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Giving your dwarves protective garments (clothing and armor) will help to keep them alive in combat, as well as safe from the elements. It will also protect them against sparring injuries and may develop their Armor user skill.
While clothing is not something that you need to worry about in the first few years of your fortress, after some time the clothing your dwarves wear will start to wear away. Wearing old or tattered clothes creates unhappy thoughts, and having clothing wear away completely creates an even bigger one, enough to make an otherwise ecstatic dwarf begin to tantrum. As far as armor goes, Civilians will not wear armor other than clothing. Assign them to be miners or lumberjacks if you're concerned about them, since they'll carry axes and picks then even if they're not drafted.
 Types of Protection
Garments fit on different body parts depending on the item in question, and require different orders based on material sometimes. They may additionally protect upper and lower arms and legs, depending on the garment. Dwarves do not seem to make a distinction between genders when selecting clothing to wear, so don't be startled when you see males running around in dresses. There is no real difference between armor and clothing, except that maybe only non-clothing garments may increase the armor user skill.
This list only lists equipment Dwarves should be able to manufacture, from the file \raw\objects\entity_default.txt
Some clothing articles may not be crafted in fortresses of a given civilization - only those items marked as 'common' for that civilization may be crafted.
[S] = Max one [S] per body slot (e.g. only one plate mail, and no greaves and leggings on top)
The "weight" figure is for items made of metal. Metal armor may be made from copper, bronze, iron, or steel, and weigh the same regardless of which metal they are made of. Leather, plant cloth, bone, and shell items weigh half as much, adamantine items weigh one-eighth as much, and silk items one-tenth as much. Certain items (such as Leather Armor) cannot be made of metal, so their weights will always be half that listed in the table.
For the columns with material types, your dwarf must be set to at least the listed armor level before he or she will put on a piece of armor made from that material. For instance, dwarves will wear cloth or leather caps at "Clothing" armor level, but must be at "Leather" armor level or better before they will put on a metal cap.
 Size, Permit, and layering armor
The Size and Permit values govern how much clothing or armor can be worn: for each body part, less than permit worth of size garments can be worn under the final garment. (The last garment itself can go over the limit.)
If a dwarf is not wearing too much mundane clothing (too many robes, etc), the following layering is usually possible:
- Cap (metal or other) under a helmet
- leather armor (torso piece) under chain armor (torso piece)
- chain armor (torso piece) under plate armor (torso piece)
As mentioned above, the lighter armor must be put on first, and then the heavier assigned. For some reason, leather armor will not be worn under plate armor.
In adventurer mode, the permit of each garment is checked at the time it is put on, which allows you to put on several cloaks (permit 150) on top of several layers of armor. In fortress mode, the lowest "permit" value for any given body part is used: for instance, if a dwarf is wearing a dress (permit 50) and a total of 50 or more size worth of clothing on the upper body, it cannot put any more clothing on the upper body. This explains why dungeon masters tend to wear several cloaks: they arrive at the fortress wearing only a cloak on the upper body (permit 150), and can put on a total of 10 of them, at 15 size each.
 Other Restrictions
"Under" layers cannot be put on over "over" layers, so, for instance, a dwarf cannot put on mittens unless it first removes its gloves or gauntlets. They can wear over layers without putting an under layer on first, which explains their fondness for "going commando" (trousers without loincloth).
Dwarves will only put on the specific level of armor they are told to put on -- unless it is unavailable, in which case they will put on the next-best available armor level. For instance, if set to "plate", a dwarf will put on chainmail if no plate is available, or leather armor if neither chain nor plate is available.
Dwarves will also not remove lesser-level armor when moving to heavier armor level (notwithstanding the "permit" restrictions detailed above). If you step them through each armor level, you can get them to wear a metal cap plus helm, and chain mail plus plate mail.
In adventurer mode, you have direct control over what armor you put on, and are only limited by permit and "one only" restrictions. This means you can wear three suits of chain mail (total size 45) plus another suit of chain or plate on top of them. On top of this, you can add six cloaks.
For some reason, dwarves will never put on cloth/leather caps or gloves (except those they arrive in). There are no "under" layer headwear or "over" layer handwear in the game; it is possible this omission is causing the clothes-wearing algorithm to be non-functional at this time.
 Other Sizes
Beware! Dwarves can not wear any armor that is named 'large', 'narrow' or 'small' (elves', goblins',kobolds') (except large rat leather armor). Human and goblin metal armor can be melted down and made into dwarf-scale gear, however.
Creating plate mail requires three bars of metal to forge. Chain mail and greaves require two bars. All other metal armor requires one bar per piece. Note that making gauntlets or boots will always produce a pair (a left and right gauntlet, or two boots) from one bar of metal. A full suit of leather armor requires four leather pieces to manufacture, a full suit of chain armor requires six metal bars, and a full suit of plate armor requires eight metal bars. This does not include shields.
Bone greaves require three stacks of bone to make (the stacks can be of any size), as do bone leggings. All other bone and shell items (including shell leggings) require one stack of bone/one shell to make.
 Making armor
Depending on the type and material, different specific labors and workshops are needed to make similar items of armor, and different skills will apply. While items of clothing made by a clothes maker aren't technically "armor", they do offer limited protection. Shell and bone armors are made by a bone carver at a craftsdwarf's workshop. Chain mail and plate mail are made by an armorsmith at a metalsmith's forge. Leather armors are made at a leather works by a dwarf with the leatherworking labor enabled. The type of metal used affects the effectiveness of the armor, but all leather, bones and shells are equal in their protection multiplier (see table below). Higher skilled craftsdwarves, leatherworkers and armorers will, on average, produce items of higher quality, that increases the effectiveness of the armor.
Better materials provide better protection, according to the following table:
|Other (leather, cloth, bone, shell, wood, etc.)||50|
Item quality increases its protection (or damage, in the case of weapons) in a fairly straightforward manner - a masterwork item is twice as good as a base-quality item, and the multipliers for other quality levels are distributed evenly.
|Symbol||Name||Damage reduction multiplier|
|+Item+||Finely Crafted armor||x1.4|
|*Item*||Superior Quality armor||x1.6|
 Quality/Material equivalence
This table shows the (rough) equivalent multiplier for a given material and quality combination. The exact values have been rounded to the nearest 1/10th to save space on the chart.
|Material \ Multiplier||.5||.6||.7||.8||.9||1.0||1.1||1.2||1.3||1.4||1.5||1.6||1.7||1.8||1.9||2.0||2.1||2.2||2.3||2.4||2.5||2.6||2.7|
- 1) includes leather, bone, shell, wood, and any other material not listed). The net effect of non-standard "other" materials used to create artifact armors (and weapons) during strange moods is not known.
So at a glance we can see that even a no-quality steel item is the equivalent to the best copper item possible, and that no copper item will ever be as good as a +fine iron+ one. (It is not known whether artifact quality items have additional modifiers above and beyond "masterpiece" level.)
Adamantine items start at a multiplier of 5.00 for no-quality items, and skyrocket from there - a piece of masterwork adamantine armor provides 10 times as much protection as base-quality iron, but good luck actually producing one (outside of a strange mood) before the "too deep" ending occurs...
 Shields and Bucklers
Shields and bucklers come in all the same material flavours as armor, but offer a slightly different form of protection. While armor absorbs some of the damage from all successful attacks, a shield provides complete protection from some attacks. In Adventure Mode, a successful block may also grant the defender an immediate free counterattack. Bucklers weigh less than shields, but also provide less protection.
Shields offer a unique bonus, a chance for an instantaneous deflection. Shields provide a 20% chance of total deflection, while bucklers provide a 10% chance of deflection. This chance of deflection is then altered by the wielder's Shield user skill, although the exact mechanics are unknown.
 Using Armor
To tell a dwarf to wear armor in Fortress Mode, iew the dwarf, go to references, then oldiering. There you can select the highest level of armor he should wear: clothes, leather, chain, or plate. Shield level is selected separately. You can also set the armor level for many dwarves at once on the ilitary screen, under eapons.
Upgrading a civilian dwarf's armor level will not take effect unless they are activated as soldiers. Civilians will not wear armor other than clothing, except for those given the Hunting labor (provided their armor level is set above "clothing"). This will, however, cause them to go out into the wilderness and hunt any wild animal they encounter.
If you set dwarves' armor level above their current set of armor (for instance, 'plate' when they are wearing chain armor), they will replace their current armor level and use armor of the better armor level when it is available. Similarly, when set to 'shield' they may pick up a buckler, but switch on their own to a shield as soon as one becomes available. Unfortunately, dwarves do not make a distinction between different materials or item qualities, so if they are already wearing a helm (of, say, copper), they will not pick up a steel helm, as they are of the same armor level.
The solution is to set the dwarf's armor level to 'clothes', so that they drop their armor altogether, then station them standing on top of the pieces of armor you want them to wear (typically located on an armor stockpile or still in the forge) and set their armor to the desired level again. Hopefully you can get them to complete the operation without wandering off to find a set of civilian clothes to wear first. A similar technique can be used to get dwarves to change weapons as well (from an iron short sword to an obsidian one, for instance). This can be effectively managed by using the [q] tool to edit stockpiles to store only certain kinds of item materials. You could, for instance, keep a Stockpile of bone and wood bolts as well as silver weapons behind a door near the barracks, so you can lock up the crappy stuff when the goblins are at the door.
Sometimes dwarves will ignore the armor they are standing on top of, and go put on the armor they had just removed. The best way to avoid this is to get rid of the inferior armor, either by chasming it, melting it (if metal), or trading it away. This may take some time to carry out, meaning you must leave some of your soldiers at "clothing" armor level for a while until the unwanted pieces are disposed of). Keep in mind when melting armor pieces that only about 30% of the metal is recovered, so you should avoid making excess quantities with your most precious metal (steel, generally) unless you have a legendary armorsmith.
Heavy armor can reduce dwarves' speed, especially when they wear several pieces. Being Strong will reduce this problem, as will Armor user skill (gained by fighting or sparring in armor). Extremely Strong dwarves can generally wear a complete suit of plate armor without being burdened. Armor User at "Expert" level is also generally enough to eliminate the burden of a full suit of plate, even for a dwarf without any Strength attribute. Experiment in adventure mode in order to find out more how this system works.
As an emergency measure, a dwarf who is about to be hammered can be turned into a military recruit and set to "Plate" armor level; if they manage to don the suit before being captured, it will reduce the damage they take.
- Dwarves will not switch to metal gauntlets or greaves by themselves if they are already wearing bone gauntlets or greaves. They will, however, switch to a "better" material if it changes the level (such as metal helms being chain while bone helms are leather) whether you like it or not.
- Dwarves will not take off chain mail when switched to "plate" armor level, and will not take off any kind of cap (including metal) when putting on a helm. They can also wear mittens, gloves, trousers, a dress, and one or more robes under armor. They cannot, however, wear leggings and greaves at the same time, or shoes and boots.
- Dwarves feel it's perfectly normal to wear one leather low boot and one steel high boot. If it fits, it fits, right?
- If told to wield a weapon and a shield, a dwarf will sometimes carry both in the same hand. This can cause them to be unable to use either; switch their shield level and weapon to "unarmed" and make sure they drop both items before assigning them a shield and weapon again.
- You may also find them with other stray items in one or both hands, such as an extra gauntlet or a pair of leggings, as a result of wrestling. This will make them unable to use their shield or weapon. Switch them to "clothes" armor level until they drop everything, then back to plate to force them to dress themselves properly.