How to trade goods in Dwarf Fortress

Keep the commerce flowing with smart deals.

Screenshot by Gamepur

The goal of Dwarf Fortress is to build out a sustainable, growing settlement, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always be self-sufficient. Regular caravans will visit you in the spring, summer, and fall, bringing resources not available in your area and supplies that may be exactly what you need to make it through winter. Buying, selling, and bartering for goods can be a delicate dance in Dwarf Fortress, so read on for some important information on how to do it successfully.

Related: How to build a well in Dwarf Fortress

How to craft and sell goods in Dwarf Fortress

Screenshot by Gamepur

Step one, you need a Trade Depot — go into your build menu and get one made sooner rather than later. Without it, traveling merchants have nowhere to set up shop. Once that’s in place, you’ll be able to trade with caravans, but in the interim, you should focus on crafting. The easiest thing to churn out is the siltstone figurine from the Craftsdwarf’s Workshop. You can set that task to reoccur while supplies last, ensuring you have things to trade when the time comes.

When a merchant arrives, you can assign any dwarf or a specialized broker to the Trade Depot. In both cases, the next step is to have items brought in for sale. You can bring literally anything in your stocks, but of course, some supplies are more precious than others. Having a broker versus any old dwarf will help you in the next step.

How to barter for goods in Dwarf Fortress

Screenshot by Gamepur

Prepare to do a bit of math when it comes to bartering. The basic idea is this: compare the total value of what you’re offering with the total value of what you want from the merchant. You don’t want to just hand over goods that are worth more than what you’re purchasing. Start with a number that’s as equal as possible and initiate the trade. If they refuse, take off the lower-value items first (having a broker will give you a little more wiggle room here).

It might take an attempt or two to get what you want from the merchant, but it’s worth doing a bit of bartering rather than overpaying on your end. Just don’t press too hard. If the merchant refuses you enough times, they’ll become frustrated and stop selling altogether.