There was an event at the forge involving magma crabs. The dwarves were smelting hematite, gold and platinum and magma crabs tried to interfere. Two of them came out of the channel from the volcano and lucky for us the dwarves reacted quickly; by the time I noticed, there was only miasma and I dumped the corpses forthwith; the health screen reveals only some dogs require diagnosis...

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This was built quickly early in the game so there are no floodgate or fortification in the channel. The tile with the yellow X is not dug (the tile is dug one Z-level below on that cursor; as you can see it's all channels). There are 9 workshops built on the channel. Building magma-safe floors all over the unused part of the channel before and after the shops, or even using floodgates and such, is insufficient...

That's because even though it's not clear whether magma crabs can crawl through the shop's exposed single tile (from within the 3x3) i.e. through the forges/smelters, building destroyers certainly can, including through floors and certainly workshops (but not an artifact door). Magma crabs are not building destroyers but there are other creatures. The complexity is compounded by the angle of attack so to speak and the fact this is magma. Following the "underneath" logic, I would have needed to have initially set up the forge so as to isolate the channel atop with a forbidden1 hatch from a connection below, yet since this is in magma the hatch has to be controlled by mechanism so you can't have manual access to set the property to "forbidden" (or rather have it open all by itself if you don't link it to a mechanism)?? I can't seem to connect the dots here... is it about removing ramps or something I'm missing (I have poor spatial sense).

The question is how do I prevent future attacks, if possible, and how do you design this in the first place so as to avoid them?

2 Answers 2


All magma powered buildings contain impassable squares. If these cover the channeled tiles, it will block entry for the crabs. And prevent dwarfes from falling into magma.

If im not mistaken, the Forge for example has this pattern:


where ´W´ is walkable and ´X´ is blocked. Better check up on the Wiki though. If using this method, there must be no other path "into" the lava, so all channeled spaces need to be covered either by impassable squares or be "floored" from above(I see many such open spaces in your setup). A better way is to channel down a single tile, dig the pipe, let the miner tap the reservoid and get out, then cover the channeled tile with above method.

Also im not sure how this works out for eventual visits from magma-resistant building destroyers.

A failproof option is to separately carve out a section below the workshops and fill the area with a pump that is sourced from a reservoir. The tile where the pump inputs can be covered with a floorgrate which is undestructible from below.

Something like this:


Where Xis wall, .is floor and P is pump inputting from east. # is floorgrate over channeled tile connecting to natural reservoir. The setup should be safe for manual powering of the pump.

Of course, use magma safe components for pump and floorgrate. That means this requires steel or candy to be available. And it also means that a method of forging the pump components has to be available, which is a bit of a bummer when the original problem is setting up the smelters and forges earlygame. If you add a lever-linked floodgate in front of the pump, you can later close this to restrict the magma flow in order to reclaim the pump components, if steel is a rarity. While considerably more difficult to set up, this method is impenetrable to building destroyers since floor grates cannot be destroyed from below.


Here F is a floodgate linked to lever l.

Also, as a final reminder, I need to state that any usage of magma reservoirs without the possibility of draining said reservoir is a disaster waiting to happen. Always, before tapping a reservoid, build a floodgate and link it, so you can later interrupt the magma flow.

  • 1
    Is anything really failproof in DF?
    – aslum
    Oct 23, 2015 at 16:42
  • Thank you! Your magma forge pattern is accurate that I can see. Always having a floodgate to interrupt magma flow is really sound advice. A 2-stage system with pumps is really complicated imho, and hard to implement early on as you point out(re materials, mechanism, etc.). You state two times that floorgrates are undestructible from below; is it documented somewhere as the article on building destroyers states vertical/horizontal bars can be destroyed (isn't that what a floor grate is i.e. horiz. bars?)
    – user76919
    Oct 24, 2015 at 2:10
  • Im not 100% sure about the mechanics. I read it somewhere (and that explicitly mentioned floor grates, nothing else). It always worked for me with floor grates. I think the main point here is that nothing can destroy a building in the cell above. This is why im not sure if a building destroyer can destroy the forge from below. Haven't tested yet. Might very well work. Oct 27, 2015 at 13:59
  • 2
    @aslum, not if you let any dwarf come close. Oct 30, 2015 at 16:10
  • Thank you! If you (or someone else) come across more details or find out something later on about the specifics, don't hesitate to update this!
    – user76919
    Oct 31, 2015 at 2:09

In my current fortress, I built one pump that moved magma from the volcano to a separate tunnel which supplied magma to my forge area. I then removed the pump and sealed off the tunnel. You don't need to leave the magma sea and all of its nasty magma crabs attached to your forge area; magma (as long as it is at least 2/7 in depth so it doesn't evaporate) stays warm and toasty for the life of your fortress, sort of like all other DF perpetual motion machines.

I find that for moving fluids (water or magma) dwarf carried buckets are very slow, normal magma spread/flow down a tunnel (due to gravity) or using dwarven pushed mine-carts is medium, and pumps are insanely fast for moving fluids. If you use a pump, you will be amazed at how fast you can move magma.

Making a magma safe pump is not difficult: the block part of the pump is easily made out of one of the many magma safe stones like alunite, basalt, gabbro, mica, obsidian, petrified wood, or sandstone. The harder part is making the tube and enormous corkscrew parts of the pump; to be magma safe these can be made out of glass, nickel, or iron. You can also use steel, but there are much better uses for any steel you own than in pumps.

  • Good point ! Do you remember from the top of your head if it's possible to fill a pond with magma manually using a magma safe container (bucket) ?? Thanks.
    – user76919
    Jun 2, 2016 at 19:30
  • 1
    @SurvenantLazurite: Using a bucket might work in theory, but remember that a bucket is a very small unit compared to even 1/7 of magma in one tile, and that 1/7 magma will evaporate to nothing until you fill the tile to at least 2/7 full. Also, asking dwarves to run back and forth between pools of magma with a bucket and not expecting them to fall into the magma pools is expecting a little much of dwarf intelligence. Jun 3, 2016 at 6:37

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