Creatures (Savage Worlds)

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Revision as of 17:46, 5 February 2009 by Rob (Talk | contribs) (Selecting the Creature)

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Context: HL KitAuthoring Examples … Savage Worlds Walk-Through 


If we want to be big help for GMs, we need to allow GMs to do more than just create NPCs. We must also let them quickly create monsters and animals.

New Character Type

Since creatures are fully defined within the rulebook, there is no substantial customization to be done, and there are definitely no rules that govern construction of creatures. Consequently, the first thing we need to do is add support for a new character type - the creature.

We currently has a field that indicates whether the character is an NPC or not. Since we'll now have three types of character, we'll change the field for more generalized use. The "acIsNPC" field can be changed to an "acCharType" field, where the value of the field can be one of three possibilities. A "zero" indicates a normal PC, a "one" indicates an NPC, and a "two" indicates a creature. The new field will look like below.

  name="Character Type"

We have a tag that identifies an NPC, but we really need separate tags to indicate all three different character types. We'll assign the appropriate tag based on the field value. The new tags will be defined within the "Hero" tag group and should include the following.

<value id="PC"/>
<value id="Creature"/>

The existing Eval script that identifies and NPC and sets up appropriately can be readily adapted. Instead of just recognizing an NPC, the script can recognize all three different values within the "acCharType" field. Based on the field value, the appropriate tag can be assigned to the hero, plus any other customizing of the interface. For example, the "Journal" tab is of no use for a creature. We're also going to need to either overhaul the "Edges" tab to only show racial abilities or replace it with an alternate tab. We'll assume the latter for now, which results in the following revised Eval script on the "Actor" component.

~assign a tag to indicate we're a PC, NPC, or Creature, as appropriate
if (field[acCharType].value = 0) then
  perform hero.assign[Hero.PC]
elseif (field[acCharType].value = 1) then
  perform hero.assign[Hero.NPC]
  perform hero.assign[Hero.Creature]

~if this is a standard PC, there's nothing more to do
if (hero.tagis[Hero.PC] <> 0) then

~hide components of the interface that don't apply for NPCs and/or Creatures
perform hero.assign[HideTab.advances]
if (hero.tagis[Hero.Creature] <> 0) then
  perform hero.assign[HideTab.edges]
  perform hero.assign[HideTab.journal]

~force the starting XP field to zero in case the user has modified it
field[acStartXP].value = 0

Integrate Into Configure Hero Form

Now that we've changed the field, we need to change the "Configure Hero" form to properly set the field. We currently have a checkbox to designate whether the character is an NPC. We need to replace this checkbox with a way to choose between the three options: PC, NPC, and creature.

The easiest way to do this is with a menu that consists of literal choices. That way, we don't have to go through the extra work of defining an assortment of "things" to represent each option. With a literal menu, we have complete control over the choices presented and the corresponding values associated with each choice. We just need to spell out the list of choices as part of the menu definition.

You'll find an example of using a menu like this on the "Personal" tab. It's the one for selecting the character's gender, with options for male and female. We can copy this menu and adapt it for our needs. We've already determined the meaning of the values 0-2 for the "acCharType" field, so all we need to do is define corresponding options. This results in a new menu portal that looks like below.

      <choice value="0" display="Type: Player Character"/>
      <choice value="1" display="Type: NPC (Unlimited)"/>
      <choice value="2" display="Type: Creature"/>

Once the portal is defined, we can easily integrate it into the Position script. We're replacing the "isnpc" portal, so we can swap out all references to that portal and use "chartype" instead. The only detail that differs between menus and checkboxes is that checkboxes are automatically sized to fit the text they contain, while menus are not. This means we have to specify the width of the portal to something appropriate. We must do this before we center the portal horizontally by adding the line of code below.

portal[chartype].width = width

Our new portal should now be ready to go, with the proper selections being presented and stored internally within the field. However, our behaviors aren't quite right yet. We need to control the visibility of various portals based on the character type. The wildcard checkbox should only be visible for non-creatures, while the starting cash and XP should only be visible for PCs. This requires changing the block of lines at the start of the script to be the following.

~determine whether the wildcard option is visible based on whether we're a creature
portal[iswild].visible = !hero.tagis[Hero.Creature]

~determine whether the starting cash is visible based on whether we're a pc
portal[cash].visible = hero.tagis[Hero.PC]
portal[lblcash].visible = portal[cash].visible

~determine whether the starting xp is visible based on if we're a pc
portal[xp].visible = hero.tagis[Hero.PC]
portal[lblxp].visible = portal[xp].visible

New Creature Component

We could adapt the existing "Race" component for use with creatures, but creatures behave quite differently from normal characters. As such, we should define a new component and component set for handling creatures. We'll use the id "Creature" for both, and we'll force the creature specification to be unique for every actor. This yields the following basic definitions, which we'll extend below.


  <compref component="Creature"/>

Some creatures are wildcards, while others are not. Based on the way creatures are presented in the rulebook, the wildcard designation is fixed for each particular creature. We've already omitted the checkbox from the "Configure Hero" form, so we need a way to designate a creature as a wilcard or not within its definition.

We could easily use a field on the "Creature" component for this purpose. However, the best way to handle either-or conditions for users is to utilize a tag. If the tag is present, the condition exists, else it doesn't - clean and simple. So we'll define a new tag that can be specified on the creature and give it the "Wildcard" unique id. Since this tag will be user-defined as part of the thing definition, we'll define the tag within the "User" tag group. Any creature that should be behave as a wildcard must be assigned this tag.

Now we need to do something with the tag. The actual wildcard behavior is managed via the "acIsWild" field on the "Actor" component. So we need to translate the tag into an appropriate modification of the field. This can be accomplished via an Eval script on the "Creature" component. We simply set the field value based on the presence of the tag. The appropriate Eval script looks like the one below.

<eval index="1" phase="Initialize" priority="5000"><![CDATA[
  herofield[acIsWild].value = tagis[User.Wildcard]

We should also track the creature type on the actor, just like we track the race. We can achieved that by defining an identity tag on each creature and forwarding that tag to the hero. This entails the following additions.

<identity group="Creature"/>

<eval index="2" phase="Setup" priority="5000"><![CDATA[
  perform forward[Creature.?]

We can now define creatures that don't do anything useful, but the framework is in place that we can build upon.

Selecting the Creature

The next thing we'll be tempted to do is start solving how to implement creatures internally. However, that process is going to entail some iterative evolution. So the best thing we can do next is setup a means of selecting a creature, allowing us to test our implementation along the way.

The race is selected on the "static" form at the top of the main window, so we might as well do the same for the creature type. The question becomes whether we want to use the same chooser for both race and creature, or use a separate chooser for each. Through the use of various scripts and tag expressions, we could dynamically configure the chooser appropriately to each context. However, it's probably going to be a good bit simpler to manage a separate chooser, so that's what we'll do.

Creating our new chooser portal is rather simple. We can start by cloning the one for the race and then adapting it. We change the id, component, and text shown in the scripts. This results in the new portal shown below.

      if (@ispick = 0) then
        @text = "{text ff0000}Select Creature Type"
        @text = "Type: " & field[name].text
      @text = "Choose the type for your creature"

We now need to integrate the new portal into the layout, which starts with adding a new "portalref" for the chooser. Based on the nature of the character, we must show either the race or creature chooser. We also need to adjust the positioning of the "stActor" template to depend on whichever portal is being shown. The revised layout should look like the following.

  <portalref portal="stRace" taborder="20"/>
  <portalref portal="stCreature" taborder="20"/>
  <templateref template="stName" thing="heroname" taborder="10"/>
  <templateref template="stActor" thing="actor"/>

  <!-- This script sizes and positions the layout and its child visual elements. -->
    ~determine whether the race of creature chooser is visible
    if (hero.tagis[Hero.Creature] <> 0) then
      portal[stRace].visible = 0
      portal[stCreature].visible = 0

    ~position the name template on the left, with a little margin, then render it
    ~to generate the appropriate dimensions
    template[stName].left = 10
    perform template[stName].render

    ~position the race/creature portal to the right of the name
    var x as number
    x = template[stName].right + 20
    if (portal[stRace].visible <> 0) then
      portal[stRace].left = x
      x = portal[stRace].right
      portal[stCreature].left = x
      x = portal[stCreature].right

    ~position the actor template a little to the right of the race/creature
    template[stActor].left = x + 15

    ~limit the width of the actor template to the remaining space available and
    ~then render the template
    template[stActor].width = width - template[stActor].left
    perform template[stActor].render

    ~center all visual elements vertically
    ~Note: We can't do this until after we've calculated the heights for both
    ~       templates, which is done when we render them.
    portal[stRace].top = (height - portal[stRace].height) / 2
    portal[stCreature].top = (height - portal[stCreature].height) / 2
    template[stName].top = (height - template[stName].height) / 2
    template[stActor].top = (height - template[stActor].height) / 2


There are two basic problems at this point. The first is simple to fix. The width of the race chooser is good for races. However, there are a variety of creatures with rather long names (e.g. "Alligator/Crocodile" and "Shark, Great White"). The current width of the portal is insufficient, so we'll widen it. We can solve this by changing the "width" attribute on the portal to something like "170".

The other problem we face is if the user does something we aren't handling. What if the user creates a normal character, selects a race, and the decides to change the character to be a creature. The race portal will disappear, but the selected race will still exist on the character. That means any abilities or bonuses conferred by the race will continue to apply, although there will be no way to change it. More importantly, there is no way to select "none" for the race, so any race the user selects will persist for the life of the character. That's not very useful.

What we need is a way to ensure that the race gets deselected if the character type changes to a creature. Just in case the user goes the other direction, we also need a way to ensure that any selected creature type is discard if the character type changes away from being a creature. Fortunately, the Kit provides a convenience mechanism for accomplishing exactly this behavior.

-width -existence tagexpr

Directly Defining Traits

General Approach

-tags instead of fields where possible for user ease

Defining Attributes

Defining Derived Traits

Defining Skills

Defining a Complete Creature

-change history tracking to "changes" to ignore values of zero

Tailoring the Interface

Separate Creature and Race Choosers

Resource Revisions

Basics and Skills Tabs

Omitting Non-Applicable Tabs

Safety Checks

Existence Tag Expressions

-existence tagexpr to auto-delete race/creature upon switch

Validation Rules

Allow User to Add Abilities

-tag to identify general abilities for re-use -allow user to specify facets of dynamic abilities that are needed (value/text)