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Synthetic Reality

What Are They?

One of the fun things you can do in Well Of Souls, is design your own skin. Your skin is what other people see when you are walking around inside the game.

A skin is just a bitmap file (you could make one with the Microsoft PAINT program), which follows certain layout rules. Inside your Well of Souls folder is a folder called 'skins.' If you add a file with the proper layout to this folder, then you will be able to select that skin for use by your characters inside the game.

Plus, the game will automatically share skin files with other players as you encounter them (unless you disable the option). So, over time, you will build up quite a library of skins to choose from.

Skin Layout

A skin file can be thought of as a film strip of six 'cells,' where each cell is used for a different purpose. Each cell is a square (and the 'height' of the overall bitmap sets the width of each square in the filmstrip). You can have squares of any size (within reason), but you probably want to use heights which are an even multiple of six pixels. For your convenience, a selection of empty skin files of varying sizes is available in this ZIP file.

Note the black guidelines within the image. These must be placed exactly correctly (so that they get filtered out before the image is drawn in the game). This is an excellent reason to start your skin using one of the blank templates.

The far left cell of the film strip is the 'map' cell and it contains nine small format images of your character. Each map image is a square whose dimension is one third of the bitmap height.

The eight images around the sides of the cell depict your character walking in one of the 8 possible directions on the map (N, NE, E, etc.).

The image in the center of the cell is drawn when your character is in a scene (it is only seen by other players who are still on the map)

The far right cell is the 'credits' cell and it is where you place your artistic logo, and credits information. (So George Lucas can find you later when he is looking for new crack artists!)

If your skin is derived from someone else's work, you should indicate that here. You shouldn't take credit for someone elses work, nor should you make them take credit for something offensive you might have done.

The four middle frames are used when your character is in a 'scene' and depict a side view of your character, posed as if fighting a monster on the left side of the screen. The four states of your character are, from left to right:

  • READY - your character is prepared for battle (looking at monster on left of screen)
  • ATTACK - your character is delivering a mighty blow (to monster on left of screen)
  • PAIN - Your character is taking damage, or is poisoned (also shown as black silhouette when dead)
  • CHAT - Your character is just chillin' with his pals. A friendly character might be looking out towards the audience. This frame is displayed each time you type a line of chat.

Always draw your hero acting as if the monster is on the left of the screen. The game will automatically 'flip' the image as necessary when the monster is actually on the right.

Note that in these four frames there is a special area just below your character (one sixth of the total height of the cell). This is where you draw your shadow. Characters are generally drawn as 'floating' over their shadows.


A recent change has enabled an optional seventh frame. If you extend your filmstrip file one more frame to the right of the credits frame, then that new frame will be used during a MAGICAL ATTACK (the old ATTACK frame will only be used during a PHYSICAL attack)

The full order of frames supported is now:


Have fun!

Transparency, Palettes and File Size:

Because your skin file will be shared with other players, you should make an effort to keep your skin as small as possible (measured in bytes of file size). A typical skin should be 15K to 20K bytes in size. If your skin is much larger than this, it is probably because it is a 24 bit RGB bitmap. You need to change it to a so-called "RLE format bitmap file", using only the official 256 colors found in the game's palette file. If you don't, the game may refuse to share your skin with other players.

You might find the WoS Viewer tool to be helpful in checking your skin for alignment, as well as forcing it to use the proper palette and compression.

The 'aqua' color, RGB(0,128,128), is generally used to indicate 'transparent pixels' in your skin file. However, it is actually the color of the extreme upper left pixel which defines the transparent color for a given skin. Note here where the guidelines meet in the top left corner of the map cell, we see the aqua color instead of black.

If you have transparency problems in your skin, it is probably because your upper left pixel is not the same color as the rest of your transparent pixels.

If you don't know how to turn your file into an RLE format file, you should get a copy of PaintShop Pro (an excellent paint program). You can get a free demo version from

From inside of PaintShop Pro, do this:

  1. Open your skin file (say, "myskin.bmp")
  2. From the COLORS menu, select "LOAD PALETTE..."
  3. This will open a file browser.. navigate until you find the file "souls.pal" inside your installed copy of Well of Souls' "ART" folder. This is a special palette file which has the definitions of the official 256 colors that WoS knows about. No other colors can be displayed in the game.
  4. Press OK, then select SAVE AS.. from the FILE menu. Be sure to save the file as a "Windows or OS/2 BMP file" (it should automatically be in RLE format now, but there is a button which lets you check)

NOTE: The Newest Version of Wos Viewer now supports palette conversion and compression!

Secret Trick: You know that upper left pixel which defines the transparency color? If you also set the bit just to the right of it to the same color, then your character will not float. It will sort of 'glide along the ground.'

For this reason you'll really want to keep the top row of pixels set to the guideline color as shown in this example.

Now go out there and be creative! But some things to avoid might be:

  • Using copyrighted materials without permission (it's your lawsuit, not mine)
  • pornographic skins (unless you are VERY careful in how you share them)
  • recycling someone else's skin without giving them credit
  • Words and Numbers which look odd when 'flipped'
  • Characters which are too large to fit on most people's screens (which will also tend to be too large in file size to be shared)
  • Draw your character right out to the guidelines (or within a pixel or two). If your character is 'floating in a large sea of transparency,' see if you can use a smaller frame file instead.
  • When dragging pixels around, watch out for those guidelines! If you move them, they will show up at odd moments.
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