motivating line of the section: You have my sword. And you have my bow. And my axe! 

Good question! There is so much that can be done now I don’t even know where to begin. Actually I do. We’re going to give our miners something to do. We’re going to dig down and find some stones so we can use our mason’s workshop.

This may be one of the most important sections of Dwarf Fortress, because doing this wrong can kill your dwarfs; I’ll tell you why in a second.


9.1 – Digging Down


We’ve dug all across our current plane, but we haven’t dug to another z-level yet. Digging up and down works by digging or building staircases. There are three types of staircases: downward, upward, and up/down.

LISTEN CAREFULLY – the number one killer of Dwarf Fortress beginners is staircases. My first fortress fell due to staircases. This is why.

A DOWNWARD STAIRCASE will provide a staircase for a dwarf to get down to the next z-level, but not back up. I don’t know exactly how they do this, maybe they build half of the stairs, or perhaps they make a slip ‘n slide, but if a dwarf goes down a downward staircase, he/she will not be able to get up. Same with an upward staircase, only he/she will not be able to get down.

To make sure a dwarf can go up and down staircases willingly, you must do one of three things.

  1. Dig an up/down stairway into a wall. This is the easiest and most practical method, though you cannot dig this into the ground, ONLY into a wall.
  2. Dig a downward staircase into the ground, and then dig an upward staircase into the earth on the next z-level.
  3. Dig a downward staircase into the ground, dig out the earth beneath it, and BUILD (not designate) an upward staircase.

So what we’re going to do, is dig two up/down staircases into a wall next to the workshops like so.

When the miners finish that, look at the next z-level below. You will notice that you can now see the earth directly below the stairs. This means miners can access it and dig more stairways on it. That’s just what we’re going to do. Designate another up/down stairway to be built below the previous ones. Now keep doing this for a few levels, until…

…you strike stone! It should be on level 119. Now, this will be one of our digging floors where we will just dig around to get stone that we can use for building. There is no rhyme or reason to digging here, only don’t dig one big giant area without any supports because it will collapse. Go ahead and designate some area to be dug by the miners.


9.2 – Making More Stuff


So we have stone, so we can now use our mason’s workshop. You can build just about anything in your mason’s workshop that you can in your carpenter’s workshop, and stone is easier to come by, so go ahead and designate some things to be built by your mason (whatever you want! That’s right!).

Now, so far, we’ve only used our carpenter and mason workshops, and we’ve only built stuff that will benefit US. We need to start preparing for when the traders come, and need to make sure we’ll have some stuff to sell to them.


9.3 –  Craftsdwarf’s Workshop


A craftsdwarf’s workshop has mostly options to build trinkets and things that really have no practically use other than to sell.

Dig out another two workshop rooms. While you wait, you should build some barrels (“v”) and bins (“n”) at the carpenter’s workshop. Food and drink is stored in barrels, and many other things are stored in bins.

You should notice, the dwarfs won’t dig under a body of water because that will flood your fortress. We’ll deal with that lake later. For now, build a craftsdwarf’s workshop in one of the workshop rooms. Our expedition leader has the stonecrafting labor preference, but if things are working out for you like they are for me, he’s being a d-bag and keeps gathering plants instead of building the craftsdwarf’s workshop. You may have to disable plant gathering in his labor preferences.

Once you have the workshop built, simply select the “rock” category, and then select “make rock crafts”. We want more than one rock craft, though, and we want more than ten, even. We want a dwarf to keep on making rock crafts, so we will press “r” for repeat on the building’s “make rock crafts” task. You will then see a blue “R” appear next to that task. You can select any item in any workshop to be repeated.

Right now we don’t have a crafts stockpile, so we have to make one. Under the stockpile list, it is called “finished goods” (“g”). Place the stockpile in the area below the workshop for a temporary stockpile. We’ll make a bigger stockpile soon enough.

Great! Now we will soon have enough goods to sell, but we won’t have anywhere to sell them. Every fortress needs a Trade Depot for a merchant caravan to go to and unload their goods. We’re going to build ours outside, preferably here. (dig the area out)

Then press “b” for build, then “D” (CAPITAL D, DF IS CASE SENSITIVE!) for trade depot. Move it into the area we dug out and place it. A trade depot needs the architecture labor preference, so give any dwarf you want (preferably one who isn’t doing anything) that preference.

When the depot is built, that’s all. The merchants will come and set up at that depot. But trading is a little more complicated.

continue on to 10.0 – Trading and Storing