DF2014:Adventurer mode

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This article is about the current version of DF.
This is a detailed reference guide for Adventurer Mode. For a beginner tutorial, see Adventure mode quick start, or see Adventure mode quick reference to quickly look up key commands.

In Adventurer mode (also called "Adventure mode" or simply "Adventure") you create a single adventurer, be they dwarf, human, elf, goblin, or one of the varieties of animal people, who start out somewhere in one of your generated worlds. You can learn about what ails the world, and go on quests to end those troubles (or get brutally murdered trying), and venture into the wilderness to find caves, shrines, lairs, abandoned towers, and other towns and settlements - you can even visit your previously abandoned/retired fortresses and take all the precious items you yourself once created. Unlike fortress mode, Adventurer mode is a sort of advanced open world RPG version of Rogue or Nethack taking place in the same procedurally-generated worlds used for fortress mode. Whereas in fortress mode you are in charge of a large group (7 or more) of people in real-time, restricted to a small parcel of land, in adventurer mode, you control a single character (or the party leader in 47.01) in a turn-based manner, roaming the entire world freely.

World selection[edit]

You can play adventure mode in any world that has a civilization with the [ALL_MAIN_POPS_CONTROLLABLE] token (which are elves, dwarves, humans, and goblins, as well as animal peoplev0.42.01). Humans inhabit cities, towns, and the occasional above-ground fortress, elves inhabit forest retreats, dwarves are spread between "deep sites" which sometimes do not contain a direct connection to the surface, fortresses which are built into the surface and almost always connect to the underground, and "hill dwarves" who inhabit a loose collection of mounds built into hillsides, and goblins typically live in dark fortresses and dark pits. Lastly, animal people can live with any civilization, in virtually any location. Human cities and towns, and dwarven fortresses are currently the only sites with shops and other places to officially buy goods, not including taverns (which can also exist in elven sites, but only sell rooms and drinks). If you have previously built a fort in the world that you select, your adventurer will be able to go visit it, but, if you have selected to "retire" the fortress, rather than abandon it, you will likely be able to encounter all the inhabitants from the year of retirement in fortress mode - however, they will likely not have the same level of activity as they would in a bustling fortress-mode fort.

Character creation[edit]

Race and civilization[edit]

In most standard games, playable races are dwarves, elves, and humans - all three races can complete the same quests.

  • Dwarves can start with steel weapons and enter a martial trance when fighting multiple foes at once. They wear "small"-sized clothing, which means that they're unable to wear human clothes and armor.
  • Elves have higher natural speed and a notably sharper sense of smell, but start with very weak wooden weapons and have a more limited list of weapon skills during character creation. Like dwarves, they wear small-sized clothing.
  • Humans begin with bronze, copper, or iron weapons, and the widest variety of weapon skills. Humans are larger than the other main races, meaning armor from other civilizations is too small to be worn.
  • Intelligent Wilderness Creatures are playable wild animals. Most wilderness creatures are animal people, therefore, they will not start with armor, or be able to wear armor sized for the more common races (with some exceptions, that you can find in this list of creatures by adult size). As they come in various sizes, shapes and abilities, a short description cannot be given.
  • You can also play as an Outsider - they can begin at any site; however, only humans can currently be outsiders in vanilla. Playing as an outsider has many initial limitations - they possess no pre-existing relationships or cultural knowledge such as rumors, wildlife, art, musical forms, musical instruments, clothing types, etc. This includes cultural practices, such as hair styles and trimming nails. When selecting skills for outsiders during creation, many more (or far fewer) skills may be available than would otherwise be if they were part of a civilization. You will also have access to all possible pets (although some are above the vanilla points 'starting budget') and weapons and armor made from every metal available, including ones you cannot normally use. Be aware that outsiders can't claim sites unless they somehow become a member of a civilization.


Determines the number of starting skill, attribute points, and equipment points which do not change based on race:

  • Peasant: 15 attribute, 35 skill, 55 equipment
  • Hero: 35 attribute, 95 skill, 255 equipment
  • Demigod: 105 attribute, 161 skill, 1255 equipment

The number of skill points is less significant than the number of attribute points, because the time it takes to go from Peasant to Demigod in skill terms is much less than what it would take to go from Peasant to Demigod in attribute terms.

Starting attributes[edit]

See this page for more info about adventurer mode starting attributes, or this page for full info about attributes

A creature has numerous attributes which affect its performance at various tasks, split into physical factors associated with the body, and mental factors associated with the soul.


  • Strength: Improves melee attack damage, damage resistance and encumbrance limits. Increases leg strength to movement velocity, but increased muscle layer mass reduces speed.
  • Agility: Improves movement speed, attack velocity and potential attack rate. All combat skills, especially defensive ones, rely on it.
  • Toughness: Reduces physical damage inflicted on you, and also relates to defensive combat skills.
  • Endurance: Reduces the rate at which the adventurer becomes exhausted - exhaustion progressively penalizes physical skills and rate of movement, to the point of immobility and unconsciousness.
  • Recuperation: Increases the rate of wound healing.
  • Disease Resistance: Reduces risk of contracting syndromes (including infection) and the negative effects when active (including alcohol-induced.)


Some of these are demonstrably useful for adventure-mode-applicable skills, but the effects of the attributes aren't clearly understood. For ideas on how they may be applied, see a list of skills organized by attributes..

  • Analytical Ability: Useful for Tracker, Knapping and Student.
  • Focus: Affects Archer, Ambusher, Observer.
  • Willpower: Affects Fighter, Crutch Walker and Swimmer. Willpower helps resist the negative effects of status ailments such as Pain, Stunned, Unconscious, and all states of exhaustion and food/drink/sleep deprivation.
  • Creativity: This influences quality of poems, songs, and dances and crafts.
  • Intuition: Helps with Observer, which aids in spotting concealed enemies, ambushes, and identifying attacks from opponents.
  • Linguistic Ability: Affects any speaking and writing ability, improves the ability to communicate thoughts and feelings to listeners/readers.
  • Spatial Sense: Important. Affects combat skills, Ambusher, Crutch Walker, Swimmer, Observer, Knapping.
  • Musicality: Influences the adventurer's ability to perform music and song well.
  • Kinesthetic Sense: Affects most combat skills, crutch-walking, swimming and dancing.
  • Empathy: Affects social skills such as Persuader, Flatterer, Judge of Intent, and other Social skills that may not be applicable in adventurer mode.
  • Social Awareness: Increases the number of followers you can have at a given fame level.
  • Memory: Increases how much local area information you can maintain before it begins to be overwritten. Important to navigate fortresses and underground mazes.

There is also Patience, which has no known effect in Adventurer Mode.*

*as of the newest updates to adventure mode, the Patience attribute (as a base stat) determines how well or long a creature will tolerate another's negative dialogue towards them, such as insulting or ignoring them.

Starting skills[edit]

See this page for more info about adventurer mode starting skills, or this and this pages for full info about skills.

Not all races have the same sets of skills available at character creation time, but keep in mind that almost all starting skills, as well as ones not available at character creation, can be improved through use in-game (except for skills that require you to already have some experience to improve further, such as swimming or reading).

This section will specifically address starting skills as they relate to adventure mode. For a full description of combat skills, see Combat skill.


Includes Axeman, Bowman, Crossbowman, Hammerman, Knife user, Lasher, Maceman, Pikeman, Spearman and Swordsman.

Each skill enables the character to use the appropriate weapon more effectively.

Note that different races have different names for their weapon skills: Axegoblin, Axedwarf etc. These names are defined in the creature raws, as can be seen in the dwarf raws, but Crossbowman is an exception - dwarves call this skill Marksdwarf, although bow skill is referred to as Bowdwarf, as you'd expect. Elite Axe and Hammerdwarves are referred to as Lords.

Since version 0.47, weapons may be chosen on the embark screen before starting an adventure. Before that, the weapon you got on start was dependent on the skills you selected.

General combat[edit]

Includes Fighter and Archer.

These skills improve effectiveness of melee (Fighter) or ranged (Archer) combat, regardless of the weapon used. Fighter skill also improves unarmed combat, Archer also improves throwing.

Defence skills[edit]

Including Shield user, Armor user and Dodger, these skills improve the character's ability to defend, using shield, armor or dodging. Starting out with good ability in one (especially Shield User or Armor User) if not all is strongly advised.

Unarmed combat and improvised weapons[edit]

Including Wrestler, Striker, Kicker, Biter, Thrower and Miscellaneous object user.

While some of them come in handy at times, they can generally be raised fairly easily in-game, especially Wrestler and Thrower.

Movement and awareness[edit]

Includes Observer, Swimmer, Ambusher, Climber, Tracker and Crutch-walker.

Observer is hard to train, and adding some points here is advisable. Swimmer is almost impossible to train without at least Novice level, and Adequate level is advised because Adequate swimmers do not drown while stunned.


Includes Knapper, Bone carver, Writer, Carpenter, Persuader, Judge of intent, Flatterer, Musician, Speaker, Poet, Singer, Dancer, Stringed instrumentalist, Wind Instrumentalist, Percussionist, Keyboardist, Reader, Butcher and Wordsmith.

A Novice level of Reading is required in order to become a Necromancer.


All the aspects of who an adventurer is as an individual. Determines their wants, desires, and ultimate goals, as well as their tolerance for stimuli like combat, trauma, and death.


Common UI concepts[edit]

About key symbols

Most documents on the wiki use key symbols that look like t to indicate what keys are used for an operation. Note that these are case sensitive. In order to save space, Shift+t will be written as T. So t means "press the 't' key without the shift key" and T means "hold down shift and press the 't' key". Lowercase and uppercase keys will almost never perform the same function, so it is important to use the correct key. Sequences of keys will be written with dashes between them, so a-b-C means "press 'a', then press 'b', then hold shift and press 'c'".

Cursor movement, menu selection, and navigation

Esc Go back to the previous screen/menu
Change active menu option or move cursor
- + Alternate menu selection keys
Enter Select menu option

Sometimes you use the directional keys and Enter to make menu selections, but sometimes you will need to use the alternate selection keys (- and +) instead. Generally speaking, if the directional keys don't work in a menu, try -/+.

Esc will almost always take you back to the previous screen until you get to the top level of the UI, at which point it will display the options menu.

Moving around[edit]

You can move around using 8 2 4 6 7 9 1 3 or . Use Shift + < or Shift+5 (num lock off) to ascend up the stairs and Shift+> or Ctrl+5 (num lock off) to descend. You can also fast travel - press T to enter fast travel mode and d to exit it. Entering fast travel mode will allow you to move large distances in a single keypress - of course, the same amount of time will go by, and you can also be interrupted (ambushed) while moving in fast travel mode.

Status and information[edit]

l Look around
Space Advance/Clear Messages
a View Announcements
z Status

Looking around[edit]

If you're not sure what a tile is, the look command will tell you. In addition to being useful for identifying tiles and creatures, you can also view creatures' equipment and what items are sitting on the ground in a given tile. If in doubt, try the look command.

Move the cursor to the tile you want to look at using direction keys and Shift+direction. It's possible to look up and down z-levels (assuming you have line of sight) using the < and > keys. This, for example, allows you to find out if any flying creatures are above you. Hit Esc to exit look mode and go back to movement mode.


The game makes frequent use of messages on the screen to tell you what's going on. If there are a lot of these, you may need to use Space to display the rest of the messages that won't fit on the screen. You can always go back and view old messages by pressing a.

Status screen[edit]

This screen shows your skills, attributes, wounded body parts, health (along with more detailed descriptions of your wounds), lets you view your description, and change your nickname if you want.

Saving the game[edit]

Hit the Esc key at any time and select Save Game to save your game. You can then come back to it later by using the Continue Playing option in the main menu.

Searching and manipulating[edit]

u Interact with building, furniture, or mechanism
L Search the nearby area very carefully

The u key can be used to do stuff like pull levers in an abandoned fort, or lower and raise the bucket when standing right next to a well, so you can get water to refill your waterskin with.

L will perform a thorough search of the area that you're standing in, possibly revealing some small creatures.

Managing equipment[edit]

i Show Inventory
d Drop an item
g Get (pickup) an item off the ground
p Put an item into a container
r Remove an item you are wearing or from a container
w Wear an item
I Interact with an object in an advanced way. (unstick a weapon, refill waterskin etc.)
q Sheath your weapons and shield. (Frees your hands for tasks such as climbing or grabbing)

Press i to display a list of what you are currently carrying. Press - + * / to scroll through the list - it will show you if items are being worn, held in the hands, stuck on your body, or are inside a container. Detailed information about an object can be viewed by pressing the key associated with the item.

You can drop items out of your inventory, as well as get items on the ground on the same tile that you are standing on. If there is more than one item, a menu will be listed. Press - + * / to scroll the list if it is too long to fit on the screen. Note that getting something makes your adventurer pick something up with their hands - this often means that you have to use q to sheathe whatever you have in your hands before you pick something up. If you do not have a backpack or some other way of storing the object, your adventurer will not pick the item up.

Items can be placed into containers with p and removed with r or be worn using w and removed using r (the same command used for removing from containers).

There is no command for wielding items such as weapons in specific hands. Instead, they are automatically equipped when you either get them from the ground or remove them from your backpack - provided the hand that would wield them is free. (You only require free hands to equip weapons on the ground - you can remove any number of items from your backpack and equip them all in the same hand.)

The q key lets you strap your weapons to your back. This is useful, because you can't climb or wrestle with your hands while holding weapons or other objects.

Time and weather[edit]

You can see current date (D), temperature (P) and time and weather (W). At night you won't be able to see nearly as well, and you will be more vulnerable to ambush, so it is better to find a shelter before night.


Z Sleep

Eventually, your character will become drowsy, and this will get worse until you get sufficient sleep.

As of 0.47.01, bogeymen are restricted to certain evil regions, but you can still be ambushed by wildlife if you are not sleeping in a safe location (castle, building, abandoned lair).

Eat and drink[edit]

e Eat or drink something

To find water, you must find a river, stream, or a well in a town and fill your waterskin (or any container) from it, or drink from it directly. You can also pick up snow and melt it by interacting with a campfire, fill containers from barrels of booze in human taverns, lick the blood of your enemies from your weapon, or, in dire straits, even drink your own tears.


8 2 4 6 7 9 1 3 / Attack adjacent hostile creature
5 Attack hostile on same tile
A Attack an adjacent creature.
f Fire a projectile
t Throw an item
j Jump
C Open combat preferences interface

Combat includes attacking with or without weapons, aiming attacks, wrestling, archery, throwing, charging, jumping, dodging, blocking, and parrying. See the main article for details, this is just a summary of the keys.

Hostile creatures can be attacked simply by moving towards them using the movement keys. Any visible creature can be attacked by standing next to it and pressing A.

Attacking some creatures will require confirmation, given using alt+y. This brings up a menu that may offer options to attack, wrestle, parry, block, or dodge.

With a ranged weapon equipped (bow, crossbow, etc.) press the f key to fire it. Similarly, use the t key to throw any object in your inventory. Just like looking, you can aim at enemies on different Z-levels. It is not possible to aim for specific body parts with ranged or thrown attacks.

Jumping at an enemy with j can send them flying, or cause them to dodge, either of which could be useful if they're next to a pit.

During gameplay (not in fast travel mode), you can press C to open the Combat Preferences menu. There are three different preferences you can set: Attack, Dodge and Charge Defense.


Main article: Talking

You can talk with people - to begin a conversation or performance, press k, and unless someone else has already started a conversation with you (see below if someone has), you will get a cyan X that can be positioned over people you want to talk to with the normal directional keys - use - and + to select who you want to talk to. Aside from individuals, you can also Shout out to everybody, which will have you talking with everyone in earshot, or you can talk to your deity, or even Begin Performance which includes such things as reciting poetry, telling stories, or dancing, and is very important if you want to be a bard. After starting conversation, you can trade, take quests, ask for the location of someone or something, ask the listener to join you, etc.

(Note that you can press Esc to not choose anything - the conversation is still ongoing, you have to explicitly say goodbye to end it. Pressing Esc is useful if you need to double-check something before talking.)


Personal finance[edit]

In human towns (not hamlets or castles), you can find shops; in elven trading-trees, markets; and at depots in dwarven fortresses, brokers. Once you're inside of a shop and right next to any of the NPCs (it doesn't have to be anyone who actually works there), you can use k to Trade with them. Use Enter to select which items to trade, left/right arrow keys to switch between the list of shop items and your items, and up/down arrow keys to scroll through the lists. Once done, press t to trade. After trading, you will find the stuff you gave on the floor at your feet, and the stuff you got in your inventory. Exchanging items with NPCs who are not in a store works similarly, except they try to take the items from you and equip them/put them in their inventory. Emphasis on try, because if they have no storage containers/cannot (or simply don't want to, as is often the case when giving companions armor) equip the item, they will drop it on the floor. However, since you are not within the confines of a store, these items are no longer considered theirs and you are free to take them back, effectively allowing you to make 100% profit, if you know what you're doing.

You may also pick up the item before buying it, but you should never walk out of a shop carrying an unbought item, as that is theft (of the type people care about. Most methods of acquiring items in adventure mode are labeled as "theft" in legends or rumors, but if the item isn't marked as for sale, nobody cares). It is punishable by death if you are caught, and exile if you are not. On any occasion when you have stolen goods from a store (indicated by dollar signs on either side of the item in your inventory), the game requires you to exit the site and move a considerable distance before allowing you to quick travel. If the item name is not surrounded by dollar signs, it is never considered stealing, even in situations where it would be in real life. Very few items are actually capable of being 'stolen', normally limited to whatever is on display in someone's shop (thus, dollar signs as noted above). One of the very few exceptions to this is dwarven fortresses, where there will be a large number of stockpiles underground with items you can't take.

Coins can and will encumber your adventurer, eventually reducing your speed. To reduce that effect, you can try to exchange your copper and silver coins for gold ones, as well as sell all of your loot directly for gold coins.

Coins from one civilization are nearly worthless in others. You can take your excess coinage and use it to purchase large gems at a trinket shop. Large gems make good investments because they are 1) light, 2) variably priced, and 3) equally valuable between different civilizations. However, be sure to check the value of gems before taking them - some gems, such as jades or pyrite are virtually worthless and have a less efficient value/weight ratio than your average sock. If possible, carry your gemstones around in the form of jewel-encrusted clothing, as that is not only more valuable than the sum of its parts, but decorations have no weight and cloth is very light.

If you aren't interested in wasting carrying capacity on worthless trinkets when you could be lugging around actual valuables (like the corpses of your enemies), but also don't want to murder literally everybody who has something you want, actual straight-up theft is possible. Basically, by wrestling, grabbing an item with one of your hands, and Interacting with it to gain possession; you can take any item from someone's inventory that you desire. Normally, this would count as an assault, but remember, it's not a crime if nobody sees you do it. To minimize the chances of getting caught, you can Sneak, which will turn your wrestling attempts into "stealthy grabs". For extra stealth, you can wait until nightfall to strike. Even the clumsiest adventurer is unlikely to wake someone up while sneak-stealing all their clothes. For those who know their way around DFHack, setting your character's sparring flag on will just flat-out make people not care as you rip every piece of masterwork armor off their body in broad daylight, but any companions you may have will take this as an invitation to brutally murder your victim.

Quest log[edit]

Q Open quest log
Esc Exit quest log
e p a s r b Access various lists
m Switch between the world map and additional info
z Center cursor on location of selected list item, if known
c Center cursor on your location
l Toggle the visibility of the line between you and some other point on the map.
f Filter the list
+ - * / Navigate the list

The quest log contains everything you know about the world, such as various events going on, people you know, and various sites. The m key will alternate between a world map that you can navigate, and information on whatever item is highlighted in the list to the right.

There are various kinds of lists you can check on the quest log:

  • Events — A list of events that are happening or have happened. Formatting of the list is (type)/(description). You can center on the location of the event if you know this. This list is the closest you'll get to some formal quest system.
  • People — A list of people you know. At the start of the game, this list will contain people in your site.
  • Sites — A list of various sites around the world.
  • Groups — A list of groups you know of and your relation to them. Note that you have to press e when you're on the events list in order to reach this list, requiring you to press e at most twice.
  • Agreements - Your various agreements; this includes tasks given to you by your lord (if a hearthperson), and why people are traveling with you and the history of your agreements.
  • Regions — A list of regions. The additional information will list the biomes a region possesses.
  • Bestiary — A list of creatures, their characteristics, and where you could find them.


x Perform action (butcher, create item...)

Adventurers can perform limited crafting, (also known as "reactions"). To access the crafting menu, press x. You can sharpen rocks, assemble stone axes, carve bones, make wooden furniture, butcher, compose songs or dances or write books and scrolls.

Natural abilities (spitting, breathing fire, etc.) and acquired powers (such as raising undead) are also used via this menu.

Site management[edit]

b Found a site and build

Adventurers can chop down trees for resources, and build their own personal sites to claim as their own - neither of these actions can currently be performed in existing sites like towns. Building currently needs wooden logs, acquired by chopping down trees. With a non-wooden axe in hand, hitting g while next to a tree allows you to chop it down. Site construction planning persists between save/load, retire/unretire, die/new hero, etc. Each action taken while building, from building a wall to placing down a chair, takes one hour of work to complete. In building mode, the site can have a Name assigned to it. Use zones to assign functions to rooms in the site such as main hall, library, temple, etc - a site must have a name and at least one zone to become functional.


If you are in a site, you can choose to retire your adventurer from the escape menu, making them a member of the site. In order to retire at an adventurer-made camp, you must make a mead hall zone and then claim control of the site.

After any amount of time spent playing other games in the world, you can resume playing as them, as long as they're still alive, by starting a new adventure game and choosing them from the species list. Between games, you can see what retired adventurers have been up to in legends mode, or, if you prefer, Legends Viewer. Your adventurer can still do things while retired, including getting involved in some pretty serious combat. Since you've almost certainly given them some decent combat prowess, that combat may very well be assistance in the defense of the site you retired them in, which is one way they can get killed - if you're hoping to be able to unretire your adventurer later, it might be best to avoid retiring in a region of the world where people constantly mention armies on the march. Retirement may also be used as a sort of "panic button" if you want to save the life of a favorite character who has gotten into a fight they have no hope of winning, since offloading sites can heal a lot of otherwise-fatal wounds and conditions that block all methods of offloading sites, outside of retirement.

See also[edit]

A glimpse into the Future[edit]

D4Dwarf.png This article or section has been rated D for Dwarf. It may include witty humour, not-so-witty humour, bad humour, in-jokes, pop culture references, and references to the Bay12 forums. Don't believe everything you read, and if you miss some of the references, don't worry. It was inevitable.

  • Passage from "Shooting for the sky", the giant toad bone bound book by Nefil Blackbone the human necromancer :

... While seemingly absurd, the practice of one's abilities with a ranged weapon can be furthered by directing said weapon towards the sky. After all, during day time the sky has one giant target that might even seem so large that it's impossible to miss, and the night sky has many smaller ones. It has been well documented that hitting the target may not be necessary to achieve improvement in ones skill with said arms, thus it is reasonable to expect every subsequent shot after the first will hit a tad closer to it's intended target, this has further lead me to believe in the possibility of sky exploration, for with this logic at some point the projectile will actually hit it's target and could subsequently be replaced with a test dummy to further resolve survival issues and empty ones guest accommodations in one go. Finally with said preparations accomplished it would be possible to explore whatever is beyond that great blue/black border above. However some skeptical dwarven scholars suggest this to be impossible and rather place their bets on the tried and tested dwarven launch system, while notable human scholars propose using bigger armaments to accomplish the goal.

This is how the great space race between the Elves, Dwarves and Humans began, which would later on lead to massive intergalactic conflicts, space goblin invasions, immortal human emperors, elven space gates, interplanetary clown-storms all under the name of the humble dwarven hammer of war ...