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Keeping your dwarves unstressed

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This article is about the current version of DF.
Note that some content may still need to be updated.

Some tips on how to keep your dwarves stress-free, thus reducing the chances of tantrums, depressions and obliviousness:

General Tips[edit]

  • It is more important to keep your dwarves free from negative thoughts than it is to overwhelm them with positive thoughts. Showering Urist McFisherdwarf with ☼jaguar meat roast☼ does not mean a happy dwarf if Urist keeps dwelling over their grouchiness at being caught in the rain.
  • Stressed dwarves with a high ANGER_PROPENSITY may lash out in a tantrum, and severely injure or kill others; a corpse in your dining room will lead to horrified thoughts from any dwarf taking a quick booze stop. Make sure to de-stress these dwarves first, or, if lacking the ability to do so, expel them, lock them in their own rooms, or experiment with radical cures.

Specific Dwarves[edit]

  • Dwarves that are highly prone to stress, i.e. a high STRESS_VULNERABILITY trait, are not suitable for the military or as nobles. You will have to remove them from these duties and, in extreme cases, isolate them with burrows to insulate them from stress-inducing stimuli. You might be able to get away with giving high-stress dwarves a "vacation" by disabling their labors or demote them for example from a captain to a mere soldier. Also, don't give high-stress dwarves the Refuse Hauling labor, since they often handle dead bodies.
  • Dwarves who have to go outside for extended periods of time (like fisherdwarves who work near the local lake or river) become stressed due to constant exposure to rain and long periods away from fun (not that kind) and their friends. You can give these workers their own little vacation by disabling their labors and letting them spend some time inside at the tavern until they regain their composure. Let an unstressed dwarf take care of the job for a while.
  • Unless an overstressed dwarf is particularly important, it's often better to retire them to one of your holdings and replace them with a fresh, unstressed migrant.
  • Dwarf Therapist now works with v50 as of 2023-01-26. Using a tool such as Dwarf Therapist, you can sort dwarves by stress level. There you can hold the mouse over the stress square to see the reasons why the dwarves are stressed and address them. Look up their preferences, assign them jobs that match their preferences, and build stuff they like, especially in their rooms.

Living Quarters[edit]

  • Give your dwarves individual bedrooms rather than making them live in a communal dormitory. Not only will they get a good thought from sleeping in their own bedroom, they'll get good thoughts from admiring the furniture they own. Even a minimalist bedroom - a 1x1 grid containing only a bed, within a communal dormitory - helps significantly.
  • Give them a bedroom to sleep in anyway, as dwarves do not enjoy sleeping on the ground.
  • Improve the bedrooms by making them of respectable size, smoothing/engraving the ground, and adding basic furniture such as coffers.
  • If you still wish to use a communal bedroom to protect your dwarves from vampires, designate each bed as a room itself. This way dwarves can keep an eye on each other and still have their own rooms.
    • Overlapping the bedrooms will reduce the overall value of each "room" by a fixed percentage, but enough valuable furniture can easily compensate for this reduction. It is quite easy to give everyone great bedrooms this way.
    • Alternatively, you can make the shared suites large enough that the bedroom designations do not overlap.
  • Make Nobles' rooms better than other rooms. They have the telepathic ability to tell if the peasantry has slept better than them and it makes them unhappy.


  • Temples provide some of the strongest happy thoughts available. Conversely, the lack of a temple will produce constant stress in religious dwarves. You should always define a temple, even if it's just an empty room.
    • Placing common destinations inside the temple will encourage dwarves to pray "while they're there". For example, storing clothing in a temple zone will give your dwarves a reason to visit and a chance to pray several times per year.
  • Libraries don't provide the same caliber of happy thoughts, but they can produce many more low-level happy thoughts.
    • Be careful which dwarves you assign as scholars; some enjoy intellectual work, while others become stressed.
  • Taverns provide happy thoughts for otherwise idle dwarves. Smaller taverns will ensure that dwarves spend more time socializing and less time standing alone with a "Socialize" job.
    • Make your tavern high quality. You can increase its quality by adding high quality chairs and thrones, smoothing and engraving it, and putting in valuable instruments, furniture like gold statues, and artifacts.
    • Make sure you never run out of booze, since a sober dwarf is a stressed dwarf.
      • Make sure to have at least two different kinds of booze on hand, since dwarves will get bored if there's no variety in their drinks.
      • Try to have multiple different varieties of booze on hand, since dwarves get a happy thought when they drink their preferred booze.
    • Cooking booze into prepared meals will satisfy a need for a "decent meal" and provide a happy thought to any dwarf that prefers that type of booze.
    • Drinking without a goblet provides frequent negative thoughts; make sure you have enough goblets.


  • Unmet needs may, depending on personality, cause an ever-growing burden of stress. Unfortunately, dwarves are not particularly good at meeting their own needs (and are incapable of meeting some), leaving you to awkwardly encourage them to do the thing they absolutely need to do but can't ever manage to find the time for.
  • Individually profiled workshops with a linked repeating manager job can satisfy crafting, creative, and staying occupied needs. Placing those workshops in a temple will also encourage the dwarves to pray regularly.
  • Acquiring trinkets occurs automatically when performing a "Store item in stockpile" job; creating a large, bin-less trade good stockpile and ensuring all your dwarves have the item hauling labor enabled will give them all a chance to acquire something. Dwarves who are too busy with other tasks, though, may never satisfy this need. You can lock problem dwarves in a room with trinkets and force them to haul items back and forth until they "acquire" one, but the necessary micromanagement is quite tedious.
  • Wandering requires plant gathering, fishing (successfully), or hunting (successfully). Of the three, fishing appears to have the highest priority (making it more likely that busy dwarves will participate), though leaving fishing enabled on multiple dwarves risks depopulating your site.
  • The need to help somebody is difficult to fulfill when nobody is in need of help. Assigning particularly hardy dwarves to operate pumps continuously will create regular opportunities for "helpful" dwarves to bring them water, though ensuring that all the needy dwarves get a turn being "helpful" is difficult to automate.
  • Needs to spend time with friends and family will occur even when dwarves have no friends or family in the fortress. The frustrated overseer, then, must arrange friendships and marriages, respectively, in order to fulfill these needs.

Fortress Improvements[edit]

  • Place highly valuable furniture, if possible artifacts, in a high traffic area of your fort since dwarves get a positive thought if they pass right next to or over expensive furniture.
  • Dwarves who spend most of their time underground will become stressed when exposed to sunlight. Unfortunately, short of preventing cave adaptation in the first place, there isn't a good way to reduce the stress from being outside. Building a roof, particularly over commonly-traveled areas, can help limit the number of dwarves exposed to sunlight (and weather).
  • Dwarves don't like to be out in rain, snow, or freakish weather. Build a roof to protect them from it.
  • Keep at least a few cats around to hunt down irritating vermin. Pasture some in with your food stockpiles. Note that this will create vermin remains, which need to be hauled to a refuse stockpile or dumped. Alternatively, use a trapper or two.
  • Put a cage in a high traffic area (like the meeting area) and stuff it full of (non-grazing) tame animals so your dwarves can enjoy seeing their favorite type of animal.
    • The elven caravans bring random animals, and you can request specific domestic animals from the dwarven caravan.
    • You can use cage traps to capture wild animals, train them.
    • You can raid sites for tame animals. Elven, goblin, and kobold sites often have exotic creatures.
  • Create a waterfall or mist generator in a location all dwarves frequent regularly.
  • Keep your fortress clean and avoid miasma, or at least confine it to your refuse stockpile if it is underground.
  • Most dwarves do not enjoy the sight of death, be it whole corpses or small dismembered body parts like teeth and toes. Keep your refuse stockpile somewhere infrequently traveled, enclosed by doors so that passing dwarves do not see dead bodies, especially those of sentient creatures.
    • Even better, build a garbage disposal to destroy refuse or dump it down a pit where no dwarf is likely to see it.


  • Keep your dwarves clothed - a naked dwarf is a stressed dwarf. Specifically, they will need something to cover the upper body, such as a shirt, something to cover the lower body, such as trousers, and something on each foot, such as a sock or shoe.
  • If a dwarf dies, bury them or engrave a memorial in their name. This will prevent even more stress for their friends, and ghosts to haunt your dwarves or your FPS.
  • Pasture all dwarf pets somewhere safe. Wandering pets are likely to die from goblins or construction accidents.
  • Prevent the destruction of masterworks, as this will enrage their creators.
    • Masterwork clothes: Instead of vaporising old dwarven clothes, rather sell them to the caravan.
    • Masterwork food: If your military is in civilian clothes when not training, consider not letting them carry food - all food items in their backpack become personal items, and when, at the end of their duty, dwarves drop their uniform, they will also drop their ☼dog intestines roast☼ somewhere to rot, agitating the cook. Alternatively they will agitate themselves should they eventually decide to clean up their belongings: Their food will go to their room and go bad right there, creating miasma right where they sleep.
    • Masterwork ammunition: Sometimes, a ☼bolt☼ will get stuck in an enemy, neither killing it nor getting used. If the injured creature leaves the map at the end of a siege, the masterwork will count as lost. There are several ways to combat this source of stress, for instance attacking intruders only well inside the map, and not at the edges, so that they can be finished before they flee.
    • Other stuff: Don't dig through masterwork engravings. Don't melt masterwork armour, weapons, or ammo.
  • Restrict your mayor/expedition leader to low-stress areas. Overstressed dwarves will chase them down, outside in the rain if necessary, to complain about how utterly traumatized they are from being rained on.