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Units: Battle Map - Overview - RTW

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RTW Modding Index

Rome - Total War and Barbarian Invasion allow modification of the units that are used in battle maps. Both the visual appearance and the effectiveness of units in battle can be modified.

This article is 'work in progress' anyone else please feel free to add info. links etc to sub-sections.


Skeletons and Animations


The texture or skin is a 2D .tga.dds file that 'clothes' the model and gives it its colour and textured effects. The textures also have an alpha channel that can be manipulated to make certain areas of the model invisible - for example the apparent size of a shield can be reduced by reducing the amount of it selected within the alpha channel. The required layout of the texture file is determined from within the model .cas file, if you do not have the software to open .cas files you must follow the same layout as an existing texture file which works for the model you are skinning.


Texture files in Rome - Total War are within the .pak folders in Rome - Total War\data\packs. To access them you need to unpack the .pak files with Vercingetorix's PAK Extractor see Unpacking Files Step-By-Step you will then find the files in RTW\data\packs\data\models_unit\textures.

NB: changed files will not be read from that location you need to; either create new folder path to RTW\data\models_unit\textures and give new textures different name, referenced in descr_model_battle.txt; or pack the files for new textures to take effect. (not 100% sure on the re-naming would someone please confirm and change / delete this comment)

Texture files in Barbarian Invasion are found simply within Rome - Total War\bi\data\models_unit\textures overwriting the existing files will allow changes to show up in game. Alternatively files with new names may be used if referenced in descr_model_battle.txt

Working with .dds Files

To work with the texture files you either need a graphics program that can incorporate the Nvidia .dds plugins or a .dds converter that converts the files into a format you can open and back. PhotoShop, PhotoShop Elements, Gimp and later versions of PaintShopPro should be able to use the .dds plugins.

When saving .dds files for textures use the settings shown: below:ddsdm3.jpg

Correct save settings are DXT5 ARGB - 2d texture - generate all MIP maps.

Tutorials and Reference

PhotoShop Skinning Tutorial by Halie Satanus

A Beginner's Guide To Skinning by Lentonius

An intermediate guide to skinning by Lentonius

Skinning Tutorial for Coral Photo-Paint by Krusoth

Texture database link listing on TWC


Sprites are the reduced quality 3D images that you see when you view a unit from further away in battle . New sprites can be made using a program built into the RTW and BI .exe files by CA. It is possible to include new units without adding sprites - simply do not add a sprite line to descr_model_battle.txt or comment out the existing one. However, too many units without sprites in a battle will significantly reduce performance and may make game unplayable for users with older computers!

You may notice a change in colour of a unit when you zoom out. This occurs when you switch from viewing the model and texture to viewing the sprite. It happens largely because the sprite generation program does not include the units shield in the sprite .tga's, this problem is therefore more acute for units with large distinctively coloured shields.

2D Graphics - Unit Cards

Unit Cards are small .tga format files found in data/UI/units/faction folders which display in the recruitment queue of your settlement browser and in battle and strat map when an army is viewed. Larger files found in data/UI/unit_info/faction folders display when you right click on a small unit card or recruitment line in the game. If you do not include unit cards for all your units it will not crash the game - you will just see default peasant card where unit card should be.

See here for more information.

Text Files


  • data\export_descr_units.txt (known as EDU) - The primary file involved in the definition of units this contains unit stats and references to other files
  • data\text\export_units.txt - contains displayed text descriptions
  • data\descr_model_battle.txt (known as DMB) - contains references to the models, skins and sprites used for each unit
  • data\descr_mount.txt - defines properties for elephants, camels, horses etc.
  • data\descr_engines.txt - defines properties for siege engines.
  • data\descr_characters.txt - defines which DMB model is used for captains and generals on battle map

see Units: Battle Map - RTW Text Files for further explanation of relationships between files


  • data\descr_buildings.txt
  • data\descr_rebel_factions.txt
  • data\world\maps\campaign\descr_strat.txt
  • data\world\maps\campaign\descr_mercenaries.txt

Adding New Units

Unit Statistics Modification


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