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This article is about an older version of DF.
Thief icon.png

In fortress mode, a thief is a disgusting, dishonorable invading creature that can skulk around the map unseen until detected. When a thief is detected, the game pauses with an identifying announcement and moves the game view to include the threat. (this can be modified in init/announcements.txt).

(A full military response is both complex and slow. If you are unfamiliar with the military and simply want to send your nearest dwarves after a thief, see Attack.)

There are two types of intelligent thieves: kobold thieves and goblin snatchers. Their appearance seems to be dependent on whether your fortress is located close to kobold or goblin sites, and maintaining a large distance from their territory will dramatically decrease - if not completely nullify - the chance of thieves spawning. This is more easily manageable with goblins, but kobolds are more complicated, as by default, their caves do not show up in the embark map.

Both kinds will usually come in small groups of about 1-4 individuals. They try to escape once detected, and only fight when cornered. With the much larger detection ranges of DF2014, thieves are often found out fairly early. Consequently, they rarely succeed in stealing anything and almost never get caught. They can lurk around the map for quite some time and wait for their opportunity, even when they are already inside your fortress. They may arrive more or less simultaneously with sieges or ambushes, distraction and general turmoil working in their favor. Guarding any entrance with guard animals is a wise countermeasure. A successful theft of item or child will be announced once the thief leaves the map.

Spotting the thief is half the battle, but catching and killing them is not always easy. A thief can typically outrun an armored recruit and usually has enough of a headstart that even a trained military dwarf will rarely be able to catch up. (Thieves can't outrun crossbow bolts, though.)

Thieves not only steal your fort's own objects, but any loose item lying around - picking through and filching items left behind by sieges, for example.

Beware - if thieves successfully steal enough items from your fort, their civilization will (if it has the [SKULKING] entity token, which are kobolds in the vanilla game) become bold enough to send their military to ambush your dwarves. Thus, it is important to neutralize any thieves early.

Kobold thieves[edit]

Kobold thieves can start appearing quite early (first year) and will sneak right past all of your traps, only triggering them if they are injured during their escape attempt and happen to fall unconscious on one. Their ability to sneak into your fortress is not to be underestimated; locked doors do not slow them down, although doors that are linked to a lever (and are closed) will. They may be detected when they move into vision range (about fifteen tiles) of a dwarf or tame animal, in which case they'll immediately run away and escape through the map's edges. Armed with only a large dagger, they offer little threat to anyone should they get caught - an armed dwarf or dog should be able to take them down, but extreme bad luck is always a possibility in any combat situation. They try to get hold of valuable objects, which can lead them into the heart of your fort. Especially when the fort is in lockdown, they may also pilfer any items left outside.

The announcement for a kobold thief is...
Thief! Protect the hoard from skulking filth!
...and the game will zoom to a section of your fortress with a small grey k visible - that's your intruder.

Thieves will never target items which are tasked for jobs, or parts of buildings/constructions (this includes weapons in weapon traps, encased in stone, or on fire).

Goblin snatchers[edit]

Unlike kobolds, goblin snatchers happily run into any kind of trap. They aren't after your trade goods; they're after your children. They are detected the same way kobolds are, plus cage traps trigger the announcement. They should be approached with a little bit more caution, but any average soldier should take them down unharmed. A normal thief will carry a large copper dagger, but a master thief is known to carry an iron one. When they get their hands on one of your beloved(?) children, they will stuff them in a bag they carry with them for that purpose. The child is considered part of the snatcher's inventory -- in particular, if the goblin is caught in a cage trap, the child will be caught with him but will not be displayed as occupant of the cage. Since the event of a child being stuffed into a bag produces no notification, either, one can easily fail to realise the predicament of the child, which if left in this condition for too long, may go insane or die from hunger or thirst. Should the kidnapper escape the map while carrying an abducted child, you will be notified that "a kidnapper has made off with <childname>!". The child is removed from the fort and its parents and other relatives should get the "sad at being separated from a loved one" unhappy thought as a result.

The announcement for a goblin child-snatcher is...
Snatcher! Protect the children!
...and the game will zoom to a section of your fortress with a small grey g - if you use v or u, these will be listed as "goblin thief" but they're cut from the same stuff and should be terminated with equally extreme prejudice.
If caged by a trap, the zooming may only reveal a flashing "".

Dwarves may be sent out on missions to recover kidnapped children in case the snatcher manages to escape. It is also possible to rescue children kidnapped from other locations, which will add them to your fortress.


Certain "playful" creatures will also try to steal items from your hoard, if left open to more general traffic. These include raccoons, which tend to be solitary, groups of keas (which are frustrating to face because of their ability to fly), rhesus macaques and mandrills (which aren't just playful, but downright dangerous) and finally the most threatening animal thief, the dreaded giant kea. In addition, hungry and thirsty critters will try to eat your food and drink your booze respectively, if they can get to it. None of these animals has any special ability to avoid standard traps or bypass locked doors.

"Thief" in other Languages Books-aj.svg aj ashton 01.svg
Dwarven: gakit
Elvish: urithi
Goblin: snang
Human: sewat
Military and defense
Managing soldiers
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