Developer Guide - Overview

About Fantasy Grounds

The Fantasy Grounds (FG) software is a platform for delivering role-playing game environments for people to recreate the face-to-face role-playing game experience over the Internet. This developer guide is for people looking to create new content for FG.


This guide assumes that you are familiar with using the existing game system environments provided by SmiteWorks, such as CoreRPG, D&D, and Pathfinder. If you have not used the software before, please review the User Manual and other User Guides first.

The Basics

Any user that starts the FG software is presented with the launcher screen. The launcher screen allows users to manage campaigns and characters. For more information on the launcher, see the Getting Started user guide.

A campaign is the basic unit of gameplay within Fantasy Grounds. The Game Master (GM) creates the campaign to hold all the information relevant to a gaming group. A campaign is based on a ruleset (game system framework, such as D&D). Each campaign may also be assigned any number of extensions (custom modifications to a ruleset). Once the campaign is loaded, the GM also controls which modules (data packs for a ruleset), and whether those modules are GM only (adventures, settings) or player accessible (player books). Finally, each campaign can contain many different types of unique records for game play, such as player characters (PCs), non-player characters (NPCs), items and more.

What's Needed (Skills)

For developing FG modules (data packs), you can often use the export interface within a campaign to export most content, and this does not require any technical skills. For more complex projects, and understanding of XML and an understanding of the way the ruleset you are developing for reads the XML data.

For developing rulesets (game system frameworks), you need to be familiar with XML, the concept of inheritance, and be willing to learn Lua scripting. Developing extensions (custom ruleset modifications) is similar, but usually easier due to a more limited scope of what you are trying to do.

What's Needed (Tools)

The most important tool for FG development is a text editor with multi-file search capability. We typically recommend Notepad++ as a free option.

For creating single file delivery packages (.mod, .pak, .ext), you will need to be able to compress the files using the Zip format. You can create a compressed file using the Windows right click menu within File Explorer. Or, you can acquire a utility like 7-Zip to help.

If you are creating a ruleset or attempting to re-theme a ruleset using an extension, you will need a graphics editing tool. Photoshop is the industry standard, but Gimp is a great free alternative.


The author of this guide is not a legal expert, and you should consult your own legal expert before making developed content available to the public.

Our Understanding

Our understanding of the way that US copyright law works is that sections of text and graphics are protected by copyright law, but that game rules and mechanics are not protected. We believe that this allows creation of rulesets, as long as the data is not included without permission.

Also, our understanding is that if you are only developing content for your own use, you can use anything you want under the concept of format shifting.


If any content is found to contain copyrighted content without the author's permission, we will be forced to remove the content from distribution via our web site, our store or our forums.

First Steps

If you are interested in becoming a Fantasy Grounds Community Developer, please continue on to our Developer Guidelines for more information on what you’ll need, procedures, how to get started and more.