A hatch cover (also called a floor hatch or just hatch) is, in effect, a door, but controlling the passage between Z-levels instead of along the same Z-level. They can be placed over downward stairs or ramp or open space, as long as they are supported by an adjacent floor tile.
Like doors, they can be linked with mechanisms, locked, and kept tightly closed to keep out water, pets and foes alike. They can be set as internal, but as rooms cannot occupy multiple Z-levels, this has no effect at this time.
When closed, hatches appear as
¢ and are not visible when open. A hatch cover's color is determined by the material it is made from.
A dwarf falling down stairs will be stopped by a closed floor hatch.
Using a hatch cover, a garbage dump can be designed to drop items on the same Z level as the dwarf doing the dumping, thus removing risk of falling items causing injuries. This is done by channeling one square, and then constructing the hatch over the hole. Designate a dump zone over the hatch, and haulers will neglect to open the hatch, leaving the hauled items on the floor nearby instead.
It is currently impossible to descend through a hatch cover in adventure mode, so remove them ahead of time if you plan to revisit your abandoned fortress.
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