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This article is about the current version of DF.
Pain to read without a bookmark.

A book is an item that can be written on and store historical events, knowledge, and art. Books use sheets made from plant fiber (paper), parchment, or papyrus. Books are created by historical figures in world generation, by adventurers, and by scholars and visitors in fortress mode and can also be copied by scribes. Travelers and traders carry books to different sites and libraries, spreading information as a result. There are two forms of books: codices (sing. codex) and scrolls . Both forms have different methods of creation, but they are identical in function. Codices are known as quires prior to being bound. Written books are treated as artifacts, with the exception of copies. Original written works are recorded in the legends and appear in the L Artifacts screen in fortress mode. Books are titled based on their subject matter, with copies identified by "(copy)" at the end of their title.

Quires and scrolls are found under "tools" in the z Stocks screen, and codices can be found under "codices". Written and unwritten books are stored in stockpiles with Finished Goods enabled. Original written works can be separated from copied and unwritten books in stockpiles by toggling the stockpile's settings to accept only artifact-level core or total quality items. If a library with available book-space is present, written and unwritten books will instead be stored in bookcases and containers, respectively.

Physical Forms[edit]


Scrolls are made from sheets and scroll rollers. Scrolls can be written on and stored right after being made.

Quire and codex[edit]

Unlike scrolls, codices require a two-step process to be made. The initial form of a codex is known as a quire. Quires can be written on, be read, and be used as a copy, similar to scrolls. Once something is written on, quires can be combined with a book binding and a thread to create a codex.

Codices, being made of more materials, should have their wealth increased. However, this transformation currently discards some of the quire's properties (text length, material value, etc.), so it is recommended to leave your scholars' works in quire form.Bug:9409 The final product of binding a codex tends to actually be worth much less than the combined value of its constituent parts, making codices a terrible way to generate wealth.


See also: Paper industry

Quires are made from sheets at a craftsdwarf's workshop by a dwarf with the bookbinding labor. Only a single sheet is needed per quire. Codices are then created from one thread, one book binding, and a written-on quire at a craftsdwarf's workshop by a bookbinder.

A scroll is made from a single sheet and a scroll roller at a craftsdwarf's workshop by a bookbinder. Both book bindings and scroll rollers can be made out of wood, stone, metal, or glass. Components made of wood and stone are produced at a craftsdwarf's workshop, metal at a metalsmith's forge, and glass at a glass furnace.

Decorations such as gems and ivory can be added on unwritten scrolls. Codices cannot be normally decorated, with the exception of untitled codices. Book bindings or scroll rollers cannot be decorated.


It's also possible to raid another culture, hoping to steal their books for yourself. When using the Raid menu, any books, codices and scrolls currently in possession of the target culture are listed along with any artifacts, and so can be specifically selected. See the Mission article for more information.



Written books can be read. Readers will gain information of the subject they read about in a book. Contents in a book cannot impact specific ethics, although personal values are a different matter, and one particular subject can have profound physical effects on the reader. Reading a book will satisfy the reader's need to self-examine and think abstractly.

Adventurers can read books in their possession by pressing I then selecting them from their inventory. Characters must possess a reader skill of at least novice level in order to read a book. This skill can only be leveled up in-game by reading books, which is impossible to do without any reader skill to begin with. Raising the reader skill in advance during character creation (or simply adding some amount of NATURAL_SKILL to one's chosen race in the raws) is therefore crucial.

Fortress citizens and visitors will read available books in a library at their leisure. Bookkeepers do not require a book to update stockpile records, oddly enough.


Unwritten quires and scrolls stocked in a library as writing material will be used periodically by scholars and scribes to write original works and copy existing works, respectively.

Adventurers can write their own books. First, have an unwritten scroll or quire wielded in hand or on the tile where you stand. Press x then select write, and choose the object you want to write on. You will be given a list of memorized content and prose to write about, which includes guides, essays, manuals, chronicles, letters, short stories, novels, plays, poems, choreographs, and musical compositions. For prose options, a random known subject will be used. Writing a book will take up several hours in-game. If you are interrupted by enemies, writing will stop and the writing material will be unused.


Although hardly ideal for the purpose, creatures carrying books have been known to use them in combat, with varying results. The combat effectiveness of the written word is determined in large part by the materials used in the book or scroll's construction. Books are blunt weapons, so heavy metal books will be infinitely more effective than light wooden ones. Fighting with a book trains the Macedwarf skill.



Art books describe poems, choreographs, and musical compositions. Art books are titled after their art piece's name. In adventure mode, reading a book about an art form is one of the few ways to learn it. Presumably dwarves reading art books will be able to perform what they've read at a tavern as well.


Knowledge books include topics on mathematics, philosophy, history, geography, medical science, natural science, astronomy, engineering, and chemistry. They are referred to as manuals.

Civilizations practice different forms of scholarship. Dwarves practice all forms of scholarship (while still preferring craftsdwarfship to books), elves do elven stuff, and for humans it is randomized for each instance of their civilization (scholar types are based on the civilization's values and jobs).


Books containing "secrets of life and death" are occasionally written during world generation by necromancers and various demonic rulers. Any mortal creature who reads one will immediately learn the secrets to immortality and the ability to raise the dead. Necromancy books can be found in a necromancer's tower among other types of books, including the original slab of which the secrets originated from.

Necromancers invading the fortress may bring their books along, which could be necromancy books. Looting a necromancy book and storing it in a library will cause all of the fortress population to gradually become immortal masters of death every time one of them reads the book, and this process can be accelerated by creating copies of the book. Adventurers who have learned the secrets of life and death have a chance to create a new necromancy book when writing a manual.


Books may be autobiographies, or about other historical characters or locations the author has had contact with. Presumably the relevant "Form" topics must have been discovered by an individual's civilization for biographies, autobiographies, etc. to be written. Autobiographical adventure, for example, unlocks autobiographies. Most forms are part of the history branch, but creation of atlases, dictionaries and star charts require other disciplines. Books may also be commentaries on other books.

Literary Forms[edit]

The content of a book is written as one of many literary forms. The literary form decides the purpose of the text, with different literary forms allowing for certain subjects. Some literary forms need to be "unlocked" by scholars discovering a certain topic, and cannot be written before such a discovery.

In terms of availability of literary forms in Fortress Mode, manuals will be most commonly written by scholars as the culmination of research. Other forms may be written by scholars or any other figure, but this is a rare event. Adventurers are the most reliable way to get non-manual books inside your fortress. The second best way is to simply trade for them from caravans.

All forms have been found, but currently the precise mechanics behind learning knowledge or receiving a change in values from them is still unclear.

Literary form name Purpose How to unlock
Manual This will write down a randomly-selected form of knowledge the adventurer is aware of, to be learned by future readers. Most commonly this will be musical, poetic, and dance forms the adventurer knows or composed. This can also include scientific research the adventurer has learned, and necromancer adventurers can spread the secrets of life and death by writing manuals about them. Does not require unlocking.
Guide General writing about a specific site, generally described as "concerning" that town, dark pit, etc. without going into detail. Does not require unlocking.
Chronicle In-depth writing about a particular site, group, or civilization. This will be presented as multiple chapters, each chapter relating to a historical event related to the writing's subject. It teaches histfigs about the group. Does not require unlocking.
Short Story Generic prose, typically described as having no particular subject. Does not require unlocking.
Novel Generic prose, typically described as having no particular subject. Does not require unlocking.
Biography Teaches about a person and several events happening to that person. Each of these events is represented as a seperate chapter. Requires Historian's biography topic.
Autobiography Teaches about the author and several events happening to the author. Each of these events is represented as a seperate chapter. Requires Historian's autobiography topic.
Poem Writes a new poem, like the Musical Composition writes a musical composition. Requires knowing any poetry forms.
Play Generic prose, typically described as having no particular subject. Does not require unlocking.
Letter Generic prose, typically described as having no particular subject. These often have no title. Does not require unlocking.
Essay Might be writing about events, people, places or about values. Does not require unlocking.
Dialog Concerns and teaches a value. Requires the Philosopher's dialectic reasoning topic.
Musical Composition Writes new songs. This functions similarly to composing new songs, with the added benefit of writing it down for others to learn. However, unlike normal composition you do not get to select which musical form to base the song on. Requires knowing any musical forms.
Choreography Writes a new dance, like the Musical Composition. Requires knowing any dance forms.
Comparative Biography Concerns (and teaches about) two historical figures, may emphasize a value too. Requires Historian's comparative biography topic.
Biographic Dictionary Concerns a list of historical figures. Requires Historian's biographic dictionary topic.
Genealogy Concerns the lineage of a specific historical figure. Does not mention anyone besides the main figure. Requires Historian's genealogy topic.
Encyclopedia Teaches about several notable historical objects in a world, so artifacts, sites, people. Requires Historian's encyclopedia topic.
Cultural History Teaches about a culture, and several events happening to that entity. Requires Historian's cultural history topic.
Cultural Comparison Teaches about two cultures/groups and may emphasize a value too. Requires Historian's cultural comparison topic.
Alternate History Teaches an event. Description suggests the work in question is an exploration of what would have happened had this event not played out as it did. May emphasize a value. Requires Historian's alternate history topic.
Treatise on Technological Advancement Concerns the history of an engineering topic, teaches the topic in question. Requires Historian's treatise on technological advancement topic.
Dictionary Concerns and teaches about a language. Requires Philosopher's dictionary topic.
Star Chart Nothing at the moment, but can be a 'good resource of information' or 'badly compiled'. Requires Astronomer's star chart topic.
Star Catalogue Nothing at the moment, but can be a 'good resource of information' or 'badly compiled'. Requires one of the Astronomer's star catalogue topics.
Atlas This is regarding and teaches about a region. Requires Geographer's atlas topic.

Right now, adventurers can only learn new art forms and academic knowledge from books. If an adventurer reads a book of a given literary genre that requires an academic topic to unlock, this will teach the academic topic, so if an adventurer without academic knowledge reads an autobiography, they'll learn the autobiography topic. For some of the advanced forms, such as Genealogy and the Treatise on Technological Advancement, adventurers may sometimes end up writing an essay. This was asked about in the forum's Future of the Fortress, and the reply indicated this was because books are slightly half-implemented 1.


  • The description of manufactured scrolls mentions two roller materials, with the first described as a random stone.Bug:9249
  • Quires targeted by any active jobs (e.g. being read) are unavailable for binding.Bug:9269
  • Binding a quire into a codex destroys the material definition and value.Bug:9409 This loss of information also results in the book being a single page long. Written works can be left in their quire form to retain their properties.
  • In adventure mode, placing and removing books from a bookcase can duplicate them, resulting in "phantom" books.Bug:10245
  • Codices will sometimes appear without a title. These codices are not considered as artifacts; they do not appear in the Artifacts list menu and are not stored in artifact-specified stockpiles. Since all codices must be derived from a written-on quire, all codices (except copies) should in theory be an artifact and possess a title.
  • Codex/Codices/Scroll can be stuck on the map, and not be interacted with (from raid or visitor), which can be fixed with DF Hack.Bug:10288
"Book" in other Languages Books-aj.svg aj ashton 01.svg
Dwarven: thîkut
Elvish: soya
Goblin: zosto
Human: thothil