Changing spells

Vanilla Nox stores spell configs in three different places:

  • As a section in thing.bin file
  • Balance file
  • Built into the engine

The engine defines a list of all supported spell IDs (e.g. SPELL_BLINK) and the effect associated with it.

The thing.bin then lists spells that should be enabled in the game (by ID) and additionally configures them. Unfortunately, this configuration is quite limited.

The balance file may additionally tune per-level spell parameters, or special parameters that are unique to certain spells.

OpenNox extends this system and allows using spells.yml file to configure new spell parameters, as well as old ones in one place.

Note: this modding feature is still in development. Not all the config options for spells are available in spells.yml. We will keep adding new ones in each version of OpenNox.

Generating base spells.yml file

Since this feature is in the development, it is strongly advised to generate a fresh spells.yml based on the latest OpenNox version and your Nox game data.

This can be done by running OpenNox with NOX_DUMP_SPELLS=true environment variable.

On Linux:

NOX_DUMP_SPELLS=true opennox

On Windows (via cmd.exe):

set NOX_DUMP_SPELLS="true"

This should create a spells.yml in Nox game data directory (not OpenNox directory!).

Alternatively, you could copy the spells.yml file to your Nox game directory. Be aware that the sample file might be old and won’t list all options available in the engine.

Modifying spells.yml

Note that modifying spells.yml currently requires OpenNox restart.

Usually, the spell section will look like this:

  ind: 131860
  ind: 131938
mana_cost: 10
price: 3000
- 1
- 128
- 1024
- 1048576
- 2147483648
phonemes: [cha, et, un]
title: thing.db:Blink
desc: thing.db:SPELL_BLINK_DESC
cast_sound: BlinkCast


  • name - specifies spell ID to use; if effect is not set, this also determines the spell effect
  • effect - specifies spell ID which will control the actual effect of the spell; see adding spells
  • icon.ind - the sprite index from video.bag that is used as a spell icon
  • icon_enabled.ind - same as icon.ind, but for enabled spell icon
  • mana_cost - mana cost of the spell
  • price - base spell book price; Quest uses an additional multiplier for this price
  • flags - different flags that controls which category spell belongs to, what it can target, etc
  • phonemes - a unique list of spell phonemes/gestures that invoke this spell; see spell casting
  • title - a string ID for the spell title
  • desc - a string ID for the spell description
  • cast_sound - a sound for casing a spell
  • on_sound - a sound for enabling a spell
  • off_sound - a sound for disabling a spell

These are the only parameters that can be originally controlled via thing.bin, and was ported to spells.yml.

Apart from these, OpenNox provides more options for certain spells. For example, SPELL_MAGIC_MISSILE has a new section:

  spread: 16
  projectile: MagicMissile
  vel_mult: 0.1
  offset: 4
  speed_rnd_min: 0.80000001
  speed_rnd_max: 1.2
  search_dist: 600

Here, a count parameter is omitted, because it is usually controlled via balance file (see MagicMissileCount). Specifying it here will override balance data.

When a special section like missiles this is present, all parameters in there can be controlled individually for each spell level:

  # default parameters for all levels
  spread: 16
  projectile: MagicMissile
  vel_mult: 0.1
  offset: 4
  speed_rnd_min: 0.80000001
  speed_rnd_max: 1.2
  search_dist: 600
  # per-level configs
    # levels 1-3: copied from balance file
    - count: 1
    - count: 2
    - count: 3
    # level 4: same number of missiles as lvl3, but longer homing distance
    - count: 3
      search_dist: 800
    # level 5: make it ultimate: more missiles, longer distance, faster missiles
    - count: 10
      speed_rnd_min: 1.0
      speed_rnd_max: 2.0
      search_dist: 800

Spell flags

Not all flags are completely understood at this point. So we recommend to see what flags are set for existing spells and experiment by setting/unsetting them in your mod.

Names of the spell flags provided below may change in a freshly-generated spells.yml, but OpenNox will still support old names as well.

Player class flags:

  • CLASS_ANY - spell can be used by any magic class (Conjurer and Wizard)
  • CLASS_WIZARD - spell can only be used by Wizard
  • CLASS_CONJURER - spell can only be used by Conjurer
  • Setting none of these flags will effectively hide the spell.

Targeting flags

  • TARGETED - spell is homing
  • AT_LOCATION - spell can be cast at a point
  • CANT_TARGET_SELF - spell cannot be targeted at the character

Cast flags:

  • NO_MANA - spell doesn’t require mana
  • NO_TRAP - spell can’t be used in traps
  • INSTANT - spell is instant
  • DURATION - spell is duration-based
  • OFFENSIVE - spell is offensive
  • DEFENSIVE - spell is defensive
  • CAN_COUNTER - spell can be countered
  • MOBS_CAN_CAST - mobs are allowed to use this spell
  • CANT_HOLD_CROWN - spell can’t be cast when holding a flag/crown/ball

Special flags

  • SUMMON_SPELL - this is the base Summon Creature spell
  • SUMMON_CREATURE - this is Summon for a specific creature
  • MARK_SPELL - this is the base Mark Location spell
  • MARK_NUMBER - this is Mark Location with a specific number
  • GOTO_MARK_SPELL - this is the base Go To Mark spell
  • GOTO_MARK_NUMBER - this is Go To Mark with a specific number

There are some flags that don’t have names, which means we are not sure of its effect.

Adding new spells

Currently, adding new spells in OpenNox is not supported.

Having said that it is possible to replace unused spell slots that already exist in the game.

In spell section there’s a name parameter that defines the slot that the spell uses and effect for the engine to know which effect to run.

Usually these two IDs are the same (or effect is empty and derived from name), but these fields can be used to replace unused spell IDs with custom ones.

For example, there’s SPELL_PHANTOM which doesn’t appear in the game and has no effect in the engine. This gives us a free spell slot to use. Let’s replace it with a custom magic missiles (SPELL_MAGIC_MISSILE) variant. For this we need to set name: SPELL_PHANTOM (or find existing section with it) to specify which slot we are using, and set effect: SPELL_MAGIC_MISSILE for the engine to know which logic to use for it. The result should look like this:

name: SPELL_PHANTOM # replacing Phantom spell slot
effect: SPELL_MAGIC_MISSILE # but effect is based on Magic Missiles
phonemes: [un, ro, do] # phonemes must be unique, so we keep ones from Phantom
# the rest is copied from Missiles and modified
  ind: 18248
  ind: 131967
mana_cost: 50
price: 5000
  - 536870912
  - 1073741824
title: thing.db:MissilesOfMagic
cast_sound: MagicMissileCast
  count: 5
  spread: 30
  projectile: MagicMissile
  vel_mult: 0.1
  offset: 4
  speed_rnd_min: 0.1
  speed_rnd_max: 0.3
  search_dist: 800