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Work is the various tasks that a colonist can do to keep a colony running, and perform almost all non-combat related tasks. The Work Menu allows the player to set the types of work you want your colonists to perform, though some colonists cannot perform all tasks. For example, nobles can only access research and firefighting whilst a settler can access all skills.
By default, the Work tab can be opened with F1.
The 'Manual priorities' mode toggles the interface between 'standard mode' (red X) and 'manual mode' (green check).
- Standard mode: Colonists only do work types they're assigned to, noted by a green check. Tasks on the left rank more importantly than tasks on the right.
- Manual mode: Each colonist's work type can be prioritized from 0 (blank) to 4. 1 is the highest priority, 4 is the lowest, and blank tasks will not be performed. For tasks with the same priority, tasks on the left will be performed first.
Regardless of mode, all available work of one priority will be done before the next priority. If Hauling is set to 1, then a colonist will haul every single object, even those halfway across the map, before doing the rest of their tasks. They have no regards to efficiency.
An efficient colony depends on colonists doing work they're proficient at. Boxes on the work menu are used to assign work, and each box has a visible outline. The higher the colonist's skill, the brighter the outline, ranging from red (worst), to white, to bright yellow (best). Also, hovering over a skill box displays the colonist's skill level.
Each box will also show a colonist's passion for that skill indicated by one or two flames. This will help you decide who you want doing each task.
It is a good idea to study your colonists' skills and apply them to their strengths. Using the wrong people will slow down your progression. To help keep you from using the wrong colonist for a job, a crunching sound is made when you assign a pawn to a work type which they won't do well due to low skill. Some colonists may not have a box for one or more work types; they are incapable of that work.
Incapable of work types
Some characters are incapable of certain work and/or certain categories of work (i.e. violent, dumb labor). Incapabilities are listed under Incapable Of in the character tab - mouse-hovering over the listed prohibition will show the source of the incapability. Pawns that are incapable of one or more of these activities will never, with a few exceptions, perform a task related to those work types. This is distinct from characters with a skill level 0 in a skill which still capable of performing the relevant task, they will just be extremely slow, ineffective and/or inefficient. Where an expection exists, pawns incapable of a task are treated as having level 0 in the relevant skill, even if they had a higher skill before becoming incapable. For example, an exception is that characters who are incapable of plant work can still cut down trees - if it is under blueprints as part of construction work.
What a pawn is incapable of is determined by their traits, backstories, title , status as a slave, or ideoligious role. Typically, incapabilities from multiple sources stack. Though rare, it is quite possible that, given a perfectly wrong combination of backstory limitations, a pawn may be so limited that they are incapable of practically everything. Slavery is unique in this regard, in that it removes all other incapabilities and replaces them with its own. See that page for details.
Occasionally, incapabilities have interactions with other mechancics, such as the limitation of traits; for example, a "non-violent" colonist will never have the brawler trait.
A pawn can be "incapable of":
- Caring prohibits any medical tasks, including Doctoring, Nursing, and Surgery, on humans or animals.
- Dumb Labor prohibits Hauling, Cleaning, Rearming, Refueling, Loading, and Cremating.
- Hauling is identical to Dumb Labor, except allows Cleaning.
- Intellectual prohibits Research, Drug Production, Scanning, Computer Hacking, etc.
- Plants prohibits Growing, Sowing, Harvesting, and Plant Cutting (including cutting trees).
- Social prohibits Trading - including while on caravans or at faction bases, Recruiting prisoners, and all Wardening.
- Skilled Labor prohibits a long list: Brewer, Butcher, Cook, Constructor and Deconstructor, Miner, Grower, Harvester, Plant Cutter, Crafter, Smith, Tailor, Repairer, Driller, Fabricator, Machinist, Refiner, Smelter, Stonecutter, and Apothecary (i.e. drug production).
- (non-)Violent is exactly that, prohibiting all Ranged and Melee combat, as well as the Hunting, Warden, and Executing prisoners tasks. A pawn that is incapable of Violent cannot defend themself in any way, period. This includes a prohibition against equipping even "non-damaging" weapons such as smoke launchers or EMP grenades, or weapons equipped only for their buffs, such as the eltex staff . A "non-violent" colonist can still be drafted, use psycasts , and order combat mechanoids as a mechanitor.
Colonies with few colonists, with most incapable of Dumb Labor, can be a problem because of infections. At some point, there must be a janitor in the colony.
Prioritizing a task
A colonist can be directed to immediately perform a task, but only if it's a work type they're assigned to. Select the colonist, right-click a target (such as a blueprint, object, or pawn) and choose an option from the context menu. If no menu appears, then the colonist can't do anything with that target - try another colonist. Multiple tasks can be chained together by holding the Shift key. Queued jobs are shown on the colonist's inspect pane.
- For improved efficiency, colonists do cleaning and harvesting in batches.
- Colonists will only perform work in their allowed area.
- If an allowed area is made up of two parts, colonists may still traverse the unallowed area to perform tasks in another zone.
Note: Within each work-type, there are a number of tasks performed as part of that work type. Tasks with a higher priority value will be prioritized over tasks with a lower value in the same work-type.
|Work type||Description||Relevant skill||Category|
|Firefight||Firefighters extinguish fires in the home area. Firefighters can't extinguish fires outside the home area.||none||none|
|Patient||Patients go to a medical bed to receive treatment for life-threatening health conditions (e.g. a treatable illness). It is not advisable to ever disable this or severely lower the priority.
See the 'bed rest' task to set the priority for non-disease injuries.
|Doctor||Doctors bandage wounds, treat the sick, and perform operations. Doctors also automatically rescue downed colonists.
Doctors tend to colonists, rescued allies, prisoners and colony animals, but they must be resting in a bed or sleeping spot.
Social (Visiting only)
|Bed rest||Colonists assigned to bed rest will rest in a bed to heal injuries. This is separate from a colonist's need to sleep to replenish rest.||none||none|
|Basic||Colonists will complete tasks that are unskilled and easy to complete.
* Note: Even when not assigned to Basic work, colonists can still be directed with right-click to open a container not marked to open.
|Warden||Wardens feed prisoners, chat with them, and try to recruit them, as chosen by the player. Wardens also carry out prisoner releases and executions.
|Handle||Handlers tame, train, feed, milk, shear and slaughter tamed animals. Handlers also rescue wounded animals.
Note: Slaughtering animals is a violent act and will not be carried out by pawns incapable of violence.
|Cook||Cooks butcher animals, prepare meals, and brew beer.||Cooking||Skilled labor|
|Hunt||Hunters hunt animals marked for hunting, but will require a ranged weapon to do so (you will be notified via message of colonists with the Hunting job without one).||Shooting and Animals||Violent|
|Construct||Constructors build things, smooth floors, repair damaged buildings and structures, and fix broken-down equipment with components.
|Grow||Growers plant and harvest domestic crops.
|Mine||Miners dig out marked sections of stone or minerals, as well as operating deep drills.
|Plant cut||Plant cutters harvest food from wild plant and cut down marked plants.
|Smith||Smiths create weapons at the smithing bench and the machining table.
|Tailor||Tailors craft clothing at a tailor bench (electric / hand tailor bench).||Crafting||Skilled labor|
|Art||Artists make sculptures at the art bench.||Artistic||Artistic|
|Craft||Craftsman do general low-skilled labor at work like stonecutting and smelting.
Intellectual (Drug Synthesis only)
Haulers do a number of things, including:
|Clean||Cleaners remove filth such as dirt, blood, and vomit, which would otherwise negatively affect the beauty of a room.||none||Dumb labor|