How to Make a Jail in Dwarf Fortress

Dwarf Fortress artwork
Image via Bay 12 Games

No crime should go unpunished, especially not among the dwarves in Dwarf Fortress. That’s why the game has an extensive justice system that includes jails, among other aspects. Considering other punishment options (like hammering), going to jail doesn’t sound half as bad.

Therefore, to prepare for your dwarves misbehaving, you should build a prison as soon as you can. If you’re not sure how, read on to find out how to make a jail in Dwarf Fortress.

Building a Jail in Dwarf Fortress

Luckily, building a jail in Dwarf Fortress is not difficult. You should think about the layout of your prison and consider how humane you want the environment to be, but the defining element of any jail is the restraint you want to use.

You can restrain your crime-committing dwarves using cages, ropes, or chains. Cages can be made of wood, metal, or glass at related workshops, but for jailing purposes, you will need a metal cage. Still, cages are quite limiting and require other dwarves to constantly take care of the prisoners, which can get exhausting fast. Also, they’re much more inhumane

To build a rope or a chain, use the Building menu and then the option Restraint to select which particular type you can/want to place in the prison cell.

When you have your restraints all set up in the cells, it’s time to make it official and designate everything as jail. You can designate the space as a room using R and specify that it is used by Justice by hitting J. Do it for all the created cells, and your sheriff will soon start dragging in misbehaving dwarves into your new jail.

How to Keep Dwarves Happy in a Jail in Dwarf Fortress

Building a basic jail is not enough. Even though your dwarves will get some happiness from admiring the craftsmanship of their metal chains, you can do more for their well-being while they’re serving time. Therefore, consider adding the following to your jail:

  • Beds
  • Prepared meals (or even some alcohol, too)
  • A chair and a table
  • A well

You can also smooth and engrave your jail cells and add doors so that your criminals have something to admire.

That concludes our straight-to-the-point guide to making jails in Dwarf Fortress. For more Dwarf Fortress assistance, check out our articles like How to Get and Use Magma Smelter or How to Create a Bedroom.

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How to Make a Jail in Dwarf Fortress


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