My young army somehow managed to kill 1 cave crocodile and 12 troglodytes in a cavern, at the cost of 4 iron-blooded dwarf warriors. Great coffins have been built to let them rest in peace, and their families have been given superior bedrooms to "cancel out" their sorrow.

The problem? Their corpses are still in the water after they drown, and it seems that no dwarves are willing to haul their friends' bodies out of the water. Also, I need their steel helms and steel mail shirts to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

Dead dwarves at the bottom of a lake

As those purple tiles to the top-right corner of the viewpoint suggest, miasma has already started gathering. What should I do?

  • I don't think you're getting out of this situation without -some- kind of large project. Mar 6, 2017 at 16:24
  • Actually there's a chance. Does the lake extend to the map's edge or can you see its entirety? Mar 6, 2017 at 16:26
  • @DanmakuGrazer I can see its entirety! However, according to the Wiki, the caverns will usually have open map edges, allowing all sorts of creatures to migrate into and from the cavern. So while I can see the edge of this lake, it's actually open-ended
    – nalzok
    Mar 6, 2017 at 16:36
  • It's normal for the cavern to extend past the map's egde, but if a lake doesn't fit completely in the map, its edge tiles will infinitely create water, which complicates matters slightly. Mar 6, 2017 at 16:38
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    @DanmakuGrazer Gotcha. Let's go back to the original problem: what's your advice? I'm merely a rookie fortress manager who knows almost nothing about engineering. Would it worth the effort and risk to try to recover the corpses, or should I simply seal the cavern and leave them rot away? The lose of steel equipments can be overcomed relatively easily, but ghostly dwarves are really annoying.
    – nalzok
    Mar 6, 2017 at 16:44

1 Answer 1


Dwarves will not willingly path through water that's at least 4/7 deep, so as long as the lake remains a lake, your fortress' belongings will remain at the bottom of it.

The easiest way to recover the corpses and gear is then to drain the lake and simply walk through the mud to reclaim your items. One way to do this would be to dig a drain leading into a lower cavern layer, making sure to leave one tile of solid rock between the drain and the lake before you need it. Once the drain is complete, you can channel (d -> h) the tile keeping the water back and let it safely inundate the lower level.

Moving water can drag along objects and creatures, including your dwarves, so it might be a good idea to install a floor grate or horizontal bars right above the drop(s) in your drain, to keep what you're trying to recover from washing down with the water.

If you're mostly interested in not having your dead dwarves come back to haunt your fortress, you can engrave and place a memorial slab, which will put your dwarves to rest just as a grave would.

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    going off of this, you could construct a hallway under the cavern floor that on one end has a floor grate that drains into a large mined out area, and on the other a flood gate. the floodgate would be next to a wall, and on the other side would be the corpses. You could then channel away the wall, open the flood gate, allow the rushing water to push the corpses towards the grate, and close the floodgate. The water would drain down the grate, allowing you to reach the corpses.
    – schil227
    Mar 6, 2017 at 21:30
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    However, be warned that having that much water moving for in game years or potentially for ever if the lower caven lets it drain off the edge, will have an on-going framerate cost. To avoid this, one might consider having some lever connected to a floodgate to turn off the drain. Mar 16, 2017 at 3:09

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