- This page deals entirely with manufactured weapons. For natural weapons, see Natural weapon.
A weapon in the sense described on this page is any object specifically designed to be wielded in the pursuit of bodily harm to others. In fortress mode, weapons can be made at a metalsmith's forge (all metal weapons) using a single bar of metal, a bowyer's workshop (wooden and bone crossbows), or a craftsdwarf's workshop (obsidian short swords).
 Native vs. foreign
Weapons can be split in two categories: those that you can produce, and those that you can't. Weaponsmiths can produce seven types of native weapons at a metalsmith's forge, but there are also fourteen foreign weapons that can be found in the hands of enemy combatants, or bought from trading caravans. These may use skills your dwarves are unfamiliar with. It is impossible to buy them in bulk, and they are of variable quality and material. Like all weapons they tend to be expensive as trade good. They may be worth using when they are product of a strange mood (see strange moods, below). Since they are common for other nations, it is important to understand their properties when you have to fight enemies wielding them.
 Types of weapons
From another point of view there are four categories: slashing, piercing, crushing, and ranged.
Slashing weapons, like short swords and battle axes work by concentrating their force along a sharp blade, allowing them to make gashes in or completely sever body parts. Given the opportunity they make the quickest work of their foes. They are far less effective against armored targets, however, as armor will block most hits and convert them into weaker blunt damage.
Piercing weapons, like spears and picks work by concentrating their force at a point, allowing them to punch through armor and damage internal organs. They often get stuck, giving their wielder further leverage on the target.
Crushing weapons, like war hammers and maces, work by concentrating their force behind a large, blunt mass, putting dents in armor and breaking bones beneath their blows. These weapons are slow to kill their targets - dwarves have a habit of breaking every bone in their opponent's body before moving on to the next target - but are the most effective weapons against heavy and heavily armored foes which shrug off damage more easily.
Ranged weapons - crossbows, bows, and blowguns - are effectively piercing weapons which work at a distance. When used in melee combat as a bludgeon, ranged weapons produce blunt weapon damage instead.
There exists one more kind of weapon, so-called training weapons. Training weapons are all wooden, and all made at the carpenter's workshop. Training axes, spears, and short swords can be constructed in dwarf fortress mode. They do little blunt impact damage, due to the poor material properties of wood. They were intended for avoiding injuries to training dwarves during sparring, but are now redundant, since regular weapons no longer cause injuries during sparring. Training weapons can still be useful in danger rooms and live training, but it is preferable to avoid having your dwarves become "attached" to wooden weapons.
 Types of targets
One can divide the types of foes you will meet into three categories. The first is organic and unarmored (or poorly armored) enemies, like thieves, non-sentient creatures (be it local wildlife or siege mounts), semi-megabeasts and megabeasts besides the bronze colossus. Weapons that deal slashing damage work best and quickest against these types of enemies, severing whole body parts and leaving them severely incapacitated.
The second is organic and armored enemies, like ambushers and siegers. The way armor works, slashing blows that are countered by a piece of armor are converted into generally less effective blunt damage; the best damage against these kinds of enemies are piercing weapons, which punch through armor and damage their internal organs, incapacitating them and allowing the wielder to finish them off. Crushing weapons work as well, although they are slower.
The third and most dangerous types of enemies are inorganic enemies (or ones that don't feel pain), which are titans, forgotten beasts, bronze colossuses, and hidden fun stuff. These enemies have no internal organs, and depending on the material they are made of, may be very difficult to slash at (although a forgotten beast made of, for instance, mud is laughably easy to kill). Against these enemies, crushing weapons are the best, because they can chip at their foes until they collapse from cumulative damage.
 Weapon skill
Every type of weapon has its own associated military skill. The higher a dwarf is in his skill with a weapon, the better he will be able to use it in combat, connecting hammer blows to more advantageous sweet spots and sending spears right through enemy hearts and lungs with greater accuracy. The higher the weapon skill, the better at fighting the dwarf will be.
Once a dwarf has reached "Great" skill in a certain weapon, they become weapon lords for that specific weapon. They are listed as such on the status screen, will love fighting, and will no longer complain about long patrol duties. Weapon skill is trained in fighting enemies in combat, demonstrations, and combat drills, but if you leave your dwarves shieldless, a danger room will train their skill very, very quickly. Note that this does not quite work for marksdwarves - danger rooming ranged weapons increases their melee skill, increasing their hammerdwarf skill, although this may be the point.
A dwarf that has used a particular weapon for a long time will grow attached to it, equipping it whenever their uniform allows them to. This is fine if they are wielding a ☼Steel Mace☼, but a major problem if they are wielding what is meant to be a training weapon (be it a wooden axe or a copper spear). You can avoid this pitfall by not using training weapons and not forging weapons until you have real weaponsmithing underway. These events generate announcements.
In addition, dwarves that reach a certain number or level of kills with a weapon will name it. This prompts a major announcement, and usually happens after a dwarf manages to put down something significant — a forgotten beast for instance. Only the last shot counts for the kill. Once named, the weapon will appear in the artifact list, albeit in blue.
Dwarves may also become attached to shields and name them in the same way.
 Quality and strange moods
The quality of a weapon has a significant (and currently poorly understood) impact on its combat performance, as well as its value.
| Weapon To-Hit /|
Armor Deflect Modifier
|*Item Name*||Superior quality||4x||unknown|
|«Item Name»||Decorated object||Varies||unknown|
Weaponsmithing is a moodable profession, which means that you can get artifact weapons. This is a bit of a mixed bag: although a legendary armorsmith would be more useful, it's certainly better than a legendary tanner. Artifact weapons have a 3x combat bonus and can be made out of a wide range of materials; ordinarily a rainbow trout bone spear is impossible, but a moody dwarf can create one with a single trout bone. Artifact weapons made of totally inappropriate materials are inferior to regular ones made of weapons-grade metal, although the exact balance is still under discussion.
Dwarves in strange moods are not held to producing native weapons, and in fact often don't, as the number of foreign weapons outnumbers the natives. In the case where they create a valuable and battle-worthy foreign weapon (like a steel two-handed sword), it's worth it to manually go through your dwarves to find someone who can best utilize it, and assign it to him. See the caveats of foreign weapons however, discussed below.
 Weapons as tools
Hunters gain marksdwarf skill from hunting, but wood cutters do not gain axedwarf weapon skill from cutting trees. Miners gain mining skill, which is not considered a military skill, but is used as a weapon skill when fighting with a pick. A dwarf using a weapon as a tool may opt not to use the same tool as a military weapon, instead dropping their tool to pick up another from a stockpile. Dwarves may carry only one weapon as a tool at a time; for example, woodcutters/hunters will drop their axes then go and pick up crossbows every time they begin hunting.
- Main article: Ammunition
Crossbows and other ranged weapons require ammunition (in the case of the crossbow, bolts). This ammunition is carried in a quiver in packs of about 25, and when they run out they will switch to using their ranged weapons as crude hammers. It's often a good idea to try to get them to retreat once they run out of ammo — crossbows are meant for shooting, not bashing.
 Secondary weapons
Although it sounds like a cool idea, equipping a marksdwarf with a backup short sword just in case doesn't often work, as dwarves are just as quick to run up their foes and start bashing them with a crossbow as they are to draw their swords and do it properly.
 Native weapons
|Type||Size||Attack||Attack type||Contact Area||Penetration||Velocity||Skill Used||Hands Used||Metal||Wood||Bone||Obsidian|
Note that although the pick is a foreign weapon, it can be produced by dwarves and is therefore considered native.
- If you find your dwarves wearing more than one weapon -- or any unwanted armor, for that matter -- one way to get rid of them is to dump the weapon from their - inventory screen. This does not always work, as they might re-equip the item. Another option is to remove any weapons and/or shields listed on their military equip screen. This too does not always work. At least "left-handedness" seems to not pose a problem. If you cancel the work by - and selecting a job that needs a tool they will sometimes put it back in the pile. Example: Miners use picks, cancel their mining job and they will put the pick away AFTER you ordered it to be dumped.
- Using weapons is much more effective than unarmed combat -- an untrained swordsdwarf with an iron weapon can defeat a grand master wrestler, provided neither is wearing armor.
- Larger weapons with more heft tend to do more damage. How damage is calculated is currently not fully understood, and this is an area requiring more research.
- The size for a weapon is its volume in cm3.
- Attacks of type EDGE will either slice or pierce their target, depending on the contact area and penetration depth, while BLUNT attacks tend to damage internal organs without necessarily causing significant damage to outer layers.
- The contact area represents the area of contact of the weapon, and the penetration determines how deep the attack goes (and is apparently ignored entirely for BLUNT attacks -- indicated by numbers in parentheses). Large contact areas combined with low penetration represent slashing attacks, while small contact areas with high penetration behave as piercing attacks.
- The velocity seems to adjust the amount of actual force used during the attack (otherwise based on the size of the weapon, the material from which the weapon is made, and the strength of the wielder) - for example, war hammers have a 2x velocity multiplier, presumably to model the fact that the hammer's mass is concentrated at the tip which, when combined with a long handle, permits swinging it harder than a weapon whose mass is evenly distributed (such as a sword).
- Crossbows can be made of metal, wood, and bone. Metal crossbows are made by a weaponsmith at a forge, while wood and bone crossbows are made by a bowyer at a bowyer's workshop. The material of a crossbow does not affect its firing ability, only its melee damage. A dwarf's marksmanship skill is only affected by the core quality of the bow. This may be a consideration when deciding which dwarf you want outfitting your marksdwarves: a legendary bowyer is a better choice than a proficient weaponsmith.
 Training weapons
|Type||Size||Attack||Attack type||Contact Area||Penetration||Velocity||Skill Used|
 Foreign weapons
Using any multigrasp weapon in a single hand (i.e. with a shield in the other hand) gives you a disability to hit. Do not equip two-handed swords with a shield, for instance.
|Type||Size||Attack||Attack type||Contact Area||Penetration||Velocity||Skill Used||Used by||Hands Used|
|2H Sword||900||Slash||Edge||100000||8000||1.25x||Sword||Goblin, Human||Multigrasp|
|Blowgun (Melee)||150||Bash||Blunt||10000||(4000)||1.25x||Sword||Subterranean animal peoples||Singlegrasp?|
|Bow (Melee)||300||Bash||Blunt||10000||(4000)||1.25x||Sword||Elf, Goblin, Human, Kobold||Singlegrasp?|
|Great Axe||1300||Hack||Edge||60000||8000||1.25x||Axe||Goblin, Human||Multigrasp|
|Dagger (Large)||200||Slash||Edge||1000||800||1.25x||Dagger||Goblin, Kobold||Singlegrasp|
|Long Sword||700||Slash||Edge||60000||6000||1.25x||Sword||Elf, Goblin, Human||Singlegrasp|
Weapons have a minimum size to use at all, and a minimum size to use one-handed. Adult dwarves vary in size between 33750 and 93750 (average 60000) based on their height and broadness.
Unfortunately this is currently bugged in Fortress mode.Bug:0005812 'One-handed' vs. 'two-handed' checks are performed correctly, but 'can wield' vs. 'can't wield' ignores height and broadness modifiers. So Dwarves in Fortress mode will never equip two-handed swords, great axes, halberds, mauls, or pikes. Other weapons have a minimum wielding size of less than 60000, and are wielded one-handed if the individual dwarf is large enough. See this forum post.
The following table shows approximately how many dwarves should be able to use each weapon one or two handed (see this forum post for details), with all fractional numbers being approximate. While there are seven categories each for height and broadness, the number used is chosen randomly from within each category.
Where the size checking bug affects weapon wielding for dwarves, correct approximate figures are given in brackets.
|Type|| Min Size
| Min Size
| Dwarves Wield
| Dwarves Wield
|Battle Axe||42500||47500||1/49 (0)||10/49 (11/49)||38/49|
|Pick||42500||47500||1/49 (0)||10/49 (11/49)||38/49|
|Training Axe||42500||47500||1/49 (0)||10/49 (11/49)||38/49|
|Training Spear||42500||47500||1/49 (0)||10/49 (11/49)||38/49|
|2H Sword||62500||77500||32/49 (ALL)||14/49 (0)||3/49 (0)|
|Flail||42500||47500||1/49 (0)||10/49 (11/49)||38/49|
|Great Axe||62500||77500||32/49 (ALL)||14/49 (0)||3/49 (0)|
|Halberd||62500||77500||32/49 (ALL)||14/49 (0)||3/49 (0)|
|Long Sword||52500||57500||11/49 (0)||7/49 (18/49)||31/49|
|Maul||62500||77500||32/49 (ALL)||14/49 (0)||3/49 (0)|
|Pike||62500||77500||32/49 (ALL)||14/49 (0)||3/49 (0)|
|Metal||Value||Density||Impact yield||Impact fracture||Impact elasticity||Shear yield||Shear fracture||Shear elasticity||Notes|
|Platinum||40||21.4||350||700||152||100||200||164||Only available as Artifact Weapons.|
|Shell||1||0.50||200||200||100||115||130||100||Only available as Artifact Weapons.|
|Leather||1||0.50||10||10||50000||25||25||50000||Material data added for comparison.|
|Obsidian||3||2.67||120||120||100||15||15||100||Only available for Short Swords.|
|Crystal glass||10||2.6||1000||1000||2222||33||33||113||Only available as Trap Components.|
|Clear glass||5||2.6||1000||1000||2222||33||33||113||Only available as Trap Components.|
|Green glass||2||2.6||1000||1000||2222||33||33||113||Only available as Trap Components.|
- Combat information is used internally by the game to determine the combat properties of weapons and armor made from this metal:
- Density: Used in conjunction with other factors - heavier weapons (higher numbers) hit with more force, light weapons tend to have less penetration. Value shown here is g/cm3, which is the raw value divided by 103
- Impact yield: Used for blunt-force combat; higher is better. This is the raw value divided by 103 (i.e., kPa).
- Impact fracture: Used for blunt-force combat; higher is better. This is the raw value divided by 103 (i.e., kPa).
- Impact elasticity (or strain at yield): Used for blunt-force combat; lower is better. This is the raw value.
- Shear yield: Used for cutting calculations in combat; higher is better. This is the raw value divided by 103 (i.e., kPa).
- Shear fracture: Used for cutting calculations in combat; higher is better. This is the raw value divided by 103 (i.e., kPa).
- Shear elasticity (or strain at yield): Used for cutting calculations in combat; lower is better. This is the raw value.
- General Term Explanations (From Wikipedia)
- Yield Strength - The stress at which material strain changes from elastic deformation to plastic deformation, causing it to deform permanently.
- Fracture Strength - The stress coordinate on the stress-strain curve at the point of rupture.
- Stress - Force per area = F/A
- Strain - Deformation of a solid due to stress = Stress/Young's Modulus
- Yield Strength is the amount of stress required to permanently deform (bend) a material (plastic deformation).
- Fracture Strength is the amount of stress required to permanently break (rupture) a material.
- Elasticity or Strain at yield is the amount of deformation (bending) that occurs at the yield point.
Yield strength combined with strain at yield can tell what a material will do under stress (be it from a hammer, axe, or arrow); higher yield means that it takes more stress to deform, while lower strain at yield means that it will deform less when stress is applied.
 Combat testing
In regards to edged weaponry: Adamantine and steel take first and second place respectively, with iron the third best material in the game, matched by the bronzes. Beyond that is copper, the second worst material, and silver is the worst weapon material available (and due to the existence of training weapons, not even useful in that regard).
Additionally, with regards to blunt weapons almost all of the non-adamantine materials perform equally well, with a very slight edge towards steel and silver. Here is the thread with the details: .
Keep in mind with how unbelievably complicated this system is nothing should be taken as word of law yet.
|Armor||Adamantine||Steel||Iron||Bronze, Bismuth Bronze||Copper|
|Edged Weapons||Adamantine||Steel||Iron||Bronze, Bismuth Bronze||Copper||Silver||For piercing iron armor, copper is better than bronze. For piercing copper or bronze armor, bronze is better than copper.|
|Ammunition||Steel, Iron, Bronze, Bismuth Bronze, Copper, Silver||Adamantine||Adamantine bolts deflect off of adamantine armor, but otherwise their performance is on par with bolts made out of other metals.|
|Blunt Weapons||Platinum||Steel, Silver||Copper, Bismuth Bronze, Bronze, Iron||Adamantine||All six standard weapon metals perform nearly identically. Steel has a slightly higher rate of critical wounds, while silver is slightly more likely to penetrate armor. Platinum (only available as artifact weapons) has twice the density of silver and several other improved properties, making it the best metal for impact weapons, though very limited in production.|
Cross referencing this table with the table at the top of this section seems to indicate that low densities, high impact fractures, and high shear fractures contribute to the killing power of edged weapons.
Even in 15×(steel armor+silver war hammer) versus 15×(adamantine armor+adamantine battle axe) matches, hammerdwarves won with less than 50% casualties (mostly one-strike kills). However, when the dwarves in question were without armor or only wearing leather/cloth, the result was inverted — axedwarves won with less than 50% casualties. In battles against megabeasts, 6 silver hammerdwarves were barely able to scratch a bronze colossus (attacks were glancing away) due to bronze being a better "weapon" material.
This is because silver has the highest solid density of all materials that can regularly be made into weapons by dwarves. Tests show that indeed gold and platinum (increasingly dense) do increasing amounts of damage, and that war hammers remain the tool of choice, however they can only be produced by a moody dwarf (and a very lucky one at that).
For more on ranged ammunition see the forum thread Dwarven Research: A Comparison Study on the Effectiveness of Bolts vs Armors.
More arena tests are available in the Military testing article.
There is a bug with melee weapon momentum that causes certain weapons to swing faster than they should do, giving them greater performance. This bug is based on the weight of the weapon, with weapons weighing just under a whole number getting the greatest benefit. Two major beneficiaries of this weight bug are copper whips and iron or steel picks.
- Equipping weapons/armor on military is erraticBug:535
- 'One-handed' vs. 'two-handed' checks are performed correctly, but 'can wield' vs. 'can't wield' ignores height and broadness modifiers, so dwarves in Fortress mode cannot equip two-handed swords, great axes, halberds, mauls, or pikes.Bug:5812
 See also
- Outstanding research on weapons and armor by Shinziril
|Ranged||Blowgun & Blowdarts • Bow & Arrows • Crossbow & Bolts|
|Blunt||Flail • Mace • Maul • War hammer • Whip|
|Edged: Slashing||Battle axe • Great axe • Halberd • Long sword • Scimitar • Scourge • Short sword • Two-handed sword|
|Edged: Piercing||Dagger • Morningstar • Pick • Pike • Spear|
|Primary Industries||Wood - Stone - Farming - Alcohol - Fuel - Fishing - Meat - Metal - Beekeeping - Poultry - Extract|
|Secondary Industries||Armor - Arms - Finished goods - Soap - Glass - Gem - Textile - Ceramic|
|Tertiary Industries||Military - Health care - Trade|