|This article is about the current version of DF.|
An exploit is a quirk of a game that allows players to gain what other players may consider an unfair advantage, usually by making use of a feature that is not working properly or which defies logic. 'Exploiting the game' is distinct from 'cheating' because exploits occur within the game as written and do not need any external utilities or modding. Whether a player chooses to make use of an exploit or not depends on their personal taste; given that Dwarf Fortress is a single-player game, the user alone can decide what liberties to take and what options to shun. Among DF players there is much discussion about what actually should be considered an exploit, going from making dwarven syrup instead of dwarven sugar, growing crops in winter, or even underground, as the one extreme, to justifying 'water wheel batteries' as the other. This page takes a rather relaxed approach in that you considering it an exploit is basically enough to add it, if you don't get too much opposition.
 Atom smasher
Lowering a raised drawbridge can be used to obliterate most creatures or items beneath it. The drawbridge will be destroyed if it is used to crush a creature larger than 1,200,000 cm3.
 Manager exercise program
As a manager, skill is gained as tasks are approved, not completed. Simply by queuing lots of jobs ( ) (and providing a meager office), the manager will quickly level to legendary as an Organizer. The tasks can then be removed once approved.
 Merchant swindles
Also, marking items for dumping, using view creature mode ( ), the stocks menu ( ), items in room mode ( ), or mass dump mode ( )-( )-( ) then marking the entire depot, lets you relieve merchants of their goods. Just reclaim the items from your garbage dump zone later. You can even take clothing and equipment off merchant and guards this way.
You can make a wall around the merchants (and even the poor animals) and let them starve to death, letting you take whatever you want. Wait quite a while for them to starve. They will become very angry if you do, so never open the door once they are on the brink of death.
However, the merchants will consider any lost goods to be stolen goods regardless of the method used to take possession of or destroy them.Verify See the 40d page and This forum post. So unless you specifically want to take the clothing off the backs of the merchants or steal from your own civ, you might as well just seize the goods anyway.
 Quantum stockpiles
A quantum stockpile (QSP) allows you to store an infinite number of items in a single tile. QSPs can make for super efficient storage, allowing more compact fortresses, shorter hauling routes, more efficient manufacturing flows, stocktaking at a glance with look possibly higher FPS.and
 Building destroyer door
Forbid something a dwarf is carrying as he goes through a door, and he'll drop it. The door won't close and won't stop any normal creature from going through, but building destroyers seem to stop in their tracks, waiting for it to close before moving on. Note: your civilians can pass the creature safely, but attacking it cancels your protection.Verify
 HFS's back door
There's a convoluted way to dig down through semi-molten rock and evade the head-on encounter with hidden fun stuff. Doing this can enable you to, among other things, mine undiggable slade and duplicate rare minerals. See the page semi-molten rock for details.
 Forgotten beast zoo
Wall off all the passageways into your lowest level at the outermost square of the map - except one, which leads to a little vestibule surrounded by fortifications. Wave hello to the various ungainly "forgotten beasts" which accumulate inside.
 Dwarven water reactor
A screw pump requires 10 power to move water; a water wheel supplies 100 power if it's got water moving it. Arrange the former to feed the latter, while the latter powers the former, and you can get perpetual motion going - with a surplus of power available.
 Urist McAdventurer the shield-wall
Adventurers are not limited in the number of items they can hold in their hands, allowing them to equip a virtually unlimited number of shields or bucklers with little effect to the adventurer's performance. This offers multiple chances to block attacks (vastly reducing the number that cause damage) and quickly trains up the shield user skill, further increasing the effectiveness of those shields. There is an indirect limit on how many shields you can equip based on how the total weight of your adventurer's items affects your speed, but the tradeoff between wearing a dozen (or more) shields is well worth the minor reduction in speed.
The current version has made this exploit more complicated due to the ability to holster/draw weapons and shields, which is needed for climbing and to avoid hostility from local guards. While an infinite number of weapons or shields can be strapped to your body, only the first two such items will be drawn, requiring a free hand for each. Retrieving multiple shields after unequipping them requires manually drawing each individual shield.
 Infinite drink in adventure mode
Thirst can be quenched indefinitely in adventure mode by emptying a waterskin when you only have 1 unit of liquid left and refilling it from the pool that forms; giving you 3 units of drink. This is especially useful if you managed to find alcohol and fill your waterskin with some, as alcohol never freezes in cold weather.
 Backpack of holding
In adventurer mode, if you try to pick something up while both your hands are already holding something, it'll go straight in your backpack, even if it would not have fit had you first picked it up and then tried to put it inside. That means you can stuff as much as you want into your backpack. It will still effect your weight and speed, however.
 And we'll throw in the barrel or bag for free
On embark, buying things which are stored in barrels gets the barrel for free, with at most 10 items per barrel, so, for example, the 15 units of randomly chosen meat which come with the default supplies will get you two free barrels, one completely filled with 10 units of meat and one half filled with 5 units of meat; you get another two free barrels from the 15 units of randomly chosen fish. You can get rid of all of that food, then for the same cost select one unit each of meat from 30 different kinds of animals, giving you 30 free barrels instead of only 4, since each different kind of animal meat is put in its own barrel. Note that different types of meat from the same kind of animal goes into a single barrel, so choosing 1 yak brain + 1 yak eye + 1 yak spleen will get you only one free barrel instead of three.
The same thing goes for things stored in bags. Each unit of sand comes in its own bag, and since each unit of sand costs only 1 embark point while bags cost a minimum of 10 embark points each, you can get bags for ten times cheaper by buying sand, then dumping out the sand after embark.
 Infinite metal
Because one bar of metal produces 25 bolts, and a single bolt can be melted to 0.1 bars of metal, you can create unlimited adamantine wafers in your fortress using a clever setup with marksdwarves to separate the stacks of adamantine bolts into single bolts. See this forum thread for more details.
Weapon traps filled with crossbows will be loaded with individual bolts (10 per crossbow). Bolts cannot be designated to melt while loaded in the trap. It requires deconstruction of the trap. The components will scatter on deconstruction so surrounding the trap with an ammo stockpile set to links only and using dfhack automelt can semi-automate the process. Any metal components of the trap may also be melted.
Coins may also be split at a trade depot and melted down individually for up to a 50x return. Smelt a stack of coins, then trade it to a caravan. You can then buy the stack back in pieces, and each individual smaller stack will melt and produce .1 bars. One bar produces 500 coins, but splitting it into stacks of 1 coin each would create 500 melt jobs, producing 50 bars in return. The process is discussed in greater detail, both with and without use of macros on this forum thread. While potentially time consuming, this new method both results in far more bars produced per stack (potentially a net profit of 49 bars instead of 1.5), and can duplicate any metal, not just military ones while simultaneously training your broker. Combined with a magma smelter and properly written macros, this method turns a smelter into a free metal generator. Those who are less patient may instead opt to simply melt the coin stacks immediately after they are minted - while this yields only a 10% gain, it is far less time consuming.
For multiplying weapons/armor-grade metals, forging and melting giant axe blades, large serrated discs, and leggings will yield a 50% gain per item; note that this does not work with adamantine, since adamantine goods require 3 times as many wafers, instead leading to a 70% loss per item.
See the Melt item article for the best yields when melting down items made of mundane metals for the current version.
 Quick trade goods
Since spiked balls have an extremely high base item value of 126, they can be produced en masse from cheap wood or other materials and sold off to unsuspecting merchants. This makes for quick cash in any fortress that has a skilled carpenter and an excess of wood on hand.
Single task instruments can be a very lucrative business. For example, raw clay can be bought from the traders for under 5 value, and a potter can create a single masterwork with 1,200-2,000 (earthenware and stoneware, respectively). Although not as lucrative as prepared meals, the raw clay traders often bring is heavy (120-230). Buying their clay can reduce their wagon weight, and allow you to sell more goods to them. Glass instruments have lower gains.
Prepared meals can also be quick and valuable trade goods. Purchase an abundance of raw food when the traders arrive, and set your kitchen to work cooking that food into lavish meals. Then haul the stacks of meals back to the depot and trade them for whatever supplies you really want. The caravan will buy back meals composed of their own ingredients at 25x to 100x their initial value.
 Silk farm
A silk farm can serve as a safe and endless source of silk thread from giant cave spiders or other web-spewing beasts. Its essence is a room with a bait creature separated from a web-spewing creature by fortifications. The webber will attempt to attack the bait by shooting webs through the fortifications. Weavers can collect the webs as silk thread and create silk cloth.
 Dwarven road-dar
Dwarven radar is a handy way of checking for caverns and other special features using the farm plots, paved roads, and activity zones. Know where the caverns are before you designate your carefully planned, fully symmetric living quarters!
For more details, see the forum thread.
 Danger room
An upright spike trap full of non-masterwork training spears (not menacing spikes or metal spear, or even Elven wooden spears) is linked to a lever, which is pulled repeatedly. Dwarves are stationed on the trap. The dwarves quickly learn how to dodge, block and parry these "attacks", gaining combat skills much more quickly than through normal training. Unless they die.
 Coinstar room
A coinstar or popcorn room trains armor user skills via repeated (unblockable/undodgeable) impacts of small objects such as coins. Seeds, socks, leaves, and other small, light objects will also work. Channel a 1x2 trench (leaving ramps), and build two 1x1 retracting bridges on the bottom of the trench. Connect the bridges to a lever. Add coins (stacks of 15 or smaller are 100% safe) and dwarves.
 Wildlife control
Wild animals will not spawn when a certain number of them are still present on the map (2 for default 4x4 embark, for larger sites it's higher). This works also for cavern creatures (each cavern independently), or even for roaming HFS denizens, and can be exploited to prevent new creatures from a particular layer from spawning. Capture enough wild creatures in cage traps, and release them somewhere they couldn't escape from. As long as they're there, no more beasts will show up. Note that thieving and mischievous creatures are an exception to this, as their arrival is timed and unaffected by the number of other wildlife.
 Portable drain
Due to buggy minecart interactions, a minecart on a track stop set to dump into a wall tile will constantly fill and empty, removing large amounts of liquid from the game. This is generally much more convenient than digging a tunnel and carving a fortification at the edge of the map. The effect can be controlled by linking a lever to the track stop (or by adding/removing the minecart in some manner). The portable drain will only reduce the fluid in its tile to below the minimum necessary to fill the cart (6/7); the remaining fluid will need to be dealt with in some other fashion.