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Live training

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

Live training is the process of attacking creatures with military dwarves (and being attacked by these creatures as well) with minimal or nonexistent wounds in order to train your military's skills, if you consider danger rooms an exploit or don't want to randomly lose children or pets, and find sparring and military training too slow.

There are many ways to do this. What you must ensure first is your dwarves' safety.

Killing Wildlife[edit]

Just arm and armor your military, and gratuitously hunt wild animals. Note that some wild animals are more than capable of killing your dabbling soldiers, so you may want to scale the creature's threat to your dwarves' skill and equipment.

  • Pros:
    • gets you raw meat, bone, skin, and other body parts for your meat industry.
    • gets rid of unwanted animals in the biome
    • possibly will get you new, more interesting animals on the map to catch
    • very easy to set up, no special infrastructure needed
    • slaughtering wildlife is fun
    • trains all skills
    • very easy to set up with marksdwarves: just make your dwarves hunters
    • good for killing giant keas, mandrills, and other animals who attempt to steal your property.
  • Cons:
    • not the fastest training method
    • possibly the most dangerous technique for dwarves
    • can easily bring you too much meat and animal parts
    • easily gets repetitive
    • If training melee, dwarves spend a long time running after wildlife. Suggested BGM.
    • above-ground wildlife supply isn't infinite
    • may generate unwanted hauling jobs
    • requires oversight (repetitive kill orders)
    • trains offense much more than defense
    • smaller, "safer" animals are typically faster, and larger animals can easily smash limbs and crush torsos through armor on less skilled dwarves

BONUS: Improve on this design by breeding wild non-grazers in some room, for your dwarves to slaughter the offspring periodically. It removes the limited wildlife problem, but still has most of the other drawbacks.

Beating on Enemy Prisoners (aka Away with thee, accursed Geneva Convention!)[edit]

Quite a bit more efficient than the previous one, this consists of catching intelligent enemies in traps, making sure they are unarmed but still armored, then sending them against your armor-clad dwarves equipped with training weapons. You can kill them or not: see the bonus.


  • decent training speed
  • beating on goblins is fun
  • infinite supply of enemies
  • quite safe if executed correctly (no pun intended)
  • trains all skills
  • killing sentients increases discipline


  • goblins are trained as well (although this may be a good thing: see bonus) if you don't kill them
  • still requires enough oversight to be a bother, most especially if you don't want wounds
  • for more fun don't remove the goblins' weapons
  • goblins tend to die easily due to poor armor coverage, you must replace a new batch
  • if you use training weapons: dwarves may grow attached to them
  • generates hauling jobs
  • as offensive skills improve and goblin skill stays the same, dwarves tend to kill goblins far too easily, making this method less effective as your dwarves improve.

BONUS: Don't kill goblins. Train them as well, making them increase in skill and try not to kill them. Use different batches of different goblins for differently skilled military dwarves. Make an arena design with dropping bridges and cage traps to stop the fight if it is going badly for your dwarf. While this requires a lot of oversight (possibly too much for your taste) and hauling jobs, this is a generally effective, realistic, complete and relatively quick method of training your military.

Bronze Colossus Dummy[edit]

AKA: using a bronze colossus's toughness and high experience gains to get good skills easily and safely.

For marksdwarves: catch the colossus, put it in a room, fire on it. You may want to use wooden/bone bolts to not damage it further, or iron bolts if you WANT to damage it further for melee training. For melee: Remove its arms and legs via falling and/or bolts, and then drop the colossus on a closed room, and send your melee dwarves on it. Remember, steel or better weapons will kill it, and that's not what you want.


  • very good training speed, due to colossus giving a lot of experience
  • generally not dangerous
  • infinite training
  • little oversight needed, since both sides don't do much damage
  • easy to set up for marksdwarves


  • endgame only, you don't get a colossus before 80 dwarves
  • must actually have a colossus in the world
  • the colossus must actually attack your fortress to be captured
  • dismembering a colossus without killing it isn't easy
  • may be dangerous to dwarves with a low dodging skill
  • limitation on quality material weapons => dwarf may tend to favor a poor weapon
  • trains mostly offensive skills, although Dodger as well
  • melee may be seen as an exploit
  • the colossus will eventually be "pulped" by any attacks that are able to bypass their natural toughness

Undead Battle Arena[edit]

Using one or several imprisoned necromancers to train your dwarves with a controlled stream of undead.

You must first catch one or several necromancers, or use a friendly necromancer, then dump them in a small space (if possible 1x1) surrounded by windows or fortifications (so they can animate what is around without being murdered by a dwarf), to make an animation room. You can replace the necromancer with an animating evil biome or a demonic fortress, but necromancers raise undead faster, and can be moved anywhere you like. As a bonus, add raising bridges or floodgates to block the necro's view and stop the reanimation on command. Then drop whatever pile of body parts you don't need and want your necromancer to animate.

  • Pros:
    • decent skill increases
    • only little hauling needed
    • use for necromancers
    • Does not require low-quality weapons, allowing dwarves to become attached to better weapons then other methods
    • requires little oversight
    • trains every skill
    • controllable training aspects: difficulty level, depending on corpse (from dropping llama wool to dropping a cave dragon corpse) and number of corpses animated
  • Cons:
    • can be dangerous, actually danger is proportional to your oversight and difficulty level
    • requires more stonework than most other methods
    • requires to actually cage trap a necromancer
    • time between two reanimations is wasted time => more necromancers is better

Giant Cave Spider Armor Training Program (OLD)[edit]

Using a giant cave spider's inability to bypass the armor of a webbed dwarf to train armor user.

First you must prepare the terrain to separate wild GCS and dwarf when the dwarf gets hungry/thirsty/drowsy/sufficient armor user skill.

Set the training on a non-lethal pit trap consisting of a 2x2 or 3x3 retracting bridge, or a series of grates, all linked to a lever and on top of a 1z-deep pit. Fill the ground under the bridge with cage traps.

Set a military dwarf fully armored in metal, without any weapons against a wild giant cave spider. Wild GCS webs the still-conscious dwarf, wild GCS attempts a bite to the head, but fails to penetrate metal armor, dwarf gains armor user skill. Repeat a hundred times. You may want to find a way of harvesting silk for your looms as well.

When you want to stop the training, pull the lever. Bridge or grates go down, dwarf and spider fall 1 z-level and get stunned, one or both get caged and separated.

You can also try a dwarf without full armor and only a metal helm, but in that case I no longer guarantee the safety of your dwarf.

  • Pros:
    • can double as a GCS silk farm
    • very good training rates
    • Useful skill which normally increases slowly in combat
    • No danger at all for both dwarf and GCS, provided you armored your dwarf well
    • Requires only oversight each month
  • Cons:
    • slightly exploity
    • trains only one skill
    • needs quite a bit of work to set up if you want to save the GCS and reuse it
    • can't train several dwarves at once unless you have several wild GCS and several training facilities

Note: Due to giant cave spiders latching onto your dwarves when biting them, this appears to no longer work.

Provoking elven sieges for fun and profit[edit]

No one likes the elves. No one. Well, except when they bring exotic animals and the occasional sun berry. So why not train your military on live elves? Obviously not on caravans that come each year, but on their sieges!

You must first mod your game to allow the elven diplomat to come, or start in a world where you are at war with the elves. When he comes, greet him properly. Then, training partners will come around eventually.

Alternatively, in v0.44, you can raid an elven forest retreat to initiate war. This has the advantage that if you have elven trading partners, they will continue to travel through elf corpses to bring you their exotic animals.

  • Pros:
    • killing elves is great fun
    • elves pose little threat to a serious military... as long as your dwarves have shields
    • more rope reed clothing than your fortress needs, although you may deem it not dwarven enough to wear
    • can be made more manageable by cage trapping all elf warriors and releasing them into your barracks
  • Cons:
    • may generate large amounts of unwanted items (although all the wooden and cloth stuff can be used as trade "goods")
    • may be too fun to handle for your civilians and untrained military, bows being still overpowered
    • may be a danger to other caravans
    • may be dangerous to your dwarwen civilization, if they start losing to elves in global world