Is there a way to capture and cage merchants?

I built a trade depot and walled it off with only 1 exit that is lined with cage traps. I ordered a single dwarf to attack one of the merchants, and then to immediately move outside.

The merchant came running out, but did not trigger any of the traps.

  • The easiest way is to cause controlled cave-in (floor on the support linked to a lever). Any creature caught in the dust cloud would fall to the ground and become trapped if there is a cage trap on that tile.
    – Sergei
    Jun 8, 2015 at 5:35

1 Answer 1


The traps article in the wiki mentions that you can capture nearly anything in a cage trap if the cage trap square also has Giant Cave Spider webbing on it. Otherwise, friendly creatures don't set off traps (but wild animals do). This method would require you to get a Giant Cave Spider to web your traps, which is a serious undertaking.

There is another possible option. The same article mentions that your dwarves can become trapped if they lose consciousness while on the same tile as a cage trap. It is possible, although I have not tested it, that the same would apply to merchants. Unfortunately it is much harder to make merchants lose consciousness.

On further thought, it is possible that the merchants no longer count as friendly after you attack them, but any traps they have seen while friendly might not work. If the merchants are human then a human diplomat sort of effect may have occured, which would mean that any traps previously seen by the diplomat (or perhaps merchants) would not be effective.

To reiterate; the options I see are three. One, use a Giant Cave Spider. Two figure out how to knock the merchant unconscious while he is on the right tile. This may or may not work. Three make sure the merchant chases you over traps he has never seen before. Again, this may or may not work.

Option one is the most likely to work. Do note, however, that there are downsides to messing with merchants too much. Read the caravan article, especially the point about loyalty cascade as it can kill your fortress. Also if prevented from leaving they can go insane and attack your dwarves.

Good luck.

  • The merchants are elves. I read that I had to kill a bunch of them to start a war with the elves. If I just wall them in and then they go insane and die, will this count towards provoking the elves? Or do I have to kill them outright with my dwarves?
    – gamecan
    Jun 3, 2015 at 14:29
  • I'm pretty sure that anything that causes them to die will work. Even if you were totally trying to prevent it. dwarffortresswiki.org/index.php/War has a bunch of causes. I don't know if one caravan is enough. The caravan page implies it needs more than one.
    – Nick
    Jun 3, 2015 at 15:42

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