v0.31:Stupid dwarf trick

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A stupid dwarf trick is any project that requires a large amount of time and effort - often for little or no practical benefit. They exist only as a challenge for experienced players.

Adventure Mode Fortress[edit]

Build a fortress specifically for exploring in adventure mode. You can either make a nasty monster-filled challenge, or a smörgåsbord of masterpiece adamantine weapons and armor. Possibly both. Breaching the caverns or hidden fun stuff should ensure the fortress is occupied.

Difficulty: The sky's the limit.

Usefulness: No direct usefulness in the fort where it's built, but Adamantine weapons and armor can be very useful in Adventurer Mode. In theory, an adventurer can also leave items there which you can use in Dwarf Mode if you reclaim the fort, but in practice there is not really much worth the trouble.

Alarm Clock[edit]

Are your soldiers all sound asleep, while blood soaks the walls? No need to deconstruct their beds one by one, if you bought the Dwarf Wakey 3000! Simply a solitary floor tile balanced on a support, one or more can be toppled with the pull of a lever to produce an earth-shaking racket that'll have them leaping for their axes!

Difficulty: Low.

Usefulness: Limited. They will sleep through anything Noise. Although have been known to awaken when drenched in water, only waking up due to thinking it's alcohol, making an Alarm clock not impossible, if carefully prepared.

Alphabet Cages[edit]


Use captured monsters in cages to spell messages.

Difficulty: Medium. Vowels are hard to come by.

Usefulness: Absolutely none whatsoever. (Easy reminders in case you're too lazy to use notes?)

Aqueduct Power[edit]

If your river's a long way away from your fortress, building a trans-map axle may be less efficient than building an aqueduct and pump stack driven by waterwheels in the river. The pump stack raises it to the height of your fort, where it flows through the long, long aqueduct and drives waterwheels on the other end. Getting the water pressure just right so it powers your waterwheel without flooding the fort can be Fun. Diagonal channels make good pressure reducers.

Difficulty: High. Lots of stone, lots of engineering, lots of dangerous outdoor work, lots of trial-and-error for the receiving waterwheels.

Usefulness: High. As much water and power as you want, wherever you want, whenever you want.

Aquifer Power[edit]

Aquifers can be a resource of immense power. If you have two levels of aquifer, you can generate a continuous flow by draining one level of aquifer into another and plant waterwheels above it. One stream can power a lot of wheel.

Difficulty: High. Anything to do with draining aquifers is very Fun.

Usefulness: High. The lowly windmill pales in utility compared to a waterwheel.

Archaeological Excavation[edit]

A Fortress in the Caverns, built by the first dwarf tribes. Build the Fortress however you see fit for those prehistoric Dwarves (i.e. only primitive metals, elaborate tombs for the chieftains with burial objects, cave art, etc.) and abandon it. Then, embark with modern Dwarves, and excavate the ancient Fortress. Sort of like the Adventure Fortress above, only for Reclaim Mode

Difficulty: As High as you want.

Usefulness: Not applicable.

  • Bonus: A Museum detailing the lives of those early dwarves

Artificial Waterfall[edit]

To keep the waterfall going, you need a pump stack, preferably powered by a windmill or water wheel. Alternatively, an aquifer, or other limitless water source, makes for a waterfall entirely underground.

Difficulty: Moderate (Low if there is an aquifer above pouring down).

Usefulness: Dwarves love waterfalls. Putting a waterfall in your meeting hall will give your dwarves good thoughts, although it can significantly lower frame rate.

  • Bonus: Build it in a "Warm" or hotter climate so it does not freeze.
  • DwarfBonus: Build it in a freezing/cold/temperate climate and keep it going entire year!
  • MegaDwarf Bonus: Use magma. It does not freeze, even in a freezing climate!
  • MegaDwarf Bonus EXTREME+: Use magma and water in the same waterfall. The results will enshrine you in dwarf history! Possibly permanently.

Ballista Battery[edit]

Overlap a few ballistas to completely cover a narrow corridor. There is an unavoidable risk of your operators wandering into the line of fire.

Difficulty: Low. If you insist on highly-trained operators with high-quality ballistas, it gets harder.

Usefulness: A complicated and dangerous way to defend a single corridor. Ultimately extremely effective. Sometimes.

Bolt Recovery Operation[edit]

One curious property of Dwarven Physics is that a bar of metal makes 25 bolts, but if each of those 25 bolts is melted separately, they will become 2.5 bars, generating metal from nothing. The trick is in separating the stacks of bolts into individual bolts without destroying them, for which EliDupree found this trick:


The @ at the right is a stack of marksdwarves (all in different squads so that they'll stand on the same tile) with adamantine bolts. The @ at the left is a single Perfectly Agile soldier with orders to patrol up and down, with little delays at the top and bottom. The "g" at the left is a goblin standing on a pillar (I pitted it from the z-level above.)

When the dwarf at the left runs up or down the line of doors, it opens all of them, and some of the marksdwarves shoot their bolts. By the time the bolts get there, the doors have closed, so they hit the doors and fall into the channel, where they can be collected and melted separately. (That distance is exact, by the way. Any less and they sometimes get shots through the doors, which kills your goblin. Also, with less-skilled marksdwarves, some of the bolts will stray and land on the floors, but that isn't enough to worry about even with mere dabblers.) Naturally, this is also an excellent way to train marksdwarves.

Difficulty: Moderate. The hardest part is getting the marksdwarves to shoot from exactly the right spot.

Usefulness: High. Even in .18 or worlds generated with high mineral availability, because you can do this to generate adamantine.

Break the Dam[edit]

Dam a river (or brook) using something non-permanent (floodgates, drawbridges) and build your fortress entrance in the now dry river bed, make sure you can seal it off nicely (floodgates anyone?) then wait till the first Goblin siege, let them get to your entrance floodgates, seal them, open the dam and laugh manically

Difficulty: Low

Usefulness: Instantaneous death to all sieges

SuperDwarf bonus: Do this with magma


A bridge that opens outwards, to fling enemies away. Ideally, they land in a very nasty place.

Difficulty: The hard part is the nasty place they get flung to.

Usefulness: There are far more effective ways to defend a fortress, but few are as entertaining.


Build a wall across a riverbed to stop the flow of water. Floodgates optional.

Difficulty: On a map that freezes in the winter, or an aquifer located below the river, this is easy. Otherwise, very difficult. (See dam, or Moses effect, below. But with the bonuses it gets a bit harder.

Usefulness: Depends on how many bonuses you fulfill. The power station is obvious, and with the control room you could build up a nice defense system.

  • Bonus: Excavate a reservoir and a lower river valley.
  • Bonus: Build a control center to control the water flow.
  • Bonus: Draw your entire energy from a power station within.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Use screw pumps and another dam to replace the water with magma.

Danger Room[edit]

A room full of upright spear traps linked to a lever or pressure plate. Teach your dwarves to dodge the pointy sticks!

Difficulty: Low to Medium, depending on how you activate the traps.

Usefulness: High. Trains combat skills very quickly, assuming you don't kill anyone.

Downside: Civilians and pets that wander into the danger room will inevitably get killed, even if you use low quality training spears.

  • MegaDwarfBonus: Menacing spikes greatly increase the danger, and may help train your medical team (and/or your coffin construction crew).
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Use adamantine spikes! On the plus side, you have a thriving coffin industry going now.

Day Care[edit]

A room where you put all your dwarf children so they cannot be kidnapped by snatchers. Make a suicide booth setup that drops the child into a room with beds and tables and stuff. Remember to include a food chute to quantum stockpile a huge amount of food and alcohol on a 1x1 stockpile (so it doesn't rot) in the room. High quality food, furniture, and socializing should keep them happy. Note that the children will no longer be able to perform certain useful tasks like crop harvesting and deconstruction, and will not level up their skill in various professions like an otherwise vulnerable child, but this is a small trade-off if they usually get kidnapped before maturing anyway.

Difficulty: Low (burrows).

Usefulness: Low. Protecting the children may be more trouble than it's worth.

Doberman Bomb[edit]

Whenever a dog or cat gives birth, stuff all the kittens and puppies in one cage in your entryway. Link this cage to a pressure plate beside it. Should your last lines of defense be breached, goblins will step on it and in the next instant be torn apart by dozens of goblin-seeking hostiles and distracted by dozens of surplus targets. The trap actually going off will probably be very bad for your frame rate.

Difficulty: Low.

Usefulness: Medium, potentially fortress-saving

  • Bonus: Train all dogs inside as war dogs when they mature.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Make it a Bear Trap.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Combine with a drowning chamber and carp trap.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Make it a Rhino Trap.
  • SadisticDwarfBonus: Make it a Panda Trap.
  • YouHorribleEvilDwarfBonus: Make it a Badger Trap

Drowning Chamber[edit]

Difficulty: Moderate.

Usefulness: You can kill prisoners, useless peasants, irate nobles, hammerers, untamable animals, or anything else. Just be ready for something that knows how to swim.

  • Bonus: Utilize lava.
  • Bonus: Utilize trained fish.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Edit the raw and do both!

Dwarfputer Complex[edit]

A big mess of fluid and/or machine logic full of hatches, floodgates, gears, pumps, etc. and powered by waterwheels, windmills, or useless idle dwarves. Hook it up to doors, bridges, and traps.

Difficulty: Medium to high, depending on what you want to build. You'll want to build for very high water flow if you have more than a few fluid gates.

Usefulness: Your mechanics and architects will level up very fast. Manual pumps give something for your haulers to do. Try and make a clock to trigger different mechanisms in different seasons. See if enemies actually blunder into your intricate traps. Watch all hell break loose as water freezes.

Dwarven Apartment Complex[edit]

Essentially, one of the many possible megaprojects dedicated to providing dwarves with rooms so high above the ground they get vertigo. Every floor must have plenty of rooms of at least 2x3 squares, with walls and a door surrounding this. Oh, and it has to go up as many Z-levels as possible. For extra credit, decide on what the top story will be (i.e. as many levels up as you deem possible, minus one so you can build a roof) and turn this into a Royal bedroom for a noble, complete with gem windows, artifact/masterwork components, and untold numbers of armour stands and weapon racks. And then build some shorter but wider apartment buildings nearby to turn your fortress into essentially a giant fist with extended middle finger. Extra points for adding extra useless things for luxury, such as a magma-based heating system, fireplaces in rooms, and a lock-down lever in case of goblin attack. (or a self-destruct lever connected to the main supports, in case your dwarfish tenants are unsatisfied with your 5-star service.

Difficulty: Low, although the walls around the rooms can be a bit fiddly due to the impossibility of building walls on constructed floors (yes, an extra credit challenge is to do this without using Remove Construction).

Usefulness: Limited, because you could just dig the things underground and save yourself the hassle. However it is much harder to flood a tower than a cave, in case you're prone to fun by water. Additionally, if you have the time and resources to train a sizable force of marksdwarves, placing a few "security rooms" (with barracks, ammunition store, ration cache, armory, etc) at appropriate floors, complete with fortified balconies, will allow you to take advantage of the higher vantage point.

Megadwarfbonus: Extend the tower to have levels below ground as well as above.

Dwarven Day Care[edit]

A cruel and unusual attempt at raising a Dwarven super soldier. Constrain a dwarven child (must be one year old to actually eat and drink) in a very small room with an alarmingly high number of animals (dogs seem popular). Have the child fed food and alcohol through ceiling hatches, while he endures 11 years of constant physical and mental trauma as he fights for his life.

Theoretically, if done optimally, when you release the full grown dwarf, he will be an incredibly combat experienced, battle hardened, emotionally desensitized, 12 year old super soldier. Practically, the combat training will be very sporadical and slow and the strain on the child's physical and mental health is enormous. Not to mention that a few weeks of danger room practice will produce much higher and more combat-applicable skills than the whole arduous "day care" process.

Difficulty: Low to medium to construct, depending on the details of your exact daycare. Achieving any kind of success appears very difficult.

Usefulness: Considerable, if successful.

  • Bonus: name subject "Bane" upon his emergence from the room.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Make several daycares, and mass produce.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Do some experimenting to invent the perfect daycare with the best possible results, then publish your findings on the forum or this page.

Dwarven Disco Ball[edit]

Why waste all those cut gems on things that only some selfish noble will enjoy? Create as large a wall-less sphere as you can, then cover it in Gem Windows of 3 different-colored gems to make it shine! The bigger, and more valuable gems involved (e.g., rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, or colored diamonds if you're really masochistic), the dwarfier.

Difficulty: Constructing a sphere is very hard, especially the larger you make one. Gathering enough differently colored gems can also be very hard, depending on stone layers. Trading helps a lot.

Usefulness: Negative. More value can be created by encrusting furniture, and Gem Windows lack quality.

  • MegaDwarfBonus: Use lava contained in glass for illumination.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Caged "Dancers".

Dwarven Labor Camp (aka Dwarkuta)[edit]

Create an aboveground walled fortress in a freezing climate with guard towers, barracks, housing, and armories. Dig a long ramp downward and add a large mining network below the surface. Make some small military squads to guard the camp. Designate the lower levels as workshops, and when migrants arrive, assign them to the mines. Give the workers minimal food and only water (no booze, booze is for the hypocritical decadence of Dwarkuta's leaders). Have them haul the stone and metal they mine back to the surface and ship the raw materials off to the Motherland. Import only food, booze, weapons, fuel, and other necessities.

  • Bonus: Build the giant digging machines. They don't actually have to dig anything.
  • MegaBonus: Escape. Wait for a goblin siege, then get everyone underground and block the entrance. Let the goblins in. Wait a few months. The goblins are now the guards you must kill.

Step 1. Secure the keys: Make improvised weapons. If you have obsidian at your disposal, make rock short swords.

Step 2. Ascend from darkness: Get your dwarves out of the mines and into the camp.

Step 3. Rain fire: Use your imagination. Try using magma, if possible.

Step 4. Unleash the horde: Attack!

Step 5. Skewer the winged beast: If the goblins brought a giant bat or other flying creature, kill it.

  • Bonus: Use a ballista.

Step 6. Wield a fist of iron: Break open the armory and equip your rebels with armor and weapons.

Step 7. Raise hell: Exactly what it says on the tin.

Step 8. Freedom!

  • MegaDwarfBonus: In Adventure mode, try (and probably fail) to lead the prisoners to freedom.

Dwarven Refrigerator[edit]

Dig down to the 3rd cavern layer and harvest as many nether-caps as you can. Make them all into barrels! Nether caps have the unique property of being 10000° Urist, which is 32°F or 0°C. Now your dwarves can enjoy their favorite alcohol, cheese, and plump helmets chilled to perfection! If you've set your population cap very low in the INIT files, caverns aren't extremely dangerous, but you should still be on the lookout for nasties down there. Remember to wall off your entrance to the cavern once you're finished.

Difficulty: Low to Medium

Usefulness: None except pretty colored barrels

  • Bonus: Nether-caps are magma-resistant. Flood your food stocks with magma to keep them safe from vermin and marauders.

Emergency Destruct Stairs[edit]

A tall column of stairs plunging all the way down into the underdark, with a one-tile wide area of thin destructible floor all around it. In case of subterranean invasion, a thrown switch drops a stone O straight down, ringing the staircase and neatly severing all inter-level connections at a blow. Does with one lever and one support what would take dozens of bridges or hundreds of retracting grates.

Difficulty: Harder than it sounds.

Usefulness: Sometimes... sometimes they fly.

Execution Tower[edit]

Just a tall tower to chuck your captives to their deaths.

Difficulty: Easy.

Usefulness: Lets you dispose of prisoners, and claim expensive silk, meltable iron, and (eventually) useful bones. Also highly amusing.

Flood the World[edit]

Difficulty: High danger. Will kill your frame rate.

Usefulness: Will prevent any sieges, at least. Or anything else, save for the occasional invasion of sociopathic Carp.

  • Bonus: Use magma.
  • MegaDwarfBonus: Use trained fish to kill off all creatures not of your colony.

Gladiator Arena[edit]

Station some soldiers at the bottom of a shallow pit and dump your captives in. You can also use dangerous animals instead of soldiers. For extra points, put the prisoners in cages connected to ramps underneath the arena floor. One lever will open both the cage and a hatch above the ramp. Variant: build prisoner cages inside the arena, link to a lever outside the arena, lock the soldiers in, and then open the cages.

Difficulty: Low, but time consuming. Some danger depending on the relative skill of your soldiers and the danger of the captive. (If the prisoners have weapons, you can remove them by using d-b-d to dump the cage and its contents, then looking at and undumping the cages themselves with k-d).

Usefulness: Low to High, depending on how long your soldiers can draw out the execution. Equipping your soldiers with wooden training weapons can greatly increase the fun (and/or Fun if their armor isn't as good as you thought).

Glass Ceiling[edit]

Sick of having your dwarves vomit all the time when they go out to retrieve loot or lumber? Despair no more! Build an almost-infinitely tall tower, and then put a glass floor on the highest level, spanning the entire map. For extra kicks, make a mechanism that will crash the entire thing upon the heads of the one goblin horde that manages to get through all your other deathtraps.

Difficulty: Medium. Very gruelling.

Usefulness: Low, but potentially fortress-saving. (see above)


A greenhouse is just a farm with the the ceiling channeled out from above. This lets you grow outdoor plants without venturing above ground. For maximum style, build the greenhouse above ground and cover it with a glass roof to keep your farmers safe.

Difficulty: Low.

Usefulness: Medium. Surface plants can be grown at any time of the year, and some are more useful than those available underground - for example, sun berries can be brewed into valuable Sunshine, and whip vines can be milled into superior quality flour. Having greater food and booze diversity can also keep your dwarves happier.

  • Bonus: Give it a glass floor to allow surface plants even lower down.

Hammer of Armok[edit]

A gigantic hammer made out of pure steel and/or valuables looming over your fortress entrance ready to smite those foolish enough to lay a siege on you. Also gives you a psychological advantage over the traders who unload their goods under it. Attach to a lever-linked support for quick-smiting.

Difficulty: Low. Depends on size and materials, though. Make it a gold hammer menacing with adamantine spikes, if you're going for high quality.

Usefulness: Low-medium. 10x10 size is minimum for practical effectiveness. 30x30 attached to a handle extending from your entrance actually works against sieges.

  • Bonus: Cover it with blood.

Ice tower[edit]

Building a huge tower is easy. To make things more fun, make one out of some exotic material, like glass, ice, gold, or soap.

Difficulty: Low. You need to be on a freezing map to pull off an ice tower.

Usefulness: Depends entirely on you.

Journey to the Center of the Earth[edit]

Construct a sturdy vessel hanging over the top of a magma pipe or volcano, outfitted with everything your intrepid crew might need for their journey of exploration - food, booze, sleeping quarters and a bridge a must, but depending on the amount of effort it can include other items such as a recreation deck, water reservoir and trade depot for dealing with the natives. When all is ready, lock the explorers inside and send them on their way. Bonus points if you can detach it from inside so you can use it in Adventure mode later.

Difficulty: Moderate to High, depending on the size of the ship. For bonus points, carve the entire thing out of existing rock overhanging a magma pipe and engrave it with messages. The main problem is getting the whole crew inside at the same time - separate sleeping quarters help here.

Usefulness: Negative. For some reason, no explorers have returned. Of course, if you select only the Best and Brightest for the ship's crew...

  • MegaDwarfBonus: Design it so that it can return OR send all of your nobility on the voyage.


A maze of twisty little passages, all alike. Traps and dangerous animals are essential. You can have a retracting bridge drop invaders in, or just have a labyrinth as a back door.

Difficulty: It's a lot of mining. Having a bridge drop invaders inside is more difficult, but more useful.

Usefulness: It makes a nice element of fortress defense, and you can dump your prisoners inside it. Also makes a great place to explore in adventure mode.

  • Bonus: Generate a world with large mountain caves. Instead of using the labyrinth as your backdoor, use it as your fortress.
  • Bonus: Release a live caged minotaur into the maze.
  • MegaBonus: Make it three-dimensional and unicursal.

Magma Chamber[edit]

Difficulty: Dangerous as any magma project.

Usefulness: It's like a drowning chamber, but any non-iron items carried by the victim will be destroyed. Depending on your style of play, this may be a good thing.

Magma Cannon[edit]

It can be done! It uses a row of pumps to pressurize the magma in a chamber with only one exit. When the floodgate opens, the magma flies out a short distance.

Difficulty: Very high. You need metal (or glass) screw pumps to make it work, magma-safe floodgates and mechanisms, plus a big above-ground construction.

Usefulness: Marginal. But very cool.

Magma Highway[edit]

Magma moves across the map annoyingly slowly, due to its thickness and lack of pressure. But a tunnel several Z-levels high, with magma entering at the top, will flow much faster because the magma's falling in, not flowing in, and can expand on either Z-level before falling down.

Difficulty: Medium. Not hard to make, but cutting open a multi-Z magmafall is fun.

Usefulness: Medium.

Magma Mausoleum[edit]

This trick involves dripping water on to the middle of a magma pool until you have a column of obsidian, then channeling down into the obsidian more than one Z level, and putting a burial receptacle there. This probably won't work in magma tubes or Volcanos since the created obsidian would fall into the bottomless pit. The trick is getting the water to fall onto the magma in a controlled manner.

Difficulty: High. Requires certain resources from the start, plus lots of setup. And your dwarves tend to erupt into dwarf steam occasionally.

Usefulness: None, since an obsidian lined room with the exact same furniture somewhere else will please your nobles just as much.

  • Bonus:Put the coffin at least 20 floors down.
  • Megabonus:Build it in a volcano if possible, and put the coffin at the very bottom of the map

Mass Cage Recycling System[edit]

Build a Mass pitting system to recycle your cage trap cages quickly.

Difficulty: Very easy. Requires basic digging and very little time.

Usefulness: Very. Keeps you from having to build cages before releasing monsters from them. With six hatches you can safely empty out 48 cages very quickly. You can build lots of cage traps without having to worry about emptying each cage individually.

  • Bonus: Cover the floor of your pit with cage traps, creating a neverending cycle and giving your dwarves something to do during the long harsh summer when going outside is overly taxing on their stomachs.

Mega/Water Drowning Trap-Thing[edit]

This is basically a channel above some pressurized water with a short tunnel leading to a door. The door needs to be connected to a lever somewhere in a safe part of the fortress. Position the door facing the main stairs into your fortress (for multiple stairs use multiple traps). When enemies come down the stairs, pull the lever and make them drown. (It helps to seal off the rooms).

Difficulty: Medium. Needs flowing water under pressure and levers.

Usefulness: Medium. Depends on the size of your fortress/defences/amount of attackers. Works well with fire creatures to create a sauna.

Monumental Statue[edit]

Difficulty: Depends on how big you want the statue to be. If you are feeling really masochistic, cast it out of obsidian using magma and water.

Usefulness: None.

  • Bonus: Make the statue hollow and have dwarves live inside it.

Moses Effect[edit]

With enough pumps, you can pull water out of a square faster than it flows in. This can create a reverse waterfall, or a dry spot in the middle of a flowing river. The effect is like Moses parting the Red Sea.

Difficulty: Surprisingly easy.

Usefulness: You can use this trick to create a waterfall or drowning chamber. It is also important if you want to pass through an Aquifer, although that is far more difficult. The same trick can be used in lieu of a drawbridge, although its practicality as compared to the drawbridge is highly questionable.

Obsidian factory[edit]

You need one reservoir of water, and one of magma. Mix, cool, mine, and repeat as necessary.

Difficulty: Medium.

Usefulness: Obsidian is 50% more valuable than flux and 3 times as valuable as ordinary stone, making it ideal for your masons and stone crafters. Done properly, it can also serve as a magma chamber and a drowning chamber.

Pit o' Doom[edit]

Combine with an Execution Tower for maximum z-level executions! Traps which menace with spikes are a must.

Difficulty: Low. You want it nice and deep though.

Usefulness: Dispose of prisoners, execute nobles, gruesome fatal injuries, laugh maniacally.

Pressure Washer[edit]

A huge tower with floodgates at the bottom on one side. When opened, the pressurized water fires out and pushes anything in the way of the flow away. Depending on size, can be surprisingly powerful. You can see an example tower here.

Difficulty: Medium, construction technique takes some consideration.

Usefulness: Medium-High. Tested in version .40d with 50 recruits standing in front of it when the floodgates opened, killed 46 of them, including ones not pushed into the pit.

  • Bonus: Fill it with Magma instead (though Magma doesn't pressurize).

Rehabilitation Centre[edit]

Had any problems with dwarves charging brainlessly towards the enemy, getting slaughtered, and then starting a tantrum spiral that will destroy your fortress? Turn your prison into a luxurious room full of things that make dwarves happy. Add artifact furniture, beds, a booze stockpile, chains made of gold (or anything valuable,) a waterfall, creatures in cages, etc. Hopefully they will return to society as a happy, productive dwarf.

Difficulty: Low-Medium. Acquiring valuable items and setting up the waterfall can be annoying sometimes. Also you need guards to actually put them in jail. And it can be a real pain when those ungrateful sobs destroy the nice furniture you give them.

Usefulness: High. A tantrum spiral can quickly turn a productive fort of 200+ dwarves into a rioting fortress inhabited by a bunch of insane, miserable dwarves who spend their time punching people and breaking furniture. Don't let it happen to you.

MegaDwarfBonus: Points for making every other dwarf drink water and sleep on cheap beds.

Road of the Damned[edit]

Create a giant channel filled with spike traps, 10 tiles wide and going all the way from your fort to the map edge. Pave it over with crystal glass so traders can get that foreboding feeling that'll make them seal the deal without bargaining too hard!

Difficulty: Low-mid, depending on the rarity of crystal glass.

Usefulness:Low. The same as a normal road.

  • Bonus: Spike a goblin on every trap!

Sectorized World[edit]

Divide the world edges into multiple sectors and then gate access to each one separately. This allows you to protect your fortress from seiges whilst keeping access to most of the outside world and allowing most traders into and out of the fortress (those unfortunate enough to enter the world from the same direction as the seigers may be screwed, of course). For bonus points, build separate gateable access routes for each sector. For further bonus points, design your fortress so that you can simultaneously allow access to traders at the same time as seigers are exposed to your defensive mechanisms.

Difficulty: Low, unless you allow separate access routes for each sector in which case high.

Usefulness: Moderate, increasing with each bonus you fill. Mostly for those who want to build the best possible defenses. Can also double as a means of easily trapping wild animals.

Self Destruct Lever[edit]

A mechanism that, for example, could flood your fort with magma, or release a trapped megabeast. For bonus points, build the whole fort on a single support.

Difficulty: Very high. Extremely fun.

Usefulness: Could serve as kind of a last revenge on a goblin siege, but also highly amusing. If done properly it can make reclaim easier.

Swimming pool[edit]

It's a reservoir that fills to 4/7 exactly. Station soldiers inside, lock them in, and fill. This way they gain swimming skill.

Difficulty: Low. It's just a pair of reservoirs.

Usefulness: The swimming skill is only slightly useful. This is most useful if the entrance to your fort has narrow walkways/moats surrounded by water, and you station your soldiers there. It does help gain attributes though. Though if you utilize a Hydraulic Elevation and Lowering Platform, this is a priceless necessity.

Underground Forest[edit]

Break into an underground cavern, make some muddy floors over a big area and wait.

Difficulty: Medium - need to dig out a suitably large area, then find a way of introducing water to the area and subsequently draining or evaporating it.

Usefulness: Depends on size (bigger is better) as well as proximity to wood stockpiles. A tree farm outside the caverns can grow trees from all 3 layers, and you'll never have to worry about hostile creatures threatening your wood cutters.

Underground Perpetual Motion Power Plant[edit]

Combine with a use for the power and you either have an awesome setup, or a ticking time bomb.

Difficulty: High. Maintaining the correct water level is annoying difficult at times. Note: Incredibly easy with an aquifer.

Usefulness: Depends on size of plant and what it's connected to. Also useful as a puzzle for adventurers.

Underwater Statue room[edit]

A simple room filled with statues that just also happens to be flooded. Simply dig a room near to a water source smooth and engrave the walls and floors than fill with statues. Dig a tunnel to the water source and a separate escape route. seal both off with floodgates pull the levers in the right order and bam! underwater statue room. For added effect make the meeting room a room directly above with a glass floor.

Difficulty: Low.

Usefulness: Absolutely positively none.

  • Bonus: Build it on area with trees and shrubs; make walls from ice or use windows; fill it with fish and merfolk; now you'll get a big aquarium
  • Note: It doesn't count if you accidentally flood your fortress and wind up with one of these. It does count if one of your nobles has an unfortunate accident in their sculpture garden.

U.R.I.S.T. Artificial Intelligence[edit]

Basically, a dwarf in a bunker that controls your fortress. Being that there are no supercomputers in DF at the moment, we'll have to use the closest substitute, a dwarf. Seal your dwarf in a room full of levers that activate various floodgates, bridges, doors, hatch covers, traps, etc. Make sure this room has no exits or entrances, but it needs a luxurious bedroom and dining area, and you must include a chute for dropping in food biomass and alcohol coolant fluid. Profile the levers so that they can only be used by the A.I. dwarf.

It would be a good idea to make the system into two rooms. The food/drink/bed room and the lever room. Should you need to add more levers, you can lock the A.I. dwarf outside the lever room and have your mechanics set up more levers without interacting with or releasing the A.I.

You can make the lodging room suited for the particular dwarf by adding furniture made from their favorite materials, and smoothing and engraving everything. Use quantum stockpiling to give them 10+ years of food and drink. Make sure the A.I. is unable to communicate with other dwarves. His/her mood must not be affected by the deaths of the walking meat-bags who tried to befriend him/her.

In order to ensure that your A.I. doesn't find sleep interfering with crucial lever pulling, you might consider incorporating an alarm clock. If a goblin siege turns up on your doorstep, a single external lever to dump 7/7 of water on the sleeping A.I. might well save your fortress (and is so much cooler than having backup levers in your meeting hall).

Alternately, you may use a vampire dwarf, which saves the need for an alarm (as they do not sleep), as well as the food stockpile.

You must also make a snazzy/lame acronym name for your AI, here are some examples:

  • U.R.I.S.T. - Underground Reasonably Intelligent Settlement Technologist
  • H.A.L. - Hairy Alternate Lifeform
  • D.O.S. - Dwarf Operating System
  • N.O.B.L.E. - Narcissistic Obnoxious Boastful Laughable Excrement
  • M.A.G.M.A. - Massively Alcoholic Gear-Machine Assembly
  • A.R.M.O.K. - All-Reaching Machine Of Killing
  • A.S.S. - Almost-autonomous Systems Selector
  • D.I.E.D. - Dedicated Irrigation and Everything else Dwarf(s)
  • D.O.R.F. - Does Orders Rather Fast
  • G.L.A.D.O.S. - Genetic Lifeform and Dwarf Operating System
  • P.O.A.T.O. Possibly Organic Alive Trash Omitted
  • D.O.M.E.S. - Dwarf Operated Mechanics and Engineering System

Difficulty: Medium. Setting up all the levers and lodgings can be a micromanagement hassle. Further research is required as to how well the A.I. will fit into a dwarven economy.

Usefulness: High. Having a dwarf dedicated to pulling levers will ensure that they are pulled on time. Additionally, you will have a constantly-ecstatic dwarf who is virtually invulnerable to all threats. Should your fortress be slaughtered by invaders or drowned by flooding or tantrum spiraled, your fortress will be preserved until more migrants arrive, or the AI runs out of food.


Dwarven Organic Switch Toggle, Neutered Gastrectomied Overpersistent Sober Prisoner. Goblins have several advantages over dwarves in the lever pulling department: they live forever, do not breed or tantrum, and need not eat, drink, or sleep. Seal one or more goblins in your supercomputer complex, and use their predictable pathing in combination with instantly lockable doors and pressure plates to make dwarven lever pulling a thing of an older, less advanced era.

Difficulty: Medium. While goblin pressure plate runners require more space than dwarven lever pullers, once their room is set up, it's done, and easily copied for the next one. With only one goblin, you'll need a pressure plate for every possible combination of lever states, but it's easy to add more goblins instead.

Usefulness: High. Instant response time (<50 ticks is possible) can make lever worries a thing of the past. D.O.S.T.N.G.O.S.P. requires absolutely no maintenance once set up. Unlike with the U.R.I.S.Ts of the previous generation, modern POW-based computing is never held hostage to eating, drinking, or breaks. Stay tuned for the next-generation C.A.C.A.M.E.!


Prevents cave adaptation. It's like the greenhouse, only instead of a farm, it's a meeting hall or barracks. Since you can't build tables or beds outside, build the room and channel down to it. Variant: above-ground statue garden or zoo.

Difficulty: Low.

Usefulness: Low. Make sure to wall the pit in or it will become very Fun once goblin archers become involved.


By creating a vertical "Hydraulic Elevation and Lowering Platform" chamber, or HELP (so named for the cries of the passenger dwarf) with lever controlled water levels, you can move a dwarf up several z-levels without any stairs. All it takes is the dwarf's ability to swim up to the surface of the water to breathe.

Difficulty: Medium. Moderate possibility of Fun by way of flooding your fortress. Any dwarves that can't swim will instead experience Fun when using the Watervator. The actual construction time and resource usage is very low. Using the Watervator often leads to unhappy thoughts about drowning

Usefulness: Low to Medium. The Watervator requires manual micromanaging, while stairs do not. On the other hand, it can be used to create a pathway that most Dwarves enemies will simply be unable to use. Those that can would still be doing so at great risk of drowning or falling to their death. It is recommend that with the exception of the entrance you use stairs.

  • MegaDwarfBonus:Utilize trained fish.