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This article is about an older version of DF.
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Cliffs are a terrain feature in which there is a sheer drop along the side of a mountain. In Dwarf Fortress, this is shown when the edge of one z-level is not connected to a lower level by a ramp. This means that dwarves are unable to traverse between the z-levels without digging, building staircases or ramps, as well as falling.

Cliffs can vary widely in height, but the default world generation settings include an option to periodically erode sharp cliffs, which will limit the amount and height of the cliffs on the map, making almost all of the z-level changes connected by natural ramps.

Cliffs are a welcome spot for dwarven suicides as well as combat accidents. Depending on your, ehem, goals you might want to keep an eye on them or even wall them off.