Will bad things happen if I don't keep my dwarfs busy?
Any reason to not have idle dwarfs standing around other then personal satisfaction of working 'em to death?

  • 3
    All these dwarf fortress questions make me want to try the game out... :D Jul 13, 2010 at 0:34
  • 1
    @Mechko you should! but you do need to commit to quite a few days of hard-core learning. Jul 13, 2010 at 14:29
  • 2
    pssh, that's an exageration. You can get through the in-game help section in just a few hours, in another hour you'll probably figure out how to start a game then after you have FUN in that game, you can make a fortress that lasts a whole year! In a week or two you should be down to only learning one or two big things a day! Aug 20, 2010 at 0:14

4 Answers 4


If you have a couple dwarves standing around I wouldn't worry about it, but if you have a lot standing around, ask yourself this: why do you play dwarf fortress?

There is no way to win the game, so chances are you either have some goal in mind or your idle dwarves are evidence that you need a goal. Here are a couple suggestions:

  • What part of your economy have you not gone to yet? Glass? Fertilizer?
  • Megaprojects. Ever want to create your own volcano? Set up an in game Turing machine? Once your dwarves hit economy, go nuts.
  • Arena. Why not create a gladiatorial arena? You can trap and toss in violent animals and goblins for your dwarves to fight. On the plus side you can get some legendary fighters this way.
  • Declare war. Sometimes wars are started out of boredom. I'm not kidding about this one, real wars can grow out of not having anything better to do.
  • Start a new fortress. Maybe on evil this time? Eskimo dwarves? The world is a scary place
  • Bad ending. There are many ways to have fun, but only one bad ending. Seek it out.

AFAIK, it slowly makes them unhappy. But if you have a legendary dining hall, then you don't really need to worry about that :)


Idle dwarves will eventually start to throw parties, which sometimes your useful dwarves will attend. I've found production can grind to a halt when there's constant partying going on.


Dwarves standing around, if you have a meeting area, will tend to socialise and make friends with other dwarves in the same situation. This can be good if you want them to find lovers and eventually get married. There are two downsides

First, when the economy kicks in, dwarves who don't have jobs to do will go broke, get kicked out of their rooms when they can't pay the rent, and be restricted to the cheapest food available. This all tends to make them unahppy.

Second, when a dwarf's friend dies for any reason, that dwarf gets an unhappy thought. That might be just enough to trip him over the edge into madness. Madness results in suicide or murder, and another dead dwarf whose friends get a little more unhappy. If everyone is friends with everyone else this can end up with the dreaded 'tantrum spiral'

  • AFAIK, the Dwarven economy never kicks in in the latest version.
    – user7220
    Mar 3, 2011 at 0:25

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