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This article is about an older version of DF.
Dwarf in armor.png

Armor is protective equipment used to reduce/deflect damage during combat. It comes in a variety of individual pieces that work together to cover a dwarf - there is no "suit of armor" in the sense of a single piece of equipment. Each armor piece protects a certain area or areas of a dwarf, and different pieces might cover a different collection of areas (see coverage chart below). The purpose of each piece is pretty much self-explanatory.

Loosely speaking, anything worn provides some protection, so it is considered "armor". In the z-stocks menu, each piece of armor is listed under the location where it is worn - "armor" being with other torso pieces, headwear, handwear, legwear, and footwear. However, this page will concentrate mostly just on combat-quality armor. Note that breastplates only protect upper/lower torso areas, while mail shirts also cover the neck, the upper arms, and the upper legs. (All this is explained below in more detail.)

The actual effectiveness of a given piece of armor depends largely on the weapon(s) being used against it. "Chain" pieces are flexible, and while good against slashing weapons (axes), they don't do much to stop the crushing force of blunt weapons (maces and hammers). "Solid" pieces (breastplates, greaves, gauntlets) are rigid, so they are more widely effective as protection against all weapons but are heavier. See the weapon article for more specific information.

Also, for slashing and piercing weapons (but not bludgeoning), the "armor vs. weapon" results are very dependent on the metal of each. A "better" metal will defeat a "lesser" armor, while a weapon of a lesser metal will be stopped more easily. For bludgeoning weapons, "weight" is the guiding rule, and all combat metals have roughly the same weight. See Weapon#Superior metal rule for further discussion.

Keeping in mind the enemies you are likely to meet and how they will be armed, it is advisable to equip your militia dwarves with at least bronze or iron armor, as copper will quickly be outclassed against most anything except silver weapons and (most) animal attacks. Testing in the arena shows that armored dwarves have a huge advantage over unarmored ones, usually taking no casualties while making short work of their enemies. (But you shouldn't need this wiki to figure that out.) However, untrained dwarves will become encumbered and slowed down wearing armor due to lacking the armor user skill.

Dwarven armor coverage chart



Armor's purpose is simple: to allow your dwarves to better withstand damage in combat. Where an unarmored dwarf would invariably suffer injury from a weapon strike, well-armored dwarves have a good chance of taking reduced damage or shrugging it off altogether. Potentially damaging blows become mere bruises and otherwise lethal or incapacitating wounds are reduced to serious ones. Clothes, though not specifically recognized by the game as armor, nonetheless function as such and may block weak attacks.

While a clothed dwarf is a better fighter than a naked one, an unarmored dwarf will still succumb to a goblin ambush in seconds. One clad in a full set of exceptional-quality steel armor, however, can absorb most of a goblin squad's ammunition and half a minute of its time before finally being killed. Unarmored or lightly armored dwarves may suffice to deal with lone thieves and the local wildlife, but a serious army requires equally serious armor.

Types of armor[edit]

In terms of classifications, armor can be thought of as having three different types: clothing, leather, or metal. When you first create any squad in your military screen, you will have the choice to assign a default "uniform" - "no armor" (which is "clothing"), "leather", or "metal". You can make additional custom uniforms for this purpose and mix and match different armor types, but otherwise, these refer to the pieces and combinations described below.

The first is regular clothing, which is made of leather at a leather works or cloth at a Clothier's shop. Clothing can usually* only deflect very weak attacks - say, a raven bite - but nonetheless can reduce damage. Most dwarves will be wearing clothing; those that aren't will usually be either very unhappy, babies, or insane. All dwarves, both your initial 7 and migrants, arrive with a full set of clothing (but it does wear out, so you'll need to make or trade for more sooner or later).

(*Silk clothing is a little stronger against cutting/piercing attacks but still far from "military grade".)

The second type is leather and/or bone armor, which is specialized for the purpose of defense compared to standard clothing. It is also very weak and designed to protect against small- to medium-sized animal attacks; it provides almost no noticeable defense against larger animals or military weapons. Leather/bone armor is usually only used by hunters, or as the very first armor that a fortress military uses, for defending against marauding macaques and the like. These can be made before any metal industry is up and running, and they only need the raw material (bone or tanned hides) and a craftsdwarf's workshop or leather works, respectively.

Note that clothing made from leather is not the same as "leather armor", even if it consumes identical raw material. Leather armor is a form of "military" armor, and non-military dwarves will not wear it.

The last type is classic combat-quality metal armor. This armor is made by an armorsmith at a metalsmith's forge and should be the armor of choice for any serious military. This armor can further be broken down into two sub-types. Flexible "chain" armor pieces, either a shirt or leggings (only), are stronger against cutting weapons (axes, swords) but do little against blunt/crushing weapons (maces, hammers, flails, whips), though they are difficult to destroy with blunt force as well. Rigid "plate" pieces provide the best all-around protection. Plate pieces include helmets, metal gauntlets, and boots - there are no "chain" versions for those pieces. A full suit might incorporate both, the plate pieces layered over the chain pieces, for the best of both worlds.

By location[edit]

Though all clothes can protect from damage, a "complete" suit of armor consists of the following pieces, one cell from each column.

Torso Head Arm Leg Feet Shields (block attacks)
Leather armor (upper body + lower body) Cap Gloves (hands) Leggings, made of leather or chain Low boots (feet) Buckler
Mail shirt (upper body + lower body + neck + upper arms + upper legs)

Breastplate (upper body + lower body only)

Helm Gauntlets (hands + wrists) Greaves, made of plate High boots (feet + lower legs) Shield

The second row is the more effective choice, while the first row offers less protection but does not slow down dwarves unskilled as "armor users".

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 the upper leg is covered from the shirt and the lower leg from the boot for complete coverage).

Armor skill[edit]

Attacking and being attacked with armor on gives 3 experience to the armor user skill, with 9 more points if the attack actually hits armor. Whereas armor quality affects hit block chance, armor user skill affects how quickly the dwarf can move in their 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 deflects an attack with their armor, it will be reported as - for example - Dwarf 1 slashes Dwarf 2 in the upper body with his iron short sword, but the attack is deflected by Dwarf 2's small iron breastplate!, and the dwarf will receive 18 experience on top of the 12 mentioned before. The skill can be trained by attacking local wildlife, or through live training schemes.

Shield skill[edit]

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 it 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
Material Workshop Labor Notes
Metal Metalsmith's forge Armoring Best choice; see notes below
Bone Craftsdwarf's workshop Bone carving Leggings, greaves, gauntlets, and helms only
Shell Craftsdwarf's workshop Bone carving Leggings, 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 piercing 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 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.

Shields are a bit different than other pieces of armor. Their material doesn't affect how well they deflect attacks. Wood and leather are both very light compared to their metal equivalents, and they are just as effective for blocking; however, they make for poor bludgeons if used to bash enemies (and they frequently are). When combined with changes made to how wear is applied to various materials, this means shields and bucklers of either will likely need to be replaced somewhat frequently if they are not artifact-quality. There can be no denying that the metal saved is worth it, however, especially in metal-poor embarks.

Certain weapons are surprisingly good at penetrating armor. Copper whips will shatter skulls through steel helmets. science!

Armor material comparison
Poor Acceptable Good Excellent Best
Leather/Bone Copper Iron/Bronze* Steel Adamantine
(* Bronze here also includes Bismuth bronze, as both have the same combat stats and are armor-grade metals. Black bronze cannot be used for armor.)
  • Bone armor can be crafted very early in the game from the bones of livestock or other animals. Roughly equivalent to leather, bone armor provides practically no protection against "real" weapons, or large animals, and little against the attacks of medium-sized animals, making it an inferior option even for hunters, except as a fashion statement.
  • 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, which requires cassiterite. It is much improved over copper armor and is slightly stronger than iron, but it also weighs more and is more elastic.
  • Bismuth bronze has identical properties to standard bronze, but has been alloyed with bismuth, making it more valuable (and fancier-colored). If you have access to bismuth and want to put it to use, and you have the time and fuel for the extra steps, you can save some tin and increase the value of the final objects 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 is slightly weaker (but more rigid) and 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 in Dwarf Fortress is just as valuable as 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 unparalleled armor but is very time-consuming to produce in addition to being hazardous to mine. It is immensely valuable to boot.

A detailed breakdown can be found here. Note that a full suit of any non-adamantine metal armor will considerably slow down a raw recruit of average strength, as shown briefly here.

Some dwarven science has also been 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[edit]

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.

Designation Description Value
Sharpness Weapon To-Hit /
Armor Deflect Modifier
Item Name 50%
-Item Name- Well-crafted 60% 1.2×
+Item Name+ Finely-crafted 70% 1.4×
*Item Name* Superior quality 80% 1.6×
≡Item Name≡ Exceptional 90% 1.8×
☼Item Name☼ Masterful 12× 100%
Unique name Artifact 120× 100%
«Item Name» Decorated object Varies No Effect No Effect

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, or three times as good as a more mundane piece of armor. Artifact-quality weapons-grade armor items are very strong defensively. However, artifacts can also be made of totally inappropriate materials, and the spectacularly low defensive values of giant hedgehog bone leggings vastly outweigh any bonuses it gets. Fortunately, soldiers will not by themselves claim artifact equipment; it can only be issued by the overseer assigning it as specific item.

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 better at withstanding blows with it and unhappy if it is taken away. This is fine if it is a pair of ☼Steel Greaves☼, but it is 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 standard wear, and 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, whereas the former must be stripped off dead enemies. 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 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 than more armor, because it slows you down. Non-armor users tend to get slowed down significantly if they are 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 weigh 1-2 units of weight depending on material, and high boots weigh 3 units. Most clothing weighs 1 unit or less, 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, who more or less depend on their first strike and fast reload to cripple the enemy before they get into melee and who may also spend the majority of their time behind fortifications anyway.

Wearing a combination of 1 pair of metal gauntlets, 1 pair of metal high boots, 1 metal helmet, and 1 metal mail shirt gives an armor level 2 [Verify] (Are armor levels still relevant in the new material properties-based mechanics?) metal armor layer that covers all areas without sacrificing speed due to encumbrance on non-armor users. This setup will prevent most cutting and stabbing attacks from weapons below the armor's metal grade, but it will still be vulnerable to crushing attacks since no metal greaves or breastplate is worn. Lighter and 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 they tend to be at least moderately effective if they are masterworks [Verify]. 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. However, wooden and leather shields wear out and break rather quickly in the new version when used to hit armor in combat, so in the long run, a metal shield might be worth it.


Armor can suffer wear when it is struck in combat.v0.43.04 Whether armor is damaged in a fight depends on material differences (e.g. steel weapons can easily damage copper armor) and presumably also the power of the attacker. Armor is irreparable, so if it's destroyed in combat, new armor must be made or purchased to replace it.

Armor (and clothing) stored in a stockpile with the refuse category enabled experience accelerated wear—this is a feature intended to dispose of unwanted armor.Bug:5711


The layers are, in order from inner to outer:

  • Under
  • Over
  • Armor
  • Cover

Types of Protection[edit]

Material Requirements[edit]

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 adamantine cloth required to create armor is equal to the material size.


Clothing Type Armor Level* Material Size Materials Size Permit Layer Coverage % Bars to make Bars returned on melting Melting efficiency %
Cap[S] +[Verify] 1 C,L,M 10 15 Over 50% 1 0.3 30%
Helm[S] 1+ 2 L,B,S,M 30 20 Armor 100% 1 0.6 60%
Hood 2 C,L 10 100 Cover 100% N/A N/A N/A
Mask†[S] 2 C,L,B,S,M 20 10 Under 50% N/A N/A N/A
Turban† 2 C,L 20 100 Over 50% N/A N/A N/A
Head Veil† 2 C,L 10 100 Over 50% N/A N/A N/A
Face Veil† 2 C,L 10 100 Under 50% N/A N/A N/A
Headscarf† 2 C,L 10 100 Over 50% N/A N/A N/A

Upper Body[edit]

Clothing Type Armor Level* Material Size Materials Size Permit Layer Coverage % UBSTEP LBSTEP Bars to make Bars returned on melting Melting efficiency
Dress 5 C,L 10 50 Under 100% MAX MAX N/A N/A N/A
Shirt 3 C,L 10 50 Under 100% MAX 0 N/A N/A N/A
Tunic 3 C,L 10 50 Under 100% 0 1 N/A N/A N/A
Toga 5 C,L 30 100 Over 100% 1 1 N/A N/A N/A
Vest 2 C,L 10 50 Over 50% 0 0 N/A N/A N/A
Robe 6 C,L 20 100 Over 100% MAX MAX N/A N/A N/A
Coat 5 C,L 20 50 Over 100% MAX 1 N/A N/A N/A
Leather Armor[S] 1 6 L 20 50 Armor 100% 1 1 N/A N/A N/A
Mail Shirt 2 6 M 15 50 Over 100% 1 1 2 1.8 90%
Breastplate[S] 3 9 M 20 50 Armor 100% 0 0 3 2.7 90%
Cloak 5 C,L 15 150 Cover 100% MAX 1 N/A N/A N/A
Cape† 3 C,L 10 300 Cover 50% 0 0 N/A N/A N/A
Backpack 3 C,L 0 >300 Over N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Quiver 3 C,L 0 >300 Over N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Flask 5 L,M N/A N/A Unique* N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Quivers and backpacks are also worn on the upper body, counting towards layer permit size. Flasks are attached to the upper body armor or the garment worn over it (but not cover-layer items, such as cloaks).


Clothing Type Armor Level* Material Size Materials Size Permit Layer Coverage % UPSTEP Bars to make (per pair) Bars returned on melting (per pair) Melting Efficiency %
Gloves 1 C,L 10 10 Under 100% N/A N/A N/A
Gauntlets[S] 2 2 B,S,M 20 15 Armor 100% 1 1 1.2 120%
Mittens 1 C,L 15 20 Cover 150% N/A N/A N/A

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[edit]

Clothing Type Armor Level* Material Size Materials Size Permit Layer Coverage % LBSTEP Bars to make Bars returned on melting Melting efficiency %
Trousers 4 C,L 15 30 Over 100% MAX N/A N/A N/A
Leggings[S] 1+ 5 L,B,S,M 15 30 Armor 100% MAX 1 1.5 150%
Greaves[S] 3 6 B,M 15 30 Armor 100% MAX 2 1.8 90%
Loincloths† 1 C,L 10 30 Under 50% 0 N/A N/A N/A
Thongs† 1 C,L 10 30 Under 25% 0 N/A N/A N/A
Skirts (Short)† 2 C,L 10 100 Over 100% 0 N/A N/A N/A
Skirts† 2 C,L 10 100 Over 100% 1 N/A N/A N/A
Skirts (Long)† 2 C,L 10 100 Over 100% MAX N/A N/A N/A
Braies† 3 C,L 10 30 Under 100% 1 N/A N/A N/A


Clothing Type Armor Level* Material Size Materials Size Permit Layer Coverage % UPSTEP Bars to make (per pair) Bars returned on melting (per pair) Melting efficiency %
Socks 1 C 10 15 Under 100% N/A N/A N/A
Sandals† 1 C,L 25 15 Over 100% N/A N/A N/A
Shoes 1 C,L 20 15 Over 100% N/A N/A N/A
Low Boots 1+ 1 L,M 25 15 Over 100% 1 0.6 60%
High Boots 1+ 2 L,M 25 15 Over 100% 1 1 1.2 120%
Chausses† 3 C,L 10 15 Under 100% MAX N/A N/A N/A

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 to make Bars returned on melting Melting efficiency
Buckler 1 2 L,M,W NA NA NA 1 1 0.6 60%
Shield 2 4 L,M,W NA NA NA 2 1 1.2 120%
  • * = 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 it 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. Additionally, shield material and quality only matter for bashing attacks and do not affect blocking.[1] The chance to block projectiles is doubled.[1]

Special procedurally generated armors[edit]

Some rare entities have their own procedurally generated armors. Currently, these armors are produced by copying the default properties of the "base" armor and adding an adjective ("bulging", "segmented", "rounded", etc.). Dwarves in strange moods that select from all armors with a certain tag may produce one of these procedurally generated armors. Since they retain the properties of their base items, these armors should be as usable as standard armor of the base type.

Equipping clothing[edit]

Items in Dwarf Fortress must be equipped in a specific order. For example, a dwarf must equip a layer type of Under before he equips a layer type of Over. The complete order is: Under, Over, Armor, 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 issue doesn't typically occur 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[edit]

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 first[Verify].
  • then checks if the total size of items on each body part the current item would cover (excluding the current item's size) is less than or equal to the current item's permit level.
  • in case of an Armor layer item, also checks whether its own size + permit value is greater than the total size of items already on the body part.
  • in case of any non-Cover item, checks whether the total size of items in the same layer including the current item is less than the smallest permit value among these items.
  • if all above logic is true, the dwarf will equip the item.

Equipment process example[edit]

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 Total Size* Permit
Mail Shirt 15 0 50
Mail Shirt 15 15 50
Mail Shirt 15 30 50
Breastplate [S] 20 45 50
Mail Shirt 15 65 50
Cloak 15 65 150
Cloak 15 80 150
Cloak 15 95 150
Cloak 15 110 150
Cloak 15 125 150
Cloak 15 140 150
Cloak 15 155 150
Cape 10 150 300
Cape 10 160 300
Cape 10 170 300
Cape 10 180 300
Cape 10 190 300
Cape 10 200 300
Cape 10 210 300
Cape 10 220 300
Cape 10 230 300
Cape 10 240 300
Cape 10 250 300
Cape 10 260 300
Cape 10 270 300
Cape 10 280 300
Cape 10 290 300
Cape 10 300 300
Cape 10 310 300
  • * = Total Size includes 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[edit]

The Size and Permit values govern how much clothing or armor can be worn.

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.

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 one's upper body plus a helm and six hoods on one's 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 successive time he gets dressed, he feels the need to do it differently.)

Some more workarounds regarding Size, Permit, and Layering[edit]

Let's say you want to kit out your soldier's upper body. Try walking through this in arena mode to get a feel for it.

You start off with a steel breastplate. This has a size of 20 and a permit of 50. It is also shaped, so you can't add any other shaped items: no more breastplates and no leather armor.

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 armor pieces' permit + size (or rather, the permit value ignoring that item's size in the calculation) like so:

  • Against each of the mail shirts, you have 2 x 15 = 30 total size in mail shirts and + 20 from the breastplate, matching the 50 permit.
  • Against the breastplate, you have 3 x 15 = 45 < 50, which is fine.

Now, if you add a fourth mail shirt, these tests will fail. However, because of the layering order (mail shirts being armor layer 2, the breastplate armor 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 armor.

Going through armor like this for the rest of the body (most of it is simpler) gives you a final setup of:

3 × mail shirts
1 × breastplate
6 × cloaks
16 x capes

Armor (no foreign items)
3 × mail shirts
1 × breastplate
6 × cloaks

Armor (cheap)
6 × dress
3 × robe
3 × cloak

3 × long skirts
1 × greaves

Legs (no foreign items)
2 × trousers
1 × greaves

Legs (cheap)
2 × trousers
1 × leggings

1 × helm
8 × hood

1 × pairs of gauntlets
1 × pairs of mittens

Gloves (cheap)
2 × pairs of gloves
1 × pairs of mittens

Boots †
1 × pairs of chausses
1 × pairs of high boots

Boots (no foreign items) †
1 × pairs of socks
1 × pairs of high boots

Boots (cheap) †
1 × pairs of socks
1 × pairs of shoes

To produce a set of full armor for a single dwarf (assuming you use no foreign items), you would require 14 metal bars and 16 units of cloth (or silk or yarn).

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 sets can be made from secondary materials such as bone and cloth, with item types not overlapping with the other, more combat-oriented sets that 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.

† It appears that equipping footwear on one foot can affect what can be equipped on the other. For example, if a uniform calls for socks and high boots, a dwarf will only equip 3 of those 4 items between both of his feet.


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, so both are always covered.

Breastplates have a default of 0, meaning they only cover the torso.
Mail shirts have [UBSTEP:1], so they cover the upper arms and neck.

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 and then lower arm, skip the hand, and then cover the fingers. The same goes for facial features 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), so I'm not sure if anything else would actually cover toes or not. This needs additional testing.

Testing in arena: in three battles with 15x15 dwarves where both sides was equipped with iron battle axes and iron full armor and one of the teams was enforced with leather robes, the team with robes was 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 (e.g. 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.

Dwarven armor coverage chart

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 they cover the lower leg. If you consider that 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 they cover the lower arms. Because there is no other protection for arms like 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. They are the perfect undergarment.

The whole method is pretty nifty, even though faces can't be covered by head armor. This means that mouths, noses, eyes, and cheeks are as vulnerable as if you were not wearing anything at all, even if the name of an article of clothing would normally imply that it protects them. This also applies to teeth, lips, and ears.

Toes and fingers are protected by the relevant armor type (e.g. gauntlets cover fingers, and boots cover toes).

Other Restrictions[edit]

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 particular, caps conflict with helms (both are shaped items), and shoes are too large to fit inside boots.

Military dwarves have a "pecking order" for equipment. The captain of the first squad created has first dibs, followed by their underlings in order, followed by the second squad, etc...

In adventurer mode, you have direct control over what armor you put on, and they are only limited by permit and "one only" (shaped) restrictions. This means you can wear three suits of 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 fortress mode, it is possible to have (at least) 3 shields equipped.

  • Soldiers do not replace tattered clothing that is part of a uniform.Bug:6039
  • Getting military dwarves to put on all their assigned equipment can be iffy. Boots are especially problematic (possibly related to the adventure mode bug above).Bug:535
"Armor" in other Languages Books-aj.svg aj ashton 01.svg
Dwarven: tosid
Elven: datome
Goblin: nuklat
Human: stalcon
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