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This article is about an older version of DF.
If you are looking for information on one or more of the individual pieces that make up a set of armor, such as a helm or gauntlets, see armor piece.

Between the game's and player's usage, "armor" has one of the following four related but distinct meanings:

  1. Formally, armor (especially "leather armor") is the single main piece that protects the chest/torso area of a dwarf - leather armor, chain armor, or plate armor, as distinct from leggings or helmets or etc. The game term for metal armors is (suit of) chain/plate mail, as is the term when forging these. The heading used in the z-stocks menu is armor.
  2. Also in game, armor can be one of 4 overall levels of armor, as defined by the game and using the terms Clothes, Leather (armor), Chain (armor) and Plate (armor), in reference to the maximum protection a dwarf will seek to wear when activated into the military. This is designated by viewing a dwarf and selecting the soldier menu - Clothes, Leather, Chain or Plate. (In the military weapons menu, these are abreviated as " - " (none), Lth, Chn or Plt, and also whether or not to use a Shd or Bkl - shield or buckler). This defines the maximum class of protection they will seek to wear for each body part (but they may not completely succeed, depending on available items).
  3. Informally, anything that protects your dwarf from being injured. "Even socks provide armor protection", "Fortifications are not the same as armor". An armor stockpile also uses this meaning, storing any and all armor-type items, clothing as well as leather and metal armor, and any unusual artifact items.
  4. Generally any individual item that makes up part of a suit or set of armor (#2); for example, as in... "Any armor protects a dwarf in a specific body location", "High boots are better armor than low boots", "Adamantine makes the best armor."

Be aware that there is usually not a 1:1 relationship between every piece of armor and an armor level - a set of leather armor can include bone or shell armor and a metal cap, and metal gauntlets and helmet are included in both a set of chain and plate armor. Chain or Plate Level armor makes no distinction between using high or low boots. In some cases it's also possible to layer armor, wearing a metal or leather cap under a metal helmet when wearing either chain or plate level armor, and so on. It can be very much a "mix and match" situation.

Generally, armor can range from simple clothing (including socks and loincloths), to light weight shell, bone and leather armor, to heavy chain and plate items. Giving your dwarves protective garments will help to keep them alive in combat, as well as safe from the elements. It will also protect them against sparring injuries and will, over time, develop their Armor user skill.

Most civilians will not wear armor other than clothing, Hunters being the only exception.

The body locations that different pieces of armor can protect are:

(* Leather under chain, or chain under plate - not leather under plate. See "size/permit", below.)
See also: Armor piece for more info on armor and body location.

Making armor[edit]

Depending on the type and material, different specific labors and workshops are needed to make similar items of armor, and different skills will apply. While items of clothing made by a clothier aren't technically "armor", they do offer limited protection. Shell and bone armors are made by a bone carver at a craftsdwarf's workshop. Chain mail and plate mail are made with the armoring labor at a metalsmith's forge. Leather armors are made at a leather works by a dwarf with the leatherworking labor enabled. The type of metal used affects the effectiveness of the armor, but all leather, bones and shells are equal in their protection multiplier (see table below). Higher skilled craftsdwarves, leatherworkers and armorers will, on average, produce items of higher quality, that increases the effectiveness of the armor.


Toady has stated that item quality increases its protection (or damage, in the case of weapons), namely, "Quality has a huge effect on damage and damage reduction... Exceptional is almost double damage/damage block."

Symbol Name Damage reduction multiplier
Item Basic armor x1.0
-Item- Well-crafted armor x1.2
+Item+ Finely Crafted armor x1.4
*Item* Superior Quality armor x1.6
≡Item≡ Exceptional armor x1.8
☼Item☼ Masterful armor x2.0


Better materials provide better protection, according to the following table:

Material Modifier %
Adamantine 500
Steel 133
Iron 100
Bronze or Bismuth bronze 75
Copper 66
Other metals/materials (leather, cloth, bone, shell, wood, etc.) 50
Quality/Material equivalence[edit]

This table shows the (rough) equivalent multiplier for a given material and quality combination. The exact values have been rounded to the nearest 1/10th to save space on the chart.

Material \ Multiplier .5 .6 .7 .8 .9 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7
Other1 Ø - + *
Copper Ø - + *
Bronze2 Ø - + *
Iron Ø - + *
Steel3 Ø - + *
1) includes silver, leather, bone, wood, glass, and any other material not listed (except obsidian3). The net effect of non-standard "other" materials used to create artifact armors (and weapons) during strange moods is not known.
2) includes bismuth bronze
3) Obsidian has the same modifiers as steel, but is only useful for short swords, not armor. It is included here for completeness.

So at a glance we can see that even a no-quality steel item is the equivalent to the best copper item possible, and that no copper item will ever be as good as a +fine iron+ one. (It is not known whether artifact quality items have additional modifiers above and beyond "masterpiece" level.)

Adamantine items start at a multiplier of 5.00 for no-quality items, and sky-rocket from there.

Using Armor[edit]

To tell a dwarf to wear armor in Fortress Mode, view the dwarf, go to preferences, then soldiering. There you can select the highest level of armor he should wear: clothes, leather, chain, or plate. Shield level is selected separately. You can also set the armor level for many dwarves at once on the military screen, under equipment.

Upgrading a civilian dwarf's armor level will not take effect unless they are activated as soldiers. Civilians will not wear armor other than clothing, except for those given the Hunting labor (provided their armor level is set above "clothing"). This will, however, cause them to go out into the wilderness and hunt any wild animal they encounter. If you set dwarves' armor level above their current set of armor (for instance, 'plate' when they are wearing chain armor), they will replace their current armor level and use armor of the better armor level when it is available. Similarly, when set to 'shield' they may pick up a buckler, but switch on their own to a shield as soon as one becomes available. Unfortunately, dwarves do not make a distinction between different materials or item qualities, so if they are already wearing a helm (of, say, copper), they will not pick up a steel helm, as they are of the same armor level.

The solution is to set the dwarf's armor level to 'clothes', so that they drop their armor altogether, then station them standing on top of the pieces of armor you want them to wear (typically located on an armor stockpile or still in the forge) and set their armor to the desired level again. Hopefully you can get them to complete the operation without wandering off to find a set of civilian clothes to wear first. A similar technique can be used to get dwarves to change weapons as well (from an iron short sword to an obsidian one, for instance). This can be effectively managed by using the [q] tool to edit stockpiles to store only certain kinds of item materials. You could for instance keep a Stockpile of bone and wood bolts as well as silver weapons behind a door near the barracks, so you can lock up the crappy stuff when the goblins are at the door.

(In older versions of the game, armor would be stored on an Armor stand -- a piece of furniture which could also be used to define a room as a barracks. However, both armor stands and weapon racks proved to be buggy, and their "container" status is currently limited to storage of owned weapons and armor (which are restricted to unusable items, such as overly large weapons and goblin armor). For now, store your armor in a stockpile dedicated for the purpose.)

Sometimes dwarves will ignore the armor they are standing on top of, and go put on the armor they had just removed. The best way to avoid this is to forbid it (or get rid of the inferior armor -- either by chasming it, melting it (if metal), or trading it away. This may take some time to carry out, meaning you must leave some of your soldiers at "clothing" armor level for a while until the unwanted pieces are disposed of). Keep in mind when melting armor pieces that only about 30% of the metal is recovered, so you should avoid making excess quantities with your most precious metal (steel, generally) unless you have a legendary armorsmith.

Heavy armor can reduce dwarves' speed, especially when they wear several pieces. Being Strong will reduce this problem, as will Armor user skill (gained by fighting or sparring in armor). Extremely Strong dwarves can generally wear a complete suit of plate armor without being burdened. Armor User at "Expert" level is also generally enough to eliminate the burden of a full suit of plate, even for a dwarf without any Strength attribute. Experiment in adventure mode in order to find out more how this system works.

As an emergency measure, a dwarf who is about to be hammered can be turned into a military recruit and set to "Plate" armor level; if they manage to don the suit before being captured, it will reduce the damage they take.

Types of Protection[edit]

Garments fit on different body parts depending on the item in question, and require different orders based on material sometimes.

They may additionally protect upper and lower arms and legs, depending on the garment. Dwarves do not seem to make a distinction between genders when selecting clothing to wear, so don't be startled when you see males running around in dresses.

There is no real difference between armor and clothing, except that maybe only non-clothing garments may increase the armor user skill.

This list only lists equipment Dwarves should be able to manufacture, from the file \raw\objects\entity_default.txt

Body Part Clothing Weight Block Fiber/Silk Leather Bone Shell Metal Wood Size Permit Layer
Head Cap 10 20 Clothes Clothes Leather 10 15 Over
Helm[S] 20 60 Leather Leather Leather Chain 30 20 Armor
Hood 10 20 Clothes Clothes 10 100 Cover
Upper Body Dress 10 3/3 Clothes Clothes 10 50 Under
Shirt 10 3/3 Clothes Clothes 10 50 Under
Tunic 10 5/5 Clothes Clothes 10 50 Under
Vest 10 2/2 Clothes Clothes 10 50 Over
Robe 10 5/5 Clothes Clothes 20 100 Over
Coat 50 15/15 Clothes Clothes 20 50 Over
Leather Armor[S] 50 20/20 Leather 20 50 Armor
Chainmail 75 50/30 Chain 15 50 Armor
Platemail[S] 150 70/50 Plate 20 50 Armor
Cloak 10 5/5 Clothes Clothes 15 150 Cover
Hands Gloves 10 60 Clothes Clothes 10 10 Under
Gauntlets[S] 25 60 Chain Chain Chain 20 15 Armor
Mittens 10 60 Clothes Clothes 15 20 Cover
Lower Body Trousers 20 20 Clothes Clothes 15 30 Over
Leggings[S] 40 50 Leather Leather Leather Chain 15 30 Armor
Greaves[S] 60 70 Plate Plate 15 30 Armor
Feet Socks 10 60 Clothes Clothes 10 15 Under
Shoes 10 60 Clothes Clothes 20 15 Over
Low Boots 15 60 Leather Chain 25 15 Armor
High Boots 20 60 Leather Chain 25 15 Armor
Shield Buckler 15 60(10%) Buckler Buckler Buckler NA NA NA
Shield 50 60(20%) Shield Shield Shield NA NA NA

Some clothing articles may not be crafted in fortresses of a given civilization - items marked as 'common' for that civilization are more likely to be craftable.

[S] = Max one [S] per body slot (e.g. only one plate mail, and no greaves and leggings on top)

For the columns with material types, your dwarf must be set to at least the listed armor level before he or she will put on a piece of armor made from that material. For instance, dwarves will wear cloth or leather caps at "Clothing" armor level, but must be at "Leather" armor level or better before they will put on a metal cap.


The Weight figure is not meaningful by itself; items made with different materials can have vastly different weights. For instance, steel items weigh 7.85 times the listed weight (a steel helm weighs 20 * 7.85 = 157Γ).

Some selected weight multipliers:

Steel and iron 7.85
Bronze and bismuth bronze 8.25
Copper 8.93
Silver 10.49
Adamantine 0.2
Most stone 2.67
Leather 1.9
Plant cloth 1.52
Silk cloth 1.34
Bone and shell 1.1
Glumprong wood (the heaviest) 1.2
Feather tree wood (the lightest) 0.1
Tower-cap wood 0.6
Most other wood ~0.5

More weight multipliers can be found in the raws; the weight multiplier of any given material is its [SOLID_DENSITY] divided by 1000.

Size, Permit, and layering armor[edit]

The Size and Permit values govern how much clothing or armor can be worn: for each body part, less than permit worth of size garments can be worn under the final garment. (The last garment itself can go over the limit.)

If a dwarf is not wearing too much mundane clothing (too many robes, etc), the following layering is usually possible:

  • Cap (metal or other) under a helmet
  • leather armor (torso piece) under chain armor (torso piece)
  • chain armor (torso piece) under plate armor (torso piece)

As mentioned above, the lighter armor must be put on first, and then the heavier assigned. For some reason, leather armor will not be worn under plate armor.

Note also that socks do have a sizable armor value - wearing them under "armor" boots is recommended.

In adventurer mode, the permit of each garment is checked at the time it is put on, which allows you to put on several cloaks (permit 150) on top of several layers of armor. In fortress mode, the lowest "permit" value for any given body part is used: for instance, if a dwarf is wearing a dress (permit 50) and a total of 50 or more size worth of clothing on the upper body, it cannot put any more clothing on the upper body. (This explains why dungeon masters tend to wear several cloaks: they arrive at the fortress wearing only a cloak on the upper body (permit 150), and can put on a total of 10 of them, at 15 size each.)

Other Restrictions[edit]

"Under" layers cannot be put on over "over" layers, so, for instance, a dwarf cannot put on socks unless it first removes its shoes. They can wear over layers without putting an under layer on first, which explains their fondness for "going commando" (trousers without loincloth).

Dwarves will only put on the specific level of armor they are told to put on -- unless it is unavailable, in which case they will put on the next-best available armor level. For instance, if set to "plate", a dwarf will put on chainmail if no plate is available, or leather armor if neither chain nor plate is available.

Dwarves will also not remove lesser-level armor when moving to heavier armor level (notwithstanding the "permit" restrictions detailed above). If you step them through each armor level, you can get them to wear a metal cap plus helm, and chain mail plus plate mail.

In adventurer mode, you have direct control over what armor you put on, and are only limited by permit and "one only" restrictions. This means you can wear three suits of chain mail (total size 45) plus another suit of chain or plate on top of them. On top of this, you can add six cloaks.

For some reason, dwarves will never put on cloth/leather caps or gloves (except those they arrive in). There are no "under" layer headwear or "over" layer handwear in the game; it is possible this omission is causing the clothes-wearing algorithm to be non-functional at this time.

Other Sizes[edit]

Beware! Dwarves can not wear any armor that is named 'large', 'narrow' or 'small' (elves', goblins',kobolds') (except large rat leather armor). The smug traders will not warn you of this. Human and goblin metal armor can be melted down and made into dwarf-scale gear, however. This can be useful on a map without iron or flux, but it is probably more economical to buy and melt crafts, as they are generally much cheaper.


Creating plate mail requires three bars of metal to forge. Chain mail and greaves require two bars. All other metal armor requires one bar per piece. Note that making gauntlets or boots will always produce a pair (a left and right gauntlet, or two boots) from one bar of metal. A full suit of leather armor requires four leather pieces to manufacture, a full suit of chain armor requires six metal bars, and a full suit of plate armor requires eight metal bars. This does not include shields.

Bone greaves require three stacks of bone to make (the stacks can be of any size), as do bone leggings. All other bone and shell items (including shell leggings) require one stack of bone/one shell to make.

Shields and Bucklers[edit]

Shields and bucklers come in all the same material flavours as armor, but offer a slightly different form of protection. While armor absorbs some of the damage from all successful attacks, a shield provides complete protection from some attacks. In Adventure Mode, a successful block may also grant the defender an immediate free counterattack. Bucklers weigh less than shields, but also provide less protection.

Shields offer a unique bonus, a chance for an instantaneous deflection. Shields provide a 20% chance of total deflection, while bucklers provide a 10% chance of deflection. This chance of deflection is then altered by the wielder's Shield user skill, although the exact mechanics are unknown.


  • Dwarves will not switch to metal gauntlets or greaves by themselves if they are already wearing bone gauntlets or greaves. They will, however, switch to a "better" material if it changes the level (such as metal helms being chain while bone helms are leather) whether you like it or not.
  • Dwarves will not take off chain mail when switched to "plate" armor level, and will not take off any kind of cap (including metal) when putting on a helm. They can also wear socks, gloves, trousers, a dress, and one or more robes under armor. They cannot, however, wear leggings and greaves at the same time, or shoes and boots.
  • Dwarves feel it's perfectly normal to wear one leather low boot and one steel high boot. If it fits, it fits, right?
  • If told to wield a weapon and a shield, a dwarf will sometimes carry both in the same hand. This can cause them to be unable to use either; switch their shield level and weapon to "unarmed" and make sure they drop both items before assigning them a shield and weapon again.
  • You may also find them with other stray items in one or both hands, such as an extra gauntlet or a pair of leggings. This will make them unable to use their shield or weapon. Switch them to "clothes" armor level until they drop everything, then back to plate to force them to dress themselves properly. You can also try designating the excess items for dumping, provided you have a dump and an unoccupied dwarf with Refuse Hauling enabled.