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This article is about an older version of DF.

Depending on what equipment you outfit your soldiers with, they can easily become encumbered. A new recruit with no strength attribute, for instance, can only carry 2000Γ before being encumbered, which is less than the weight of a full suit of chain mail, not even including a weapon. A crossbow plus a full stack of metal bolts can weigh as much as 1000Γ by itself.

Armor weight[edit]

To begin with, dwarves wearing armor will not remove their civilian clothes before putting on armor. These civilian clothes can total as much as 171Γ (if everything is made of leather), or even 247Γ if they are wearing a coat. However, 165Γ is probably a better estimate given that silk and cloth items (which weigh 20%-30% less than leather) are typically intermixed with leather items. Additionally, soldiers' clothing tends to rot away to nothing as their armor prevents them from replacing it.

A suit of leather armor (consisting of leather armor plus leather helm, leggings, and high boots) weighs 450Γ (this includes the civilian clothes dwarves will wear underneath it). Even when combined with a steel shield (392Γ), steel crossbow (314Γ), and a stack of 30 steel bolts (725Γ including quiver), any dwarf can manage this without movement penalties.

A full suit of steel or iron chain mail (mail, leggings, gauntlets, helm, and shield) plus regular clothing weighs 2322Γ; add a typical metal weapon and your draftees will only be moving at 75% normal speed.

However, if you limit the availability of certain types of armor, either by not producing them (or forbidding them, as outlined on the military page), you can force your dwarves to wear hybrid suits which offer excellent protection while still being fairly light.

A steel-bone-leather chain suit, consisting of steel chain mail and helm, leather high boots and shield, and bone or shell leggings and gauntlets, weighs 1180Γ (including clothes). Even when carrying a steel crossbow and 25 steel bolts (921Γ, for a total of 2101Γ), a non-Strong dwarf can still move at 95% of normal speed. Leather leggings can be used instead of bone, although they weigh 32Γ more. A wood or bone crossbow instead of steel would bring the total down to 1835Γ or less, which would allow you to add a steel cap and leather armor for additional protection (see armor layering, below).

Another possibility is to set your dwarves to "plate" armor level but not make metal plate armor available. This will allow them to upgrade from bone leggings to bone greaves, which only weigh 22Γ more but offer 40% more protection for the legs.

A steel-bone-leather plate suit, consisting of steel plate mail and helm, leather high boots and shield, and bone or shell greaves and gauntlets, weighs 1791Γ. Even when wielding a typical melee weapon (314Γ), a dwarf will still be able to move at 95% of normal speed. A Strong dwarf, with a carrying capacity of 3000Γ, can afford to add a chain suit underneath this, or to upgrade a few pieces of leather or bone to steel, or even to carry a crossbow and upgrade a few pieces of armor.

A full suit of steel plate, greaves, gauntlets, high boots, helm, and shield plus clothing weighs 3068Γ. Add to this a melee weapon, and you're at 3400Γ; any non-strong dwarf would have his or her movement rate reduced to about 59% as a result. A quiver full of bolts and additional layers of armor can add 1400Γ+ more, resulting in a dwarf reduced to 42% normal speed. Such equipment should not be assigned to any but Strong or Very Strong dwarves, or those with sufficient armor user skill.

Using a buckler instead of a shield is not recommended. Shield user skill is probably gained only when an attack is successfully blocked with a shield, and bucklers theoretically block only half as many blows as shields. Although the exact game mechanics are unknown (and unlikely to be linear when skill is factored in), the important point is that dwarves using shields instead of bucklers will gain shield user skill more quickly, and high shield user skill makes dwarves very resistant to damage, even against bolts and arrows.

Always put your dwarves in the best helm you can; even slight neck and brain injuries can effectively end a melee combatant's career while serious ones can permanently cripple the dwarf. A steel helm weighs only 157Γ, and combining it with a steel cap, which weighs just 78Γ, will increase protection by about another 30%.

Backpacks add a negligible amount of weight; 19Γ, plus 5Γ for each unit of food.

Waterskins weigh 5Γ. With three units of water, they weigh 32Γ.

Armor layering[edit]

It is possible for dwarves to wear multiple layers of armor; specifically, they can wear leather armor under chain mail, and chain mail under plate mail (but not all three). They can also wear either a leather or cloth cap and a steel cap under any kind of helm, although you cannot order them to wear the leather/cloth one due to it being counted as clothing. (They will not combine any kind of leggings, greaves, or gauntlets.) Dwarves will only layer armor in this manner, however, if they are already wearing the "under" layers when they are switched to a higher armor level. A dwarf already wearing chain mail, for instance, will not remove it when putting on plate. However, a dwarf wearing regular clothing, if switched straight to "plate" armor level, will generally put on a plate suit straight away, and never add anything underneath it. The same dwarf will put on a chain suit if no plate is available, however, and will add a plate suit to it later on if one becomes available.

A steel cap and leather armor will add 173Γ to a chain suit. Cap and chain under a plate suit will add 666Γ.

Weapons and ammunition[edit]

Weapon weights range from 235Γ for a steel short sword to 628Γ for a steel battle axe. Most dwarf-usable weapons made of steel, including crossbows, weigh 314Γ. Obsidian swords weigh 80Γ, and wooden weapons you can buy from the elven caravan typically weigh 30Γ or less. Wooden or bone crossbows weigh 48Γ or less, which is a major advantage over metal crossbows due to the fact that their material only affects their melee damage, and not their shooting damage.

A stack of 25 iron or steel bolts weighs 588Γ; quivers weigh between 13Γ and 19Γ, depending on their material. Dwarves will carry a stack of metal bolts in their quivers if any are available, meaning a fully outfitted marksdwarf will be carrying 650Γ-900Γ worth of weaponry, depending on whether their crossbow is metal or bone/wood. Dwarves carrying crossbows and metal bolts should be carefully outfitted with light armor, such as a steel-bone-leather chain suit as detailed in armor weight, above. Weight will also be reduced (albeit at the cost of damage) if no metal bolts are available, causing marksdwarves to seek out wooden and bone ones instead, which weigh 90Γ or less per stack of 25.

Dwarves assigned to carry a crossbow will, in theory, never spar, instead shooting at an archery range if possible and slacking off if not. However, you may occasionally catch one sparring anyways, using his crossbow as a hammer. This isn't supposed to happen, and is generally due to a bug where he has wound up "wielding" something that he shouldn't, meaning he cannot use that hand and thus cannot properly handle ammunition. [Verify] If you see a sparring marksdwarf, check his inventory for anything out of the ordinary in his hands, most commonly armor or clothing that he has ripped off of somebody during combat or sparring. If this is the case, mark it for dumping in the hopes of freeing up the hand so that it no longer interferes with target practice (or sparring, if you decide just to switch him to a "real" hammer).

Material weight and protection[edit]

Steel and iron items have the same weight and are interchangeable, in terms of encumbrance. Bronze (and bismuth bronze) items weigh about 5% more than steel or iron. Copper items weigh 14% more. Silver items weigh 34% more (silver weapons, due to their low damage, make good sparring weapons). Bone and shell items weigh about 14% that of steel; leather items weigh 24%; and wood items weigh anywhere from 15% to 1.3% (in the case of feather tree wood). More specific comparative weights can be looked up in the raws.

Top-quality bone or leather items offer as much protection as no-quality iron items, so having a legendary bone carver and leatherworker in your fort should be quite welcome. Copper, in addition to being very heavy, is only about 33% better than bone or leather, so in general, you should not bother making armor items out of copper unless you are using it to train up an armorsmith.

Armored civvies[edit]

A number of civilian pieces of clothing offer a fair amount of protection, especially when of very high quality. These can be used to protect non-military dwarves, or to boost the protection soldiers normally get from the clothing they wear under their armor.

Since these items must be made of leather or cloth (this is also true for leather armor, incidentally), their rated protection is cut in half, although very high quality items can double protection, mitigating the problem. A bigger problem is their tendency to wear after a few years (unlike leather armor, leggings, boots, and helms). It is not known if wear reduces their protection value. After about 10 years, they will wear out completely and disappear.

Coats offer 15 points of protection, only a little less than leather armor's 20 points. This protection apparently extends to the entire upper body (unlike all other forms of armor), potentially making them even better than leather armor. Dwarves will wear either a robe or a coat, but not both, although they will happily wear both a coat and leather armor (and chain, and plate).

Gloves, shoes, and even socks, amazingly, offer 60 points of protection, the same as that of gauntlets or boots (although gauntlets also protect the forearms and high boots protect the lower legs).

Caps offer 20 points of protection. A cloth or leather cap can be worn in addition to a metal cap and any kind of helm. Finally, trousers offer 20 points of protection to the legs.

Although silk is the lightest possible material for making these items, it doesn't really matter what material you use; the difference between a full set of civilian clothes (including coat) in leather versus silk is only 78Γ, and the difference between plant cloth versus silk is only 26Γ. If you have a high-skill clothier use cloth; if you have a high-skill leatherworker use leather; otherwise use whatever material you have in abundance.

Unfortunately, the downside to all of this is that getting your citizens to put on specific items can only really be done on a fortress-wide basis, and even then it can be hit-or-miss. Pretty much all you can do is to craft nothing but that sort of clothing and wait for the dwarves' current clothes to rot off and (hopefully) be replaced with the new stuff. A bit of extra protecton can be worth it, however, especially since there is so little micromanagement possible.

Recommended combinations[edit]

To avoid excessively slow soldiers, you must ensure that your weaker dwarves carry an appropriate amount of equipment. The following are a set of recommended combinations of equipment and dwarven abilities.

"Steel" means iron or steel (both weigh the same); steel/bone suits have steel for all pieces except for greaves/leggings (plate/chain) and gauntlets. (Other worthwhile substitutions for specific pieces of armor are outlined in non-steel equipment, above.) Steel plate+ means a normal full set of steel plate plus leather armor, steel chain, and a steel cap underneath.

"Effective weight" is the weight of all armor plus 165Γ worth of clothing, plus weapon (if any); armor user skill reduces the weight of clothing and armor, but not weapons or ammo (or shield?), as outlined at armor user. No-strength dwarves can carry 2000Γ worth of equipment; Strong, 3000Γ; Very Strong, 4000Γ; and so on.

If your equipment is bronze instead of steel, encumbrance penalties will be a few percent worse (provided the dwarf is already encumbered); copper equipment will be about 10%-15% worse.

A steel or iron shield is assumed (and recommended) for all configurations.

Unarmed or with light weapon
Strength Armor user skill Equipment Effective weight Speed
none none Steel/bone chain 1715Γ 100%
none none Steel chain or Steel/bone plate 2325Γ 86%
none (no label) Steel chain or Steel/bone plate 1962Γ 100%
none Talented Steel plate 1908Γ 100%
none Expert Steel plate+ 1904Γ 100%
Strong none Steel plate 3088Γ 96%
Strong none Steel plate+ 3849Γ 71%
Strong Competent Steel plate+ 2985Γ 100%
Very Strong none Steel plate+ 3849Γ 100%

With metal melee weapon (~314Γ)
Strength Armor user skill Equipment Effective weight Speed
none none Steel/bone chain 2029Γ 99%
none none Steel chain or Steel/bone plate 2639Γ 76%
none Proficient Steel chain or Steel/bone plate 1914Γ 100%
Strong none Steel plate 3402Γ 83%
Strong (no label) Steel plate 2897Γ 100%
Strong Proficient Steel plate+ 2867Γ 100%
Very Strong none Steel plate+ 4163Γ 92%

With battle axe or 25 metal bolts and bone/wood crossbow (~650Γ)
Strength Armor user skill Equipment Effective weight Speed
none none Steel/bone chain 2365Γ 85%
none Competent Steel/bone chain 2034Γ 98%
Strong none Steel chain or Steel/bone plate 2985Γ 100%
Strong none Steel plate 3738Γ 73%
Strong Skilled Steel plate 2896Γ 100%
Very Strong none Steel plate 3738Γ 100%
Very Strong none Steel plate+ 4499Γ 80%
Very Strong (no label) Steel plate+ 3851Γ 100%
Extremely Strong none Steel plate+ 4499Γ 100%

With 25 metal bolts and metal crossbow (921Γ)
Strength Armor user skill Equipment Effective weight Speed
none none Leather 1763Γ 100%
none none Steel/bone chain 2636Γ 76%
none Adept Steel/bone chain 2074Γ 96%
Strong none Steel/bone chain 2636Γ 100%
Strong none Steel chain or Steel/bone plate 3256Γ 89%
Strong (no label) Steel chain or Steel/bone plate 2883Γ 100%
Very Strong none Steel plate 4009Γ 99%
Very Strong none Steel plate+ 4770Γ 72%
Very Strong Competent Steel plate+ 3905Γ 100%
Extremely Strong none Steel plate+ 4770Γ 100%

Individual item weights[edit]

  • Most regular pieces of clothing weigh 19Γ (if leather), 15Γ if cloth, or 13Γ if silk.
  • Trousers weigh twice as much (38Γ in leather).
  • Coats weigh five times as much (95Γ), as does leather armor.
Armor (in steel)
  • Plate armor weighs 1177.5Γ
  • Chain armor weighs 588.75Γ
  • Greaves weigh 471Γ
  • Leggings weigh 314Γ
  • Gauntlets weigh 392.5Γ (pair)
  • High boots weigh 314Γ (pair)
  • Low boots weigh 235.5Γ (pair)
  • Helms weigh 157Γ
  • Shields weigh 392.5Γ
  • Bucklers weigh 117.75Γ
  • Caps weigh 78.5Γ
Weapons (in steel)
  • Battle axes weigh 628Γ
  • Spears, maces, hammers, and crossbows weigh 314Γ
  • Short swords weigh 235.5Γ
  • Bolts weigh 23.55Γ each

Consult the figures in material weight and protection for weights of the above items when made of other materials, or Armor#Weight for additional figures. For the curious, the "base weight" of any of the above items can be found by dividing by 7.85 (steel's weight multiplier).