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In this part of the tutorial we're going to build a small and incomplete portion of the surface defense of your fortress. By default you need no defense in the tutorial game, since the INVADERS option‡ is set to NO, and the annoying badgers have been removed. However, even if you don't plan on turning INVADERS to YES, you should still go through with this section, since a drawbridge and lever used in the next section of the tutorial, and you'll be using the other commands demonstrated in other games. If you do plan on turning on the INVADERS options, see the defense guide and security design articles, since dealing with invasions is currently beyond the scope of this tutorial.

Masonry labor[edit]

To get things done more quickly, turn on masonry labor for some (or all) of the migrants, either with Dwarf Therapist or in the game‡ via v-p-l (architecture is under the Stoneworking labor group).


We're going to put a drawbridge north of your wagon (although it will function more like a portcullis than a drawbridge). To place a drawbridge use b-g, x to make it raise to the south, k-k to make it three tiles wide west-east, use the arrow keys to position it, Enter to place it, - and + to scroll through the list of materials to make it from, and Enter to select the material. This will leave a blinking bridge, to indicate that it hasn't been built yet:


If you interact (q) with the to-be-built bridge you'll note it says Needs Architecture. Building some things requires the architecture labor. Architecture only increases the value of the resulting building, so the only practical effect is that you have to have one or more dwarves with the architecture labor turned on, or buildings needing architecture will never be built. Turn on architecture labor for some of the migrants (architecture is under the Other Jobs labor group) and let them build.

Levers and mechanisms[edit]

When the bridge is complete it will be in the down (usable) position. To make is draw up you have to connect it to a lever, which requires mechanisms. You might have gotten a mechanic among your migrants. If not, turn on the Mechanics labor (under the Engineering labor group). Go to the level with the masonry and carpentry workshops and add a mechanic's workshop (b-w-t). When it's done, interact with it (q) and add three Construct Mechanism tasks (a-t three times). Your mechanic will carve three mechanisms out of three chunks of rock.

Now that you have some mechanisms, it's time to make a lever. Go to the living area level, use b-T-l, use the arrow keys to move the cursor right next to the stairwell, hit Enter to select that spot for the lever, and Enter again to select the mechanism to use. Your mechanic will take a mechanism and turn it into a lever. Interact with the lever (q) and select the Link up a Bridge task (a-b); the game will zoom from the lever to the bridge. Press Enter and your mechanic will connect the bridge to the lever by attaching one mechanism to the lever and another to the bridge. Once they're connect you can add a Pull the Lever task (q-a-P), and a short time after it's pulled the drawbridge will raise, turning it into a indestructible wall. Pulling the lever again will lower the bridge.

In-game notes[edit]

Often you'll have a game with multiple levers, and once you connect a lever up to something there's no way to determine what it's connected to. This can be a problem if you come back to a game days/weeks/months later, or if you're playing a game round robin with other players. The solution to this is to use in-game notes. N will bring you into notes mode. You can move the cursor around like normal, place a note with p, then give it a name with n (up to 20 characters long) and/or give it text with t (up to 100 characters long). Entering notes mode later will let you look at the text of the note to remind you what the lever does.

Constructing long walls[edit]

We already made walls when blocking off cavern entrances, but those walls only covered a single tile, a method which would be cumbersome for making long walls. Fortunately you can lengthen walls like you can for bridges and farm plots.

Go to the surface where the drawbridge is and do b-C-w to build a wall. Once in wall placement mode you can use k to make the wall longer west-east and u to make it longer north-south. Make the wall three long west-east, position it next to the bridge, and hit Enter. It will ask you for what materials to use, and say 3 Needed to tell you how many rocks/logs/etc are needed to build it. Use - and + to scroll to a rock, since you don't want to use up logs, and making a wooden wall would use the carpentry skill instead of the masonry skill. You can hit Enter three times to pick the selected rock three times, or you can hit Shift-Enter to select as many rocks as needed from the selected type. When you're done there'll be three column symbols in a row. Each symbol is a separate "make wall" job which aren't related to each other; placing a long wall like that rather than one tile at a time is merely a matter of convenience, and doesn't affect how the game treats the built walls. This means that if you want to suspend construction of the wall you have to do one suspension per tile.

Let the wall be built, then go one level up into the air above the ground. You'll see that the top is the wall is a floor.

Constructing stairs[edit]

Now we'll construct some stairs to get up to the floor on top of the wall. To place a constructed up stair use b-C-u, place the cursor where you want the stair, and continue like you did for constructing a wall. Now, while still in the construction menu use x to place an up/down stair, move the cursor to over the not-yet-built up stairs, and go up one level. The game will tell you No access to building material non-economic item. This is because, unlike with designations, you can't place an order for a construction until your dwarves have a path to the construction spot; this can be rather annoying if you're doing large scale constructions.

Let the up stairs be constructed, then go back and add the up/down stairs construction over it (b-{{K|C}-x). When the up/down stairs is done your dwarves will be able to access the floor on top of the wall.

Constructing floors[edit]

Go to one level above the ground, use b-C-f to place floors, press k two times to make the floor bigger west-east and u two times to make the floor begging north-south. This would place a 3x3 tile floor, but we're not actually going to make a 3x3 floor; this is just to let you know how to do it, in case you need to in the future. To shrink it back down press h twice and m twice, going back to a 1x1 floor. Move the cursor around, and you'll see that you can place the floor over the top-of-the-wall-floors, or north-east-south-west adjacent (orthogonally adjacent) to the stairs or the existing floors. The floor doesn't need any support under it, no matter how far it sticks out, since construction collapse is controlled by the same highly unrealistic logic as for cave-ins.

Place the floor next to the stairs or existing floor, not on top of an existing floor, and let your dwarves build it.

Constructing walls one level above the ground[edit]

Use b-C-w to enter wall construction mode and move the cursor around. You'll see that you can place a constructed wall over the floor which is the top of another wall, but not over the floor you just constructed; this means that if you want to a build a multi-story wall straight up then for each level you'll need to make a constructed floor next to the top-of-wall-floor as a "scaffolding". You'll also see that you can place the wall next to the stairs or any floor, hanging out over empty space without any support. This is another result of the unrealistic construction collapse logic.

Next tutorial article[edit]


  • You can order a lever to be pulled even if it isn't connected to anything, and you can set the profile for a lever as if it was a workshop. You can combine these two facts to easily make a particular dwarf go to a particular location. You can also set the pull lever job to repeat to keep the dwarf there for a while.
  • A single lever can be connected to multiple bridges (or other triggerable things). All the things the single lever are connected to be will be affected at the same time when the lever is pulled.
  • A single triggerable thing can be connected to multiple levers, which can be annoying if you're trying to connect multiple things of a single category (bridge/floodgate/etc) to a single lever, since all things in a a single category are listed when adding a "Link up a Thing" job. A single thing connected to multiple levers doesn't behave in an intuitive fashion, and is generally not a good idea.
  • When a drawbridge is raised it will fling away any items or creatures on it, unless it's supporting too much weight, in which case it won't be able to raise.
  • When a drawbridge longer than two tiles is lowered it will destroy any items under it, a method of item disposal known as a dwarven atom smasher.
  • When a drawbridge longer than two tiles is lowered it will kill any creatures under it, unless the creature is very large, in which case the bridge will be destroyed instead.
  • Drawbridges don't currently don't need moats since building destroyers ignore them.