v0.31:Stonegears/Digging deeper

From Dwarf Fortress Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Back to the main tutorial page

Going down[edit]

Now it's time to see what's down deep below the surface. This will only involve one miner, and we want to keep the other two busy. To keep them busy, designate two tunnels from the center of the living area, each one tile wide, one going west and one going east, out to the edge of the site; the tunnels will stop one tile short of the map edge, since you can't dig the very edge of the map. For each tunnel back away about 8 tiles from the edge and designate another tunnel branching north. The site-wide map for the living area level should look something like:


This will have two of your miners doing exploratory mining for minerals. Since each tunnel is only one tile wide each tunnel will only tie up one miner.

Designating the shaft to dig downwards will be a little different. Go to the stairwell at the center of the living area and set things up to designate up/down stairs (d-i). However, instead of using the arrow keys to move the X cursor around, move the mouse pointer over the center stair, hold down the left button, and with the other hand press > repeatedly. This will place a stairs designation where the mouse pointer is on every z-level that you pass through. Keep on going down until you hit relative depth ____/absolute elevation ____. ((Extra instructions if necessary to breach first cavern from above))

Now unpause and let your miners dig (there's on need to manually follow him/her down). Pretty soon the view will show some new scenery, and a message box will show the message You have discovered an expansive cavern deep underground. Press Enter to dismiss the box, and you'll find that the game is paused. Take the chance to look around (k) the cavern. Things you'll see:

  • Underground "trees". These are actually giant mushrooms with the consistency of wood, which can be cut down to make logs.
  • Underground shrubs. These are wild growing versions of the underground crops your farmer is growing.
  • Cave moss and floor fungus, underground versions of grass.
  • Webs, which your dwarves can gather to weave into silk cloth.
  • Underground pools, which can be used as a source for wells and irrigation
  • Various underground creatures. These can also be listed via the units screen‡ (u).

Uses and problems[edit]

Since the underground trees, shrubs and grass are types of fungus, breaching the cavern lets their spores out into the rest of your fortress, where they'll start growing on any underground floor which is made of soil or covered in mud (except for farm plots). This presents no danger, and can in fact be useful: if you dig out large areas of soil and leave them empty then they'll start growing trees which can harvests and grass which can be grazed, all of it safely underground rather than on the (possibly) dangerous surface. The spore-spreading can present a bit of a problem, since when a sapling grows into a tree it blocks movement, which can lock dwarves in or out of rooms. If this causes a problem you can construct a rock floor over the soil floor to prevent tree growth. The underground grass growing can also be a problem, if you want a bare floor of sand or clay so you can collect the sand or clay for making glass or ceramics. To fix this you can place a dirt road over the collection area to get your dwarves to remove the grass.

Besides the indirect use of releasing spores, the caverns can be used directly by letting your dwarves into them. They can cut down trees, create pastures where animal can graze, and set up farm plots on the muddy floor. However, the wild creatures which roam the caverns are more dangerous than the ones on the surface, so it's better to let the spores spread to the parts of your fortress which are safe. The underground creatures can also be used as live practice for your military.

Probably the biggest direct use of the caverns is to move some water from the pools into a reservoir, which can then be safely used for a well or for irrigation.

Building a wall[edit]

Before moving on deeper, you'll want to close off the hole you made into the cavern, since otherwise flying cavern creatures could fly up into your mine shaft. Go back to where your breached the cavern (a-z) and go up a few levels until you find the miner who was digging the shaft. List the miner's labors‡ (v-p-l) and turn on the Masonry labor under the Stoneworking labor group, so the miner can build a wall (other dwarves with the masonry labor on could do it, but we want it done by the closest dwarf possible, to get it done as soon as possible). Use b-C-w to order a wall to be placed, and move the cursor onto the stairwell right above the cavern. It turns out you'll get the warning message Needs walkable perimeter, which means that your dwarves can't build the wall from one z-level up, but have to do it on the same z-level while standing to the north, east, south or west of the chosen location (one of the orthogonal directions). Designate the tile to the north for an upward stairway (not an up/down stairway, which would create another hole into the cavern), and once it's dug you can now place a wall over the up/down stairway. A highlighted column symbol will be placed over the stairway, indicating an order to build a wall. You can interact with the order via q to look at its building status, suspend construction with s or cancel construction with x. Unpause and let the miner build the wall. If you try to interact with again via q you'll be told No Buildings Nearby. This is because constructions like walls only act like buildings while unbuilt. Next, try to put a digging designation (d-d) over the wall; you'll find that nothing happens. This is because constructed walls cannot be mined. If you change the designation type to Remove Construction (n) then the wall will start blinking C, showing that it's a construction which can be removed. However, you don't want to remove this wall, so just Esc back to the main menu.

Deeper still[edit]

Your miner is currently stuck, but can get out easily by designating an up/down stairway one level up, which will connect back up to the mine shaft. Next ((directions to breach the second cavern from the side)). This time placing a wall is easier, since there's already a place next to the hole where the miner can stand. However, we come to another example of dwarven stupidity, where a dwarf putting up a wall will often stand on the wrong side, walling themselves off someplace you don't want them to be. The workaround for this is to place a second "build wall" order on the spot where you don't want the dwarf to stand, then use q-s to suspend it; dwarves won't stand where the suspended construction order is while building the real wall. Unpause to let the dwarf build the real wall, then use q-x to remove the suspended wall. ((Directions to breach third cavern from above). Block off the hole like you did for the first cavern.

((Directions to dig down to semi-molten rock)) However, this time manually follow your miner down as s/he digs. At relative depth ___/absolute elevation ____ s/he will stop digging the shaft. One level down will be revealed a tile of semi-molten rock. Even though it's called "semi-molten" it's not molten or hot at all, but is rather just a special type of indestructible stone which can't be mined through. ((Directions to dig into magma sea from above)) You'll get the announcement Digging designation cancelled: warm stone located, with the game pausing and zooming to the location where it happened. Stone is warm if it's adjacent to a tile containing magma. The miner stopped and undid your digging designation because digging through warm stone might unleash a torrent of magma. If you go down one level below the bottom of the current shaft and enter the designation menu (d) then stone which is warm will be marked with a blinking . Designate the tile immediately below the shaft as an up/down stairway. Your miner will now dig through it, even though it's warm, because now you know it's warm, whereas before you'd discovered that it was warm after designating it. Digging through it will give you two messages in boxes: You have discovered a great magma sea and Raw adamantine! Praise the miners!. You want to block off this hole as well, since there's magma monsters which can escape if it's not blocked. To get room to place the wall, you can dig sideways (within the same z-level) through the warm stone without danger, since the stone floor you leave behind will be between your dwarves and the magma.

You should probably set a hotkey (h) for here so you can easily come back to it later.


The magma of the magma sea has two primary uses:

  1. Anything which is not magma safe can be destroyed by dumping it into magma.
  2. Magma can be used to power furnaces and forges, so you don't have to consume fuel to use them.

It also has two secondary uses:

  1. Combine it with water to make obsidian, a process called obsidian farming. Obsidian has three times the value of ordinary rock, is 1.5 times as valuable as flux, and can be used to make very sharp short swords. Also, it's just a cool material to make stuff out of.
  2. Elaborate traps, for the coolness factor.

The raw adamantine stone is the "ore" of the metal adamantine, the best metal in the game for armor and edged weapons, but the worst for blunt weapons and crossbow bolts; it is the most valuable metal in the game. Unlike all the other metals in the game, rather than being smelted directly from the ore, strands of adamantine thread are extracted by hand from the raw adamantine, after which the metal thread is melted into wafers.

For the moment your should leave the raw adamantine alone; steel is a good enough metal for weapons and armor in the meantime. However, if you have need of a really valuable piece of furniture, you can mine out a chunk of raw adamantine, enable its use for general purposes in the stone status screen‡, and turn it into a statue. The resulting statue will be worth at least 6250.

Next tutorial article[edit]



  • If you dig straight down from the surface it's easy to miss one or two of the caverns, and it's possible to entirely miss all three. On a typical flat embark the first cavern is about 10 to 15 z-levels down from the surface, so if you miss it try going to 12 levels and sending out horizontal exploratory tunnels to find it.
  • When you break into a cavern a large amount of it is revealed, most of it not in line-of-sight of the dwarf who broke through. You can reveal more of a cavern by breaking through the cavern wall in places close to the edge of what's already revealed. See "methods of exploration" for more details.
  • Constructing a wall from wood requires the carpentry labor, while making a wall from metal requires any of the four metal working labors beside furnace operating. Constructing a wall from anything else (like soap) requires the masonry labor, just like for building it from stone.
  • Removing a constructed wall doesn't require any labor to be set and can be done by any dwarf, including children and nobles.
  • Removing a constructed wall will always give back the material it was made from, so if you have a desperate need of a piece of the material a wall is made from you can remove it to make use of the raw material.