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How to find caverns in Dwarf Fortress

How to find caverns in Dwarf Fortress

Caverns are a great source of many natural resources in Dwarf Fortress. So it can feel really bad when you try to dig down for them and end up missing them. So you might be wondering, “How can you make sure that you find caverns in the Dwarf Fortress?” This guide will tell you everything you need to know.

Caverns are expansive spaces that are nearly impossible to miss in Dwarf Fortress. To find caverns all you need to do is dig downwards. Eventually, you should land on a cavern at the 10th or 11th z-level.

Dwarf Fortress is a massive, sprawling, strategy game. The game does not hold back any punches when it comes to its scope and size. Due to this, it can become quite confusing where resources are materials are located. Especially, when you’re trying to find caverns in the early game. Keep reading to learn more!

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Finding Caverns in Dwarf Fortress

Caverns - Dwarf Fortress
Caverns – Dwarf Fortress

In Dwarf Fortress, caverns are massive natural underground tunnel systems. These are usually inhabited by strange and often dangerous creatures.

Caverns can go up, down, right, left, and just about anywhere they wish below the surface of the world. This makes locating them a mystery and a feat of tenacity for any player.

Before you find the caverns in your world, you need to know that each vanilla world will contain three cavern layers. These will be dictated by number, size, and z-position which can usually be altered in the world generation parameters by the players themselves.

You can find the top of the first cavern usually around 10 to 11th z-levels below the surface. So if you’re searching for a cavern make sure that you specifically make wide arching sweeps when you reach the 10th and the 11th z-level of your specific game world.

Additionally, it’s important to stay conscious of the fact that the third layer in your world will usually have the Magma Sea underneath it. This can be particularly problematic for new players. As you might get confused upon reaching this layer and believe that you haven’t been introduced to cavern lately. Even though you might have at that point done so already.

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Features of Caverns

If you’re looking to find caverns then it can be useful to understand how their layers function. Each layer of a cavern spans multiple z-levels within the game world.

These are usually filled with water to a certain degree. These pools of water can usually range from just covering the bottom level to completely submerging the area.

The caverns that are completely submerged can form gigantic underground sea areas. These can often even include things like fish, camps of olm men, and other aquatic creatures. This is pretty important to stay mindful of this issue when you’re digging your way further down the surface of the generated world.

Your world generation settings in particular are going to impact how your world is designed. These are going to be based on two important variables. These variables are the following:



If you’re producing much deeper caverns through custom setup then you should expect that you won’t find caverns until much later in the digging process. Most caverns are going to be found by you once you reach the 10 to 11 z-levels mark. But other more elusive caverns can be as low as 30 z-levels down.

Benefits of Caverns

Water, Forests and Ores in Caverns - Dwarf Fortress
Water, Forests, and Ores in Caverns – Dwarf Fortress

There are several benefits to seeking out caverns in your game of Dwarf Fortress. The most important advantage is that caverns are an ever-regenerating resource of underground forests.


This means you can not only find a lot of wood or lumber in these caverns, but you also can find many animals to hunt and fish to catch.

The resources mentioned earlier are incredibly important for the safe and homogenized development of your Fortress. This is why having a good replenishing source of those resources can be extremely helpful in the long run for your Fortress.

Ores and Gems

Additionally, other important materials can be of particular use during construction. each cavern will also provide a variety of ores, gems, and other materials that will line their walls. These are exceptionally important. Because they will fill up your resource bank and can be used or traded later.

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Finally, underground caverns provide one major advantage that you simply cannot get enough of, water. There are many glaciers under the caverns that can become a source of farmable water. This water is incredibly useful because you’ll need it for various irrigation projects and farming needs to make food.

After all, you cannot expect your dwarves to survive without a healthy dose of much-needed resources. Which can include all previously mentioned things like wood, water, food, and ores.

This means that caverns are almost an indispensable resource. Finding them can be quite important for successfully constructing your Fortress.

If you’re looking for caverns underneath your embark sites then you will probably find one. It’s just important to know what your specific world’s z-level threshold is for caverns to appear. For most vanilla worlds this will be 10 to 11 z-levels.

With this knowledge in mind, it’s important to keep switching your digging strategies, alternating between vertical and horizontal digs to maximize your chance of getting to a cavern. After all, they’re far too useful to miss.

Best of luck, Adventurers.