Metal is a material extracted from ore at a smelter, turning the ore into bars of pure metal. (One special metal becomes wafers instead of bars.) It is sometimes combined with other materials to form an alloy metal, which is also measured by the bar. An alloy usually improves on the properties of its components to give more uses or increased value. The metal bars resulting from smelting are used to make items such as weapons, armor, furniture, and crafts at a forge.
Smelting pure ores into the corresponding bars raises the base value from that of stone (3) to that of bars (5). This value is then multiplied against the material multiplier of the metal to give the final value for the bar.
There are only eleven pure metals in Dwarf Fortress (plus a twelfth special metal). Many of these can be mixed together to create alloys of one type or another, of which there are another fourteen. In some cases making alloys will result in an overall increase in value, or the resultant alloy will be more powerful when used to forge weapons or armor, though many alloys result in no overall increase in utility or created wealth. (These increases in value can be compared in the "Difference" column of the below table.)
The main use of these alloys is to allow you to stretch any useful metals you have too few of or to create items with distinct colors (for instance, rose gold is magenta) for furniture, color-coding rooms or levers, or artistic constructions (including floor mosaics). In some cases (bronze, for example) an additional benefit is reduced fuel consumption, as you can create multiple bars of some alloys directly from raw ores with only one smelter task, bypassing the need to first make bars of the pure metals (and thus using only one fuel unit to produce multiple bars). The number of bars used to create an alloy always equals the number of bars produced: the number of bars input equals the number of bars of output.
 List of metals
 Pure Metals
|Source Ore(s) or Reaction||Density (g/cm3)||Melting point||Material
|Value difference||Notes and |
||Raw adamantine||0.200||25000°U||300||+50||Can be used to forge anything except beds; |
Blades are 10x sharper than any other material
||Bismuthinite||9.78||10488°U||2||+1||Only useful for alloying into bismuth bronze|
||Native copper, Malachite, Tetrahedrite||8.93||11952°U||2||+0, +0, -1*||Can be used to forge all weapons, armor, ammunition, and picks|
||Hematite, Limonite, Magnetite||7.85||12768°U||10||+2||Can be used to forge all weapons, armor, ammunition, picks, and anvils|
||Native silver, Horn silver,
Galena (50%), Tetrahedrite (20%)
|Can be used to forge melee weapons and ammunition|
(Unless specified, ores of the ingredients may be used instead of bars for alloy reactions)
|Source Ore(s) or Reaction||Density (g/cm3)||Melting point||Material
|Value difference||Notes and |
||Silver + Copper||8.93||11952°U||6||+0||Can be made with Tetrahedrite or Galena instead of Silver for a high value reaction.|
||1 Tin + 2 Copper + 1 Bismuth !||8.25||11868°U||6||+4||Can be used to forge all weapons, armor, ammunition, and picks|
||2 Copper + 1 Silver + 1 Gold !||8.93||11952°U||11||+0|
||Zinc + Copper||8.55||11656°U||7||+5|
||Tin + Copper||8.25||11868°U||5||+3||Can be used to forge all weapons, armor, ammunition, and picks|
||Silver + Gold||8.65||11828°U||20||+0||Can be made with Tetrahedrite or Galena instead of Silver for a high value reaction.|
||3 Tin + 1 Copper||7.28||10417°U||5||+3|
||2 Tin + 1 Copper + 1 Lead !||7.28||10417°U||3||+1|
||2 Nickel + 1 Copper + 1 Zinc !||8.65||11620°U||3||+1|
||Iron + flux stone + fuel !||7.85||12106°U||10||+0||Only used to make steel|
||3 Gold + 1 Copper !||19.32||11915°U||23||+0|
||Iron + Pig iron + flux stone + fuel !||7.85||12718°U||30||+20||Can be used to forge all weapons, armor, ammunition, picks, and anvils|
||3 Silver + 1 Copper !||10.49||11602°U||8||+0|
||2 Tin + 1 Copper||7.28||10417°U||4||+2|
- Tile Color corresponds to how items made from that metal are displayed in game, foreground and background colors.
- Reaction indicates the basic recipe for an alloy - this does not include the fuel used in that creation. See the article for that alloy or smelting for possible alternatives.
- ! - You can use only bars of metal in this reaction, not ores.
- Density is used to determine the different weight of finished objects.
- Melting point is used to determine if a material is magma-safe or not: magma is 12000°U.
- Material value is what the base value of an object made of this metal is multiplied by to determine its worth.
- Value difference indicates the difference between the average value of the required bars of metals vs. the value of the resulting bars of alloy - what went in vs. what comes out, measured per bar. "+0" indicates that the resulting alloy is a perfectly average value of the component metals. For pure metals, this indicates the difference in value between the metal and the ore, separated with commas in cases where multiple ore values differ.
 Weapon & Armor Quality
|Metal||Value||Density||Impact yield||Impact fracture||Impact elasticity||Shear yield||Shear fracture||Shear elasticity||Notes|
|Adamantine||300||0.200||5000||5000||0||5000||5000||0||Can be used to forge anything except beds; |
Blades are ten times as sharp as any other material aside from obsidian
|Steel||30||7.85||1505||2520||940||430||720||215||Can be used to forge all weapons, armor, ammunition, picks, and anvils|
|Bismuth bronze||6||8.25||602||843||547||172||241||156||Can be used to forge all weapons, armor, ammunition, and picks|
|Bronze||5||8.25||602||843||547||172||241||156||Can be used to forge all weapons, armor, ammunition, and picks|
|Iron||10||7.85||542||1080||319||155||310||189||Can be used to forge all weapons, armor, ammunition, picks, and anvils|
|Copper||2||8.93||245||770||175||70||220||145||Can be used to forge all weapons, armor, ammunition, and picks
|Silver||10||10.49||350||595||350||100||170||333||Can be used to forge melee weapons and ammunition|
|Bone||1||0.50||200||200||100||115||130||100||Can be used to make crossbows, ammunition and some armor|
|Wood||1||0.50||10||10||1000||40||40||1000||Can be used to make crossbows, ammunition and some armor and weapons|
|Shell||1||0.50||200||200||100||115||130||100||Can be used to make some armor|
|Plant cloth||1||1.52||10||10||100000||600||600||100000||Can be used to make clothing|
|Silk cloth||1||0.50||10||10||100000||1150||1200||100000||Can be used to make clothing|
|Wool cloth||1||0.50||10||10||100000||60||120||100000||Can be used to make clothing|
|Leather||1||0.50||10||10||50000||25||25||50000||Can be used to make armor
- Combat information is used internally by the game to determine the combat properties of weapons and armor made from this metal:
- Density: Used in conjunction with other factors - heavier weapons (higher numbers) hit with more force, light weapons tend to have less penetration. Value shown here is g/cm3, which is the raw value divided by 103
- Impact yield: Used for blunt-force combat; higher is better. This is the raw value divided by 103 (i.e., kPa).
- Impact fracture: Used for blunt-force combat; higher is better. This is the raw value divided by 103 (i.e., kPa).
- Impact elasticity: Used for blunt-force combat; lower is better. This is the raw value.
- Shear yield: Used for cutting calculations in combat; higher is better. This is the raw value divided by 103 (i.e., kPa).
- Shear fracture: Used for cutting calculations in combat; higher is better. This is the raw value divided by 103 (i.e., kPa).
- Shear elasticity: Used for cutting calculations in combat; lower is better. This is the raw value.
- General Term Explanations (From Wikipedia)
- Yield Strength - The stress at which material strain changes from elastic deformation to plastic deformation, causing it to deform permanently.
- Fracture Strength - The stress coordinate on the stress-strain curve at the point of rupture.
- Stress - Force per area = F/A
- Strain - Deformation of a solid due to stress = Stress/Young's Modulus
- Yield Strength is the amount of stress required to permanently deform (bend) a material (plastic deformation)
- Fracture Strength is the amount of stress required to permanently break (rupture) a material
- Elasticity (or IMPACT_STRAIN_AT_YIELD in RAWs) is the amount of deformation (bending) that occurs at the yield point
- Implications to Dwarf Fortress Combat
- Yield combined with Elasticity can tell what a material will do under stress (be it from a hammer, axe, or arrow)
- Higher yield means that it takes more stress to deform
- Lower elasticity means that it will deform less when stress is applied
Preliminary Combat Testing & Analysis
Adamantine and Steel take first and second place respectively, with Iron the third best material in the game. Beyond which, bronze is in a close tie with copper as to being the second worst material. As in older versions, silver continues to hold steady as the worst material available (no longer beneficial with wooden training weapons being available now) in regards to edged weaponry. Additionally, with regards to blunt weapons almost all of the non-adamantine materials perform equally well, with a very slight edge towards steel and silver. Here is the thread with the details:
Keep in mind with how unbelievably complicated this system is nothing should be taken as word of law yet.
|Armor||Adamantine||Steel||Iron||Bronze, Bismuth Bronze||Copper|
|Edged Weapons|| Adamantine
(worst for missiles)
|Steel||Iron||Bronze, Bismuth Bronze||Copper||Silver||For piercing iron armor, copper is better than bronze. For piercing copper or bronze armor, bronze is better than copper.|
|Blunt Weapons||Steel, Silver||Copper, Bismuth Bronze, Bronze, Iron||---||---||---||Adamantine||All six non-adamantine metals perform nearly identically. Steel has a slightly higher rate of critical wounds, while silver is slightly more likely to penetrate armor.|
Cross referencing this table with the table at the top of this section seems to indicate that low densities, high impact fractures, and high shear fractures contribute to the killing power of edged weaponsSee also some outstanding research on armor vs. different weapon types by Shinziril.