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This article is about the current version of DF.

Marriage announcement.png

Now that's a dwarf with priorities.

Two dwarves can get married after having a romantic relationship together. Instantly after marriage, those dwarves usually throw a wedding party if there is an available room, such as a statue garden, or a dining room marked as a meeting hall. A dwarf whose spouse dies may eventually develop another romantic relationship and marry againv0.47.01. Marrying will give both participating parties very strong positive thoughts, while the death of a spouse will in turn give the widower an unhappy thought. Dwarves will cancel their current task when getting married.

In order to be eligible for romantic relationships, dwarves must be friends, adults, not have a too-large age difference (which is currently max(10,min(age_1,age_2)/2), be orientation-compatible, and not be too closely related to their friend. The age restriction only applies in fortress mode, so incoming pregenerated dwarves (i.e. migrants) may have a larger gap between their ages. No marriage between siblings has been observed, but cousins or other distant relatives can marry each other.

Dwarves with similar professions are more likely to get married, presumably because they spend more time together than with dwarves they meet otherwise. For example, two miners are likely to become romantically involved, especially in a fort with sporadic mining, since they will be "off work" at the same time and spend that time together frequently.

To enter into a romantic relationship, dwarves must be allowed to idle together in the same room. They will then socialize and build relationships. If they are compatible in terms of age and marital status, they will eventually become lovers and then marry. If not, they will simply become friends. Dwarves with too little free time will not have time for romance. Occasionally, a couple may stay in the "Lover" stage perpetually without ever being married or breaking off the relationship.

Married dwarves sleep together. Because of this, the couple only requires one bed, and any bedroom claimed by or assigned to one spouse will automatically be assigned to both. This also applies to tables, if they are assigned specifically to a dwarf. Married dwarves also will not let themselves be separated - if you expel one, their spouse (and entire family) will follow them. If you request a married dwarf from your holdings to come to your fortress, the spouse will automatically be requested as well.

Dwarves may divorce and re-marry - for example, if their former spouse dies. However, although they may occasionally have multiple lovers, they will never marry more than one person at the same time.

In an opposite-sex couple, the wife will become pregnant every year, until she or her husband dies, or until the fortress's child limit (or strict population cap) is reached. There are no visible signs of pregnancy, and the only effective means of contraception (other than the aforementioned limits) is physical isolation. However, that doesn't mean a pregnancy will always result in a baby. Pregnancies may end in miscarriage if the dwarf is starving, dehydrated, sustains an injury, etc., which can lead to tantrums from your now-miserable dwarf and possibly a downward spiral of fun.

In the Relationships screen (v-z-r), Husband or Wife tops the list, followed by children, and then deities.

Many marriages seem to occur during springtime or early summer.

Some noble positions, including the monarch, give their "consorts" an honorary title without any tangible privileges.

Arranging marriages[edit]

Pre-honeymoon suites

Dwarves are quite slow to form close relationships; several years of non-stop socialization may only form one or two romantic couples. For overseers who want children (possibly because their civilization is extinct), a more proactive approach is often necessary. A good first step is to determine which dwarves are compatible. They must be adults, not have a too-large age difference (which is currently max(10,min(age_1,age_2)/2), be orientation-compatible, and not be too closely related to each other (cousins can marry). Once you have selected couples, the next step is to cause them to idle next to each other as frequently as possible. This can be achieved by assigning them to special "pre-honeymoon" suites containing two beds (each defining a bedroom), enough fancy furniture to make the rooms high-quality, and impassable furniture (statues) to prevent the owners from avoiding each other. (Designate the rooms *before* adding the statues, since you can't designate a room through them.) Reduce your chosen dwarves' workloads and disable all meeting areas (including sculpture gardens, zoos, etc.) to force them to idle in their shared bedroom as much as possible. Note that locking them into the room may be counterproductive since it limits the number of "encounters". With a proper setup your dwarves should be married in a matter of months.


Dwarves do not have to be of opposite sexes to be romantically involved or to get married. Same-sex marriages can in fact happen, both in world-gen and in gameplay, albeit more rarely than opposite-sex marriages. Orientation is controlled by the [ORIENTATION] creature token, by default favouring heterosexuality as a majority.

The token takes 4 arguments: [ORIENTATION:<male/female>:<disinterested chance>:<lover-possible chance>:<commitment-possible chance>]. A one-time check is made for each creature to determine orientation, by "rolling a die" once for each sex, against the total of the three chances for that sex. If a given dwarf rolls "disinterested" for the same sex, and "commitment-possible" for the opposite sex, then that dwarf is strictly heterosexual, and is willing to become married. If the dwarf rolls "lover-possible" for each sex, then the dwarf is bisexual, but will never marry, and so on.

The orientation token is omitted from many of the creature definitions and in its absence the game uses some default settings:

It is believed that this pair of default settings generates all populations (including animals) as 71.2% strictly heterosexual, 23.8% bisexual, 3.8% aromantic/asexual, and 1.2% strictly homosexual, though this includes preferences that do not lead to marriage.

Modifying orientation[edit]

For more information about how modifying Dwarf Fortress files works, and specifically creature castes, view the Modding page and specifically the Modding#Creature_castes information.

In order to correctly add a custom orientation to any creature, the [ORIENTATION] token with its 4 arguments must be placed beneath at least one of the [CASTE] tokens of that creature. Each [CASTE] only needs one [ORIENTATION] token to function correctly (and the game will indeed only use one per [CASTE] ). Any orientation change to that caste is then immediately effective upon reloading a saved game (if the save file raws were edited) or generating a new world (if the base game raws were edited). Any previously formed relationships in a currently running game world remain intact, however any new relationship interactions are informed by the new orientation settings for that creature caste.

  • Adding the tokens [ORIENTATION:MALE:0:0:100][ORIENTATION:FEMALE:100:0:0] beneath the [CASTE:FEMALE] token and [ORIENTATION:FEMALE:0:0:100][ORIENTATION:MALE:100:0:0] beneath the [CASTE:MALE] token would effectively make each caste (and if only those two castes exist, the whole creature) behave exclusively heterosexually with no interest whatsoever toward the same sex, like they did in previous old versions. This can be an important addition for a certain Challenge Fortresses where having children from within the fortress is of vital importance, or simply to ensure that some farm animals (or cave monsters) are always able to reproduce.
  • To make the entire creature or just one caste of the creature behave exclusively homosexually, simply apply the [ORIENTATION] token paired with the desired commitment-possible chances to the matching [CASTE]. In effect, apply the heterosexual-only change in reverse.
  • Adding [ORIENTATION:MALE:0:0:100][ORIENTATION:FEMALE:0:0:100] to just one caste would effectively make that caste behave bisexually, with every interest in partnering up with anyone. The other unmodified castes would still use their own orientation token setting, or the default if there was no [ORIENTATION] token. Changing the ratio within the tokens from 0:0:100 to 0:100:0 would result in only lovers without marriages.
  • Adding [ORIENTATION:MALE:100:0:0][ORIENTATION:FEMALE:100:0:0] to all castes would effectively make the creature behave asexually, with no interest in partnering up and having children (but this would have to be done after world generation by modifying the saved game raw file, or the creature would quickly die out). Gameplay-wise, if the player doesn't want their fortress involved with any children, it would be simpler just to edit the baby/child cap.

A small reminder: As stated on the creature token page regarding [ORIENTATION] the values used are just a ratio, and not an actual percentage. The numbers do not need to add up to any specific number; a setting of 750:200:50 will provide the same effect as 75:20:5 and a setting of 99:99:99 is as valid as 1:1:1.


In prior versions, there was a hard limit of 10 years in maximum age difference as a prerequisite for becoming lovers and eventually marrying. Toady eventually extended it because it led to many immortal creatures (such as elves) never finding a suitable match due to having a too dispersed age distribution.

See also[edit]