How to solve a wood shortage? Or: How to safely get to some magma


I'm on my second fortress, and I've encountered a problem I didn't really expect: I'm chronically short of wood. I embarked into a forested area, so I had plenty to begin with, but now I don't have enough to do all the crazy stuff I want to. There are plenty of saplings on the surface, so I haven't totally killed my supply, but still.

So, how might this have happened, and what can I do about it? When I started this fort, I was thrilled to find that the first few z-levels are rife with iron and copper ores (a lack of iron was why I stopped playing my first fort), so I've been making a lot of steel. Maybe I should cut that out for a while? Is there any way I can plant trees?

Alternatively, how can I reduce my dependence on foreign… er, surface wood? I'm considering the following:

  • Digging down for magma
  • Digging down for lignite or coal. I'm in a sedimentary layer, so that might be easiest?
  • Digging down for tower-caps. Aren't these associated with caverns/fun?

Actually, I guess those are all sort of the same plan. Any other ideas for conservation or alternative energy sources would be great. (What ingredients do I need for solar panels? :D)

Best Answer

Due to the way caverns are generated, there's a fun little trick you can use to safely dig down to magma, most of the time:

If you are in a 4x4 embark, determine the exact midpoint of your area, and dig a 2x2 staircase straight down.

4 times out of 5, it will completely miss everything in your embark area, allowing you to access the sweet, sweet magma safely and without fun and lossage.