How to Equip Weapons and Armor in Dwarf Fortress

If you want your Militia to use weapons instead of fists, you must learn how to equip weapons and armor in Dwarf Fortress.

Dwarf Fortress, the old-school city building, and settlement management game, has just arrived on Steam with a brand new UI, icons, and elements. One part of the game that you need to be aware of is equipping weapons and armor to some of your Dwarves so that they can protect your Fortress. 

Unfortunately, I did not realize the need to equip weapons for my initial playthrough. Only after reading the depressing combat log did I know that my Fisherdwarf and other temporary Militia members haplessly tried to punch the powerful possessed Dwarf that would spell the downfall for my Fortress. Don’t be me–continue reading our guide and save yourself from ruin. 

Before continuing, we recommend reading our guide on Creating Militias and Squads so that you know the basics. 


How to Equip Weapons and Armor in Dwarf Fortress

Weapons and armor must first be crafted at the Leather Works (l) or Metalsmith (i) from metal bars. Once your equipment is crafted, press the blue flag or Squad button in the bottom right of the screen. Check off the Squad that you want to equip weapons for, then hit the Equip button. 

Equipping Weapons and Armor in Dwarf Fortress
Equipping Items

From here, players have a few options, including the following: 

  • Assign Uniform
  • Add Uniform
  • Update Equipment 
  • Details 

Before you can do anything, you will need to produce the required armor or weapons to equip them. 

Crafting a Custom Uniform

Players can select general items for their Militia to equip or more specific items produced in their Workshops. To create armor or weapons for your Militia, left-click Metalsmith’s Forge, then click Add new task. Click Armor, then click the material you’d like to use. 

Creating an Iron Breastplate in Dwarf Fortress
Forging breastplate at Forge

Ore that you mine can be refined at the Smelter into Bars. The type and quantity of metal Bars that you can have can be viewed by clicking the Stocks button in the top toolbar, then navigating to the Bars tab on the left side of the screen. 

Equipping a Uniform

Access the Equipment menu, then click Assign uniform to bring up the default uniforms in Dwarf Fortress, which include: 

  • Leather armor
  • Metal armor
  • Archer
  • No uniform

These uniforms will do their best job at applying whatever equipment you have in your Stocks to each Militia member. 

However, if you’d like to equip the Custom Uniform that you crafted in your Workshops:

  1. Click Add uniform
  2. Click each piece of equipment, starting with New bodywear, then select the armor piece you’ve created. 
  3. Enter a new name for your uniform in the top field, then click Confirm and save uniform
  4. Click Assign uniform and select the new uniform you just created. 
Creating a new uniform in Dwarf Fortress
Equipping Custom Uniform

As of writing, Archers seem to be bugged in the game, so we recommend not assigning a Militia to that armor set. 

If you just created and equipped a new uniform, then hitting Update equipment will cause your Dwarves to change out of their clothes and into the new uniform you assigned. 

Additional Equipment Tips, Tricks, and Information

Of course, like many other things in Dwarf Fortress, there is more than meets the eye regarding Militias and equipping things. A few things for you to keep in mind include the following: 

  • Green weapon status indicates that the soldier is wearing the uniform. Yellow means they’ve stored it away but can wear it, and red means no equipment is available. 
  • If your Dwarves aren’t wearing their armor, it could be because they are off duty or the wrong equipment is assigned. 
  • You can toggle Partial/Exact matches only in the Details screen of each soldier. 
  • Use Work orders to queue up several pieces of armor or weapons so that you have enough to supply your entire Militia. 

As you dig deeper into the ground, you’ll start to uncover more valuable ores that you can use to build more powerful armor and weapons. You may also come across gear on your adventures, randomly spawned through the map, or gained by killing a creature. 

Hopefully, this guide helped you better understand the equipment and gear in Dwarf Fortress. Do you have a suggestion for another Dwarf Fortress guide? Let us know in the comments below. 

More Dwarf Fortress: Beginners Guide: Tips and Tricks for a Successful Fortress | How to Fish | How to Make Drink | How to Make an Office | How to Build a Bedroom | How to Trade and Build Trade Depots