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Missions are commands in fortress mode that send one or more of your dwarves, in military squads, to visit sites off your fortress map. Missions are created in the Civilization/World Info screen (accessed by pressing in the main fortress view). There are multiple types of missions, such as raids, explorations, and artifact/citizen recovery.
Note: This is all done "off screen" - you have no control of the dwarves' actions once they leave your map, not until (with luck) they return.
A raid is both the general and default term for any type of mission to an occupied foreign site, usually in the name of pillaging artifacts and death-dealing (although artifact looting seems to be the primary focus of most raids).
An exploration is essentially a raid on any unoccupied site. There are no social considerations, so no options to demand tribute or attack, you're simply traveling to a ruin to search for artifacts to grab. This can include explorations of sites previously inhabited by your civilization.
Both raids and explorations are created by opening the ivilization/orld Info map, then using the up/down/left/right keys to navigate around the map to select your target. If the site you're viewing holds or is rumored to hold artifacts or prisoners, these will be listed, along with the distance in time to the site ("a short trip", "a day's travel", etc.), the race, population, and your current political state (peace, neutral, allied, etc.). At the bottom of the screen, a prompt gives you information about the type of mission you're creating (i.e. 'r: Raid/Explore this site'). If a site is unable to be visited, the prompt will appear grayed out, and the text will explain why you cannot create the mission.
Missions cannot be sent to occupied sites that are members of your civilization, or locations that are impossible for your squads to reach (i.e. across oceans/glaciers), but can be sent to unoccupied/abandoned sites, as stated above. If all is well, you can then press to create the mission and move into squad selection.
Squads on missions that are across a body of water (though not totally cut off by it such as with an isthmus) will sometimes route through the water.
In addition to a default "raid", you can check etails to choose a different sub-type of raid:
- raid (default: squads will try to avoid detection)
- pillage (openly attack)
- raze (openly attack and destroy site)
- demand one-time tribute
- demand ongoing tribute
- conquer and occupy
- demand surrender and occupy
Now, before you launch your first squad to crush your enemies and see them driven before you, take a look at your target in the oldings screen (under ivilizations). This shows the political situation. All target locations with the same icon - even ones that are not attached - are holdings of the same civilization. So, if you go to war with that tiny, isolated hamlet with a population <10 next to you, you're also going to war with the entire civilization represented by all other squares of the same icon, near and far.
And, the map is not static - all those other, larger civilizations are looking to gobble up the smaller ones, just like you might be. Therefore, act fast, but act wisely, and consider your options!
In a raid, your dwarves will sneak in and attempt to steal items from the site, especially if they're artifacts. It will usually train your ambusher skill, so it may be useful if you want to raise that particular skill quickly. If you send someone to raid a site while they have a baby, the baby will go with them and also gain Ambusher skill.
Note: Raiding a site of a civilization you are at Peace with, for any reason, could cause them to declare war on your civilization. Act with care when choosing sites to pillage.
On a pillaging mission, your dwarves will openly attack the site, and if successful will result in your dwarves stealing livestock and loot if you have those options selected in the [d]etails menu. Pillaging uses the military tactics skill of each army's highest-leveled tactician, giving the side with a better one major advantages in the battle.
When razing a site, your dwarves will both openly attack and attempt to destroy the site, resulting in a more prolonged attack. If you are sure that your army will win against the opposing one, and you want that site gone, a razing mission is probably what you want to perform. Your dwarves will still bring home loot and livestock if you have these options selected. Like pillaging, a razing mission uses the military tactics skill.
Demanding tribute (one-time or ongoing) may result in the site providing goods to your fortress (if successful). They will do so in the form of a caravan that will drop off the goods at your depot and leave. Tribute caravans tend to be relatively small, but they are guarded. You don't have any control on the content of the tribute. What they bring depends on the civilization's available materials, the site's size and tracked items and so forth, and may range from excessively mundane (like a bunch of average quality clothing) to extremely useful (like exotic animals). Notably, tributes are one of the few ways to obtain evil animals tamed by goblins, such as beak dogs, for instance. Yearly tributes usually happen at the beginning of a season and may be arranged in any season, including winter. Demanding tribute is one of the few ways to "contact" another civilization without triggering an outright war, and therefore ensure that it will send out regular caravans afterwards.
Conquering a site relies on military force, while demanding surrender relies on negotiation under the threat of military force. If your demand of surrender isn't successful, your dwarves will then attempt to openly attack the site. There is no visible drawback to not always demand surrender beforehand, and taking over sites with minimal bloodshed can be surprisingly easy, especially for the low-population ones.
If successful, occupying a site will make it one of your fortress's holdings. Note that your forces will remain on-site as occupiers. One of them will then claim the title of administrator of the place, "after a polite discussion with rivals". (This will be announced in a lovely purple message.) The previous administrator of the place will also likely be killed by your dwarves, as is standard in the conquering mechanics of Dwarf Fortress (in worldgen and afterwards).
You may request (through a messenger) that your occupying dwarves come back to your fortress, but the administrator will remain there regardless. Dwarves that you request this way will still have the labor preferences you've enabled for them prior to sending them out, but won't be part of a squad, so you will have to re-enlist them after they come back. There is also no guarantee that they will wear the same equipment as they had when you sent them out, so you may not be that keen on strapping them with very valuable gear after all. Note that insurrections are explicitly disabled for your holdings, so at the moment there is no drawback to not requesting every single occupying dwarf to come back to your fortress (apart from FPS concerns).
An artifact recovery mission sets a specific artifact as the objective of a mission. This usually involves traveling to the last known or rumored location of said artifact. If your squad manages to encounter a bit of fun on any form of mission, members of those parties can be captured as prisoners by the inhabitants of the site you attempted to raid. When this happens, you can create a citizen recovery mission, whereupon the assigned squads will attempt to rescue the prisoner from whatever site they are held at. Captive citizens can join civilizations that captured them, so your next raid to the same site can be met with your own armor-clad legendary warriors as defenders, leading to unexpected fun.
You can also instruct your squad to free members of other civilizations you find at your destination. These other prisoners you rescue will come back with your squad and seek sanctuary at your fortress. Sometimes, even uninhabited tombs can contain "prisoners" that you can rescue. If you accept their request, these prisoners will become partial citizens. These units will have all basic labors enabled (such as hauling, construction, and the like), and will have any labors they are skilled in set to active with no way to deactivate them. Consider setting your workshop profiles a little more aggressively than normal if you don't want them filling orders reserved for more capable hands.
Artifact recovery and citizen recovery missions are created by selecting the desired recoverable from either the missing citizens menu (accessible with ) or the artifact menu (accessible with ). Once you've selected something, press to create a new mission, and move into squad selection. Although you can technically select recoverables that belong to sites of your civilization, squads on these missions will almost instantaneously return, and will deliver no report data.
Squad selection, as the name implies, simply involves selecting a squad (or multiple squads) to be sent out on the mission. Even if you do not select any squads by exiting the selection, the created mission will remain extant and active, albeit with no squads assigned to it.
Once an active mission has one or more squads assigned to it, the dwarves in those squads will automatically prepare themselves and leave the map's edge.
Depending on the civilization you are raiding/razing, the loot may change. For example, when you are raiding elves, you won't get metal items; you will mostly get grown wood items instead. This also applies to livestock: Raiding elves may result in the looting of many different types of animals (all tame). When raiding goblins, you will, interestingly, be able to obtain tame beak dogs, which are only trainable by dwarves, never tameable.
- Pressing on the Civilization/World Info screen will show a list of active missions. You can reassign squads and delete missions on this screen.
- When a squad returns from a mission, an announcement to the effect of "<squad name> has returned" will be generated, and a mission report will be visible in the eport menu. In the report, the path the squad took is traced on the map, and the events that took place along the way are revealed.
- Pets and other animals on missions can be killed or injured.
- The mission will NOT start until all dwarves assigned to the mission exit the fortress. This includes military dwarves that are imprisoned, hospitalized, or otherwise unfit for duty. This can be fixed by removing the problem dwarves from the assigned squads. The mission will also NOT start if any assigned war animals have not left the fortress. Ensure no assigned animals are caged, chained, or roosting if your squad is gone for a long time.
- Sending a token dwarf to demand the surrender of a site can initiate contact with a distant civilization, providing an additional yearly trade caravan.
- Receiving tribute from a site can establish peace with that civilization, at least temporarily.
- Nobles on missions still expect their existing mandates to be fulfilled, but are unable to issue any new requests.
- Missions to a site will still be carried out if the site has changed ownership. This can lead to fun when you end up accidentally raiding your ally.
- Missions against your parent civilization or your current holdings cannot be created, but any existing missions against those sites can be modified and dispatched. Raiding your parent civilization may start a civil war.
- Sieges against your fortress take from a hostile site's population, which will leave that site woefully undefended should you decide to retaliate.
- Some Recover Artifact missions, in which the artifact to be recovered is held by a creature instead of placed at a site, produce no mission report. The bug has been noted on the DF issue tracker
- There is an uncommon bug where squads sent on missions will never return and be forever listed as 'traveling'. To fix this, enter your (m)ilitary screen and replace each member in the missing squad with a random civilian in your fortress, then remove those civilians from the squad and leave it empty. Next, go to your (c)ivilizations/World Info screen and cancel the mission the squad was originally sent out to do. This is possible now that the squad is technically disbanded. The former members of the squad will eventually return to the fortress after a few days (thankfully still carrying their equipment) and it will announce 'XYZ squad has returned' when they do, even though they aren't in the squad anymore. You will need to delete the old empty squad and make another, as the game still thinks they are part of the old squad and won't let you re-add them to it.
- Dwarves who lose their limbs offsite won't actually realize they don't have their limb anymore until they get home, at which point everything they were wearing or holding on it will fall to the ground.
Mission reports have an animated map on the left side of the screen. A path is traced out from your fortress to the destination and events are "revealed" on the right side of the screen.
- This list is incomplete and might contain errors, please feel free to contribute
- Found nothing
- Slipped into (settlement) undetected
- Searched (settlement)
- Stole (artifact)
- Asked about (artifact)
- Caroused in (site)
- Looted treasure from (site)
- Seized livestock from (site)
- Freed the (species and name of prisoner)
- Confronted the (species and name of opponent)
- The (species and name of combatant) fought with...
- (Name)'s (body part) was torn out/ripped off/crushed
- (Name) was struck down
- (Item/Artifact) was looted from (former person holding it)
- (Name) spotted (your forces) slipping out of (site)
- (Your forces) attacked (site government) at (site)
- (Squad), led by (leader), clashed with (forces)
- (Your forces) rampaged throughout (site)
- (Your forces) defeated (site government) and took over (site)