motivating line of the section : With great power comes great responsibility.

Alright, I left this section for later because it’s tedious and annoying, but unfortunately also vital. Our plants have been out there colored black for the last four sections and I bet by now it’s quite getting on your nerves. Let’s give some dwarfs the “plant gathering” labor preference to tell them that it’s okay to go and gather the designated plants.

The ‘units’ screen is something you’ll be accessing quite a bit. It contains information like what your dwarfs are doing, what they’re holding, what jobs they are set to do, and what they’re thinking.

If you haven’t already, press ‘u’ for units.

Up comes the units screen, where we see a list of all your dwarfs, along with every creature (alive or deceased) in our area. If you’ve done everything right so far, you should see “Uvash Ralamem” with the “fell tree” task. Unfortunately, no one else is bothering to do anything. That’s where labor preferences come along.


8.1   – Labor Preferences


Before we check out other sections of the units screen, let’s give some dwarfs the “gather plants” labor preference so they can start gathering plants from our designation.

Let’s say we want the expedition leader and one planter to gather our plants for us. Starting with the expedition leader, scroll down to him using the arrow keys. Now press “c” for “zoom-cre”. Unfortunately zoom-cre doesn’t really mean anything other than look at this dwarf’s features and preferences. We’ll get to viewcre later.

Now we have another set of menus, but if you will notice, that familiar yellow “x” has now placed itself over our expedition leader. (if you want to know, pressing “v” at the menu will get us here also, but you have to place the yellow “x” over the dwarf you want to manage yourself).

From here, it would be highly logical to press “b”, which is labeled “labor”, but NO. Don’t touch that. We want to manage dwarf “preferences” (circled above), so we’ll hit “p”.

(by the way, if you’re REALLY observant, you would see that “Ablel Keskalmat” is not the name of our expedition leader. That’s because this is a picture from another fortress of mine, but it still works.

Use the above image to complete the following.

Now we have two choices, labor and work dogs, so obviously we want “l”, labor. Now, we choose the category of work we want to enable. In this case, plant gathering falls under “Farming/Related” (sometimes the jobs under the category don’t make much sense, for instance “wood burning” is in “farming/related”, but that’s just part of DF). In this case, we are going to scroll using “alt+arrow key”.

PLEASE NOTE – I added this key binding because I use a laptop, and the default binding for this doesn’t work. The original binding for this is “+” and “-” I believe, so feel free to use those if you wish. If and when you get used to “alt+arrow key” and start downloading new versions of Dwarf Fortress, which don’t have this binding enabled, the binding is called “Move Secondary Selector”, under the “General” category.

Anyways, using this, scroll down to “farming/related”, and select. This finally brings us to a submenu of jobs. Scroll down to “Plant Gathering” and select it.

DONE! When you resume, you will see the expedition leader start to gather plants, and you will see that his task is “gather plants” on the units screen.  The top-right of the screen shows how many “idlers” you have. That just means how many dwarfs don’t have jobs.

Now, we want one more plant gatherer, one of the planters (whichever one). Obviously repeat the previous process to enable plant gather in his labor preferences.

  • press “u” for units
  • scroll to a planter
  • press “c” for zoom-cre
  • press “p” for preferences
  • press “l” for labor
  • go to the farming/related category
  • move to “plant gathering” and select it

GREAT! Now we have two dwarfs who are happily picking plant seeds.

WHENEVER dwarfs are not completing a job or designation, make sure there is at least on dwarf in your fortress that has that job category enabled. For instance, a dwarf must have “carpentry” enabled to make doors and beds.

Since this is the “Units” section, let’s explore some other functionalities of the screen.


8.2 – Zoom-cre


The zoom-cre screen (shorthand “c” from the units screen) shows a variety of traits, attributes and preferences for a dwarf.

The following is a list of the zoom-cre items, shown above.

Gen (general skills) – This basically shows a dwarf’s skills (which can be upgraded). The better their skills, the faster and more efficiently they complete tasks. For instance, a skilled wood cutter will cut wood more quickly, and a master swordsdwarf will slaughter all in his way!

Inv (inventory) – shows what a dwarf is carrying, including all clothing.  Selecting an item in a dwarf’s inventory will bring up another menu where you will view the item description and have the option to forbid it, dump it, melt it, or hide it. We will deal with these later, as they are not vital to gameplay.

Prf (preferences) – split up into labor and work dog (the most important be labor, obviously).

  • With labor, you can assign labor preferences so a dwarf will complete designations and jobs you assign.
  • With work dogs, you can assign trained dogs to a dwarf, most notably a hunting dog assigned to a hunter. Not extremely important at this time.

Wnd (Wounds) – This is where you can view the physical health of a dwarf. Rather than just saying “good”, “bad”, “hurt”, etc, this shows the physical condition of each body part on a dwarf. Options include “broken”, “cut open”, “bleeding”, etc. Injuries affect a dwarf realistically, so a dwarf with a broken foot, for example, will move very slowly. A dwarf who is bleeding severely will often bleed out and die.

St (personal or viewcre) – This is just a shortcut to the “viewcre” screen, which is explained in the next section. Basically, this shows a dwarf’s thoughts, relationships, and gives you the ability to give a dwarf a custom nickname (useful in keeping track of important/favorite dwarfs).


8.3   – Viewcre


As explained previously, viewcre can show the thoughts and relationships of a dwarf, as well as giving the ability to give them a nickname (like thunder-thighs).

The viewcre screen is accessed either by pressing “v” at the units screen, or by pressing “z” on the zoom-cre screen.

Here is the viewcre screen for Ustuth Eturtashem, our expedition leader. We see here, “Owned Objects     28”. Those are the items in his inventory. Later you can assign items and furniture to a dwarf, so their property will increase.

Probably the most important part of this screen is “thoughts and preferences”.

This creates an incredibly detailed layout of information on the dwarf. This ranges from the dwarf’s religious practices, to his/her physical features, to his/her natural tendencies. We even see here that “He always scratches his head when he’s trying to remember something”. Weird. If you are a GREAT dwarf god, you can look through your dwarf’s mental features, and pick dwarf’s best suited for jobs like mayor, militia commander and book keeper. I, however, am not that spectacular and picked Ustuth as our expedition leader at random.

Also, do not fret when you see “he/she needs alcohol to get through the working day” on every single dwarf, because, we’re dealing with dwarfs here! Dwarfs love alcohol, and would prefer that’s all they drink. We’ll talk about that later!

Another feature of viewcre is relationships, which, I haven’t found a realistic use for yet, but it is neat to look at.

Here we see a list of Ustuth’s relationship status with every other dwarf. He is a worshiper of the deities Idash and Megob, and only has two friends. Sad for him.

Finally, there is the “customize” option on viewcre. There’s not much need to explain this feature, as all you need do is enter a nickname for a dwarf and they will show up as that name from then on.

Now that we have the basics, let’s start building our fortress!

continue on to 9.0 – So We Have a Fortress, What Now?