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Urist likes elves for their grace.

No portrait


Any location


· Learns · Humanoid

Cannot be tamed 
Birth: 3,000 cm3
Mid: 15,000 cm3
Max: 60,000 cm3

Child at: 1
Adult at: 12
Max age: Immortal
Cannot be butchered

Wikipedia article

This article is about an older version of DF.
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.

A medium-sized creature dedicated to the ruthless protection of nature.

Elves (singular, Elf) are smelly, stuck-up, arrogant tree-fondling hippies humanoids dedicated to the protection of their concept of nature (focused on trees). They often live in forest retreats.

Hippie wagons Elven caravans arrive in late spring, bringing only plant and wood-related items, caged tame animals, or various types of clay and sand.

During trade, elves will not accept: wood, wooden items, or any goods decorated with wood; this includes clear and crystal glass items and soap, because wood-derived lye and pearlash are used in their production. (Dwarves cannot normally decorate objects with wood, but other civilizations can, so be careful with objects with decorations) Elves bring their own "grown" wooden items - those were presumably produced without cutting down trees. They will accept elf-made wooden items in trade, but not wooden items made by anyone else.

Be also careful not to offer them your wooden bins or barrels, or quivers containing wooden bolts/arrows - if the contents of bins are marked for trade individually, and are not wooden themselves, the elves will not care that you used wooden bins to haul the goods to the depot.

You may also steal from them, or even kill them, without fear of immediate repercussion, as elven caravans are unguarded, and merchants will not resist if you seize their goods, or competently fight back if attacked.

They will generally accept: items made of green glass, stone, metal, bone and other refuse, silk, leather, plant fiber cloth, meat and fish, totems, and even plants, as well as animals in trade, as long as those are not held in dwarf-made wooden cages, and also raw clear glass and raw crystal glass, even though these are made using pearlash, and ash-glazed items. (Despite the name, petrified wood is a kind of stone, and therefore acceptable in their religious precepts. Apparently it's okay if the tree died of natural causes a long time ago.)

Offending elves by attempting to trade wooden items normally causes them to refuse further trade that year and leave early. Repeatedly offending elves by attempting to trade wooden items may cause them to attack your fortress with an ambush, which may later evolve into a full siege.

They have no facial hair, but, rarely, they have at least stubble. Like goblins, they are biologically immortal and will only die to violence and disease. Unlike other races, elves do not worship deities, but rather forces which permeate the forests. Their life of harmony with the land and its wild beauty and creatures often settling in high-savagery regions. Elves speak the elven language.

Some stupid, useless, tree-fondling traitors highly misguided dwarves like elves for their grace.

Artist rendering of an elf by Mechlin (post)

Fortress mode[edit]


The elven diplomat will arrive approximately halfway through the first month in spring. At some point, the diplomat may revisit your fortress to establish a treecutting quota.


Although the first screen lists a quota of 100 trees, accepting this offer leads to a negotiation phase, where the limit may be different from 100.



If the player agrees to a treecutting meeting, it will be visible after selecting the elves in the Civilizations screen and pressing Tab a few times.


Note that the quota is measured in trees, not logs, so be sure to fell only the largest trees on your map to get the most out of your agreement. Also note this quota also affects subterranean mushrooms like tower-caps and fungiwoods, as, despite being fungi, the game classifies them as trees.


List of what you can expect in an average elven caravan:

  • Wooden logs: Always useful, unless you are in a forest biome and already drowning in wooden logs. Quantity depending on how many logs you have already; lower means more. However, caravans with grown logs tend to be rare.
  • Fruits and various other growths from trees. Can be made into alcohol or eaten, good for booze variety. Elves can bring a lot of plants and fruit that are otherwise not native to your fort.
  • Wooden containers: chests, cages, buckets, and barrels. These all are useful, though generally are easy enough to make locally.
  • Soil types: sand in bags, various types of clay. In case you have no sand or clay, those are useful. Keep in mind that they don't bring enough of either for long-term, mass production.
  • Bags and ropes made from plant cloth. You already should have those, but a few extra bags never hurt, although plant cloth bags are a bit expensive.
  • A few aboveground tame animals in wooden cages. May be a disappointingly useless animal or an incredibly awesome one. Elves bring the animals they get from their biome, so you may be able to guess what they will bring next. For that matter, elves installed on savage tropical lands are the best. Exotic animals are considered fully tame and will never require training.
  • Caged tame vermin, which have no real use aside from putting in a zoo, or if you want more cages. It's worth noting, however, that occasionally they will sell suitable war-beasts like jaguars and bears.
  • Rope reed or other plant cloth clothing, mildly useful if you are lacking clothing and haven't bothered setting up a clothing industry, although you may not deem it dwarven enough to wear.
  • Wooden crutches and splints, which are pretty handy for health care if you didn't make any.
  • Wooden armor and weapons, which are generally useless unless you are trap-happy, lack metal, or are restricting yourself to wooden weapons.
  • Craft goods, such as toys or cups. Typically, it isn't necessary to buy these, since dwarves can make all that they need on their own, but the elves might carry instruments that dwarves cannot make.

All wooden products made by elves are called "grown". Unlike regular wood, these may be traded back to the elves without repercussions, otherwise, they are identical to the wood that you can produce.


Artist rendering of an elf by Mechlin (post)

Elven civilizations' ethics often differ from those of other races. Their position on moral philosophy will likely put them at odds with humans, goblins, dwarves, and sometimes kobolds and animal people, although they favor war with goblins over other races. At any given point in time, elves and dwarves are likely to be at peace, but it is certainly possible for an elven civilization to be at war with a dwarven one at the end of worldgen. Use the tab button when selecting an embark site to view whether elves are at war with the currently selected dwarven culture, and cycle dwarven cultures to find out.

As ghastly as the concept may be, elven cultures have become more powerful since the days of Tholtig Cryptbrain, and it is entirely possible for one or more dwarven civilizations to be extinct due to elven aggression. What elves lack in engineering, crafting, intelligence, bravery, skill, or hygiene, they make up for in raw, unwashed numbers, and once-mighty dwarven civilizations may crumble to the hordes. Even more troubling is their employment of mercenaries, often much better equipped than the elves themselves. Embarking with (possibly homeless wandering survivor) dwarves claiming to be from that civilization is possible, but always starts at war with the elves that claimed those poor souls' lives, and you may not get migrants.

Elves are the only race which wholeheartedly accepts the devouring of enemy combatants. Looking in legends mode shows that an elven combatant will sometimes devour the other person they were fighting when they win. In spite of this, elves refuse to butcher and consume intelligent beings under other conditions. Elves find torture as an example acceptable, but condemn other forms of torture and consider torturing for information misguided. To elves, keeping any trophy of any kind is an unthinkable act. Elves begrudgingly allow for killing animals when done in self-defense, and the killing of other elves by an elf is justified if there is an extremely good reason for doing so. For elves, the killing of plants, especially trees, is unthinkable, on the other hand, the killing of neutral beings and enemies is acceptable. Elven society seems to be regulated by shame from the community, rather than by threat of punishment; as such, elves never offer serious or capital punishment to criminals; instead, elves found to have committed vandalism, trespassing or theft are reprimanded, while those convicted of treason, lying, oath-breaking, assault or participating in slavery are forced into exile.

Elves value nature incredibly highly, and they also place a degree of value on family, eloquence, cunning, artwork, fairness, merriment, competition and romance. Elves do not especially respect commerce and have a dislike for self-control.

Note that these are merely the ethics of elven civilizations. Elves may adopt the cultures of other races via wandering individuals joining civilizations, or when conquest absorbs elves into another civilization. Sentient creatures adopt the values and ethics of their culture, regardless of race. Elves living among, or even leading, dwarves will have dwarven ethics and values, and vice versa.

Community outlook[edit]

Due to Dwarf Fortress making ample use of the wood-elven, or "elves as stuck-up jerks who live in trees" stereotype (which is especially noticeable when talking to their diplomats), the race as a whole tends to be widely disliked by players, who aren't too happy about said stuck-up jerks trying to tell their dwarves how to live their lives. Unlike goblins, however, elves are rarely considered a threat due to their insistence in using equipment purely made out of wood in battle, which is only marginally better than fighting unarmed and generally stands no chance against a half-competent, metal-clad dwarven militia. Because of this, elves have a reputation among the community of being all-bark-and-no-bite wimps who serve as the perfect punching bags to be on the receiving end of whatever stupid dwarf trick the fortress is currently conducting, especially if it's a particularly violent one. If a player is telling a story about a gruesome incident of sorts, there's a high chance it'll involve at least one elf as the victim.

The elves' nigh-religious devotion for trees is also a point of note; many players will go as far as to raze their map clean of trees, for no reason but to spite the elves and provoke them into attacking, just for the chance to slaughter them all. Unlike most other fantasy settings, Dwarf Fortress elves don't really have any redeeming characteristics (they aren't any more attractive than a dwarf, human or goblin, aren't good smiths, and don't have any superhuman abilities beyond biological immortality), though most long-time players play their antics for laughs, resulting in them essentially being the community's collective chew-toys.

Being compared to an elf is particularly insulting, as it implies you're an unwashed, tree-loving, cannibalistic hippie (or, as some have said, the kind of being that's prone to sitting around and living in the world, rather than acting upon it). That's not to say that elves are universally disliked, however: some have earned the liking of the player base, typically due to them being part of a dwarven civilization (and as such not acting like elves), with Cacame Awemedinade being one of the community's most well known and beloved characters.


  • Elven caravans do not bring cloth, seeds or booze, and rarely bring grown wooden logs.Bug:7863