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Mental breakdown

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

Mental breakdown preview anim.gif

Mental breakdowns are temporary conditions that cause a stressed dwarf to stop current work and go mad. Unlike insanity, these conditions are only temporary and may end on their own after some time, while insanity is not reversible. Unlike strange moods, breakdowns do not produce any artifacts. However, breakdowns are serious warnings; if you don't deal with the source of stress, affected dwarves will repeatedly experience breakdown until they eventually go insane. To make breakdowns less likely, see the article on keeping your dwarves unstressed.


Right now, there are three kinds of breakdown:

  • Tantrum
  • Oblivious
  • Depression

and the personality of the dwarf influences the type of breakdown.

Status tantrum icon.png Tantrum[edit]

<dwarf> is throwing a tantrum!
Throwing a tantrum!

A tantrum is a breakdown experienced mainly by dwarves with high propensity to anger. Tantruming dwarves will cancel any job they may be doing at the moment and will start misbehaving, which includes throwing items around, starting fist fights (with the possibility of severely injuring other dwarves), toppling and destroying buildings or hurting pets. This is of course illegal, and they will be imprisoned or flogged for their behaviour. But while law-abiding citizens will view their punishment as just, if the punishment is harsher than usual, their death may cause increased stress among your fortress's inhabitants. Also note that dwarves get stressed when getting hurt or when a masterwork they produced is destroyed, so a single tantrum can easily evolve into a tantrum spiral with all the fortress repeatedly going tantrum and eventually insane.

For a fistfight to start, a creature needs a body part with the [GRASP]-property and an [ATTACK:PUNCH:BODYPART:BY_TYPE:GRASP]-attack. So a modded dog, for example, will need to have GRASP added to one of its bodyparts, otherwise it won't start fighting.

If stress keeps accumulating, a tantrum-prone dwarf may eventually go berserk.

The mechanics for tantrums in the current version are not well known yet[Verify]. A dwarf throwing a tantrum will keep misbehaving for several days, during which time they will be a walking disaster zone. With the very slowly building and receding stress of DF2014, a dwarf will remain in a tantrum-capable state for months if not years. Since they will usually snap about once per month, a single tantrummer can cause immense damage/carnage.

Tantrumers will not have any needs while they are tantruming. Those will return when they are done.

Status oblivious icon.png Oblivious[edit]

<dwarf> is stumbling around obliviously!
Stumbling obliviously!

Obliviousness is a breakdown experienced mainly by dwarves with high propensity to anxiety. Oblivious dwarves will cancel any job they may be doing at the moment and stumble around until they regain their composure.

If unchecked, this can repeat until the dwarf eventually goes stark raving mad.

Status depression icon.png Depression[edit]

"Depression" in other Languages Books-aj.svg aj ashton 01.svg
Dwarven: ozon
Elvish: eyuca
Goblin: ostest
Human: bowu
<dwarf> has slipped into depression...
Sunk into depression...

Depression is a breakdown experienced mainly by dwarves with high propensity to depression.

Depressed dwarves will cancel any job they may be doing at the moment and mope around until they regain their composure. Unless stress levels are reduced, bouts of depression will repeat until the dwarf is eventually stricken by melancholy.

Damage control[edit]

Highly stressed dwarves with tantrum propensity can (and maybe should) be locked up in a room with a bed, chair and table, away from further stressors and from people they can harm. If their stress exposure remains low enough for an extended time – months to years – they may recover and no longer throw tantrums. Their "cell" should be assigned as their bedroom and potentially dining room, and provisions must be stored in the room or delivered remotely. Since this is a very slow and laborious process, less caring overseers may opt for more radical "cures".

Dwarves who develop stress should be watched carefully, to see if their personality makes them prone to tantrums. Due to the damage tantrums are likely to cause, keeping those dwarves away from further stress (or exposing them to increased danger to solve the problem in a different way) is highly recommended.

If a dwarf who is prone to mental breakdowns is not considered vital to the fortress, there is always the option to exile them as well - just be aware that their immediate family members, along with any pets they own, will follow them if those secondary individuals are currently present in the fortress.


Keeping your dwarves unstressed is an important task. There are many things that can cause stress to dwarves, and some dwarves just are more susceptible than others.

Dwarves want a personal bedroom to sleep in, and a proper seat and table to eat at - not providing them with these necessities causes regular stress increments.

Being regularly exposed to the outside tends to be harmful to dwarves, since they will either get unhappy over being out in the rain or, after a few years of mostly-underground fort life, become violently sick when exposed to sunlight. Catching sight of remains of sentient creatures, like the corpses left behind by goblin sieges, will likewise cause strong stress to all but the most hardened dwarves.

Limiting stressors appears to be the most important task for tantrum prevention in DF2014. Offering sources of happy thoughts – satisfying work, nice architecture, opportunities to mingle with friends and family – seem to help, but what a stress-susceptible dwarf needs most is the lack of further bad thoughts, not a glut of happy ones.

The Dreams of a Dwarf[edit]

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.

Even when sleeping, a dwarf can throw a tantrum

Sleeping is, as all dwarves know, an utter waste of booze-drinking time a necessary functionality that exists to prevent the creation of inferior booze. But a dwarf has dwarfy needs and, as such, even in the middle of welcoming foreign diplomats, completely depleted of energy, a dwarf will show their essence and throw a tantrum.

How a dwarf is able to throw a tantrum while sleeping is a mystery for the ages. Urist McDoctor claims that, while the tantrum doesn't manifest physically, mentally, in dreamland, the dwarf sees himself in the grandest of fortresses, hurling snowballs to their fellow man, creating dreams worthy of a dwarf.