How to Find Magma in "Dwarf Fortress"

Written by louis raczka
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How to Find Magma in "Dwarf Fortress"
Finding magma will not only give your metalsmithing and glassmaking economy a boost, but unlock countless new and entertaining ways to destroy invaders and friendly dwarfs alike. (NA/ Images)

Magma is one of the most dangerous, useful and entertaining map features of "Dwarf Fortress." Magma is present throughout "Dwarf Fortress" worlds in the form of a worldwide magma sea located as far as 450 z-layers underground. Besides the magma sea, however, magma can appear on maps in the form of magma pipes. Magma pipes can run from the magma sea to the surface, taking the form of a volcano, or can end short of the surface. Once you have discovered a magma pipe, the pipe's contours become visible in the main fortress display, allowing you to design and build your fortress around it.

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  1. 1

    Inspect the local and region view windows of the site selector when choosing a site to start a fortress. Volcanoes and magma pipes are visible in the local view window and are represented as red "≈" tiles while the region view window represents volcanoes and magma pipes as red "^" tiles.

  2. 2

    Look around your fortress location with the arrow keys when you embark to a fortress site and change your z-level with the "<" and ">" keys. Volcanoes are always visible on embark, but magma pipes may not be immediately visible if they do not reach to the surface. You will have to find and penetrate the magma pipe If the magma pipe is not visible.

  3. 3

    Divide your fortress site into 64-tile sections starting with the upper-left corner. Each tile in the local view window of the site selector represents 64 tiles in-game. Locate the fortress section that contains the magma pipe as positioned in the site selector and dig a down staircase in the centre of that 64-tile section. Dig up-down stairs in a column under the down staircase until you find the magma pipe.

  4. 4

    Dig to find magma pipes near your fortress. Your miners will automatically stop digging if they detect the warm stone in the two to three stone tiles around a magma tile. Dig around the warm stone to determine the magma pipe's dimensions, then dig a down staircase or a channel in a tile above the centre of the magma pipe.

  5. 5

    Dig to the magma sea at the bottom of your fortress map if all else fails. The magma sea is found below the last cavern level of your fortress site and can be found anywhere from 5 to 450 z-layers under the surface. Once you have found the magma sea, you can build a tower of screw pumps, known as a "pump stack," or a magma piston to pump the magma to your fortress for use.

Tips and warnings

  • You can use external programs like DFHack to reveal all hidden tiles of your fortress site, including the magma sea and any magma pipes. Be careful when using the DFHack reveal function, as permanently revealing the map activates special triggers that can irreversibly affect your fortress.
  • Create a backup of your fortress before digging directly into magma by copying and pasting your fortress's region folder in the "data\save" sub folder of your main "Dwarf Fortress" folder or by compressing the folder with a compression program, such as WinRAR or 7-Zip. Magma can destroy a fortress if improperly handled, so creating a backup of your fortress will allow you to easily recover from any mistakes.
  • Use extreme caution when working with magma. Magma will kill any creature not immune to fire and can destroy part or all of your fortress if improperly used and directed.
  • Fire Snakes, Fire Imps, Fire Men and Magma Men are hostile creatures that spawn in magma. Build your fortress entrance as far away from an open magma source as possible and keep a squad of marksdwarf available to deal with magma creatures that wander near.

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