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Sometime during the first summer you'll receive your first wave of immigrants, consisting of two to nine dwarves. You'll get a second wave of two to nine dwarves in the first autumn, no immigrants in the first winter, and after that each season you'll get a number of immigrants based on the created wealth of your fortress. Immigrants sometimes bring along animals, either as pets or unclaimed. Unclaimed animals can either be butchered or put in the cage on the surface (q-a); grazing animals will have to be put into pastures with grass or they'll starve to death. Immigrants also sometimes come with children.

Stopping immigration[edit]

You can stop immigration by setting the POPULATION_CAP option‡ in d_init.txt to less than your current fortress population (or 0 to be really sure). You must save and restore the game for the option change to take effect. Note that there's nothing that can be done to stop the first two immigration waves, and it's reported that the population cap won't take effect until you have a population of at least 20.

Attracting migrants[edit]

You can attract more migrants by increasing the created wealth of your fortress. When a caravan leaves your fortress it reports back on your created wealth, attracting migrants. A good way to increase created wealth is to smooth and engrave natural stone walls and floors. In addition to smoothing/engraving walls and hallways, you can do it to mined out veins and clusters of valuable ores, since more valuable stone makes for a larger increase in wealth when smoothed/engraved.

Fortress population sizes[edit]

As your fortress population increases due to immigration (and the birth of babies) you'll hit certain milestones:

  • At population 20 your manager administrator‡ will need to personally approve of all work orders, and will need an office to do so.
  • After population 20 (and some other conditions) you'll be able to appoint a baron, who (if it wasn't bugged) would be able to appoint a dungeon master, who would let you tame exotic animals. See the tutorial article on nobles‡ for more information.
  • At population 50 one of your dwarves will become the mayor, most probably the expedition leader. As a noble the mayor can require rooms of certain quality and make demands and mandates. Again, see the tutorial article on nobles‡ for more information.
  • Sometime around population 80 goblins will start sieging your fortress, assuming that the INVADERS option‡ is YES (it starts out as NO for this tutorial) . It might happen while the population is slightly less than 80, or it might take as long a several game years after reaching 80 for the first siege to happen.
  • After population 140 (and some other conditions) the monarch of your dwarven civilization will arrive and make your fortress the capital of the country.

Immigrant housing[edit]

Each immigrant will need a bedroom. It's generally a good idea to have extra, empty bedrooms set up before the next migrant wave arrives, but if you don't you should be able to dig out the rooms and create the beds before the immigrants need to sleep (since dwarves only sleep a few times per season). And even if they have to sleep on the ground once, it won't make them too unhappy.

Sorting out your immigrants[edit]

The third party utility Dwarf Therapist greatly helps in sorting out immigrants, since it can group dwarves by immigration wave, and with it you can quickly turn on or off labors for large number of dwarves, or see at a glance what their skill levels are.

Immigrants with the same skills/labors you're already using[edit]

You should check out immigrants to see if they have the same skills and active labors as you're already using in your fortress, to see if they're more or less skilled than the dwarves you already had. For instance, if one of the migrants is novice at farming then you should turn off the Farming (Fields) labor in the immigrant so as to not lower the yields of your farms (or, if you have a surplus of food, you might want to turn off farming for your more experienced farmer, to let the less experienced one gain experience to be a replacement in case the more experienced one suffers and accident). If one of the migrants is more skilled at carpentry or masonry than your starting dwarves then you could turn up the minimum skill in the related workshop's profile to ensure that the most skilled dwarf is doing the job. You should especially check to for the thresher (plant processing skill), cooking, brewing and butchery, since the dwarf you currently have assigned to them has no skill at them.

Hunters and fishers[edit]

You should also look out for immigrants who are hunters or fishers, since they'll do their jobs automatically by just having their associated labors on. Hunters will go out, kill wild animals, and bring their corpses back for butchering. Butchering can take a long time since butcher shops can easily become cluttered, and corpses which aren't butchered soon enough will rot. If you do decide to let a hunter hunt then make sure to have at least one hauler‡ dedicated to food and refuse hauling to keep the butchery uncluttered, a dwarf dedicated to butchery to butcher the corpse as soon as possible, and a dedicated tanner to tan the raw hides before they rot.

As for fishers, you probably want to fish turtles with someone as unskilled at fishing as possible, who will produce only small stacks of raw turtles, since due to a bug a stack of raw turtles will only produce a single turtle shell rather than one shell per turtle, and shells are the primary reason you want to fish turtles (for use in strange moods‡).

What to do with all these dwarves[edit]

Assign a bookkeeper[edit]

If you assign a dwarf to be your bookkeeper and give him/her an office then s/he can increase the accuracy of your stockpile records. This will let you make better use of the stocks screen‡. Go here‡ for how to appoint a bookkeeper and set up an office.

Assign a full time manager administrator[edit]

When your population hits 20 then each job order added to the job manager‡ will need to be individually approved by the manager administrator, rather than automatically going through. Using the same instructions as for setting up the bookkeeper‡ you can set up a manager administrator and the required office, changing the administrator to be one of the migrants, since the dwarf who you chose before as the administrator is probably one who has skills you want to be used for other things. Once this is done, turn off all of the manager's labors so s/he'll be ready to approve a work order whenever one is added.


You can increase the efficiency of your fortress by turning off the hauling labors of skilled dwarves and choosing some migrants for whom all labors but hauling are turned off, making them haulers. If you then put stockpiles‡ for the appropriate raw materials next to the workshops that use those raw materials then the skilled dwarves can make short trips from the workshop to the stockpile and back for repeated jobs rather than travelling across the fortress to fetch the raw materials they need.

Masons for construction projects[edit]

If you're going to be making lots of constructions like walls and floors (rather than digging them out of the ground) then you'll want to turn on the masonry labor for many of the migrants to speed up the construction project.

Starting other industries[edit]

You can use immigrants to set up more industries besides the food and stonecrafting ones you already have.


If you have the INVADERS option‡ set to YES then you'll want to build up a military to deal with ambushes, sieges and various marauding fantastic beasts. Building up your military is currently beyond the scope of this tutorial, but INVADERS is set to NO for this tutorial, so you don't have to deal with the military during this tutorial if you don't want to.

Just leave them idle[edit]

If you don't have work for all your dwarves you can just let them idle and hang out, so long as you have enough food and booze for all of them.

Next tutorial article[edit]