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This article is about the current version of DF.
Note that some content may still need to be updated.

Not to be confused with Caverns.
A cave entrance.
Inside of a cave.

A cave is a small, natural site featuring a large rock mound, several z-levels high, with a downward passage beginning anywhere along the side of the mound. The passage most often leads deep down into a cavern. Rarely, a cave may lack any passage or even an entrance into the mound.

Most caves have a natural population of subterranean animals, such as cave swallows and bats. Certain megabeasts, semi-megabeasts and night creatures will settle in caves. If a cave is inhabited by creatures fond of stealing items from nearby sites, their hoard will be littered all over the site. Dragons are known to hoard jewelry; ettins and giants hoard jewelry, food, and alcohol.

Civilized races can also settle in an unoccupied cave. Caves are the starting site of kobolds. Kobold caves have an extended underground network of tunnels and chambers that are connected to the natural passageway. Like other sites, caves can be attacked by invaders or monsters. They are one of the few known sites that players can embark on without third-party tools.


The site encompasses 3×3 embark tiles, although the cave mound itself only takes up one embark tile, or 48×48 tiles. The mound can be located in any of the embark tiles, so it is not always found at the center of the site.

There are two ways caves can generate: mountain caves occur adjacent to a mountain region tile, while non-mountain caves occur in any land biome other than mountains. The number of caves per world is determined by the parameters Number of Mountain Caves and Number of Non-Mountain Caves. Both parameters can be configured in advanced world generation.

On the world map, caves are displayed as Icon site cave.png / . By default, however, they are hidden until discovered by an adventurer. In advanced world gen, setting the option Make Caves Visible to Yes will make caves visible from the start.

Inside the cave, there are two ramps on each z-level, one going up and one going down. The ramps make a path that goes from the surface to the underground. The pathway is not always a straight line; on some z-levels, the passage can spread out into a small gallery.

The distribution of items (including artifacts) are scattered within the site borders, from the surface to any subterranean levels reachable by foot, i.e., no loot will be found beyond a rampless drop or a submerged passage, even if the hoard's owner is a flying or amphibious creature.

Kobold cave[edit]

A cave inhabited by skulking thieves has an additional complex network of subterranean passages that link from a single entryway to the natural passage of the cave mound. The underground network is located close to the surface and above the caverns; sometimes it is located just one z-level below the ground. Kobolds, poisonous critters, and stolen treasure can be found here.

It is easy to get lost in the network of tunnels, which are one tile wide and wind in every direction. Ramps and stairs go up and down several z-levels. The pathways contain hidden weapon traps and 3×3 guard posts with armed kobolds. The tunnels are also dotted with tiny pits, which are trapped at the bottom. A unique feature of this site is that each weapon trap is coated with a syndrome-inducing venom that can range from bumblebee venom, to rattlesnake venom, to the dangerously lethal venom of the giant cave spider. If a trap hits successfully, the coated weapon will inject the venom into the intruder. Since fast travel or rest is generally not possible in a cave, you will most likely be forced to endure (or succumb) to the venom's effects.

The network of passageways connects five main rooms: a trophy room, a large pit room for tamed animals, a room for eggs, a room filled with corpses, and the living chambers. Stolen artifacts are piled with other stolen items in the trophy room. The living chambers are irregular cavities that contain many hostile kobolds. The pit room for animals is the largest room, spanning several z-levels deep in gradual slopes, poked with 3×3 enclosures on the sides. This room can include any poisonous non-mammal creatures.

Fortress mode[edit]

A cave on the embark selection map screen

In fortress mode, you can choose whether or not to make caves visible on the embark screen when you design the world you will play in. The default option for Make Caves Visible is set to No. If set to yes, caves will appear on the map so that they may be sought out or avoided as desired. Caves have the odd feature that the stone they are made of doesn't match the material left after it is dug out; for example, a rock wall will leave behind a clay floor.

Adventurer mode[edit]

Caves are one way of entering the caverns in adventurer mode. There are multiple ways of learning their location.

For example, if a civilization takes control of a cave, then that cave's location becomes common knowledge within the civilization. Playing as an adventurer from that civilization, you can find information in your quest log about the cave and its location[Verify]; you may even start your adventure there.

Adventurers start knowing rumors that are common knowledge in their civilization, but they usually don't know the location. You can Bring up specific incident or rumor in conversation and then Ask for directions to the location. That will add the location to your quest log which you can then check to see if it is a cave. Similarly, caves can be a location involved in rumors you don't know about which can be brought up with Inquire about any troubles.

They can sometimes be found by repeatedly asking an NPC about the surrounding area; if NPCs in one region don't tell you about any caves, move to another region and try again (but note that some of the place names mentioned by NPCs correspond to regions, not sites). When an NPC does mention a site, it will be added to the list of places you can ask for directions to.

Did anyone bring a light?
"Cave" in other Languages Books-aj.svg aj ashton 01.svg
Dwarven: äs
Elven: garetho
Goblin: omo
Human: ngethac
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