This information is current as of PCGen v6.05.02, at 2015-06-23.
PCGen is a tool for building characters for tabletop role-playing games, i.e. Dungeons and Dragons 3.5ed or Pathfinder. PCGen comes with all the Open Gaming License material for Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 edition (3.5ed) pre-coded and ready to go, which is very handy.
I wanted to extend the base 3.5ed content with some home-brew material. This is done using the PCGen
.LST file format (a collection of tab-separated value files.) Therefore, I am slogging through the existing 3.5ed and Pathfinder
.LST files figuring out how they work, so that I can figure out how to write my own.
This begins with figuring out some of the common data entry techniques and patterns used in
.LST files. The first of these is how we manage very long records.
Really long lines
.LST file format has no concept of nested records. One line is one record, and everything to do with that record must be on that one line.
This leads to lines that are thousands of characters long, as in this 1,051-column example from the Pathfinder Advanced Races Guide data file
Workaround for really long lines
1,000 character long lines are challenging to deal with in a text editor. Therefore, it is handy to have a way of breaking up a record over multiple lines.
There is a feature called a
.MOD record which modifies other records by appending data to an existing record. (It can also overwrite things, which is why it’s called modify and not append.)
This can be abused to rewrite things of the form:
In the form (for an ability file):
This works by defining the “empty” record
MyAbility which contains nothing, then repeatedly appending tags to it. This is very verbose, but at least the tags are now broken out onto separate lines.
CATEGORY:InternalRecord|MyAbility.MOD syntax is extremely surprising at first.
All other records are required to have an identifier followed by one or more tags:
CATEGORY:Internal|MyAbility.MOD looks like it violates this rule, because
CATEGORY:... looks like a tag (
TAG:...), and you aren’t supposed to start lines with a tag.
In this case, however, the entire string
CATEGORY:Internal|MyAbility is actually the name of a record, i.e. the existing record
MyAbility in category
Internal, so the line does begin with a record name (of sorts.)
A live example
Here’s an example from the Pathfinder data file,
cr_abilities_race.lst, of how this is done in practice.
In this case, the
Race Traits ~ Dwarf is defined as an empty record, with a
CATEGORY tag and nothing else. The subsequent lines repeatedly modify the
Race Traits ~ Dwarf record by adding
ABILITY tags to it.
Note that the name of the ability
Race Traits ~ Dwarf is not sufficient to identify the record which is to be MODified - both the ability name
Race Traits ~ Dwarf and the ability’s category
Internal must be specified:
CATEGORY=Internal|Race Traits ~ Dwarf.MOD.
The documentation for the
.MOD syntax calls this out:
CATEGORY=Mutation|Weak Immune System.MOD
Modifies an ability of the category
"Mutation", which is called
Weak Immune System. Another ability of the same name, which belongs to another category, would not be affected.
Next article in series: Exploring the PCGen file format - Part 2: How abilities are mapped onto races.
From Dave (2016-01-13) we have:
Worth noting, you can specify (in preferences) that long lines can be broken into ‘multi lines’ – just replace multiple tabs with a newline and single tab, that can be much easier to work with. I use vim and that has a macro to toggle back and forth between these variant formats.