From Dwarf Fortress Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article is about the current version of DF.

Burrows are user-defined areas in your fort where selected dwarves live and work. In short, they are a way to force specific dwarves to perform (almost) all activities in only one (or more than one) area that you designate. You can assign these areas like zones and assign one or more dwarves to them. You may assign the same dwarf to multiple burrows, if desired. Dwarves will only perform any and all tasks (use workshops, dig walls, use rooms, etc.) in burrows they are assigned to, though dwarves not assigned to any burrow may still perform jobs located in a burrow assigned to other dwarves, and can move through any areas, assigned or not.

If you use burrows, make sure you consider the limitations, and possibly account for them by designating "all dwarf" burrows as necessary. The activities that burrows restrict are almost anything outside of movement, including:

To be clear - once a dwarf is assigned to any burrow, 99% of their activities must be in burrows that they are assigned to.

Military dwarves that are on duty will ignore burrows. Off-duty military dwarves will respect their burrows in the same ways as civilian dwarves. If a military dwarf's training area is outside of his burrow, that dwarf will not train when off duty.

An illustration demonstrating that a burrow does *not* restrict a dwarf's movement--the metalcrafter marched right out of his burrow to pull the right lever.

Burrows do not restrict a dwarf's movements; they only restrict the locations where dwarves may perform activities. An idle dwarf can still go anywhere, regardless of burrows. (Note: a Civilian Alert overrides this behavior.)

Additionally, burrows can be toggled (w in the burrow menu) to restrict workshops inside the burrow to only use items from inside the burrow. Note that all items for the job must be located inside the burrow (including fuel for furnaces and barrels for brewing). This feature is new and should be used with caution since it can result in less-than-obvious workshop job cancellations.

Defining a new burrow[edit]

To enter the "define burrow" mode, press w.

You'll be presented with a list of all of your existing burrows. Change which burrow is selected with your secondary selection keys.

To add a new burrow to the list, press a. The new burrow created this way starts with no tiles and a default name.

To configure an existing burrow, select it with +,-,*, & /.

Press enter to set the burrow's name (n), change the symbol used, and define what tiles it encompasses. Defining the burrow's tiles can be done using rectangles much like other mass-selection or mass-designation situations elsewhere in the game, or you can paint with the mouse. Unlike other zone selections (but like designations,) burrow selections can take place over multiple z-levels, meaning that you can select cuboids, rather than rectangles, or create multiple non-contiguous spaces. This may become important if you burrow citizens for an extended period of time, as you can include the dining hall, food & alcohol stockpiles, and bedrooms to keep your dwarves away from hungry/thirsty/tired states. Workshop stockpiles will need to be included within the burrow for craft-type dwarves (e.g. mason, bone carver, etc.) to do these jobs. Press r to set whether you're adding or subtracting tiles from the burrow. Also like zone selections, they may overlap. You can also set the colors and symbols used for different burrows to help tell them apart.

Unlike activity zones, burrows can also be extended through not-yet revealed tiles.

After defining the area of the burrow, you can add citizens with c on the selection screen, however they will stand wherever they happen to be until assigned a task inside the burrow, which they can path to. Note, however, that citizens may walk from one point of the burrow to another point even if the path they walk on is not part of the burrow. If you define a burrow which is split into two areas, the citizens may walk between those two areas, outside of the burrow you defined. The order of the dwarves in the list is based on an internal ID number, which doesn't correspond with any in game characteristic of the dwarf.

Deleting Burrows[edit]

Deleting a burrow is easy, just enter "define burrow" mode by pressing w, select the burrow to delete, then press d, and confirm with y.

Uses for Burrows[edit]

Defending an Area[edit]

Full article: Scheduling

Burrows are one of the ways you can give passive orders to squads and civilians during alerts. Under the squad schedule menu (Press m s) you can add an order to any particular month for the chosen alert with o or edit their existing orders with e. On the Give Orders menu, use o to cycle through the orders given to squads. The order "Defend Burrows" cannot be given without first creating burrows to assign defenders to. Under a "Defend Burrows" order, dwarves in the squad are stationed in the specific area and will defend it proactively.

Civilian Alerts[edit]

Normally, you need to add citizens to a burrow manually when defining it to have them respect the boundaries. However, a civilian alert will automatically confine all non-military dwarves to the burrows defined in the alert for as long as the alert is active. When you set the civilian alert level to an alert including a defined burrow, your civilian dwarves will ignore their normal burrow-based job restrictions even if their burrow is one of those in the civilian alert.

See these beginner-friendly instructions on how to create and use a civilian alert burrow.

Broker to the Depot, STAT[edit]

You can define your trade depot as a burrow, then when the traders appear, add your broker to that burrow. He will then only accept jobs at the trade depot, though he may be delayed if he is asleep or fulfilling an urgent need. This is particularly useful if your broker insists on performing other jobs instead of manning the depot.

Alternative to Hot Keys[edit]

You can define small burrows to areas you would like to zoom to. Then by pressing "w", select the burrow, "z" to 'center on burrow' your view will be moved to that spot like a hot key. This is useful when you run out of hotkey slots.

Causing Insanity[edit]

If a dwarf is assigned to a burrow with no beds, then that dwarf can't sleep. If he stays Very Drowsy long enough, then he'll go insane. Whether this is a goal or danger to be avoided depends on your play style. It's easy to accidentally do this to children, since they'll keep on playing without giving much of a sign that they're about to have a mental breakdown.


Burrows can be powerful tools, but that also means they have the potential to cause many problems. Bug 434, a longstanding burrow bug, was converted to an optional workshop restriction feature in v0.40.07. Unfortunately, this feature can be enabled accidentally (pressing w twice enters the burrow menu and toggles workshop restrictions for the first burrow).

  • Haulers in burrows stand around contemplating hauling jobs they can't perform.Bug:600
  • Dwarf cancels Store Item: Item inaccessible" message spam results from idle dwarves being in a burrow that contains a stockpile but not the item the stockpile wants to have.Bug:5062 If you want to move items from outside the burrow to the inside without generating cancellations, you can put a stockpile on the boundary (to be accessed by non-burrowed dwarves) and use a minecart with a track stop set to dump onto a link-only stockpile inside the burrow. This way, the stockpile outside the burrow will not generate (impossible) jobs for the burrowed dwarves and the items will be moved to the inside by the non-burrowed dwarves, then happily to be picked up by the burrowed ones.
  • Civilians assigned to a burrow while hauling constantly spam "drop-off inaccessible".Bug:597
  • Dwarves cancel repeating workshop jobs which they personally cannot complete due to their burrow lacking materials.Bug:2262
  • Mothers spam cancellations when attempting to recover a baby outside of their burrow.Bug:765
  • Harvest plants job unaffected by burrows.Bug:5454
  • Build construction job unaffected by burrows.Bug:8414
  • Dwarves get stuck trying to perform jobs at edge of burrow.Bug:2416
  • Dwarves may remain restricted to a deleted burrow.Bug:1735
  • Spouse room assignments behave oddly when spouses are in different burrows.Bug:2442