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This article is about an older version of DF.

Roads are the means by which human caravans arrive at your trade depot with their wagons full of tradeable goods. If you do not have a road built for them when they arrive in the summer, they will send a few mules, but the wagons carry the bulk of their goods.

Building the road[edit]

For wagons to use the road, it must be at least three tiles wide and stretch without interruption from your trade depot to the western edge of the map. The road must be built in segments, as the maximum length of any road segment is 10 squares. Any trees in the path of the road must be cut down, and any exposed stone must be smoothed. If your trade depot is housed within your fortress, you must also smooth the floor from the front of the fortress to where the trade depot is located.

You must also construct one or more bridges to bring the road across the outside river. Bridges and roads can be used interchangeably; technically, you could build your road completely out of bridges instead. On certain maps, a large number of exposed stones will prohibit road construction; in these areas, you can use bridges instead of roads.

Roads can be constructed from dirt, uncut stone, blocks (made from stone, glass, or metal), wooden logs or metal bars. Uncut stone will fulfill the requirements for human caravans and result in a "rough stone road" that will remain from season to season. Blocks will result in a "smooth [material] road".

Dirt roads are very quick to construct and require neither materials nor any skill on the part of the builder, but will disappear each spring and have to be built again. Dirt roads may be the easiest way to get a road built for the first few years, and can gradually be replaced with stone.

Non-dirt roads must be designed by an architect (who will haul all the materials to the road site), but once designed, can be built by any dwarf (including the architect). To speed road construction, you should select only materials near the construction site (instead of rocks from deep within your fortress). This can be difficult if using rough stone, as you cannot see which stone is which when selecting materials for your road, but using blocks can make this significantly simpler.


You will know the road is ready to receive wagons when you see a 3-wide area of scattered grey +'s extending off the western edge of the map. If there are fewer, this means that the road does connect to the trade depot, but there's still some problem that will keep the wagons from coming. Look very closely: somewhere, there's a tile of unsmoothed rock, a hole in the road, a placed statue blocking the way. A common problem with indoor depots are dirt tiles left behind after cutting down tower-caps. Such tiles, when inspected closely, will report only as "mud/dirt" with no word about any solid rock below. They can not be smoothed - the only way to make them passable to wagons is to build bridges.

As soon as the last issue is ironed out, the phantom road leading off the map will expand to a width of three tiles.

If your road is suspended[edit]

If a road-builder is frightened by a wild animal, the construction of the road might be suspended. Use t (not q) to check the status of the road. When it is safe to resume building, unsuspend the job by pressing s.

Strategies to prevent cancelled/suspended road construction[edit]

Roads are some of the first constructions that can force you to confront how your "supply chain" can affect your dwarves ability to work efficiently (or at all).

Roads are designed by Architects. Before the road construction will actually begin, your architect will track down and move to the road construction site all of the specific stones or rock blocks, etc that you specified when you built the road.

The materials list from which you specified the road materials shows the oldest (unused) stones first, with the most recently mined materials appearing last. (There are also groupings of blocks, bars, and logs with the same oldest-at-the-top sorting.)

  • If you specified the earliest mined stones, are you sure that your architect can reach them? Those stones could be blocked behind a now locked door or floodgate (or possibly stuck under a workshop you built.)
  • If you specified the most recently mined stones, consider the distance between the stones and the road you're building. Will your architect be able to traverse the width of your fortress and back (encumbered!) before getting hungry, thirsty, or tired? Your architect may get 90% of the way to the road construction site, then drop the stone to nourish himself. The stone will then have to remain in that position until another architect comes along to haul it the rest of the way.
  • Finally, if your architect is also allowed to perform other tasks, she may decide that after a quick snack, it would be fun to do a food hauling job instead of completing that stressful architecture work.

So how do you mitigate these potential problems? You shorten the supply chain.

Mining from the cliff face[edit]

If you're building your road from stone, stop mining at the far end of your fortress and mine out a section of the cliff face for a bit, then stop mining altogether. If you now specify the most recently mined rock, you have significantly reduced the distance your single architect has to travel to get the specified stones.

Custom stockpiles[edit]

You can use custom stockpiles instead or in addition to the above strategy. Create several small custom stone stockpiles along the length of the planned road site – real road construction crews don't return to the quarry for each bag of cement; they have the delivery trucks bring the materials to them for easy access. The key to this strategy is knowing that haulers will be tasked to move the most recently mined or created materials to the closest stockpile. You could also create a single mining stockpile at the base of the cliff face, then use the "take from a pile" command to have haulers transfer those new stones to your specific stockpiles. Make sure you stop mining for a while so you know that the most recently mined stones are sitting at your custom stockpiles, and that you're not picking the newer mined stones from deep within your fortress.

Rock blocks[edit]

Some find it easier to build roads from stone blocks by setting up a mason's workshop outside. The advantage to this is that block creation jobs will use the stone that is nearest rather than most recently mined. In addition, you can control the quantity of blocks available to be specified in road building as well as the location of the block creation without interrupting your mining operations. Again, you can create several small custom stone block stockpiles along the length of the planned road site. Once the stockpiles are almost filled with all the blocks you'll need, make sure you stop making blocks for a while so you know that the most recently made blocks are sitting at your custom stockpiles.

These supply chain process improvements can apply to more than just road-building. If you apply them to other areas of your fortress, you may find great improvement in its overall efficiency.

Materials use[edit]

When making non-dirt roads, each piece of material you put into it increases the maximum squares that can be built, using this formula:

Road Area = (Material Amount) x 4 - 1
# items # squares area (loss) material ratio/(mat-ratio for 3x?)
1 item 3 squares 3x1 (0) .33/.33
2 items 7 squares 3x2 (1) .29/.33
3 items 11 squares 3x3 (2) .30/.33
4 items 15 squares 3x5 (0) .27/.27
5 items 19 squares 3x6 (1) .28/.28
6 items 23 squares 3x7 (2) .29/.29
7 items 27 squares 3x9 (0) .26/.26
8 items 31 squares 3x10 (1) .27/.27

Conclusion: For maximum material-to-road efficiency, use 7 items at a time or 4 items at a time when making roads.

Why am I getting a placement error even though it seems perfectly legal?[edit]

When creating a road across a very broken surface, sometimes you'll notice that the construction shadow turn red to tell you that it's impossible to build on that spot. The reason of this is simple: when you try to fill a square of any dimension, the game wants to build the road on the whole section covered by the shadow while still considering that whole section as a lone unit. When doing so, the game will ignore broken terrain tiles and allow you to build around it, but won't allow you to build the section of road unless all of the tiles are connected to each other.

To avoid this problem, you can either try to increase the size of the square so all tiles will be connected to each other, or you can build smaller sections to cover missing spots on your road. As long as the smooth tiles and the road sections are contiguous, it will make no other difference other than having more jobs sheduled for road building.

Alternatively, you can build bridges instead of roads. Bridges permit the passage of wagons just as well as roads and use the same amount of building materials, and they can be built on top of patches of stone without being obstructed.