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v0.31:Danger room

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This article is about an older version of DF.

"Danger room" is a term used to describe a place your dwarves go to be continually poked by upright spikes. This serves two purposes: first, it trains your dwarves in Armor User skill, Shield User, Dodger, Fighter and to some extent also weapons skills (if they manage to block attacks with them). Second, it helps keep your doctors' skills from rusting and your coffin makers busy (rarely).

Danger rooms are a useful feature and a great workaround for regular training being too slow. A few people consider this an exploit, because it is incredibly effective. Reported as Bug:3855.


The first design challenge is to provide the proper level of lethality. Do not use actual spears or menacing spikes, only training spears. Up to ten spears may be placed in a single tile. If you want a lot of coverage and don't have much wood, one will suffice. The more spears are in a tile, the faster a danger room will work. Ten training spears will do just as much damage as one training spear, with the only difference being that bruised ears and broken thumbs might appear a little faster.

Access control[edit]

The second design challenge is access control. If you want your entire fortress to spank face these perils, then put the spikes in a major hallway. If you want only your military to be trained, put them in or behind a barracks, a patrol route, or some other place civilians are unlikely to go.


The third challenge is providing an appropriate triggering frequency. Some signal must be sent to raise and lower the spikes while the dwarves are on them. This can be accomplished by hooking the spikes to a lever or pressure plate, or by using a repeater. If a lever is used, then it should be near the room, so you can keep track of what's happening in the room while still knowing where the control lever is.


The idea is that as dwarves stand on the trapped tiles, every time the spikes come out of the ground due to the trap being activated, they gain skills in whatever stops it - armor if their armor deflects it, weapon if they block it with their weapon, shield for shield, and dodging if they jump out of the way. As written here [1], pick-armed dwarves get trained into legendary miners.

Specific Design Suggestions[edit]

Here are a few specific designs.

One Tile, extendable[edit]

If you set the door to locked, the soldiers will only have the spike tile as their barracks, for great efficiency. They will all stack on this one tile and train. Set the door to Internal to adjust the size of the barracks as needed. You might have to unlock the door for new squads so they can path to the armor stand once.

═════╗ + Door
  ^+♫║ ^ Spikes
═════╝ ♫ Armor stand

Simple Minimal Manual Danger Room[edit]

Create a 1x4 room with each of the four tiles having upright spike "traps". A full room will of course require making 40 training spears. As always you can load each tile with less than 10 training spears if you need to, but the more you use the faster they train and considering that you have to use the room manually it makes sense to make the training as fast as possible. Place a door on the room and forbid pets, or pasture all the pets. (See #Caveats below.) Place a lever outside and link the lever to all four spike sets.

Equip your units will full armor, a shield, and ideally make them all wear a cloak to help protect the face. (The cloak will actually stop most of the hits to the body.) Manually order your unit(s) to move to the far tile of the room and lock the door once they're all in. (They won't all move to this tile, but they should move to within 3 tiles of it fitting them all into the room.) (It does not appear to matter if you have a multitude of dwarves packed into 4 tiles.) Add a (P)ull The Lever task to the lever and set it to (r)epeat. Leave the dwarves inside until they start to get unhappy from the long "patrol" then let them leave. This trains the Fighter and Shield skills very quickly. However, if you want to quickly train Weapon skills, make the dwarves unequip the shield before entering the room.

A larger than 1x4 room may work better for training dodging but this is unverified.

Simple Semi-Automated Danger Room[edit]

As above, but use Scheduling along with a Burrow to cycle trainees through the room. Define a burrow that covers the inside of the room, then schedule some number of dwarves per unit to "Defend The Burrow". Add a repeating pull the lever task to the lever. The dwarves will rotate through the danger room according to schedule. The constant lever pulling will of course require a dwarf.)

Fully Automated Danger Room[edit]

Same as above, but use a Repeater to eliminate the need for a lever pulling dwarf. The advantage is that you no longer need a dwarf to pull the lever repeatedly, but a repeater is somewhat complex to set up and is slower than a repeating lever pull task.

Semi or Fully Automated Fort-Wide Danger Room[edit]

Instead of placing the training spear "spikes" in a room, place them in a high traffic area of the fort and use one of the methods above to set up repeating extension/retraction of the spikes. Over time this will expose most or all of your dwarves to the spear attacks, but it is advisable to make sure that all of the dwarves are at the very minimum wearing a cloak to protect them from injury, and ideally wearing full armor.

Doing this will probably kill all of your animals eventually unless they're confined to a Pasture or otherwise confined, and will eventually kill all infants (and possibly children) unless child-carrying females and children somehow forbidden from the area using a Burrow.


Note that pets will attempt to follow soldiers into the danger room, getting perforated in the process, and leaving corpses and causing unhappy thoughts; if there is a refuse stockpile or tomb that the pet can go to, a flood of job cancellation messages may result until the spikes cease their triggering. The same applies if a soldier who is carrying an infant enters the danger room.

As of version 0.31.20, pets can be put in a pasture for their safety -- yes, even the non-grazers.

To deal with the babies, you can either avoid recruiting (married) females into your military, or you can create male-only squads which you send into the danger room. Once you have dwarves who are very experienced in dodging and shield use, they will be able to train other dwarves much faster than if you simply have beginners training with each other. You can disband your male-only squads when the males are experienced enough, and mix them into all of your squads so that they can help train the rest of the soldiers.

Exploitation of danger rooms[edit]

If you are not averse to cheating-by-modding, change the required skill for a weapon in the weapon raw text. Dwarves will gain that skill while in a danger room at the same prodigious rate. In this way it is possible to train legendary marksdwarves or even teachers using training axes.

It's also possible to train swimming, by arranging a means of flooding your danger room and locking your military within.

Military and defense
Managing soldiers
Design tips