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Frequently Asked Questions about Cataclysm DDA.


 @ : My text is all unreadable. I only see [][][][] and not normal words

You probably have a non-english default language setting in your OS. You need to go to \config\ edit the options.json file.

Look for "USE_LANG" set the value to "EN". (with no value it uses your system language).


 @ : How do I enter a locked house? Just for academic interest, mind you...

You have several possibilities, depending on the tools you're carrying and the circumstances:

  • Open a window or door: Occasionally you can simply open a window or door, which is by far the easiest approach. This won't work with windows (most are designed to be opened from the inside), and it's unusual to find an unlocked door, but it doesn't hurt to try.
  • Break a window: Either smash, throw something or fire a ranged weapon at a window. Remember to clean the broken window (via * and i) (or smash the broken window, though this creates significant noise) before going through to avoid potentially cutting yourself. Note that cleaning the window takes a few minutes. Breaking a window creates a lot of noise. Using firearms or explosives will increase the noise even further.
  • Remove a window: Have tools with hammering 2, and screw driving 1, for example a stone hammer plus a screwdriver, will allow you to Deconstruct Furniture (*->E), which can be used on a window to remove it.
  • Pry the door or window open: If you have a tool with prying, such as a crowbar (you can craft a makeshift crowbar by hammering a pipe with a rock), you can try to pry a door or window by activating it and selecting the direction where the door/window is. You might need to try several times to be successful (and you might not be successful at all). Prying a door open creates low noise. Failing to pry open a window will sometimes break it, causing a lot of noise.
  • Pick the lock of the door: If you have a lockpicking tool, (Improvised lockpicks can be crafted using scrap metal and a rock), you can try to force entry by picking the lock of the door, by activating it and selecting the direction where the door is. Success depends on your mechanics skill, and a failure can damage your picklock (and, eventually, destroy it). Picking a lock doesn't create any noise.
  • Bash the door down: smash the door until it breaks. A heavy tool with a good deal of bash is recommended. This is a lengthy process and you will destroy the door completely when doing so. It's only recommended as a last resort. Bashing a door down creates a lot of noise.

 @ : How can I drink water without puking all my hard earned potato chips?

You can either boil or purify any water you find. That will transform it into clean water, so you can consume it safely. Please note that the rainwater obtained from funnels, makeshift funnels, leather funnels or funnels of any kind is perfectly safe to drink (as of 0.C (Cooper), acid rain is disabled).

  • Boil water: You'll need a tool with boiling 1, (for example a pot or stone pot) and some kind of heating source (such as a powered hotplate, integrated toolset or a nearby fire - gather some wood and light it with a matchbook or lighter). Then boil it by using the crafting menu (&, then Drinks->clean water). You will also need container to store the water. Such as a Plastic bottle.
    • The easiest place to obtain untreated water is in toilets (found in all houses and some stores). One can retrieve water from it into a container by examing it. If you use a hotplate all you'll need to do is to place yourself besides the toilet while carrying a receptacle to boil the water in and some liquid containers to transfer the clean water to. If you don't use a hotplate, then you'll have to find a way to transfer the water from the toilet to your fire. Your best bet, as of now, is to use gallon jugs. They are very common, so you won't have a hard time finding a gallon jug of ammonia or bleach in a house. Empty it first, refill it with water from the toilet and proceed to boil it next to your fire.
    • Never drink directly from the toilet.
    • You do not need to fill the pot with water: having it available as a tool and 'crafting' the clean water in the crafting menu is how you boil. If you put the pot on the ground, or wield it, you can (as of The experimental version) add water to the pot. You just can't carry it in your backpack.
  • Purify water: The fastest and easiest way, but for that you'll need a water purifier. You can find them occasionally in hardware stores, but you'll probably need to craft it yourself. To purify the water all you need to do is activate the purifier and select the water container. The amount of batteries used in the process will depend on the capacity of the liquid container. You can also use Water purification tablets, activate, and select the water container, uses one tablet per unit of water.

 @ : How can I cook indoors and not die in the process?

You can use a hotplate, or start a fire placed in a brazier, wood stove or fireplace. You can craft all of them, and you also find the latter ones prefabricated in LMOE shelters and forest cabins.

To properly use a brazier you'll have to activate it first to place it on the ground. But bear in mind that brazier only contain the fire and not the smoke, gas masks (sometimes found in the evac shelter lockers) or filter masks can help protect you from the smoke.

To start a fire safely, place any wood or flammable materials in the same tile the brazier or wood stove is. Once lit, the fire won't spread to other tiles.

 @ : How can I empty or transfer liquids?

Unload the liquid container you want to empty or transfer. The inventory will appear, so you can choose another liquid container to transfer the liquid to. Select the corresponding inventory letter and press RETURN. If you ESCAPE that screen you'll be asked if you want to pour it on the ground. Say Yes if you want to do so. Note that you won't be able to recover poured liquids.

For glass bottles of rotten milk you'll be asked to pour it on the ground right away.

Note that you don't need to be wielding a liquid container in order to unload it. The same applies to any other item type when you want to unload its "ammo" (flashlights, guns, etc).

 @ : I'm cold and can't sleep at night. What can I do about this?

Gather some clothes that provide particularly high warmth (check the clothing page for that) and put them in the place you use to sleep in (or carry them with you if you're a nomad). Put the extra clothes on before going to sleep. You can also pile them up on the place you're going to sleep. Take them off when you wake up.

Check the warmth level of all your body parts in your character screen (@). If all of them are green then you'll likely be able to sleep without problems, unless a sudden drop in temperature occurs while sleeping.

Being hungry, thirsty, or wet can also make you feel the cold more, so try to avoid these effects before you go to sleep.

 @ : Yay science, and all that... but how the hell do I stop reading this book?!

Press the pause key (5 or .). This is also how you stop resting and crafting early.


 @ : This "Survival" stuff is neat, but where can I get sinews, plant fibres, bones and fur pelts? And how do I forage?

You can get them all by Butchering creatures. To be able to butcher you'll need a knife-like tool in your inventory (pocket knife, steak knife, combat knife, etc - check the tools page for any item with a "knife" function). The more cutting damage, the faster you butcher, so a machete or combat knife are your best bet among the most common "knife" tools, followed by the butcher knife.(A Broadsword works too.)

The amount of items returned when butchering will depend on your survival skill.

 @ : Where can I get leather patches and rags?

When cutting, the amount of rags and leather returned will depend on your tailoring skill level. When butchering, you get a skin that you need to cure into leather.

 @ : Where can I get plastic chunk?

  • Plastic chunk: Cut any item made of plastic, like plastic bottle, rain clothing or flashlight. Wheel removed from abandoned vehicle is also a good source, a single wheel can easily provide around 20 chunks.

 @ : Where can I find a rubber hose?

They can be randomly found in hardware stores or in the Sewage treatment. You can also obtain one by disassembling a crossbow or by smashing a refrigerator.

 @ : Why can't I make a cudgel/pointy stick/2-by-sword? I have a 2-by-four, right?

You are missing a cutting tool, the Survivor profession starts with a pocket knife, but other professions may not. Try making a makeshift knife, stone knife, or find a cutting tool.


 @ : Zombies keep re-appearing! How impolite of them!!

Either you are playing with static spawn mode off, which spawns zombies dynamically, or you're witnessing the undead's infamous ability to not remain dead for long.

To prevent zombies from resuscitating, you'll have to Butcher them once they're down. You can also cremate them, butcher them, or run them over with a truck until there's nothing left but a red pulp... use your imagination, but don't take too long.

The important thing here is that their bodies must be destroyed, one way or another, and that the sooner you do it the better.

There might also be a Zombie necromancer nearby. Might want to kill that first, else smashing or butchering corpses is going to be very hard. With them squirming away, and standing up all the time.


 @ : Guns attract more zombies than they kill! What's the point?

Pre-Cataclysm guns were focused on damage, accuracy, etc. The gun manufacturers didn't take into account the Cataclysm, so guns can be extremely loud!

 @ : Why are my attacks so slow?

You might be in pain from getting attacked, reducing your speed. Back off while you can if you don't want to be crippled by pain.

 @ : I can't hit anything with my gun! What's happening here?!

You're either not skilled enough yet in the skill used to fire your gun, or you aren't taking the recoil effect into account. Low dexterity, or using a gun with high sight dispersion and dispersion values. Use . to aim longer, this increases the confidence value.

 @ : I have this whip/spear, how do I use it at longer ranges?!

Wield it, and fire it. Same for other ranged weapons.


 @ : Erm... where am I?!

The New England region, in the United States.