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This article is about an older version of DF.
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After the death of an intelligent creature (or a dwarf), its soul may occasionally come back as a ghost Ñ. In a Dwarven fortress, dead dwarves have a chance of returning as ghosts if they are not properly buried or memorialized after their death. Ghosts often take to haunting their relatives and friends, following them around on the same tile, as well as lingering wistfully near areas they frequented in life or the spot they died. However, not all ghosts bear their anguish calmly.

Ghosts are able to pass through walls and cannot be harmed by atom-smashing. They can be targeted in the Squad kill screen (s,k) even though they won't actually be attacked. Ghosts can be dismissed by burying the remains or by creating, engraving, and building rock slabs in memory of the deceased.

Paranormal Activity[edit]

Ghosts haunting the fortress will occasionally perform some of the following actions, based on their temperament:

  • <ghost> sucks the wind out of <dwarf>
  • <ghost> raises a high fever in <dwarf>
  • <ghost> makes <dwarf> convulse and retch
  • <ghost> inflicts excruciating pain upon <dwarf>
  • <ghost> causes a spell of dizziness in <dwarf>
  • <ghost> paralyzes <dwarf>
  • <ghost> stuns <dwarf>
  • <ghost> batters <dwarf>
  • <dwarf> is throwing a tantrum, possessed by <ghost>
  • <ghost> has risen and is haunting the fortress!
  • <ghost> is following <dwarf>
  • <item> has been misplaced. No doubt <ghost> is to blame!
  • <ghost> is throwing objects around the fortress!
  • <ghost> can be heard howling throughout the fortress!

The ghost's activities may be determined by the nature of its death and its personality traits using the following table, in order:

Type Cause Effect
Murderous Ghost Had a fell mood, had low ALTRUISM, or slab/grave was deconstructed Murders dwarves.
Sadistic Ghost Had a macabre mood, or had low ALTRUISM Batters, scares and paralyses dwarves. Capable of scaring a dwarf to death.
Violent Ghost Was berserk, or had high ANGER Batters dwarves, often but not always removing limbs.
Moaning Spirit Was melancholy, or had high DEPRESSION Troubles one unfortunate dwarf at a time.
Howling Spirit Was stark raving mad, or had high VULNERABILITY Makes sleeping difficult.
Angry Ghost Was possessed Batters dwarves.
Energetic Poltergeist Was in a fey mood, or had high ACTIVITY_LEVEL Topples furniture, such as chairs.
Secretive Poltergeist Was in a secretive mood, or had high SELF_CONSCIOUSNESS Misplaces Items.
Troublesome Poltergeist Had high IMMODERATION Misplaces items, may topple furniture and pull levers.confirm?
Restless Haunt Had GREGARIOUSNESS at least as high as DUTIFULNESS, or never completed any jobs Drifts around place of death and frequented locations. Also haunts dwarves, causing unhappy thoughts.
Forlorn Haunt Did not satisfy any of the above checks Drifts around place of death and frequented locations.

A "high" trait check will succeed 20% of the time for value of 76-90, 50% of the time for 91-99, and is guaranteed for 100. Similarly, a "low" trait check will succeed 20% of the time for 10-24, 50% of the time for 1-9, and always for 0. Having zero ALTRUISM will always result in a Murderous Ghost, never a Sadistic Ghost.

If a ghost is put to rest and subsequently re-raised (by deconstructing its coffin or slab), it will return as a Murderous Ghost.

Adventure mode[edit]

If you revisit your fortress during adventure mode, the ghosts found previously will still remain. Although, take care! The ghosts may attempt to 'scare you to death' almost instantly.

"Ghostly" Dwarves[edit]

When a dwarf dies and becomes a ghost, its Legends mode entry lists it as a "ghostly" dwarf. All actions taken by the dwarf during both life and death will then be attributed the ghostly dwarf. This will generate messages like "the ghostly dwarf Urist McHauntypants arrived in Cagesyrups" even when the dwarf was obviously not a ghost yet when it immigrated.

Science on Ghosts[edit]

Cave-ins do not kill ghosts, perhaps because they can walk through walls already.

Ghosts are put to rest when any part of their body is put in a burial receptacle.[Verify] For example, should a dwarf lose a toe in a fight before dying, the toe can be recovered to put its ghost to rest.

Ghosts will also be put to rest if they are properly memorialized, which is usually preferable if the dwarf is not easily accessible.

Ghosts can open doors, even forbidden ones (leaving them unlocked).

Ghosts can be frozen in water.

It is possible for a ghost to become the outpost liaison of a civilization.

Ghostly fisherdwarves will keep fishing in the afterlife, and ghostly animal trainers will gladly train your captured animals for you.


Some ghost names can't be engraved on slabs, and some slabs can be engraved for nameless creatures. Bug:3708

Caravan guards can't be memorialized. Bug:5755