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How To Trade In Dwarf Fortress

How To Trade In Dwarf Fortress

Dwarf Fortress prides itself in being the most complex real-to-life game. You get to run a fully functional fortress complete with dwarves and growing crops. With that said, trading is an essential mechanic in the game. You can’t grow everything yourself in Dwarf Fortress so you must rely on other merchants and trade for some important goods. 

You need to build a Trading Depot, assign a broker dwarf to it, and then move your stuff in/out according to your needs to trade in Dwarf Fortress.

However, it might not be the easiest mechanic to make sense of in the game, which is why today’s guide will let you know everything there is to know about trading in Dwarf Fortress. 

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Trading In Dwarf Fortress

Before you get into the business of trading, you need to build a Trade Depot. This is where the merchant and his caravan will set up shop. Without one, you can’t trade. To build a Trade Depot, follow the steps given below:

1. Click on the place structures at the bottom of the screen.

2. Select Trade Depot.

3. Place it wherever you want it to go. 

Keep in mind that the depot needs a 3-wide corridor for the caravans to pass through. Moreover, it’s wise to place the Trade Depot deep inside the fortress to keep it safe. Most people build it right near the fortress entrance, but the important thing is to keep it accessible. 

How To Assign A Broker

The next step is to assign a dwarf to the Trade Depot who will take on the responsibilities of Aa Broker. Strictly speaking, any dwarf will do, but it’s wiser to assign a Broker. To assign a Dwarf as Broker, follow the step below:

  1. At the bottom left corner of the screen, you’ll see the nobles and administrators icon. Click on the icon.
  2. Next, click the plus sign right next to the Broker. 
  3. Now, select a dwarf for the job, preferably one that has the skills for the job. 
  4. Finally, build a study in the Dwarf Fortress and assign your chosen Broker to it. 

Once you have a Broker assigned and a Trade Depot set up, you’re all set to trade. A merchant will come by now and then to trade. You’ll get a notification. Word of advice: as soon as you get a notification, you should immediately get to trading. 

How To Trade

When a merchant visits you, here’s what you should do. 

  1. Click on your Trade Depot.
  2. Next, click on ‘move goods to/from depot’ and choose the goods you want to trade.
  3. Then, click ‘broker requested at depot.’
  4. Wait for your broker. Once the trade turns white, click on it. 

Once you click on ‘trade,’ you’ll find yourself looking at a trading interface. The right side will show the items you requested at the depot, and the left side will show you the goods that the merchant wants to trade. You can put checks next to anything that you want from the merchant. Once you’ve selected items of equal value on both sides, you can click on trade, and voila, you’re done. 

Tips For Trading

One thing to keep in mind is that the merchant visiting you is looking to make a profit. It all depends on the skill of the Broker and their mood. If you put forward a really ridiculous offer, they will reject it. You can keep your merchant happy by making trades that give him considerable profit. 

Do this enough times, and in the end, you’ll be the one making a profit. Moreover, make sure to stock up on tradable items. You’ll be trading items created in your craftdwarf’s workshop. Items created with rock trade are the best, so make sure you have plenty of those. 

Don’t make the mistake of trading wood with elves. You’ll land yourself in big trouble as they’ll hold a grudge and attack you years later. If you’re not sure you’re trading with an elf, just look at the top of the screen. It’ll have the trader’s race written on there. If you want to find out what race a civilization is, hit Esc on the trading screen and then hit c on the main menu. 


In short, you can trade in Dwarf Fortress but it’s not that easy to get into in the beginning. Just build a Trade Depot and assign a broker, and you’re good to go. Make sure you stock up on plenty of tradable goods and work on those bartering skills. Happy trading!