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This article is about an older version of DF.

Creatures with severe wounds will flash with a yellow or red + icon; see status icons for a full list of status and injury indicators. A creature's injuries can be seen by pressing w while viewing creature info in Fortress Mode, or by looking at a creature and selecting their letter in Adventure Mode. Wounds are listed by body part and described by color, as displayed in the following table.

lightly wounded
moderately wounded
lopped off
(Note that "lightly wounded" is light grey, and "lopped off" is dark grey - these can sometimes be easy to confuse. See example below.)

The wound screen for an unwounded dwarf shows only the standard 15 body parts that can wear items of armor:

upper body
lower body
right upper arm
left upper arm
right lower arm
left lower arm
right hand
left hand
right upper leg
left upper leg
right lower leg
left lower leg
right foot
left foot

These 15 parts fill the wound screen exactly - if any other parts are wounded, perhaps a finger or an organ, you must use the + and - keys to scroll down to see them. If any part then appears listed below "left foot", it is injured.

The wounds below show a dwarf with a "lightly wounded" right foot and a lost left pinky finger.

left lower leg
right foot
left foot
fourth finger, left hand
(Note how difficult the shades of grey can be to tell apart. (See also Color schemes.))


This section is incomplete; much about the combat system is unknown.

If an attack connects, the target will be wounded in some part of the body. The severity of the wound depends on 1) the strength of the attack, 2) the protective value of any armor or other protection available for that body part, and 3) a (large) random factor. Wounds are cumulative: when an already wounded body part is hit the wound will worsen, even if in adventure mode it produces the same message about the condition of the body part more than once.

The mathematics are at present pure guesswork. However, we do know that armor value does not simply subtract from damage; you can be wounded (usually lightly) by an attack substantially weaker than the protective value of your armor. Armor is vital to survivability, but it can't make you immune. Creature size is also vital; larger creatures hit harder and can endure more base damage. Attacks, especially piercing attacks with critical boosts (e.g. arrows), can damage vital internal organs located in the area of that body part.

Effects of wounds[edit]

When a wound is inflicted, no matter how lightly, it will usually bleed (even if only for one turn). In Fortress Mode, wounded dwarves receive various unhappy thoughts, but also some positive thoughts from the rescue and recovery process (see next section).

A wounded limb or organ becomes less effective. A severe wound to an arm or hand causes held items (weapons, shields) to be dropped from that hand. Wounds to either leg often cause the target to topple over, greatly slowing it down. Pierced lungs make it easier to become Winded. Damaged internal organs often cause the victim to periodically become stunned or unconscious until they heal (which in some cases never happens).

Death from blood loss will happen quickly whenever wounds to major internal organs occur, like the heart being pierced or "entrails shooting out through the wound". In Adventure Mode, a "Mortal Wound" status indicator will appear when this happens to your adventurer. There is no way to avoid this. A pierced lung doesn't always result in bleeding to death, but it may eventually cause suffocation, or dying of thirst due to Drink actions being interrupted by falling unconscious. Toughness may be a factor in helping to prevent this.

Other effects of wounding (for most creatures) include pain, which can cause temporary paralysis due to fainting ("giving in to pain"), vomiting, and stunning (slowing), especially if the creature is not very Tough.

On organs[edit]

When a creature is attacked with a piercing weapon or projectile, organs might take damage. This table shows most major organs, their functions, and what happens when they are damaged.

Organ Function moderately wounded effects broken/ mangled
lopped off
Heart Circulatory Organ Not possible Possible from extreme temperature. Dwarf lives as normal although wound never heals. Fatal Heavy Bleeding when pierced, death can occur fast. Can only be mangled. Can only be broken metaphorically. Not possible
Brain Movement Bleeding, possibly becoming Winded. Usually not fatal Paralysis. Weapons get dropped, limbs become useless, inability to stand. The only attack possible is 'Push' Decapitation and other gory head explosion effects naturally cause instant death.
Throat Breathing Bleeding, possibly becoming Winded Heavy Bleeding and becoming Winded. Lethality depends on Toughness Fatal Heavy Bleeding and/or suffocation, no chance of survival.
Lung(s) Respiratory Organ(s) Not possible Possible from extreme temperature. Dwarf lives as normal although wound never heals. Heavy Bleeding and becoming Winded. Possible suffocation depending on toughness and number of lungs pierced. Can only be mangled. Not possible
Eye(s) Visuals Bleeding, vision is impaired if all eyes are effected. Not possible Heavy Bleeding. Possible extreme pain depending on Toughness and number of eyes removed. Destroys accuracy and lessens vision permanently. If all eyes are removed, the creature is completely blind, and can only "see" what's next to it (other words, 3x3 vision).
Guts Not known Not possible Possible from extreme temperature. Dwarf lives as normal although wound never heals. Fatal Heavy Bleeding (on and off) as entrails spill out, extreme pain, and nausea. Can be a slow, painful death. Can only be mangled. The entire lower body is severed from the rest of the body or it is completely destroyed. Instant death. Guts is not the same as lower body, even though an attack against the guts sometimes shows up as an attack agains the lower body in adventure mode. Chopping off the lower body always results in instant death, chopping off the guts does not. For example, you need to damage the lower body of an enemy before you can even target the guts ("You slash the goblin maceman in the lower body with your iron long sword, spilling her stinking guts"). After that, the guts can be chopped off.

Wounds in Fortress Mode[edit]

Most wounds will heal over time - some almost immediately, some slowly improving over weeks, months or years, and some never fully heal.

Dwarves with yellow or red wounds will attempt to get to a bed to rest, if possible. Civilian dwarves with the health care labor will drag severely wounded dwarves to a bed and bring them food and buckets of water as they recover. A severely injured dwarf will stay in bed, and occasionally cancel tasks to rest their injury. Toady has stated that beds which are not in any defined room are considered hospital beds, and dwarves will recover faster when sleeping on them. Dwarves with light or moderate (medium grey to brown) wounds do not need to rest.

Wounded dwarves who rest are automatically labeled as "unconscious".

Wounds and Sparring[edit]

Any wound, however minor, will prevent a military dwarf from sparring (interrupting a sparring session if that's when the wound occured) until and unless it heals. Military dwarves with inadequate armor and low wrestling and block skills will often be seen sparring for only seconds at a time, before one gets a stubbed toe and runs off to the meeting area, then heals and runs back.

Minor nervous system injuries are one of the leading causes of early retirement in the military, since dwarves with such wounds will consider themselves too badly injured to spar (but not too badly injured to take on a dragon while unarmed and naked, with no backup; dwarven logic at its finest). Because of this, an arena can be used to continue the training of brain-damaged dwarves. Besides nervous system injuries, amputations, lost non-critical organs such as eyes, and often burn or cold damage will also result in permanent injuries and thus permanent retirement. Such dwarves can also be used for the Fortress guard; or they can be made marksdwarves, as injuries* do not interfere with practice at the shooting range.

(* Even losing both eyes - but accuracy will be seriously hampered.)


Generally, light or moderate wounds will be healed in a day, a week at most. Broken body parts will take between a few days and some months of bed rest to recover. A mangled part can take years.

Yellow or red wounds have an additional chance to heal on season changes. The likelihood of yellow or red wounds making a recovery is quite variable. Limbs are more likely to eventually heal than internal organs. In some cases, a badly wounded dwarf will not recover at all.

Nervous system[edit]

Wounds to the nervous system (the neck, brain, or spine) will never fully heal. If these wounds are not too severe the dwarf will be able to continue his daily routine without any problems. If a dwarf has yellow or red nervous damage, he will be a permanent invalid; however, they can still serve as a warm body for the Guard, or a particularly ruthless fortress leader may wish to arrange for that dwarf's demise so as to prevent him from forever requiring other dwarves to bring him food and water.


Lopped off limbs and other parts (such as eyes, ears, nose, etc.) can never grow back. Because these injuries are permanent, they will also prevent sparring in the military. The game seems to keep track of whether a severed part is "healed" enough to cease bed rest, but the pain of the injury never goes away. These "phantom pains" can leave a dwarf permanently incapacitated, or cause him to randomly collapse while going about his business. Dwarves with extremely high Toughness may be able to function somewhat normally, though they will still suffer from the other consequences of the injury (a missing foot or leg forces them to crawl, a missing eye makes their accuracy with ranged weapons suffer, etc.).

Improving Healing[edit]

Since losing consciousness due to pain can be resisted by dwarves with high Toughness, very Tough dwarves tend to survive injuries more easily. Toughness also greatly speeds up the healing process, a superdwarvenly tough dwarf can heal yellow injuries in a day. Losing a limb, however, can make even the toughest creatures give in to pain.

Stuck arrows/bolts[edit]

Arrows and bolts can become stuck in limbs, showing up in the wounded dwarf's inventory. This does not prevent the wound from healing, and the arrow/bolt will eventually get removed.

un/happy thoughts[edit]

Dwarves have various thoughts from injury, unconsciousness, and the healing process. Injuries cause unhappy thoughts, but these are offset by happy thoughts from getting rescued, being able to rest and recuperate (i.e. stay in bed), and being given water and food. Check for unhappy patients, as wounded dwarves have been known to go berserk when unhappy thoughts accumulate (see below). If you cannot ensure their happiness, you may have to station armed guards nearby as a precaution, or even lock the wounded dwarf in his bedroom and write him off.

Wounds in Adventure Mode[edit]

Healing is much simpler in Adventure Mode; walking one space on the overland map will heal everything but severed limbs, including hunger and thirst. Your Meatwall friends will also be healed, as long as they were reasonably close to you when you left the map. If you leave them bleeding and crawling in the cave below, however, they won't come with you.

It is observed that beginning to freeze to death during a cold night will inflict minor wounds to every organ and surface possible. This includes your eyes, limiting your vision to a single square around you. A similar effect is observed if you manage to set yourself on fire, although you are also blinded and suffocated by the smoke in this case.


In Adventure Mode, wounds will generate messages when they are inflicted. The following table lists the various messages you'll see when a wound is received. Messages corresponding to immediately fatal blows to the three major body parts (head, upper body, and lower body) are also provided. Most of these messages are displayed for organic beings only, not for skeletal, mechanical, etc. creatures.

Damage type Lightly wounded Moderately wounded Broken Mangled Instantly fatal (head) Instantly fatal (upper body) Instantly fatal (lower body)
Pierce "It is pierced!" "It is badly pierced!" "It is broken!" "It is mangled!" "It is pierced through entirely!" "It is pierced through completely!" "It is run through!"
Bludgeon "It is bruised!" "It is battered!" "It is broken!" "It is mangled!" "It is smashed into the body, an unrecognizable mass!" "It collapses into a lump of gore!" "It explodes in gore!"
Slash "It is cut!" "It is badly gashed!" "It is broken!" "It is mangled!" "It is split in half from the crown to the chin!" "It is cloven asunder!" "It is mostly cut away from the rest of the torso!"
Gore "It is torn!" "It is badly ripped!" "It is broken!" "It is mangled!" "It is torn apart!" "It is torn into pieces!" "It is ripped into loose shreds!"
Burn "It is singed!" "It is burned!" "It is cracked by the heat!" "It is partially incinerated!" "It is incinerated!" "It is incinerated!" "It is incinerated!"
Cold "It is chilled!" "It is frostbitten!" "It is cracked by the cold!" "It is frozen through!" "It is shattered!" "It is shattered!" "It is shattered!"
Heat "It is blistered!" "It is charred!" "It is cracked by the heat!" "It is partially incinerated!" "It is incinerated!" "It is incinerated!" "It is incinerated!"

If the major body part was "lopped off", which is different than just having an instantly fatal wound, the message would say "The *Body part* flies off in a bloody arc!"

A creature inflicted with a fatal blow will be announced as "struck down" or, if a ranged weapon was used "shot and killed". Other death messages include "starved to death", "drowned", "fallen into a deep chasm", "burned to death", etc.