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Zones

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This article is about the current version of DF.
Note that some content may still need to be updated.

Zones menu v50.03.png

Zones are areas where your citizens will work, socialize, rest, or perform specific duties, such as fishing, dumping objects, or collecting water. Zones are optional for the performance of certain tasks (fishing, collecting water) but obligatory for certain others (dumping), and are used primarily to keep dwarves out of danger.

Zones can be placed in any revealed tile, including in open space, over a river, or on top of a building or stockpile. They are placed in one of three ways: rectangular, draw, or (for some zones) multi. From within the Zones menu (z), selecting the zone type will open the zone creation menu. From here, you can select whether to create a zone in a rectangle (at which point you click the two corners for the zone), draw (where clicking adds single squares to the zone). You can enable erasing at any time and use rectangle and draw to remove squares from the zone. The number shown indicates how many selected floor tiles can be used for that type of zone.

Unlike stockpiles, multiple zones can overlap.

For select zones types you can change from Paint to Multi mode in which you can draw multiple rectangle over multiple rooms, and each room valid for that zone type will be a separate zone. The number shown is the number of zones created in the last rectangle drawn, and the undo button will only undo the last rectangle created.

Some zones can be further specified into locations after creation. To do this first create the relevant zone, then click the Add Location button (+) to further specify it into a location. Multiple zones can be added to a single location, allowing them to span multiple rooms.

In some cases (pen/pasture, pit/pond) additional orders can then be set from the same menu. The location of a zone is only visible while in the Zones menu, and any object lying on the ground will hide the presence of a zone tile. The size of zones is unlimited.

Zone Types[edit]

Meeting area[edit]

Meeting area zones are zones in which idle dwarves and animals will congregate. Additionally, immigrants will collect at a meeting area until their "migrant" status wears off. Note that the wagon you arrive with constitutes a meeting area until you designate the first meeting area of your own. If you start in hostile surroundings, it is important to do so, so as to get your dwarves and animals out of danger quickly. It is a good idea to have at least one meeting area of one form or another: It allows you to make off-duty dwarves and animals gather in an area where they are not vulnerable within the fortress. A meeting area filled with dwarves increases the social skills of idlers. It makes idle dwarves a little less idle. Because almost every dwarf visits a meeting area at least occasionally, it's an ideal place to site valuable objects and buildings. A meeting area exposed to sunlight will additionally prevent dwarves from becoming cave-adapted. Note that having dwarves socialize will often result in them forming relationships.

It is not advisable to have animals mill around in crowded meeting areas for a prolonged time, as they will pick fights with dwarves and other animals. While this may be negligible in the case of a hen, it also applies to your war dogs (although this can be partly beneficial, since all your dwarves will get combat experience from being bitten occasionally, especially the children, who mill around constantly).

Office[edit]

Main article: Office

An office is a zone required by some nobles, and requires a chair.

Bedroom[edit]

Main article: Bedroom

A bedroom is a zone where a single dwarf (and possibly their spouse and children) will sleep and store their belongings in. Requires a bed.

Dormitory[edit]

Main article: Dormitory

A dormitory is a zone containing multiple beds where all dwarves that do not have a Bedroom assigned to them will sleep.

Dining hall[edit]

Main article: Dining hall

A Dining Hall is a zone where dwarves go to eat. Requires one or more tables.

Barracks[edit]

Main article: Barracks

A Barracks zone is a zone where a military will go to sleep, train, or store their equipment.

Room Quality[edit]

Most dwarves don't have high expectations when it comes to rooms - a communal dining room and dormitory are enough for the general populace, though making that dining room high-quality and giving them individual quarters will give them happy thoughts, helping to avoid tantrums. Nobles, on the other hand, require rooms of a particular minimum quality that contain certain furniture. Not meeting these demands will make them stressed, and may prevent them from functioning at their full capacity.

Room quality is determined by the total value of the room's floor and walls, plus the value of any furniture or other constructions in the room. If the floor area of two or more rooms overlap, each such room is reduced in value by 75%[1], but a wall can be part of multiple rooms without causing a decrease in value. Doors not marked as internal are not counted towards the value of any room[2], though they can separate rooms without the 75% loss of value. Note that this penalty is only applied once. There is no difference in value between a piece of furniture shared by two rooms, or by forty.

A room that is not entirely enclosed by walls suffers a partial value penalty to the total value of the room tiles (including the item designating the room), but not to any other items placed in the room.* Thus, if a room is not going to be fully enclosed by walls, it's best to use your low-value item (if you have one) to designate the room.

Room quality levels can be viewed in the Room/Building List (R) screen.

Bedroom name Dining room name Office Name Grave Name Numeric Value
Meager Quarters Meager Dining Room Meager Office Grave 1
Modest Quarters Modest Dining Room Modest Office Servant's Burial Chamber 100
Quarters Dining Room Office Burial Chamber 250
Decent Quarters Decent Dining Room Decent Office Tomb 500
Fine Quarters Fine Dining Room Splendid Office Fine Tomb 1000
Great Bedroom Great Dining Room Throne Room Mausoleum 1500
Grand Bedroom Grand Dining Room Opulent Throne Room Grand Mausoleum 2500
Royal Bedroom Royal Dining Room Royal Throne Room Royal Mausoleum 10000

Note: unassigned (or communal) rooms may be referenced by other descriptors, such as the happy thought "... dined in a legendary dining room ...".

(* See forum thread[3] for full discussion)


Pen/Pasture[edit]

Main article: Pasture

A pen or a pasture is used to contain tame animals. Once one is created, animals must be assigned to it individually from the zone information menu. Dwarves will drag the assigned animals to the pen or pasture automatically. Domestic animals tend to aggregate at meeting areas instead, as will herbivorous ones, which will lead to probably starvation unless your meeting area is overgrown with grass or fungi for some reason. Any tame creature with the "grazer" token in the raws should be assigned to a pasture. This includes mules, cows, goats, horses, yaks, unicorns etc. Animals will not typically wander out of their assigned pasture even if it is not walled in, however animals will abandon their posts and will have to be dragged back to them if they are threatened by enemies, and an exposed pasture may lead to premature slaughter at the hands of invaders. Since pets can be assigned to pen/pastures and a zone can be created under a dwarven atom smasher, this is one of the easiest ways to prevent catsplosions.

Archery range[edit]

Main article: Archery range

Pit/Pond[edit]

Warning icon.png Warning!

There have been multiple reports of hostile creatures escaping confinement while pitting. In previous versions, only "thief" type creatures, flyers, or large creatures like titans would escape using this system. The 0.40 behavior is still being investigated. Use of forbidden tightly closed hatches above every hole appears to prevent escape. See Mass pitting for more. If there are walls under the hole's edges rather than open space, they will allow grabbing and climbing, so you may want to dig out an overhang, or at least smooth these walls.


A Pit/Pond requires a ramp or hole with adjacent flooring on which a dwarf can stand. Designate the zone from the top of the ramp or hole, such that the zone designation is floating in the open space above the floor of the pit/pond. By default, the zone will be a pit. To toggle between pit and pond, press corresponding icon in zone information menu.

Creatures can be assigned to a pit/pond. If the creature is caged, a dwarf will release it from the cage (rather than bringing the cage to the pit). The dwarf will lead the beast to the pit and throw it in. If the pit is a ramp rather than a hole, the creature will then wander back out, as it will if the pit has some other exit path (which would include straight back up the hole for flying creatures). Note that some (or possibly all?) hostile creatures may escape on being released from their cage, possibly attacking the dwarf who opened the cage. Additionally, dwarves refuse to pit dwarves, hostile or not.

The only real difference between a pit and a pond is that dwarves will attempt to fill a pond with water, carried by bucket from a water source. They will stand on the floor adjacent to the top of the ramp or hole, and toss the water onto the ramp or into the hole. This works even if there is a forbidden floor hatch covering the hole. Each bucketful increases the depth of the water in the tile below by 1/7. Once the water is dumped from the bucket, the dwarf will either drop the bucket and perform a different task, or choose to fill a pond zone tile again using the bucket (s)he currently holds. Dwarves will stop scheduling the Fill Pond job when the water depth reaches 6/7. Specifying a pond zone is one technique used for irrigation, in order to make mud for farming on areas without soil. Currently, no matter how large the designated pond area, only one dwarf at a time will try to fill the pond. In order to fill a large area quickly, it is necessary to designate multiple smaller pond zones (or several zones overlapping the same area).

To make obsidian or cleanse stagnant water with fresh water, the pond zone must be designated an extra tile above the magma/stagnant pool, so that the water falls for a full tile before contacting the surface.

If you have more than one pond designated as a water source, your dwarves may endlessly try to fill each pond with the other pond's water, making a loop of useless duty; this may be undesirable, although otherwise-idle dwarves performing this task won't be making any friends. Only dwarves with the Water hauling labor enabled will fill ponds.

Artificial ponds are considered to be the same as Murky Pools - you'll only catch pond fish from them (i.e. turtles). If you want to catch river fish, you must fish from the river's original tiles (or perform some DFHack trickery to mark your new tiles as being part of the river).

Garbage Dump[edit]

Main article: Garbage dump

Garbage dump zones are areas in which dwarves will throw items marked for dumping - either by manual setting of dump status from item information menu, or i - p (bulk dumping; note that this designates all items on the tiles for dumping, even built furniture and items inside containers). Garbage dumps are not the same as refuse stockpiles, which can be designated to accept specific type(s) of refuse, such as animal corpses or bones, and then are automatically filled by haulers whenever the items appear on the map. Despite the name, garbage dump zones are useful for many things beyond garbage disposal; they can create quantum stockpiles, transport materials to a job site, send items to the trade depot when no caravan is present, drop rocks on enemies below, and numerous other uses.

The garbage dump may be inappropriately named, as it's more of a matter compression zone. The specifics are beyond human understanding; however, dwarves are in fact capable of compressing an infinite amount of matter into only one tile, as long as it is specified as a garbage dump. If for some reason Urist is yet again incapable of locating his favorite pair of cave troll leather socks, he should think to look among the black hole of matter that is the nearest garbage dump, as they could be snugly lodged between a few billion rocks.

Be aware that if a garbage zone is designated beside a cliff or hole (any open space, either natural or dwarf-made), garbage will be thrown into the open space. If a dump is designated over a ramp to the next level down, some dwarves may walk down the ramp to dump their items, while others may just toss their items down from above and onto those dwarves, injuring or killing them.

Water source[edit]

Dwarves will use these zones to draw water, to satisfy booze-less thirst, to tend to another thirsty dwarf (with the Give Water job), or to fill a Pond zone. Only tiles adjacent to water qualify as usable water sources - thus, if you want to place a single-tile zone, place the zone onto a ground tile next to the water, not over the water itself. This zone should not be used with wells - this is redundant, as they are already considered their own water source.

If this zone does not exist, any water source can be used. If at least one water source zone exists, then dwarves will only get water from these zones.

Remember that natural bodies of water usually contain aquatic wildlife, some of which may attack your dwarves, or at least spook civilians, and interrupt their tasks. Often it may be best to simply designate a safe body of water as a water source so dwarves aren't allowed to drink/fish anywhere else.

Normally, creatures cannot attack any dwarves through a well so long as the well is not on the same z-level as the top of the lake/river, thus building one will allow your dwarves safe access to water inhabited by vicious animals (as long as those can't climb).

When dangerous fish are found in the river, one solution is to dig an artificial channel and place a grate between it and the river proper, as fish cannot swim through grates, but grates still allow water through. However, beware the bug with flow and wall grates - taking water via U-shaped tunnel capped with floor grates may be safer. If you use a completely isolated smooth reservoir filled with pump-filtered water, it may still need protection, since the dwarf operating a pump stands right next to its water source tile. Placing floor grates over the river or channel may also protect dwarves by preventing them from falling in.

Carp and other non-vermin fish suffocate if they are not in water, so in some situations it might be possible to pump the water out of a lake or pond. Conversely, an open water body (river or sea) not only cannot be subjected to temporary drainage, but even if there isn't anything dangerous right now, it may arrive later.

Animal Training[edit]

Main article: Animal Training

An animal training zone allows animal training. Animals cannot be trained unless they are in a training zone or pasture or on a restraint. To be tamed, they must be in a cage. For making an animal training zone, it is advisable to create a small room with a tightly shut door. The training zone should be combined with a pasture to keep in wild animals. This will make sure your animals don't escape when they are not being trained.

Dungeon[edit]

Main article: Jail

Tomb[edit]

Main article: Tomb

Fishing[edit]

Dwarves will preferably use these zones when fishing, using them up until their supply is exhausted before moving on to the next water source. As with water sources, only tiles adjacent to water qualify as usable tiles. Far-flung fisherdwarves fishing in a distant river or pool are a serious defensive liability in case of an attack, so designating a safer fishing zone and, optionally, restricting non-zone fishing in the standing orders menu will help keep your fisherdwarves safe. Dwarves can fish through a grate or even a well, provided there is water in the tile 1 z-level below the activity zone.

The capture live fish job can only be carried out at a designated fishing zone.

Gather Fruit[edit]

This will automate plant-gathering jobs in this area, necessary if you want your dwarves to collect fruit from the floor or trees. If there are fruit-bearing trees in the designated area, a dwarf will fetch a stepladder to climb into the tree. The ladder-using dwarf will drop harvested fruit to the ground for others to collect and haul. The details can be set in a sub-menu.

Sand collection[edit]

A sand collection zone allows dwarves with the item hauling labor active to fill an unused bag with sand for use in the glass industry. The 'collect sand' task is created at a glass furnace.

Clay collection[edit]

A clay collection zone allows dwarves with the item hauling labor active to create clay for use in the ceramic industry. The 'collect clay' task is created at a kiln.

Value[edit]

Most users of a zone care about the value or impressiveness of the zone at some level. Nobles have specific value requirements for their assigned zones that if not met will cause stressful thoughts, while the thoughts generated by more impressive zones will have a stronger stress–relieving value than the thoughts generated by plain or unimpressive zones.

The formula for calculating this value has changed significantly from prior versions of Dwarf Fortress. Thanks to research by TBTerra[4], the new formula has been discovered (and included here with only minor edits).

Primer[edit]

Some definitions to get us started

material value
the value given to an item, floor, wall etc due to the material it is made from. Common material types: wood is 1, rocks are 1–3, ores/metals are 2–40, gems are 2–60
old quality multiplier
this is the multiplier that used to be used for items before the steam version, and it is still used in some places
new quality multiplier
this is the new multiplier that is used for items in the steam version
new quality bonus
as well as the multiplier items now get a flat bonus added based on quality
Quality Old quality multiplier New quality multiplier New quality bonus
-well crafted- x2 ×1.1 +3
+finely crafted+ x3 ×1.2 +6
*superior* x4 ×4/3 (1.333…) +10
≡exceptional≡ x5 ×1.5 +15
☼masterful☼ x12 ×2 +30
Artifact ×120 ×20 +300

What counts towards room value[edit]

Room value can be loosely split in to 3 categories, furniture (everything that is a placeable object goes here, including doors), walls and floors

A rooms furniture value is done by just counting every item of furniture in the room an adding all their values up. Due to the quality value nerf, these are now less workable as ways to pump up room value.

Wall/floor values are also calculated by adding all the individual tiles of wall/floor but first we have to calculate the individual values

Values of floor tiles[edit]

The value of an individual floor tile depends on if its the original cave floor, a smoothed cave floor, or a placed floor, with placed floors being higher valued

raw cave floor
1 × material value
Smooth cave floor
4 × material value
placed cave floor
7 × material value

Additionally if the floor is engraved you add an extra 10 × material value × old quality multiplier.

Values of wall tiles[edit]

Again value depends on whether its original stone, smoothed stone, or placed wall (boulders/bars or blocks does not mater to value).

original wall
1 × material value
smoothed wall
5 × material value
placed wall
9 × material value

Engraving with walls is slightly complex. in order for an engraved wall to add its engraving to the room value, the room must contain, both the wall itself, and also the location the engraver was standing when it was engraved, this gives wall engravings a sort of directionality leading to people double walling so engravings can face into a room from both sides.

The value of a wall engraving is 10 × old quality multiplier × material value of the most common building material used in the room’s walls and floors.

Overlapping Rooms[edit]

When you overlap room designations such that they share floor tiles, they receive a massive overlap penalty, said penalty use to be 75%, but it appears to have changed to something more like 99%.

Sharing walls is fine however, and sharing doors is allowed as long as the room contains a wall adjacent to the door. When sharing a door, the floor tile it is on is also shared.

Non-contiguous rooms[edit]

In the steam version there is nothing that requires a room to all be a connected piece. this, combined with wall sharing allows for some… less than fair cheesing of platinum walls that are somehow owned by every single bedroom, and with a trick in the “how to break room value” section, you can have every room royal quality for as little as 4 platinum and 6 basic wood/stone

Building optimally (assuming you don't have infinite resources)[edit]

If you are limited on your high value materials (or have lots of rooms you wish to improve) and don't want to abuse wall sharing or other glitches, here's how best to use those high value mats

  1. Use your high value materials on floor tiles not furniture. A decently engraved floor has a value of 37–57 × material value; the only thing that gets close to that is the mechanisms in levers.
  2. The floors of doors that go between rooms you wish to increase are of particular importance as they will count for both rooms.
  3. If you’re ok with it looking a bit odd, use as many different low value materials (basic stones or woods) to make the rest of the floor/walls, such that your most common material type is the high value one, which is then used for all your wall engravings. Note: if the room is 4×5 or larger, just using high value floor tiles will mean they will be the most common material regardless of the walls.
  4. Remember engravings cannot be redone. Leave your highest value tiles to be done by your most experienced engraver.

Breaking room value[edit]

So you don’t care about using glitches and non–contiguous rooms. Here’s the way you break room value with minimal effort and resources.

  1. Make a line of wall with 1 tile gap either side (if your engravers are really good this might only need to be 2–3 long).
  2. Make the lines of floor either side of this wall out of the most valuable material you can (aluminum or platinum are great, steel and gold also work), and have your best engraver engrave them.
  3. Place doors on top of all those engraved tiles, what sort doesn’t really matter, as they will be adding 10–100 value to 2–3k value floor tiles.
  4. For every room add the doors and the wall (this is a convenient rectangle). The wall makes the doors shareable, and the doors make the engraved floor shareable.
  5. For optimal results hide this to the south east of your area, otherwise the zone icons can get rather confused.
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