Dwarf Fortress Dwarven Militia & Marksdwarves

Welcome to our Dwarf Fortress Dwarven Militia & Marksdwarves guide. A guide to stop those pesky […]

Welcome to our Dwarf Fortress Dwarven Militia & Marksdwarves guide. A guide to stop those pesky gobbos, elves, and fogotten beasts from taking your hard earned metal, babies, and citizens lives! Mostly the metal though. We know that there are people who have a hard time finishing the Dwarf Fortress game. If you are one of those who find it difficult to finish the game, let’s take you to our Dwarf Fortress guide.

Dwarf Fortress Dwarven Militia & Marksdwarves

A guide to stop those pesky gobbos, elves, and fogotten beasts from taking your hard earned metal, babies, and citizens lives!

Dwarven Militia and Marksdwarves.

This is a combat report from the fortress ‘Hammerwings’. For the uninitiated, all the locations underlined in dark red are necromancer towers. My fortress is underlined in blue. as you can see functioning, deadly and well oiled military was a requirement for this embark. Without it, my dwarves would have ended up as some necromancers plaything, fleeing for their lives, or left rotting where they fell, defending their fellow dwarf. A truly heinous crime, that. To not have a proper dwarven burial is tantamount to heresy and surface living shudders. But I digress.

I show you this to show you that I am not just reciting a drunken, dwarf, tavern, tall tale(to a dwarf, the worst kind). The Hammerwings militia has practical, actionable experience dealing with the long shins. Mostly at the sharp edge of an axe.

A Dwarven militia is one part of the defense machinery of the fortress, in a truly defended mountainhome, an aspiring expedition leader must take into consideration that the most fortified of fortresses are not defended by dwarven blood and steel alone, nay!, those foolish enough to believe that are buried under the heels of those that desire our craftwork and metallurgy. In another codex i shall pen a more comprehensive defensive manual, but for now we will discuss and dissect the backbone of all fortress defence.

The Militia!

[OSV] – Old salty vet note, this is for those who are used to classic DF. If you are new and dont understand what these notes mean. Fear not, us grognards don’t either.

Buttons you press on your keyboard will be like so [q]

Buttons and selections on your screen will be displayed Like So

Everything else should be easier to decipher. If not, blame the dwarven rum.

Feel free to comment or message me with any questions or concerns.

Training, and When to Begin

First Steps FirstIf you are a salty veteran, you may put off training a militia for a time, if you are not wise in the ways of dwarfy defence, I HIGHLY recommend that in your embark, one of your 7 dwarves are kit and skilled for combat. This serves two purposes.

  1. Fighting off any early hostile creatures
  2. Training the rest of your militia.

The importance of both cannot be understated. By kit and skill I mean

  • Iron weapon and armour (especially helm, breastplate and shield)
  • Relevant skills for the weapon of choice. Id recommend axes or swords. But I’ll provide a link for you to do your own research
  • Relevant military skills (Fighter, Dodger, Wrestler, Observer, Discipline

Obviously there are only so many you can pick so I would recommend you prioritize Weapon Proficiency, Dodge, and Discipline

Training – Dwarf Fortress Dwarven Militia & Marksdwarves

So you’ve embarked and you have some industry going(perhaps if this guide does well I will make a whole ‘First Steps’ guide). After your wood and food industries are going, mine out a 3×3 room near your entrance and trade depot to serve as your first barracks,and close by[ideally; adjacent], another barracks for sleeping.

[OLD SALTY VET NOTE: You do not need a armour stand or anything of that nature to define, or use a barracks for training]

Dwarven Militia and Marksdwarves.Dwarven Militia and Marksdwarves.

Thereafter, use the [z]one key to define a barracks, most importantly the 3×3 square for now. I would also mine and [z]one a barracks for your squad to sleep in. For reference, i use a 4×13 rectangle for my squads, however you can realistically use whatever you like. So long as you can fit 10 beds, cabinets and chests in. Which you can see above. For your first barracks you don’t need all of this space right away, and verily, you should be using your miners elsewhere on projects that you will immediately use. For now, a 3×3 and a 2×3 room will suffice. Expand as necessary.

Now, we must create a squad. S[q]uad will bring up the military screen.

Dwarven Militia and Marksdwarves.

Yours will look different, showing no squads. Here we have the current militia squads of Hammerwings. Underlined in red is the create squad button, and circled in blue is the military screen button, In case you forget where q is on your keyboard. After you create a squad it will ask you to choose a uniform. For now, choose metal armour. Later on we will delve deeper into equipment, but for now we just want our boys and girls training! Then we must assign a leader. Next to your newly created (and most probably, hilariously named) squad, there will be a button with a quill on it. To the left of that button, is a dwarven face. Press the face. After which, pick your aforementioned kit and skilled dwarf(or whoever you want if you don’t like following directions) from embark. He(or she) will now have the distinct honour of being your fortress’ Militia Commander

Those Goblins will now cower in fear of your mighty maulin’ POWER R- errr wrong game.

Anyway, now we have to assign the squad to the barracks and sleeping quarters.

Assignment and Scheduling

Dwarven Militia and Marksdwarves.

Circled in red again(notice the pattern?) is the assign button. We now want to assign our squad to both the barracks and sleeping quarters. They are both called a barracks in the game, I am just nominally differentiating them to make it easier to understand.

Dwarven Militia and Marksdwarves.

When you assign a barracks you will be prompted with this screen. For the training barracks you want to select the axe. for the sleeping quarters select the other three options. Once we get to the marksdwarves, we will separate the squad equipment from the sleeping room.

Congratulations! You’ve made and assigned a squad and now we are on to the hard and finnicky part:



[OSV: Alerts have been devolved into burrows and scheduling, there is no training alert anymore]
After your squad is nice and assigned we have to let the squad know what to do and when. I have said elsewhere and I will say it here: you should be designing the systems in the fortress, not the minutiae. So designing a scheduling system that allows for a 100% uptime of dwarven defence, as well as allowing your militia to satisfy their needs is paramount. For now, I will cover the basics of scheduling. Enough to get your dwarves training. Later on the the guide we will revisit this topic to break it down, and help you develop a militia that can hold the walls at Helms Deep.

First, select your squad in the [q]uestion menu, then click Scheduling[red underline] at the bottom right. Pretty well the same spot you created your squad with.

Dwarven Militia and Marksdwarves.

Now, a little about this screen. These are different order sets(or regimens) for this squad, on this table you are able to select different schedules by clicking the shaded area on the order set[yellow mark]. For now, select the Staggered Training schedule, and then hit the View Monthly schedule [blue underline]. Which will bring up the following screen:

Dwarven Militia and Marksdwarves.

On the left hand side we have the months, with the current month being indicated, and a table that shows the current orders given for each month. Before we continue we have to discuss a few things.
First, it is important to give your dwarfy minutemen time off ( I know, the horror). Much like humans they will burn out if overworked and throw temper tantrums. Unlike humans, dwarf temper tantrums can include highly skilled military dwarves decapitating nearby dwarves who are trying to just do their job or clean up the mess from the aforementioned temper tantrum. So, time off is important.
Second, it takes time for dwarves to equip themselves. Dwarven stockpile logic is known to be more complex than quantum mechanics and trying to demystify the logic(or lack thereof) behind it has driven many a scholar insane. So, it is paramount that you have some of your militia armed and ready at any given time. As waiting for your dwarves to arm themselves while watching an undead horde shamble to your fortress; gates unbarred, and ramparts undefended, is a recipe for catastrophe. Thus, we should aim to create a second squad, with a staggered training regimen as soon as dwarvenly possible. Ideally with a fully armed month between any dwarfy downtime. This can be minimized by making stockpiles next to your barracks, but that is a lesson for another guide, or perhaps an advanced section.
Third, and this may possibly be a bug, but the edits you make in the schedule pertain only to the squad currently selected. If you edit the staggered training regimen for this squad, the next squad will, by default, be still using the old regimen. So remember to change each squads regimen.
Lastly, many a scholar have tried to accurately define the perfect training regimen. Some advocating a 1 on 1 off, or 1/1 or 2/3 or 3/2. The truth is, your fortress is unique, and decorating your training barracks with masterwork statues, floors and walls, whilst providing lavish meals and drinks will offset some negative thoughts from extra training. Find out what works for you.

Scheduling Part 2: Training Bugaloo – Dwarf Fortress Dwarven Militia & Marksdwarves

Dwarven Militia and Marksdwarves.
Fig. A

Moving forward, lets get down to brass tacks. For our currently singular dwarf, the current staggered training regimen appears to be fine. However there are a few changes we should veriify. Find a month that shows Train and then hit the Edit button.
Fig B
Dwarven Militia and Marksdwarves.
We firstly want to make sure that the button that is underlined red, shows Equip/always for our training order. This is the setting you want for your dwarves that are on-duty. Off duty dwarves should be given the other order. You can change the order by clicking the button.

Next, the blue underlined button should say sleep in barracks at will. You could opt for room, or at need, but I find even when at will they do not sleep too often and it helps keep those meddling negative thoughts away. More importantly it keeps the squad more or less together. Which is important in an emergency. You don’t want half of your squad 4-5 levels down in your fortress while invaders have broken into the gates. Your squad fights better as a squad.

Next the green underlined buttons are the actual orders. Of importance to us is the axe, which is training. The beige underlined number is the number of dwarves in the squad to follow the order you are about to press. Alternatively you can select exactly which dwarves will follow the order by clicking the boxes to the right of their name. With this deceptively simple screen you can devise an alarmingly complex regimen of patrols, defense and stations. That rotate monthly, and give your dwarves some downtime to drink their livers away in a pub. But lets not get ahead of ourselves.

All we want right now is to verify that the training order shows the at least 10 train{beige}, and they are always equipped{red} and they are sleeping together{blue}. No not like that, get your mind out of the gutter, err channel. This is DF after all.

After that, return to Figure A, and for the staggered regimen, press the copy button. Now, for every training month, click paste. Leave the off duty months, off duty. For testing purposes, lets make sure our current month is a training month.

Dwarven Militia and Marksdwarves.
This Add/Edit Routines button allows you to create and rename new regimens. For your first squad you will not have to do this, but to stagger your next squad you will have to create a new routine for them.

And now… unpause! If everything works correctly your lone milita(wo)man should grab his(her) gear and start an Individual Combat Drill.

Troubleshooting and Things to Remember – Dwarf Fortress Dwarven Militia & Marksdwarves

Dwarven Militia and Marksdwarves.

  1. Give yourself one full month of On-Duty status between shift changes. You dont want a siege when everyone is getting dressed and out of position.(See red arrow)
  2. Make sure your sleeping barracks and training barracks are two separate rooms
  3. Give your dwarves enough down time to take care of their needs
  4. Make one squad per weapon class. If you want macemen, make a whole squad macemen
  5. Evenly distribute militia members, out of your first 6 military dwarves. 3 should be in Squad A and 3 in squad B
  6. If you have any questions, ask away!

How to Dress your Dwarves

So your first dwarf or dwarves should be happily(ish) training away by now. We must now focus on Uniforms. This part will just focus on the mechanics of equipping your dwarves, not the theories behind it. There will be time theorycrafting later, first we gotta get the militia dressed! Your first uniform will depend on what materials you have in your embark. If there is no iron bearing ores in your embark, I think you will find that equipping your dwarves with iron will be a difficult task indeed.

Obviously you can tailor the exact materials to what you have on hand, and you can trade for what you lack. Or attempt to anyway.

What is a Uniform Anyway?

A uniform is a set of equipment that you have designed for a squad of your militia. You can and should make different uniforms for your individual squads. Not all of them will be marksdwarves, and not all of them will be axedwarves. Enough talking, lets get the pictures out.

Equip Screen

[q]uestion everything. Once your military screen is open, select your squad {red} draw your gaze to the bottom right of the screen and and click Equip{blue}
Dwarven Militia and Marksdwarves.

[OSV: You can no longer assign backpacks, waterskins, quivers, or bolts. Your Dwarves will automatically assign themselves with these. Unfortunately this means that you cannot differentiate between training and nontraining bolts.]

Now there is a lot going on here so lets stop and explain what is going on here.
All of those green sprites show that the Dwarves are currently equipped according to the assigned uniform. If there was a yellow axe on the first line that would mean there is a weapon in the fort that is assigned to them, but they don’t currently have it in their possession. Which could mean they are on their way to retrieve it, or they are not required to have that item and they have chosen not to have it on them. A red sprite would show that there is not an item in the fort that is assigned to them, which means that there is perhaps not enough to go around. Or there isn’t any items which match the uniform specifications. I will show an example of these in a moment. Before moving on, the circled sprites in dark brown mean Backpack and Waterskin. The rest I think are pretty obvious, but if you have questions let me know. Now first lets cover the rest of this screen.

Circled in green is the Add Uniform button which will allow you to create a new uniform for your dwarves. I will go over the process in a moment.

Next is the Assign Uniform button underlined in beige. Clicking this will bring up a list of your created uniforms, as well as some default ones. Clicking on one of them will assign it to the selected squad.

Underlined in royal purple, is the Update Equipment button, this forces your dwarves to check again for new items that match their equipment specifications. They will do this automatically from time to time, as well as during shift change when they don their armour again.

As promised here is a screen that shows some dwarves missing items and some on their way to retrieve items.
Dwarven Militia and Marksdwarves.

  • In red we have a dwarf that is currently missing some of their required bolts, and is on their way to retrieve them.
  • Circled in blue shows this dwarf is missing one or more assigned gauntlets or other handwear item(s), and is on their way to retrieve them
  • Circled in beige, we can see that these dwarves are unable to meet their uniform requirements. There is not enough of this item to fulfill all the uniform needs. We can check what is happening with the Details button underlined in beige and purple
  • If you think you do have the requisite items, try Update Equipment to force the dwarves to look again
  • Lastly, the items betwixt the bolts and the footwear are quivers.

Now that we are a little more familiar with what we are looking at, lets make a uniform for our newly minted squad. The default uniforms are by no mean bad, however squads are as unique as the forts that spawn them. The default uniforms are therefore inadequate for every situation.

So after pressing Add Uniform we are brought here:(minus the breastplate I have added to this unnamed uniform)

Dwarven Militia and Marksdwarves.

  • Underlined in red is where you would name your uniform
  • Underlined in purple is an option to replace your clothing with your uniform or wear it over it. I highly recommend you replace your clothing with your uniform. There is no need to wear out your clothes in military training.
  • Underlined in orange is an option to allow partial matches. Until you have a metal industry steadily chugging along, I recommend leaving this as such.
  • Next are all the armour options from bodywear to weapons, not indicated in any special way. Clicking these will bring up a list of items to begin creating your uniform specifications. Here I have a breastplate already added to the uniform (NOTE: Even though it says none assigned that is simply because the game is paused, any lies that you hear about a lack of armour in the fortress are to be treated as GOBLIN propaganda)
  • Circled in blue and green we have the option to further define the material or the colour(if you are one of those Elven aesthetes) of the item in question( trying to use both will confuse the dwarves; don’t). Use the Mat button to choose iron specifically, for example.

So to create an iron uniform for our militiamen, we simply have to go through each of the item types, and choose which type of armour we would like in each slot. Different types of armour won’t be covered in this section, but in summa the different items cover differing amounts of your live, supple flesh and the different materials would alter the properties of said covering. This will be expanded upon in the advanced section. After you have chosen your items and materials, name your uniform and then save. After that, select your squad and Assign them the uniform you created.

So if you have done it right, after equipping everything your Equipment Details screen should look like this:

Dwarven Militia and Marksdwarves.

  • Red; shows a named artifact. The item is a named Steel Battle Axe
  • Blue; you have two hands and two feet, so you should be wearing two of these
  • Beige; These are quality indicators, which will be covered in the advanced section

Congratulations! Your dwarves are now training, armed and armoured! There is much more to learn but this is enough to get you started.

Loose, Arrows![WIP] – Dwarf Fortress Dwarven Militia & Marksdwarves

Still working on this part, I should be finished by sunday night for those interested

[ADV]Equipment: Armour Up[WIP]

Bone armor can be crafted very early in the game from the bones of livestock or other animals. Roughly equivalent to leather, bone armor provides practically no protection against “real” weapons, or large animals, and little against the attacks of medium-sized animals, making it an inferior option even for hunters, except as a fashion statement.
Copperarmor is the lowest-grade type of metal armor but also the easiest to get, requiring one of native copper, malachite, or tetrahedrite (next to guaranteed on any embark containing more than one metal).
Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, which requires cassiterite. It is much improved over copper armor and is slightly stronger than iron, but it also weighs more and is more elastic.
Bismuth bronze has identical properties to standard bronze, but has been alloyed with bismuth, making it more valuable (and fancier-colored). If you have access to bismuth and want to put it to use, and you have the time and fuel for the extra steps, you can save some tin and increase the value of the final objects this way.
Iron can be smelted from hematite, limonite, or magnetite and is easiest to find in sedimentary layers (though igneous extrusive layers may contain hematite). It is comparable to bronze but is slightly weaker (but more rigid) and has a less complicated smelting process.
Steel is the best non-adamantine armor material and requires fuel, flux, iron, and pig iron in its manufacturing. Note that steel in Dwarf Fortress is just as valuable as gold; making lots of armor is a sure way to attract attention, but at least it’s going into shiny armor, right?
There is also leather, which is very light, but offers little more protection than clothing, which offers 0 armour value.

There is also another FUN metal, but if you have that, you don’t need this guide.

There is also another part of this story. Skills. For our thought experiments here, two skills are of particular note. Armour User(AU), and Shield User(SU). There are other defensive skills but for now we will look at these two. Basically armour slows down your dwarves, a high enough AU skill will allow your dwarves to move at regular speed. Which is of critical importance when it comes to reacting to an emergency. It also prevents your dwarves from tiring too quickly. A dwarf that is over-exerted is almost certainly a dead dwarf.

SU is much like the dodger skill in that it actively helps your dwarves survive combat. A dwarf with a higher SU will block more, faster, and in a more advantageous way. All without breaking a sweat.

So what to make of this? Well firstly, giving your inexperienced dwarves some heavy armour and sending them half way across the map to fight will only let them die tired. More experienced and better trained dwarves can be sent on a sally out of the fortress to strike at the enemy, but often it is better to let them come to you, or even better than that, let your archers and traps deal with the most of them. But I digress

So the question of what to equip your fortress militia with is a complex one. Obviously, steel is a great goal and it is an excellent armour. However, more wealth= more attention= more sieges/ambushes. So even if you have the means to make and equip your militia in steel doesnt mean you should as soon as possible.

Dwarven Militia and Marksdwarves.

You should first go for iron or bronze, and once you have a core defensive system in place, with experienced and well trained dwarves you can work on switching out to steel. Furthermore, since steel is woefully encumbering i would suggest armouring your marksdwarves in mostly leather. Save for their helm and shield, as they should mostly be behind fortifications anyway, and you want them to be able to escape to safety.

One final note about equipment is that for campaigning you will need a leather backpack and waterskin. You cannot make these out of anything else so setting up some hunters to get a leather industry going should be beneficial. Else, you will have to purchase leather from caravans. Quivers are also made from leather, and without them you cannot have your makrsdwarves pick up bolts for their crossbows

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