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Quickstart guide/Migrants

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

Around every season, your fortress will receive a wave of migrants. Migrants can be good and bad – they provide extra labor but require more resources at the same time.


Whenever migrants arrive, it's important to make sure they have useful labors enabled and undesirable ones disabled. (Utilities such as Dwarf Therapist or DFHack can help with this.) Once they're all on your map (but before they make it to your meeting area), pause the game ( spacebar ), and take a look at them...

  • If you have any new farmers, you'll want to decide if they'll be active and join your farming industry, or if you want to stick with your current Grower(s). To activate, enable Farming (Fields) (growing). Crop-size is based on the Grower skill of the planter, so a couple Novice Farmers can crush an otherwise bountiful harvest - but it's better to have crops planted by a Novice than not at all.
  • The same is true with any newly arrived skilled dwarf - are they more skilled than what you already have? Do you need backup in the skills they offer? Do you want to keep your current (semi?-)skilled dwarves active, or retire them (perhaps to mining, or the military)? Skill levels are listed here and can be seen with v-g).
  • If you have any peasants, dwarves with no (useful) skills, it's entirely up to you which labors to enable. If you want, check their thoughts for preferences that might give a hint to particular talents. Enable the skill(s) you feel you need help with, but don't expect any quality work from them for some time. Just make sure they have something useful enabled – otherwise, they'll just sit around and waste your valuable resources.

Trapped migrants[edit]

If your migrants all stay near the place on the map where they arrived, make sure they have access to your fortress (and that the game is unpaused). If they don't move towards your fortress, it is most likely due to a river blocking their path. You'll need to build a bridge to get your migrants across the river. You will need an architect and a mason or carpenter (all of which you should have). Skill level doesn't really matter for this – you can enable architecture and masonry/carpentry on a random, unoccupied dwarf, and they'll manage to build the bridge with no experience whatsoever (it won't be a high-quality bridge, but that doesn't affect how it functions). It's up to you what material you want to use for the bridge – wood is lighter and faster to haul, but stone is usually easier to obtain.

Examples of bridges over a river. The one on the right is 4 tiles long (and required 2 logs), while the one on the left is only 3 tiles long (and required 1 log).
  1. Once you've decided on a building material, find a suitable place for a bridge (see the picture to the right for examples) and press b-g. It helps if you can find a place that is 3 tiles wide or less, which will only require one log or stone to build, although don't build too far away from your entrance if you're using stone (since it's heavy).
  2. Position the center of the bridge with the arrow keys and use u to resize vertically or k to resize horizontally. (This is the same as building farm plots.)
  3. Make sure the bridge is connecting both sides of the river and press Enter. Now, select building material(s) for the bridge with Enter (Shift-Enter will use the selected material as many times as necessary).

An architect will design the bridge, and then a mason or carpenter will build it. (These may be different dwarves, so don't panic if the architect leaves without building the bridge. You can check the bridge's status with q.)

Once the bridge is successfully built, the trapped migrants will begin moving towards your fort.