Lesson #11: .lst - Default Monster Kits

By Aaron Divinsky (boomer70).

File(s) Covered: *kit_races.lst

PCGen LST Standard: PCGen 6.00.x

GameMode: 3.5e (RSRD)

Tags used:

STARTPACK , PRExxx , EQUIPBUT , VISIBLE , RACE , NAME , GENDER , ALIGN , STAT SKILL RANK COUNT FREE


This lesson is intended to cover creating your own "Default Monster Kits".  Default Monster Kits are used to encode the information about the default version of a monster as provided in the source material.

The first thing to note is that a different file set is used when creating Default Monster Kits than when creating the monster.  The files in question are called "Starting Kits" or just Kits for short.  Kit files have a slightly different syntax than other LST files you may already be familiar with.

The format for a Kit file is each Kit starts with a STARTPACK tag and ends when the code sees another STARTPACK tag or the end of file.  Most tags in a Kit file appear one to a line as opposed to tab separated as in other list files.  However, there are some tags which require multiple tags per line and these tags do need to be tab separated.

This lesson is not intended as a treatise on Kit files in general.  As always, see the documentation for more information on Starting Kit file tags.

We will revisit our friends the Solar and the Ninja Monkey that we created in the previous lessons on races and use them as examples in this lesson as well.


STARTPACK

This tag defines the name of the Kit and also demarcates the beginning of a new Kit.  By convention we use "Default <Monster name>" as the name for a default monster kit.

The Solar's entry would be:

STARTPACK:Default Angel (Solar)

The entry for the Ninja Monkey will be:

STARTPACK:Default Ninja Monkey


PRExxx

Several items can appear on a STARTPACK line. One of those things is a prereq for anyone to be able to take that kit.  All global prereqs are allowable on this line.

For default monsters we want to make sure that only a character with a matching race or no race selected can take the kit.  We don't want those pesky Ninja Monkeys selecting our Default Angel (Solar) kit.

To do this we will add a PRERACE tag to the STARTPACK line we started above. So we enter a few tabs and type:

PRERACE:1,Angel (Solar)

However, we also want to allow new characters without a race to select this Kit. To do this we need to add a new tag to the prereq.  To have multiple prereqs we need to use the PREMULT .  To specify that only a character without a race can select the Kit we use the syntax " !PRERACE:% ".   So the final tag for the Solar would be:

PREMULT:1,[PRERACE:1,Angel (Solar)],[!PRERACE:1,%]

The tag will be very similar for the Ninja Monkey.

PREMULT:1,[PRERACE:1,Ninja Monkey],[!PRERACE:1,%]


EQUIPBUY

This tag is used to set the percentage of list price that creatures applying this kit must pay for equipment added through the kit.  Monsters are generally granted the equipment listed in the race write up for free so we generally want to set this to "0" meaning the equipment is granted for free.

The code to do this would be (also on the STARTPACK line):

EQUIPBUY:0


VISIBLE

This tag allows us to control the visibility of the Kit in the user interface.  This tag is also specified on the STARTPACK line. We want anyone who is qualified (met the prerequisites we specified earlier) to take the kit to see it so we will enter "QUALIFY" as the visibility. We could also specify "YES" or "NO" to control the visibility of the kit.

VISIBLE:QUALIFY


RACE

The next tag we will cover is the RACE tag.  As you may have guessed this allows us to set the race of the character applying the kit.  Now because setting a character's race to a race it already is can cause problems in PCGen we want to only set the race if the character doesn't' already have one (all other scenarios were excluded by the prereqs we entered earlier for the Kit).

This brings up an important point to note, any kit line can be qualified with a PREXXX tag.  In our case we will use part of the prereq we entered for race above.

RACE:Angel (Solar)<tab>!PRERACE:1,%

This tells the program execute this line to set the character's race to Angel (Solar) only if the character doesn't already have a race selected.  For the Ninja Monkey just replace Angel (Solar) with Ninja Monkey in the above line.


NAME

Generally, we set the name of the monster character to the name of the monster exactly as it appears in the source.  We use the NAME to accomplish that.

NAME:Solar


GENDER

Sometimes a particular monster always has a certain gender, or no gender at all.  Neither the Solar nor the Ninja Monkey specify a particular gender so we will skip this tag for them

Just to illustrate if you wanted to create a special female version of the Solar you could specify GENDER:Female on either the NAME line or on its own line.


ALIGN

Next up is alignment.  Obviously if the creatures specifies that it is "Always" a particular alignment you can simply specify that in the Kit and any characters created using the kit will have the appropriate alignment.

The Solar specified that they are "Always Good (Any)".  We can code that in a Kit as follows:

ALIGN:LG|NG|CG

This will present a chooser to the user when the kit is applied allowing them to select one of the three specified alignments.

If you remember back to our earlier lesson, we did not all a PREALIGN for the Ninja Monkey because they were listed as "Usually Chaotic Good".  Since we are creating a kit for the "usual" case (default) we will specify Chaotic Good as the alignment for our Default Ninja Monkey.

ALIGN:CG


STAT

With this tag we can set a character's base stats.  For default monsters the logic is the base stat is 10 unless the value listed in the write up is odd in which case the base stat is 11.  Occasionally, a creature write up will specify that the monster uses a different set of stats, usually the non-elite array.

It is a good idea to explicitly set each stat a default monster possesses (is not a nonability) because otherwise a users preference will be used.

Returning to our examples the STAT line for the Solar would look like:

STAT:STR=10|DEX=10|CON=10|INT=11|WIS=11|CHA=11

Our Ninja Monkey has stats of Str 17, Dex 18, Con 14, Int 11, Wis 15, Cha 10 so our stat line looks like:

STAT:STR=11|DEX=10|CON=10|INT=11|WIS=11|CHA=10


SKILL / RANK / COUNT / FREE

This set of tags, which must appear on the same line, allows you to buy skill ranks in a skill for the character applying the kit. All of the comments under the section for BONUS:SKILLRANK apply here as well, except that the workaround for skills which require a choice is not required. To handle a choice of skills in a default kit we enter all the choices separated by a pipe (|) character. We then use the special tag COUNT to specify how many choices from the list the character should get. You can specify specific skills or types of skills like TYPE=Knowledge .

The skills are granted exactly as if you had picked them from the user interface. The character must have sufficient skill points to buy the listed skills. Occasionally a source will grant more ranks than the monster can actually pay for. In these cases you have two options. You can either not grant the ranks and note that the source appears to be in error or you can use the FREE:YES tag on the SKILL line to grant the extra ranks for "free" (no skill points will be spent).

The kit will also enforce the user preference for Max Ranks for a skill. Sometimes in order to get the listed total bonus to a skill it would be necessary to grant more ranks than the max ranks for a skill. Usually this happens with cross-class skills. To allow the skill to go above the maximum you can set the "Bypass Max Skill Rank" setting in the PCGen preferences.

With all that being said our we would add the following lines to our Solar kit (each SKILL/RANK pair should be on a new line, replace TAB with a real tab character):

SKILL:Diplomacy <tab> RANK:23
SKILL:Concentration <tab> RANK:25
SKILL:Escape Artist <tab> RANK:25
SKILL:Hide <tab> RANK:25
SKILL:Listen <tab> RANK:25
SKILL:Move Silently <tab> RANK:25
SKILL:Search <tab> RANK:25
SKILL:Sense Motive <tab> RANK:25
SKILL:Spellcraft <tab> RANK:21
SKILL:Spot <tab> RANK:25
SKILL:TYPE=Knowledge|TYPE=Craft <tab> RANK:25 <tab> COUNT:5

Our Ninja Monkey will be very similar:

SKILL:Hide <tab> RANK:4
SKILL:Listen <tab> RANK:3
SKILL:Move Silently <tab> RANK:4
SKILL:Spot <tab> RANK:3


FEAT / FREE

The FEAT tag is a very simple one. It simply lists each feat a creature gets one to a line. The FREE:YES tag can be added to the FEAT line, as it was done on the SKILL line above, to grant the feat without charging the feat pool. This would primarily useful if a creature has more feats than it should for its HD.

Our Solar is fairly straightforward. The code appears below.

FEAT:Cleave
FEAT:Dodge
FEAT:Great Cleave
FEAT:Improved Initiative
FEAT:Mobility
FEAT:Power Attack


GEAR / EQMOD / SIZE / LOCATION

The last set of tags we need to cover to complete our Solar and Ninja Monkey examples are the GEAR tags.  The Solar gets two pieces of equipment by default, a +5 dancing vorpal greatsword and a +2 mighty (+5 Str) composite longbow.  To enter this into the kit we first grant the base item with the GEAR tag like so: GEAR:Greatsword .

Then we need to add the special abilities to the base item.  We do this by adding EQMODs just like using the equipment customizer.  For the greatsword we need to add the following EQMODs: MWORKW , PLUS5W , DANCE , and VORPAL . So we will add the following code to the GEAR line we created earlier: EQMOD:MWORKW.PLUS5W.DANCE.VORPAL .

Now we need to make sure that the item is the correct size for the creature we are creating.  By default, PCGen creates all items at Medium size.  Our Solar however is a Large size creature so we want his greatsword to be Large as well.  We can do this with the SIZE tag.  The SIZE tag takes the single character abbreviation for size or a special tag PC to size the item to whatever size the character is.  We will add the SIZE:PC tag to our GEAR line to make sure that the Solar's greatsword grows if it does (by adding HD).

The last thing we need to do is equip the item.  If we do not equip the item the gear will be added to the character as a possession but will not be used.  This could be useful for items left in the monster's lair but in our case we actually want the Solar to use its greatsword.  To do this we use the LOCATION tag.  This tag uses the same locations as you would see in the user interface when equipping an item.  A greatsword is a two-handed weapon so it can only be equipped to one place "Both Hands".  We add the tag LOCATION:Both Hands .  For items that are not weapons that can only be equipped to one place on the body (like a ring) you can simply specify "Equipped" in the LOCATION tag and PCGen will equip it to the correct location.

Now if we put it all together, our kit lines for the Solar's equipment will look like this:

GEAR:Greatsword <tab> EQMOD:MWORKW.PLUS5W.DANCE.VORPAL <tab> SIZE:PC <tab> LOCATION:Both Hands
GEAR:Longbow (Composite) <tab> EQMOD:MWORKW.BOWSTR|5.PLUS2W <tab> SIZE:PC <tab> LOCATION:Carried


Well, this brings to a close the lessons on creating monster kits for use in PCGen. There is much more you can do with kits. I encourage you to check out the documentation for more in depth information on everything kits can do.

Aaron, Docs 2nd