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Stupid dwarf trick

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Note that some content may still need to be updated.

D4Dwarf.png This article or section has been rated D for Dwarf. It may include witty humour, not-so-witty humour, bad humour, in-jokes, pop culture references, and references to the Bay12 forums. Don't believe everything you read, and if you miss some of the references, don't worry. It was inevitable.

A stupid dwarf trick is any project that requires a large amount of time and/or effort. They may provide a practical benefit, but are frequently done for the sake of doing them; they exist primarily as a challenge for experienced players.

Adventure mode fortress[edit]

Build a fortress specifically for exploring in adventure mode. You can either make a nasty monster-filled challenge, or a smörgåsbord of masterpiece adamantine weapons and armor. Possibly both. Breaching the caverns or hidden fun stuff should ensure the fortress is occupied. Building a fortress is now possible inside of adventure mode as of DF v0.43.

Difficulty: The sky's the limit.

Usefulness: None for fortress mode, but filling it with high-quality equipment can certainly be useful for adventure mode.

Alarm clock[edit]

Are your soldiers all sound asleep while blood soaks the walls? No need to deconstruct their beds one by one, if you bought the Dwarf Wakey 3000! Simply a solitary floor tile balanced on a support, one or more can be toppled with the pull of a lever to produce an earth-shaking racket that'll have them leaping for their axes!

Difficulty: Low.

Usefulness: Limited. They'll sleep through anything the noise. Although they have been known to awaken when drenched in water, possibly due to thinking it's alcohol. This means an alarm clock is not impossible if carefully prepared.

Alphabet cages[edit]


Use captured monsters in cages to spell messages.

Difficulty: Medium. Vowels are hard to come by.

Usefulness: Absolutely none whatsoever. Even less if using sprites. (Easy reminders in case you're too lazy to use notes?)

Altar of Armok[edit]

Build a large altar made out of adamantine, clear glass, magma, and obsidian. The main altar should be hollow adamantine with clear glass "windows." It should have magma inside. The altar should be adorned with large obsidian spikes, as it pleases Armok.

Difficulty: Medium, raising with the amount (and respective difficulty) of bonuses you add.

Usefulness: Low to medium. If the chamber containing the altar is consecrated as a temple, dwarves will go there to pray, and may gain additional happy thoughts for admiring the altar's materials and craftsdwarfship.

  • Bonus: Guard the altar with a megabeast.
  • Bonus: Cover the altar with blood of a Titan.
    • MegaBonus: Cover the altar with blood of a denizen of the HFS.
      • ArmokBonus: Build the altar in the HFS.
  • MegaBonus: Cover the altar in a temporarily lasting strength inducing extract.
  • BerserkBonus: Cover the altar in a nausea-inducing extract.
  • BloodBonus: Also cover the altar in an extract inducing slow death.
    • SychronizationBonus: Make it so that a dwarf that goes into contact with the altar dies the moment the strength runs out.
  • SacrificialBonus: Sacrifice a dwarf to the altar every day.
    • MegaSacrificialBonus: Sacrifice an elf to the altar every day.
    • HistorySacrificialBonus: Sacrifice a human to the altar every day
      • MegaArmokBonus: Sacrifice all three species to the altar every day!
  • MonarchBonus: Build the altar in the monarch's throne room! Yes, this stacks with the ArmokBonus up above.

Aqueduct power[edit]

If your river's a long way away from your fortress, building a trans-map axle may be less efficient than building an aqueduct and pump stack driven by waterwheels in the river. The pump stack raises it to the height of your fort, where it flows through the long, long aqueduct and drives waterwheels on the other end. Getting the water pressure just right so it powers your waterwheel without flooding the fort can be Fun. Diagonal channels make good pressure reducers.

Difficulty: High. Lots of stone, lots of engineering, lots of dangerous outdoor work, lots of trial-and-error for the receiving waterwheels.
Aquifers will absorb any amount of water at any rate. Using an aquifer as drain for the reservoir will nullify the risk of flooding the fortress due to the drain not keeping up with the supply.

Usefulness: High. As much water and power as you want, wherever you want, whenever you want.

Aquifer power[edit]

Aquifers can be a resource of immense power. If you have two levels of aquifer, you can generate a continuous flow by draining one level of aquifer into another and plant waterwheels above it. One stream can power a lot of wheels.

Difficulty: High. Anything to do with draining aquifers is very Fun. It is now very rare to find a powerful enough aquifer.

Usefulness: High.

Archaeological excavation[edit]

A Fortress in the Caverns, built by the first dwarf tribes. Build the Fortress however you see fit for those prehistoric Dwarves (e.g. only primitive metals, elaborate tombs for the chieftains with burial objects, cave art, etc.) and abandon it. Then, embark with modern Dwarves, and excavate the ancient Fortress. Sort of like the Adventure Fortress above, only for Reclaim Mode

Difficulty: As High as you want.

Usefulness: Variable. Carving a premade fort or building controlled access to caverns can potentially be useful for a Reclaim effort, effectively making the first wave dispoable setup so your would-be archologists to dig up and exploit their new home. The more Fun you leave behind, the harder it will be for your second wave to repurpose the place.

  • Bonus: A museum detailing the lives of those early dwarves.
  • Bonus: Create a save with your First Tribe fort collapsed/flooded/etc, for other users to explore. Leave them some Fun what-does-this-lever-do problems to solve.
  • EncinoDwarfBonus: Some of those early dwarves frozen in a block of ice.
  • FunBonus: Breach the HFS.
    • MegaBonus: Do a cave in to the HFS after fighting it leaving multiple signs of battle in the fortress, to be dug by your modern dwarves.

Artificial waterfall[edit]

Main article: Waterfall

To keep the waterfall going, you need a pump stack, preferably powered by a windmill or water wheel. Alternatively, an aquifer, or other limitless water source, makes for a waterfall entirely underground.

Difficulty: Moderate (Low if there is an aquifer above pouring down).

Usefulness: Dwarves love waterfalls. Putting a waterfall in your meeting hall will give your dwarves good thoughts, although it can significantly lower frame rate.

  • Bonus: Build it in a "Warm" or hotter climate so it does not freeze.
  • DwarfBonus: Build it in a freezing/cold/temperate climate and keep it going entire year!
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Use magma. It does not freeze, even in a freezing climate!
  • MegaDwarfBonusEXTREME+: Use magma and water in the same waterfall. The results will enshrine you in dwarf history! Possibly permanently.

Ballista battery[edit]

Main article: Ballista

Overlap a few ballistas to completely cover a narrow corridor. There is an unavoidable risk of your operators wandering into the line of fire.

Difficulty: Low. If you insist on highly trained operators with high-quality ballistas, it gets harder.

Usefulness: A complicated and dangerous way to defend a single corridor. Ultimately extremely effective. Sometimes.


Construct an isolated burrow containing a farmer and some labourers, containing at least an uncontaminated well (an aquifer is great for this) and some farms. Use whatever elaborate mechanism you wish to seal it off from the rest of the fortress. Congratulations; your bastioned dwarves and their descendants will keep your fortress alive forever until one of them goes nuts.

  • Bonus: Build your bastion at least in part in a clay or sand layer, add a little magma, and continue manufacturing useless crap even as the world crumbles around you!
    • StonksBonus: Rig a way for your bastion to transfer supplies to the outside world without exposing themselves to danger, so they can be somewhat useful to the rest of your fort before their inevitable downfall. Doubles as a way to restock the bastion with fresh supplies and/or bodies, or a way to let the apocalypse in a little at a time if your survivors get too comfortable.
  • Bonus: Build it on top of a tower outside, and then deconstruct the stairs up.
  • Bonus: Fill it exclusively with vampires, to avoid having to worry about food, children, and aging.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Hollow out a shell around your bastion, connecting it to the rest of the cavern by a single 1x1 adamantine support, and flood the shell with magma.

Difficulty: Low.

Usefulness: High. If your bastioned dwarves have high enough quality living space and few enough nonbastioned friends, it makes the fortress functionally immortal.


Stop dwarves from hauling in tons of exotic, poisonous sludge into your fortress by creating a tub filled with 3/7 water that everyone has to get through to enter the fortress. Include a system to change the water, so that they don't bathe in grime.

Difficulty: Moderate

Usefulness: Low in most cases. High in some evil areas.

  • DwarfBonus: Make it drain and refill itself with clean water automatically once in a year.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Clean it with magma.
  • *MegaDwarfBonus*: Have an alternative bathtub-buffered entrance next to the main one, which opens automatically when sanitizing the main one and closes and sanitizes itself when it is no longer needed, so that no jobs are canceled during cleansing cycle.
  • ≡MegaDwarfBonus≡ : Make it clean itself with magma automatically once in a year, but make it wait for the moment when it's unused, so that no dwarves or pets are incinerated.
  • ☼MegaDwarfBonus☼: All of the above, plus make it detect when there should be no dwarves or pets around, but invaders are in it, so that the cleansing cycle can be started prematurely.


In intermittently freezing biomes, ice may be used to create actual floating boats, submarines, or other floating objects/forts; as constructions built on top of ice do not collapse when the ice thaws.

Difficulty: High. Needs an intermittently freezing biome, construction is limited to frozen periods, and there's a substantial risk of flooding, drowning and being encased in ice.

Usefulness: Low. Forts within boats are protected from invaders while the water is unfrozen, but they're also trapped within the confines of the boat.

Note: You'll probably want to limit your saves to the colder months.

  • DwarfBonus: Have the dwarves live on the boat.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Make miscreants/nobles walk the plank.
  • *MegaDwarfBonus*: Bury your treasure on shore.
  • ≡MegaDwarfBonus≡ : Have a pet kea for each of your dwarves.
  • ☼MegaDwarfBonus☼: Build it on top of an ice tower.

Bolt splitting operation[edit]

## Note: no longer works due to climbing mechanics ##

One curious property of Dwarven physics is that a bar of metal makes 25 bolts, but if each of those 25 bolts is melted separately, they will become 2.5 bars, generating metal from nothing. Prior to the update that allowed splitting stacks at the trade depot, the difficult part was separating the stacks of bolts into individual bolts without destroying them. EliDupree originally discovered this trick:

+ + + + + + + + + + + + +
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + +
+ g + + + + + + + + + + + + + @
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + +
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + +

The yellow @ at the right is a stack of marksdwarves (all in different squads so that they'll stand on the same tile) equipped with adamantine (or Divine metal if you don't have it; or Steel if you have neither) bolts, standing on top of a stairway surrounded by fortifications. The blue ☻ at the left is a single Perfectly Agile soldier with orders to patrol up and down the line of green doors, with little delays at the top and bottom. (The doors are free-standing; they were built attached to a wall, then the wall was removed.) The "g" at the left is a goblin standing on a pillar (pitted from the z-level above).

When the dwarf at the left runs up or down the line of doors, it opens all of them, and some of the marksdwarves loose their bolts. By the time the bolts get there, the doors have closed, so they hit the doors and fall into the channel, where they can be collected and melted separately. (That distance is exact, by the way. Any less and they sometimes get shots through the doors, which kills your goblin. Also, with less-skilled marksdwarves, some of the bolts will stray and land on the floors, but that isn't enough to worry about even with mere dabblers.) Naturally, this is also an excellent way to train marksdwarves.

Another design resembles a tower where marksdwarves shoot from the top, with the following setup: (click then press '<' and '>' to go through different z-levels)

  < 01    
  < 02 >  
  < 03 >  
  < 04 >  
  < 05 >  
    06 >  

The '@' is any number of marksdwarves standing on a down stair. You may want to use a defend burrow order to restrict them to that tile. The 'g' is a goblin or any other creature your marksdwarves will normally fire at upon encounter (pitted from 2 z-levels above). The 'O' is a well, which is suspected to be preventing dwarves from plunging in and starting brawling with the creature. Marksdwarves will be able to see the goblin or whatever creature below and will loose all bolts in their quivers on them. Curiously, nearly all the bolts will fail to cross the bend in the middle and will fall onto the tile '/' where they can be collected. This disregards crossbow and archery skills and the only difference they make is the speed at which the bolts are split. This design has the advantage of taking less space and being easier to set up, however it is reported that sometimes the dwarves will not miss some of the bolts. If you are only stationing one marksdwarf in the tower, stationing another one may help the first one miss all of his bolts, even after the newly added one is then removed. Sometimes dwarves will spam job cancellation on the bolt collection level, and it is also reported that sometimes some dwarves will start firing when they are on the bolt collection level. In such cases you may want to seal the collection level off and open it once in a while to retrieve the bolts.

Difficulty: Moderate. The hardest part is keeping the system running reliably.

Usefulness: Moderate. While there are certainly easier ways to generate adamantine, this is perhaps the most dwarfy.

  • Bonus: Build a repeater to open and close the doors automatically.

Break the dam (release the river!)[edit]

Dam a river (or brook) using something non-permanent (floodgates, drawbridges) and build your fortress entrance in the now dry river bed, make sure you can seal it off nicely (floodgates anyone?) then wait till the first Goblin siege, let them get to your entrance floodgates, seal them, open the dam and laugh maniacally.

Difficulty: Low

Usefulness: Instantaneous death to all sieges

  • DwarfBonus: Use magma.


A bridge that raises under its victims' feet, flinging enemies away.

Bridges don't fling creatures in any specific direction, apart from "up". So it's more of a spring-board than a catapult. If there's a lot of open space above the bridge, creatures can get flung very high - ten z-levels and more - and take appropriate falling damage. Most of them will land atop the bridge, and bringing the same bridge down will simply crush them.

Difficulty: Fairly easy. Getting the timing right promises to be the biggest challenge.

Usefulness: There are far more effective ways to defend a fortress, but few are as entertaining.


Essentially a Bridge-a-pult with specific ammo.

Difficulty: Very easy, given that you have live cats in your fortress.

Usefulness: Can be used as a way to stop a catsplosion if used with male cats. Cats can also be replaced with elite citizens of your fortress.

Corpse processing facility[edit]

WARNING: The system can freely jam on any body parts, besides hands and heads, without killing undead. With the help of a necromancer, corpses your dwarves refuse to butcher can be brought back to life and re-killed to yield bones and skulls for your bonecarvers if they are mushed up enough.

1. The simplest way to do this is with the help of height. A 1x1 pit with a minecart stop that dumps corpses down the chute, and several alternating floor hatches that close and open (linked to a repeater) with necromancers behind windows overlooking each layer of hatches to revive the bits of corpses. 2 windows with a mechanism controlled door in between, in front of each necromancer group can be used to control vision; but the system can only be stopped by unlinking the minecart dump to the refuse pile in your routes. Note: when I built this I had 3 hatches with 6 necromancers overlooking each (I had plenty of them since I embarked close to 4 towers). Revived corpses drop to their death and explode onto a tile with unright spikes linked (note that some of them will survive, so you need the spikes with a repeater or lever). The corpses that explode from the impact of height (or from other body parts/undead crashing into them) will hopefully yield bones. You make choose to re-haul up the body parts for another round, but only body parts still attached to a grasping part or the head will be revived, and this system isn't very efficient in the first place, so it may not be worth the trouble. Note that whole corpses usually yield 5-8 bones upon death (avg 6), arms only yield 1-4 (avg 2). You may also use this system with or without necromancers and pit live goblins into it, they usually yield 6 bones and some body parts.

2. The second way is much more efficient than the first, but requires 1 or more artifact mechanisms to make it work. Instead of using height to kill the corpses, a weapon trap with an artifact mechanism and 10 serrated blades of any material can be used instead (since artifact mechanisms never jam). Only 1 necromancer is needed for this method, and is positioned 3 tiles away from the weapon trap, overlooking it behind 2 glass windows with a mechanism door in between to control its vision. Your 1x1 pit should still be 5 tiles deep at least though, to prevent dwarves being spooked by the revived corpses. When you're ready, link up the route to the minecart and watch body parts revive and slowly get mowed down. It's recommended you have more than 1 of these small pits set up so you can grind more corpses and clear out 1 pit at a time while the others keep grinding.

Note: To clear out pits, turn off all refuse stockpiles that accept anything other than bones and skulls by turning on "accept from links only" so your dwarves only haul out the bones and not the trash.

Note: Try to use raising bridges as the door for each pit, kobold body parts tend to get mixed into the grinders which can lock-pick its way out of doors and result in doors with "door taken by intruder" and a couple hundred zombie body parts overrunning your fortress from the inside (a.k.a fun).

Note: I didn't try this with many building destroyers, but I'm pretty sure the glass windows are safe. Fortifications are not usable since corpses and body parts tend to get tangled up in them and are hard to get out, and spook dwarves trying to clean out the pits.

  • Bonus: Use water to clean out the contents of the pits and wash them onto a 1x1 refuse stockpile.

Difficulty: Hard

Usefulness: High, and becomes higher the more corpses you have; especially useful for getting something more out of necromancer sieges than just useless corpses. Can also be used to recycle dead stray animals and your own dwarves that your dwarves refuse to butcher (don't forget slabs).

NOTE: necromancer siege's corpses now drop clothes and gear.

Crocodile farm[edit]

They're a thing in real life, and you can make them a thing in-game too! Use cage traps to capture multiple breeding pairs of alligators, cave crocodiles or saltwater crocodiles, train them, then create an area to store them with nest boxes. Breed them so you have more crocodilians to keep laying eggs, rinse and repeat.

Difficulty: Medium, somewhat dependent on RNG - you need to find someplace with available crocs, you want said crocs to actually spawn and you want said crocs to actually get caught in the traps. May Will also lead to an explosive and FPS-shattering crocsplosion sooner or later.

Usefulness: Very high, you'll never have to worry about food again simply from cooking the eggs, and that's not counting butchering the crocs when they're adults.

  • Bonus: Have alligators, cave crocs and saltwater crocs all present in the farm.
  • SwampBonus: Have your croc farm submerged in anywhere between 1/7 to 3/7 water. You gotta keep your crocs healthy and wet! But make sure not to submerge the nest boxes!
  • SavageBonus: Have giant alligators or/and giant saltwater crocodiles as part of your farm.
  • TrainerBonus: Have your dwarves become Expert alligator/cave croc/saltwater croc trainers.
    • SteveIrwinBonus: Have your dwarves become Expert trainers of all croc species.
  • HungryHungryCrocBonus: Build your farm in such a way that sieges have to go through it to reach your fortress.
  • UltraCrocBonus: Have alligator men or/and saltwater crocodile men inhabiting your fortress and helping train the croc farm.
    • UltraArmokCrocBonus: Have an entire fortress of croc men handling a croc farm. You're dwarves in spirit.


Main article: Dam

Build a wall across a riverbed to stop the flow of water. Floodgates optional.

Difficulty: On a map that freezes in the winter, or an aquifer located below the river, this is easy. Otherwise, very difficult. (See dam, or Moses effect, below. But with the bonuses it gets a bit harder.)

Usefulness: Depends on how many bonuses you fulfill. The power station is obvious, and with the control room you could build up a nice defense system.

  • Bonus: Excavate a reservoir and a lower river valley.
  • Bonus: Build a control center to control the water flow.
  • Bonus: Draw your entire energy from a power station within.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Use screw pumps and another dam to replace the water with magma.

Danger room[edit]

Main article: Danger room

A room full of upright spear traps linked to a lever or pressure plate. Teach your dwarves to dodge the pointy sticks!

Difficulty: Low to Medium, depending on how you activate the traps.

Usefulness: Low. While this used to be a very effecting training method in past versions, the combat changes in 0.43.04 has made them much more deadly, even for militia dwarves. They also wear down your dwarves' armor and shields quickly, making them harmful for your long term survival even if your militia dwarves manage to survive the room itself.

Downside: Civilians and pets that wander into the danger room will inevitably get killed, even if you use low quality training spears.

  • MegaDwarfBonus: Menacing spikes greatly increase the danger, and may help train your medical team (and/or your coffin construction crew).
  • UltraDwarfBonus: Use adamantine spikes! On the plus side, you have a thriving coffin industry going now.

Day care[edit]

A room where you put all your dwarf children so they cannot be kidnapped by snatchers, or get into accidents. Make a room with beds and tables and stuff, then turn it into a burrow, then add all your children to it. Remember to include a food chute to quantum stockpile a huge amount of food and alcohol on a 1x1 stockpile (so it doesn't rot) in the room. High quality food, furniture, toys, clothing, and socializing should keep them happy. Note that the children will no longer be able to perform certain useful tasks like hauling, crop harvesting and deconstruction, and will not level up their skill in miscellaneous professions like an otherwise vulnerable child, but this is a small trade-off if they usually get kidnapped before maturing anyway. This is probably obvious, but make sure this room is guarded, otherwise it will turn into a Dwarf Orphanage (Dorfanage) (with Goblins and Minotaurs welcome!)

Difficulty: Low. With the invention of burrows, you can designate the Day Care to contain all children, so it is unnecessary to use suicide-booth-micromanagement to contain the children.

Usefulness: Varies, depending on the bonuses built. With v50, children are a lot easier to mentally scar for life, making them prone to fell moods and tantrums, so having a safe form of daycare allows them to grow up into adults whose stress levels are usually easier to manage

  • SchoolBonus: Make the daycare a guild hall, and add a highly skilled dwarf and another adult to the burrow. The two will give demonstrations that the kids will occasionally watch, gaining experience in a profession of your choice
  • OlympicBonus: Build a swimming pool of 4/7 between critical parts of the daycare, so the kids have to go through the water for their everyday tasks, gaining swimming skill and associated stats.
  • ChildSoldierBonus: Make the daycare a barracks, and have your crack squad of dwarves spar and demonstrate there to train up the military skills of your dwarven children

Doberman bomb[edit]

Whenever a dog or cat gives birth, stuff all the kittens and puppies in one cage in your entryway. Link this cage to a pressure plate beside it. Should your last lines of defense be breached, goblins will step on it and in the next instant be torn apart by dozens of goblin-seeking hostiles and distracted by dozens of surplus targets. The trap actually going off will probably be very bad for your frame rate.

Difficulty: Low to high, depending on the animal you use

Usefulness: Medium to very high, potentially fortress-saving


Imagine an execution tower, for rocks and pants. It's nothing but a very deep 1x1 up-down staircase for express service to the depths. Designate a garbage dump beside the top and dwarves will pitch anything marked for Dumping into it.

Difficulty: Harder than it sounds, there's always snags along the way. Surprise caverns can cost you miners and tools. Hitting water can be vexing. Dumping and reclaiming things can be a chore. It may serve as an unintended highway for Fun of any liquid or airborne variety

Usefulness: It's far easier to drop ore 100 z-levels to the magma sea than carry it. You can use this to transfer items between burrows.

  • Bonus: Minecarts can make this semi-automatic, fed from a stockpile.

Drowning chamber[edit]

Main article: Drowning chamber

Difficulty: Moderate.

Usefulness: You can kill prisoners, useless peasants, irate nobles, hammerers, untamable animals, or anything else. Just be ready for something that knows how to swim. Also useful for catching fishies.

  • Bonus: Utilize lava.
  • Bonus: Utilize trained fish.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Edit the raws and do both.

Dwarfputer complex[edit]

Main article: Computing

A big mess of fluid, machine, and/or creature logic full of hatches, floodgates, gears, pumps, etc. and powered by waterwheels, windmills, or useless idle dwarves. Hook it up to doors, bridges, and traps.

Difficulty: Medium to high, depending on what you want to build. You'll want to build for very high water flow if you have more than a few fluid gates.

Usefulness: Your mechanics will level up very fast. Manual pumps give something for your haulers to do. Try and make a clock to trigger different mechanisms in different seasons. See if enemies actually blunder into your intricate traps. Watch all hell break loose as water freezes and building destroyers (bugs, perhaps?) enter your computer.

  • Bonus: Use lava.
    • Doombonus: Use lava and build it so that building destroyers that enter the complex get killed by the mechanisms they destroy.
      • SelfRepairingbonus: Use both lava and water and implement the building destroyer killing system, but modify it so it's self-repairing, filling up broken spaces with obsidian.

Dwarven apartment complex[edit]

Essentially, one of the many possible megaprojects dedicated to providing dwarves with rooms so high above the ground they get vertigo. Every floor must have plenty of rooms of at least 2x3 squares, with walls and a door surrounding this. Oh, and it has to go up as many Z-levels as possible. For extra credit, decide on what the top story will be (i.e. as many levels up as you deem possible, minus one so you can build a roof) and turn this into a Royal bedroom for a noble, complete with gem windows, artifact/masterwork components, and untold numbers of armour stands and weapon racks. And then build some shorter but wider apartment buildings nearby to turn your fortress into essentially a giant fist with extended middle finger. Extra points for adding extra useless things for luxury, such as a magma-based heating system, fireplaces in rooms, and a lock-down lever in case of goblin attack. (or a self-destruct lever connected to the main supports, in case your dwarfish tenants are unsatisfied with your ☼5-star service☼).

Difficulty: Low, although the walls around the rooms can be a bit fiddly due to the impossibility of building walls on constructed floors (yes, an extra credit challenge is to do this without using Remove Construction).

Usefulness: Limited, because you could just dig the things underground and save yourself the hassle. However it is much harder to flood a tower than a cave, in case you're prone to fun by water. Additionally, if you have the time and resources to train a sizable force of marksdwarves, placing a few "security rooms" (with barracks, ammunition store, ration cache, armory, etc.) at appropriate floors, complete with fortified balconies, will allow you to take advantage of the higher vantage point.

  • MegaDwarfBonus: Extend the tower to have levels below ground as well as above.
  • MegaOrwellBonus: Make the whole construction out of clear glass. (privacy? Whatever for?)

Dwarven courtyards[edit]

Dig large shafts [first dig the staircase to the desired depth, digging out the size you want the shaft to be on all layers. Channel the outer later, then install supports on the base floor. Link the support to a trigger, clear everyone out, destroy the remaining staircase and pull the trigger] then cover them in glass, creating an indoor but light area that will keep dwarves from being irritated and nauseated by the sun, also improving general happiness and allowing close proximity to caverns and magma.

Difficulty: Medium, make sure not to mess up or you will lose your miners

Usefulness: Medium. creates vertical circulation and brings light to lower levels.

  • Bonus: Punch a large shaft through a multi-level aquifer (hint: punch through the aquifer from below).
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Create a network of self-sufficient communities per shaft, allowing them to be sectioned off in case of disaster. (I plan on colonizing HFS eventually on this paradigm, creating a mining team of soldiers to extract, manufacture and ultimately use adamantine products without being connected to the main colony in order to take on the clowns while keeping the rest of the burrow safe.)

Dwarven disco ball[edit]

Why waste all those cut gems on things that only some selfish noble will enjoy? Create as large a wall-less sphere as you can, then cover it in Gem Windows of 3 different-colored gems to make it shine! The bigger, and more valuable gems involved (e.g., rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, or colored diamonds if you're really masochistic), the dwarfier.

Difficulty: Constructing a sphere is very hard, especially the larger you make one. Gathering enough differently colored gems can also be very hard, depending on stone layers. Trading helps a lot.

Usefulness: Negative. More value can be created by encrusting furniture, and Gem Windows lack quality.

  • Bonus: Alternating alunite and obsidian tiles to make a 'dance floor'.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Use lava contained in glass for illumination.
  • UltraDwarfBonus: Caged "dancers".

Dwarven labor camp (aka Dwalag)[edit]

Create an aboveground walled fortress in a freezing climate with guard towers, barracks, housing, and armories. Dig a long ramp downward and add a large mining network below the surface. Make some small military squads to guard the camp. Designate the lower levels as workshops, and when migrants arrive, assign them to the mines. Give the workers minimal food and only water (no booze, booze is for the hypocritical decadence of Dwarkuta's leaders). Have them haul the stone and metal they mine back to the surface and ship the raw materials off to the Motherland. Import only food, booze, weapons, fuel, and other necessities.

  • Bonus: Build the giant digging machines. They don't actually have to dig anything.
  • Bonus: Go into the raws and rename the beverage of your choice to "Dwarven Vodka", and drink to the glory of the Motherland!
  • MegaBonus: Escape. Wait for a goblin siege, then get everyone underground and block the entrance. Let the goblins in. Wait a few months. The goblins are now the guards you must kill.

Step 1. Secure the keys: Make improvised weapons. If you have obsidian at your disposal, make rock short swords.

Step 2. Ascend from darkness: Get your dwarves out of the mines and into the camp.

Step 3. Rain fire: Use your imagination. Try using magma, if possible.

Step 4. Unleash the horde: Attack!

Step 5. Skewer the winged beast: If the goblins brought a giant bat or other flying creature, kill it.

  • Bonus: Use a ballista.

Step 6. Wield a fist of iron: Break open the armory and equip your rebels with armor and weapons.

Step 7. Raise hell: Exactly what it says on the tin.

Step 8. Freedom!

  • MegaDwarfBonus: In Adventure mode, try (and probably fail) to lead the prisoners to freedom.

Dwarven refrigerator[edit]

Dig down to the 3rd cavern layer and harvest as many nether-caps as you can. Make them all into barrels! Nether caps have the unique property of being 10000° Urist, which is 32°F or 0°C. Now your dwarves can enjoy their favorite alcohol, cheese, and plump helmets chilled to perfection! If you've set your population cap very low in the INIT files, caverns aren't extremely dangerous, but you should still be on the lookout for nasties down there. Remember to wall off your entrance to the cavern once you're finished.

Difficulty: Low to Medium

Usefulness: Low. Booze stored inside will not perish due to heat if say, magma is dumped on it.

Bonus: Also use nether-cap wood to build the walls, floor, ceiling, and door.

Bonus: While we are at it make all your coffins out of it. 'Cryogenically' freeze those corpses!

Dwarven machine gun[edit]

Build a high fire rate, minecart firing machine gun. Must be fully automatic, capable of reloading itself, and should not jam due to minecarts being disrupted by collisions or derailments.

Difficulty: Medium to high, depending on fire rate, reload downtime, and whether or not minecarts are filled with magma.

Usefulness: High. A sophisticated minecart trap can keep out even the most persistent invaders.

  • Bonus: Automatically reload minecarts with magma.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Integrate the trap with a dwarfputer so that it can automatically send minecarts to where they are needed most.

Emergency destruct stairs[edit]

A tall column of stairs plunging all the way down into the underdark, with a one-tile wide area of thin destructible floor all around it. In case of subterranean invasion, a thrown switch drops a stone O straight down, ringing the staircase and neatly severing all inter-level connections at a blow. Does with one lever and one support what would take dozens of bridges or hundreds of retracting grates.

Difficulty: Harder than it sounds.

Usefulness: Sometimes... sometimes they fly.

Execution tower[edit]

Just a tall tower to chuck your captives to their deaths.

Difficulty: Easy.

Usefulness: Lets you dispose of prisoners, and claim expensive silk, meltable iron, and (eventually) useful bones. Also highly amusing.

  • MegaDwarfBonus: Send prisoners straight to hell. May make retrieving items difficult, however.


If flying enemies circumventing your walls and causing mayhem inside your fortress is a problem, don't use marksdwarves, just make some flak! Simply cover a series of drawbridges in rocks, and when fliers come by pull the lever.

Difficulty: Easy

Usefulness: Low. Contrary to the description, marksdwarves are more accurate, versatile, and just better. However, if you manage to hit something with this, there's a large chance of it getting stunned and crashing to the ground. Remember, what goes up must come down, wear your helmet Urist!

  • Bonus: Use minecarts and pressure plates to make it fully automatic.
  • SuperBonus: Make it closer to real world flak by using burning lignite bins.
  • EfficiencyBonus: Use goblins as ammo
  • AlternateBonus: Instead of drawbridges and stone, use jets of water to stun flyers, and then release the dogs. Alternatively, burn them in midair with lava.
  • FunBonus: Use the above method with lava, except use the lava as a propellent to throw the circus at the local crow population.
  • ArmokBonus: Use all of the above to emulate what happens when you drift into American airspace.

Flamethrower bunker[edit]

If your fortress happens to be visited by a dragon, capture it in a cage trap, then release it into a sealed bunker with fortifications around the edge. When invaders arrive, watch them get roasted.

Difficulty: Low, but requires a fair bit of luck - a dragon (or fire-breathing forgotten beast) needs to survive worldgen, then it needs to attack your fortress (instead of a giant/minotaur/ettin/cyclops or other megabeast), and finally it needs to make it to your cage trap without being killed by something else.

Usefulness: Medium. Dragonfire can kill almost anything, but will be blocked by a shield greater than 99% of the time. Adding a combustible floor (such as a paved lignite road) will significantly increase lethality for shield-toting targets. Also, any protective bridges in front of the fortifications may melt under sustained fire, leaving you with a bunker that nobody can safely approach; ensuring the bridge center tile isn't near the fire, or building the bridges (and mechanisms) from ash, dragon soap, divinev0.43.03 metal (or slade) will make them immune to the fire. Additionally, a skilled enemy archer can easily kill your dragon with a lucky shot, if line-of-sight access is available.

  • Bonus: Capture a fire-breathing titan or forgotten beast and use it.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Release the denizens of the hidden fun stuff and use them.

Flood the world[edit]

Difficulty: High danger. Will kill your frame rate unless you sink the world below water level (river or ocean).

Usefulness: Will prevent any sieges, at least. Or anything else, save for the occasional invasion of sociopathic giant sponge.

  • Bonus: Use magma, just like Boatmurdered.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Use trained fish to kill off all creatures not of your colony.
  • MegaArmokBonus: Mod the game and do both.

Gladiator arena[edit]

Main article: Live training

Station some soldiers at the bottom of a shallow pit and dump your captives in. You can also use dangerous animals instead of soldiers. For extra points, put the prisoners in cages connected to ramps underneath the arena floor. One lever will open both the cage and a hatch above the ramp. Variant: build prisoner cages inside the arena, link to a lever outside the arena, lock the soldiers in, and then open the cages. Keep in mind that you can't actually make your dwarves "watch" the battles like an actual gladiator arena, as civilians will flee in fear at the sight of non-restrained hostile creatures, even if they're in a pit and not actively attacking them.

Difficulty: Low, but time consuming. Some danger depending on the relative skill of your soldiers and the danger of the captive. (If the prisoners have weapons, you can remove them by using d-b-d to dump the cage and its contents, then looking at and undumping the cages themselves with k-d).

Usefulness: Low to High, depending on how long your soldiers can draw out the execution. Equipping your soldiers with wooden training weapons can greatly increase the fun (and/or Fun if their armor isn't as good as you thought).

  • Bonus: Losers get incinerated by Magma.
  • DwarfBonus: Winners also get incinerated by Magma.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Use your arena as a "trial by fire" for migrants.

Grazer reanimation facility[edit]

Just as stables, but without grass, and on a reanimating biome. Pasture every grazer in a separate box, and build cage traps to recapture the animal after it joins the Dark Side. Make sure to forbid the area after you finish setting things up, because you don't want your dwarves getting killed caught instead.

Difficulty: Low. You always get some grazing animals to start with.

Usefulness: You get a decent supply of zombies to use in your cunning traps. Depending on your style of play, this may prove to be worth the effort.

  • DwarfBonus: Use war elephants, or any other giant grazing animal you bought seized from elves.
    • MegaDwarfBonus: Use giant elephants.
      • BoatMurderedBonus: Release them all simultaneously to challenge your militia/play out a !fun! scenario for your fort.
  • MenagerieBonus: Create a zoo using only undead grazers.
    • DwarvenMenagerieBonus: Combine this with the Zombie Thunderdome and have a rotation of undead cows fighting in the arena only to be re-caged when they try to leave.
      • ChampionBonus: Give each grazer rooming in the zoo according to their kills, with the champion having the most luxurious room.
        • AltarBonus: Turn the champion's room into an Altar of Armok.
        • FreedomBonus: Let the champion and higher-ranking zombies roam freely in their rooms, having to be re-captured for each battle.
          • !FreedomBonus!: Release the champion into your fort.
  • HolyGrailBonus: Use white bunnies.


A greenhouse is just a farm with the ceiling channeled out from above. This lets you grow outdoor plants without venturing above ground. For maximum style, build the greenhouse above ground and cover it with a glass roof to keep your farmers safe.

Difficulty: Low.

Usefulness: Medium. Surface plants can be grown at any time of the year, and some are more useful than those available underground - for example, sun berries can be brewed into valuable Sunshine, and whip vines can be milled into superior quality flour. Having greater food and booze diversity can also keep your dwarves happier.

  • Bonus: Give it a glass floor to allow surface plants even lower down.

Hammer of Armok[edit]

A gigantic hammer made out of pure steel and/or valuables looming over your fortress entrance ready to smite those foolish enough to lay a siege on you. Also gives you a psychological advantage over the traders who unload their goods under it. Attach to a lever-linked support for quick-smiting.

Difficulty: Low. Depends on size and materials, though. Make it a gold hammer menacing with adamantine spikes, if you're going for high quality.

Usefulness: Low-medium. 10x10 size is minimum for practical effectiveness. 30x30 attached to a handle extending from your entrance actually works against sieges.

  • Bonus: Cover it with blood.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Make it hollow and fill it with Magma
  • ArmoksMachineHammerBonus: Set up an automated system that allows you to reset it quickly. Obsidianizers and the magma sea will be your friends here.

Human Fortress[edit]

Instead of digging a fortress, build above-ground houses. Create walls to keep the nasties out. The only thing you may have underground are mines and stockpiles. Create a huge stone fort for your nobles.

Difficulty: High. Building stuff will cost you resources instead of gaining them and flyers can be a real pain. Keep several Marksdwarfs handy!

Usefulness: N/A. (No cave adaptation)

  • Bonus: Pave the roads between houses.
  • HumanBonus: Dig a moat around your castle.
  • MegaHumanBonus: Fill the moat with lava.
  • MegaHumanBonusPlus: Designate multiple dumping spots into the lava moat.
  • SurfaceDwellerBonus: Get the stone for your constructions entirely from open-pit quarries, i.e. by c[h]annelling instead of [d]igging.
  • MegaSurfaceDwellerBonus: Never use picks at all, all stone and metal must come from caravans or embark.
  • WhereTheBeardedLadiesAtBonus: Enforce as many pointless quaint human quirks as feasible, for instance: nominating officials per wealth/popularity/relationships instead of merit and suitedness, coddling Nobles, burrowing farmers, miners, brewers, craftsdwarves and other backbones of society into the most tattered ridings, enforcing a specific religion upon the populace, and so forth.

Ice tower[edit]

Building a huge tower is easy. To make things more fun, make one out of some exotic material, like glass, ice, gold, or soap.

Difficulty: Low. You need to be on a freezing map to pull off an ice tower.

Usefulness: Depends entirely on you.

  • BabelBonus: Use DFHack's infiniteSky and build to the heavens themselves.

Journey to the Center of the Earth[edit]

Construct a sturdy vessel hanging over the top of a magma pipe or volcano, outfitted with everything your intrepid crew might need for their journey of exploration - food, booze, sleeping quarters and a bridge are a must, but depending on the amount of effort it can include other items such as a recreation deck, water reservoir and trade depot for dealing with the natives. When all is ready, lock the explorers inside and send them on their way. Bonus points if you can detach it from inside so you can use it in Adventure mode later.

Difficulty: Moderate to High, depending on the size of the ship. For bonus points, carve the entire thing out of existing rock overhanging a magma pipe and engrave it with messages. Burrows help to get the whole crew inside at the same time.

Usefulness: Negative. For some reason, no explorers have returned. Of course, if you select only the Best and Brightest for the ship's crew...

  • Bonus: Drop the vessel into a deep cavern
  • SuperBonus: Make the outer walls, roof and ground floor completely out of glass, so that the explorers can watch everything around them.
  • VampireBonus: Send a vampire with the crew!
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Drop the vessel into a halfway-empty adamantine vein
  • YouHorribleEvilDwarfBonus: Drop the vessel into the Hidden Fun Stuff!
  • YouHorribleInsaneDwarfBonus: Drop the vessel into a glowing chasm.
  • OhMyArmokBonus: When you arrive to the bottom of the magma sea, excavate and then create a new community under it!
    • OhMyF****ingArmokBonus: Send supplies every year!
    • IsThatEvenPossibleBonus: Send a piece of an aquifer down there to provide water! (Mine around a water-producing tile, build the ship around it, then send it!)
    • ≡MegaDwarfBonus≡: create a high enough tower and drop it into the magma sea to connect the surface and the undersea community!
      • ☼MegaDwarfBonus☼: create two towers and use one to send water down there!

Single-lever emergency lockdown (LEL)[edit]

The only real requirement is that you need a fort based around a central stairwell. All you need to do is leave space for and eventually build the same number of bridges (that raise!) as your stairway is tall on each side of your stairwell on every level, and then link them all to the same lever. Friends get through all your best traps and champions? Simply pull the lever, and they're trapped in the central stairwell forever! Remember to roof off the entrance if your fort is situated on flat land otherwise the bonuses become much less useful. Also important is to ensure that you either wall off access or include sealable bridges or doors (linked to the same lever of course) for any inter-level paths that bypass the main stairwell, like vertical axles running out of centralised power generators.

3*3 stairwell setup:


Difficulty: Medium to High, depending on whether you use the MegaDwarfBonus below or not and how much you spread your fortress over the layers - although more spread means more usefulness. Extremely time-consuming, and requires architects, masons, and mechanics, as well as a lot of mechanisms (2 per bridge, ~4 bridges per level)

Usefulness: Medium to High, also depending on whether you use the Bonuses. With all bonuses applied it becomes a guaranteed last resort way of destroying the toughest enemies with minimal dwarven casualties; without the bonuses it's still a damn sight better than letting temporarily victorious enemies run freely about your fortress.

  • DwarfBonus: Connect your cistern to the stairwell (remember to put a floodgate in too). Once the impossible-to-defeat enemies are safely trapped inside, Pull lever number 2 and watch them slowly, slowly, drown (VERY IMPORTANT: have the level of the cistern input at at least the same height as the level of the stairwell, else there won't be enough pressure to properly flood the stairwell, meaning nasties WILL survive).
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Connect your MAGMA cistern to the stairwell. Laugh maniacally. (Remember to build your bridges and floodgates out of magma-safe material or a lot of !!FUN!! will be had)
  • MegaArmokEntombmentBonus: Do both and cast your enemies in obsidian and boil the survivors in steam as a semi-permanent testament to their foolhardiness. This also means that you will have stairs cut out of lovely obsidian once your miners are finished making your stairwell usable again.
  • MegaArmokEntombmentEXTREME+Bonus: "Forget" to pull the lockdown lever before you pull lever number 2.
  • MegaArmokEntombmentBait&SwitchDiplomatic+Bonus: Set the highest level up on another switch, with a particularly demanding and annoying noble skilled diplomatic representative is waiting at the very bottom to lure invite them all down for a nice meal on his flesh the stockpile of food and booze that's keep him ever so happy. Then you can wait for the entire army to flow into the stairwell before flipping the switches. Don't forget to carve a statue out of the block of the noble! What noble doesn't want their grand sacrificial defense diplomatic skills to be immortalized in volcanic glass?
    • UltraArmokBonus: Defeat all your invasions this way, and build a temple to Armok full of the once noble, now obsidian statues, as well as only the highest of quality (and value) memorial slabs.

Magma Lock System[edit]

This system is a little more complicated than the LEL system described above, and requires that you space out all of your floors so that there's a 'plumbing floor' between each level. From there you set up tons and tons of magma proof floodgates and hatches. Each 'area' you wish to be self-contained from one another needs at least a 3x2 hallway separating it from the other areas. 4 of these will contain flood gates, and the other two must remain bare. Above one of the two bare points you need to have a hollowed out space, and connecting into it from one side you need to have a hatch leading to your water plumbing system, to the other, a hatch to your lava plumbing system. You need two levers for controlling this, one lever is connected to all of the lower floodgates, the other to the upper floodgates. Pull the first hatch to lock in the flood gates just in case, the second to the upper flood gates to begin pouring in water and magma and have them make obsidian filling the entire hallway, sterilizing it of literally anything that could have contaminated it. You do this instead of hatches so they'll drop in properly and mix with no risk of only one side or the other of the hallway turning to obsidian and resulting in a dangerous leak. Throw the first switch again to open up the floodgates and begin mining to access the old chambers again. Whatever was invading your fortress, whether plague, necromancer, clowns, or forgotten beast, will be safely locked away, and unable to break back out whether or not it possesses building destroyer or not. Then you just have to wait for your miners to dig their way out. You can simply avoid the chambers that still have FUN inside, and any the purity of magma and obsidian will have utterly obliterated any traces of contaminants between containment zones.

Difficulty: Medium to High. While not dealing with anything overtly hostile, this process more or less demands that you plan your fortress from the start for this specific system and deal with lots and lots of moving parts, mechanisms, and similar, plus the power necessary to pump magma and water into this network in a timely manner.. If you screw up part of it then it's very easy to end up with your entire fortress flooded with water or magma. Build it on small and give it a test run then expand it once you've gotten the process working for a single chamber, such as the chamber leading to your cavern layer.

Usefulness: High. Depending on how you prepare things (See the bonuses below) the necessary set up for all of this will result in a network of magma and water pipes in every single level of your fortress, powering forges, wells, baths, showers, and defenses of all sorts. Then when things are at their worst, throw a switch and barring one or two (or many depending on how many dwarves are transitioning between containment areas) horribly swift deaths, your entire fortress is safe from any possible threats. You can also prepare chambers ahead of time for other activities and use this to trap enemies in them for later usage.

  • DwarfBonus: Put a stockpile of food, drink, and pickaxes in each containment area.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Put a lever in every zone connected just to their own, so your dwarves can heroically seal off an entire section by themselves if necessary.
  • UltraDwarfBonus: Extend the hallways, and make the water half of them use grates and constant water falls to give good thoughts while traversing between zones. Change up your levers to shut off the water for when digging begins again.


A maze of twisty little passages, all alike. Traps and dangerous animals are essential. You can have a retracting bridge drop invaders in, or just have a labyrinth as a back door.

Difficulty: It's a lot of mining. Having a bridge drop invaders inside is more difficult, but more useful. You can also use the free maze-generating program Daedalus, available here if you're too lazy to come up with your own.

Usefulness: It makes a nice element of fortress defense, and you can dump your prisoners inside it. Also makes a great place to explore in adventure mode.

  • Bonus: Generate a world with large mountain caves. Instead of using the labyrinth as your backdoor, use it as your fortress.
  • Filodorima: Release a live caged minotaur into the maze.
  • MegaBonus: Make it three-dimensional and unicursal.
  • MemorialBonus: Capture the Goblin King and make him fight the Minotaur.

Magma chamber[edit]

Difficulty: Dangerous as any magma project.

Usefulness: It's like a drowning chamber, but any non-iron items carried by the victim will be destroyed. Depending on your style of play, this may be a good thing.

Magma cannon[edit]

It can be done! It uses a row of pumps to pressurize the magma in a chamber with only one exit. When the floodgate opens, the magma flies out a short distance.

Difficulty: Very high. You need metal (or glass) screw pumps to make it work, magma-safe floodgates and mechanisms, plus a big above-ground construction.

Usefulness: Marginal. But very cool.

Magma access early[edit]

ASAP from embark, dig down to the magma.
Make 2 magma proof pumps,
make a small (5x5?) room that you can pump magma into and out of and
make a stockpile for only iron & steel minecarts in the room.
Be sure to make enough minecarts to fill the room.
Once the room is full of minecarts, seal room and pump it full of magma.
Then pump the magma out.
Delete the stockpile.
Make a new stockpile near your forge/smelt/glass/kiln area.
Haul minecarts by hand (or magma proof wheelbarrow).
Use tracks and stops to dump 4 deep magma into shallow pits.
2 minecart loads per pit.

Difficulty: Low.
Usefulness: Very High.

  • Bonus: !!Magma Economy By Autumn!!
  • ObsidianBonus: Instead of pumping the magma out, drain water from a nearby lake or aquifer cistern onto it to turn it into obsidian. Carve out the minecarts, magma safely still inside, and enjoy the extra obsidian you have. Watch out not to flood the fortress!

Magma highway[edit]

Magma moves across the map annoyingly slowly, due to its thickness and lack of pressure. But a tunnel several Z-levels high, with magma entering at the top, will flow much faster because the magma's falling in, not flowing in, and can expand on either Z-level before falling down.

Difficulty: Medium. Not hard to make, but cutting open a multi-Z magmafall is fun.

Usefulness: Medium.

Magma mausoleum[edit]

This trick involves dripping water on to the middle of a magma pool until you have a column of obsidian, then channeling down into the obsidian more than one Z level, and putting a burial receptacle there. This probably won't work in magma tubes or Volcanos since the created obsidian would fall into the bottomless pit. The trick is getting the water to fall onto the magma in a controlled manner.

Difficulty: High. Requires certain resources from the start, plus lots of setup. And your dwarves tend to erupt into dwarf steam occasionally.

Usefulness: None, since an obsidian lined room with exactly the same furniture somewhere else will please your nobles just as much.

  • Bonus: Put the coffin at least 20 floors down.
  • MegaBonus: Build it in a volcano if possible, and put the coffin at the very bottom of the map

Magma sea colony[edit]

If you cast obsidian around the edges of the magma sea, it is possible to pump out the magma and build a colony in the empty space. Once the colony is built, you can destroy the obsidian walls and refill the magma sea. Note: you cannot cast obsidian on the bottom layer of the magma sea, so building a colony on this layer is nearly, but not quite, impossible (see below).

Difficulty: High. You need to get water down to each edge of the magma sea, and you need a pump stack to get rid of the magma.

Usefulness: None.

  • ☼MegaDwarfBonus☼: Build your colony on the floor of the magma sea. This will require draining the sea to the next-to-bottom layer as described above, then dumping enormous amounts of water into the bottom layer to crowd out the magma while simultaneously draining the magma from holes poked in the magma sea floor. Constructions can be built at the border between the water and the magma. See This forum post for full, detailed instructions.
  • Bonus: Obsidianize the entire magma sea, leaving a single spot to use as a source for pumps. Then proceed to carve your new fortress subsection out of this bounty.

Difficulty: Insane. The project will take at least ten years of dwarf time and claim many lives.

Usefulness: Low. You can finally get the last bit of adamantine when you drain the magma sea, and the magma sea floor has a cool twinkly effect.

Magma Lava sprinkler[edit]

Build a twisting magma lava aqueduct above the entrance to your fortress. Leave a few thin (diagonal) holes in it, so that lava can seep out of it. When invaders arrive, pump magma into the sprinkler. Diagonal holes will limit the rate at which the fluid flows out of them, ensuring a nice steady lava rain rather than a big wave.

Difficulty: High. Similar to magma canon, except with a bit more engineering, but less pumps and smaller reservoir needed (due to less magma being required for the same effect).

Usefulness: Medium. Like magma cannon it can obliterate a siege, but this time you can have a bit more control over how it happens. Lava rain doesn't depend on ground structure (your entrance doesn't need to be in a valley for it to work well) and leaves less magma to evaporate.

  • Bonus: Cover the holes with floodgates or hatches and keep the lavaduct filled with lava rather than filling it only when using it.
  • Bonus+1: Build the lavaduct in such a way that it starts raining on the outermost part of the area first, then goes inwards, to ensure that invaders who start burning can't escape.

Mass cage recycling system[edit]

Main article: Mass pitting

Build a mass pitting system to recycle your cage trap cages quickly.

Difficulty: Very easy. Requires basic digging and very little time.

Usefulness: Very. Keeps you from having to build cages before releasing monsters from them. With six hatches you can safely empty out 48 cages very quickly. You can build lots of cage traps without having to worry about emptying each cage individually.

  • Bonus: Cover the floor of your pit with cage traps, creating a neverending cycle and giving your dwarves something to do during the long harsh summer when going outside is overly taxing on their stomachs.
  • ConcentrationCampBonus: Combine with Pit of Doom below.

Mega/Water drowning trap-thing[edit]

Main article: Drowning chamber

This is basically a channel above some pressurized water with a short tunnel leading to a door. The door needs to be connected to a lever somewhere in a safe part of the fortress. Position the door facing the main stairs into your fortress (for multiple stairs use multiple traps). When enemies come down the stairs, pull the lever and make them drown. (It helps to seal off the rooms).

Difficulty: Medium. Needs flowing water under pressure and levers.

Usefulness: Medium. Depends on the size of your fortress/defences/amount of attackers. Works well with fire creatures to create a sauna.

Minecart spiral[edit]

Build a giant spiral minecart impulse ramp all the way from the magma sea to the surface. You can use it to transport ores to the magma smelters at the bottom from sedimentary layers near the surface. You can build statues in it to prevent dwarves from walking in and dying.

Difficulty: Medium-High. You will most likely have to use macros. Additionally, when crossing caverns you will have to construct minecart ramps which can be tedious.

Usefulness: Medium. It depends on how tall your map is and how much ores you consume.

  • TrapBonus: Use drawbridge to guide invaders to the spiral, then pump water into it and drown them.
    • BetterTrapBonus: Make it magma instead.
  • SuperBonus: Make the tower go all the way to the highest Z level.
  • Bonus: At the top, set up a system where dwarves can guide minecarts to different vertical shafts where the will fall to different Z levels, for loading. Then, the minecarts fall further down to the smelters, where the empty minecarts are sent back up for loading.
    • MegaBonus: Divide your dwarves into two separate burrows connected only by the minecart spiral and the shaft. The higher burrow is in charge of mining, growing food, and operating the minecart system, and the lower burrow is in charge of smelting ores and making crafts.
      • HyperMegaBonus: Close off all stairs and add a minecart loading and unloading station at every inhabited z level. All vertical transport of goods should be done via minecarts only. Also, dwarves are not allowed in minecarts.
        • UltraSuperBonus: Build a minecart loading and unloading station at every Z level, even the uninhabited ones you never use.

Mist generator[edit]

Using whatever screw-pump-statue contraption your dwarves can muster up, create an endless mist-generating machine which will hopefully not obliterate your FPS.

Difficulty: Extremely easy. You will only need a basic understanding of screwpumps and gear assemblies. However, you can scale it to any size or level of complexity. The mist page has a handy guide.

Usefulness: Borderline cheating. Keeps your dwarves in a state of constant euphoria. Mist does funny things to a dwarf's mind. Also a one-up from artificial waterfalls as they only need to travel a single Z level, (hopefully) reducing the FPS strain.

  • Bonus: Build an absolutely horrible fortress with as much miasma and hateable vermin that you can fit in one bunker. Keep your dwarves sane with the power of Mist™ alone.
    • FUNbonus: Build it in a semi-freezing climate instead. Watch as winter rolls by and your dwarves are deprived of their only source of joy. Fun will surely ensue.

Monumental statue[edit]

Difficulty: Depends on how big you want the statue to be. If you are feeling really masochistic, cast it out of obsidian using magma and water.

Usefulness: None.

  • Bonus: Make the statue hollow and have dwarves live inside it.
  • BestWayToGetRidOfStoneBonus: Make one for every dead dwarf.
    • UberTombBonus: Use the statue as a tomb and put their coffins in it.
  • Dwarfbonus: Give the statue magma eyes.
    • HellNo,DwarfsYesBonus: Combine the magma eyes idea with the magma cannon idea above and place the statue just behind (and above) the entrance to your fortress.

Moses effect[edit]

With enough pumps, you can pull water out of a square faster than it flows in. This can create a reverse waterfall, or a dry spot in the middle of a flowing river. The effect is like Moses parting the Red Sea.

Difficulty: Surprisingly easy.

Usefulness: You can use this trick to create a waterfall or drowning chamber. It is also important if you want to pass through an Aquifer, although that is far more difficult. The same trick can be used in lieu of a drawbridge, although its practicality as compared to the drawbridge is highly questionable.

  • Bonus: Use the Moses effect to make doors from water, which are opened/closed using a lever.
  • TechBonus: Automatize the doors so that they open (only!) when a dwarf is near.

Never-ending shower[edit]

Main article: Waterfall

Don't you get angry when your dwarves carry enough grime on them to dirty the entire fortress? And how they get infected because of that griminess? Suffer no more! With the Never Ending Shower (NES for short), dwarves will be able to stay (relatively) clean without having to take the time to run for a bath or dirtying your drinking water!

It is easy to understand: use the same instructions as in the Artificial Waterfall, but make it so that the waterfall is somewhere where the dwarves will be going through almost daily--a central stairway works well. It cleans them and gives them happy thoughts for the same price!

Difficulty: Moderate to high. You do have to make sure that dwarves don't try anything funny, and create a drain to draw the dirty water out.

Usefulness: Incredibly high. Reduces risk of infection and keeps your dwarves happy.

  • Bonus: Use an aquifer to get clean water AND drain dirty water.
  • Bonus: Use levers to control the NES.
  • SuperBonus: Make it work as a trap!
  • SuperDuperBonus: Make it work as a trap AND as a recovery system!
  • ArmokBonus: Make it so that magma can be poured down, too!

Nuclear Fallout Bunker[edit]

Build a mini fortress with everything your dwarves could need deep underground. Stock it with enough food, drinks, and materials to last your small band of survivors for years or alternatively make it self-sufficient with its own food production. Lastly, add a bridge that allows you to seal off the bunker from the rest of the world.

Difficulty: Easy-Medium depending on the relative luxury of the bunker and how many dwarves you intend to shelter from the apocalypse.

Usefulness: High. If your fort is threatened by some particularly nasty disaster (be it zombie goblin horde or Bronze Colossus) simply rush your best and brightest dwarves down to the Nuclear Fallout Bunker and raise the bridge, sealing it off from the rest of the world.

  • MutallyAssuredDestructionBonus: Have a self-destruct lever in the bunker that is pulled once everyone is safely inside.

Obsidian factory[edit]

Main article: Obsidian farming

You need one reservoir of water, and one of magma. Mix, cool, mine, and repeat as necessary.

Difficulty: Medium.

Usefulness: Obsidian is 50% more valuable than flux and 3 times as valuable as ordinary stone, making it ideal for your masons and stone crafters. Done properly, it can also serve as a magma chamber, a drowning chamber and even an obsidianizing chamber that can kill any creature that gets in (except ghosts and possibly vermin).

  • MegaDwarfBonus: Make the system fully automated using computing principles.

Pit o' doom[edit]

Combine with an Execution Tower for maximum z-level executions! Traps which menace with spikes are a must.

Difficulty: Low. You want it nice and deep though.

Usefulness: Dispose of prisoners, execute nobles, gruesome fatal injuries, laugh maniacally. If high enough, you may be able to recover bones from creatures your dwarves refuse to butcher.

  • Bonus: Link the spikes to a lever so you can proceed to make swiss cheese of whatever didn't die from the fall.

Pixel art stockpiles[edit]

Arrange several stockpiles of similar items of different colors (gems work well for this) so the different colors make some sort of picture. Don't forget to set "max bins" to 0 on all the stockpiles so you can actually see the items!

It's probably also a good idea to forbid the items once they're in place, to prevent them from being moved later (and allow you to remove the stockpiles if you want.)

Difficulty: Medium; only tricky parts are (potentially) finding enough items of different colors, and keeping track of which colors are where before the hauling is done.

Usefulness: Negative

Pressure washer[edit]

A huge tower with floodgates at the bottom on one side. When opened, the pressurized water fires out and instantly submerges anything in the way of the flow. Depending on size, can be surprisingly powerful. You can see an example tower here.

Difficulty: Medium, construction technique takes some consideration.

Usefulness: Medium-High. Tested in version with 50 recruits standing in front of it when the floodgates opened, killed 46 of them, including ones not pushed into the pit.

  • Bonus: Fill it with Magma instead (though it won't flow out nearly as quickly).

Quantum Blizzard Cannon[edit]

Do you need to kill something? Is atom-smashing no longer a viable option? Do you wish to bring glory to Armok? Do not fear, the QBC is here! By creating individual stops to fill minecarts with projectiles of your choosing, then loading up to 12 filled minecarts into a final “Launcher” minecart (using a stop designated to fill the "launcher" with minecarts), you can effectively fire as many items as you would like at your foe using a standard minecart shotgun. It is also possible to fill this with fluids, to great effect (and risk of crashing the game). This can often have interesting effects because hitting a goblin with 996 bars of lead at extreme speeds is not good for the squishy bits. The cannon gains its name from its creator.

Difficulty: excessive, lots of time in menus and loading per shot, but really ((Fun))

Usefulness: medium to low. The same trick can be used to move large amounts of items via minecart, but ultimately the QBC is excessive for even the HFS.

Redesign the fortress[edit]

And when we say "redesign", we mean completely replanning and rebuilding the entire fortress, from scratch. Ever thought about a cool thing that you could add to your fortress, but can't because a critical area(such as the dining room, general-purpose stockpile, central workshop area etc.) are in the way? Did you start the fortress by building the most critical areas in the first available spot? Well, now is a good time to get rid of that! For added effects, put the sleeping areas especially close to the booze stockpile so that dwarves are always happy!

Difficulty: Varies depending on the size of the fortress.

Usefulness: Varies depending on how you carry it out, a.k.a. the efficiency of the new organization.

  • Bonus: use obsidian casting to carve the new fortress entirely out of obsidian.
    • DwarfBonus: but keep valuable walls such as native gold.
      • PurpleDwarfBonus: using controlled cave-ins, arrange for your king's new room to be entirely bordered by native gold/platinum/aluminium walls.

Rehabilitation centre[edit]

Had any problems with dwarves charging brainlessly towards the enemy, getting slaughtered, and then starting a tantrum spiral that will destroy your fortress? Turn your prison into a luxurious room full of things that make dwarves happy. Add artifact furniture, beds, a booze stockpile, chains made of gold (or anything valuable,) a waterfall, creatures in cages, etc. Hopefully they will return to society as a happy, productive dwarf.

Difficulty: Low-Medium. Acquiring valuable items and setting up the waterfall can be annoying sometimes. Also you need guards to actually put them in jail. And it can be a real pain when those ungrateful sobs destroy the nice furniture you give them.

Usefulness: High. A tantrum spiral can quickly turn a productive fort of 200+ dwarves into a rioting fortress inhabited by a bunch of insane, miserable dwarves who spend their time punching people and breaking furniture. Don't let it happen to you.

  • MegaDwarfBonus: Points for making every other dwarf drink water and sleep on cheap beds.

Road of the damned[edit]

Create a giant channel filled with spike traps, 10 tiles wide and going all the way from your fort to the map edge. Pave it over with crystal glass so traders can get that foreboding feeling that'll make them seal the deal without bargaining too hard!

Difficulty: Low-mid, depending on the rarity of crystal glass.

Usefulness:Low. The same as a normal road.

  • Bonus: Spike a goblin on every trap!
  • Megabonus: Spike traders who annoy you on the traps!

Roof of the world[edit]

Sick of having your dwarves vomit all the time when they go out to retrieve loot or lumber? Despair no more! Build an almost-infinitely tall tower, and then put a floor on the highest level, spanning the entire map. For extra kicks, make a mechanism that will crash the entire thing upon the heads of the one goblin horde that manages to get through all your other deathtraps.

Difficulty: Medium. Very grueling.

Usefulness: Low, but potentially fortress-saving. (see above)

Sectorized world[edit]

Divide the world edges into multiple sectors and then gate access to each one separately. This allows you to protect your fortress from sieges whilst keeping access to most of the outside world and allowing most traders into and out of the fortress (those unfortunate enough to enter the world from the same direction as the siegers may be screwed, of course). For bonus points, build separate gateable access routes for each sector. For further bonus points, design your fortress so that you can simultaneously allow access to traders at the same time as siegers are exposed to your defensive mechanisms.

Difficulty: Low, unless you allow separate access routes for each sector in which case high.

Usefulness: Moderate, increasing with each bonus you fill. Mostly for those who want to build the best possible defenses. Can also double as a means of easily trapping wild animals.

Self-contained vampire-based factory[edit]

Take advantage of the independence of vampires by building a self-contained factory. The best industries are those that require no special raw materials-- a factory containing both a magma glass furnace and a sand tile, for instance, would work well, as would a clay industry, but if you're feeling ambitious, consider building a vampire into your GCS silk farm-- if you happen to have scored an undead GCS, your vampire won't even spook! You can treat your factory as a piggy bank to be broken into as needed, or for perfect fire-and-forget action, build a dropping undump into the factory, and the vampire will deliver the output to your front door.

Difficulty: The only hard part is getting yourself a vampire.

Usefulness: Depends on how many green glass blocks you plan on using.

Sapient zoo[edit]

Start by creating a zoo containing at least one of every [INTELLIGENT] and [CAN_SPEAK] creature including humans, elves, goblins and kobolds.

  • Bonus: include a berserk dwarf in cage

Difficulty: Easy for some, Hard for others

Usefulness: None, really, a place for dwarves to throw a party.

Self-destruct lever[edit]

A mechanism that, for example, could flood your fort with magma, or release a trapped megabeast. For bonus points, build the whole fort on a single support.

Difficulty: Very high. Extremely fun.

Usefulness: Could serve as kind of a last revenge on a goblin siege, but also highly amusing. If done properly it can make reclaim easier.

  • DorfBonus: Make it have a timer before your fortress self-destructs. You can do this with a water channel, or if you're particularly technical, make a seven segment display.
    • For bonus Dwarfy-ness, make the timer be the depth number of the magma or water that will actually trigger your fortress' destruction.
  • Bonus: Build your fortress high above ground, connect the fortress to a roof through just one support and have the system, when activated, drop the whole construction into the magma sea, destroying the whole thing permanently.
  • FunBonus: use the lever to drop the fortress off a pillar while simultaneously opening the hidden fun stuff, preferably in a whole lot of places.
  • ExtraFunBonus: do as many of these bonuses as you please (as long as they still function together) AND unleash a whole lot of dwarves throwing tantrums near the lever when you wish to set the fun things off.

Shark catcher[edit]

Capture of sharks or other, dangerous fish achieved by making an artificial bay, filling it with cage traps, opening the floodgate to the sea or river and some sort of drainage system, likely pumps and/or floodgates.

Difficulty: Low to Medium as drowning while setting up is very possible with bad planning.

Usefulness: Low, purely aesthetic, but very cool to have a shark infested moat (Potentially kills invaders).

Silk farming[edit]

Main article: Silk farming

Capture a web-slinger (generally a giant cave spider) and build a farm to efficiently harvest its silk.

Difficulty: Low to Medium; the hardest part is generally catching the web-spinner.

Usefulness: Medium to High. Provides an endless supply of potentially-valuable silk cloth and rapidly cross-trains weavers.

Steamed vegetables[edit]

Make a pot and drop elves vegetables in from about three levels up. This makes it so the vegetables do not run get overcooked. Proceed to bask the vegetables in steam.

Difficulty: Medium. Can be annoying to boil some water.

Usefulness: Great way to make friends with the merchants.

  • MegaDwarfBonus: Add goblins seasoning.
  • ArmokDoubleBonus: Use magma mist.
  • DwarfBonus: feed any vegetables you did not steam to your dear friends, the clowns.

Swimming pool[edit]

It's a reservoir that fills to 4/7 exactly. Station soldiers inside, lock them in, and fill. This way they gain swimming skill.

Difficulty: Low. It's just a pair of reservoirs.

Usefulness: The swimming skill is only slightly useful. This is most useful if the entrance to your fort has narrow walkways/moats surrounded by water, and you station your soldiers there. It does help gain attributes though. Though if you utilize a Hydraulic Elevation and Lowering Platform, this is a priceless necessity.

Swimming track[edit]

A large swimming track

A minecart ride that trains swimming safely and automatically.

Difficulty: Medium. Minecart tracks can be fiddly, and adding a non-traversable depth of water makes any mistakes more difficult to fix.

Usefulness: Medium. The swimming skill is only slightly useful, but it does provide cross-training for attribute gains.

Tower of Death-Struction[edit]

Have you ever wondered, "What would it take to make my friends all fall at once into a pit of fun times while also not risking failure?" Elementary, my aspiring architect -- THE TOWER OF DEATH-STRUCTION!

Step 1: Build a tower with a bridge, to allow for non-lethal access to the fortress. Build the tower roughly 25-30 blocks high, though higher towers tend to result in roughly equivalent amounts of Fun. The access bridge should be linked to a lever, to close it like a standard gate.

Step 2: Build a thinner tower 20 blocks away, for maximum bridge length. Any number of middle towers can be constructed, though one is recommended.

Step 3: Build another tower, one that can be ascended by curious friends. Fill it with cage traps, to thin out the number of friends to take up space on the bridge.

Step 4: Build two bridges on either side of the skybridge, to trap attackers on the skybridge.

Step 5: Hook up the skybridges to one lever, and the trap bridge to another.

Once this is done, just wait for a surprise party to be thrown for you. Close the access bridge, forcing the visitors to path onto it. Trap them, and when the time looks right...

Pull the lever, Kronk!

Difficulty: Moderate to hard. If all of your dwarves have cave adaptation, the construction might take a lot longer to complete. As well, the cost of floors and traps alone will mean that just acquiring the materials will need its own stupid dwarf trick.

Usefulness: Low to high, depending on how well you use it. If you forget to open the access gate, you might find your dwarves trapped inside the tower, or even worse, they may run up to the bridge to fight and meet a bad time. Also, the goblin corpses piling up in the spike pit might cause extra fun depending on how regularly you take care of it. If done correctly, this tower might become the most efficient and effective defence against all problems that one could possibly ask for.

  • Bonus: Build enough middle towers to build a bridge path long enough to trap an entire siege and drop them onto spikes below.
  • SuperBonus: Build the towers above a river.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Build the towers above a lava pit.
  • SuperMegaDwarfBonus: Build the towers above a ticket straight to the circus.
  • ArmokBonus: Build the towers out of Slade (Note: This should be impossible, so if you do it...))
  • SuperMegaUltraHardcoreDwarvenMasterpieceArtifactBonus: Build the fortress at the top of the tower that the goblins have to try to get to.

Underground forest[edit]

Main article: Tree farming

Break into an underground cavern, make some muddy floors over a big area and wait.

Difficulty: Medium - need to dig out a suitably large area, then find a way of introducing water to the area and subsequently draining or evaporating it.

Usefulness: Depends on size (bigger is better) as well as proximity to wood stockpiles. A tree farm outside the caverns can grow trees from all 3 layers, and you'll never have to worry about hostile creatures threatening your wood cutters.

Underground perpetual motion power plant[edit]

Combine with a use for the power and you either have an awesome setup, or a ticking time bomb.

Difficulty: High. Maintaining the correct water level is annoying difficult at times. Note: Incredibly easy with an aquifer.

Usefulness: Depends on size of plant and what it's connected to. Also useful as a puzzle for adventurers.

Underwater statue room[edit]

A simple room filled with statues that just also happens to be flooded. Simply dig a room near to a water source smooth and engrave the walls and floors then fill with statues. Dig a tunnel to the water source and a separate escape route. seal both off with floodgates pull the levers in the right order and bam! underwater statue room. For added effect make the meeting room a room directly above with a glass floor.

Difficulty: Low.

Usefulness: Absolutely positively none.

  • Bonus: Build it on area with trees and shrubs; make walls from ice or use windows; fill it with fish and merfolk; now you'll get a big aquarium
  • Note: It doesn't count if you accidentally flood your fortress and wind up with one of these. It does count if one of your nobles has an unfortunate accident in their sculpture garden.

U.R.I.S.T. artificial intelligence[edit]

Basically, a dwarf in a bunker that controls your fortress. Being that there are no supercomputers in DF at the moment, we'll have to use the closest substitute, a dwarf. Seal your dwarf in a room full of levers that activate various floodgates, bridges, doors, hatch covers, traps, etc. Make sure this room has no exits or entrances, but it needs a luxurious bedroom and dining area, and you must include a chute for dropping in food biomass and alcohol coolant fluid. Profile the levers so that they can only be used by the A.I. dwarf.

It would be a good idea to make the system into two rooms. The food/drink/bed room and the lever room. Should you need to add more levers, you can lock the A.I. dwarf outside the lever room and have your mechanics set up more levers without interacting with or releasing the A.I.

You can make the lodging room suited for the particular dwarf by adding furniture made from their favorite materials, and smoothing and engraving everything. Use quantum stockpiling to give them 10+ years of food and drink. Make sure the A.I. is unable to communicate with other dwarves. His/her mood must not be affected by the deaths of the walking meat-bags who tried to befriend him/her.

In order to ensure that your A.I. doesn't find sleep interfering with crucial lever pulling, you might consider incorporating an alarm clock. If a goblin siege turns up on your doorstep, a single external lever to dump 7/7 of water on the sleeping A.I. might well save your fortress (and is so much cooler than having backup levers in your meeting hall).

You must also make a snazzy/lame acronym name for your AI, here are some examples:

  • A.R.M.O.K. - All-Reaching Machine Of Killing
  • A.S.S. - Almost-autonomous Systems Selector
  • C.A.T. - Creepy Autonomous Technology
  • D.E.E.P.E.R. - Dwarf of Engineering the Eldritch and Practical Exploitation of Resources
  • D.I.E.D. - Dedicated Irrigation and Everything else Dwarf(s)
  • D.O.M.E.S. - Dwarf Operated Mechanics and Engineering System
  • D.O.R.F. - Does Orders Rather Fast
  • D.O.S. - Dwarf Operating System
  • D.W.A.R.F. - Drains Water And Recruits Farmers
  • G.L.A.D.O.S. - Genetic Lifeform And Dwarf Operating System
  • H.A.L. - Hairy Alternate Lifeform
  • M.A.G.M.A. - Massively Alcoholic Gear-Machine Assembly
  • N.O.B.L.E. - Narcissistic Obnoxious Boastful Laughable Excrement
  • P.O.T.A.T.O. - Possibly Organic Technically Alive Trash Omitted
  • U.R.I.S.T. - Underground Reasonably Intelligent Settlement Technologist
  • V.A.C.A.T.E.D. - Vampire Assisted Computerized Assembly Terrorizes Extra-Dwarves
  • V.O.D.A.P.H.O.N.E. - Vampire Operated Defence Apparatus, Perpetrating Harm Of Nefarious Entities (See Bonus for more information)

Difficulty: Medium. Setting up all the levers and lodgings can be a micromanagement hassle. Further research is required as to how well the A.I. will fit into a dwarven economy.

Usefulness: High. Having a dwarf dedicated to pulling levers will ensure that they are pulled on time. Additionally, you will have a constantly-ecstatic dwarf who is virtually invulnerable to all threats. Should your fortress be slaughtered by invaders or drowned by flooding or tantrum spiraled, your fortress will be preserved until more migrants arrive, or the AI runs out of food.

Bonus: Make the A.I. dwarf a vampire. Vampires don't need food, alcohol, or sleep and cannot age, which makes them perfect for the job. As an added bonus, keeping a vampire in this way will make your fortress completely indestructible, as sealing him in will prevent the possibility of the vampire of being killed in combat or from a syndrome, while keeping the vampire from making friends he will inevitably outlive will prevent him from going insane. (It also ensures that the bloodsucker won't use any of your dwarves as a midnight snack.) NOTE: Vampires may still go insane without any blood. Might be worth considering adding on a 3rd "feeding chamber" where you assign an unfortunate victim to sleep whenever the vampire gets hungry.


Dwarven Organic Switch Toggle, Neutered Gastrectomied Overpersistent Sober Prisoner. Goblins have several advantages over dwarves in the lever pulling department: they live forever, do not breed or tantrum, and need not eat, drink, or sleep. Seal one or more goblins in your supercomputer complex, and use their predictable pathing in combination with instantly lockable doors and pressure plates to make dwarven lever pulling a thing of an older, less advanced era.

Also known by several product names:

  • G.O.B.L.I.N.A.T.O.R. - Goblin Operated Bastion of Logic to Infalliably Neutralize Antiquated Types of Operational Regimes
  • N.G.O.K.A.N.G. - Nefarious Goblin Of Killing And Needless Griping
  • S.T.O.Z.U. - Secret Technological Operative who Zaps Unruly Nobles

Difficulty: Medium. While goblin pressure plate runners require more space than dwarven lever pullers, once their room is set up, it's done, and easily copied for the next one. With only one goblin, you'll need a pressure plate for every possible combination of lever states, but it's easy to add more goblins instead.

Usefulness: High. Instant response time (<50 ticks is possible) can make lever worries a thing of the past. The D.O.S.T.N.G.O.S.P. requires absolutely no maintenance once set up. Unlike with the U.R.I.S.Ts of the previous generation, modern POW-based computing is never held hostage to eating, drinking, or breaks. Stay tuned for the next-generation C.A.C.A.M.E.!


Vomitoria: preventing cave adaptation since 23a.

Prevents cave adaptation. It's like the greenhouse, only instead of a farm, it's a meeting hall or barracks. Since you can't build tables or beds outside, build the room and channel down to it. Variant: above-ground statue garden or zoo.

Difficulty: Low.

Usefulness: Low. Make sure to wall the pit in, or it will become very fun once goblin archers become involved.

Bonus: Make an ACTUAL Vomitorium for this - Build a meeting hall with a grated floor. Let cave adaptation set in, then open the place up for the most extravagant and lavish of parties every 3~4 years! Those will be some Armok grade hangovers though....

Water tower[edit]

This functions much like real life: Lifting water above ground level creates pressure, allowing buried pipes to deliver water to any elevation below the top of the tower. This is smarter, faster, and cheaper than a map-spanning raised aqueduct. A pump stack at the river, raising water into a sealed, pressurized U-bend, can deliver large volumes of water to whatever level you want, very quickly.

Difficulty: Medium. No harder than any other pump stack to design, but high pressure can amplify minor errors into abandon-worthy disasters. You could conceivably divert the river into your fort. Be sure to make an off-switch.

Usefulness: Medium. Once the pump stack is operating, you no longer need to be anywhere near your water source.


By creating a vertical "Hydraulic Elevation and Lowering Platform" chamber, or HELP (so named for the cries of the passenger dwarf) with lever controlled water levels, you can move a dwarf up several z-levels without any stairs. All it takes is the dwarf's ability to swim up to the surface of the water to breathe.

Difficulty: Medium. Moderate possibility of Fun by way of flooding your fortress. Any dwarves that can't swim will instead experience Fun when using the Watervator. The actual construction time and resource usage is very low. Using the Watervator often leads to unhappy thoughts about drowning

Usefulness: Low to Medium. The Watervator requires manual micromanaging, while stairs do not. On the other hand, it can be used to create a pathway that most Dwarves enemies will simply be unable to use. Those that can would still be doing so at great risk of drowning or falling to their death. It is recommend that with the exception of the entrance you use stairs.

  • Bonus: Utilize vampires (who can't drown).
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Utilize trained fish.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Engineer it so that it performs a full cycle on one activation of a pressure plate and include that pressure plate as a part of the patrol route, then create a reverse Watervator and also include it as a part of same patrol route, so that your militia automatically uses it to get in and out the fortress.

Werewolf clock[edit]

The changing of the werewolf is the most reliable indicator of the passing of seasons. For precisely one day per full moon, he will go berserk and trigger standard pressure plates.

Difficulty: You will get a were sooner or later. Getting him pitted in the right spot without havoc is the hard part.

Usefulness: Low/None. As of Premium, the lunar phase is permanently affixed to the user interface, making a werewolf clock frankly redundant.

  • Bonus: Make the werewolf do most of the work himself.

Zombie thunderdome[edit]

Embark in a reanimating biome in the current version (preferably savage as well), find or dig a deep pit, and dump any unused (non-dorf) corpses and butchery products into it. They will animate and begin to walk around, providing you with the endless entertainment afforded by watching horse hair walk. Make sure the pit is deep enough not to scare your dwarves!

Difficulty: Low.

Usefulness: Medium. Keeping your fort safe from the threat of animated beak dog beaks is worth any price. However, there may be better things to do with your time.

  • Bonus: Set up a series of defenses that drop invaders into the pit.
  • DwarfBonus: Set up a series of bridges and walls that flings invaders into the pit.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Drop a Megabeast into the pit and watch it do battle with multiple layers of undead.
  • CavernFunBonus: Channel the bottom into a cavern and let your zombies hunt the wonderful creatures there.
    • BonusFunBonus: Let them hunt Clowns as well.
  • ZombieDwarfBonus: Ignore the suggestion above and dump dwarven corpses in anyway.

Zombie shooting gallery[edit]

In a reanimating biome, build a holding room for your undead, wall it off with fortifications. In the adjacent (accessible) area, build an archery range and order your archery squads to train there. Your marksdwarves will go to their scheduled archery training and whenever a zombie is raised, they'll switch focus from the boring old archery target and instead shoot down the undead. Once the zombies are dead, they'll return to regular shooting practice until the corpses rise again. The raised corpses cannot attack through fortifications and thus cause no unhappy thoughts from seeing them, but will spook haulers trying to collect errant socks from the shooting range.

A viable (if finicky) alternative to a reanimating biome could be a necromancer. This has the benefit of being more controllable, but comes with the threat of intelligent undead and their abilities. Most would be relatively harmless or a minor inconvenience, but some are potentially lethal to your dwarves. Whether or not this is a downside depends on how many corpses you have available to restock the gallery.

Difficulty: Low. The difficulty lies in finding a source of permanent undead, the actual construction is trivial.

Usefulness: Medium. This setup significantly increases the skill gain from bolts used by training dwarves, since every bolt shot at a zombie counts as combat action, giving much more experience. The scheme works without any supervision once set up.