External font support

About Fonts in GemRB

Fonts in GemRB (as well as original IE games), aren’t fonts in the traditional sense. The fonts are actually a simple sprite with each glyph rendered in order (ie A-Z). Image resources for these sprites are stored in IE BAM files. Implications of this method are:

  1. Fonts are fixed size
  2. Fonts take more memory the more characters they contain
  3. Fonts take more memory the larger they are
  4. Fonts cannot effectively be manipulated after creation (aside from changing the color palette)
  5. You are stuck using the fonts included with the game or modding your own (meaning no extra characters)
  6. Fonts cannot be kerned etc. (TTF fonts support basic kerning)

TL;DR replacing fonts in GemRB

  1. Choose the desired fonts and which ingame fonts they should replace.
  2. Copy them to the game override folder or point the CustomFontPath GemRB config option to them.
  3. Edit the FONT_NAME column in gemrb/unhardcoded/your-game-type/fonts.2da to contain your new font names. Don’t include file extensions. The RESREF column says which ingame bitmap font each line is for.
  4. Change also PT_SIZE if you want the fonts to be bigger.
  5. Run GemRB and enjoy.
  6. Return to point 3. if you mapped the fonts to the wrong ingame counterpart or want to change something else.

TrueType Fonts in GemRB

Technically TrueType fonts aren’t limited in the same ways as “BAM” fonts. However, in order to support most of what TTF is capable of an that is important without having to write a new font renderer/breaking BAM support, TTF fonts in GemRB are done as Sprites in the same manner as the original fonts. What this means is that while the fonts are static once created we can supply parameters at engine start to create them in any size and any style supported by any TTF font you have available.

The TTF plugin for GemRB requires these libraries:

  • FreeType
  • iconv (only needed if using a non unicode compatible dialog.tlk)


Inside GemRB’s “unhardcoded” folder there are subfolders for each game type which contain fonts.2da files for each game. These files tell GemRB how to construct fonts for a given “resref”.

2DA V1.0
0 NORMAL      1              NORMAL      14       0       0xffffffff 
1 INFOFONT    1              INFOFONT    14       0       0xffffffff
2 NUMBER      0              NUMBER      14       0       0xffffffff 
3 INITIALS    0              INITIALS    14       0       0xffffffff
4 NUMBER2     0              NUMBER2     14       0       0xffffffff 
5 NUMBER3     0              NUMBER3     14       0       0xffffffff
6 NUMFONT     1              NUMFONT     14       0       0xffffffff 
7 REALMS      0              REALMS      14       0       0xffffffff 
8 REALMS2     1              REALMS2     14       0       0xffffffff 
9 STONEBIG    0              STONEBIG    14       0       0xffffffff
10 STONESM2   0              STONESM2    14       0       0xffffffff 
11 STONESM3   0              STONESM3    14       0       0xffffffff 
12 STONESML   0              STONESML    14       0       0xffffffff 
13 TOOLFONT   1              TOOLFONT    14       0       0xffffffff
14 STATES     0              STATES      14       0       0xffffffff 
15 STATES2    0              STATES2     14       0       0xffffffff

The columns: FONT_NAME, PT_SIZE, and STYLE are for TTF fonts only. FONT_NAME is the file name (NOT the path) of the TTF font you wish to use, and PT_SIZE controls the size of the font. STYLE controls the font style and accepts the following values:

  • 0=NORMAL
  • 1=BOLD
  • 2=ITALIC

COLOR is the RGBA hexadecimal color to use to create the color palette. It applies to BAM fonts only if NEED_PALETTE is set. It applies to TTF fonts regardless of the value of NEED_PALETTE.

If you want to see an example using TTF fonts, check the demo file

GemRB config

In GemRB.cfg you must specify the following option (or copy the fonts to GamePath/override):

  • CustomFontPath is a string indicating the absolute path of the directory containing the non-BAM font files you wish to use. FONT_NAME must match a file name in this directory (without extension and may be case sensitive).

You may mix and match BAM and TTF fonts however you like.