How to Use Justice in Dwarf Fortress

In Dwarf Fortress, the law & order aspect of your society is dictated by the Justice mechanic. Ensuring that criminal Dwarves are convicted for crimes will prevent your Fortress from descending into chaos and anarchy. 

So many things can occur in the settlement simulation game Dwarf Fortress that it can sometimes be hard to understand all the in-game mechanics. Justice will likely occur later in your playthrough when your Fortress has surpassed 100 Dwarves. You must take care of criminals as soon as they occur, but if you’re unsure how it works, we’ve got you covered in our guide.


Justice in Dwarf Fortress

In Dwarf Fortress, Justice is a mechanic players can use to investigate and arrest criminals in their Fortress. To use Justice, players must have a Sherriff or Captain of the Guard to interrogate and convict alleged criminals. Hit the Justice (j) icon to bring up the options. 

From here, you can view Open Cases. These are crimes that have happened around your Fortress and include things like theft or murder. You can also view Closed Cases, Cold Cases, and other details on pending and completed cases in your Fortress. 

Justice Screen Dwarf Fortress
Justice Screen

How to Find the Criminal

Open cases will be listed on the left, while a list of witnesses and suspects will be listed on the right. Click Interrogate to view the list of people you can speak to about the crime. Select the creatures that witnessed the crime and Schedule an interview to get more details on it. 

Criminals should be convicted if there is hard evidence against them. Click the Intelligence tab to view details of your interrogation. This will cue you into details on the case that can help you determine who to Convict

Interrogation Information Dwarf Fortress
Interrogation Information

Once you are sure beyond a reasonable doubt of who committed the crime, click the Convict button and select the creature you know committed the crime. Once Convicted, your Sherrif or Captain of the Guard will transport the criminal to your Dungeon or Jail. 

Cases go into the Cold Cases tab when they have not been solved for over one year. 

How to Create a Jail in Dwarf Fortress 

Jails or Dungeons are zones where criminals can carry out their sentences. To create a Dungeon, hit Zones (z), then click Dungeon and click and drag the area you want to serve as your jail. Dungeons should be equipped with Cages and Rope/chain, which can be found under Cages/restraints in the Build (b) menu. 

Creating Jail Dwarf Fortress
Creating Jail

Ropes, chains, and cages must be constructed at the appropriate workshops before you place them. Construct Cages and Chains at the Metalsmith’s Workshop and craft Ropes at the Clothier’s Shop

Creatures will live out their sentence in the Dungeon, then re-enter society once their sentence has been served. 

Discovering Criminal Organizations

From time to time, criminal organizations will form as your Fortress grows in citizens, usually because a rival faction is looking to diminish your society’s influence. To see whether your investigations have uncovered a criminal organization, click the Intelligence tab, then click Organizations. This will show you the citizens involved in the plot, which you can convict and arrest. 

Criminal Organization in Dwarf Fortress
Criminal Organization

Click Plots to get a more detailed text breakdown of exactly what that criminal organization was planning. It’s best to stop criminal organizations as soon as they form, so they don’t grow into a greater problem for the creatures in your fortress. 

What was the strangest plot you’ve uncovered in Dwarf Fortress? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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