Totems are made from skulls by a bone carver at a craftsdwarf's workshop. Totems cannot be built as permanent structures, but careful management of custom stockpiles will allow the player to place totems at artistically pleasing locations around the fortress.

Skulls can end up in a refuse stockpile or could be dumped to a garbage dump activity zone. I'm trying to constrain a specific subset of refuse, from a category of creature, to a specific stockpile for use with a specific workshop in order to produce artifact level finished goods to put on display near the fortress entrance.

  • How could I create a stockpile to host only megabeasts refuse (bones, skulls, shells, teeth, and horns/hooves), which can then be set up to give only to a my megabeast dedicated workshop?
  • What is involved with the careful management of stockpiles to allow for the displaying of a totem at a specific location?
  • How close must someone be to the art installation to "get the picture" (trying to assess where to place the installation exactly for all travelers to see)?

Context. I'm building a dinning room for the dwarves, and we only have a raising bridge at the entrance and no walls or moat to speak of. We're disturbed in our task by this megabeast werebeast. It appears very close to our entrance, but luckily a zone was set up to pen a few war dogs which stall the creature down while the militia is summoned from a nearby training facility. So it was struck down pretty much on the spot, but we sustained injuries. The subsequent freezing of the river during winter prevented the hospital staff from properly dressing the wounds as another water source had not been identified, and soap was rare. Then on those cursed nights, some dwarves started turning into werebeasts and made a mess out of the hospital...

This is when the decision was made that from that point on, totems would be crafted by a legendary skilled bonecarver from the skulls of all the megabeasts (when applicable, with adaptations) showing up. A special room will be dug in the rock face, with it's own shop and stockpiles set therein. As masterpieces are crafted, an art installation will be built outside the fortress, surrounded with glass walls and eventually by platinum flooring, and the megabeast-remains-based art will be put on display for all future megabeast to see; there will also be engravings. A megabeast should then understand you don't ever interrupt the setting up of a dining room surrounded by a twelve-tiles wide magma channel and such in the year 154.

  • I love questions like these... Btw, in pre-0.44 versions there is the Pedestal mod, which allows you to 'display' a random object - in practice, it defines a custom 1-tile workshop built with a block and literally anything. I build it with masterwork items, in busy thoroughfares; gives dorfs a happy thought when they walk past.
    – Liz
    May 14, 2018 at 12:15

1 Answer 1


Part 1

First, the stockpile of megabeast refuse. Make your stockpile. Look at it as a building with q. Use s to change its settings. There are three columns.

You can move around these menus using the arrow keys, up and down for moving within the menu and left and right for moving out of and into sub-menus.

Use the (e)nable and (d)isable keys to enable and disable major groups (like refuse, or food). Make sure that only refuse is enabled.

Use the (b)lock all command to disable all the items. Then select the skulls subgroup (because only skulls are used in totems.). Move into the skulls sub-group and you can use the enter key to toggle whether or not various types of skull are allowed in this stockpile.

The megabeast skulls are about 27 pages down on my version of Dwarf Fortress. Enable the magabeast skulls.

It is possible that this won't work, I am not sure exactly how werebeast skulls are handled. In this case, make a 1x1 dump zone and ensure that it is the only dump zone active. Order all megabeast skulls dumped. remove the dump zone and place an all inclusive refuse pile under the skulls. Reclaim the skulls. Be sure the stockpile is set to use zero(0) bins. (Note that when done with a single skull this is a method to arrange them for display.) No other refuse will be put into the pile while there is already a skull there, and since the skulls are in a stockpile that accepts them they will not be moved until someone wants to use them.

Part 2

In order to display them individually you have two options. Using dumping mechanics as the previous paragraph describes will give you fine control over where each totem goes.

If you have no totems other than the ones you want to display then you can use another method. Specifically you can set a stockpile to only accept totems. Make a finished goods stockpile, and then (f)orbid all types. Then go in and manually re-enable totems with the enter key.

Totems will be automatically brought to the stockpiles wherever you put them. Unfortunately there is no way to filter out only megabeast skull totems if you choose to use this method. (well you could count stockpile squares to exactly fit your number of desired totems and then temporarily forbid all non-megabeast skull totems while the stockpiles were being filled, but that would be more work than placing them individually.)

Part 3

I'm pretty sure that outsider's reactions to totems, etc. are not yet implemented (aside from as valuable objects to steal). Only dwarves will adjectinotice them, and only as pretty art. Thus the adjectival phrase artistically pleasing before locations. Choose whatever you feel is reasonable.


If you do using dumping to place things manually, be very careful that you have turned off the other dumping locations around your fort while you do so. It would really suck to dump your precious megabeast skull totems into a pit of magma by accident.

Addendum 2

As per the comment from Riguefort Ultraquaillette, I should mention that there are a couple of issues that could come up. If the corpses of the mega-beasts are outside, then you must remember to tell dwarves to gather refuse from outside (command (o)orders (r)efuse (o)utside) or they will ignore the corpses.

Another potential issue is that most dwarves refuse to butcher sentient beings. This could potentially cause problems with gathering skulls from were-beasts. You can butcher, say, dragons, but you might not be able to butcher were-dragons killed in dragon form.

  • Thank you! So it's a bit tricky that playing with a dump zone, as I already have one I use to empty the stones from that 12-tile channel (so hundreds of dump commands issued already); I would have to deselect all those rocks. I also thought of using a burrow maybe... When you say the megabeasts skulls is 27 p. down for you, do you know if that list is static or generated depending on map content i.e. playing another game where there was no attack and can't find megabeast in the list... found Plump Helmet Man and Jumping Spider Man though!
    – user76919
    Oct 3, 2015 at 23:33
  • 1
    It may well be at least somewhat procedurally generated. I saw what I think were angel skulls as I went through the list. Megabeast is not listed under megabeast, but by species. You have dragon skulls, and bronze colossus skulls, etc. If it helps there were about 7 pages after them. So about four fifths of the way down. I didn't see forgotten beast skulls, so some things may not be in there.
    – Nick
    Oct 3, 2015 at 23:57
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    Sure. Added the info, as well as another possible pitfall. By most dwarves I mean dwarves not in a fell mood, or modded game. It's a civ ethic, but can be ignored by a special mood (which also causes murder, and you only get leather out of it).
    – Nick
    Oct 5, 2015 at 15:54

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