Modifying shapeshifting talents

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In this tutorial I will talk about modding the shapeshifting talents and show you how to create your own shapes from any creature in the game and how to give them abilities they can use. One thing I will mention is that while your main character can morph into any form available in the game, Wynne and Morrigan unfortunately cannot. There are only a few forms they can morph into and due so without issues. Why this is, I do not know as of yet.

For this tutorial we are going to add a Dragonling and a Drake to the list of forms we can shapeshift in to. This tutorial will assume you already have some knowledge of working with 2da files. If not, I would recommend reading the excellent tutorial by jwvanderbeck at Beyond Ferelden.


The files we will be looking at today will be the ABI_base.xls, shapechange.xls, and the APR_base.xls. ABI_base.xls can be found in the Dragon Age\tools\Source\2DA\rules folder while the other two can be found in the root 2DA folder. We will be using these files for reference in making our own 2DA files.

The ABI_base.xls file contains all the information concerning abilities and the ID numbers that pertain to them. This is also where we will get the information to update the icons and tooltip descriptions for the abilities on the action bar in game.

The shapechange.xls file determines what models are used for the different shapes as well as the abilities and base attributes of the assumed shape.

The APR_base.xls governs the appearance of all objects and creatures in game by referencing the object id with the appropriate models. This is the file we will use to find our creature ID for use our custom shapechange 2da file.

Step 1

Okay, so we know that we want to use the drake and dragonling for our new shapes. First we will need to look at the APR_base.xls file and find the appropriate creature ID#. According to the table, the creature ID for a Dragonling is 64, while the creature ID for a Drake is 80. Next we will open up the shapechange.xls file. In this file there are several headings ranging from ID int, Appearance, abilities, and various attributes. The first thing we want to do is rename it to shapechange_new.xls and also rename the tab for that sheet shapechange_new as well and save it as a 97-2003 excel document somewhere other than the game directory, like my documents for example. Next delete all the information contained in each field, but keep the headings. Now that that is done we can begin making our new shapes. The first field the “ID int” field is going to be the ID# that will refer to our new shape. This number will have to be unique so that it doesn’t conflict with other ID#’s. For the sake of this tutorial we will be using 450000. Write this down somewhere as we will need this for our custom Abi_base.xls file as well. This ID# isn’t used by the game and hopefully no other mods will be using this ID either. In the label field we give the form a name. Let’s name it Dragon Form. This field really has nothing to do with anything other simply letting the editor know what it pertains to. The next two fields, “appearance” and “ upgradeappr” are the fields we will use to place our creature ID#’s in. The “appearance” field refers to the shape you will morph into with basic shapeshifting while “upgradeapr” refers to the form you will assume as a Master shapeshifter. So for “appearance” we will enter in the creature ID# 64 for the dragonling and ID# 80 in the “upgradeapr” for the drake. Okay for now go ahead and save this file.

Step 2

Next we want to open up the ABI_base.xls file. As we did with the shapechange.xls file, the first thing we want to do is save it in another location as a 97-2003 excel document and rename it to ABI_base_new.xls. One thing you will notice is that there is quite a bit of information contained in this file. I will try to briefly explain the majority of them as we add the information for our new shape. Before we go any further with this file the first thing we need to do is find abilities for our new forms. The shapechange.xls file allows us to use 2 passive abilities and 3 active abilities. For this tutorial we are just going to use 1 passive and 3 active abilities. One thing to note here is that the lesser and greater forms for your shapes do need to share abilities that both can use. Not all abilities work for all creatures. For our shapes we will be using abilities they actually use in the game. We are going to use “ID# 90113 Dragon Properties” for our passive talent. For our first active ability we will use “ID# 90145 Monster Dragon Breath”, for ability 2 we will use “ID# 90142 Monster Dragon Shred”, and for ability 3 we will use “ID# 90132 Monster Dragon Overwhelm”. Write these down somewhere. Now we need to look over the sheet and choose an icon that we would likely want to have to associate with our new form. Look in the icon string column for one you would like to use. I chose to use the “eff_ico_dragon_buffet”. In game it is a picture of a dragon wing. Write this down somewhere as well. The next thing we want to do is find a label and description to go along with that icon that best describes it. For this article we are going to steal the ones used by ID# 90113 Dragon Properties. You will need to write down the numbers contained in the fields “namestrref int”, ”descstrref int”, and “tooltipstrref int”.

There are two other fields in this file that are of high significance when dealing with shapeshifting; the “prereqability int” field and the “spellscript” field. The prereqability field basically ask for a condition to be met before this talent is available. If you look at ID# 17008 Spider Form it has 4018 listed in this field. If you look this up on the ability table you will see that it refers to a hidden talent called shapeshifting, meaning that the user needs to have shapeshifting unlocked in order to have spider shape available. This is the number we will also be using in our custom table so write 4018 down somewhere.

The spellscript field refers to the script that handles the given ability. Shapeshifting has a script that handles the behavior of the ability. For current forms such as spider you will see it uses the script “spell_shapeshift.ncs”. We will be using this in our custom table as well.

Step 3

Okay now that we have most of the information we need we can go ahead and add an additional entry at the bottom of the list. So for starters we begin by filling in the ID int field with the ID we created and used in our shapeshifting_new.xls file of 450000. For the label field we will simply name it Dragon Form. Fill in the next three fields with the numbers we retrieved from the Dragon Properties of 380158, 379678, 380405. We can leave the strid_effect field blank. For the icon field used the name of the icon you chose for me it was eff_dragon_buffet. The best way or the fastest way rather to do the rest of this is by copying the rest of the information from the field for say spider shape located at ID# 17008. After you do that highlight all the content except for the headings and your new entry and choose to delete and shift columns up. That should leave only your entry in this file. Next go ahead and delete the additional tabs located at the bottom of the page and rename the first tab to ABI_Base_new. Go ahead and save it and close it.

Now back to the shapechange_new.xls file. Go ahead and open it back up. Okay now we get to fill finish filling out this table. Go ahead and enter in the id#’s for the passive and active abilities you wrote down from the ABI_base.xls file. Passive goes in the first passive field and AB1, AB2, AB3, are the one for the active abilities. You can leave passive 2 blank. For the field isplotshape enter “0”, meaning false.

The next two crust and tactics can be left blank. The rest of the fields have to do with the attributes of your new shape. My understanding of this is that base refers to your new for as if it was level 1 and per level is a multiplier for the base. I will leave the values for these fields up to you.


Okay, after you have finished filling out those fields save and close the file. You should have two files now. One called ABI_base_new.xls and another called shapechange_new.xls. Next we need to open the location of the excelprocessor.exe file which is located in the DragonAge\tools\ResourceBuild\Processors folder and drag and drop onto the file excelprocessor.exe file. This will give us two new file with the extension .gda which the game can use. Also I have encountered a minor issue sometime with the file not retaining the original name after converting so make sure your new files have the same name as the xls file you converted. Now you should have two .GDA files one named ABI_base_new.GDA and another called shapechange_new.GDA. From here simply move these files into your Dragon Age\packages\core\override folder and enjoy your new mod.