I've started my fortress and dug one level down and cleared it out without a problem but created stairway on third level and unable to dig the tile under it? I can see it and designate to be mined but miners aren't doing the task. They are sitting inactive and if I designate anything on the current levels to mine they do it without issue.
The mineral below is white sand so they should be able to dig that up right?

  • Can you provide a picture of the z-level with the designation, and the z-level above that? Commented Dec 2, 2012 at 21:58
  • From your brief description, its sounds like you don't have a matching up or up/down stair designated on the level "below". Stairs work in pairs. A down stair and an up stair on the z level below it. Up/Down stair lets a stair act as an up stair for any down stairs on the level directly above it, and a down stairs to go with an up stairs directly below it. Raven Dreamer♦ has provided an excellent answer. Please look at that to see why you stairs are needed in pairs to allow dwarves to travel between z levels.
    – StarPilot
    Commented Dec 3, 2012 at 0:23

1 Answer 1


It sounds like you may be having trouble, not with your miners per se, but rather, how Dwarf Fortress Handles elevation changes.

Each Z-level (the map at a given height) has both a "wall" and a "floor" tile. Stairs in Dwarf Fortress need to account for both of these - the wall must be an "up stairs" tile, and the floor must be a "down stairs" tile.

The Dwarf Fortress Wiki has a great visual example of this, as a side view:

enter image description here

  • I've found a work around (or maybe the way it's supposed to work) is to create the downstair, then a channel next to it and build the upstair once I'm down there (removing the channel afterwards). I can best describe the problem I was having by the third picture (the downstairs). I was able to place the stairs as shown, but isn't a miner supposed to be able to clear the tile immediately below a downstair once it is placed and the tile is designated to be mined?
    – Mendetus
    Commented Dec 3, 2012 at 7:53
  • @Mendetus No, digging d can only take place horizontally. To dig downwards, you must either designate an up stair or an up/down stair. Once you have an up or up/down stair on the level below, your dwarf can move down and begin mining horizontally. Commented Dec 3, 2012 at 14:42
  • 1
    Thanks guys- I understand it better now and able to work with it properly
    – Mendetus
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 2:57

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