of that layer need to be equipped
- checks if the item is shaped [S], and will only equip the item if no other shaped items are equipped on that body part.
- will equip items with lowest permit level first. If two items share the same permit value, the highest size item will be equipped firstVerify.
- then checks if his total size (excluding the current item) is less than the current item's permit.
- If all above logic is true, the dwarf will equip the item.
 Equipment process example
Each item is listed in order of being equipped, the primary focus of this example is that the total size must be equal to, or less than the permit size of the item being equipped. Like above, the total size excludes the size of the item being equipped.
|Item Type||Size||Permit||Total Size*|
- * = Total Size include the size of all equipped items, but does not include the item being equipped
- Red Text = This item cannot be equipped, because the total size is larger than the item's permitted size.
 Size, Permit, and layering armor
The Size and Permit values govern how much clothing or armor can be worn.
Under the old system the lowest "permit" value for any given body part is used: for instance, if a dwarf is wearing a dress (permit value: 50) and a total of 50 or more size worth of clothing on the upper body, it cannot put any more clothing on the upper body. (This explains why the old dungeon masters tend to wear several cloaks: they arrive at the fortress wearing only a cloak on the upper body (permit 150), and can put on a total of 10 of them, at 15 size each.)
Unfortunately, [LAYER:COVER] items are the only items playing by the old rules. This much is certain from testing in arena mode.
- If the item to be add is a [LAYER:COVER] item, add the total item size on the body part, if this sum is less than or equal to the item's permit value then evaluate as true.
- If a [LAYER:ARMOR] item is present or to be added and if the sum of the non [LAYER:COVER] items would be less than the sum of the [LAYER:ARMOR] size+permit values then evaluate as true.
- If one or more items of the same non-[LAYER:COVER] layer as the one being added are present and if the sum of their size values is less than the smallest permit value then evaluate as true.
- If the sum of the size values for all items on the body part are less than or equal to the permit value of the item about to be added then evaluate as true.
The item is allowed if all rules either evaluate to true or are not applicable. This is in addition to the rule allowing only one shaped item on a given body part at a time.
Example: A helm (30 size,20 permit) can be worn over two head veils (10,100), and can fit 6 additional hoods if desired.
Example: Wearing a cap (10,15) allows only one face veil (10,100), but a combined total of up to 9 head veils and hoods can be added.
Note that the armor value of socks and other clothing is unknown under the new system - however, wearing them under "armor" such as boots is recommended for an adventurer.
Adventurer mode follows the arena rules so it is possible to have three chain mail shirts (15,50), a breastplate (20,50), and 25 capes (10,300) on ones upper body plus a helm and six hoods on ones head. Confirmation is needed to see if fortress mode follows the old rules or the new arena rules. (I tested this and found that Urist McNopants follows a totally different set of rules than either of these. His rules tell him to forget both caps all of the hoods both socks and his trousers, and each sucessive time he gets dressed he feels the need to do it differently.)
 Some more workaround about Size, Permit and Layering
- You can only have one shaped armor piece (marked with [S]) per body part.
- The total size of non-cover items must be lower than any armour piece's permit + size total.
- The total size of all items of any layer on any body part must be lower than the lowest permit value (excluding that item).
- The total size of all items on any body part must be lower than the size + permit value of any cover item.
- All items are put on in order of their layer.
As an example, lets say you want to kit out your soldiers upper body. Try walking through this in arena mode to get a feel for it.
Now you want to add mail shirts. Each one has a permit of 50 and a size of 15. You can add three of these if you want. It checks the size against each of the armour pieces permit + size (or rather, the permit value ignoring that items size in the calculation), like so;
- Against each of the mail shirts, you have 2 x 15 = 30 total size in mail shirts, + 20 from the breastplate, matching the 50 permit.
- Against the breastplate you have 3 x 15 = 45 < 50, fine.
Now if you add a fourth mail shirt these test will fail. However, because of the layering order (mail shirts being armour layer 2, the breastplate armour layer 3) the breastplate is added after the shirts. This results in the breastplate being dropped.
Because this reaches the 50 permit limit for the mail shirts, you can't add more non-cover items without substituting them for existing items. If you want a robe (size 20), for example, you need to remove two of the mail shirts to clear a total size of 30, which then lets you add an extra size 10 shirt, vest or whatever.
However, you can add cover layer items. In this case, cloaks. Each cloak has a size of 15 and a permit of 150. Taking into account the 50 size already on the upper body, we can add 100 size worth of cloaks. This lets us add 6 (x 15 = 90) cloaks over the existing armour.
Going through like this for the rest of the body (most of it is simpler) gives you a final setup of;
1 x breastplate
3 x mail shirts
6 x cloaks
6 x dress
3 x robe
3 x cloak
3 x long skirts
1 x greaves
Legs (no foreign items)
2 x trousers
1 x greaves
2 x trousers
1 x leggings
1 x helm
6 x hood
1 x pairs of gauntlets
1 x pairs of mittens
2 x pairs of gloves
1 x pairs of mittens
1 x pairs of chausses
1 x pairs of high boots
Boots (no foreign items)
1 x pairs of socks
1 x pairs of high boots
1 x pairs of socks
1 x pairs of shoes
Of course, so long as the bugs are still around, we are likely to see dwarves wearing more than this or refusing to put parts on because they found their boots before their socks.
Note: "Cheap" implies the set can be made from secondary materials such as bone and cloth with item types not overlapping with the other, more combat oriented set which use metal, leather and cloth (for socks). As a rule of thumb, combat sets provide better protection but cheap sets are lighter and easier to mass produce.
The value of coverage of an armor piece is the percentage probability that an attack made against a body part covered by said armor piece actually hits the armor. Example: Helms and caps both cover only the head (facial features excluded). 100% of attacks against the head of a helm-wearing dwarf are affected by the helm's protective capabilities, because helms have 100% coverage. In the case of a cap-wearing dwarf, only 50% of attacks made against the head are affected by the cap - the remaining 50% bypass it and land directly on the head, because caps have only 50% coverage. The value of coverage has an additional role in determining how well the armor protects against contaminants and temperature effects.
By default, armor pieces cover only a single body part, at which they are 'anchored' (hands, feet, lower body, upper body or head)Verify . Their coverage is extended to other body parts using the following three tags:
This token, when applied to torso armor, controls how far 'up' the body an item of armor reaches. Basically you can think of it as going out in stages along the body. It doesn't cover legs. It doesn't cover body parts with certain tags (notably [HEAD], [GRASP] and [STANCE], or the head). It can cover the children of such body parts (such as parts of the face) if it extends beyond them. The upper body and lower body are counted as 0 steps away, and so both always covered.
Breastplates have a default of 0, meaning they only cover the torso.
Mail shirts have [UBSTEP:1], so cover the upper arms and throat.
A number of clothing items have [UBSTEP:MAX]. What exactly this covers depends on a certain bug, but unless you are making adamantine robes you probably won't get that much extra protection this way anyway. This would mean, for example, they would cover the upper arm, lower arm, skip the hand, then cover the fingers. The same goes for facial features (and, oddly, the throat) after skipping the head and the toes after skipping the entire legs and feet.
The clothes with these properties seem to be robes, cloaks, coats, shirts and dresses. However, of these only robes and dresses also have [LBSTEP:MAX] (see below) and so I'm not sure if anything else would actually cover toes or not. Needs additional testing.
Testing in arena: in three 15x15 dwarves battles where both sides was equiped with iron battle axes and iron full armor and one of the teams was enforced with leather robes, team with robes was a victorious (2-3 survivors).
This token, when applied to torso armor or pants, controls how much of the legs an item covers. Legs in this case are defined as [LIMB] body parts that end in a [STANCE] body part (eg, foot). Arms are [LIMB]s, but end in a [GRASP] hand instead. Because the upper and lower body are effectively zero steps from each other, torso armor can extend this way easily.
Both greaves and leggings have [LBSTEP:MAX] and so cover the entire leg to the best of their ability.
Mail shirts have [LBSTEP:1] and so can protect the upper legs. A range of other clothes (including cloaks) and leather armor also have this. As mentioned above, robes and dresses have [LBSTEP:MAX] and so cover the entire legs. These also have [UBSTEP:MAX] and so cover the entire body. Although not the strongest armor, a leather (or maybe adamantine?) robe or dress gives you maximum coverage.
This token, when applied to gloves or shoes, determines how far up the limb the armor protects. As with [LBSTEP], this doesn't cover anything but the [LIMB] tag body parts, but it does cover arms as well as legs.
Low boots literally only cover the foot.
High boots have [UPSTEP:1], so cover the lower leg. If you consider the upper legs can covered by [LBSTEP] from above, you can effectively have an entire layer of chain armor on the legs from high boots and a mail shirt even before adding leg armor. This is why I go with greaves for a plate layer. Gauntlets have [UPSTEP:1], so cover the lower arms. Because there is no other protection for arms as there is for legs, you need gauntlets and mail shirts to protect your arms fully. Chausses are a very rare sock substitute, but they are the only items to have [UPSTEP:MAX] and so offer full leg coverage while being exactly the same size as regular socks. The perfect undergarment.
The whole method is pretty nifty, even though faces can't be covered by head armor.
Toes and fingers are protected by the relevant armor type (e.g. gauntlets cover fingers and boots cover toes).
 Other Restrictions
In fortress mode, "under" layers cannot be put on over "over" layers, so, for instance, a dwarf cannot put on socks unless it first removes its shoes. They can wear over layers without putting an under layer on first, which explains their fondness for "going commando" (trousers without loincloth). Dwarves will only put on the specific armor they are told to put on -- unless they are not told what to wear.
Also, if you do not tell dwarves to replace clothing with a uniform, they will wear it alongside the uniform and possibly come into conflict with layering and sizes/permits, making them unable to wear assigned items.
In adventurer mode, you have direct control over what armor you put on, and are only limited by permit and "one only" (shaped) restrictions. This means you can wear three suits of chain mail (total size 45) plus another suit of chain or plate on top of them. On top of this, you can add six cloaks.
In adventurer mode, putting a pair of socks (or any under-layer foot wear) on before putting on a pair of boots (or any over-layer foot wear) will keep you from putting on the last boot. So the order sock, sock, boot, boot doesn't work, but changing the order to sock, boot, sock, boot does. This is a very minor bug.
In fortress mode it is possible to have (at least) 3 shields equipped.
|Primary Industries||Wood - Stone - Farming - Alcohol - Fuel - Fishing - Meat - Metal - Beekeeping - Poultry - Extract|
|Secondary Industries||Armor - Arms - Finished goods - Soap - Glass - Gem - Textile - Ceramic|
|Tertiary Industries||Military - Health care - Trade|