I'm on my second fortress, and I've encountered a problem I didn't really expect: I'm chronically short of wood. I embarked into a forested area, so I had plenty to begin with, but now I don't have enough to do all the crazy stuff I want to. There are plenty of saplings on the surface, so I haven't totally killed my supply, but still.

So, how might this have happened, and what can I do about it? When I started this fort, I was thrilled to find that the first few z-levels are rife with iron and copper ores (a lack of iron was why I stopped playing my first fort), so I've been making a lot of steel. Maybe I should cut that out for a while? Is there any way I can plant trees?

Alternatively, how can I reduce my dependence on foreign... er, surface wood? I'm considering the following:

  • Digging down for magma
  • Digging down for lignite or coal. I'm in a sedimentary layer, so that might be easiest?
  • Digging down for tower-caps. Aren't these associated with caverns/fun?

Actually, I guess those are all sort of the same plan. Any other ideas for conservation or alternative energy sources would be great. (What ingredients do I need for solar panels? :D)

  • Your second fortress! I've done 8-9 fortress and I'm still loosing dramatically. I've so much too learn :-)
    – Luc M
    Commented Sep 10, 2011 at 1:37
  • 2
    Use stone for barrels (have your stonecrafters make stone pots from a craftsdwarves workshop). If you need beds or fuel, the caverns are your best bet. Commented Sep 10, 2011 at 5:48
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    I find that trading for wood is very useful in the short term. If you are short of wood, all civilizations should bring wood to trade, but look out for the elves in Spring, who usually bring a lot of wood for trading.
    – bcpettifer
    Commented Oct 3, 2011 at 14:52
  • Yes, trading is definitely a good short-term source of cheap wood. I've found that most traders will sell it for 3* per log, which is a great deal.
    – andronikus
    Commented Oct 3, 2011 at 16:14

2 Answers 2


Due to the way caverns are generated, there's a fun little trick you can use to safely dig down to magma, most of the time:

If you are in a 4x4 embark, determine the exact midpoint of your area, and dig a 2x2 staircase straight down.

4 times out of 5, it will completely miss everything in your embark area, allowing you to access the sweet, sweet magma safely and without fun and lossage.

  • I'm not quite sure what you mean by that. Is that the center of my map, or the general region where I started? (Possibly the area selected in this screenshot: df.magmawiki.com/index.php/File:Embark.jpg?) If it is the region, is there a way for me to get back to that screen after I've started?
    – andronikus
    Commented Sep 10, 2011 at 15:11
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    @andronikus: The center of your map, assuming it's 4x4 embark squares. If it's 3x3 or 5x5, it gets tricker, in those configurations you are almost guaranteed to hit everything if you dig straight down at the center of the map. ;) Commented Sep 10, 2011 at 20:52
  • OK, nice. I'll give it a shot!
    – andronikus
    Commented Sep 10, 2011 at 20:54
  • 4x4 seems to be the default, right? I just went through the worldgen procedure again and that was what I started with. Also, I didn't actually know I could change it, so there's that too.
    – andronikus
    Commented Sep 12, 2011 at 0:04
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    Is this just 'cause the exact center of a 4x4 embark is 4 corner squares (and thus, likely to not have anything generated in them?) Commented Sep 12, 2011 at 13:48

Building on Williham's answer...

I found that the Notes interface shows the (x, y, z) coordinates of the cursor's location, and (0, 0, z) is the center of the map. This makes it much easier to find where to dig a magma shaft on a 4x4 map.

Also, I dug a 2x2 shaft and happened to just clip the wall of the first cavern. Nothing Fun has come out of it yet, but I'll probably proceed with a 1x1 shaft from there, after I get some delicious wood, silk, and gems.

  • I don't think the coordinates on the note screen works that way. I just tried it (new map, no notes) and it doesn't list the coordinates. I created a note and now it gives the coordinates as a distance from that note.
    – thedagit
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 19:09

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