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When choosing a place to embark, there is a screen that shows all the neighbors. Sometimes, I see:

Goblins ~~~~~~~~ with ~ being red.

What does this mean?

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The red ~~~~~~~ by a neighbor listing means that you are at war with that neighbor. Dwarves are almost always at war with any goblin neighbor, and less commonly with human or elven civilizations.

When an enemy civilization sends trade missions, goblins and humans will mostly deliver goblinite weapons and armor, while elves will bring largely useless wooden equipment. These trade missions will be heavily guarded, and you will probably have to capture or kill the guards to access the goods.

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    I have the red ~~~~~~ next to the goblins but next to elves it says WAR in red... what is the difference? – Matthew Jul 10 '16 at 4:59
  • ~~~~~~ Doesn't mean war. It means there is diplomatic hostility that will probably lead to war. I had to check, landed here to incorrect info, so decided to clarify using information from the wiki (dwarffortresswiki.org/index.php/DF2014:Embark). But in all seriousness, it's basically the same thing as war. – Radley Sustaire Apr 22 '18 at 22:05
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Goblins are you neighbors if you settle in that area.

Goblins are at war with you. Always. The red wavy line denotes "war".

You will have to deal with frequent goblin attacks and kobold thieves. On the plus side, you should be able to harvest a lot of goblinite.

If you do not want to deal with the extra trouble, settle in a different area.

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    Are you specifically saying that the red ~~~ line means that you are at war with them? If so, perhaps you could edit to make that explicit? – starsplusplus May 31 '15 at 12:36

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