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Names and symbols

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

Many things generated by the game, such as sites, artifacts, symbols of office and citizens of a civilization, are given individual names by the game. Along with also getting generated names, many creature groups are also given references to individual symbols, in the form of descriptive text.


Unlike pre-defined content, such as most creature types, inorganic materials, and standard items, much of the content generated by the game is also given a generated name of some form. These are generally chosen from a combination of sources. Depending on context, and the possible combinations, many will be unique within each newly generated world. Some examples of this include the individual names of: megabeasts and forgotten beasts, group symbols, artifacts, and written content.

Probably the most obvious example is dwarf names; although each main civilization has their own set of criteria for generating their citizens' names.


One of the features created during world generation, or during world activity, that are also given generated names, are group symbols. These are assigned to various categories of individually simulated creatures and civilization groups. These symbols all have descriptions of images, with references taken from a comprehensive selection of concepts, entities, and items. Usually this includes how these subjects are interacting with each other, within the symbol description.

A particularly mundane, custom group symbol description.

The references can vary from mundane and pre-determined, such as cheese and cats, to other generated content, such as historical figures and artifacts.

Fortress mode[edit]

Every fortress has a name. If you forget what that name is, in fortress mode, the name of your fortress is displayed in the top left corner of the game's interface. When starting a new fortress, or one is being generated, the game will assign that fortress a semi-random name automatically. These fortress names are often compounds of two dwarven words. If you choose to, you may craft a more elaborate fortress name than one chosen by the name generator. You can also can create a custom name for your expedition group, as well as a custom symbol. All of these can be referenced in the game, most commonly in the descriptions of images created as decorations, in engravings, and described in other works of art.

Custom names[edit]

Custom names have only a cosmetic effect on gameplay, but they allow a lot of variation and complexity. Most (all?)[Verify] opportunities to choose a custom name are offered when embarking (and selecting prepare carefully), in the fortress mode interface (when choosing a symbol of office), or after a citizen in a strange mood crafts an artifact.

Embark menu custom name/symbol buttons

Fortress and group[edit]

When you reach the stage where you are deciding on your founders' skills and starting items, select "Fortress Name" or "Group Name", at the bottom of the screen, to choose your fortress or group name. You will be given a semi-random name automatically.

Fortress and group names have this format:

[Front][Rear] the [Adj 1] [Adj 2] [hyphen compound]-["the" Noun] of ["of" noun]

The front compound forms the first half of your fortress's name. Choose from an extremely long list of words. Select clear, to clear a word selection —your fortress can have none of these words chosen (i.e. be a blank name) and still be accepted. At the top of the screen, you can search for a word (in English).

Searching for "war" for a custom fortress name

The rear compound forms the second half of your fortress's name, which is combined with no spaces ("Foobar" instead of "Foo Bar").

Adjectives, at first glance, appear to do nothing, but they give up to two words after your compound word (above), separated by spaces, that are the adjectives to "The" X or "Of" X word choice (see below).

The hyphen command adds a third word, joined by a hyphen, to your "The" X or "Of" X word:

  • Foobar the Great
  • Foobar of Death

With Adjectives and Hyphen compound:

  • Foobar the Great Moral Thraal-Generals
  • Foobar the Goblin-Chunks of Exploding

With no front & rear compounds:

  • The Great Deadly Foobar
  • The Foobar of Foobars
  • Of Foobars

Some words may only be available in certain categories (for example, the word "reasoning" is normally only available in the "Of X" category) but there is a method to slot words from other categories into categories where they would not normally be allowed. To do this, select the category where the word is allowed, type the word in the search box so that it (and any words containing it) appears in the search results, then hit the "random" button next to the category you want to apply the word to. This allows for names such as "Reasoningreasoning the Reasoning Reasoning Reasoning-Reasoning of Reasoning". Hitting the "random" button a few times may be necessary if the desired word is also contained within any longer words.

Artifact and symbol[edit]

Though the chance to select symbol or artifact names occur in different menu screens than for a fortress or group name, the options and processes involved in doing so, are practically identical when choosing custom artifact or symbol names (descriptive symbols or symbols of office).

Custom symbols[edit]

Custom group symbol options

When embarking, if you choose to prepare carefully, you will be given the option to customize your group symbol. The options for doing this are similar to choosing a custom name, but have the capacity to be even more elaborate and long-winded than even custom names allow; giving you choices for representing nearly all named entities in the game and deciding their relationship(s) to each other.

Action and relation list[edit]

Possible actions or relationships
action relation
X is admiring Y
X is being flayed X is being flayed by Y
X is being mutilated X is being mutilated by Y
X is being shot X is shooting Y
X is being tortured X is torturing Y
X is burning X is burning Y
X is contemplating X is contemplating Y
X is cooking X is cooking Y
X is cringing
X is dead X is devouring Y
X is embracing Y
X is engraving X is engraving Y
X is falling X is fighting with Y
X is in a fetal position
X is greeting Y
X is hanging from Y
X is hiding Y
X is impaled on Y
X is laboring
X is laughing
X is making a plaintive gesture X is massacring Y
X is making a submissive gesture
X is melting
X is praying X is praying to Y
X is prostrating itself before Y
X is raising Y
X is refusing Y
X is screaming X is speaking with Y
X is smeared out into a spiral
X is striking a menacing pose X is striking down Y
X is striking a triumphant pose
X is suffering X is surrounded by Y
X is traveling
X is unnaturally contorted
X is weeping
X is withering away
X looks confused
X looks dejected
X looks offended
X looks terrified


  • "Symbol" is arguably one of the most ambiguous words referenced by the game, having at least three meanings in reference to the interface and functions, and two for distinct in-universe concepts.

See also[edit]