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Drafting is an immediate call to action for any capable colonist. An unarmed colony is not going to last long out in the wilderness. In order to defend yourself from armed incursion from raiders and mechanoids, and maintain order in your colony when colonists start suffering mental breaks, you're going to need to draft your colonists as soldiers. Drafting works for all colonists, even those incapable of Violence. While drafted, a colonist will immediately follow your move, rescue and arrest orders while, if capable of Violence, attacking any threats in range once positioned. Drafted colonists will ignore any other duties including their own hunger and rest needs until all nearby hostiles are no longer a threat, whether killed, downed or retreated. Targets may be manually given as well. In which case, a draftee will attack until that target is downed, killed or destroyed. If drafted and left alone for some time with no threats or orders, drafted colonists will undraft themselves and return to their previous jobs and needs.

Drafting also overrides a colonist's hostility response mode setting. This can be useful to make colonists set to Flee defend themselves. Even colonists incapable of Violence can be drafted and ordered to rescue a downed colonist or animal from a firefight.

To draft a colonist, press the button marked with two crossed swords or press the R button. Colonists having mental breaks, incapable of walking or in prison cannot be drafted.


Unlike a colonist, a drafted colonist can be precisely controlled as in deciding where he/she shall stand, what target to fire upon and so on. To move a draftee, select them, then right-click on any pathable tile on the map. If you band-box select multiple soldiers at once, you can order them all to move to the same area. Multiple orders can be queued by holding shift while selecting each action, such as rescuing, stripping, attacking or even equipping armor before moving into position. Each action will be carried out in the order it was given. Queued orders can be cleared simply by issuing a non-queued order or movement or by undrafting the soldier.

Draftees will use any viable terrain features or structures they're standing next to as cover to protect themselves during a firefight with your enemies, considering the placement of themselves, the cover and the target.

Drafted colonists can only can do certain tasks. They may have their movement manually directed, be ordered to capture or rescue downed pawns, arrest pawns, consume food, manually attack most things and equip weapons and armor. However, they cannot be ordered to haul items or perform work tasks.

For ranged colonists there is a 'Fire at will' option which defaults to 'On'. When turned on the colonist will freely engage any targets within range, shooting at them. If turned off you will need to manually direct the colonist to shoot at a specific target. All drafted colonists capable of Violence will automatically melee attack any threats within 1 tile.


A draftee carrying a weapon will hold it out and ready at all times, automatically attacking any hostile characters or animals that comes within range. If you draft a colonist who does not have a weapon, you will be immediately notified of such. It is advised to ensure that soldiers are always armed, unless you want them to use their bare fists to subdue someone with a minimal chance of killing or crippling them. Armed draftees will use their ranged weapons as bludgeons as well as their other empty hand and even their own teeth to melee attack.

Additional Functions

Draftees can arrest colonists and neutral human characters, dragging them to the nearest convenient bed marked for prisoners. This can be used to arrest colonists who have suffered a non-violent mental breakdown, which can be very helpful if someone starts setting fires, binging on drugs or gets out of bed when they need medical treatment. To do so, select a different colonist, draft them, right-click the desired captive, then select "arrest <name>" from the menu. It's also possible to arrest visiting members of other factions... if you don't mind becoming Hostile with them. No one likes being imprisoned however. They may resist their capture attempt. Being imprisoned affects their mood, even after release for a while. Use only when necessary.

A draftee can be ordered to shoot at many things, not just humans, animals and robots. If you order a colonist to fire a ranged weapon at something that can't be destroyed like a grave, sleeping spot, or crafting spot, their Shooting skill will improve. Trees make another good option as they replenish themselves. It's advised to zone out colonists and animals from wandering into your firing range and being shot by mistake. You may want to place your firing range of the way from where trade caravans typically walk.

Drafting will immediately interrupt what the colonist is doing. It can be used to prevent starving colonists from immediately consuming raw food. Careful use of drafting and undrafting can give a cook time to make meals for starving colonists and avoid any "Ate raw food" mood penalties.

Drafting and then immediately undrafting colonists has a variety of purposes.

  1. It wakes up the draftee, which can be useful to make sleeping colonists fight fires or attend parties or weddings. Do not abuse this though, as there is a mood penalty for interrupted sleep.
  2. It can be used to interrupt their current activity so that a colonist will more quickly switch to another with a higher priority, like fighting fires or tending to the wounded.

Animal Handlers

When a colonist is drafted, any animals assigned to this colonist will disregard their allowed areas to follow and defend their master against nearby enemies. If the colonist has any animals trained for Release, clicking the 'Release animals' button will let animals leave their master's side to attack enemies up to a certain distance.

Animals and colonists alike will have mood penalties if their counterpart is killed. Animals will typically go Manhunter if their masters are killed.

Other info

  • A colonist who spends a long time drafted will accumulate mood penalties from various unmet needs, which will negatively impact their mood and increase the risk of a mental break. The potential penalties from witnessing death or being near corpses exacerbates this.