PC head override compilation for beginners?

Hey there, I’m a long time NWN player but never really delved into hak creation, so I fear this is a total n00b question. I’m unhappy with the default head selection for NWN and there are so many nicer looking heads created by the community, so I’m wondering how I can use them as a player? Is there any guide for dummies on how to make them work as overrides? Can I mix and match from different sources? Is it very complicated to do for a beginner or should I be able to do it without any deeper knowledge of the workings of this game? Could it cause any problems with custom modules? Any difference between Diamond and EE in this regard? Thanks for any help you can offer! :slight_smile:

I tried digging through the previous Vault forum archive because I know there was a thread some years ago I had participated in that would help you out immensely, not to mention saving time writing it all out again, but I can’t seem to find it. I did come across this one, however: Heads Override

I can offer a cliff notes version and follow up as best I can if need be. Some behavior has changed for the better between 1.69 and EE.

First off, whether using override or hak, there are some basics to keep in mind. While you could technically have 255 head slots per race, toolset and hardcoded behavior limited availability somewhat.

Heads 1-50 can be available in both character creation (ChCr) and the toolset. Within that range, heads should be numbered sequentially for ChCr or else they won’t show up. For example, if you have 001-020 then 022-030 with 021 missing, your ChCr selection will end at head 020. Players used to have these heads in their override folder even if they were in a hak in order to select them during ChCr.

Heads 051-099 were ChCr only and unavailable in the toolset, I believe. Bioware’s original plan was to utilize these for helms before they decided to make helms their own thing. Because of this, people generally duplicated any heads numbered in this range between 101 and 200 so that they could also be used by builders. This is no longer an issue with EE, as this limitation was removed and now the entire range was made available for both ChCr and toolset (I do not know if the ChCr still cuts off at 099, however, as I haven’t played around with any of this since the changes).

One oddity with the heads 051-099 that I recall was that any numbered in this range that shared their number with any of those experimental helms would show the helm texture on the head because of how and from where the game loaded textures. This is why it was good practice to have the desired heads within a hak as well as in your override. I have no idea if this behavior has changed since EE either.

Now, Heads 201-255 were odd in that they couldn’t be utilized by either ChCr or toolset but you could either assign the head to your character manually, with LETO, or with an in game character customizer to select them. I also do not know if this behavior has changed any with EE.

To get to the meat of your inquiry, you can mix and match all you want. When renaming heads to a different number to avoid any conflicts, you want to make sure all internal references match to avoid rendering issues. Simply file name renaming pfh0_head001.mdl/.plt (Female Human head 1) to pfh0_head023 won’t do, as your internal model and bitmap references will still be pfh0_head001.

You could use NWN Model Renamer but I tend to use NWN Tileset Duplicator. Personal preference, really. Edit: Also make sure your model is decompiled (in ascii format) before any of this so you don’t bugger your model. Notepad++ is a good utility to have if you want to forgo either of those.

Honestly, heads is where I first dipped my toe into modding before I started learning to port or modify heads. It’s fairly straightforward and simple once you get used to the game behavior.

Also I, @ TheBarbarian, or any other number of head crazy experts should be able to help out. I’ll check here from time to time if you need any further guidance or explanation.

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While I’m thinking about it, if you are going the override route just remember than you and whomever are playing should have the same heads in each others override else they’ll either display a different head than you or yours will appear headless. Basics, I know, but I remember being new to all this and sometimes the most basic things don’t come to mind.

I need to go put together a winter cat shelter but I’ll likely take a peek in later or tomorrow.

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That’s very helpful, thanks a lot for taking the time to write all that down (again)! :slightly_smiling_face:

One question I have right off the bat is: Can changing the player heads lead to NPC heads changing as well?

Also, I’ve noticed that lighting issues concerning heads seem to be even worse with the latest version of the EE now - characters look great when highlighted with the mouse, but without the highlight, the ambient lights and shadows make the faces look very angular with very dark and geometrical shadows in weird places, transforming them from smooth and pleasant to ugly and menacing, sometimes even ‘bearded’ if they were hairless before. Is there any way to soften that effect? I already toggled off “sharpen” in the Graphics menu, which helped a little, but not with everything. (I was testing with Estelindis’ KOTOR heads and The Barbarian’s NWN heads.)

If a NPC was created from a dynamic race model and you replace / override any of the stock heads, then any corresponding NPC heads will definitely change.

Stock ranges currently are:
Halfling Female (001-011) Male (001-010)
Dwarf Female (001-012) Male (001-013)
Elf Female (001-016) Male (001-018)
Gnome Female (001-009) Male (001-013)
Human / Half-Elf Female (001-027) Male (001-034)

  • Vamp Female (013, 140) Male (019, 140)
  • Tiefling Female (014, 141) Male (020, 141)
  • Aasimar Female (015, 142) Male (021, 142)
  • Gith Female (026, 027) Male (033, 034)
  • SoU NPC Female (143) Male (143)
  • Militia NPC Female (144) Male (144)
  • Commoner/Slum Female (155) Male (155)

Orc Female (001-012) Male (001-013)

You probably really only need to worry about the specialty human selections bulleted above, as those were used in SoU and HotU for specific non-human or story specific NPCs. If I replace any of the above range, it’s usually with a comparable upgrade of a similar look or theme.

EE seems to be creating as many problems as it’s solving. I haven’t even looked through any of my own customs to see if they’ve been impacted (looking into a new computer to run EE since the last couple updates). Since I’m just getting back into this myself, I’ll have to do some digging or someone else will probably have to offer both of us some guidance.

Good luck, and let me know if you need anything else.

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I can’t thank you enough for your invaluable help, much appreciated! :blush:

So if I understood correctly, any head I add between the last number of the according stock range and 050 should be perfectly safe without altering NPC looks and will appear in ChCr, provided they are numbered sequentially?

I’m not sure I quite understand what steps all this would involve. E.g. one of the comments under the NWN Model Renamer says it only works for models, not textures. Does that mean I’d have to use another tool for renaming .plt files, or is it enough to just change the file name for those? And if I use Notepad++ and find out a model is compiled (according to another comment by making my eyes bleed :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: ), can I do something to decompile it then?

Is the abbreviation for halflings pfa/pma? If not, what does it stand for, and what is the code for halflings? Also, what does the first number before the underscore stand for? I see most head files are named like pfe0_001.mdl, but I’ve also seen something like pfe2_001.mdl.

And I see some heads have more than a .mdl and a .plt file, like a .mtr file and _a/_n/*_s.dds files. What are those and how do I make them work when changing the number?

If a head does not sit well on a neck. e.g. it’s too high up, is there any quick and easy way to fix this or should I better just skip the model / ask the creator about it?


Unfortunately, I have to take a 91 year old woman in for ocular laser surgery in 15 min so I will get to the rest of what you asked this afternoon if someone else doesn’t take the baton. Quickly, though, the head to high issue sounds like something that occurred exclusive to female heads after the HotU update(?) for which a fix was explained. I believe it was migrated to the vault but I should also have it on a drive, which I can check when I return.

Hang in there.


Apologies. Yesterday took more of the day than it was initially supposed to.

Head names: p(f/m)(a/d/e/g/h/o)(0/2)_(headnumber).
Gender: (f)emale, (m)ale
Race: h(a)lfling, (d)warf, (e)lf, (g)nome, (h)uman/half-elf, (o)rc
Body type: 0=Standard 2=Large
pfa/pma = female halfling / male halfling
pfe0_001 = female elf standard head 001
pfe2_001 = female elf large head 001

With PC head use in 1.69, you need only concern yourself with .plt files. This is what the game uses to color your PC with your chosen hair, skin, and tattoo colors. I presume .mtr are EE’s “material” files as the alternative to .plt coloring. I’m not entirely sure how or if this works with head choice / coloring in EE yet. I presume the .dds files you mention have to do with what people refer to as fancymaps (normal, specular, diffuse, etc).

As for renaming a .plt file, you can just rename it to match the head you want it paired to, which should also match the internal bitmap reference. This is why I prefer to use the tileset duplicator referenced earlier. On a decompiled model, it will change all matching references, external and internal on a rename.

For decompiling, you can learn to use the decompiler here. You can also use NWNExplorer to decompile the model by loading, selecting ASCII model at the bottom of the viewer window, and right-click to “Export Text”.

I use the compiler included in the reference deer kit to recompile higher poly heads once I’m done with everything. Lower poly heads don’t seem to impact the game much on rendering but heads like my port of Maris Brood definitely caused 1.69 to hic-up. Haven’t tried her in EE yet.



No need to apologize, really - like I said, I’m extremely grateful you take the time to reply in such great detail whenever your your busy schedule allows it. I hope the surgery went well.

I guess I should concentrate on the simple non-EE heads for now then, or at least keep in mind that anything with .mtr and .dds files is not compatible with 1.69. At the moment I’m mostly using the EE, but I still have 1.69 installed and do run it sometimes, too, so I guess a hak compatible with both versions would be preferable.

In the meantime, I’ve tinkered a bit with the tools and started building my own head override, and I’m slowly getting the hang of it. You’re right, the Tileset Duplicator is preferable to the Model Renamer, not just because it automatically renames the .plt files as well, but also because it doesn’t require you to type in the string that should be replaced. I tried both and the Tileset Duplicator is much faster and more convenient. The only downside is that it always scans the whole folder for files to replace, so the more files are in it, the longer the conversion will take. But that is something I can adapt to.

Thanks to your new advice, I was also able to rename the formerly compiled head models. I had already installed NWN Explorer before, so I used that to decompile. Pretty simple. :slightly_smiling_face: I didn’t recompile them, since they were old heads that didn’t look too fancy, but it’s good to know that compiling heads with higher poly count can help with improving performance, should that become an issue at some point.

Your Maris Brood head looks awesome! I take it that’s just from your personal collection and not available on the Vault (yet)?

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It’s just a thought but would either one of you or both together be willing to put an edited version of what you’ve been discussing here into a document (pdf, txt, docx, whatever) and post it on here so that it is still easily accessible months or even years down the line?


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I would be willing, definitely, it’s the least I could do, given that I was looking for something like that myself. I just don’t want to make promises and commit to it right now, as my new obsession with heads has already cost me a lot of time that I should have invested in more important matters, and I know once I set my mind on doing something like the above, I will go all in again and give it priority over everything else, and in the end it will haven taken longer than anticipated. :sweat_smile:

But I might do it, eventually, when can spare the time again. :innocent:

I wouldn’t mind, just not in the next 24 hours or so. :wink: In all seriousness, I can hobble together something more definitive in relatively short order because:

@Olivier_Leroux Call it tenacity or something else, not to mention redundant now, but I found a certain conversation thread, and I’m not even certain it was the first one on the subject I was involved in. Evidently, when I said some years ago, I wasn’t kidding (2012).

Not to mention, whilst digging around during turducken prep, I came across a number of threads containing bits here and pieces there both in conversations I was involved in and not. This is definitely a subject that rears it’s head enough that having an anchor piece to reference would be beneficial, not to mention one that can be updated when I start wrangling with EE changes.

@Tarot_Redhand Once compiled, where do you feel this would best be posted? I’m not brushed up on vault etiquette when it comes to posting things. I’ve always pretty much kept to myself for the most part.

She is from a personal collection. Technically all my stuff is. I have always shied away from actually posting anything for one reason or another, and after some personal observations I won’t bother to get into here, but I may now that I’m getting back into things. I’m coming across thing I forgot I even did.

Years ago, when Estelindis personally coached me on her KotOR Head conversion technique, I made a point of expanding my own collection with many of the heads she didn’t do from that game. From there, and after some practice, I branched out into KotOR modifications and then experimented with others outside of KotOR (like Maris).

Oddly enough, I figured heads were all but dead.

If I can’t get the new computer by the holidays as I hope to, I’m sure I could be willing to part with her after a couple tweaks, since I evidently never got as far as dealing with her eyes (oops). Maybe I intended her to have Aasimar like eyes, sort of an Aasimar/Tiefling hybrid?

Anyway, have every confidence in yourself. When I started this, I had all of zero experience. If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I wish you well. If not, I’ll probably be indisposed the next couple days but I’ll check in soon after.

I don’t (Germany), but I know people who do, so thanks for the reminder and Happy Thanksgiving to you and all it may concern! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

No problem. You basically have three choices.

  1. Create an article on here. Probably my least favoured choice in spite of you having the option to attach a file to download. Number 3 in this list is IMO a better option.
  2. Create a project with the pdf (in an archive) as the download. If you do this there is a check box that asks if this is the first time that it has been posted, that will need to be checked.
  3. Post it on the NwN Wiki. It is a part of this site so you just log in using the same user id and password as you do for here. FWIW I’ve done a few blog posts if you want a quick look to see what they look like. Blog 1 and Blog Series Part 1.

In case you are unsure how to actually post something as either a project or an article here’s how. On the front page (and throughout the non-forums part of this site) you will see a sidebar on the left of the screen. Part of the sidebar is labled Navigation. Below that there are a series of buttons. Hover your mouse pointer over the one that says Contribute. This opens a sub menu. Either click Project or Article depending on what you want to post. These open large forms for you to interact with. After that any problems just ask.


Apparently it doesn’t. From what I’ve seen it very much looks like you can have all 255 heads available in character creation now (I didn’t actually test up to 255, but I checked out heads that were consequently numbered up to 219 or so, and when I went one step back from head 1 in ChCr, head 219 was visible. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I assume you meant this one? Do I need a 3D modeling tool for that or is there a way to correct the position by editing the .mdl file with a text editor?

You can decompile the model then use a text editor to tweak the “position x y z” directive for the head by the amounts given in that link.


Great, I was hoping something like that would be possible. Thanks! :slightly_smiling_face:

By trial and error I also found out the right decimal place:

position 0.0 0.0 0.0
would become
position 0.0 -0.025 -0.03625

And the head perfectly fits on the body again! :+1:

The dp issue is that some modelling tools work in centimetres but the decompiled model is in metres (exactly like the toolset).