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How do I assign tasks to dwarves in Dwarf Fortress?

Get those dwarves doing the right thing!

Initially, it can seem like a completely foreign concept to get dwarves to do tasks in Dwarf Fortress. You don’t directly assign labor in most cases, so it can initially seem very obscure. We’ll go over all the ways to assign tasks to dwarves in Dwarf Fortress.

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Making sure the right dwarves do the right tasks

If you want to specialize in certain tasks, such as mining, or crafting, you’ll need to use the labors menu. In this menu, you can make sure that only dwarves with the appropriate skills will take part in a certain task. By default, this includes things like mining, fishing, woodcutting, etc., but you can add custom labor groups such as crafting, jewellers, or anything really!

You can also use work orders, detailed below, to assign specific workshops to do specific tasks. Then, with the fact that dwarves can be assigned specific workshops, you can make a dwarf work on just a single type of task at a single workshop. 

Using the Mining menu

Using the Mining menu (Pressing the M key or selecting the pickaxe at the bottom), you can designate areas for mining, smoothing, tree chopping, engraving, carving stairs, and carving ramps and channels. Any dwarves with access to a pick or another appropriate tool will take up this task.

At workshops

You can designate up to ten different tasks at a workshop. You can also set tasks to repeat indefinitely or until they cannot find the required materials. This is useful for tasks such as gem-cutting, where you have a finite amount of a basic item.

Related: Can you dig through an aquifer in Dwarf Fortress?

Using work orders

If you have a manager and they have access to an office/study, you can set work orders. Work orders will task dwarves with creating a number of items beyond the limited amount usually available in workshops. You can also specify workshops and other details with work orders. These are some of the most effective ways to mass-produce items.

Directly if they’re in a squad

You can assign military and combat actions directly to dwarves in squads. These orders include stationing, kill orders, and patrols. However, no non-military orders can be given directly.

Standing Orders

Some tasks will be done automatically by dwarves. These include burial, collecting the dead, putting animals in pens and pastures, and more. You can set which actions are done automatically in the Standing Orders section of the Labor menu.

For more Dwarf Fortress information and guides, check out When does Dwarf Fortress Adventure Mode release for Steam and on Pro Game Guides.

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Michael Hassall
Michael lives in the UK, but wishes he lived in Eorzea. A life-long gamer, Four years ago, he ditched a "real" job to write about video games for a living, and hasn't looked back. When not guiding players how to get the latest mounts, crafting recipes, and in-game goodies, he spends his time nurturing an unhealthy addiction to MMOs and gacha games.

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How do I assign tasks to dwarves in Dwarf Fortress?

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