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

Cross-training is the process of training your civilian dwarves in military pursuits, or vice versa, and can offer several benefits. First and most importantly, it can be a good way of raising attributes, leading to stronger, tougher, faster dwarves. Secondly, it provides a handy pool of recruits for when your military takes a beating or gives your civilians a halfway-decent chance of defending themselves. Thirdly, it can provide useful replacements for when your legendary mason accidentally blunders into a troll and gets all their limbs broken. Finally, it's a more productive use of time than standing around idling.

There is nothing saying you have to use only one of these ideas; they are all various approaches toward addressing these areas.

The biggest thing to remember with a reserves program is that if you're going to go, you go all the way. Don't institute something "just for a little while" and come up with a handful of novice reservists; they will not get significant stat increases and you'll only waste time. Time is not something you have a heck of a lot of in a typical reserves program. Remember that after you draft them, most dwarves are going to need about a year of sparring or training before they're ready for heavy combat. You might not have that much time if you are getting besieged regularly.

List of Programs[edit]

National self-defense training[edit]

Make sure you're familiar with the military interface, squads and scheduling before attempting this.

This is the process of training all your civilians in military skills - or at least, most of them. The easiest way to do this is to assign every new migrant or recently grown up child to dedicated training squads, and assign that squad a barracks. Then, schedule these squads to train and set the squad to "Active/Training".

National self-defense training is by far the most efficient way to increase attributes related to military skills. This includes strength, agility, toughness, endurance, focus, intuition, kinesthetic sense, spatial sense and willpower - all of these will see dramatic increases and reach the individual maximum when training lasts long enough. To increase the rate at which dwarves gain skills, place one experienced trainer / soldier in each squad, which will make demonstrations much more valuable.

Then, if they ever get caught where they don't want to be (maybe they bump into a thief coming around a corner, or a flying critter jumps them, or you need to urgently order them out of the path of a magma flood, or send them to the control room - anything), every dwarf has a better chance at not-dying - which can only be a good thing. You may want to remove the barracks assignment from a reserve squad after you're done training them, or they'll tend to spend all their time on "Individual Combat Drill" rather than performing their civilian jobs. To ensure dwarves can train while still performing civilian duties, set the Training Order's minimum number of dwarves to be less than the squad's size, but set their uniform to Wear Always. This will keep them in their gear at all times but will allow them to take breaks from training. Dutiful dwarves may choose not to take breaks, however.


  • Easy, cheap, and no maintenance once set up
  • No need for other cross-training for any attribute affected by national self-defense training
  • Trainees gain useful military skills
  • Dwarves who lead demonstrations while training may also gain levels in Organizer, Leader, and Teacher, while any dwarves who watch demonstrations may gain levels in Student. This can satisfy certain needs.
  • Trainees will be faster, stronger and tougher both in daily life and in emergencies


  • Legendary fighting skills may make tantrums more fun
  • Trainees don't work during training
  • Trainees don't socialise during training, which can lead to loneliness, unhappiness, and Distraction penalties.
  • Trainees will choose training over performing civilian duties

Attributes trained:

Rapid increases in strength, agility, toughness, endurance, focus, intuition, kinesthetic sense, spatial sense and willpower.

Boiler-room (furnace operator)[edit]

See also: Melt

Boiler-room training can be performed by forging and melting items that do not incur a loss of metal in the process. This method is more of a direct training scheme for the various smithing labors, furnace operator skill and attribute training are a side benefit.


  • Easy to set up.
  • Requires little continuous oversight on your part.
  • Somewhat fast training; dwarves reach legendary in two years.
  • Depending on item, can duplicate non-spoiler metals.


  • Requires access to magma, or vast quantities of fuel
  • May interfere with legitimate melting jobs (use of linked stockpiles, burrows, and profiles can mitigate this).

Attributes Trained:

Strength, Toughness, Endurance, Analytical Ability, Kinesthetic Sense

Swimming Pool[edit]

Adding a swimming pool allows your dwarves to rapidly boost their swimmer skill; unfortunately they will not do so voluntarily. A simple pit with 4/7 - 6/7 of water and a means of "encouraging" your dwarves to dive in are sufficient. Placing your swimming pool near/under a meeting hall will automatically train idle (and partying) dwarves. Minecart-aided swim training is a safer method; it is based on the feature that a dwarf riding a minecart learns swimming while doing so. (See Minecart training)


  • Cheap to set up
  • Automates training of idle dwarves without interfering with actual work
  • Provides a good set of physical attributes likely to speed up fortress operation
  • Swimming skill can occasionally save a dwarf's life


  • Generates no wealth
  • Falling damage can be significant (of course, this trains medical staff too!).
  • Flooding can be a problem, particular for overseers unfamiliar with Dwarf Fortress fluid mechanics

Attributes Trained:

Agility, Endurance, Strength, Willpower, Kinesthetic Sense, Spatial Sense

Artillery proving ground (siege operator)[edit]

Mass-produce some catapults, line them up near a quarry, and fire away. Works well to dispose of stone from a gulag (see below).

  • Trains a skill that's reasonably useful, and provides a place to put all the sub-par siege engine components your siege engineer will doubtlessly create if you're going for superior-quality engines.
  • Harasses the wildlife, which is always fun and sometimes Fun.


  • Very slow to train (2+ years for legendary).
  • Fairly space-consuming to set up a well-designed and usable proving ground.
  • Can be dangerous depending on the biome (especially when elephants are present. If they get winged by a stray boulder, you can bet they're going to be coming straight at you).
  • Siege operators are civilians, and will run in fear when an enemy approaches them.

Attributes Trained:

Strength, Toughness, Endurance, Analytical Ability, Focus, Spatial Sense

Internship MkII (manager)[edit]

Assign a new dwarf to manager, queue several hundred jobs, and rotate a replacement in as soon as they become legendary. For bonus points, queue jobs which need to be repeated anyway, like "Prepare Raw Fish" or "Mill Plants", or jobs for which there is no workshop, like "Make Wooden Bow" or "Make Soap".


  • Requires no extra infrastructure at all.
  • You need a manager anyway!
  • Mostly safe; a manager spends basically all their discretionary time snug in their office, or doing other assigned jobs.


  • Only employs one dwarf at a time; not useful when you have 15-25 candidates for the reserves.
  • No announcement when the current intern reaches Legendary status means you can lose time on rotation easily.
  • Produces little to no useful attribute gains

Attributes Trained:

Analytical Ability, Memory, Focus

Gulag (miner)[edit]

The gulag is basically a strip mine that is located far away from your main fortress (so you don't have to worry about accidentally screwing up your own building plans; if you are careful in planning, it may be placed closer to your fortress). Take a big square and start leveling it; it's really no more complicated than that. Since picks can actually be used as weapons, it's worthwhile to give the reservists who will be working in the gulag picks made out of bronze, or, if you are really living large, iron or even steel. Note that you will have to turn your usual mining corps (the civilian miners who are already experienced with mining) off or designate separate mining burrows for this setup to work properly. It might be convenient to use a locked door to isolate the gulag from the main fortress, once a batch of trainees is inside. If you wish to train all of your miners equally and still get real work done on the fort, you can designate the gulag area with a lower priority than any actual important work.

  • Soldiers can be equipped with picks from the military screen, and use the Miner skill in combat - militia squads of highly skilled miners can provide a decent defense from early threats
  • Toting a pick for close-quarters support might make a legendary marksdwarf more useful, since the pathetic bludgeon damage of his wood and bone crossbows is less important.
  • Can be quite useful for producing stones you might not have access to normally, or uncovering veins of precious metals.
  • Levels quite fast in sand.
  • Relatively little oversight from you.
  • An overland hike to the gulag will fight cave adaptation in your military candidates.
  • Can easily be transformed into a underground tree farm on suitable maps, providing a safe and replenishable wood source.
  • Mining trains all military attributes, so it's perfect for military training too


  • Juggling your real miners and your reservists when there's real work to be done on the fort can be a chore.
  • Hard to keep dwarves in the gulag for too long; they'll inevitably get hungry, thirsty, and tired and start hiking back to the fortress proper. Could be solved by (temporary) burrow.
  • Can be dangerous, depending on the biome.
  • Does require some amount of oversight from you, especially when your reservists start getting better at mining and run out of work more quickly.
  • Surplus stone and mining in general are suspected to promote lag.
  • Can be trained easier and without space consumption as part of national defense training, when assigning picks as weapons.

Attributes Trained:

Strength, Toughness, Endurance, Willpower, Spatial Sense, Kinesthetic Sense

Renovation (smoothing)[edit]

Another convenient way to buff up your dwarves, assigning your reservists to mass smoothing duty increases your fortress' architectural wealth and makes the place look nicer. While they may clutter the halls somewhat, it doesn't require any special allocation of food, beds or drink. Just turn on stonecutting for your reservists and mark up as much of the fortress as you like for renovation. If you have no particular area you want smoothed, you can alternate designating some open space between carving tracks and then smoothing them out. Be aware that carving tracks automatically sets those squares to be low traffic areas, so you may want to choose an out-of-the-way area that won't disrupt pathing for other activities.

  • Even easier to set up; just assign your dwarves and an area and you're good to go.
  • Increases your fortress' value and general happiness.
  • Requires no continuous oversight on your part.
  • Very safe, if you only assign areas inside the fortress.


  • Wealth overflow may bring too many immigrants.
  • Careless designation of smoothing areas may have your dwarves trying to smooth walls too close to magma, a river, or an active minecart track.

Attributes Trained:

Agility, Creativity, Spatial Sense, Kinesthetic Sense

Sweatshop (mason)[edit]

Make one or more mason's workshops in an area with a bunch of junk stone you don't care about, or that you're actively looking to clear. Change the workshop settings to allow only your reservists to use it, then tell the workshop to churn out crafts, junk furniture, stone blocks, and trade goods that you can trade en-masse. Alternatively, forbid your reservists from working in your real mason's workshops, order lots of stone constructions built, and pray that your real masons stay too occupied with the workshops to intrude. Works well in conjunction with a gulag. Alternate ideas for sweatshops include a mechanic's workshop, craftsdwarf's workshop, magma kiln, or a magma glass furnace to train mechanic, stonecrafter, potter and glassmaker respectively. Note: Do NOT try this with the carpenter skill unless you have a large supply, or any other resource you don't have in near-limitless abundance. Sweatshops will consume huge amounts of their associated resources, and if you run out mid-way you have probably wasted your time. This includes coke or charcoal used in the normal (non-magma) glass furnace.

  • Quantitatively turns a profit. The inferior trade goods can be dumped on the next caravan for more useful commodities like bags, seeds, and logs. Logs are especially useful, since you'll inevitably stamp out lots of bins to support the trade good output.
  • Mass-producing blocks makes your constructions higher value.
  • Unlike many other training programs, Sweatshops train a skill that is very useful.


  • Slow to level.
  • Hard to keep the reservists on task, since they'll need to do plenty of hauling to keep their workshop from becoming chokingly cluttered.
  • Can be a logistical nightmare; making bins and organizing hauling for the finished goods can be insane if you're working from a gulag.
  • Can be dangerous depending on the biome and location of your sweatshops.
  • Note also that stone blocks cannot be made into furniture or stone crafts. This may or may not be an issue depending on where you're putting your gulag.

Attributes Trained:

Strength, Agility, Endurance, Creativity, Spatial Sense, Kinesthetic Sense

Dwarf-powered mill (grower, cook, miller)[edit]

Start off by creating a surplus of longland grass, cave wheat, and/or whip vine and some bags. Create multiple quern all close to the food stockpile which contains the millable plants. Next to this area make a kitchen assigned to an experienced cook. Enable milling for the dwarves you wish to cross-train and order the cook to make lavish meals. As long as your growers provide a steady supply of millable plants and your cook can empty out bags quick enough, the milling jobs will continue.

  • Produces a lot of wealth as flour is a high value ingredient
  • Produces high amounts of food
  • Sustains the training of non cross-training dwarves such as the cook and growers


  • Requires a surplus of millable plants to ensure continuous milling, thus you may need to increase the number of plots/growers
  • If you don't have enough bags, you may end up having job cancellations for the millers
  • Dedicated haulers will be required to keep all workshops clutter free

Attributes Trained:

Strength, Agility, Endurance, Kinesthetic Sense (grower and miller)

Agility, Analytical Ability, Creativity, Kinesthetic Sense (cook)

Clear Cutting[edit]

As long as wood hauling is turned off, dwarves will move from one tree to the next without stopping to bring the wood back. On a heavily forested map, this means that dedicated wood cutters can skill up quickly, though the total number of trees to chop has been drastically reduced from previous versions.

Of course, this training strategy isn't going to endear you with the elves.


  • Works quickly
  • Provides useful lumber to carpenters, charcoal makers, etc.
  • Can cause problems with elves
  • Can agitate the wildlife to walk into your prepared cage traps


  • Can cause problems with elves
  • Can agitate the wildlife
  • Map dependent
  • Trees are limited, and regrow slowly
  • Unless care is taken to only designate a small area for cutting, trainees and haulers can be spread out all over the map, making them vulnerable to creatures and ambushes.

Attributes Trained:

Strength, Agility, Endurance, Willpower, Spatial Sense, Kinesthetic Sense

Survival Training (herbalist)[edit]

When a herbalist picks some plants, he will carry them to the food stockpile himself, even if his food hauling labor is disabled. Herbalists can carry more than one type of item if gathering from a plant that yields multiple usable growths. When gathering from trees, a herbalist will let the item drop to the ground, to be carried to a stockpile by haulers. Setting up smaller stockpiles in the field from which haulers will collect with wheelbarrows is an obvious solution to save on hauling time.


  • Provides a reserve of ready food. Which is a good idea early on, before a steady supply is set up.
  • Provides materials for prepared food, booze and sometimes extracts. Also, seeds, allowing to grow those plants on farms later.


  • Map dependent
  • Unless the area is carefully designated in safer parts of the map, herbalists (and haulers, from field stockpiles) will wander all over the place, making them vulnerable to creatures and ambushes.
  • Unlike wood, foodstuffs won't lie on the ground indefinitely. You have to collect it quickly, or some vermin will, and even temporary stockpiles need protection.
    • Small barns in the field solve the problem, but you need to build them; then again, it's another training, see "architect" below. Cats "pastured" over stockpiles solve the problem, but create several others.

Attributes Trained: Agility, Kinesthetic Sense, Memory

Dwarf Scouts (ambusher, hunter, marksdwarf)[edit]

Marksdwarves are an important part of any military. A bum rush of low level marksdwarves is good, but not as effective as an elite backup squad! Here is what you can do: Draft a comfortable number of dwarves to hunting, give them all cheap crossbows. Your dwarves should hunt as usual. But you are really training an elite squad of assassins, that will one day hunt goblins instead of groundhogs.


  • Easy to start.
  • Lots of meat, bones and leather around.
  • Aforementioned bones can be recycled to make new bolts.


  • Doesn't work on some maps.
  • Hunting is dangerous!
  • Evil areas may result in the deer your dwarves bagged waking up and ripping your hunter's face off!
  • Not as economically productive as some other methods.

Attributes Trained:

Agility, Focus, Spatial Sense, Kinesthetic Sense (ambusher)

Art School (weaver)[edit]

Collecting spider webs is normally a slow way to train weaving, but that's because the aspiring weaver spends most of his time hiking out to the spiderweb and then back to the loom. If you manage to create a convenient local source of webs near a loom, your weavers-in-training will rapidly gain experience. The abundant silk thread can then be woven by your more experienced weavers for clothing and trade.


  • Safe and easy to run
  • Virtually inexhaustible
  • Produces valuable resources (silk cloth)


  • Requires somewhat complex setup
  • Weaving is a moodable skill--and not a particularly desirable one
  • Spider webs are typically available only in the caverns, where there could be dangerous wandering creatures such as giant cave spiders or blind cave ogres.

Attributes Trained:

Agility, Creativity, Spatial Sense, Kinesthetic Sense

Dwarven Arena (n̶o̶b̶l̶e̶s̶)[edit]

Find a way to put civilians near an arena, perhaps a dining room. Lock them in. Let your gobbos and "worthy champions" fight to the death while they are forced to watch, gaining discipline. Unlock room. Find a way to dispose of survivors. Revel upon your new well-disciplined dwarves!


  • Discipline is useful for everyday life
  • Helps with live training that may come to your dorfs at a later date
  • If you have a military, you can double it as live training
  • With good safety procedures, little future oversight is required
  • Watching gobbos getting their internal organs thrashed out is hilarious
  • Useful for disposing of pesky nobles and dorfs that survive hammerings.
  • Could be helpful for training discipline with your engineers


  • If you're seriously considering adding this to a fort you may not even need it very much as corpses already generate discipline.
  • Doesn't produce any goods.
  • Only trains one attribute for civilians (but it is a useful one.)
  • Bad design choices can be quite fatal to a younger fort.

Attributes trained

  • Discipline
  • Various military skills (observer, fighter, dodger, etc...) (if you use your military in the arena)
  • Lever operator and Mechanic (When you build and service it, but don't expect a big raise (and lever operator isn't that helpful anyway)

Obsolete Programs[edit]

Occasionally, a training program stops working. This section is for programs that were not obsolete in the last namespace, or were made possible in a version of this namespace, yet do not work in the latest version.

Gym (pump operator)[edit]

Previously, building a bunch of screw pumps connected to nothing and ordering them to be operated was an effective way to train endurance. However, the attribute gain from Pump Operation has been so drastically reduced in various patches since its discovery that it can't be considered an effective training routine any longer[1], and the problem it was once meant to solve, keeping dwarves from partying all the time, tends not to be a problem anymore. Quite the contrary. If anything, Dwarves of today seem to be unable to take care of any of their emotional needs at all unless they have no jobs to do whatsoever, making this method counter-productive and prone to accumulating Distraction penalties from loneliness and a lack of creativity, crafting, learning, praying, and merrymaking, which will slow down any and all work and skill gains until those needs are met, usually requiring you go out of your way to do so. Don't use this in any serious capacity, military training is several times better in every way.


  • Artillery training can give you some siege operators, which will be useful if you have ballistae.
  • The internship only trains up one dwarf at a time. Your stocks could also lag behind if you are unlucky.
  • The gulag requires planning, and your dwarves in the fortress proper may run all the way to the gulag to grab a stone for some crafts, a chair, etc. It does, however, train your dwarves in mining quickly, which is always a useful skill.
  • Renovation is hands-free, but may bloat your fortress wealth too quickly.
  • The sweatshop creates a large amount of goods, which can be traded away to keep traders happy. It also increases your wealth by quite a lot, which can be good or bad depending upon your situation. The goods are also difficult to manage.
  • National self-defence training is easy to manage when set up and lets you give your civilians clothes and light armour to keep them safe. However, it can take valuable workers away from their job if the training is too frequent.

Note that the artillery training and internship don't influence potential strange moods (you can give those dwarves dabbling in anything you want and that's how they'll get theirs), while the gulag, renovation, and sweatshop do.