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Adventurer mode

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

This is a detailed reference guide for Adventurer Mode. For a beginner tutorial, see Adventure mode quick start, or see Adventure mode quick reference to quickly look up key commands.
A player-controlled adventurer about to embark on a journey with a somewhat predictable end, not realizing the fun nature of the game.
Art by HonorbruSudoku

Adventurer mode (also called "Adventure mode" or simply "Adventure") allows you to embark on an open world roguelike adventure to explore the worlds you have generated. You create a character, or partyv0.47.01, from any race playable in that world (dwarf, human, elf, goblin, necromantic experiment, animal person, etc.), then visit any part of the world, where you can learn about what ails the inhabitants, and optionally go on quests to end those troubles (or get brutally slaughtered trying).

You may venture into the wilderness to find caves, caverns, shrines, lairs, abandoned towers, other towns and settlements, and more—you can even visit your previously abandoned or retired fortresses and take all the precious items you yourself once created. You and your companions can also build campsv0.43.01, though building and crafting options are currently quite limited compared to dwarf fortress mode (without mods).

As of v50.01, Adventurer Mode has been temporarily disabled, pending a future update that will overhaul its UI and menus. As of April 17, the premium version has a beta that allows players to play in adventure mode.

World selection[edit]

You can play adventure mode in any world that has a civilization with the [ALL_MAIN_POPS_CONTROLLABLE] token (which are dwarf, human, and elf). Each species has its own preferred style of settlement:

  • Dwarves are spread between fortresses (which are built into the surface and almost always connect to the underground), "deep sites" (which sometimes do not contain a direct connection to the surface), and "hill dwarves" (who inhabit a loose collection of mounds built into hillsides).
  • Elves inhabit forest retreats.
  • Humans inhabit cities, towns, and the occasional above-ground fortress.
  • Goblins typically live in dark fortresses and dark pits.
  • Lastly, animal people can live with any civilization, in virtually any location.

Human cities and towns, and dwarven fortresses, are currently the only sites with shops and other places to officially buy goods, not including taverns (which can also exist in elven sites but only sell rooms and drinks). If you have previously built a fort in the world that you select, your adventurer will be able to go visit it. The activity levels of the fortress will depend on whether you decided to "retire" it or abandon it:

  • If retired, you will likely be able to encounter all the inhabitants from the year of retirement in Fortress Mode, though likely not at the same level of activity as before.
  • If abandoned, the fortress will be considered deserted (which pretty much means "don't abandon, if you were planning to have any further interaction whatsoever").

Character creation[edit]

Race and civilization[edit]

Party members can be of any race that is a member of a playable civilization, which usually includes dwarves, elves, and humans—adventurers of any race can complete the same quests. More races can be made playable (e.g. angels) by conquering their sites in fortress mode.

  • Dwarves can usually start with steel weapons, enter a martial trance when fighting multiple foes at once, and can see in the dark. As a smaller creature, they're unable to wear human clothing and armor, but wear the same size as elves and goblins.
  • Elves have higher natural speed, a notably sharper sense of smell, and a natural friendliness with wild animals, but start with very weak wooden weapons and have a more limited list of weapon skills during character creation. Like dwarves, they wear smaller-sized clothing.
  • Humans begin with copper, bronze, or iron weapons, and the widest variety of weapon skills. Humans are larger than the other main races, meaning armor from other civilizations is too small, but that also means they are slightly better in combat.
  • Intelligent Wilderness Creatures, or animal people, come in various sizes, shapes and abilities, and therefore, may not be able to wear armor sized for the more common races (with some exceptions, that you can find in this list of creatures by adult size). The very largest of them can be very good in combat, especially if with armor made for them in a player fortress. Some will be carnivorous or herbivorous which will limit their food options.
  • Outsiders are humans who are not part of any civilization. Playing as an outsider has some initial limitations—they possess no pre-existing relationships or cultural knowledge, such as rumors, wildlife, art, musical forms, musical instruments, clothing types, etc.; including cultural practices, such as hair styles and trimming nails. When selecting skills for outsiders during creation, many more (or far fewer)[Verify] skills may be available than would otherwise be if they were part of a civilization. They will also have access to all possible pets (although some cost more character creation points than are available), and weapons and armor made from most every metal available, including some you cannot normally use. However, they will not have access to any other items, including the very important backpack and waterskin. Be aware that outsiders can't claim sites unless they become a member of a civilization.
  • Goblins and Experiments that have joined one of the playable civilizations will also be playable. Goblins do not need to eat or drink, and wear the same size armor/clothing as dwarves and elves. Experiments vary in size and details. The main race of the civilization they joined will determine what equipment will be available in character creation; if they joined the dwarves, steel may be available, but if they joined the elves, only wood will be available.


Determines the number of starting skill, attribute points, and equipment points which do not change based on race:

  • Peasant: 15 attribute, 35 skill, 55 equipment
  • Hero: 35 attribute, 95 skill, 255 equipment
  • Demigod: 105 attribute, 161 skill, 1255 equipment

The number of skill points is less significant than the number of attribute points, because the time it takes to go from Peasant to Demigod in skill terms is much less than what it would take to go from Peasant to Demigod in attribute terms.

Starting attributes[edit]

See this page for more info about adventurer mode starting attributes, or this page for full info about attributes

A creature has numerous attributes which affect its performance at various tasks, split into physical factors associated with the body, and mental factors associated with the soul.


  • Strength: Improves melee attack damage, damage resistance and encumbrance limits. Increases leg strength to movement velocity, but increased muscle layer mass reduces speed.
  • Agility: Improves movement speed, attack velocity and potential attack rate. All combat skills, especially defensive ones, rely on it.
  • Toughness: Reduces physical damage inflicted on you, and also relates to defensive combat skills.
  • Endurance: Reduces the rate at which the adventurer becomes exhausted—exhaustion progressively penalizes physical skills and rate of movement, to the point of immobility and unconsciousness.
  • Recuperation: Increases the rate of wound healing.
  • Disease Resistance: Reduces risk of contracting syndromes (including infection) and the negative effects when active (including alcohol-induced.)


Some of these are demonstrably useful for adventure-mode-applicable skills, but the effects of the attributes aren't clearly understood. For ideas on how they may be applied, see a list of skills organized by attributes..

  • Analytical Ability: Useful for Tracker, Knapping and Student.
  • Focus: Affects Archer, Ambusher, Observer.
  • Willpower: Affects Fighter, Crutch Walker and Swimmer. Willpower helps resist the negative effects of status ailments such as Pain, Stunned, Unconscious, and all states of exhaustion and food/drink/sleep deprivation.
  • Creativity: This influences quality of poems, songs, dances, and crafts.
  • Intuition: Helps with Observer, which aids in spotting concealed enemies, ambushes, and identifying attacks from opponents.
  • Linguistic Ability: Affects any speaking and writing ability, improves the ability to communicate thoughts and feelings to listeners/readers.
  • Spatial Sense: Important. Affects combat skills, Ambusher, Crutch Walker, Swimmer, Observer, Knapping.
  • Musicality: Influences the adventurer's ability to perform music and song well.
  • Kinesthetic Sense: Affects most combat skills, crutch-walking, swimming and dancing.
  • Empathy: Affects social skills, such as Persuader, Flatterer, Judge of Intent, and other Social skills that may not be applicable in adventurer mode.
  • Social Awareness: Increases the number of followers you can have at a given fame level.
  • Memory: Increases how much local area information you can maintain before it begins to be overwritten—important to navigate fortresses and underground mazes.
  • Patience, which determines how well or long a creature will tolerate another's negative dialogue towards them, such as insulting or ignoring them.

Starting skills[edit]

See this page for more info about adventurer mode starting skills, or this and this pages for full info about skills.

Not all races have the same sets of skills available at character creation time, but keep in mind that almost all starting skills, as well as ones not available at character creation, can be improved through use in-game (except for skills that require you to already have some experience to improve further, such as swimming or reading).

This section will specifically address starting skills as they relate to adventure mode. For a full description of combat skills, see Combat skill.


Includes Axeman, Bowman, Crossbowman, Hammerman, Knife User, Lasher, Maceman, Pikeman, Spearman and Swordsman.

Each skill enables the character to use the appropriate weapon more effectively.

Note that different races have different names for their weapon skills: Axegoblin, Axedwarf etc. These names are defined in the creature raws, as can be seen in the dwarf raws, but Crossbowman is an exception—dwarves call this skill Marksdwarf, although bow skill is referred to as Bowdwarf, as you'd expect. Elite Axe and Hammerdwarves are referred to as Lords.

Since version 0.47, weapons may be chosen on the embark screen before starting an adventure. Before that, the weapon you got on start was dependent on the skills you selected.

General combat[edit]

Includes Fighter and Archer.

These skills improve effectiveness of melee (Fighter) or ranged (Archer) combat, regardless of the weapon used. Fighter skill also improves unarmed combat, Archer also improves throwing.

Defence skills[edit]

Including Shield User, Armor User and Dodger, these skills improve the character's ability to defend, using a shield, armor or dodging. Starting out with good ability in one (especially Shield User or Armor User) if not all, is strongly advised.

Unarmed combat and improvised weapons[edit]

Including Wrestler, Striker, Kicker, Biter, Thrower and Miscellaneous object user; while some of them come in handy at times, they can generally be raised fairly easily in-game, especially Wrestler and Thrower.

Movement and awareness[edit]

Includes Observer, Swimmer, Ambusher, Climber, Tracker and Crutch-walker.

Observer is hard to train, and adding some points here is advisable. Swimmer is almost impossible to train without at least Novice level, and Adequate level is advised because Adequate swimmers do not drown while stunned.


Includes Knapper, Bone carver, Writer, Carpenter, Persuader, Judge of intent, Flatterer, Musician, Speaker, Poet, Singer, Dancer, Stringed instrumentalist, Wind Instrumentalist, Percussionist, Keyboardist, Reader (a Novice level of Reading is required in order to become a necromancer), Butcher and Wordsmith.


All the aspects of who an adventurer is as an individual, determining their wants, desires, and ultimate goals, as well as their tolerance for stimuli like combat, trauma, and death.


Common UI concepts[edit]

About key symbols

This wiki uses symbols that look like t or Ui t.pngt to indicate what keys or interface buttons are used for an operation. Note that keys are case sensitive and to save space, Shift+t is shown as T. So t means "press the 't' key without the shift key" and T means "hold down shift and press the 't' key". Lowercase and uppercase keys will often perform different functions, so it is important to use the correct key. Sequences of keys will be in separate boxes, so abC means "press 'a', then press 'b', then hold shift and press 'c'"; while Ui b.pngbUi bT.pngT means "press 'b', then hold shift and press 'T'. A plus sign '+' between the boxes means to press them all together, so Shift+Enter means to hold shift and press 'Enter'. Other separators, such as ',' or '-', might be used but mean the same as no separator: to press the keys in sequence.

Keybindings can be seen and changed on the Keybindings tab in the Settings menu.

Menu navigation and selection

Esc or right mouse Go back to the previous screen/menu
Mouse wheel Scroll menu one line
Shift+mouse wheel Scroll menu one page
Left mouse Select menu option

Esc or right mouse will almost always return to the previous screen until you get to the top level of the UI, at which point Esc will display the options menu.

Moving around[edit]

You can move around using 8 2 4 6 7 9 1 3 or . Use Shift + < or Shift+5 (num lock off) to ascend up the stairs and Shift+> or Ctrl+5 (num lock off) to descend. You can also fast travel—press T to enter fast travel mode and d to exit it. Entering fast travel mode will allow you to move large distances in a single keypress—of course, the same amount of time will go by, and you can also be interrupted (ambushed) while moving in fast travel mode.

Status and information[edit]

l Look around
Space Advance/Clear Messages
a View Announcements
z Status

Looking around[edit]

If you're not sure what a tile is, the look command will tell you. In addition to being useful for identifying tiles and creatures, you can also view creatures' equipment and what items are sitting on the ground in a given tile. If in doubt, try the look command:

Move the cursor to the tile you want to look at, using the direction keys and Shift+direction. It's possible to look up and down z-levels (assuming you have line of sight) using the < and > keys. This, for example, allows you to find out if any flying creatures are above you. Hit Esc to exit look mode and go back to movement mode.


The game makes frequent use of messages on the screen to tell you what's going on. If there are a lot of these, you may need to use Space to display the rest of the messages that won't fit on the screen. You can always go back and view old messages by pressing a.

Status screen[edit]

This screen shows your skills, attributes, wounded body parts, health (along with more detailed descriptions of your wounds), lets you view your description, and change your nickname if you want.

Saving the game[edit]

Hit the Esc key at any time and select Save Game to save your game, so you can come back later by using the Continue Playing option in the main menu.

Searching and manipulating[edit]

u Interact with building, furniture, or mechanism
L Search the nearby area very carefully

The u key can be used to do stuff like pull levers in an abandoned fort, or lower and raise the bucket when standing right next to a well; so you can get water to refill your waterskin with. L will perform a thorough search of the area that you're standing in, possibly revealing some small creatures.

Managing equipment[edit]

i Show Inventory
d Drop an item
g Get (pickup) an item off the ground
p Put an item into a container
r Remove an item you are wearing or from a container
w Wear an item
I Interact with an object in an advanced way (unstick a weapon, refill a waterskin, etc.).
q Sheath your weapons and shield (frees your hands for tasks such as climbing or grabbing).

Press i to display a list of what you are currently carrying. Press - + * / to scroll through the list—it will show you if items are being worn, held in the hands, stuck on your body, or are inside a container. Detailed information about an object can be viewed by pressing the key associated with the item.

You can drop items out of your inventory, as well as get items on the ground on the same tile that you are standing on. If there is more than one item, a menu will be listed. Press - + * / to scroll the list if it is too long to fit on the screen. Note that getting something makes your adventurer pick it up with their hands—this often means that you have to use q to sheathe whatever you have in your hands before you pick something up. If you do not have a backpack or some other way of storing the object, your adventurer will not pick the item up.

Items can be placed into containers with p and removed with r or be worn using w and removed using r (the same command used for removing from containers).

There is no command for wielding items such as weapons in specific hands. Instead, they are automatically equipped when you either get them from the ground or remove them from your backpack—provided the hand that would wield them is free. (You only require free hands to equip weapons on the ground—you can remove any number of items from your backpack and equip them all in the same hand.)

The q key lets you strap your weapons to your back, which is useful, because you can't climb or wrestle with your hands while holding weapons or other objects.

Time and weather[edit]

You can see the current date (D), temperature (P) and time and weather (W). At night you won't be able to see nearly as well, and will be more vulnerable to ambush, so it is better to find a shelter before night.


Z Sleep

Eventually, your character will become drowsy, and this will get worse until you get sufficient sleep.

As of 0.47.01, bogeymen are restricted to two kinds of evil regions, but you can still be ambushed by wildlife if you are not sleeping in a safe location (castle, building, abandoned lair).

Eat and drink[edit]

e Eat or drink something

To find water, you must find a river or stream, or a well in a town, and fill your waterskin (or any container) from it, or drink from it directly. You can also pick up snow and melt it by interacting with a campfire, fill containers from barrels of booze in human taverns, lick the blood of your enemies from your weapon, or, in dire straits, even drink your own tears.


8 2 4 6 7 9 1 3 / Attack adjacent hostile creature
5 Attack hostile on same tile
A Attack an adjacent creature.
f Fire a projectile
t Throw an item
j Jump
C Open combat preferences interface

Combat includes attacking with or without weapons, aiming attacks, wrestling, archery, throwing, charging, jumping, dodging, blocking, and parrying. See the main article for details, this is just a summary of the keys.

Hostile creatures can be attacked simply by moving towards them using the movement keys. Any visible creature can be attacked by standing next to it and pressing A. (Attacking some creatures will require confirmation, given using alt+y. This brings up a menu that may offer options to attack, wrestle, parry, block, or dodge.)

With a ranged weapon equipped (bow, crossbow, etc.) press the f key to fire it. Similarly, use the t key to throw any object in your inventory. Just like looking, you can aim at enemies on different Z-levels. It is not possible to aim for specific body parts with ranged or thrown attacks.

Jumping at an enemy with j can send them flying, or cause them to dodge, either of which could be useful if they're next to a pit.

During gameplay (not in fast travel mode), you can press C to open the Combat Preferences menu. There are three different preferences you can set: Attack, Dodge and Charge Defense.


Main article: Talking

You can talk with people—to begin a conversation or performance, press k, and unless someone else has already started a conversation with you (see below if someone has), you will get a cyan X that can be positioned over people you want to talk to with the normal directional keys—use - and + to select who you want to talk to. Aside from individuals, you can also Shout out to everybody, which will have you talking with everyone in earshot, or you can talk to your deity, or even Begin Performance which includes such things as reciting poetry, telling stories, or dancing, and is very important if you want to be a bard. After starting conversation, you can trade, take quests, ask for the location of someone or something, ask the listener to join you, etc.

(Note that you can press Esc to not choose anything—the conversation is still ongoing, you have to explicitly say goodbye to end it. Pressing Esc is useful if you need to double-check something before talking.)


Personal finance[edit]

In human towns (not hamlets or castles), you can find shops; in elven trading-trees, markets; and at depots in dwarven fortresses, brokers. Once you're inside of a shop and right next to any of the NPCs (it doesn't have to be anyone who actually works there), you can use k to Trade with them.

Use Enter to select which items to trade, left/right arrow keys to switch between the list of shop items and your items, and up/down arrow keys to scroll through the lists. Once done, press t to trade. After trading, you will find the stuff you gave on the floor at your feet, and the stuff you got in your inventory. Exchanging items with NPCs who are not in a store works similarly, except they try to take the items from you and equip them/put them in their inventory. Emphasis on try, because if they have no storage containers/cannot (or simply don't want to, as is often the case when giving companions armor) equip the item, they will drop it on the floor. However, since you are not within the confines of a store, these items are no longer considered theirs and you are free to take them back, effectively allowing you to make 100% profit, if you know what you're doing.

You may also pick up the item before buying it, but you should never walk out of a shop carrying an unbought item, as that is theft (of the type people care about. Most methods of acquiring items in adventure mode are labeled as "theft" in legends or rumors, but if the item isn't marked as for sale, nobody cares). This is punishable by death if you are caught, and exile if you are not.

On any occasion when you have stolen goods from a store (indicated by dollar signs on either side of the item in your inventory), the game requires you to exit the site and move a considerable distance before allowing you to quick travel. If the item name is not surrounded by dollar signs, it is never considered stealing, even in situations where it would be in real life. Very few items are actually capable of being 'stolen', normally limited to whatever is on display in someone's shop (thus, dollar signs as noted above). One of the very few exceptions to this is dwarven fortresses, where there will be a large number of stockpiles underground with items you can't take.

Coins can and will encumber your adventurer, eventually reducing your speed. To reduce that effect, you can try to exchange your copper and silver coins for gold ones, as well as sell all of your loot directly for gold coins.

Coins from one civilization are nearly worthless in others. You can take your excess coinage and use it to purchase large gems at a trinket shop. Large gems make good investments because they are 1) light, 2) variably priced, and 3) equally valuable between different civilizations. However, be sure to check the value of gems before taking them—some gems, such as jades or pyrite are virtually worthless and have a less efficient value/weight ratio than your average sock. If possible, carry your gemstones around in the form of jewel-encrusted clothing, as that is not only more valuable than the sum of its parts, but decorations have no weight and cloth is very light.

If you aren't interested in wasting carrying capacity on worthless trinkets when you could be lugging around actual valuables (like the corpses of your enemies), but also don't want to murder literally everybody who has something you want, actual straight-up theft is possible. Basically, by wrestling, grabbing an item with either of your hands, and Interacting with it to gain possession; you can take any item from someone's inventory that you desire. Normally, this would count as an assault, but remember, it's not a crime if nobody sees you do it. To minimize the chances of getting caught, you can Sneak, which will turn your wrestling attempts into "stealthy grabs", and wait until nightfall to strike—even the clumsiest adventurer is unlikely to wake someone up while sneak-stealing all their clothes. For those who know their way around DFHack, setting your character's sparring flag on will just flat-out make people not care, as you rip every piece of masterwork armor off their body in broad daylight, but any companions you may have will take this as an invitation to brutally murder your victim.

Quest log[edit]

Q Open quest log
Esc Exit quest log
e p a s r b Access various lists
m Switch between the world map and additional info
z Center cursor on location of selected list item, if known
c Center cursor on your location
l Toggle the visibility of the line between you and some other point on the map.
f Filter the list
+ - * / Navigate the list

The quest log contains everything you know about the world, such as various events going on, people you know, and various sites. The m key will alternate between a world map that you can navigate, and information on whatever item is highlighted in the list to the right.

There are various kinds of lists you can check on the quest log:

  • Events — A list of events that are happening or have happened. Formatting of the list is (type)/(description). You can center on the location of the event if you know this. This list is the closest you'll get to some formal quest system.
  • People — A list of people you know. At the start of the game, this list will contain people in your site.
  • Sites — A list of various sites around the world.
  • Groups — A list of groups you know of and your relation to them. Note that you have to press e when you're on the events list in order to reach this list, requiring you to press e at most twice.
  • Agreements — Your various agreements; this includes tasks given to you by your lord (if a hearthperson), and why people are traveling with you and the history of your agreements.
  • Regions — A list of regions. The additional information will list the biomes a region possesses.
  • Bestiary — A list of creatures, their characteristics, and where you could find them.


x Perform action (butcher, create item...)

Adventurers can perform limited crafting, (also known as "reactions"). To access the crafting menu, press x. You can sharpen rocks, assemble stone axes, carve bones, make wooden furniture, butcher, compose songs or dances or write books and scrolls.

Natural abilities (spitting, breathing fire, etc.) and acquired powers (such as raising undead) are also used via this menu.

Site management[edit]

b Found a site and build

Adventurers can chop down trees for resources, and build their own personal sites to claim as their own—neither of these actions can currently be performed in existing sites, like towns. Building currently needs wooden logs, obviously acquired by chopping down trees. With a non-wooden axe in hand, hitting g while next to a tree allows you to chop it down. Site construction planning persists between save/load, retire/unretire, die/new hero, etc. Each action taken while building, from building a wall to placing down a chair, takes one hour of work to complete. In building mode, the site can have a Name assigned to it. Use zones to assign functions to rooms in the site such as main hall, library, temple, etc.—a site must have a name and at least one zone to become functional.


If you are in a site, you can choose to retire your adventurer from the escape menu, making them a member of the site.

In order to retire at an adventurer-made camp, you must make a mead hall zone and then claim control of the site. After any amount of time spent playing other games in the world, you can resume playing as them, as long as they're still alive, by starting a new adventure game and choosing them from the species list. Between games, you can see what retired adventurers have been up to in legends mode, or, if you prefer, Legends Viewer. Your adventurer can still do things while retired, including getting involved in some pretty serious combat (Since you've almost certainly given them some decent combat prowess, that combat may very well be assistance in the defence of the site you retired them in, which is one way they can get killed—if you're hoping to be able to unretire your adventurer later, it might be best to avoid retiring in a region of the world where people constantly mention armies on the march). Retirement may also be used as a sort of "panic button" if you want to save the life of a favorite character who has gotten into a fight they have no hope of winning, since offloading sites can heal a lot of otherwise-fatal wounds and conditions that block all methods of offloading sites, outside of retirement.

See also[edit]