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This article is about an older version of DF.

There are five different levels of injury in the game, ranging from none to complete part loss. Shown using the default colors, they are:

NONE: No recorded active wounds on the part.
MINOR: Any damage that doesn't have functional/structural consequences (might be heavy bleeding, though).
INHIBITED: Any muscular, structural, or functional damage, without total loss.
FUNCTION LOSS: An important function of the part is completely lost, but the part is structurally sound (or, at least partially intact).
BROKEN: The part has lost all structural integrity or muscular ability.
MISSING: The part is completely gone.
(The color of wounds can be changed in d_init.txt.)

Wound effects[edit]

Brain: Any damage almost always results in instant death. A bruised brain may occasionally not cause death. If it does not, the dwarf suffers no effect from the injured brain and lives as normal.

Eyes: Eye damage causes extreme pain, generally causing unconsciousness and loss of sight, limiting dwarf perception.

Mouth/nose/ears/cheeks: No effect

Teeth: Fewer teeth to use for biting attacks.

Lungs: non bruising damage to one lung interferes with breathing. Creature toughness affects how well it can survive with impaired breathing. Damage to both lungs almost always results in suffocation.

Heart: Causes massive, fatal bleeding. The heart itself isn't required for life, it is the extreme bleeding that causes death when the heart is pierced. A bruised heart causes no ill effects, a torn heart is always fatal.

Pancreas/liver: No effect, despite how terrifying liver damage is to dwarves. Dwarves have a larger liver than any other sapient species, causing them to suffer liver damage more often, as it is easier to hit.

Guts: Damage to the guts causes great pain and nausea. Creature will vomit and then retch repeatedly depending on how much damage was caused. This slows down the creature and can dehydrate them. When the guts are pierced they may spill out of the wound. This is visible as a red "~" trailing behind the creature. This causes a lot of bleeding and exposes the guts themselves as a target for aimed attacks. slicing off the exposed guts causes heavy bleeding and almost always death. The cut off guts can then be picked up and used as a weapon.

Spinal injuries: Attacks to the spine that tear nervous tissue are extremely serious. Lower spinal injuries permanently stop the creature from ever standing again. they can only crawl. Middle spine injuries disable legs. Upper spinal injuries disable every limb in the body, rendering the creature unable to do anything except to use the default "push" attack and move about very slowly. It also disables every organ in the body besides the brain. This injures the lungs and upper spine injuries will invariably cause fatal suffocation within a few turns. As a whole, spinal damage is usually a death sentence.

It is important to note that a broken bone in the spine does not cause irreparable damage, only damage to the nervous tissue does. if you suffer a broken bone in the spine without any nerve damage, just wait and it will eventually heal.

Miscellaneous injuries[edit]

These injuries include generic tears, cuts and breaks which don't target a specific organ.

Some attacks may shatter nail or horn. These attacks have no effect whatsoever except a cosmetic injury report. Despite this, they can still become infected.

Likewise, attacks that tear hair have no ill effects. Attacks that destroy hair are common during chokeholds on animals, such as a lion's mane being damaged by the chokehold.

Injuries that only tear skin tend to cause little or no bleeding or scarring.

Injuries that tear fat layers cause bleeding but little pain.

Injuries to muscle layers can sometime cause the affected limb to become unusable. This usually happens when the muscle is "torn apart" rather than just torn. If the muscle is in an arm, damage to the muscle may cause items held in that arms hand to be dropped. Torn apart leg or foot muscles may cause the creature to fall over and sometimes be unable to walk until it heals.

Tendons and ligaments may also be torn by attacks. As they link bones together, torn ligaments and tendons can impair grasping abilities, causing items to be dropped more easily.

Bone damage that cause fractures or breaks cause extreme pain. They are the most painful injuries in Dwarf Fortress and will almost invariably causes unconsciousness from the pain. Bone that is broken in a limb will render that limb inoperable. Bones that are hit hard enough may shatter and be jammed into other bones or body parts, causing far more damage. A broken smashed arm may be jammed into the shoulder as well, breaking it. This is most common with the skull. A hard hit to the skull that causes a fracture can force the broken part into the vulnerable brain, causing immediate death.

Missing limb[edit]

As the name implies, this signals that a limb has been completely severed. Dwarves with severed limbs frequently either die of blood loss or linger in the hospital permanently. Those who recover may find themselves unable to perform the same tasks as they had in the past.

Dwarves without arms are unable to haul items, but are still able to gather crops or work in a workshop. Once created/gathered, the items simply remain where they are until another dwarf comes along to move them. They are also unable to equip armor/clothing, but this won't stop them from biting/kicking in combat. Armless dwarves are unable to operate screw pumps. Armless dwarves trying to dress or clean themselves often cause constant cancellation spam.

Function loss[edit]

The cyan "Function loss" signals impairment of an organ for which "broken" or "bruised" would not make sense. Internal organs and eyes have been observed to turn cyan, indicating failures of sight, liver function, and other maladies.

A dwarf can also suffer nervous damage to sensory and/or motor nerves. For example, motor nerve damage to a leg means that the dwarf will never be able to stand up again, which will show as "Ability to stand lost" in the specific dwarf's personal health screen, in addition to nervous damage information. Sensory nerve damage causes pain to disappear and is thought to make a creatures' attacks weaker. With a crutch applied, dwarves with leg nerve damage can become mobile / useful again. Damage to spinal nervous tissue disconnects all nervous function below the damaged point. For the upper and middle spines this can include the lungs, so damage leads to suffocation.

Creatures can be set to heal spinal nerve damage by going into the raws, finding the tissue_template_default and setting a number like [HEALING_RATE:100] at the NERVE_TEMPLATE. A higher number translates to a slower healing rate, with bones for example having a healing rate of 1000. However, this setting does not affect non-spinal nerves, as they do not count as "nervous tissue".


Dwarves who sustain major injuries may never fully heal—the part will always remain listed in their Wounds section as "Minor" or "Inhibited", and the dwarf's description in his Thoughts and Preferences screen will note that he bears scars. (Of varying degrees and types, {Tiny, very short, short, long, very long, massive, huge, etc.} {Jagged, Dent, Straight, etc.}) While not all scars have an effect, this may result in notes in the Health screen such as "Ability to grasp somewhat impaired". This means that one of the creature's grasping parts (usually hands) has lost the ability to grasp. Military dwarves with inhibited ability to grasp will not hold a weapon or shield in the crippled arm. However, they will automatically grasp both weapon and shield in their good hand when they next come to equip themselves, assuming of course that they are set to use both such items.

Permanent Injury[edit]

There are several types of injuries dwarves will never recover from. Nerve damage is permanent; loss of limbs is permanent. Some types of syndromes are lifelong. As a result, you may end up with a dwarf who has lost function in one or more body parts, or who continually exhibits some kind of problematic symptom. But these dwarves, if they don't meet with an unfortunate accident, can still be very useful.

Disabled Veterans[edit]

When a highly skilled soldier is injured too badly to continue on active duty, he can remain in the military as a teacher. Put him into a squad with your raw recruits and have him teach them what soldiering is about. When the recruits have been whipped into shape, they can be transferred to active-duty squads.

Function Loss: Legs[edit]

Dwarves who have lost the use of one leg cannot walk (or kick enemies in battle, but that's a minor problem). If the dwarf in question has had a foot or leg amputated, or has nerve damage to the leg, he can be issued a crutch by doctors in your hospital. Thereafter, he will gain crutch-walking skill whenever he moves with the crutch in his inventory. Eventually, his speed with the crutch will likely be faster than it was before, without the crutch. A dwarf using a crutch can go back to military duty without any loss of effectiveness; in fact, it is quite possible for a one-armed dwarf to hold a shield, crossbow, and crutch (and occasionally bash his enemies with it--it is recommended to make metal crutches to issue to military dwarves).

Lower Body Paralysis[edit]

A dwarf who has nerve damage to his lower spine, or has nerve damage to both of his legs, is unable to use his legs and cannot benefit from using a crutch. After he recovers (you may need to deconstruct his hospital bed to get him out of it), he can move--but only very slowly. Dwarves like this are obviously unfit for military duty--they can still swing a battle axe, but they won't make it to the battle before the rest of the squad have finished their jobs and have moved on to claiming the enemies' socks. The best jobs for these dwarves are ones that don't require them to move around much. For best results, create a burrow containing the dwarf's workshop, stockpiles for food and booze, and the dwarf's bedroom. Turn off all labors but the one you want the dwarf to do--most importantly, turn off hauling. A paralyzed dwarf can also be kept idle in your lever room, where he will still move five steps more quickly than another dwarf can move fifty; or he can be appointed as broker and burrowed with your depot. You could also make such a dwarf Hammerer, with exemplary results.

No one has yet done Science on the possibility of using minecarts to transport paralyzed dwarves. Will your fort be the first?

Function Loss: Arms[edit]

The dwarf who has lost the use of an arm can go on with his life normally, and can even hold a shield and battle-axe at the same time. In the military, he is limited only in that he cannot wield weapons that are too large to be wielded one-handed. Outside the military, he can work as well as any other dwarf.

Losing both arms is a different story. Dwarves who cannot use both arms will be unable to do almost any task. Managers, bookkeepers, and brokers must be able to use at least one arm. They cannot pick up weapons or shields and cannot haul items. Most irritatingly, they cannot clean themselves and cannot pick up clothing in order to put it on and will probably spam cancellation messages at you (seriously consider turning off job cancellation messages in the 'o'rders menu if this is the case). These dwarves are at risk of insanity from the lack of clothing once theirs wears out, though they may have been lucky enough to be wearing armor, which will not wear out. Military dwarves can still lead demonstrations in non-weapons skills, and could quite possibly become a good wrestler or biter. Dwarves without arms can also be used as sentries; burrow them in watchtowers to spot ambushes.


A dwarf with both eyes damaged cannot see (obviously)--and what he can't see, he won't be afraid of. Therefore, a blind dwarf can do civilian labors without dropping everything and running when there's a wild animal nearby. He does suffer a severe drop in the quality of his work.

Long-Term Syndrome[edit]

The most common long-term syndrome is probably the bite of a cave spider, which causes long-term mild dizziness. The dwarf seems fine and works normally... except that his work tends to be low-quality because the dwarf is feeling under the weather. Even legendary dwarves will, if they're feeling dizzy enough, be unable to produce masterwork crafts. Assign these dwarves to producing goods that don't have quality levels.