How to Assign a Labor in Dwarf Fortress

Dwarf Fortress is one of the most convoluted games you’ll ever play – and also one of the most fun. Find out how to assign a labor in Dwarf Fortress here, and get your dwarves working on the best fortress ever!

Dwarf Fortress is far from an easy game to learn. Consequently, most new players will flounder while trying to perform some of the most basic tasks – up to the point that your dwarves may not do anything for a fair while. This means that you need to assign them a labor.

Labors are lists of duties your dwarves can perform, from hauling garbage to cutting down trees to making crafts and a whole lot else besides. And, in order for your dwarves to actually do anything, you need to have your labors activated. This quickly becomes second nature as you get into the game, but at first assigning labors is a difficult task.

Assigning a labor (or multiple labors) to a dwarf requires the following (note that all letters indicated should not be hit while holding the SHIFT key):

- First, pause the game by hitting SPACE.

- Second, either highlight one of your dwarves using V, or hit U to bring up a full list of all your dwarves. Scroll down to one of the dwarves and hit C. This will bring up the following screen:

- Third, hit P to bring up that dwarf’s preferences, then hit L for labor. This screen will appear:

- Now you can begin changing your labors. Use the secondary scrolling buttons (typically the + and – buttons) to move through the labors and, when you find a category you like, hit ENTER to see what’s available. You can then highlight each labor and assign the dwarf to perform that labor. For example, if you want the dwarf to cut trees, you would highlight Woodworking, then hit ENTER on Wood Cutting. The dwarf will then go out and cut wood if you’ve designated any trees for cutting. You can also use SHIFT and ENTER on the main labor menu to highlight an entire section of duties for the dwarf to perform.

Be warned, however! Though your dwarves will happily go about any task you’ve assigned to them – assuming they have the raw materials to do the job – overloading a dwarf with responsibilities is not recommended. Try to specialize your dwarves so some aren’t constantly busy and others aren’t left with nothing to do. Be sure to change your labors over time, as well, as some important early labors are not so important later on.

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