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What do the item quality character designations mean? What quality is *<*sword*>*, etc?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

A full list and description is available at the df wiki.

In order from worst to best, with their additions to item quality:

  • Nothing = 1x
  • - = 2x
  • + = 3x
  • * = 4x
  • ≡ = 5x
  • ☼ = 12x
  • Artifact items, (ones with a unique name) = 10x in the latest version, 120x in 0.28

The page for the previous version is far more detailed, but some information may be out of date.

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Item Name — Standart — 1x
-Item Name- — Well-crafted — 2x
+Item Name+ — Finely-crafted — 3x
* Item Name * — Superior quality — 4x
≡Item Name≡ — Exceptional — 5x
☼Item Name☼ — Masterful — 12x
Unique name — Artifact — 12x
«Item Name» — Decorated object — Varies

Decorations have quality levels, too. An item of any quality (except artifacts) can have a decoration of any quality. (There are no artifact quality decorations.) The quality level of a decoration is shown by the same signs (-, +, *, ≡, ☼) just outside the double angle-brackets («,»). Thus, a «+steel battle axe+» is a finely-crafted steel battle axe with superior decorations on it, and a «☼steel battle axe☼» is a masterfully crafted steel battle axe with decorations of standard quality.

Source: dwarffortresswiki

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If you check the description of an artifact, it always has a number of artifact-quality decorations on it. It's true that you can't add more later, though (or add artifact-quality decorations to anything else). – Brilliand Jun 24 '14 at 15:45

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