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23a:Dwarven weapon

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This article is about an older version of DF.

There are only 7 weapons that dwarves can manufacture in Fortress mode. Although they can wield others (gained from dead invaders or trade), these seven are considered the "basic dwarven weapons", as opposed to other weapons.

In Adventurer mode, this distinction is nearly meaningless, as adventurers (dwarven or otherwise) don't need to manufacture their own weapons, and are not nearly as limited in what they can wield as in Fortress mode. (See weapon for a full discussion of the mechanics behind all weapons.)

For melee combat, these are the...

...and also the crossbow, which can be used for both ranged attacks and, if/when necessary, melee combat as well.

Each of these weapons is governed by its own skill - axeman (aka "axedwarf") for axes, maceman skill for maces, etc. etc. - which also govern (most) other weapons. As with any weapon, both material and quality have an influence on their effectiveness in combat.

All weapons can be manufactured at a metalsmith's forge by a dwarf with the metalsmithing labor enabled (and using the weaponsmith skill), with one bar of a weapons-grade metal (specifically, copper, bronze, iron, steel, or adamantine). (Shortswords can also be made from obsidian with a wooden handle - see below.)

Weapon Statistics[edit]

Name Damage Damage Type Skill Used Crit. Boost
Battle axe 110 Slash Axe none
Mace 120 Bludgeon Mace none
Pick 70 Pierce Mining +2
Short sword 100 Slash Sword +1
Spear 100 Pierce Spear +2
War hammer 120 Bludgeon Hammer none
Crossbow (melee only)† 70 Bludgeon Hammer none
Crossbow bolt 100 Pierce Marks none

Dwarves wield weapon two-handed (set number of weapons to 2 in fort mode (v-p-s-m))

Melee weapons[edit]

Battle axe[edit]

A battle axe is both a weapon and a tool for wood cutting. Without at least one battle axe, your fortress will be unable to cut down any trees for wood.

They do slashing damage, which tends to sever limbs (or heads) on criticals. All axes are equally good at cutting down trees, but stronger metals or those of higher item quality will do more damage in combat.

Immigrant carpenterss invariably come with an iron battle axe. When starting a new fort, however, you must decide whether or not to "buy" axes out of your starting points for your wood cutters (and early protection). An alternative is to forge axes on site; this is much cheaper than buying the actual axe, though you will have to wait until the first Summer until your anvil arrives and conserve the wood from your wagon(s) to make 2 units of charcoal. The only axes available on embark screen are iron ones, which are expensive at 100 starting-points each, and are only available as standard quality (the lowest).

Any dwarf that performs wood cutting will pick up an axe (if one is available) and not put it down until they are no longer assigned the wood cutting labor, whether or not any trees are designated for cutting. You can make use of this to arm many (or all) of your non-military dwarves with axes, although if you do designate one or more trees for wood-cutting (designate trees), all those dwarves will soon rush out to cut them down, or at least one per tree designated.

Other, similar weapons are too large for dwarves to use in Fortress mode.


Does the same damage as the war hammer, tied for the highest among these weapons. Uses the maceman skill.

Other, similar weapons that dwarves can use but not manufacture, and that are governed by this same skill, include the morningstar.


A pick is a tool used by dwarves to mine areas you have designated for mining. Dwarves without picks cannot mine. Picks can be made from copper, bronze, iron, steel, or adamantine. The material used only affects the weight of the pick and the damage it deals when used in combat; mining speed and product are not affected by material nor quality of the pick.

Miners can use picks as weapons using their mining skill. Only a dwarf who is set to fight "unarmed" and who has the mining labor enabled will use one in combat (retrieving one if one is available). Picks may appear (and are) weaker than proper weapons like spears or axes, but are still amply effective in the hands of a highly skilled miner.

Picks can be obtained through trade with Dwarves (once your outpost liaison begins accompanying the caravan), can be created at a Metalsmith's forge by a dwarf with the metalsmithing labor enabled, and are also available on the Fortress Mode embarkation screen.

Short sword[edit]

The short sword does slashing damage, which tends to sever limbs (or heads) on criticals.

Other, similar weapons that dwarves can use but not manufacture, and that are governed by this same skill, include the long sword and scimitar.

Stone short sword[edit]

Stone short swords can be made from obsidian at a Craftsdwarf's workshop, and make a great alternate weapon if you are short on weapons-grade metals.
These deal the same damage as steel, so they are extremely useful for early military and traps. However, they require one unit of wood and one unit of obsidian in their construction, which may be difficult to obtain early on. They are produced with the Stone crafter skill, not Weaponsmith, and are produced in a Craftsdwarf's workshop.
Unwanted low quality short swords can be placed in weapon traps, which can hold any number of weapons each.
According to Toady One, these weapons were supposed to wear very quickly but this functionality had not yet been implemented.
(These seem to be based on Aztec Macuahuitl. The weapons are described as being clubs with a sharp stone edge affixed to the side.)


Spears do piercing damage, which tends to destroy organs (if the opponent has any) on criticals. A spear's critical boost is tied with the highest of any melee weapon, making them potentially quite lethal. Spears are more likely to get stuck in enemies than swords. They are also less likely to dismember enemies, leaving fewer body parts for the dwarves to clean up.

Against extra large, living creatures (with internal organs), a spear is often a best choice because it can kill an opponent with a lucky blow where another weapon would only break or sever a limb.

Other, similar weapons are too large for dwarves to use in Fortress mode.

War hammer[edit]

A war hammer is a hammer designed for combat purposes, and uses the Hammerdwarf skill.

War hammers deal a base damage of 120, the highest of the basic dwarven weapons. They deal bludgeoning damage, and therefore have a higher chance of breaking body parts, and a low (if any) chance of severing limbs on direct hits, though a solid hit can easily propel an enemy into an obstacle with such force that it will be blown apart, scattering limbs everywhere. They have a Critical boost stat of 0, as compared to 1 for Short swords and 2 for Spears, which means that they are not as likely to create such injuries as some other weapons.

War hammers are also used by the Hammerer to dispense justice.

Other, similar weapons are too large for dwarves to use in Fortress mode.


The crossbow has a range of about 20 tiles, and is quite deadly against any creature with internal organs. Missile accuracy is improved by the quality of the weapon (but not the material), while damage is based on the quality and material of the bolt. If a marksdwarf is pressed to fight hand-to-hand with an opponent, they will use their crossbow as a bludgeon weapon using the hammerdwarf skill, and only then do both quality and material of the crossbow come in to play.

See crossbow for a complete discussion.

See also: