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Do You Need Water In Dwarf Fortress?

Do You Need Water In Dwarf Fortress?

One would think that for a population simulation game, water would be an essential part of the survival of your civilization. But, water in Dwarf Fortress plays a rather different role in the game. In this article, we will go over the role of water and more importantly answer the question of whether you need water in Dwarf Fortress.

You only need water in Dwarf Fortress to quench the thirst of Dwarves. Funnily enough, the dwarves only get thirsty once every three weeks so you do not need it constantly. Dwarves will also NEED water only when they are sick and recovering.

There are other uses for water but it can be bypassed if you use other resources effectively.

Water and Thirst in Dwarf Fortress

The only time water plays an essential function while managing your population in Dwarf Fortress is when your dwarves get thirsty. Each dwarf will display an icon of thirst when they reach that threshold. Typically, a dwarf will get thirsty once every three weeks.

If dwarves are not provided water in time when thirst strikes then it could potentially lead to dehydration, inability to perform tasks, and eventually death as well.

How Thirst Works in Dwarf Fortress

In the background, thirst is a proper stat-based mechanic that you need to understand for better management. Thirst increments by 1 during each game tick (i.e. 1200 per day, 33,600 per month, 403,200 per year). Certain thresholds will have some impact on the dwarf:

  • 20000 – dwarf starts considering getting something to drink (1/120 chance per tick) if idle
  • 22000 – dwarf decides to go get something to drink if idle
  • 25000 – dwarf starts flashing Thirsty
  • 35000 – dwarf gets an unhappy thought about being Thirsty, cancels current job to get something to drink
  • 50000 – dwarf starts flashing Dehydrated
  • 60000 – dwarf gets an unhappy thought about being Dehydrated
  • 75000 – dwarf dies of thirst

Related: How To Attract Migrants In Dwarf Fortress

Quenching Thirst

water source

However, a dwarf will always opt for booze of any kind to quench its thirst primarily. They will seek alcoholic drinks at first when thirsty and if they can’t find them, then only they will settle on the water to satiate their need.

As for “from where they will get water when thirsty”, they will go to whatever the nearest source of water will be to their location. They will look for and drink from:

  • Rivers
  • Brooks
  • Preferably a Well places inside the fortress
  • Even Murky Pools if there is no other source of water available. Although, drinking dirty water may result in them attracting illnesses.

Dwarves can live on water alone but their efficiency is very much dependent on alcohol. If not given enough booze they will suffer from bad thoughts, reduced work, and a lack of combat readiness.

It should be noted, dwarves will need water eventually. If there is no water and only alcohol then they will eventually dehydrate and die. Hence, some sort of water source should be accounted for when planning your base.

Water Dependencies in Dwarves


If a dwarf is suffering from injuries or any sickness then the water becomes necessary for their survival. In this state, dwarves will not drink alcohol and would require a steady supply of water to help them recover.

Other residents would have to bring them water in buckets to tend to their sickly needs. For this reason, a well-placed well in your fortress would work wonders.

Pregnant dwarves will also need a ton of water. She/they will become thirsty at double the usual rate and in turn drink double the water as the baby she is carrying is also mooching off of her water intake. Try to not feed pregnant dwarves alcohol as you will suffer the consequences of it later on.

Related: Where To Find Iron In Dwarf Fortress

Building a Well

well dwarf fortress

Speaking of a Well in your fortress, its inclusion in your base can benefit your population. We will list down all the things you need to build a well along with the necessary items required to craft them:

  • Bucket: Craft a Bucket at the Carpenter’s Workshop
  • Chain or Rope:
    • Chains are created at the metalsmith’s forge with one metal bar (or four adamantine wafers) using the metal craft skill
    • Ropes are made at the clothier’s shop with one cloth, using the clothier’s skill
  • Block: Stone, wood, glass, ceramic, and metal blocks can be created respectively in a mason’s workshop, a carpenter’s workshop, a glass furnace, a kiln, and a forge
  • Mechanism: can be created by a dwarf with the mechanic’s labor

Once you have all the items above, head to the Build Menu and find the Well in the Machines & Fluids Section. Also, keep in mind that the ground below the well should be first dug up and filled with water by other dwarves to create a source from which the well draws its water.

Other Uses for Water

  1. Building a Moat around your fortress to keep incoming enemies at bay. The only way to cross is by a bridge.
  2. A drowning chamber where you lure invaders through a maze, only to have them enclosed and drowned, and then flushed down the caverns.
  3. Pump water to create your indoor waterfall for the lovely mists generator.
  4. The other half in creating your obsidian farm.
  5. Use pumps to irrigate your farms, however, if grown on soil then you probably won’t need it

Water is essential only to a point in Dwarf Fortress. It is used to fulfill the basic thirst needs of the population and that can also be substituted with alcohol. Only injured and pregnant dwarves will need this resource.

However, there are other uses for water that you can use to your advantage. We have mentioned a few in the article. If you find them interesting then by all means use this abundant natural resource to your liking.