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Area object files are named ARE and are GFF files.

Area Basics

Area Contents

ARE files contain:

  • The area settings (name, music, weather, etc.)
  • The tileset identifier
  • The area size
  • The areas tiles - tile ID, orientation, height, lighting information and so forth
  • ...and more to come in a nice table when I can find time to look into them all! (for now see the GFF Bioware info)

Areas also have things in them that are not tiles, this uses GIC (area comments - contains toolset-only comments on game object instances) and GIT (dynamic area information - game object instances and sound properties) files to store them with location/orientation and entire copies (since they are copies!) of what the creature/placeable/etc. is.


An area resref is the filename of the are file, for instance "area001.are". The relevant gic, git files are named identically too (eg: "area001.git"). Changing the resref is impossible in the toolset - the closest thing is to copy the entire area, which creates a new resref.

The resref is the identifer used in the modules .IFO file so just renaming it in the temp0 directory won't work properly (you also have to edit the relevant fields in the .are file itself). Basically use Copy Area or get into GFF editing to change a resref (which while useful now NWNEE can load more than one area, it isn't necessary in most cases).

Special Notes on Save Games

Bioware pulls many sneaky things involving save games. One instance is with area files. If it is a NWN official module then area files are not loaded from the save at all (even if saved there), and are always loaded from the module. This would have been so the module can be updated and contents changed to fix bugs, without invalidating save games or progress.

Non-OC modules have area files stored in the save game making such patching difficult to impossible (you'd have to edit the contents of the .sav file itself).

Areas are the main type of module file this occurs (scripts can be patched on any module since they're loaded dynamically).

One benefit of this however is that Bioware kept a lot of module authors changing too much, and having players save games for the module then break without warning.

Upgrading/Changing Tilesets in Areas

If you have an existing tileset but spot a shiny new one (or find one in NWN:EE patches) and it contains all the same tiles, there is an easy (and relatively safe - but take a backup first!) way to upgrade areas you want upgrading.

Using nwn-nim tools

This is a rough tutorial and needs additions. However it is a very easy way to learn how nwn-nim tools work, and learn command line stuff.

  1. Back up module file
  2. Open module
  3. Copy the arearesref.are file somewhere
  4. Run nim tools nwn_gff to convert the are file to JSON:
  5. In the JSON look for the field "tileset". Example below has it set to "ttf01"
    1. Alter this value to be a new tileset identifier, eg; "ttf02" (the name used here is the tileset resref).
  6. Convert the JSON file back to arearesref.are
  7. Copy and override the copy in temp0
  8. Load the area in the toolset - if it crashes, revert to save. If not it should load the new tileset!
  9. If loaded, save the module, which should repack the updated area file properly for next time

Using GFFEditor

The NWN:EE base game comes with the (Windows only) GFFEditor.exe file. Find it in Install Path\Neverwinter Nights\util\win32

  • Back up module file
  • Open module (don't open any areas or anything!)
  • Open GFFEditor.exe and go File → Open. Go to your \My Documents\Neverwinter Nights\modules\temp0 folder and open the .are file you need. This is identified by the "ResRef" field in the Advanced Area Properties.
  • Find the Tileset line entry which is a CResREf field type.
  • Edit the value to be something new, eg: tts01 could become tts02 (Rural Winter upgraded to Rural Winter - Facelift). Click off the entry to enable saving (so the change is registered) and File → Save it.
  • You now can open the area in the toolset and it should show the newer tileset:
  • Save the module (if it doesn't have the save button active re-save a script or re-save a conversation file, don't open any areas)

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