From The Battle for Wesnoth Wiki
Revision as of 23:12, 20 March 2012 by JaMiT (talk | contribs) (Special Syntaxes: Supplying some intro paragraphs to explain what is going on)

[edit]WML Tags


abilities, about, add_ai_behavior, advance, advanced_preference, advancefrom, advancement, advances, affect_adjacent, ai, allied_with, allow_end_turn, allow_extra_recruit, allow_recruit, allow_undo, and, animate, animate_unit, animation, aspect, attack, attack_anim, attacks, avoid;


base_unit, berserk, binary_path, break, brush;


campaign, cancel_action, candidate_action, capture_village, case, chance_to_hit, change_theme, chat, checkbox, choice, choose, clear_global_variable, clear_menu_item, clear_variable, color_adjust, color_range, command (action, replay), continue, credits_group, criteria;


damage, death, deaths, default, defend, defends, defense, delay, deprecated_message, destination, difficulty, disable, disallow_end_turn, disallow_extra_recruit, disallow_recruit, do, do_command, drains, draw_weapon_anim;


editor_group, editor_music, editor_times, effect, else (action, animation), elseif, endlevel, end_turn (action, replay), enemy_of, engine, entry (credits, options), era, event, extra_anim;


facet, facing, fake_unit, false, feedback, female, filter (concept, event), filter_adjacent, filter_adjacent_location, filter_attack, filter_attacker, filter_base_value, filter_condition, filter_defender, filter_enemy, filter_location, filter_opponent, filter_own, filter_owner, filter_radius, filter_recall, filter_second, filter_second_attack, filter_self, filter_side, filter_vision, filter_weapon, filter_wml, find_path, fire_event, firststrike, floating_text, found_item, for, foreach, frame;


game_config, get_global_variable, goal, gold, gold_carryover;


harm_unit, has_ally, has_attack, has_unit, have_location, have_unit, heal_on_hit, heal_unit, healed_anim, healing_anim, heals, hide_help, hide_unit, hides;


idle_anim, if (action, animation, intro), illuminates, image (intro, terrain), init_side, insert_tag, inspect, item, item_group;


jamming_costs, join;


kill, killed;


label, language, leader, leader_goal, leadership, leading_anim, levelin_anim, levelout_anim, lift_fog, limit, literal, load_resource, locale, lock_view, lua;


male, menu_item, message, micro_ai, missile_frame, modification, modifications, modify_ai, modify_side, modify_turns, modify_unit, modify_unit_type, move, move_unit, move_unit_fake, move_units_fake, movement_anim, movement costs, movetype, multiplayer, multiplayer_side, music;


not, note;


object, objective, objectives, on_undo, open_help, option, options, or;


part, petrifies, petrify, place_shroud, plague, poison, portrait, post_movement_anim, pre_movement_anim, primary_attack, primary_unit, print, put_to_recall_list;


race, random_placement, recall (action, replay), recalls, recruit, recruit_anim, recruiting_anim, recruits, redraw, regenerate, remove_event, remove_item, remove_object, remove_shroud, remove_sound_source, remove_time_area, remove_unit_overlay, repeat, replace_map, replace_schedule, replay, replay_start, reset_fog, resistance (ability, unit), resistance_defaults, resource, return, role, rule;


save, scenario, scroll, scroll_to, scroll_to_unit, secondary_attack, secondary_unit, section, select_unit, sequence, set_extra_recruit, set_global_variable, set_menu_item, set_recruit, set_specials, set_variable, set_variables, sheath_weapon_anim, show_if (message, set_menu_item), show_objectives, side, skirmisher, slider, slow, snapshot, sound, sound_source, source (replay, teleport), special_note, specials, split, stage, standing_anim, statistics, status, store_gold, store_items, store_locations, store_map_dimensions, store_reachable_locations, store_relative_direction, store_side, store_starting_location, store_time_of_day, store_turns, store_unit, store_unit_defense, store_unit_defense_on, store_unit_type, store_unit_type_ids, store_villages, story, swarm, switch, sync_variable;


target, team, teleport (ability, action), teleport_anim, terrain, terrain_defaults, terrain_graphics, terrain_mask, terrain_type, test, test_condition, text_input, textdomain, theme, then, tile, time, time_area, topic, toplevel, trait, transform_unit, traveler, true, tunnel, tutorial;


unhide_unit, unit, unit_overlay, unit_type, unit_worth, units, unlock_view, unpetrify, unstore_unit, unsynced;


value, variable, variables, variant, variation, victory_anim, village, vision_costs, volume;


while, wml_message, wml_schema;



The Wesnoth Markup Language (WML) is used to code almost everything in Wesnoth, including scenarios, units, savefiles, and the user interface layout. WML files are simple, human-readable text files, usually with the .cfg extension, with similarities to INI files and XML.

Syntax Basics

WML is a line-based language, meaning that line breaks are significant. The opening and closing lines of a tag (defined later) cannot include other text. When setting an attribute (also defined later), all text up to the first equals sign (=) is considered the key, while all text following that equals sign until the end of the line is considered the value. A line break must occur before starting another key=value line; otherwise the intended "key=value" will be treated as textual data and considered part of the preceding attribute's value. The type of line break used within a WML file should be consistent to avoid confusing the game. (This is typically only an issue when a file is edited from different operating systems; Mac, Linux, and Windows each have their own types of line breaks.)

Consecutive whitespace characters in WML are usually equivalent to a single space, and in many cases whitespace itself is optional. (However, good indentation is crucial for readable files; see ConventionsWML for guidelines.) Furthermore, there are some cases in which spaces are more than optional; sometimes they are stripped (sometimes resulting in malfunctioning WML). At the same time, there are some cases in which whitespace that looks irrelevant to many human readers is in fact significant and not stripped (sometimes resulting in malfunctioning WML). If in doubt, copy the spacing from working WML. For text that will not be displayed to a player, it is sometimes useful to use an underscore (_) instead of a space so that issues with whitespace can be sidestepped.

Comments are indicated by starting a line with a pound sign (#). Unless the line forms a valid preprocessor directive, all text after the pound sign will be ignored by the WML engine.

Tag and Attribute Structures

WML has a syntax containing two basic elements: tags and attributes. Furthermore, attributes consist of keys and values. For example:


Tags are used to partition information, while the data is contained in the attributes. Keys identify the type of data to be stored and values are the actual data stored. When WML is processed, the tag identifies some unit of information, such as an action to perform or even an entire campaign. This gives a context for the attributes within the tag. For each key=value line within a tag, the attribute identified by key has its data set to value. Also allowed inside a tag is another tag. The inner tag is considered the child of the outer tag, as in the following example.


Every tag describes something different about the game; different tags work differently, with the allowed tags defined by context. There are several "top-level tags" that are allowed when not inside any other tag, and each tag defines which child tags it recognizes. An unrecognized tag often causes the game to abort processing the WML, but there are some situations (particularly FilterWML) in which unrecognized tags are quietly ignored. For a list of all tags with links to their documentation, see AlphabeticalWML or the navigation box that appears on all pages documenting tags.

Each tag defines which attributes it accepts, hence which keys are valid within that tag. Setting the values of those keys will configure the behavior of that tag. Unrecognized keys are usually quietly ignored. (In particular, keys are not variables.)

Tag and key names may contain only alphanumeric characters and underscores; in particular, neither +, -, nor whitespace is allowed. Values, on the other hand, are not so restricted.

Special Syntaxes

Tag Amendment Syntax

Inserting a plus sign (+) before a tag name allows one to append to an earlier tag (the most recent with the same name) rather than starting a new tag. This allows attributes to be added or replaced.

  • All keys in the +tag will be set to the given values. If the keys did not exist in the most recent [tag] then they are added to that [tag]; otherwise their values will replace the old values in the most recent [tag].
  • Any child tags of the +tag will be appended to the children of the most recent [tag]. To be clear: none of those original child tags will be altered by this operation, since this is an "append" and not a "merge."
  • Currently, you are not allowed to make tag amendments to a child tag after the parent tag has already closed. Using [+tag] syntax multiple times in a row will not allow you to amend the more inward scopes. However, this limitation may be removed in future versions of Wesnoth.

Multiple Assignment Syntax

It is possible to set multiple attributes on a single line. This is done by listing the associated keys, followed by an equal sign, followed by the desired values.


would be the same as:

  • If there are extra keys, they will be set to an empty value. If there are extra values the last key will be set to the comma-separated list of all remaining values.

Special Attribute Values

Although an attribute's value can be just text corresponding to the function of its key, a value can also be encoded in many other ways, each with a specific purpose:

  • key="value": a quoted value is a value surrounded by quotes. Note for single-line values this is completely unnecessary, but for multiple-line values this is required to avoid being processed as a single-line value. Quotes are sometimes used for clarity in single-line values.
  • key= _ "value": a translatable value is a value that is intended to be translated (most notably seen in [story], [message], and the name= key in unit definitions). Note the quotes surrounding the value: they are required.
  • key="value1" + "value2": the plus sign (+) may be used to concatenate two different strings. If you want to have a value that actually has a plus sign (+) in it, you need to enclose the string containing the + character in quotes. Note the quotes around the pre-concatenated values.
  • key="quoted ""double quoted value"" value": double quotes can be used to create quote marks within a quoted value.
  • key=$variable: a variable substitution sets the key to the value of the WML variable variable. See below for more information on WML-variable based values.
  • key="$(formula-expression)": this sets the key to the value of the formula expression once processed. See FormulaAI for more information on Formula Basics, Data Types, and Built-in functions. Since formulas often need to use the plus sign (+), it is advisable to always enclose formula expressions in quotes.


A WML variable can be manipulated in three ways:

  • Assigning a value to a variable stores that value in the variable. This is done with [set_variable] or the {VARIABLE} macro.
  • Querying a variable returns the last value stored in it (or the empty string, if no value was). This is done by calling $variable.
  • Clearing a variable makes the WML engine forget about that variable. This is useful since the WML engine must save all used variables when a game is saved. This is done with [clear_variable] or the {CLEAR_VARIABLE} macro.

Each variable is given a name. A given variable name may contain only alphanumerics and underscores. A variable in these operations is identified by its full name. For more information on macros, please refer to PreprocessorRef

Kinds of Variables


A scalar variable can store a single string or number.

     value="sample value"

The full name of a scalar variable is its given name, in this case my_variable. Note that the value of the variable can be translatable or even a formula expression (Special Attribute Values).


An array variable is a numbered sequence of container variables. There are some specific tags that assign array information, for example [store_unit] and [store_locations]. One could create an array using [set_variable] like this:


However, when working with arrays, it is usually easier to make use of [set_variables]. This would be written as follows:


If foo is the name of an array, foo[0] is the full name of its first container variable, foo[1] the full name of its second, and so on. foo.length is the special variable that always stores the number of containers in the array foo. Hence, if the value stored in foo.length is 18, the last container in the array would be foo[17]. If you try to query an array as if it were a container, then it will simply use the first index[0]. Thus $ would be the same as $foo[0].bar

Note: Do not attempt to store a scalar value to the explicit index of an array, which is a container of scalar variables. Hence referring to a variable named foo[3] as if it were a scalar one is illegal; instead, you would use foo[3].value to store a scalar value. (While it may appear to work to an extent if you ignore this rule, it may also cause undefined behavior. For example, loading a text save of a game that contains such variables will fail with a WML error.)


A container variable can store any number of scalar and/or array variables. There are tags to assign specific information, for instance [store_side]. To refer to a variable bar stored in a container foo you would write An explicit index inside an array is also considered a container.


Variables and be compared with and used in a conditional block by [variable] within an [if] or [while] tag. For more information, please refer to ConditionalActionsWML.

Variable Substitution

Whenever using a $ in front of a variable name, the content which has previously been put into this variable name is used instead of the name of the variable. For example:

     name=turn 1
         value= _ "Konrad"
         message= _ "Hello, $my_variable|... How are you?"

The WML code above will cause Delfador to say "Hello, Konrad... How are you?" on turn 1.

When writing scenario events (EventWML), a scalar variable can generally be substituted into the right-hand of any key=value assignment. If the provided value contains a $, the WML engine with interpret what is between the rightmost $ and the next | as a full variable name to be queried, and replace $variable| with the result of this query.

In certain situations, the | that marks the end of the variable name to be queried can be omitted. The exact rule is: if there is no |, variable names span letters, digits, underlines, balanced square brackets and some periods. Doubled periods and some periods that would result in an illegal variable name will not be included. If the variable name ends up being empty (e.g. when using $|), then it will be replaced by just $, giving you an easy way to include a dollar sign in an interpolated string.

Literal Mode

There are a few places where the substitution mode is literal. In these places, attribute value are used exactly as provided, nothing is substituted, and the $ will not have special significance. The following places use the literal mode:

  • value of literal= inside [set_variable]
  • contents of [literal] inside [set_variables]

Automatically Stored Variables

  • side_number: the number of the current player's side (may be empty during start or prestart events)
  • turn_number: the number of the current turn (may be empty during start or prestart events)
  • x1: this is the x-coordinate of the location where the most recent event was triggered
  • y1: this is the y-coordinate of the location where the most recent event was triggered
  • x2: this is the x-coordinate of the location that assisted in triggering the most recent event
  • y2: this is the y-coordinate of the location that assisted in triggering the most recent event
  • unit: inside an event, this is the unit at $x1,$y1
  • second_unit: inside an event, this is the unit at $x2,$y2
  • this_unit: inside a standard unit filter, this is the unit currently being considered for a possible match
  • damage_inflicted: inside attacker_hits and defender_hits events, this is the amount of damage that was inflicted
  • weapon: inside attack, attacker_hits, defender_hits, die and last_breath events, this is some information about the weapon that is/was being used by the unit at $x1,$y1. It contains the attributes from [attack], see UnitTypeWML.
  • second_weapon: inside attack, attacker_hits, defender_hits, die and last_breath events, this is some information about the weapon that is/was being used by the unit at $x2,$y2. It contains the attributes from [attack], see UnitTypeWML.

Note: Automatically stored container and array variables are only stored once that one of their attributes is accessed for the first time. This means that one can sometimes get wrong results, for instance by killing the unit at $x1,$y1 as first action in a moveto event and then accessing $unit.something. This can be worked around by previously making a dummy access, such as adding 0 to hitpoints.

The [variables] tag

The [variables] tag is used in saved games to describe the current value of each variable, and in scenario files for assigning initial values to variables at scenario start.

A scalar variable is assigned using an attribute, where the attribute's key is the variable's given name, and the attribute's value is the value to be stored in the variable.

A container variable with given name foo is assigned using a [foo] tag that contains the definitions for the contained variables.

An array variable with given name foo is assigned using several [foo] tags, where the first tag describes foo[0], the second foo[1], ...

Storing variables inside units

Sometimes it is useful to store a custom WML variable inside a unit. Units stored with the [store_unit] command have a unit.variables sub-container where custom variables related to that unit may be saved. (Remember to [unstore_unit] for the changes to be kept.) One benefit of this approach is that the unit may then be filtered based on the value, for example:


Variable Usage Examples

Consider a saved game with the following [variables] tag (or a freshly started scenario with that tag)



   message="Oh, I see $current_opponent|! They surely $attitude_of_$current_opponent|| us!"

displays the message

Oh, I see elves! They surely hate us!

Consider another game with variables


where side 1 has 75 gold, and side 2 50 gold. Then,

    message=We have $ gold, they have $ gold.
            message=This should be easy!
            message=This will not be easy!

displays the messages

We have 75 gold, they have 50 gold.
This should be easy!

If side 2 had 100 gold instead, the same code would display the messages

We have 75 gold, they have 100 gold.
This will not be easy!

The code

    message=Our leader's first attack does $leader[0].attack[0].damage damage per hit.

always displays a true sentence.

You may find more complicated examples of variable use in the UsefulWMLFragments section.

See Also