How to Use Armor in Dwarf Fortress

Dwarf Fortress artwork
Image via Bay 12 Games

Armor in Dwarf Fortress serves to protect your dwarves’ lives. If you don’t use anything but regular clothing, you can’t expect to go far when there’s time for fighting, especially against some enemy military.

Dwarf Fortress comes with numerous ways to play with your armor. While it’s fun, it can also get rather confusing how to use this option to level up the defense capabilities of your dwarves. If you’re new to the game or need some clarifications, read our guide that explains how to use armor in Dwarf Fortress.

Types of Armor in Dwarf Fortress

Armor in Dwarf Fortress can be classified using several categories. When it comes to different clothing items or armor pieces, you can find options for almost every part of a dwarf’s body, including:

  • Headgear—helms, caps, etc.
  • Upper body pieces—mail shirts, breastplates, cloaks, capes, etc.
  • Hand pieces—gloves, gauntlets, or mittens
  • Lower body pieces—Greaves, trousers, leggings, etc.
  • Footwear—shoes, low boots, high boots, chausses, etc.

All armor or clothing pieces are also categorized by the layer they belong to—Under, Over, Armor, or Cover—and this matters when you actually start equipping your dwarf with these items.

The most important armor categorization, though, is based on the material the armor is made of. Regular clothing provides almost no protection, while leather, bone, or shell armor serves the purpose, but barely. When you get to work with metal, things become much more interesting and practical since upper-tier metals provide the strongest defense in the game—especially, steel and adamantine armor.

How to Equip and Use Armor in Dwarf Fortress

Equipping your dwarf with armor pieces requires that you respect the proper layer order. As pointed out above, dwarves put on armor in the following order—Under, Over, Armor, and then Cover pieces.

You can choose uniforms from the military screen once you have enough pieces. When creating a new uniform, select the piece from the appropriate section (for example, a helm) but then, while the piece is selected, hit M and choose the material that you want. Proceed in the same manner for all the pieces and turn on the Exact matches and Replace clothing options (this will require you to have enough pieces of each item for all your dwarves).

Afterward, equip the uniforms from the Equip screen (hit E) and assign uniforms by hitting U. For faster results, hold Shift while hitting Enter to apply the same uniform to your whole team.

Those are the basics of using armor in Dwarf Fortress. If you need more assistance with this game, read our guides on how to set up and use hospitals or check out our list of the best armors in Dwarf Fortress for more info.

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How to Use Armor in Dwarf Fortress


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